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On St. Marys River, attention turns to Whitefish Bay and upbound convoy

4/16 - On Monday, the CCGS Samuel Risley moved from the Pipe Island area to Sault Ste. Marie. On the way, she made sure the upbound track was usable by all but the largest of ships. Then the Risley passed through the Poe Lock on her way to Whitefish Bay. Once above the lock an unexpected glitch popped up, and she had to tie up before attempting her next task. Considering the vibrations and heavy use to which icebreakers are submitted, it is a surprise that they work as well as they do. The designers and builders deserve praise for their contributions to icebreakers. The crews that keep them running in adverse conditions are nothing short of amazing.

On Tuesday, the Risley went up above the locks to see what the ice was like in Whitefish Bay. There is a long waiting list of ships heading for Lake Superior ports and the intention was to move a number of them into Whitefish Bay to free up the lower river for newcomers. There are two established tracks above Gros Cap, the ice is firm and able to hold ships in position so a number of them moved upbound. Among them were Roger Blough, Algoma Enterprise, Algoma Olympic, Algosteel and Radcliffe R. Latimer. Lee A. Tregurtha stopped at the Carbide Dock Tuesday for fuel and stores, then locked upbound. Herbert C. Jackson moved up to Nine Mile. Five 1,000-footers were anchored below Mud Lake Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the Risley secured for the night at USCG Station Soo. This will enable her to load in the morning for her next task. Weather in the Soo was frigid. Monday night the temperature dropped to -10 C. Tuesday night it was forecast to plummet to -18 C. This makes lots of new ice and refreezes all the ice that has been broken.

A word of explanation about rotten or rotting ice: As outside temperatures increase ice begins to lose its strength and hardness. In mid winter ice will crack when hit with a ship, much as a piece of tempered glass would crack if given a sharp rap. As the ice loses strength and hardness it tends to easily break and fall apart. This is rotten ice. Compare it to a Popsicle fresh from the freezer. They are very hard to split the two sections apart unless they can be cracked on a sharp edge. The same Popsicle after it has been at room temperature for a while is easy to separate into two sections and it can be broken off in your mouth very easily - sort of soft, mushy-like. Rotten ice is like that - instead of going “crack” it goes kinda “bluuh.”

Paul Beesley


Port Reports -  April 16

Duluth - Ed Labernik
Just past noon Tuesday, a convoy of four vessels departed Duluth escorted by the USCG Mackinaw and headed across Lake Superior for the Soo Locks. As the convoy formed up, the CSL Tadoussac took the lead, followed by the St. Clair, American Sprit and the Mackinaw.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
On Tuesday at the Upper Harbor ore dock, Kaye E. Barker (loaded with ore) and Mesabi Miner (empty after unloading coal) waited for USCG escorts.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Chris Gaziano
CSL Niagara departed Tuesday and made her way north on Lake Michigan.

Lorain, Ohio
The tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula departed Lorain Tuesday, heading under the Charles Berry bridge on their way out at 6:46 p.m.

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes
Manitoba departed winter lay-up at 7 p.m.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
This past Sunday’s delivery of salt by the Whitefish Bay was timely. The big laker discharged its cargo of salt in a little over eight hours, departing just before midnight Sunday. After a long, nasty polar vortex winter, the Cargill De-icing Solution’s salt storage facility was pretty well down to its last grain of salt. Tuesday morning's heavy spring snowfall created a constant procession of trucks to pick up the just-in-time arrived road salt.

Seaway Traffic – Ron Walsh
The CCGS Griffon has been doing ice track maintenance from the Cape Vincent Pilot Station to Lake Ontario. Monday she assisted Algosoo, Atlantic Huron and the CSL Laurentien. Tuesday morning fog was too thick for the Cape Vincent pilot boat to go out. When the fog cleared, they had about 300 yards of broken ice preventing them from going to ships. The CCGS Griffon finally broke a channel and by 4 p.m. the Federal Satsuki, Federal Ems and Federal Shimanto all had lake pilots and were under way towards the lake. The Griffon called the Satsuki and said that the ice was broken from the pilot station to Lake Ontario so the ships should be able to make their own way. The Griffon will remain in the area and is ready to assist if needed. English River has been anchored in Prince Edward By since 2:55 a.m.


Great Lakes Shipyard completes winter work

4/16 - Cleveland, Ohio Winter layup season is wrapping up at Great Lakes Shipyard. Repair work took place on American Steamship Co.'s Sam Laud, Grand River Navigation's Manitowoc, Interlake Steamship Co.'s articulated tug-barge Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder, McKeil Marine's Tug Leonard M and barge Huron Spirit, and Ryba Marine's tug Kathy Lynn and barge OBE 185.

The vessels were berthed in the yard for planned repairs and routine maintenance, as well as various inspections and miscellaneous renewals. The brutal winter made the effort a real challenge. Great Lakes Shipyard also completed industrial maintenance and winter repairs at Cleveland Bulk Terminal. That work included rebuilding one of the facility's field conveyor hoppers. Carmeuse Lime & Stone operates the port-owned Cleveland Bulk Terminal, handling iron ore and limestone that arrive by ship from other Great Lakes ports.

The shipyard's current order book includes drydocking and overhaul of The Great Lakes Towing Company's tugs Pennsylvania, South Carolina and California. In addition, the shipyard was recently awarded a contract to perform drydocking and repairs on the USCG cutter Biscayne Bay, to commence in May. To learn more, visit


Sturgeon Bay proclaimed an official Coast Guard City

4/16 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – On January 23, after a 90-day review by the United States Congress, Admiral R. J. Papp, Jr. the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, signed a proclamation designating the City of Sturgeon Bay a Coast Guard City.

The entire community is invited to celebrate this prestigious honor at an official proclamation ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 10th at Sawyer Park on the city’s waterfront. Sturgeon Bay is one of only 16 communities nationwide to be named a Coast Guard City and is the first, and only, in Wisconsin.

The May celebration will kick-off with patriotic music by the Peninsula Symphonic Band at 10:30 a.m. followed by the official proclamation ceremony at 11. Rear Admiral Fred Midgette, Commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, will be the presiding official at the proclamation ceremony. Congressman Reid Ribble, Sturgeon Bay Mayor Thad Birmingham and senior officials from the United States Navy League will also participate.

The Saturday festivities conclude with a community family picnic immediately after the ceremony. There will be a nominal charge for food and beverages for the public. The local Coast Guard units will display boats and equipment from their own units as well as a few surprises.

All events will take place in or near the Sawyer Park Pavilion at 36 S. Neenah Ave. on Sturgeon Bay’s west side adjacent to the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge. In the event of inclement weather, the celebration and picnic will be moved to the Sturgeon Bay Fire Station/City Hall at 421 Michigan St.

The festivities continue the next morning with a Mothers’ Day Community Breakfast at the Fire Station from 8 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 1. The Community Breakfast on Sunday will be hosted by the Sturgeon Bay Fire Department and will honor all mothers attending in addition to the local Coast Guard personnel and their families.


Lookback #150 – T.R. McLagan aground in Lake Ontario on April 16, 1959

4/16 - The T.R. McLagan, at 714 feet 6 inches in overall length, was the largest ship on the Great Lakes when it was launched on Nov. 7, 1953. It was also the last ship built at the Midland shipyard before that facility was closed.

While most of the media's marine emphasis of 55 years ago today was concerned with the pending opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the T.R. McLagan made the news by going aground in eastern Lake Ontario off Amherst Island. It took two days to refloat the big Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier, but it was soon back in service.

The ship had set some early cargo records but these were soon surpassed in the Seaway era. With changing business conditions, T.R. McLagan was laid up at Kingston on November 3, 1984, after only 30 years of service. It resumed trading in May 1988, on charter to P. & H. Shipping, and the latter purchased the vessel in 1990.

Renamed Oakglen (ii), it concentrated in the grain trade, making the news again in 2001 as the first downbound ship of the year in both the Welland Canal and lower Seaway. It rejoined Canada Steamship Lines in 2001 when P. & H. sold its fleet and Oakglen operated through December 20, 2002, before tying up at Montreal.

Following a sale for scrap, Oakglen departed on October 17, 2003, behind the tug Seaways 5. The pair arrived off Alang, India, on Feb. 11, 2004, after a 117-day-tow via South Africa. The ship was beached for dismantling two days later.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 16

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Twin Ports opened on Monday

4/15 - Duluth, Minn. – The first upbound convoy arrived Monday morning. Stewart J. Cort was the first vessel to arrive, passing through the Duluth Ship Canal at 6 a.m. and heading to Superior to load. USCG Mackinaw, Sam Laud and Algoma Discovery all arrived about 9 a.m., Discovery waited off port in the ice. St. Clair waited off port for eastbound escort. CSL Tadoussac also arrived Monday morning from Thunder Bay. The Canadian Coast Guard ship Pierre Radisson is in Thunder Bay.


Port Reports -  April 15

St Marys River - Paul Beesley
Monday was another quiet day on the river. Mother Nature is doing her best to melt and move the ice from the river with a little help from the Coast Guard. CCGS Samuel Risley was given two tasks on this day. The first involved working the ice around the Burns Harbor so that ship could move out of the center of the channel. She had originally stopped when ice conditions were much heavier and the track that had been cut through the ice passed to one side. As the conditions improved it became necessary for her to move a bit to accommodate any ships that may need to pass. The second task was to break up the fast ice (ice that is attached to the shore and does not move) east of Pipe Island. It is on the east side that the upbound route is located and also the anchorage for ships that are required to wait in the river for passage. As the ice conditions deteriorate some ships may have to use this anchorage, as they will no longer be able to stop and be held in position by ice. With the break up of the ice the wind and current carries it into Lake Huron where it will quickly melt. East of Pipe Island the ice is attached to a number of islands large and small and, once the area is frozen completely, does not move all winter. Ice in the middle of lakes will move with current and wind throughout the winter.

Owen Sound, Ont. - Shane Ruther
Algomarine departed winter lay-up on Monday.


Coast Guard cutter-turned-museum Bramble gets ship-shape

4/15 - Port Huron, Mich. – Not all of the improvements on the decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bramble will be evident when tours of the ship resume today. But organizers hope the biggest changes will be apparent by the end of summer.

“Our goal for 2014 is to have the ship 100 percent operational and have it underway,” said Bob Klingler, co-owner of the ship with his wife, Sara. “By the end of the summer, we’re going to push off and go somewhere.”

Bob Klingler said about 20 different volunteers — many of them former “Coasties” — have been meeting regularly for about a year to restore the ship to its former glory. “It is a collection of people that contribute to keep her in place,” Bob Klinger said.

On Saturday, the group marked a large milestone, revving up two generators and the bow thruster for the first time in several years.

Next on their to-do list is the restoration of the generator and engine that swing a crane over the ship to lower a smaller watercraft into the water. Then, they’ll tackle the restoration of two main engines for the ship. “It’s slowly coming back to life,” Sara Klingler said.

The U.S. Coast Guard ship was decommissioned more than a decade ago on May 22, 2003. The Klinglers bought the ship from the Port Huron Museum Jan. 31, 2013. Next Tuesday, April 22, will mark 70 years since the ship was commissioned in 1944.

“The community should be very thankful to this couple for what they’ve done to save this ship,” Mike Murray, a volunteer on the ship, said.

Bob Klingler said the crew is bringing the engine room back to life so that it’s ready for future opportunities.

In 2013, the Klinglers were in talks for the ship to be featured in the fourth installment of the “Transformers” films. The studio passed on the Bramble, but Bob Klingler said there have been discussions since then to include the ship in other films.

He also has discussed the possibility of using the ship in expeditions to Great Lakes shipwreck dives.

While people coming aboard for tours may not immediately notice improvements in the engine room, they can expect other changes, Klingler said.

Two audio visual stations have been added to show the work the Bramble did in atomic testing and Arctic navigation. A radio room plays excerpts from the distress calls of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Klingler said the Bramble wasn’t involved in the response to the Edmund Fitzgerald, but it did play a part in similar emergency responses and rescues.

He said tour groups or individuals have the option of taking the Boatswain’s Tour — a general tour of the ship and its different areas — or a Commandant’s Tour — an in-depth tour of the ship and its history.

“A lot of people come on and want that detail,” Klingler said.

Klingler said stepping on board is like stepping back into maritime history. The ship’s complement of several retired Coast Guard members makes that history come alive.

“They have really good answers because they lived it,” he said. “You can learn a lot. There’re life lessons here; there’s history here.”

Starting Tuesday, the ship is open for tours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. For more information about the ship and its tours, or to make a reservation, visit


Dredging, shipwreck removal resumes on Fox River

4/15 - Green Bay, Wis. – Dredging and shipwreck removal has resumed on the Fox River near Green Bay.

Press-Gazette Media reported Sunday that dredging resumed last week after workers called it quits for the winter last fall. Tetra Tech, the company overseeing the work, also plans to resume removing tugboat and barge wreckage behind its Green Bay facility.

Green Bay-area paper companies are under federal orders to remove polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from the river. PCBs are chemicals used in the 1950s and 1960s to produce carbonless copy paper.

Workers have dredged more than 2.16 million cubic yards of sediment since cleanup began in 2009. They expect to remove about 670,000 cubic yards before ending work for the season this fall.

NBC 26


Maritime Academy of Toledo hosted Admiral’s Ball weekend last Saturday

4/15 - Toledo, Ohio – The Maritime Academy of Toledo Foundation wrapped up a successful Admiral’s Ball Weekend on April 12 with the 4th Annual Admiral’s Ball and Charity Auction. Over 130 people attended the event, which brought in $22,000 for the educational needs for cadets at the school.

The theme for this year’s event was “Chart Their Course for Success With Us.” It was sponsored by The Toledo Blade, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Dickenson Wright PLLC, Genoa Bank, IBEW, Local 8, as well as Ed Conn and Saga Schoffner.

The Admiral’s Ball started in 2011 as the annual major fundraiser for The Maritime Academy of Toledo.

“Over 220 cadets attend The Maritime Academy of Toledo with over 80-percent living at, or below, the U.S. poverty level. The Maritime Academy’s mission includes providing cadets with a college-prep education focusing on STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This gives cadets the opportunity, with the latest technology, to pursue higher education or careers in the maritime industry directly out of high school,” said Renee Marazon, academy president.

Over the past two years a one-day, K – 12 Maritime Education Symposium was added as part of the Admiral’s Ball festivities. The symposium is held the day before the annual ball with maritime industry professionals, unions, and educators meeting to share thoughts and ideas on how to best educate the next generation of the maritime workforce.

This year’s symposium was held on Friday, April 11 with over 50 maritime professionals in attendance. This year’s conference was titled “Using Simulation Technology and Experiential Learning to Educate the Next Generation of Great Lakes Mariners.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that jobs in the maritime industry will increase by 20 percent by the year 2020. At the same time, they warn that the U.S. is not educating enough people to meet that need.


Lookback #149 – Carrigan Head opened Seaway season as the first upbound saltie on April 15, 1963

4/15 - Today, the St. Lawrence Seaway usually ushers in a new navigation season in March. But this was not always the case. During the first year, things did not get underway until April 25 and it was 61 years ago today that the 1963 season started with the upbound passage of the Carrigan Head.

This would not be the last time that the British flag freighter got the season underway at the St. Lambert Lock. Later, on April 7, 1967, the 459-foot-long ship was again feted in the traditional ceremony afforded the first up bound vessel at St. Lambert.

Carrigan Head had been built by Harland & Wolff and launched at Belfast, Northern Ireland, on July 2, 1958. It became a regular Seaway trader win 1961 and, by the end of the 1967 season, had made 21 inland voyages.

After being laid up at Belfast on Nov. 12, 1971, the ship was sold and resumed sailing as Chrysanthi in 1972. It came to the Great Lakes that year but spent most of its time in saltwater service.

Another sale in 1979 led to a final name of Rysan and the ship arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for scrapping on October 25, 1980. The first up bound laker of the 1963 season at St. Lambert was Montrealais and this ship is still with us as Algoma Montrealais.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 15

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tanker IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD began service April 15, 1948.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ice eases up for westbound Lake Superior convoy

4/14 - 9 a.m. - The first upbound convoy arrived Monday morning. The Stewart J. Cort was the first vessel to arrive at 6 a.m. passing through the Duluth Ship Canal and heading to Superior to load. USCG Mackinaw, Sam Laud and Algoma Discovery all arrived about  9 a.m., Discovery waited off port in the ice. The St. Clair waited off port for eastbound escort. The CSL Tadoussac also arrived Monday morning from Thunder Bay. The Canadian Coast Guard ship Pierre Radisson is in Thunder Bay.

Original report - The westbound convoy made progress on Sunday, reaching the western tip of Isle Royal Sunday night. The convoy appeared to be through the heaviest of ice and traveling at speeds close to normal. If they do not encounter more ice, the convoy should reach Duluth about 8 a.m. on Monday.

The convoy left Whitefish Bay last week and will be the first upbound vessels of the season to reach the Twin Ports. The Coast Guard is planning a series of convoys until unescorted passage is possible. The list below is a tentative list and will like change several times.
U/B Queue Assignment Vessel Name FLAG HP:L Ratio DTG Assigned DTG Dptd WFB DTG Arrived Destination Cargo NPOC
1 ALGOMA DISCOVERY CA   1-Apr 11-Apr   In ballast Two Hbrs
1 EDWIN H GOTT US   1-Apr 10-Apr   In ballast Two Hbrs
1 STEWART J CORT US   1-Apr 10-Apr   In ballast Superior
1 SAM LAUD US   1-Apr 10-Apr   In ballast Silver Bay
1 EDGAR B SPEER US   1-Apr 10-Apr   In ballast Two Hbrs
2 ROGER BLOUGH US   12-Apr     In ballast SUPERIOR
2 ALGOMA ENTERPRISE CA 12 2-Apr     In ballast Superior
2 ALGOMA EQUINOX CA 13 3-Apr     In ballast Thunder Bay
2 RADCLIFFE R LATIMER CA 15 4-Apr     In ballast Superior
2 ALGOMA OLYMPIC CA 18 4-Apr     In ballast Duluth
3 HERBERT C JACKSON US 9 4-Apr     In ballast Marquette
3 LEE A TREGURTHA US 9 4-Apr     In ballast Duluth
3 JAMES R BARKER US 16 4-Apr     In ballast Superior
3 PAUL R TREGURTHA US 16 4-Apr     In ballast Superior
3 TECUMSEH CA 18 4-Apr     In ballast Thunder Bay
4 AMERICAN INTEGRITY US 14 4-Apr     In ballast Superior
4 H LEE WHITE US 10 4-Apr     In ballast Marquette
4 BURNS HARBOR US 14 4-Apr     In ballast Superior
4 INDIANA HARBOR US 14 4-Apr     In ballast Silver Bay
4 CSL NIAGARA CA 12 4-Apr     In ballast Duluth
5 MICHIPICOTEN  CA 10 7-Apr     In ballast MARQ
5 ROBERT S. PIERSON CA 9 7-Apr     In ballast MARQ
5 KAMINISTIQUA CA 15 7-Apr     In ballast Thunder Bay
5 VICTORY US 10 7-Apr     In ballast MARQ
5 SAGINAW CA 10 7-Apr     Coal Essar Steel
6 CSL ASSINIBOINE CA 13 7-Apr     In ballast Duluth
6 ARTHUR M ANDERSON US 10 7-Apr     In ballast Two Hbrs
6 JOHN G MUNSON US 9 7-Apr     In ballast Two Hbrs
6 OJIBWAY CA 6 9-Apr     In ballast Thunder Bay
6 CASON J CALLAWAY US 9 9-Apr     In ballast Two Hbrs
7 MICHIPICOTEN  CA 10 9-Apr     In ballast Marquette
7 AMERICAN CENTURY US 14 9-Apr     In ballast Superior
7 KEN BOOTHE SR US 12 9-Apr     In ballast Marquette
7 AMERICAN MARINER US 10 9-Apr     In ballast Silver Bay
7 AMERICAN COURAGE US 11 9-Apr     In ballast Silver Bay
8 BUFFALO US 11 9-Apr     In ballast Silver Bay
8 SAGINAW CA 13 9-Apr     Coal Essar Steel
8 FEDERAL ELBE CY 16 9-Apr     In ballast Thunder Bay
8 WHITEFISH BAY CA   10-Apr       Superior
8 BAIE ST PAUL CA   10-Apr       Superior
9 FRONTENAC CA   10-Apr       Duluth
9 MAPLEGLEN CA   10-Apr       Thunder Bay
9 BAIE COMEAU CA   10-Apr       Thunder Bay
9 PINEGLEN CA   10-Apr       Thunder Bay
9 CEDARGLEN CA   10-Apr       Thunder Bay
10 FEDERAL RIDEAU HK   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
10 FEDERAL NAKAGAWA HK   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
10 FEDERAL DANUBE CY   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
10 FEDERAL SATSUKI MH   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
10 FEDERAL SHIMANTO PA   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
11 FEDERAL EMS CY   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
11 FEDERAL MIRAMICHI AG   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
11 FEDERAL MAYUMI MH   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
11 FEDERAL SAGUENAY BB   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
11 ALGOWOOD CA   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
12 ALGOMARINE CA   11-Apr       Two Hbrs
12 ALGOMA TRANSPORT CA   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
12 LUEBBERT LI   11-Apr       Thunder Bay
12 WALTER J MCCARTHY US   11-Apr        
12 AMERICAN SPIRIT US   11-Apr        
13 ST CLAIR US   11-Apr        
13 SAM LAUD US   11-Apr        


Ice is rotting fast on Lake Erie

4/14 - Montreal, Que. – Ice on Lake Erie is rotting extremely fast, according to Andy Maillet, the Canadian Coast Guard’s Superintendent of Operations for the Central and Arctic Region.

Maillet, speaking from Montreal, said weather conditions over Lake Erie have been such that the ice hasn’t been pushed in one direction and compressed. Typically, winds come out of the southwest on the lake and push everything toward the eastern basin.

“We haven’t had those conditions surprisingly. That would cause us further problems,” he observed.

Maillet said ice on Lake Erie is receding to the east, from just west of Long Point. The melting ice has made it easier for some ships to move in and out of the Welland Canal at Port Colborne and navigate the lake on their own.

“If they feel comfortable proceeding on their own, are willing and think it’s safe they head out. The (CCGS) Des Groseilliers is still working with vessels back and forth on the lake.”

On Thursday, the icebreaker was seen escorting the tug-barge combination Wilf Seymour-Alouette Spirit toward Port Colborne. Des Groseilliers came in toward the inner lighthouse and then turned back around toward the lake, and ended up just past the outer lighthouse, where it sat for at least two hours. Wilf Seymour-Alouette Spirit sat south of the lighthouse. Maillet said the tug-barge wanted to move to a spot the icebreaker couldn’t do, so the Nadro Marine tug Seahound was asked to clear the area out. Wilf Seymour-Alouette Spirit ended up docked at South Pier Terminal.

While things were looking better on Lake Erie, Maillet said ice conditions on Lake Superior were still heavy. He said the first upbound convoy of ships on Lake Superior departed Thursday from Whitefish Bay at Sault Ste. Marie and came to a grinding halt on the lake.

The CCG icebreaker Pierre Radisson and the U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreaker Mackinaw had hard time with the ice and both vessels were stuck for a short period of time. Maillet said one of the vessels the icebreakers were escorting developed a hole in the hull and required an escort back to Sault St. Marie. “There’s a backlog of traffic now … and we’ve only had one downbound convoy,” he added.

Dave Johnson, Erie Media  


Port Reports -  April 14

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick and Heather Arpoika
Kaye E. Barker and Mesabi Miner, the first vessels of the season to reach Marquette, unloaded much-needed western coal for the Presque Isle Power Plant on Sunday. Kaye E. Barker also loaded the first ore cargo of the season from LS&I. USCG's Morro Bay and Katmai Bay were secured at Mattson Lower Harbor Park after leading the Barker and Miner across Lake Superior.

St Marys River - Paul Beesley
Saturday was a quiet day on the river, as there were no new arrivals and those waiting in line did not move. If the Lake Superior convoys are able to make successful trips, the St Marys will soon become busier with both up and downbounders. CCGS Samuel Risley spent the day opening up the channel from Mud Lake Junction to the bottom of the Rock Cut. Opening up simply means establishing a track through the ice. This will allow ships to pass through when the Rock Cut is opened to traffic. It also means that the ice will melt and/or drift away faster than it would if left to nature. The section that was opened had some very heavy ice, especially in the turns. In those areas it was still four feet thick in places. The Rock Cut itself is almost ice-free, but above the cut the Ice Road is still being used, so no icebreaking is being done there yet.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader are expected to be the first vessel of the 2014 season to load at Calcite's stone dock. They are expected to arrive in the early morning to load at the South Dock on Monday.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Chris Gaziano
H. Lee White departed late in the morning after spending the overnight hours unloading coal. The G.L Ostrander & Integrity came in during the afternoon under a heavy blanket of fog.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
American Century began to load at the CSX Coal Dock in Toledo on Saturday and continued loading into Sunday. American Mariner is due at CSX on Monday at noon followed by the Buffalo. John D. Leitch is due on Wednesday in the early morning. There is nothing due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. American Mariner unloaded iron ore at the Torco Dock on Saturday. Kaye E. Barker is the next vessel due at the Torco Dock on Wednesday in the late evening, followed by the Lakes Contender, due on Easter Sunday. Rounding out the schedule is the Baie Comeau, due to arrive at the Torco Dock on Monday, April 21 in the mid-afternoon.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
The CSL Trillium-class laker Whitefish Bay arrived with a cargo of salt around noon Sunday. The tug/barge combo Petite Forte/St.Marys Cement, enroute to Bowmanville, ducked into harbor to sit out the upcoming southwesterly blow. The Toronto Port Authority airport ferry Marilyn Bell 1 spent Saturday and Sunday morning at terminal 52 for maintenance and cosmetic touch ups and repairs. This gave the standby ferry David Hornell VC an opportunity to break in the new main engines that were installed this past summer.


Namesake of ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald to get his due

4/14 - Milwaukee, Wis. – When launched in 1958, the Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship traversing the Great Lakes, setting records for hauling taconite iron ore mined in Minnesota and destined for Midwest steel mills.

The ship's esteemed history is overshadowed by the tragedy that sent the vessel plunging to the bottom of Lake Superior with all 29 crew members on board in 1975, a catastrophe immortalized in the Gordon Lightfoot song.

What few know is the ore carrier was named after the president of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., which owned the ship. Edmund Fitzgerald came from a long line of Great Lakes ship captains, and a ship was named after his father — the W.E. Fitzgerald. So when the new ore carrier was built and named after Edmund Fitzgerald, it was a proud moment.

"The day that ship was launched was the probably the happiest day of my grandfather's life," said Edmund G. Fitzgerald, who owns a marina in Manitowish Waters.

On Edmund Fitzgerald's 65th birthday, his employees gave him a 4-foot-long ship's model of his namesake during a big party at Milwaukee's Auditorium. He kept it in his office until he died at the age of 90 in 1986, when it passed to his son Edmund B. Fitzgerald, who in turn kept it in his office.

When he died in September, it was bequeathed to the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society's Great Lakes Marine Collection at the Milwaukee Public Library.

On Saturday, the ship model was unveiled at an event at Milwaukee's Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. The museum-quality model will join more than a dozen other models of Great Lakes ships on display in the second-floor Zeidler Humanities Room.

It is fitting that the intricately detailed model would end up in the collection, because Edmund Fitzgerald was the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society's first president. The society's archives include thousands of photos of Great Lakes ships, nautical charts, an online database, paintings, memorabilia and ship models.

"A lot of people don't think of the man, they think of the ship," said Peter Hirthe, president of the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society. "This unveiling is to spotlight the man."

Fitzgerald's family tree is loaded with Great Lakes ship captains, including many of his uncles and great-uncles. In 1912, when he was a senior at East High School, now Riverside, he published a paper about Great Lakes shipping in the yearbook.

"Within five decades, he had a Great Lakes ship named after him," Hirthe said. "The layers of this family's involvement in the Great Lakes is incredible. He was just carrying on the tradition."

After graduating from Yale University, Edmund Fitzgerald started working at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance in the 1930s, rising through the ranks until becoming president in 1947. He was instrumental in pushing the firm into computers, acquiring one of the first IBM 705 data processing systems at a cost of $1.6 million to improve efficiency, said company spokeswoman Betsy Hoylman.

At 729 feet, the Edmund Fitzgerald was the first laker constructed to the maximum size of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

"Shipping in the Great Lakes was a great opportunity. To be able to build a big ship that could move steel back and forth, we thought that was a great investment," said Hoylman.

The Edmund Fitzgerald model display includes photos of the company president standing next to the ship when it docked in Milwaukee, as well as when he received the model from his employees. It also includes a small plaque listing some of the groups at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance that gave the model, including the company's men's and women's bowling teams, stamp club and sportsmen's club.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Update: Memorial bench for Violet "Lady Pirate" at Port Huron

4/14 - Sufficient funding has been collected to submit final design ideas to the Community Foundation of St.Clair County to proceed with placing a memorial bench honoring the late Boatnerd Violet “Lady Pirate” Bostwick’s along the edge of the St. Clair River on the site of the newly-constructed "Blue Water River Walk," set to open tentatively to the public Saturday June 7.


Updates -  April 14

News Photo Gallery


Lookback #148 – Former Spind caught fire on April 14, 1965

4/14 - The Norwegian freighter Spind was built by the Walter Butler Shipyards of Superior, WI and entered service on charter to the British Ministry of War Transport. It left the Great Lakes in June 1943 as Tully Crosby, one of the class of N3-S-A1 general cargo ships built during World War Two.

The vessel often served on the Baltic carrying lumber and pulpwood from Finland to the United Kingdom and returned to Sweden or Denmark with British coal. It was sold to British interests as Alexander T. in 1949, and to Norwegians, becoming Spind in 1951.

The latter came home to the Great Lakes on several occasions and, in September 1953, took a cargo of grain from Chicago to Preston, England. It sailed inland again through the St. Lawrence Canals as Heilo late in 1953 before moving under the flag of Costa Rica in 1956, as Capetan Vassilis. The latter was also a Great Lakes trader.

The former Spind became Christina in 1959. It was again known as Capetan Vassilis, but under the flag of Lebanon, when fire broke out in #2 hold on April 14, 1965, while the ship was about 60 miles off the Mediterranean island of Crete. The 258 foot, 10 inch long freighter was on a voyage from Madras, India, to Rotterdam, Holland, with a cargo of sunflower seeds. Members of the crew were forced to abandon ship 49 years ago today and the vessel succumbed to the damage and went down two days later.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lake Superior convoys making progress

4/13 - The USCG Morro Bay reached Marquette Saturday night followed by the USCG Katmai Bay, Kaye E. Barker and Mesabi Miner. The convoy departed Duluth on Friday; the relatively easy progress to Marquette was a welcome surprise. The westbound convoy that departed Whitefish Bay early in the week made progress on Saturday, and was slugging it out 40 miles north of Marquette heading for the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.


Port Reports -  April 13

Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Chris Gaziano
Algowood came in during the early morning Saturday with a load of salt and partially unloaded inside the inner harbor. Then it swung around and finished unloading inside terminal building #4 on the outside piers. The vessel finished unloading and was heading out by early evening. H. Lee White came during the evening with a load of coal. The Lafarge tug G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity also departed during the day, making their way south for Chicago.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The Saginaw River is still awaiting the first commercial vessel delivery of the 2014 shipping season, but even with all of the delays and troubles across the Great Lakes due to ice it is not unusual to not have a commercial vessel passage at this point of the year. Over the past nine seasons, here are the dates for the first commercial vessel passage on the Saginaw River:

2013 April 16
2012 April 2
2011 April 12
2010 March 31
2009 April 18
2008 March 27
2007 March 25
2006 March 26
2005 March 28
The U.S. Coast Guard has twice scheduled a break out of the Saginaw River Entrance Channel and has then cancelled it both times due to assets being needed elsewhere. Currently the Saginaw River is ice free, and at the mouth of the river the shipping channel is open water out to at least the Confined Disposal Island.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
American Century, although docked at the CSX Coal Dock in the past few days, has not loaded and is undergoing ballast tank repair. The revised schedule for the Toledo Docks has American Mariner loading at the CSX Coal Dock on Monday at noon followed by the Buffalo on Tuesday also at noon. John D. Leitch is due to load Wednesday in the morning and the Calumet is due to load Saturday, April 19 in the late afternoon-early evening. One vessel is on the schedule for the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock – CSL Niagara is expected to arrive on Friday, May 16, in the late evening. Due at the Torco Dock was American Mariner on Saturday in the morning to unload iron ore. Kaye E. Barker is due on Wednesday in the late evening, followed by CSL's Baie Comeau on Thursday evening. Rounding out the schedule will be the Lakes Contender, due on Saturday, April 19 in the morning. The ferry Jiimaan departed Toledo on Friday morning. Vessels that remain in lay-up include the Adam E. Cornelius in long-term at the Old Interlake Iron Co. Dock and the American Courage also at the Interlake Iron Dock, although she is expected to sail sometime in April. Buffalo is at the CSX Dock although she is also expected to sail soon. The tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber are both in lay-up across from the Torco Dock. American Fortitude and American Valor are both in long-term lay-up yet at the Lakefront Docks. Manistee is still laid-up at the Lakefront Docks.


Ice prompts cancellation of Beaver Island ferry runs

4/13 - Charlevoix, Mich. – Because of lingering ice cover on Lake Michigan, the Beaver Island Boat Co. is postponing the seasonal start of ferry service between Charlevoix and Beaver Island by a week.

Ferry trips that were planned for Monday, Wednesday and Friday, April 14, 16 and 18, have been canceled. If weather cooperates, the company anticipates starting boat runs on Monday, April 21.

Cathy Dewey, a marketing specialist with Beaver Island Boat Co., noted that the U.S. Coast Guard recently has been performing icebreaking operations along the ferry route, and that the company hopes weather conditions will also help in dispersing the ice.

The company is rescheduling reservations for customers who had arranged to have vehicles transported on the ferry, Dewey said. The ferry service does not take passenger reservations.

For more information about ferry service, see or call Beaver Island Boat Co.'s Charlevoix office at (231) 547-2311. The office is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Petoskey News-Review


Windsor police unveil new river patrol boat

4/13 - Windsor, Ont. – Windsor police unveiled its new high-tech 29-foot rapid response boat “Defender” — the first of its kind in Canada — during a ceremony Thursday at Lakeview Park Marina.

Several dozen people attended the ceremony near the marina’s wind-battered docks, including representatives of U.S. Homeland Security, RCMP, OPP and Detroit police along with Canadian and American coast guards and border patrols.

Police will use the boat to do patrols, enforcement and rescues on Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie.

“We’re obligated by the legislation to patrol our waterways,” said Chief Al Frederick. “Our waterway happens to be an international border. We’re the first responder.”

“So it’s absolutely critical that we respond to any type of emergency that happens out here, in addition to enforcement and public relations. When there’s a critical incident out there we have to be able to respond. This gives us that capability.”

The police service’s previous boat, dubbed Guardian, was about 25 years old. Frederick said updating it would have costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. The new vessel, built by SAFE Boats International, cost $350,000. Windsor police and the Windsor Port Authority split that down the middle.

“This was a unique opportunity to go in a completely different direction,” said Frederick. “It’s the first boat of its kind in all of Canada. It’s specific to managing our waterways.”

Marine unit leader Const. Shannon Tennant said the thing that makes it really unique in Canada is the boat’s pressurized hull with air chambers and dense foam that gives it buoyancy and stability.

“This boat, if it’s capsized, can right itself back up because of the hull design, the pressure of air in the hull chambers,” said Tennant.

He said the vessel design is so unique that police had to get an engineer to certify it so Transport Canada would allow it into the country.

The new boat also has an enclosed cabin with a “walk-around platform” that allows officers to move around the whole deck.

“You’ve got the comfort of a full cabin with air-conditioning and heat for the extreme elements,” said Tennant. “It’s soundproof so we can communicate better with our dispatchers, Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard. It also gives you the benefit of walking around with the hand railings and the 3M deck tape.”

The boat — touted as the most advanced small security vessel of its kind in Canada — has a small draft that allows it to go into shallow water during emergencies. It has peppy twin four-stroke 300-horsepower outboard motors, which makes repairs and maintenance easier.

“This boat will get us there faster than the other boat in an efficient manner to where we need to be for search and rescues and waterway emergencies,” said Tennant.

Other bells and whistles include a climate control cabin, fire pump, generator, integrated navigation package, thermal camera, remote spotlight, side scan sonar and even shock mitigating seats.

Two years of research and testing went into buying the boat. The cost and effort all seemed to be worth it Thursday.

Windsor Star


Toronto Marine Historical Society annual auction underway

4/13 - Attention all those who collect Great Lakes shipping memorabilia, artifacts and books, the 17th Annual Auction by the Toronto Marine Historical Society has started. Bids will be accepted up to 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 5, 2014. Please visit for a full list and order form.


Lookback #147 – Ice pushed George M. Humphrey on a shoal on April 13, 1956

4/13 - The American ore carrier George M. Humphrey was only two years old when it got trapped in ice crossing Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior, 58 years ago today. The vessel was downbound with an early load of iron ore when it got caught and guided onto a shoal by the shifting pack of ice.

In time, the crane ship O.S. McFarland was able to come alongside and remove enough cargo to enable the 710-foot-long bulk carrier, the pride of the Hanna fleet, to be refloated. The ship continued to Cleveland to unload and then sailed to the shipyard at Lorain, where it had been built, for repairs.

When new in 1954, the George M. Humphrey was the first laker with a 75-foot beam and was soon in the record books carrying 22,605 tons of iron ore out of Allouez. That mark stood until 1960.

While most of its work was on the upper four Great Lakes, the George M. Humphrey traded through the Seaway in at least 1959, 1974 and 1977.

The ship tied up at Ecorse, Michigan on Dec. 13, 1983, and seemed a far too good a ship to have only sailed for 30 seasons. It remained idle until departing Aug. 13, 1986, following a sale for scrap. After going down the Seaway under her own power, the tug Smit-Lloyd 109 picked up the now 32-year-old laker and, along with fleetmate Paul H. Carnahan, began the long journey to Taiwan, via the Panama Canal and Pacific.

They arrived at Kaohsiung on Dec. 10, 1986, just shy of four months after the George M. Humphrey departed Ecorse, for a rendezvous with the shipbreakers.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 13

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


St Marys River icebreaking job includes off-station buoy repositioning

4/12 - Overnight Thursday into Friday, cold temperatures froze the brash ice in the track around Stribling Point, but by later in the day the warm temperatures had loosened it up again. At the corner of the river near Dark Hole, one of the buoys was about 500 feet off advertised position, no doubt carried there by early winter ice, and no longer marking the turn properly. Friday offered ideal weather to pick the buoy up and place it back where it belonged.

CCGS Samuel Risley was on the way downriver and, being always ready for whatever tasks come her way, stopped to reposition the buoy. This is a USCG buoy in US waters, but the two coast guards complement each other in several ways – this was one example. The buoy itself had a 4,000-pound anchor and 48 feet of chain attached, so the deck crew lifted the entire unit out of the water, inspected the chain and all connections, then prepared it for placing. Once the Risley was at the correct position, the buoy and anchor were dropped and the Risley backed away, continuing downbound to return to ice escort work.

Among the waiting ships in the lower river were Tecumseh and Lee A. Tregurtha. Both were advised that their time had come, and they followed the Risley upriver to the Hay Lake anchorage, close to Nine Mile. Before they arrived, the Risley broke the ice in the anchorage to allow the ships to take advantage of this space closer to the locks. There is still a gathering of the ships in the Soo and little space for others to join, especially after the Roger Blough returned for repairs on Friday.

Several hours behind the Tecumseh and Tregurtha were Algosteel and Saginaw. Both ships made the journey without direct assistance although they reported the channel on the Sailor's Encampment ranges was still very “sticky.” Saginaw is going to the mill in Soo, Ont., while the Algosteel is reported to be joining the convoy attempting to make the trip west on Lake Superior.

With all the troubles in Port Colborne/Eastern Lake Erie, Mackinac Strait, Lower Seaway and the yet-to-be-broken Georgian Bay, there appears to be no immediate relief or extra icebreakers in sight.

Paul Beesley


Port Reports -  April 12

Twin Ports - Dale Stewart
Friday the Great Republic was moved out of the drydock at Fraser shipyard sporting the Great Lakes Fleet paint scheme. About 3 p.m. the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder departed eastbound, with the Mesabi Miner following about 45 minutes later. At 4:20 the Kaye E. Barker departed, followed shortly by the USCG Katmai Bay and Morro Bay. Morro Bay and Katmai Bay took up escort of the Miner and Barker heading for Marquette, Michigan.

Lake Superior
The westbound convoy had another day of little progress Friday, only traveling a few miles. Roger Blough, damaged by ice, departed the convoy and returned to the Soo with Coast Guard escort, arriving there on Friday. The damaged area is reported to be on the starboard side in the engine room.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
Two westbound vessels, the Joyce L. Van Enkevort and Algowood, passed Lansing Shoal around 10 am on Friday, assisted by the USCG icebreakers Hollyhock and Biscayne Bay. At the same time, the eastbound Samuel de Champlain was stuck in ice around six miles southwest of Lansing Shoal. Biscayne Bay handed off escort duty to the Hollyhock and returned east towards St. Ignace, possibly to assist the freighter Gadwall (AIS destination of Chicago). By 2 pm, the Enkevort and Algowood were downbound on Lake Michigan (west of Trout Island) moving at 11-12 knots. The Samuel de Champlain was north of Hog Island and also moving at good speed towards the Mackinac Bridge. Thursday’s eastbound convoy of nine ships all cleared Lansing Shoal late at night, and by Friday morning they were in the lower St. Marys River with two exceptions: John G Munson and Cason W Callaway were still on northern Lake Huron west of Detour.

Toronto, Ont. - Frank Hood
Lubie departed Toronto Thursday evening. Redhead and English River arrived in Toronto Thursday evening.


The big melt: Once-in-a-generation ice on lakes delays shipping season

4/12 - Green Bay, Wis. - The U.S. Coast Guard began ice-breaking operations in the waters of Green Bay on Thursday. Recreational users are cautioned to plan activities carefully and stay away from shipping channels and the charted lake Carriers Association track lines.

Ice-breaking efforts will expand and increase in frequency after Thursday as ice conditions and demands of shipping require. This will include all navigable waters in and around the ports of Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Marinette, Menominee and Escanaba. Icebreaking will impact the Fox River and lower Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, Little Bay De Noc, and the entrance channel into Marinette and Menominee.

A long, cold winter that froze huge swaths of the Great Lakes continues to be felt well into the spring with a slow start to the 2014 commercial shipping season.

The Port of Green Bay has yet to see its first vessel for the season. The first ship usually comes in between March 28 and about April 3, said Dean Haen, head of Brown County's Port and Resource Recovery Department.

“This is very atypical, he said. “In years with mild winters we’ve had ships in as early as March 15, but more typically toward the end of March and early April. It’s less than typical when we approach the middle of April.”

More than a dozen businesses are located in the port and use the facility for bulk transportation of goods like cement and coal. Winter weather trimmed about two weeks off the end of the 2013 shipping season in Green Bay and its now delaying the start.

“It’s a pinch for those businesses that have real limited supply,” Haen said. “We shut down early and there was still product that needed to be moved, and now were starting up late and that product is either waiting for the port or its being served by another mode.”

Some businesses have turned to getting supplies by train and trucks until the bay is again open, he said. The port handled 2.2 million tons of cargo last year. Ice-breaking on Green Bay got underway this week.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutters Mobile Bay and Biscayne Bay are assigned to clear the way through the ice into the Port of the Green Bay, with the goal of opening it for commercial traffic as soon as Sunday, said Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services with the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

“This is a once-in-a-generation ice year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said we have more ice than we have seen in 35-plus years,” he said. “For the most part, nobody has seen this before.”

U.S. and Canadian crews have been working to clear shipping lanes through the iced-over lakes.

The cold winter produced some of the heaviest ice on record across the five inland seas, where more than half the surface area remained solid into April. Ice-breaking ships working in Lake Superior were encountering ice layers 2 to 3 feet thick. In some areas, wind and wave action created walls of ice up to 14 feet high.

About three-quarters of Lake Superior, the largest and deepest of the Great Lakes, remained ice-covered. It could be about two weeks before the surface is clear enough for freighters to make the crossing without an icebreaker escort.

“We’re probably two-three weeks behind where we would be in a traditional winter,” Gill said. “Based on what we had 10 days ago we were still not above freezing on average daily temperatures (winter has) just now started to let go.”

The shipping season officially began March 25 with the opening of navigational locks on the St. Marys River connecting Lakes Superior and Huron, a key transit point for vessels hauling iron ore and coal to manufacturers and electric power plants. Through the start of the week, just one convoy of vessels including two icebreakers and the two ships hauling iron ore had crossed Superior with loads of freight.

The amount of cargo moving on the great lakes was down more than 50 percent last month due to ice conditions, the Ohio-based Lake Carriers Association said Thursday.

U.S. ships moved 980,000 tons of cargo in March, down 55 percent from a year ago. Some of the cargo loaded in March did not reach its destination until April 7 or later. Under normal circumstances, those cargoes should have been delivered in late March or early April, the association said in its monthly report.

Through March 31, U.S. cargo total 3.2 million tons, a decrease of nearly 39 percent compared with the same point in 2013. This is the latest start to the season Haen has seen in his 15 years with the department.

“Even during bad economic times, wed had ships in already,” he said. “It’s all ice related.”

The Associated Press


Cleaner, updated S.S. Badger to set sail on May 16

4/12 - Ludington, Mich. – The S.S. Badger in Ludington is undergoing some major improvements, but will be set to sail on May 16, according to the Mason County Press.

Officials are working on the first phase of the S.S. Badger’s new combustion control component ash retention system, and that work is expected to be completed before the start of the 2014 sailing season on May 16, according to the Press.

The current changes will bring the ship into compliance with the federal government-ordered consent decree. The changes reportedly are designed to end the discharge of ash by the start of the 2015 sailing season.

The Badger -- the last coal-fired ship operating on the Great Lakes -- is operated by Lake Michigan Carferry between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis. The Environmental Protection Agency had ordered the Badger to quit dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan, according to an MLive article.

MLive Muskegon Chronicle reported in October that U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff had signed a three-way agreement between the operator of the coal-fired S.S. Badger, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The agreement allows the Badger to keep sailing, but sets a schedule for the Badger to quit dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan, with fines for non-compliance.



Coast Guard rescues dog in Sturgeon Bay ship canal

4/12 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Coast Guard rescued a dog that was in the Sturgeon Bay, Wis., ship canal Friday afternoon. At 1:45 p.m., members of Coast Guard Station Sturgeon Bay noticed three people who were trying to assist a dog out of the canal near the station. Members of the ice rescue team from the station launched aboard the stations ice rescue craft and rescued the dog, transported it to shore, and returned it to its owner.

This rescue occurred near where the Door County Sheriffs Department rescued five people Thursday who fell through the ice, and the Coast Guard warned residents and visitors of weakening ice due to warming temperatures. In March, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay rescued a dog off the ice, and a member of the crew was able to document the rescue with photographs.


Coast Guard cancels planned ice-breaking operations in Saginaw Bay

4/12 - Detroit, Mich. – The Coast Guard has canceled ice-breaking operations that were scheduled to take place in Saginaw Bay, beginning Saturday morning. The ice-breaking operations were announced Thursday in a news release.


Lookback #146 – Former H.M.C.S. Battleford wrecked on April 12, 1949

4/12 - The World War II-vintage H.M.C.S. Battleford was built as Hull 95 at Collingwood and launched for the Royal Canadian Navy on April 15, 1941. It was commissioned at Montreal on July 31, 1941, and headed to the Atlantic for escort duty.

The ship was initially based at Halifax and then Sydney, Nova Scotia. It had an active part in the war and rescued 50 survivors from the American freighter Kaimoku on August 8, 1942. The latter was traveling from New York to Immingham, England, with steel and munitions when it was torpedoed by U-379 and sunk on the Atlantic. The freighter, built in 1919 as Crisfield, went down in four minutes but only four on board were lost.

H.M.C.S. Battleford was part of convoy ONS 154 that was badly mauled by the German U-boats and lost 14 ships on their crossing in December 1942. Later that month, the ship helped in the destruction of U-356.

Battleford paid off at Sorel on July 18, 1945. Many of the wartime corvettes were broken up for scrap while others were rebuilt as general cargo or even passenger ships. Battleford was sold to the Venezuelan Navy in 1946 and served that country as Libertad until it ran aground and was wrecked off Western Venezuela on April 12, 1949, 65 years ago today.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 12

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Apollon, Brant, Drawsko, Federal Elbe, Federal Nakagawa, Luebbert, and Nassauborg.


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lake Superior convoy makes slow progress, Blough damaged by ice

4/11 - Roger Blough, Edwin H. Gott, Stewart J. Cort, Sam Laud and Edgar B. Speer set out on Lake Superior Thursday morning escorted by the CCGS Pierre Radisson and USCG Mackinaw. The convoy took a southerly route and made slow progress, covering only about eight miles and stopping two miles off the beach west of Whitefish Point. The Blough turned back Thursday evening after reportedly suffering damage in the ice, and the Mackinaw was escorting the Blough down Whitefish Bay to the Soo.

Chris Stephens


Icebreaking continued Thursday on lower St Marys River

4/11 - Thursday was another day of changing ice conditions and weather that greeted the ships waiting to move upriver. The track in the ice remains and most of the snow has gone courtesy of some overnight rain. The ice close to shore and in shoal areas continues to noticeably thin. Three ships were brought upbound Thursday: Algoma Equinox and Algoma Olympic early in the day, and Radcliffe R Latimer in the afternoon. All three secured at the lock approaches. The ice in the area of Sailor's Encampment remains problematic but the rest of the track is workable for most ships. Interlake has four ships waiting in the lower river and Lower Lakes has one. More ships are due at the river in the near future.

Paul Beesley


Ice keeps ship from moving in Welland Canal

4/11 - Port Colborne, Ont. – For the second day, ice kept the Federal Nakagawa from moving through the Welland Canal at Port Colborne. The 200-metre long vessel was forced to back out of Lock 8 Thursday afternoon and move back behind Bridge 19.

Federal Nakagawa, a Hong-Kong registered cargo ship, was stuck in ice under Bridge 19 for nearly five hours on Wednesday afternoon. It eventually worked itself free with the help of Nadro Marine’s tug Seahound, which was working in front of the Federal Nakagawa as it tried to move through the lock Thursday.

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. spokesman Andrew Bogora said winds out of the southwest pushed ice off of Lake Erie into the Welland Canal and lock. “It’s weather-related phenomenon … we can’t really forecast to what extent it will happen in the week to come,” said Bogora from Seaway headquarters in Cornwall, Ont.

He said there’s no doubt ice delayed shipping in the canal over the past couple of days and he expects more delays to occur over the next week or two.

With the ice in the Welland Canal’s southern entrance, and heavy ice still on lakes Erie, Huron and Superior, shipping is down somewhat compared to last year, said Bogora. The canal and St. Lawrence Seaway have been open for almost two weeks now and Bogora said domestic shipping is moving at a slower pace. The fact that ships are traveling at slower speeds, operating only in daylight hours in some areas and traveling in convoys is part of the reason for the slow start to the 2014 season.

“It’s a reflection of the current ice conditions, but we’re optimistic that it will pick up,” he said.

Bogora said he’s been with the Seaway since 2001 and this was the most remarkable winter on the lakes during his time with the organization.

“I’m told to see comparable winters you have to look back to 1994, or in certain circumstances back to 1979.”

As of Thursday evening, the Federal Nakagawa and another ship, the saltwater vessel Brant, were docked above Bridge 19, while the tug-barge combination Wilf Seymour was sitting off of the breakwall on Lake Erie. The CCGS Des Groseilliers, and icebreaker, has been working the entrance of the canal and escorting the Wilf Seymour to Port Colborne at noon Thursday, but had moved west down the lake.

Erie Media


Port Reports -  April 11

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
At 6 a.m. Thursday, a convoy of seven ships sped up Lake Michigan in what looked very much like a naval battle formation: John G. Munson and Indiana Harbor side by side, followed by Hon. James L Oberstar and Cason J Callaway side by side and the Thunder Bay and Burns Harbor, also side by side. Taking up the rear guard was the Arthur M. Anderson.

By 8 a.m., the lead ships began to encounter the enemy in battle, the ice field southwest of Lansing Shoal. They each approached the ice field from different directions, some more successfully than others. At first, the Oberstar appeared to have chosen the right line going NNE, as the Paul R. Tregurtha did with success on Wednesday, but then it turned east early and became stuck. There may have been no correct line Thursday, because of southerly winds that was creating ice pressure and closing tracks soon after they were opened.

At 10 a.m., after many of the ships had stopped, the USCG icebreaker Hollyhock approached the convoy from Lansing Shoal to assist, but five hours later only one ship had made it to Lansing Shoal, the Indiana Harbor. The rest were all mired in very thick lake ice. The Hollyhock assisted the Oberstar first. Although the Oberstar was doing all right for a mile or so, it soon came to a stop. The Hollyhock said that it was typically seeing three-foot thick ice with slush on top and that the Biscayne Bay would be arriving from Green Bay to assist.

By 3 p.m., Hollyhock had lined up all of the ships so that they could be freed one by one and then moved together in a single track. But that did not turn out to be easy. Biscayne Bay and two more upbound ships – the American Mariner and the Alpena – had also arrived.

By 9:30 p.m., Hollyhock and Biscayne Bay, working their way down the line of ships, succeeded in getting the Munson and Thunder Bay moving towards Lansing Shoal at good speed. Earlier the Indiana Harbor made it to the better track east of Lansing Shoal and shortly after 9 p.m. she was already east of White Shoal and heading for the bridge. However, six freighters were not moving yet, and the icebreakers were continuing to work on freeing them into the night.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
The revised schedule now lists American Century loading coal at the CSX Coal Dock on Saturday morning. American Mariner is also due to load on Sunday in the morning and the John D. Leitch is also due to load Sunday in the evening. The Midwest Terminal Stone Dock dock is still closed for the season. At the Torco Dock, the list of vessels arriving with iron ore cargoes include the American Mariner, due on Saturday in the late evening, followed by the James L. Kuber, which is due to arrive on Tuesday, April 15 in the early evening. Salarium is due to arrive on Thursday, April 17 during the late afternoon, and the Kaye E. Barker is due to arrive at the Thursday, April 17 in the early evening. Two more vessels have departed Toledo in the past few days. The tug Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender left on Tuesday evening and headed to Ashtabula to load. The tug Victory and the barge James L. Kuber departed lay-up on Wednesday and proceeded to Sandusky to load. Adam E. Cornelius is still in long-term at the Old Interlake Iron Dock. Her fleetmate American Courage is expected to sail sometime in April. The Buffalo is at the CSX Docks and also expected to sail sometime in April. American Fortitude and American Valor remain in long-term lay-up at the Lakefront Docks. Manistee also remains at the Lakefront Dock but is expected to sail soob. The tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber remain in lay-up across from the Torco Dock. The ferry Jiimaan still remains in Toledo.


Ice blockade halves U.S.-flag lakes shipping in March

4/11 - Cleveland, Ohio – Ice formations the likes of which have not been seen in decades severely limited cargo movement in U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes in March. Shipments of iron ore, coal and cement in lakers totaled 980,000 tons, a decrease of 55 percent compared to a year ago. Some of the cargo that was loaded in March was not delivered until April 7 or later.

Iron ore cargos totaled 827,000 tons, a decrease of 47 percent compared to a year ago. Most of the ore was loaded at Escanaba, Michigan, or shuttled within Cleveland Harbor. Only 67,000 tons were loaded at a Lake Superior port, and the ice formations on Lake Superior and the St. Marys River were so thick that that those cargos were not delivered until April 7 or later. Under normal circumstances those cargos should have been delivered in late March or early April.

Resumption of the coal trade was likewise slowed by winter’s grip on the Lakes. Shipments totaled 103,000 tons, a decrease of 44.5 percent compared to a year ago.

The only other dry-bulk cargo to move in March was cement, and shipments fell to 52,000 tons, a decrease of 67 percent compared to a year ago.

Through March 31, U.S.-flag cargos total 3.2 million tons, a decrease of nearly 39 percent compared to the same point in 2013.

The extreme ice conditions will have an impact on cargo movement in April was well. As of April 1, only 23 U.S.-flag lakers were in service. A year earlier 38 vessels were in operation. Forty U.S.-flag lakers were moving on April 1, 2012.

Lake Carriers Association


Icebreaking operations to begin on Lake Huron, Georgian Bay

4/11 - The Canadian Coast Guard says spring icebreaking operations in Georgian Bay and on Lake Huron are to start this weekend. An icebreaker will make its way into Georgian Bay for April 13th and will proceed with icebreaking in the Owen Sound, Midland and Whitefish River areas. The Coast Guard says dates and routes are subject to change with little or no notice due to operational requirements or changes to weather and ice conditions.

The Canadian Press


Coast Guard warns Saginaw Bay residents of upcoming ice-breaking activity

4/11 - Detroit, Mich. – The Coast Guard is advising Saginaw Bay residents that the Coast Guard Cutter Neah Bay is scheduled to conduct ice-breaking operations in Saginaw Bay Saturday morning. The Coast Guard is advising residents and visitors that any ice in the area may be particularly unstable and dangerous. The cutter is scheduled to conduct the initial fracture of the Saginaw Bay Entrance Channel, from Gravelly Shoal to the entrance of the Saginaw River. All efforts are being made to limit the impact on winter activities on the ice, however the Coast Guard advises everyone to stay clear of this area.


Lake Superior museum seeks volunteers for the SS Meteor Spring Work Weekend

4/11 - Superior, Wis. - The Lake Superior Marine Museum Association (LSMMA), in conjunction with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society and Superior Public Museum, is seeking volunteers for the SS Meteor Spring Work Weekend.

The event, which is Saturday, April 26 (9 am-5 pm) and Sunday, April 27 (9 am-4 pm) helps maintain the last whaleback ship designed by Captain Alexander McDougall.

A complimentary soup and sandwich lunch will be provided. For more information, or to volunteer, please contact Sara at Superior Public Museums - 715-394-5712.

According to the group, “This year not only do we have our large list of tasks to complete, we also have another project coming up on the horizon. The black part of the hull hasn’t been painted for very long time. If fact nobody knows when the last time it was painted. This is going to take many gallons of special paint. Superior Public Museums is conducting a special program to encourage folks to Buy and Sponsor a Gallon Bucket of Paint to help restore and preserve the hull of the world’s last whaleback ship. The cost of sponsoring a bucket of paint is $50 per bucket. The bucket of paint will be displayed in the tower of ‘Thanks’ in the S.S. Meteor Museum with your name on it throughout the 2014 tourist season. This will provide notoriety for the folks that helped with purchasing the paint and ultimately the new look of the painted hull.”

Here’s how to buy a sponsored bucket of paint: Purchase and Sponsor a Bucket of Paint.


Lookback #145 – Former Labrador tied up at Piraeus, Greece, on April 11, 1978

4/11 - The long and fascinating career of the ship that first visited the Seaway as Labrador in 1959, was approaching the end when it tied up for good at Piraeus, Greece, 36 years ago today.

The vessel had been designed for transatlantic service to Detroit and Chicago when construction got underway at Temse, Belgium, in 1940. However the invading Germans confiscated the hull and it was launched as Tanger on Nov. 7, 1942. The Nazis planned to convert the ship into a blockade runner named Sperrbrecher 155.

The vessel was towed to Antwerp for completion on May 11, 1944, but ultimately filled with 900 tons of concrete and scuttled on Sept. 3, 1944, in an attempt to block the Allied liberation forces. It was refloated in May 1945 and returned to the original owners for completion. At last, the ship was commissioned as Ardea on March 13, 1947.

Ardea finally came to the Great Lakes in 1953 and was back as the Dutch flag Falco in 1954, operating between the Mediterranean and Chicago. It became Labrador in 1956 and continued Great Lakes service, this time under the flag of Panama, until the Seaway opened.

The 258-foot-long vessel was lengthened to 305 feet in 1959 and made another six trips to the Great Lakes in the Seaway era, with a final visit in 1961. Beginning in 1966, the ship sailed as Senegal for Greek and then Cypriot interests before becoming Tea and then Bonanza, still flying the flag of Cyprus, in 1976

Service ended when Bonanza tied up at Piraeus on April 11, 1978. Before the end of the year, it had been sold to local shipbreakers and the dismantling of the hull got underway on October 25, 1978.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 11

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday was a good day for St. Marys River icebreaking

4/10 - Work continues in an attempt to move ships up the St Marys River. Ice conditions have moderated and a track has been established that the ships can work through with minimum assistance from icebreakers. As the weather warms and the ice deteriorates, it will break into larger pans and float with the current and the wind and will accumulate in the tight areas of the river and once again cause havoc. Not only will they block the track, but large pans of ice can actually push a ship out of the channel as the ice moves. This will require icebreaker assistance to break the pans of ice ahead of a ship. These pans can be more than 100 feet across, two feet thick and weigh a significant amount.

Wednesday, however, was a good day on the river. USCGC Mackinaw went down to the junction buoy and brought up the Edgar B Speer. The Speer had no difficulty, and with her width and straight sides, made an excellent track for other ships to follow. The Mackinaw continued to the locks and went upbound later in the day to join CCGS Pierre Radisson with the first westbound convoy across Lake Superior.

That left CCGS Samuel Risley alone in the river until a Bay-class cutter arrives in a day or two. The Risley went to the Soo, Ont., for a quick logistics stop, then proceeded downbound to assist shipping and maintain the track. Algoma Discovery came up with the Risley, while Algoma Enterprise made her way up to the locks unassisted. At the end of the day, the Risley went down to the junction to await daylight when she will assist the next group of upbounders toward the locks at the Soo.

With two icebreakers heading west on Lake Superior there are none left for convoys on that lake until the Mac and Radisson return. Therefore, there is no urgency to bring ships to the locks, as they will have to wait in Whitefish Bay for an undetermined time. Consequently ships are coming up one or two at a time with no set number of transits per day. This also prevents several ships from getting into difficulty at different locations at the same time with only one icebreaker to answer the call.

Tuesday night the rain started. Rain is a wonderful way to clean snow off ice. This makes the ice less reflective and more able to absorb the heat of the sun and quicker to melt.

Paul Beesley


Federal Nakagawa freed from ice under Bridge 19 in Port Colborne

4/10 - Port Colborne, Ont. – Nearly five hours after it became stuck in ice under Bridge 19 in Port Colborne, Ont., the vessel Federal Nakagawa was freed Wednesday.

The vessel started moving just as a truck full of hot water showed up to try and melt the ice alongside the ship in the Welland Canal Wednesday evening. A St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. employee said the ice ran the length of the port side of the 200-metre long ship, flagged out of Hong Kong. The Federal Nakagawa started to move under Bridge 19, the Main Street bridge, sometime around 3:30 p.m. and became stuck. The vessel was headed toward Lake Erie.

The tug Seahound was brought down the canal from its dock on West Street about an hour after the Federal Nakagawa became wedged under the bridge. Seahound positioned itself on the starboard side at first and then moved to the port side. It used its propellers to create prop wash down the port side of cargo ship in an attempt to melt or move the ice. Federal Nakagawa could also been seen pumping water from the bow area, as residents came to see what was going on at the bridge.

At 7:30 p.m., the truck filled with hot water moved to the east side of the canal. Just as its operator started to unroll hose lines, the Federal Nakagawa started to move backwards. It backed up the canal as the Seahound cleared ice the under the bridge.

The Seaway employee said the Federal Nakagawa would dock for the night and join a convoy of ships leaving Port Colborne on Thursday morning. The convoy will be led by the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Des Groseilliers, which has been leading ships through the ice on Lake Erie for the last week.

Dave Johnson - Erie Media and Nathan Attard


Port Reports -  April 10

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
On Wednesday morning, the USCG icebreaker Biscayne Bay resumed its Beaver Island track icebreaking mission, heading due north to St. James just off the eastern shore of Beaver Island. The track from Beaver Island is now a right-angle that runs south and then turns east to Charlevoix. Later on Wednesday the Biscayne Bay crossed Lake Michigan to Washington Island where she is moored.

Also on the move Wednesday morning was the Paul R. Tregurtha, which was upbound on Lake Michigan at over 13 knots heading towards Seul Choix Point. The Tregurtha found an effective route to Lansing Shoal, choosing a NNE course, and then turning east (095) for the final five or so mile approach to Lansing Shoal. She gradually slowed to a stop around 1-2 miles west of fleetmate James R. Barker, which was already waiting there.

The USCG icebreaker Hollyhock, which had spent the night north of Garden Island, came to assist the two freighters that were stopped in very thick plate ice. After breaking the two lakers out, the Hollyhock led them eastbound. Near Garden Island, the Hollyhock pulled off the track to the south to let the Tregurtha and Barker pass, then it followed until the freighters were making good progress in the well-established track. The Tregurtha had to slow a bit near White Shoal when the ice was binding up on the hull, but things got much smoother the rest of the way to the bridge and Round Island. The Barker complained of being bounced back and forth by the large ice chunks and noted that its bow was flipping over ice plates 5 feet long. Wednesday night, the Tregurtha and Barker were in the second Lake Superior convoy group that has assembled in the lower St. Marys River.

The Hollyhock returned to her station north of Garden Island, and was waiting to escort a larger convoy upbound on Lake Michigan. At 9:30 pm the group was off Sturgeon Bay: John G. Munson, Indiana Harbor, Cason J Callaway and Burns Harbor. The Munson and Callaway turned back south for a good distance in the late afternoon before resuming a northbound course with the Indiana Harbor and the Burns Harbor.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Chris Gaziano
Arthur M. Anderson came in during the early morning Wednesday with a load of coal. Thunder Bay also came in during the morning with salt. Both were finished and out on the lake by late afternoon. The Alpena made her second visit of the season to the LaFarge terminal. Indiana Harbor departed from winter lay up sometime late Tuesday night, while CSL Niagara is still moored in the inner harbor. Also, the Lake Express ferry was moved from its winter home on the Menomonee River out to the ferry terminal on the lake.


Water levels are rising, but how big a jump is expected?

4/10 - Lake Michigan and Lake Huron water levels have started their annual rise. The forecast is out for the projected increase in water levels this summer.

Water levels on Lake Michigan- Huron typically rise from March through July. Lake Michigan- Huron has risen one inch since early March, but is 13 inches higher than this same time last year. Although the above two lakes are higher, they are still 16 inches below the long-term average for this date.

The rise in the lakes in the past month was the result of melting snow. Precipitation didn't help much to the rise in lake levels, as March was fairly dry. The dry pattern in March was good for helping Michigan avoid major flooding. However, heavy rain would have really boosted lake water levels. March precipitation over the Lake Michigan-Huron drainage basin was only 1.49 inches, which was 69 percent of normal.

One of the reasons Lake Michigan-Huron could be higher this summer is a higher lake level start right now. This winter the lake level only dropped six inches. In comparison, last winter Lake Michigan-Huron fell 20 inches, and dropped to record low levels.

The forecast calls for Lake Michigan-Huron to rise another 13 inches and peak in July or August seven inches higher than last summer. If this rise occurs, Lake Michigan-Huron would only be 10 inches below the long term average. The high side of the forecast says the lakes could end up 14 inches higher than last summer, and would be only four inches below the long-term average. This would occur if we had much above normal precipitation on the drainage basin. The low end of the forecast would have the lake level ending up the same as last summer, and would happen if we were extremely dry for the rest of this spring and early summer.

Another interesting condition helping the rise of Lake Michigan-Huron is the difference in water coming in from Lake Superior minus the water going out through the St. Clair River. The inflow into Lake Michigan-Huron from Lake Superior is expected to be above average. The outflow from Lake Michigan-Huron through the St. Clair River is expected to be below average. To compare this to taking a bath, you would have the faucet running faster than the drain would carry water out.

With this lake level forecast, low water levels that hinder boating should not be a problem this summer. In fact, it is likely that water levels will continue to improve for boating.

M Live


Lake Michigan Carferry: Work underway on new ash-retention system

4/10 - Ludington, Mich. – The installation of the first phase of the new combustion control component of the multi-million dollar ash retention system aboard the S.S. Badger is underway and will be completed before the start of the 2014 sailing season on May 16.

The Badger is undergoing major changes during the off-season in compliance with the consent decree that will ultimately end the discharge of ash by the start of the 2015 sailing season. A sophisticated combustion control system is being installed this winter and is the first phase of a multi-million dollar ash retention system. The second phase will be completed during the winter of 2014 - 2015.

"This technology has never been executed on a coal fired steam ship,” said Chuck Leonard, Vice President of Navigation for LMC. “The new combustion system will allow the ship to be more efficient – burning less coal and generating less ash."

According to Chief Engineer Charles Cart, "Researching, designing and implementing new combustion controls is an involved process. Removing the old equipment and installing the new in the course of our brief off-season while continuing the cycle of maintenance to the machinery, hull and appearance of a ship is a major challenge. Accomplishing all of this over an unusually hard winter demonstrates the high level of personal dedication and community involvement typical of our crew and supporting contractors here in Ludington."

To better accommodate the needs of their passengers LMC has also adjusted the sailing schedule this season. An earlier daily departure time of 8:30 a.m. from Ludington, Mich., will allow extra time for passengers to experience attractions in the community of Manitowoc, Wis.



Lookback #144 – Former Iroquois foundered in Gulf of Mexico on April 10, 1989

4/10 - Iroquois was built at Collingwood as Hull 151 and launched on June 4, 1955. This canal-sized bulk carrier was needed in the final years prior to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 and was a valuable member of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet, carrying grain and coal in those early years.

Iroquois opened the navigation season along the Seaway as the first upbound trader on April 15, 1962. It was the fourth year in a row that one of the C.S.L. ships was the first through the St Lambert Lock.

This was the last canal-sized ship still operating in the company fleet when it was sold to N.M. Paterson & Sons Ltd. in 1967. Renamed Troisdoc, the third vessel in their history to carry the name, it delivered cargoes for company customers into the early part of the 1981 season.

After being idle at Kingston, the ship was sold, re-registered in Mexico as Koba, and left the Seaway, under its own power, on May 9, 1983. Koba operated on the Gulf of Mexico until it was lost 25 years ago today. Koba was traveling between the Mexican ports of Tampico and Progresso when it foundered in the Gulf of Mexico near Isla de Lobos on April 10, 1989.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 10

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated  


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

On April 10, 1973, the ARTHUR B. HOMER departed the shipyard at Lorain, Ohio, with a new pilothouse. She had suffered extensive damage on October 5, 1972, in a head on collision with the saltie NAVISHIPPER on the Detroit River.

April 10, 1912 - ANN ARBOR NO 5 struck her stern against the channel in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, bending her rudder, and damaging her port shaft.

On 10 April 1875, the propeller EMMA E. THOMPSON was launched at East Saginaw, Michigan. She was built for Capt. D.F. Edwards of Toledo and cost $20,000. Her dimensions were 125 feet x 26 feet x 10 feet. In 1880, she was rebuilt as a schooner and then returned to a propeller in 1881, when she was given the engine from the propeller AKRON.

On 10 April 1882, ESPINDOLA (wooden schooner, 54 tons, built in 1869, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) was carrying railroad ties when she was overwhelmed by a storm and went to pieces one mile north of the Chicago waterfront. No lives were lost, but four crewmen were rescued by a tug after having been in the water for some time.

MANZZUTTI (steel crane ship, 246 foot, 1558 gross tons, built in 1903, at Buffalo, New York as a.) J S KEEFE) of the Yankcanuck Steamship Ltd., was the first vessel through the Canadian locks at the Soo for the 1954 navigation season. She entered the Canadian canal on 10 April about 8:15 a.m. The locking of the MANZZUTTI was not considered the official opening of the season at the Soo since she wintered in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and the first vessel must come up the St. Marys River from Lake Huron or Michigan. President Dave Bows of the Kiwanis Club, pointed out the club’s $1,000 marine contest is based on the first such vessel though the Michigan Sault locks only. The U.S. Coast Guard reported six-inch ice in the lower St. Marys River.

1905: The 400-foot steel-hulled bulk carrier GEORGE B. LEONARD arrived in Cleveland with ice damage and leaking bow seams.

1941: The first CEDARBRANCH ran aground at the mouth of the Etobicoke Creek, west of Toronto and had to be lightered to float free.

1949: The former J.H. PLUMMER, once part of Canada Steamship Lines, was reported wrecked, due to stranding in fog, while six miles southwest of Shaweishan on this date in 1949. The vessel was sailing as f) TUNG AN, and was en route from Tsingtao to Shanghai, with scrap steel.

1953: The Finnish freighter ANGELA came to the Great Lakes in 1952 and was wrecked on April 10, 1953, at Frisland, Isle of Coll, due to heavy weather. The vessel was travelling in ballast from Larne, Northern Ireland, to Goole, UK, and was a total loss.

1965: A collision in the Lake St. Peter section of the St. Lawrence involved the TRANSATLANTIC and HERMES. The former, a West German freighter, caught fire and capsized with the loss of three lives. The vessel was salvaged in August and eventually scrapped at Sorel. It had been coming to the Great Lakes for the Poseidon Line since 1961. The latter, a Dutch carrier, never came through the Seaway and was scrapped at Calcutta, India, as NIKI R. in 1985-1986.

1977: HILDA MARJANNE ran aground on a sandbar at Sarnia after leaving the Government Dock with a cargo of corn. It was released the next day with the help of the tug DARYL C. HANNAH.

1989: The canal-sized bulk carrier IROQUOIS, b) TROISDOC (ii), was built in 1955 but left the Seaway as c) KOBA in 1983. That vessel foundered in the Gulf of Mexico, near Isla de Lobos, on this date in 1989 while en route from Tampico to Progresso, Mexico.

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


St Marys River: Don't mess with Mother Nature edition

4/9 - Tuesday was another gorgeous day on the river. There was lots of sunshine, light wind, spring-like temperatures and a growing lineup of ships wanting to go upbound.

USCGC Mackinaw started the day taking the Edwin H. Gott from Nine Mile up to the Soo. Then she came back downriver to groom the track in anticipation of more upbound ships. CCGS Samuel Risley went down to the Junction Buoy to start the Stewart J Cort upbound. Unfortunately the brash (slush) in the track had spread out and attained a glue-like property that glommed onto the sides of the Cort and prevented her from proceeding. This was very true in places where the channel turned. The Risley managed to get her part way up the Sailor's Encampment ranges, but the Cort continued to experience heavy ice. As the Mackinaw was working at the top of this channel and was nearby, she came down and worked with the Cort until they had her turned at Johnson Point.

More difficulty was experienced there, so the Risley came back up to work with the Mackinaw, one at the bow and one at the stern of the Cort. This worked well but took most of the day. The Cort finally managed to get to Nine Mile and continued upbound with the assistance of the G-tug Missouri. Mackinaw continued up to her base for the night and the Risley went back downriver to escort the Sam Laud upbound. As the Laud is a smaller ship than the footers, she was capable of proceeding easily with only minimum assistance.

Further upriver, CCGS Pierre Radisson completed her logistics necessities at the Soo and locked upbound in the early afternoon. She went up to Gros Cap and found the ice to be quite workable in that section. Radisson and Mackinaw will assist ships from the locks to Whitefish Point and across Lake Superior. Tuesday’s satellite imagery showed lots and lots of ice still in the eastern part of the lake. It’s great fun if you enjoy working on an icebreaker.

Paul Beesley


First Minnesota taconite of season hits steel mill

4/9 - Duluth, Minn. It took 11 days to make the distance usually covered in about 30 hours, but the first Minnesota taconite iron ore has reached its steel mill destination in Indiana. The ore boats Cason J. Callaway and John G. Munson arrived at the U.S. Steel Gary Works on Tuesday, and just in time.

The Gary Works had been idled in recent days because it had run out of ore to make steel with, said Courtney Boone, U.S. Steel spokeswoman.

The steel mill partially reopened Sunday after U.S. Steel managed to transfer pellets from its Great Lakes Works near Detroit on a freighter. Still, Boone said, the Gary mill “continues to run at a reduced capacity’’ because of the lack of raw material.

The Munson and Calloway left Duluth on March 23 for Two Harbors, where they picked up taconite. But thick, stubborn ice on Lake Superior damaged one of their escort ships and stalled their trip down the lakes. The ore boats were forced to sit for several days until the Coast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw caught up from other duties to escort them to Gary.

The Callaway was the first commercial ship through the Soo Locks on Friday, 11 days after the locks officially opened, with many other freighters unable to make progress in what has been described as among the most difficult Great Lakes openings ever due to the ice.

The Great Lakes remain about 50 percent covered with ice, with Lake Superior about 78 percent ice-covered by official estimates. But the most difficult ice remains in narrow areas where boats must traverse into ports and locks. More than a dozen U.S. and Canadian icebreakers are working on the lakes, but even with more sunshine and temperatures above freezing, it could be several more days before freighters can make the round trip without assistance from icebreakers.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard icebreaker Morro Bay slipped under the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth early Tuesday afternoon after spending more than a week in port to make repairs to a rudder damaged in operations in Thunder Bay, Ontario. It was headed up the North Shore to continue ice-breaking in Thunder Bay.

Several key bolts that attached the Morro Bay’s rudder to a control post were gone by the time the vessel got back to Duluth with help from its sister ships, the Katmai Bay and the Alder.

The 140-foot Morro Bay encountered challenging ice conditions as it joined the Katmai Bay and the cutter Mackinaw in clearing the way for the Munson, Callaway and Presque Isle.

The ships were bound for the Soo Locks, but the Morro Bay and the Presque Isle turned back after experiencing difficulties. The Morro Bay and the Katmai Bay went to Thunder Bay to help break ice there. But the Katmai Bay ended up towing the Morro Bay most of the way back to Duluth, before the Alder took over 8 miles from its own home port in Duluth.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  April 9

St. Marys River
The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Pierre Radisson locked up Tuesday morning, followed by Roger Blough and Edwin H. Gott. Both vessels took on fuel and stores at the Carbide Dock in the lower harbor before passing upbound. The USCG Mackinaw and CCG Samuel Risley were working with the Stewart J. Cort in the east Neebish channel Tuesday afternoon. The Cort, which made it to Soo Harbor by Tuesday night, is part of an upbound convoy in the lower river the includes Sam Laud, Edgar B. Speer, Algoma Discovery, Algoma Enterprise, Algoma Equinox and Algoma Olympic. Robert S. Pierson and Michipicoten remain in winter layup at Essar Steel, although both are showing AIS signals.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the westbound laker Thunder Bay had transited the Straits on its own, headed for Lansing Shoal. Apparently the track from the bridge is holding up well. The USCG icebreaker Hollyhock was breaking ice from the 241 degree LCA westward just north of the 45 deg. 50 min. latitude line. At 3:15 p.m., it was heading back southwest, crossing the latitude line. Every time the icebreakers come out, they seem to be exploring new paths to get to the open water that is close to the Garden Peninsula. At one point on Monday, the Biscayne Bay asked the captain of a laker whether he saw a clear route ahead. The view from a laker’s bridge is definitely higher than from the bridge of a 140-foot icebreaker. Maybe they could benefit from some aerial reconnaissance, although conditions are changing daily. Meanwhile, the USCG icebreaker Biscayne Bay was working on a track from Charlevoix to Beaver Island. The track does not follow the charted ferry route. Instead it heads west from Charlevoix then nearly due north (5 degrees) towards St. James along the eastern shore of Beaver Island. The Emerald Isle has already fired up its AIS transceiver, but is not moving yet. At 9 pm, the Biscayne Bay was hove to in the ice off the southeast shore of Beaver Island, while the Hollyhock was in the ice near White Shoal. The tugs Prentiss Brown and the Erika Kobasic were off Charlevoix.

Escanaba, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Hon. James L. Oberstar loaded ore Tuesday evening on the north side of the CN dock. American Mariner, on her first trip of the season, waited to load on the south side.

Sarnia, Ont. – Frank Frisk
Tecumseh departed Sarnia harbor about 10:15 a.m. Tuesday for Thunder Bay, Ont.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
The updated schedule shows American Century loading at the CSX Coal Dock on Wednesday during the morning. American Mariner is due to load two cargoes at the CSX Dock, with the first one being on Sunday in the morning followed by the second cargo of coal on Monday, April 14 during the early afternoon. The Midwest Terminal Stone Dock remains closed yet for the season. At the Torco Dock, the American Mariner is due to arrive on Saturday in the early evening, followed by the Lakes Contender, due on Tuesday, April 15 in the early afternoon. Salarium is also due on April 15 in the early evening, and rounding out the schedule will be the James L. Kuber due on Thursday, April 17 in the late afternoon.

Lorain, Ohio
Great Lakes Trader cleared the Charles Berry Bridge at 2:22 p.m. Tuesday.

Toronto, Ont. - Frank Hood, Jens Juhl
The arrival of Polsteam’s Lubie with a cargo of sugar marked the beginning of the 2014 shipping season. Tuesday morning the event was celebrated on board the Lubie with the 153rd Beaver Hat Crowning. Dignitaries and notables were on board to watch Toronto Harbor Master Angus Armstrong "crown" Captain Jacek Kurpiel with the 200-year-old silk and beaver top hat. English River and the Algoma Navigator sailed yesterday. The Algoma Progress remains in winter lay up at pier 35. Algoma Navigator departed Toronto over the weekend of April 5th.


Icebreaking crews work to open Great Lakes to business

4/9 - Indianapolis, Ind. – U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard crews kept up their battle Monday to clear pathways for vessels hauling vital raw materials on the ice-clogged Great Lakes, where a shipping logjam forced a weeklong shutdown of the nation’s largest steel factory.

Traffic remained largely at a crawl after a winter that produced some of the heaviest ice on record across the five inland seas, where more than half the surface area remained solid this week. Icebreaking ships slogging across Lake Superior were still encountering ice layers 2 feet to 3 feet thick. In some areas, wind and wave action created walls of ice up to 14 feet high.

United States Steel Corp.’s plant in Gary, Ind., resumed limited operations after receiving a shipment over the weekend of iron ore from a company mill near Detroit, which was sending one additional load, spokeswoman Courtney Boone said.

Two ships were scheduled to arrive Tuesday with ore from mines in northern Minnesota following a two-week voyage across Lake Superior, which ordinarily would take three days. Other companies were hoping their supplies would be adequate to avoid significant disruptions.

“Nobody’s stockpile situation is very good,” said Glen Nekvasil, a spokesman for the Lake Carriers’ Association, which represents companies that operate 57 U.S.-flagged freighters on the Great Lakes. “It’s still very slow sledding.”

Only three ships were able to haul coal on the lakes in March, their cargos combining for 102,000 tons — down 70 percent from the same month in 2013, he said. Coal trade was 54 percent below the long-term first-quarter average.

The Gary Works mill generates steel for industries such as construction and auto manufacturing. Production resumed at one of the mill’s three furnaces after Sunday’s shipment was received, Boone said. The Gary Works is capable of producing 7.5 million tons of steel per year.

U.S. Steel was able to operate off stockpiles for some time before the ice began affecting production, Boone said.

Charles Bradford, a steel industry analyst, said the company should have done better planning even though this winter was among the harshest in recent memory. At one point, ice extended across 92 percent of the Great Lakes, falling just short of the record set in 1979.

“They know that every winter the Great Lakes freeze over,” Bradford said. Boone declined to comment.

The shipping season officially began two weeks ago with the opening of navigational locks on the St. Marys River connecting Lakes Superior and Huron, a bottleneck for vessels hauling iron ore and coal to manufacturers and electric power plants. But just one convoy of vessels — including two icebreakers and the two ships hauling iron ore — had traversed Superior with loads of freight.

Two other coal haulers were docked in Superior, Wis., waiting to make deliveries to a power plant in Marquette, Mich., said Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic service for the U.S. Coast Guard in Sault Ste. Marie. Five empty vessels were expected to begin crossing Lake Superior on Tuesday to pick up iron ore.

The We Energies Presque Isle power plant in Marquette was operating just three of its five generating units to conserve coal until more arrives, spokesman Barry McNulty said. Even so, there wasn’t enough demand to disrupt service, he said. The plant serves about 22,000 customers, mostly in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

DTE Energy, which operates five coal-fired plants in southeastern Michigan, has dealt with dwindling stocks by taking some units out of production for maintenance ahead of schedule and making up for the loss by buying power from the grid, spokesman Scott Simons said.

“This will hold us over until we can rebuild our supplies,” Simons said.

General Motors has not had any delays or material shortages because of Great Lakes shipping problems, spokesman Tom Henderson said.

Nine U.S. Coast Guard ships are capable of breaking ice but only one, the Mackinaw, is equipped to deal with the thickest formations, Gill said. The Canadian Coast Guard dispatched two heavy-duty vessels to assist.

About three-quarters of Lake Superior, the largest and deepest of the Great Lakes, remained ice-covered. Gill estimated it would be about two weeks before the surface is clear enough for freighters to make the crossing without an icebreaker escort.

Even then, the icebreakers probably will be on duty well into May and possibly as late as Memorial Day.

“We’ll be constantly on search-and-destroy missions, finding big pieces of ice and breaking them into smaller pieces,” Gill said.

The Detroit News


Shipping season opens with promise of more diversified cargo

4/9 - Hamilton, Ont. – A new shipping season has set sail in Hamilton. The first foreign freighter slipped into the port Sunday evening, two days after the first laker docked here.

"The new season is off and running," said Ian Hamilton, development and real estate vice-president for the Hamilton Port Authority.

The first ocean-going vessel into the harbor was the Netherlands-registered Africaborg, followed closely by her sister ship, Volgaborg. Both will load corn destined for Ireland. Their arrival followed the docking Friday of the first laker of the season, the Canadian-registered Algoma Guardian, carrying iron ore to ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

The 2014 shipping season started a little later than usual because of heavy ice in the Great Lakes, Welland Canal and St. Lawrence River, but those conditions are finally lifting. In fact, the ice cover on the Great Lakes is the third heaviest since records have been kept. Only the winters of 1979 and 1994 were worse.

Ice remains an issue for the Upper Great Lakes, where Canadian and American icebreakers are expected to be busy until early May. Grain movement is expected to be the big story in the port of Hamilton this year.

"There is a lot of optimism around grain this year because a lot of grain didn't get out last year," Hamilton said. "Almost all of the silos throughout the system are full."

He explained movement of last year's grain crop to world markets was held back by a wet harvest season on the plains, which kept farmers off their land. "On top of all that, they had a bumper crop last year," Hamilton said.

Moving grain has been an important part of the Hamilton Port Authority's diversification campaign — an effort to reduce its near total reliance on steel cargo as the basis of its business. Steel and its ingredients once represented almost 80 per cent of the cargo through Hamilton, but that has shrunk to just over 73 per cent between 2009 and last year.

During the same period, agricultural products, including grain and fertilizer, have risen to almost 18 per cent of the volume from less than 10 per cent.

This year, the St. Lawrence Seaway is expected to handle 38 million tonnes, up from 37 million tonnes last year. Total cargo through the Port of Hamilton during the 2013 shipping season was more than 10 million tonnes, essentially flat compared to 10.3 million tonnes in 2012 and 10 million in 2011.

The Hamilton Port Authority is also pinning some of its growth hopes on a new internet-based system for matching ships with cargo capacity for sale with shippers looking for a way to move their cargo around the world.

Dubbed, the portal "fills a niche by highlighting unused vessel capacity for cargo owners and freight forwarders to consider, making it more viable to choose marine for smaller loads," the authority said in a news release.

The portal was launched at the end of last year.

The Port of Hamilton handles more than 600 vessels each season, carrying 28 per cent of all of the cargo that travels through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway.

Hamilton Spectator


Harsh winter unearths shipwreck

4/9 - Traverse City, Mich. – Ward Lamphere wasn’t sure what to make of the object that appeared before him on the beach along Lake Michigan. A string of large, worn wooden ribs jutted skyward, poking from the sand like a partially unearthed whale skeleton. But the object clearly was man-made.

“I saw the spine, and the horizontal curve,” he said of his March 31 discovery in Leelanau County. “Because it’s not the entire boat, my first impression was it was a big row boat. I thought it was just a smaller boat like that.”

Lamphere, who owns a condo at the nearby Homestead Resort, recalled that someone spotted pieces of what might be a shipwreck near the spot a handful of years ago. But piles of raking ice and violent winter storms worked to unearth something more — a 40-foot-long section of the center beam and ribs of a wooden boat.

“It’s probably been there for years and now it’s uncovered,” Lamphere said.

An August 2009 local newspaper article told of a group of children who unearthed some ship’s ribs near the spot as they dug in the sand during a family vacation.

Lamphere quickly looked for local experts and found Kerry Kelly, chairman of the board for Friends of the Sleeping Bear. Kelly made a trek to look at the site last week.

“It’s a pretty good-size artifact,” Kelly said. “It is one-half of a boat. It is pretty old because there are no threads or bolts or anything like that. You’ve been walking on that beach many times and all of a sudden something is there.”

Kelly recorded the specifications, then photographed and took a GPS location of the new discovery. The information, though it’s a bit north of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, will be logged into a database maintained by the park museum. It joins 13 other shipwrecks in the database and is one of the largest finds.

The men measured the section — part of it lurks under the sand, the other part extends into the water. The center beam is about 40 feet long and the attached ribs extend 12 feet to one side.

Kelly is certain the wreckage is more than 100 years old because of the absence of threads on bolts still buried in the main beam. But he was reluctant to take a guess at the type of boat or its age.

Laura Quackenbush, museum technician and archivist at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, said another fragment of a shipwreck was found near the mouth of the Crystal River about five years ago. But it is difficult to determine the name and origin of such pieces that wash up on shore.

“People want to know what ship it is, but we very rarely find out,” she said. “The shoreline shipwreck fragments are problematic. They travel quite a bit. They get ground down by the sand and ice and gravel.”

Dozens of ships sank in the region’s waters during the 19th century. Beach-goers often discover parts of those shipwrecks, albeit in much smaller pieces than the section Lamphere stumbled across.

Wayne Lusardi, state maritime archaeologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said the section of boat appears to be one he hasn’t yet documented.

“The coastline is pretty dynamic, especially over in that neck of the woods,” he said. “Sand can move and come and go. Anytime, particularly after harsh weather events, wreckage will appear where it had never been seen before.”

The wreckage shows construction consistent with that of a schooner — a type of sailing vessel common to the Great Lakes during the 1800s, Lusardi said after he surveyed photos of the structure.

“It certainly makes you wonder what else is there,” he said. “As you walk up and down the coast, what else is beneath your feet?”

Lusardi believes the newly unearthed wreckage may be related to a large piece he sketched and documented in 2006. But he won’t be sure until he gets an up-close view.

“I’d like to take a look at it,” he said. “You never know when it’s going to go away. So far as I know it’s not on my database anyway. It’s pretty close to where I’ve seen stuff.”

Anyone who would like to visit the site should walk from Glen Arbor north about a mile along the beach to the site on the south side of where the Crystal River enters Lake Michigan, Quackenbush said.

The Homestead Resort, which owns the property along that section of shoreline probably wouldn’t appreciate people trespassing to get to the beach, she added.

Observers should not disturb the shipwreck or any others they find on area beaches. The sites are protected by the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve. Damaging or otherwise disturbing shipwrecks is a crime, Quackenbush said.

Traverse City Record-Eagle


Ferry traffic ends winter’s grip on Lake Erie islands

4/9 - Catawba Island, Ohio - That first robin poking around for worms in a leaf pile, a crocus pushing its way up through the damp mulch to absorb the sun’s life-giving rays, or anglers shoulder-to-shoulder in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers — are all signs of spring to most of us.

But for the residents of the Lake Erie islands, it’s not really spring until they hear the deep bellow of the ferry horn, signaling that the lifeline between this rocky archipelago and the mainland is once again connected and flowing.

On Sunday, the Miller Boat Line made the first runs between its depot on the northern tip of the Catawba peninsula and the Lime Kiln Dock on the southern edge of South Bass Island. The Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line began service on Monday from its dock on the southwest side of the island to the mainland dock at Marblehead. Miller will add ferry service to Middle Bass Island on Thursday, weather permitting.

“It’s most definitely a sure sign of spring to have the ferries back in operation,” said Captain Matt Miller, who skippered some of the early runs to and from South Bass Island. “Especially after the kind of winter we’ve had. We’re usually running a month earlier than this, but we had the most ice we’ve seen in eight or nine years and that really delayed things.”

Miller said the ferry line made its last run to South Bass Island on Dec. 14, so the 400-500 full-time residents of the 1,600-acre island have had to rely on air transport for supplies, an option that adds significant freight costs to everything. The Kelleys Island ferry shut down just before Christmas, so the 350-some year-round residents there were equally dependent on small planes to bring in any needed material.

“As soon as word got around that we were up and running, a lot of islanders took advantage of the opportunity to go to the mainland and restock,” Miller said about the South Bass populace. “There’s no doubt that the ferry is a lifeline for the residents of the islands. There’s a lot of goods and supplies coming back across the lake, now that we’re running again.”

The 54-year-old Miller, a resident of the Lake Erie islands since the 1970s and a ferry captain for 25 years, said the gas station in the community of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island was rationing gasoline as the winter lingered, and that there was a shortage of propane on Middle Bass, so he expects there will be a lot of fuel being transported on the initial ferry runs.

Miller, who is not related to William M. and Mary Miller, previous owners of the ferry line, said the company’s fleet of four vessels is not pulled from the water during the winter. The workhorse ferries, which are 90-96 feet in length and all powered by twin diesel engines that produce up to 1,300 horsepower, are frozen in place in the protected harbor of Put-in-Bay until the ice comes off.

“It takes a little bit to get them to turn over after a harsh winter like we had,” he said. “You can tell they have been shut down for quite a while.”

Miller said that on the early runs across the open water he is especially vigilant about encountering any remaining chunks of ice, or debris that has been flushed out of area rivers by the spring thaw.

“You are wary of what’s out there, especially after the high water we’ve had in the rivers. As they go higher, they pick up stuff like downed trees and stumps, and eventually it all ends up out here in the lake,” he said.

“And when the wind is blowing the right way, the water level rises and picks up stuff that has been washed up on the beaches. Most of the ice has been blown to the east end of the lake, but we have to be on the lookout for everything else.”

Both ferry lines expect to run a regular schedule of service to and from the islands for at least the next eight months, unless severe weather intervenes.

The Toledo Blade


Lake levels hold steady as cold hangs on

4/9 - Water levels in Lake Michigan held steady compared to last month, but are above last year and expected to rise as more snowpack melts with the warmer spring weather.

“We are expecting to see an increase in April,” said John Allis, chief of Great Lakes hydraulics and hydrology of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit.

March usually sees an increase in water levels, but the continued cold and ice on the lakes along with continued snow cover has delayed the bump, he said.

The water level for Lakes Michigan-Huron in March was 577.26 feet above sea level, 1.03 feet above last year’s average of 576.23 feet and 1.12 feet below the long-term average of 578.38 feet from 1918 to 2013, according to Corps figures.

The two lakes are treated as one because they are joined at the Straits of Mackinac.

February’s level was about the same — 577.27 feet above sea level.

The lake hit a record low of 576.02 feet in January 2012, but has rebounded since then and is expected to rise another 14 inches through August — 2 inches more than the average 12-inch seasonal rise. The heavy snowfall this winter will start to effect the lake soon, Allis said.

All the unmelted snow on the land around Lake Michigan-Huron is equivalent to 4 to 8 inches of water — the largest amount of snow-water equivalent in the past decade — and that will help the lake levels rise.

Though warmer temperatures have melted much of the snow in West Michigan, the Northern Great Lakes region of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota that touch lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior is still 56.2 percent covered in snow with an average depth of 10.3 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Lake Michigan is still 37.6 percent covered in ice, much of it along the eastern shore of the lake and the northern section. Lake Huron is 78 percent covered in ice, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

If the ice lasts well into spring, the water temperatures will be below average and decrease evaporation in the summer and fall, helping maintain or increase water levels next year.

Holland Sentinel


Princess Wenonah, Islander cruise boats moving

4/9 - Bay City, Mich. - For the first time in 16 years, the Princess Wenonah and the Islander cruise boats won’t be moored along the Saginaw River in downtown Bay City beginning this spring, but the family-owned Bay City Boat Lines business will still be offering trips up to the Saginaw Bay starting next month.

With construction ongoing at the new Uptown Bay City site, and with no plans by the developer of that property, at this time, to incorporate the Princess Wenonah and Islander, the business is forced to dock its boats near Bay City’s Middlegrounds Island.

On May 15, the start of its 17th season, the Princess Wenonah and Islander will be docked outside of Scotty’s Sandbar Banquet Hall, 1501 Evergreen Drive.

“We’re very happy to have somewhere to operate, but we really want to be back in the downtown Bay City area,” said Michelle Judd, marketing and reservation coordinator for the business, adding there's plenty of parking at the new location to accommodate the thousands of customers they serve annually. “We’ve been there forever, and people know that we’re here, so we’re determined to be part of that downtown traffic.”

Those interested in driving to the location should turn south off Lafayette Bridge, near the Boys and Girls Club of Bay County, and drive for about a half mile.

Bay City Boat Lines began operations from Wenonah Park in 1998 and moved a few years later near Ninth Street, behind the F.P. Horak building, before construction on the Doubletree hotel and conference center began. In 2005, the business moved to the Uptown site.

The business signed a lease agreement with Bay City in January 2012 to operate at the Uptown site for at least one more season, before the site was sold to SSP Associates, the developer of Uptown, later that year. The lease also transferred as part of the purchase agreement.

As of today, Uptown officials don't have plans to incorporate Bay City Boat Lines into the development, said Judd.

“Years before construction started on the development, we were contacted and were under the impression that we were going to be part of that master plan,” she said.

Al Warr, a project manager for SSP Associates, said his team is still exploring options on including cruise boats as part of the Uptown Development and declined to comment on the possibility of incorporating Bay City Boat Lines’ business.

Candace Bales, director of Bay City's Downtown Development Authority, said the downtown will miss the presence of the Princess Wenonah and Islander boats this season.

"It's just so cool when you come over (Veterans Memorial) bridge and see the boat out there on the water," she said. "It's not just a business of picking up and dropping off people — those boats are always out there.

"It's funny how limited the available space really is. Our stretch of downtown is really not that long, and most of the available space along the water is privately owned. We hope they find an area to come back to."

For the short-term, Judd said the family boat business can deal with leasing a property, but it would ultimately want something permanent that it owns.

“We don’t want to move again,” she said. “We’ve already been uprooted three times.”

Earlier this year, the Bay City DDA held a brainstorming session on ways downtown Bay City and Uptown could be connected using a slew of transportation options, one being by water taxi. Judd says while her family’s business plans to continue focusing on larger charters, the taxi business wouldn’t be out of the question.

“That type of thing could possibly exist in the future, if the traffic warrants it,” she said.

For now, Judd says the business is focused on finding that permanent site. She declined to comment on specific sites, but said her family plans on meeting with landowners in the coming months to find a location.

Bay City Boat Lines offers private charters, themed-music cruises for the public and historic tours throughout its season, which closes Oct. 15. About 15,000 customers ride the boats each year.

Bill Fournier, father of Judd, brought the former Wm. M. Miller to Bay City in 1998 and re-christened the 60-foot boat Princess Wenonah. The cruise boat, which features a graphic of Princess Wenonah, mother of Hiawatha, can hold about 180-200 passengers. It was built in 1954 in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

A few years into his business, Fournier brought the Islander into Bay City, which can hold about 100 passengers. The 53-foot boat was constructed in 1946 in Superior, Wis.

Bay City Boat Lines will continue its Friday night, themed-music cruises beginning in July, after the annual Fireworks Festival. For $30, the public gets three hours on the boat, dinner and a live band.

Private parties can also reserve time on the boats. Those looking to book a trip should call 989-893-0251.



Lookback #143 – Menihek Lake in collision on April 9, 1968

4/9 - Menihek Lake was Hull 163 from the Collingwood shipyard. It was launched on January 12, 1959, and, at 715 feet, 3 inches in length, was one of the early vessels constructed for use in the new St. Lawrence Seaway system. The bulk carrier sailed for Carryore Ltd. in the ore and grain trades.

It was 46 years ago today that the vessel was in a collision with the Petite Hermine (later Canadian Hunter) while the latter was anchored in the Lake Francis section of the St. Lawrence. Menihek Lake sustained propeller damage when it caught the anchor chain on April 9, 1968.

Over the years Menihek Lake had other minor accidents including hitting a dock at Ashtabula, Ohio, on Oct. 18, 1959, a bridge at Chicago while under tow of tugs on May 1, 1974, the approach wall at the Iroquois Lock on Oct. 2, 1974, and another wall in the Seaway on Oct. 26 1977. But this was a good carrier for the company until changing economic conditions sent the vessel to the wall at Hamilton on August 10, 1984.

Following a sale for scrap, Menihek Lake raised steam one last time and departed Hamilton on August 15, 1985, for the trip down the Seaway under her own power. The deep-sea tug Capt. Ioannis S. took the ship across the Atlantic to Vigo, Spain, departing on Aug. 30, 1985, and arriving, in tandem with the Leon Falk Jr., on Sept. 26. Both lakers were scrapped although the latter ship moved on to Gijon, Spain, on Sept. 28 for dismantling.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 9

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 9

09 April 1890 - W.H. SAWYER (wooden propeller freighter, 201 foot, 746 gross tons) was launched by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #66) at West Bay City, Michigan. She lasted until 1928, when she sank off Harbor Beach, Michigan.

On 09 April 1868, SEABIRD (wooden side-wheel steamer, 638 tons, built in 1859, at Newport (Marine City), Michigan, was sailing on her first trip of the season from Manitowoc to Chicago. At 6 a.m. off Waukegan, Illinois, the porter cleaned out the ashes in the cabin stove and threw the hot coals overboard into the wind. The coals were blown back aboard and a blaze quickly engulfed the vessel. Only two survived. They were picked up by the schooner CORNELIA. 102 were lost. The vessel was uninsured and this was a severe financial blow to the new Goodrich Transportation Company.

On April 9, 1960, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.'s a.) MURRAY BAY (Hull#164), of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., entered service as the first Canadian 730-footer. Renamed b.) COMEAUDOC in 1963, she was scrapped at Port Colborne in 2003.

LAWRENDOC (Hull#174) was christened jointly with her Collingwood-built sister ship MONDOC (Hull#173) on April 9, 1962.

The Wilson Marine Transit Co., Cleveland purchased the b.) FINLAND, a.) HARRY COULBY (Hull#163) of the Detroit Ship Building Co., on April 9, 1957, and resold her the same day to the Republic Steel Corp., Cleveland with Wilson Marine acting as manager. Renamed c.) PETER ROBERTSON in 1969 and d.) MARINSAL in 1975.

On April 9, 1930, the CITY OF FLINT 32 entered service under the command of Estan Bayle.

On 9 April 1871, the wooden "rabbit" BAY CITY (152 foot, 372 gross tons, built in 1867, at Marine City, Michigan) had just loaded 270,000 feet of lumber in Bay City for Tonawanda, New York, when a fire broke out ashore. The ship was set adrift at 11 a.m. to get away from the lumberyard blaze. However, as the crew watched the shore fire, sparks smoldered in the ship's cargo. At 2 p.m., she burst into flame. Four tugs and a steam-powered fire engine brought alongside on a lighter fought the blaze to no avail. The vessel was scuttled to put out the fire. A few days later she was raised and repaired at a cost of $4,000.

On 9 April 1885, the laid-up vessels BURLINGTON and CHURCH were hit by the barge ALLEN and forced into the Military Street bridge at Port Huron, Michigan, crashing into the structure and completely blocking the Black River and disabling the bridge. The blame was placed on the spring thaw.

1913: Ice sliced through the wooden hull of the steamer UGANDA in the Straits of Mackinac and the vessel sank near White Shoal. The crew was rescued by the JOHN A. DONALDSON, and there was no loss of life.

1962: On November 28, 1961, fire had broken out aboard the IQUITOS off the coast of Mexico while the ship was en route from Callao, Peru, to Manzanillo, Mexico, with a cargo of fishmeal. The vessel had been a pre-Seaway trader as RUTENFJELL beginning in 1936 and as POLYRIVER beginning in 1951. The blazing freighter was abandoned by the crew. The ship did not sink and drifted for weeks before being spotted February 2, 1962. The hull was considered a hazard to navigation and was sunk on this date, southeast of the Christmas Islands by a U.S. destroyer, in 1962.

1968: MENIHEK LAKE was in a minor collision with the anchored PETITE HERMINE in the Lake St. Francis section of the St. Lawrence, and the latter's anchor chain damaged the propeller of MENIHEK LAKE.

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


St. Marys River ice convoy continues upriver

4/8 - Sunday night the CCGS Samuel Risley escorted the tanker Algocanada to open water at DeTour, then returned to the ice in the lower river to prepare for Monday’s work. As the sun rose over the river, the Risley moved past all five ice-beset ships, ensuring as it did so that the Roger Blough was able to move. The Risley continued upbound toward the Mud Lake junction buoy to prepare the track while CCGS Pierre Radisson came downriver to start the Blough on her way up. Earlier on, a decision had been made to bring up one ship at a time, as the heavy ice conditions precluded bringing a convoy.

USCGC Mackinaw started upbound at the junction and groomed the track, ensuring the ice was broken and the track was wide enough for the ships to get through. Of particular importance are the turns in the track as the 1,000-footers must have lots of room to get their sterns to swing or they won't be able to get around.

The Radisson brought the Blough up to the junction buoy, where the Risley took over and continued up river. The Radisson went back down to break out the Edwin H Gott. Mackinaw continued her work grooming the track, not an easy job when the ice has nowhere to go and can't be flushed.

The Risley stopped just above Sailor's Encampment to look for a buoy reported to be under the ice in mid-channel. This would pose a threat to any ship that might ride over it and get the buoy mooring chain wrapped around her propeller. The buoy was not found, but the Risley had her crane and crew ready to lift it out of the water if it had been. This stoppage meant the Blough had to halt on the Sailor's Encampment ranges, and could not get moving once the channel was proved clear. Risley went back and broke her out and she carried on to the corner where she once again became stuck. Mackinaw broke her out and took her up for the rest of her transit to the Soo. Roger Blough was upbound at Mission Point 6:30 p.m. and stopped at the Carbide Dock for supplies and fuel. She finished about midnight and was expected to be the first commercial vessel upbound through the locks.

Meanwhile the Radisson had escorted the Edwin H. Gott upbound above the junction. She proceeded upbound, passing everyone on her way to the Soo. On the way she broke out the PML Ironmaster barge that had been stuck in the river all winter; it was taken up by Avenger IV and Anglian Lady.

The Gott continued upbound with assistance from the Risley and stopped at Nine Mile for the night. The Mackinaw came down to the Gott's position to be ready to proceed upbound in the morning. Meanwhile the Risley went back downriver for the night so she could start the next ship upbound in the morning. Tuesday will see the Gott finish her transit to the Soo. The Radisson will lock upbound and begin to establish a track through Whitefish Bay. Risley and Mackinaw will attempt to bring up the three remaining ships that are waiting at the junction buoy.

The ice in the area around Johnson's Point, the Dark Hole and Stribling Point ranges is very thick but the ice closest to shore is already melting and should provide a space for the heavier ice to move in the next few days.

Paul Beesley


Port Reports -  April 8

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
Traffic was light over the weekend. On Saturday, the USCG icebreaker Biscayne Bay assisted the Arthur M. Anderson near Lansing Shoal. The Anderson had made a run into the ice field Friday night and hove to there. It required just one assist from the Biscayne Bay as it traveled down the 241 degree LCA, and it was soon in open water. Monday was a convoy day. At 10 am, the Alpena was stuck in the ice off Whiskey Island, well east of the 241 degree LCA, and a westbound convoy was strung out from just east of Lansing Shoal to St. Helena Island. Taking the lead were Cason J. Callaway and John G. Munson, followed by Samuel de Champlain, Biscayne Bay and finally H. Lee White. At 11:30 am, the Biscayne Bay passed the Dde Champlain, Callaway and Munson on their port sides, then near Lansing Shoal, it turned southwest on a 220 degree heading towards the Alpena, passing just west of Squaw and Whiskey islands. This more southerly course may have been intended to stay in plate ice and avoid brash ice to the north. Around 12:15 pm, Biscayne Bay turned west and eventually to the northwest (295 degrees) towards the open water close to the shore west of Seul Choix Point. This open water area has been expanding in recent days. By 1:15 pm all vessels were moving well except H. Lee White, and Biscayne Bay returned to break out and escort the White. At 8 pm, the White was downbound off Washington Island at 12 knots and the Biscayne Bay appeared to be headed towards Charlevoix at around 5 knots.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
CSL's Thunder Bay arrived in Toledo on Saturday in the afternoon and became the first vessel to unload at Torco Dock for the 2014 shipping season. The revised schedule for the Toledo Docks has American Century loading coal at the CSX Dock on Tuesday during the early afternoon. American Mariner is due to load two cargoes at the CSX Coal Dock, with the first being on Friday in the morning and the other one on Saturday in the late afternoon. The Midwest Terminal Stone Dock is still closed for the season. American Mariner is scheduled to arrive at the Torco Dock on Thursday in the late evening hours. Lakes Contender is due to arrive on Tuesday, April 15 in the early afternoon at the Torco Dock along with the Salarium in the early evening. The James L. Kuber is due to arrive at the Torco Dock on Thursday, April 17 in the late afternoon and rounding out the schedule is the Lee A. Tregurtha on Easter Sunday, April 20 in the morning. All dates and times are subject to change due to ice and weather conditions. The tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula became the third vessel of the season to depart from winter lay-up on Sunday morning for Sandusky to load coal. Remaining vessels laid-up in Toledo include Adam E. Cornelius in long-term at the Old Interlake Iron Dock and fleetmate American Courage also at the Old Interlake Iron Company Dock. Manistee is at the Lakefront docks along with the American Fortitude and American Valor both in long-term lay-up. James L. Kuber and Victory along with Lewis J. Kuber and Olive L. Moore remain at the Torco Dock in lay-up. The ferry Jimaan also remains in Toledo.

Ashtabula, Ohio - Duff Rawlings and Lloyd Bogue
Cedarglen, the first vessel of the season, has arrived.


New Polsteam vessel Prosna due in Montreal

4/8 - The Polish Steamship Co. (Polsteam) vessel Prosna, built in 2012 and IMO number 9521849, is expected to arrive in Montreal April 15. The ship is coming from Norway and heading to Toledo, Ohio. It will be the first time that the vessel has visited the Great Lakes/Seaway system. Prosna is a new build from China.

Denny Dushane


Lakes ice stalls resumption of coal trade

4/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – Ice, sometimes more than 4 feet thick in places, effectively stalled the resumption of the coal trade on the Great Lakes in March. Only three coal cargos were loaded, one on Lake Superior, one on Lake Michigan and one on Lake Erie. Combined, the cargos totaled 102,000 tons, a decrease of 70 percent compared to a year ago. Compared to the month’s 5-year average, March loadings were down more than 80 percent. Year-to-date the Lakes coal trade stands at 475,000 tons, a decrease of 16 percent compared to a year ago, but 54 percent below the long-term average for the first quarter.

Lake Carriers Association


Port of Cleveland’s express ocean freight service underway

4/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – With the departure of the vessel Fortunagracht out of Antwerp, Belgium, over the weekend, the Cleveland-Europe Express service between Cleveland and Europe via the St. Lawrence Seaway has officially launched. The vessel, loaded with breakbulk and containerized cargo, is set to dock in Cleveland around April 17.

The Cleveland-Europe Express is the only regular, scheduled international container and non-containerized cargo service on the Great Lakes. The Port of Cleveland and Dutch company The Spliethoff Group entered into an agreement in November 2013 to begin the service. It is the fastest and greenest route between Europe and North America’s heartland, allowing regional companies to ship their goods up to four days faster than using water, rail, and truck routes via the U.S. East Coast ports.

Will Friedman, president & CEO of the Port of Cleveland, said the market is responding very favorably and in line with expectations.

“This is a significant first step in establishing the first scheduled ocean cargo service in decades between Europe and the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway,” Friedman said. “We look forward to seeing the service grow. We know there’s a market for it.”

Bart Peters, manager of The Spliethoff Group’s America Service, said the company has received strong response to the regularly scheduled, direct line of trade between Europe and the industrial heartland of the U.S.A. The Spliethoff Group owns and operates a fleet of about 100 multi-purpose, heavy-lift, and ro-ro vessels ranging in size from 9,500 to 21,000 tons, all of which sail under the Dutch flag.

“The Cleveland-Europe Express offers fast transit service and carries a variety of cargo between Europe and Cleveland. We are very excited to see Fortunagracht embark on its first trip from Europe to Cleveland,” Peters said. “We are already booking cargo for the next voyage to Cleveland.”

The vessel will arrive in Cleveland carrying European exports, such as wind energy parts, machinery and smaller cargo in containers. The ship will depart for Antwerp on April 18th with machinery and containerized cargo. The Cleveland-Europe Express will continue to make one round trip a month, leaving with cargo from Europe at the beginning of each month and arriving in Cleveland mid-month to unload that cargo, and then collecting exports to carry back to Europe. As demand rises, the port will be able to add a second ship, allowing for a vessel in port every two weeks.

The express ocean freight service comes at a time when cargo moving through the port is on the increase. In 2013, the port had its highest annual tonnage level since the 2008 calendar year. This April’s tonnage is anticipated to be the highest since 2003.

The Port of Cleveland will be posting daily links on its website and Facebook page for the public to track the ship as it makes its way across the ocean and through the St. Lawrence Seaway to Cleveland. For more information, visit the Port of Cleveland on Facebook or

Port of Cleveland


Sanctuary receives donation from Shipmasters’ Association

4/8 - Alpena, Mich. – The International Shipmasters' Association Lodge 19 has donated $500 to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary to help defer the costs associated with bussing students to the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center for field trips. For over six years the association has been donating $500 that is matched by the schools coming to the center for transportation costs.

"This is a great place for students to visit," association member Max Lund said. "By helping with bus travel and having it matched by the schools, students are able to learn even more about the Great Lakes."

The International Shipmasters' Association has been around since 1893, and the local lodge has been in operation since 1983. The association has been involved with the sanctuary and its education opportunities for several years.

"This donation helps bus all the kids and get them to the sanctuary building to look at the history of the lakes, or get out on the water and help with their education," ISMA Lodge 19 president Lee Barnhill said. "When we first started this we were helping to get 800 students here, now thousands come to the sanctuary every year."

The sanctuary offers many different opportunities for student education through interactive exhibits such as Science on a Sphere, and is the docking site of the Glass Bottom Boat Tours. These educational opportunities provide students with a close-up look at shipwreck artifacts, maritime history and features of the Great Lakes.

The Alpena News


Beaver Island, Green Bay icebreaking scheduled

4/8 - The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay will be conducting icebreaking operations in and around St. James Harbor, Beaver Island, on April 9. On April 10, the U.S. Coast Guard will begin icebreaking operations in the waters of Green Bay. These operations will likely occur in some areas used by recreational users such as but not limited to the Fox River and lower Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, Little Bay De Noc, and the entrance channel into Marinette and Menominee. These icebreaking efforts will expand and increase in frequency after the 10th of April as ice conditions and demands of shipping require. This will include all navigable waters in and around the ports of Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Marinette, Menominee and Escanaba.


Port Huron area marine live audio feed returns

4/8 - The streaming scanner covering the marine band for the St. Clair River and lower Lake Huron from Vantage Point is back online Click here to listen



Lookback #142 – Former Quebec suffered an engine room explosion on April 8, 1982

4/8 - While it was quite common to see the fine looking freighters of the Bowater Steamship Company on the Great Lakes in the 1960s, their Alice Bowater did not come through the Seaway until after being sold and renamed.

It was built at Birkenhead, England, and launched on October 28, 1958. The ship was completed in January 1959 and was well suited for the newsprint trade. The 325-foot, 5-inch-long cargo carrier was sold to Massabec Ltee. and renamed Quebec in 1969. It made its first appearance on the Great Lakes that year and also worked for the Rimouski Marine Institute providing training for future career sailors.

Quebec was resold to Greek interests in 1976 and was renamed George F. It also came into the Seaway that year but spent most of its career trading on the Mediterranean.

George F. was resold to the Blue Sea Shipping Corp. in 1981 and renamed Blue Sea. It was en route to Gabes, Tunisia, when there was an engine room explosion near Kerkenna Island, off Tunisia, 32 years ago today. The vessel's mid-ship accommodation area was gutted and Blue Sea was towed into Sfax, Tunisia, on April 12. It remained there until sold to Tunisian shipbreakers. The hull was towed to Bizerta, Tunisia, on July 7, 1984, and was soon broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 8

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1941: The newly-built PRINS WILLEM II first came to the Great Lakes in May 1939. There was a mutiny on board at Sandusky, Ohio, in June 1940, as the crew did not want to return to their now-occupied homeland. The ship was torpedoed off Cape Farewell, Greenland, on April 8, 1941, while travelling from Halifax to London. An estimated 10-12 members of the crew perished.

1942: The first NOVADOC was sailing as g) ARA when it hit a mine and sank off Borkum, Germany, while en route from Gothenburg, Sweden, to Rotterdam, Holland in 1942. The ship had been built as CANADIAN PATHFINDER and was listed as Hull 69 of the Collingwood shipyard. It had also sailed the Great Lakes as b) NORMAN M. PATERSON and c) NOVADOC (i) before being sold to British interests in 1927.

1982: The Canadian-owned QUEBEC came through the Seaway in 1969. It had been built in 1959 as ALICE BOWATER but never came inland under that name. It was sailing as d) BLUE SEA when there was an engine room explosion and fire on April 8, 1982, in the Mediterranean near the Kerkennah Islands in the Gulf of Gabes off Tunisia. The gutted hull was towed to Sfax, Tunisia, on April 12. It was sold for scrap and arrived at Bizerta, Tunisia, for dismantling on July 7, 1984.

2001: The CHERYL C., the fifth name for the ship, was carrying a cargo of steel when it sank on April 8, 2001. The vessel ran aground near Peniche, Portugal, north of Lisbon, due to a navigational error. The 1597 gross ton ship had been built in 1983 and came through the Seaway, under Barbados registry, for the first time on April 22, 1998, with clay for Ashtabula. It made its last inland voyage in November 1999.

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


Downbound convoy reaches Lake Huron; trip took 11 days

4/7 - About 9 a.m. Sunday the USCGC Mackinaw and CCGS Pierre Radisson departed the Soo downbound to escort Cason J. Callaway and John J. Munson downbound. The convoy made good progress but had a slight delay requiring close escort at the north end of Mud Lake.

CCGS Samuel Risley joined the ice-breaking efforts in the St Marys River. As the Risley approached Detour about 10:30 a.m., she discovered new ice, not a good sign in April. Once around the corner, she was greeted by five ships waiting to go upbound: Edgar B. Speer, Sam Laud, Stewart J. Cort, Edwin H. Gott and Roger Blough. The ice in this area was four feet thick in places with snow cover.

The downbound convoy met the Risley about 2 p.m. and continued on, with the Callaway reaching Lake Huron at 6:20 p.m. The convoy departed Duluth on March 26; the trip took 11 days when normally it would take about 30 hours to make this trip without ice delays.

John G. Munson needed close escort to clear the river and reached Lake Huron at 7:40 p.m. Both the Munson and Callaway are headed to Gary, Ind., to unload iron ore pellets

Meanwhile, Samuel Risley continued to groom the track until the Algocanada arrived downbound, then took the Algocanada to open water. All icebreakers then shut down for the night. Monday an attempt will be made to move the five vessels waiting to transit upbound and to continue improving the track.


Port Reports -  April 7

Escanaba, Mich.
The ore loading dock at Escanaba continues to run full tilt as the steel mills on lower Lake Michigan are running out of taconite pellets.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Mitch Custer
CSL Niagara left Sturgeon Bay again after returning for an unknown reason on Saturday.

Milwaukee, Mich. - Chris Gaziano
CSL Niagara came into the inner harbor with the assistance of G-Tugs Arkansas and Oklahoma. They ended up putting her in the spot where the Burns Harbor had been for the winter.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Tim S. Dool departed her winter lay up Sunday morning.

Kingston Ont. - Brian Johnson
A flotilla of ships needing icebreaker assistance to get by Tibbet's Point, N.Y. dropped the hook off Carelton Island Saturday afternoon. Volgaborg, Radcliffe R. Latimer, Baie St. Paul and Isolda were unable to breach a ridge of ice leading out into Lake Ontario. The CCGS Griffon arrived around 03:00 and started the convoy on its way. In Kingston, the lower field of ice below the Wolfe Island ferry track has let go. The upper field remains fast out to Simcoe Island. All other ferries report no problems.


Major cement makers to merge

4/7 - Switzerland’s Holcim and France’s Lafarge are expected to announce Monday that they will merge. Legally, it is intended for Holcim to purchase Lafarge. The boards of both companies voted for merger over the weekend. As the world's two largest cement producers (Lafarge currently has 12 percent of the U.S. market), it is expected regulatory approval may take some time and that some assets may need to be sold to maintain competitiveness in certain markets. Both company's primary product is cement manufacturing, but both have diversified into other construction related industries. The combined company would have a market value of roughly $55 billion (U.S.).

In the Great Lakes region, Holcim operates a production plant in Mississauga, Ont., and ships powdered cement by boat to a terminal in Duluth. It has numerous other terminals in the Great Lakes region not served by boat. Lafarge is a large user of Great Lakes shipping, with production facilities in Alpena, Mich., and Bath, Ont., and with numerous dockside terminals around the lakes. It also operates a large limestone quarry at Presque Isle, Mich., which ships primarily by boat.

Competitors in the Great Lakes region include St. Marys Cement, owned by Brazilian-based Votorantim, and Essroc, owned by Italian-based Italcementi Group. St. Marys Cement has ship-served production facilities in Bowmanville, Ont. and Charlevoix, Mich., while Essroc ships out cement from a plant in Picton, Ont.

Tom Hynes


Lookback #141 – Portadoc sunk by enemy action on April 7, 1941

4/7 - It was 73 years ago today that a torpedo from U-125 ripped into the hull of the first Portadoc and sent the ship to the bottom of the Atlantic. The vessel was about 150 miles off Freetown, Sierra Leone, when it was attacked during a voyage, without escort, from Saint John, NB to Freetown with a load of coal.

The crew had a difficult time. They spent six days at sea in an open boat before landing in French Guinea. They were questioned by Vichy French authorities and imprisoned. Many got malaria while incarcerated and an engineer died from the disease. Eventually the crewmembers were traded for enemy prisoners and able to return home.

The 261-foot-long bulk carrier was built at Birkenhead, England, and came to Canada in April 1924 to serve in the canal trades as Eugene C. Roberts. It joined the Union Transit Co. Ltd. as James B. Foote in 1926 and N.M. Paterson & Sons Ltd. as Portadoc in 1939.

James B. Foote was not a stranger to trouble. It went aground east of Montreal on November 6, 1928, while carrying a cargo of pulpwood from Godbout, Quebec, to Thorold. It was released November 8. Then, on November 17, 1933, the ship stranded off Wolfe Island, in eastern Lake Ontario, while carrying coal and had to be lightered before floating free. Finally, on May 8, 1938, the vessel hit a dock while under tow at Chicago during an attempt to depart with a load of corn for Sorel, Quebec.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 7

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Africaborg, Gadwall, Heloise, Isolda, Lubie, Redhead, SCL Bern, Stella Polaris, and Volgaborg.


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1941: The PORTADOC had been requisitioned by the British Ministry of War Transport and was en route from Saint John, NB, to Sierra Leone with a cargo of coal when it was torpedoed by U-124 off the coast of Africa. The crew spent six days on the open sea before landing at French Guinea. They were taken prisoner by the Vichy French forces and the Chief Engineer died before there was a prisoner of war exchange. The vessel, part of the Paterson fleet, had also sailed on the Great Lakes as a) EUGENE C. ROBERTS and b) JAMES B. FOOTE.

1968: CAPTAIN LEONIDIS ran aground in the Messier Channel, Chile, while travelling from Santos, Brazil, to Valparaiso, Chile. The vessel stranded April 7, 1968, and became a total loss. It had first come to the Great Lakes as the Norwegian freighter d) FANA in 1964 and returned as e) CAPTAIN LEONIDIS in 1966. The hull remains aground and appears to have been used by the Chilean Navy for target practice.

1979: GEHEIMRAT SARTORI dated from 1951 and had been a pre-Seaway caller to the Great Lakes. It returned through the new waterway for three trips in 1959 and was sailing as c) SEA ROVER when it was lost on this date in 1979. The cargo shifted in heavy weather on the Mediterranean while the ship was en route from Civitavecchia, Italy, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It sank about eight miles off Punta Cornacchia.

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


Port Reports -  April 6

St. Marys River
Traffic was close to a standstill Saturday, with only the tanker Algocanda being escorted up the St. Marys River by the Canadian Coast Guard ship Pierre Radisson to a dock in the lower Sault Ste. Marie harbor, where she will unload. When she is finished, icebreakers will take her, Cason J. Callaway and John G. Munson, downbound before bring the convoy now stopped off Lime Island upbound. Callaway and Munson both spent Saturday in the ice in the vicinity of Six Mile Point.

Escanaba, Mich.
Paul R. Tregurtha and Joseph L. Block were loading Saturday night, with Wilfred Sykes and Hon. James L. Oberstar waiting their turns.

Sarnia, Ont. and St. Clair, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Peter R. Cresswell of Algoma Central Corp. was the second of Sarnia's winter lay-up fleet to depart its berth. She left Saturday morning enroute to Bowmanville, Ont., where she will load a cargo of cement clinker. Vessels still in lay-up at Sarnia include Cuyahoga and Calumet, both in the North Slip, along with Algosteel and Algoma Olympic, both at the Government Dock. Algoway and the Algosar are at the Sidney Smith Dock. Algoma Equinox arrived in the North Slip in the last few days, however she is waiting for the St. Marys River to open for vessel traffic before continuing her voyage. Late on Thursday evening, American Integrity became the first official vessel of the season to arrive at the St. Clair Power Plant to offload a cargo of coal. What was unusual about the load was that it was loaded at Toledo, Ohio rather than at Superior, Wis., where most of the coal originates for the power plants. This may not be the first load of coal delivered for the 2014 season from Toledo, as American Century is also scheduled next week for two trips from Toledo, most likely for the power plants in St. Clair, Michigan.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Algoma Guardian departed at 3:30 p.m. Saturday from Dofasco. Her next port is Port Cartier. Africaborg arrived at 10 p.m.


"Unprecedented" ice conditions cause U.S. Steel curtailments

4/6 - Pittsburgh, Pa. - United States Steel Corp. said the icy conditions that have caused the company to temporarily curtail operations at one of its largest steel mills have not occurred on the Great Lakes in more than 30 years.

In a letter sent to customers April 2, U.S. Steel said the conditions that have led to the temporary halt of its blast furnace and steelmaking operations at the company's Gary Works facility were unforeseen and unprecedented.

"The lakes have been frozen more now that in any time in the last 30 years. Clearly that isn't something that a company can control," said Charles Bradford, a New York-based industry analyst. "Maybe they can blame the Feds for not having enough ice breakers, or maybe they didn't store enough inventory."

As a result of the deep freeze, shipments of iron ore have been delayed for U.S. Steel. Courtney Boone, spokeswoman for U.S. Steel, confirmed that the company is working closely with U.S. and Canadian governmental authorities to expedite and obtain priority passage for its raw material-carrying vessels. She did not disclose information regarding the company's current inventory levels.

The general practice for Great Lakes-area steel producers is to build inventory before the annual closing of the St. Lawrence Seaway's navigation season, which lasts from late December and reopens in late March.

This year, however, ice started forming on portions of the Seaway two to three weeks earlier than normal, according to a report from the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System. Opening has been delayed an additional two to three weeks.

There are nine U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers dedicated to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway and two Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers in the area, down from seven Canadian vessels that were in service some 20 years ago, according to a report from American Metal Market.

In the meantime, Bradford said delays like this can be costly for U.S. Steel. "These are expensive facilities they are not using, but they are still incurring fixed costs," he said.

Because the furnaces could become damaged if they get cold, energy costs will still be high while production is idled, Bradford said. That could have a negative impact on the company's second quarter financials. Boone said she did not have a time line for when operations at Gary Works would resume.

In addition to the Gary Works halt, production at U.S. Steel's Great Lakes Works in Ecorse, Mich., has been impacted by an unplanned outage when the roof collapsed on one of its basic oxygen process shops on March 28. Immediately after the incident, it was reported that the plant's operations were not affected by the damage, but that hasn't been the case.

"You have to differentiate between production and deliveries," Bradford said. "Just because deliveries haven't seen an immediate impact, it doesn't mean production hasn't been affected."

Bradford said because U.S. Steel had to shut off its basic oxygen furnaces as a result of the collapse, it has certainly impacted operations, but has not affected deliveries.

"This is part of the steel business," Bradfrod said. "There is a lot of risk. Fortunately nobody has been hurt, which is a big plus. When you're talking about things that go wrong in the steel industry that is not usually the case."

These challenges, combined with a tightening market for flat rolled steel will likely drive up the price of steel, Bradford said.

"Clearly the steel producers didn't anticipate the lakes being as frozen as they are," he said. "It's likely we'll see steel prices go up, maybe any minute."

Pittsburgh Business Times


Seaway saltie news

4/6 - Olympic Melody, a one-time former Greek salty built in 1984 and also a regular visitor and trader to the Great Lakes/Seaway system, has been sold for scrapping. She carried the Olympic Melody name until September 2012, when she was renamed Mimar Sinan of Cook Islands registry. Saltwater vessel renames include Michiganborg, which first came inland in 2004 and last visited in 2012, which is now the Paramushir of Russian registry, while her fleetmate Morraborg, which first came inland in 2008 and last visited in 2012, is now the Shantar of Russian registry. Nina, which first came inland in 2005, is now the Karoli of Maltese flag. Three former Polsteam vessels, all regular visitors, have been renamed. Odra, which first came inland in 2002 and carried the name of Odra from 1991-92 and Odranes from 1992-99, is now the Hekmeh from Saint Kitts and Nevis registry. The vessel last came inland during the 2007 season. Rega, which first came inland in 2002, is now the Regal of Belize registry. This vessel was also known as Fossnes.

Denny Dushane


Lookback #140 – Tarantau stuck in ice on April 6, 1978

4/6 - The Canada Steamship Lines self-unloader Tarantau was the first ship of the 1978 season upbound in the Welland Canal and was honored in the traditional “top hat” ceremony on March 30, 1978.

The 730-foot-long vessel was back in the news a week later as it went aground in Lake Huron north of the Bluewater Bridge. High winds and shifting ice forced the vessel out of the navigation channel 36-years ago today.

The tug Barbara Ann came to rescue the 13-year old, Collingwood built vessel, and there was no report of any significant damage.

Tarantau was the largest self-unloader on the Great Lakes when it was built in 1965 and was very active in the coal trade to the Steel Company of Canada in Hamilton as well as to Ontario Hydro Generating Station docks. This was a familiar trader through the Welland Canal and, in 1971, made 68 round trips, 136 transits, of the waterway.

Tarantau was retired at Toronto on December 23, 1996, and remained idle until sold for scrap to International Marine Salvage. It made its last voyage behind the tug Alice A. and arrived at Port Colborne for dismantling on October 31, 1999. Work on breaking up Tarantau did not get underway until January 2001.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 6

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1942: The CANADIAN FARMER was Hull 65 of the Collingwood shipyard and it was launched there on December 27, 1919. The vessel was sailing as c) SHIN KUANG when it was sunk by Japanese surface naval forces on the Bay of Bengal.

1949: FORT WILLDOC of the Paterson fleet and the JAMES E. McALPINE of the Brown Steamship Co. collided in Lake Superior, above Whitefish Point, on this date. Both ships were damaged and needed repairs.

1972: The freighter STAR OF REWIAH had been built at Collingwood as Hull 105 and launched as the corvette H.M.S. COMFREY on July 28, 1942. The ship was later converted to a cargo carrier and was sailing under this sixth name when it ran aground off the Ashrafi Lighthouse in the Gulf of Suez and declared a total loss on this date in 1972. It was traveling in ballast from Suez, Egypt, to Safaga, Egypt, at the time.

1978: The self-unloader TARANTAU was blown aground due to the wind and shifting ice pack in Lake Huron above Port Huron and had to be freed by the tug BARBARA ANN.

1979: A violent spring storm found LABRADOC (ii) on Lake Erie where the cargo shifted and the vessel took on a precarious list. All on board were removed fearing the ship would roll over and sink. But it survived and was towed to safety eventually undergoing repairs at Port Weller Dry Docks. The vessel left Great Lakes service in 1988 and operated on deep sea runs as b) FALCON CREST until scrapping at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, in 1994.

1992: An explosion and fire in the tunnel of HALIFAX occurred while the CSL ship was upbound in the St. Marys River. One sailor was killed and two more injured while the ship sustained internal damage. It went to Thunder Bay for repairs.

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


Port Reports -  April 5

St. Marys River
Cason J. Callaway departed the Carbide Dock about 6 p.m. Friday and headed downbound to stop in the ice at Hay Lake for the night. John G. Munson took the Callaway’s spot to fuel and resupply, departing near midnight for Hay Lake to join the Callaway. Algocanada remained stuck in the ice in the lower river. At midnight, the CCGS Pierre Radisson appeared to have hove to in the ice off Lime Island. Meanwhile, the upbound convoy was on the move, led by Roger Blough, approaching Sweet’s Point in the lower river. She was followed by Edwin H. Gott, Stewart J. Cort, Sam Laud and Edgar B. Speer.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
After strong easterly winds on Thursday, the easterlies really picked up after 2 am Friday with 20 to 30 knot gusts. According to the USCG icebreaker Biscayne Bay, a huge chunk of ice measuring some 5 miles by 6 miles broke loose from near Lansing Shoal around 7 am, and soon all of the vessels in this chunk of ice (Joyce L Van Enkevort, tug Manitou, Alpena, Edgar B. Speer) were drifting WSW at around 0.5 knots. Despite the ice break, or possibly because of it, Friday turned out to be a very good day for this convoy after being stuck in ice all day Thursday southwest of Lansing Shoal. All four vessels were freed, and the Biscayne Bay flushed ice along a line parallel to the 241-degree LCA and around 1 mile west of it. By noon, all of the vessels were moving on this track with sections of open water near Lansing Shoal -- probably from the shifting ice. Meanwhile, the Mobile Bay headed west from St. Ignace and met up with the convoy north of Hog Island where the Alpena got stuck and was freed by the two icebreakers. Soon all vessels were moving at a relatively fast 7 to 10 knot pace, and the rest of the passage through the Straits was smooth going. By 5pm on Friday, the eastbound convoy passed under the Mackinac Bridge. The Van Enkevort, Manitou and Alpena headed down Lake Huron together, following the LCA course near the Michigan shore. Biscayne Bay took up escort of the westbound Arthur M. Anderson, and around 8 pm the Biscayne Bay hove to for the night near White Shoal Light, while the Anderson continued on to Lansing Shoal. Earlier, Mobile Bay had headed back west and transited through Lansing Shoal to Rock Island Passage. At 9 pm, the Cort reported that it had gotten a call from Soo Traffic and would be underway in 30 minutes for Detour.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
American Integrity loaded coal at the CSX Dock and departed during the morning on Thursday. Due next is the American Century on Tuesday, April 8 in the early afternoon. She will be returning to load on Thursday, April 10 in the morning. American Mariner is scheduled to load at the CSX Dock in the morning on Friday, April 11 and then will return to load again on Saturday, April 12 in the late afternoon. There is nothing due yet at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. At the Torco Dock, the first ship to arrive for the 2014 season will be the Thunder Bay, expected to arrive on Saturday during the early afternoon. Lee A. Tregurtha is due on Saturday, April 12 in the morning. Lakes Contender is due to arrive on Tuesday, April 15 in the early afternoon along with the Salarium, also in the early afternoon of the 15th. All times are estimates and can change due to weather and ice conditions. So far there have been two vessels that have departed winter lay-up – H. Lee White and American Integrity.

Hamilton, Ont.
Algoma Guardian was the first ship to arrive at Hamilton, unloading iron ore for ArcelorMittal Dofasco Friday.


Season opens with Top Hat ceremony as Port Colborne welcomes CSL Laurentien

4/5 - Port Colborne, Ont. – She plowed through at least a metre of Lake Erie's ice, guided by the ice breaker, CCGC Samuel Risley, to arrive in Port Colborne early Friday morning, just after midnight.

Canadian Steamship Lines' CSL Laurentien docked at Lock 8 about 12:45 a.m. with Captain Jim Perkins and Chief Marcel Garant welcomed by Mayor Vance Badawey, who officiated an early morning Top Hat Ceremony postponed for a week due to the harshness of our 2013 to 2014 winter season and the tremendous ice build up on the Great Lakes.

"We have not seen ice build up to this degree for about 30 years," said Garant.

The journey of the ice breakers has been reported by other media to be one of constant vibration and roar, including the sheer force necessary to break the ice by ramming, backing up, and ramming again. It has been decades since these extreme ice conditions were last seen, including barricades of ice several feet high.

"Our Top Hat Ceremony is traditionally kicking off the shipping season, signifying our commitment to the Marine Industry and appreciation for the industry's contribution to the overall economy," said the mayor.

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported 45,143,553 gross registered tonnage in their 2013 traffic report, including grains and other agricultural products, coal, coke, iron ore, aluminum ore, gravel, sand, stone, salt, potash, gypsum, asphalt, lumber and other forest products, gasoline, fuel oil, sodium products, pig iron, steel slabs, machinery and machines, cement, wood pulp, syrup and molasses, sugar, food products, furnace slags, scrap iron and steel, and more.

Port Colborne and Erie Media


Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay to undergo repairs before return to ice-breaking operations

4/5 - Duluth, Minn. – The Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay, a 140-foot ice-breaking tug home-ported in Cleveland but currently moored in Duluth, is scheduled to undergo an in-water repair Sunday and Monday.

The Morro Bay suffered a rudder casualty while conducting ice-breaking operations in Thunder Bay, Ontario, March 27, and was towed to Duluth by the Coast Guard Cutters Alder and Katmai Bay.

Divers and Coast Guard naval engineers examined the Morro Bay and discovered that ice-breaking operations exacerbated an unknown, preexisting problem with several bolts that fasten the cutter's rudder to the rudder post. The problem ultimately resulted in the loss of five out of six bolts that hold the rudder in place. Naval engineers have continued to examine the data to make repairs and ultimately determine the root cause.

If repairs go as expected, the cutter crew expects to be back underway immediately to resume ice breaking on the Great Lakes.


Ice-breaking operation in Saginaw Bay postponed

4/5 - Detroit, Mich. – The Coast Guard has postponed an ice-breaking operation that was scheduled to begin Sunday morning in the vicinity of the Saginaw Bay Entrance Channel. The operation was announced in a news release that was distributed Thursday. Based on the extent of ice coverage in the region, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock has been reassigned to break ice in another area. The Coast Guard will announce when the operation in Saginaw Bay is rescheduled.


1 killed when crane collapses at U.S. Steel in Ecorse

4/5 - Ecorse, Mich. – A crane operator has been killed at the U.S. Steel facility in Ecorse. Police said the incident happened at 5:45 a.m. Friday, when the crane tipped over, ejecting the operator. In a statement, U.S. Steel said the crane operator was a contractor who worked for Connelly Crane Company. No one else was hurt.

Workers say the crane was there making repairs from a pipe collapse last week. The company told Local 4 it would be issuing a statement soon, but didn't release any immediate details. The facility is near Visger Road and Jefferson Avenue.

Statement from U.S. Steel:
"This morning (April 4 - 4:55 a.m.) at U. S. Steel Great Lakes Works, there was an incident in which a crane collapsed at the #2 BOP which resulted in the fatal injury of a contractor. No other injuries have been reported and no additional details regarding the incident can be provided at this time."

Local 4


Lookback #139 – Algontario ran aground at Johnson's Point on April 5, 1999

4/5 - An early-season grounding by Algontario at Johnson's Point, St. Marys River 15 years ago today resulted in the ship spending the next five years in lay-up. The 730-foot-long bulk carrier was up bound from Clarkson, Ont., to Duluth with a cargo of cement when it stranded on April 5, 1999. The ship was not released until April 7 and, after unloading, went into long term lay-up at Thunder Bay.

Algontario had an interesting history. It was built as the deep-sea ore carrier Ruhr Ore in 1959, rebuilt with a new fore-body in 1977 and joined the Hall Corporation as Cartiercliffe Hall. The after end was gutted in a fire on Lake Superior that claimed seven lives on June 5, 1979, and resulted in major reconstruction at Collingwood in 1979 – 1980.

With the end of the Halco fleet in 1988, this vessel joined Canada Steamship Lines as Winnipeg and then Algoma Central as Algontario in 1994.

Hull repairs were finally approved and Algontario returned to Great Lakes service on October 10, 2004. It sailed another five years and tied up at Toronto on July 4, 2009. Following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, the vessel departed its lay-up berth under tow on May 25, 2011, and reached Aliaga, Turkey, for dismantling behind the tug HERAKLES on August 5, 2011.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 5

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 5

On 05 April 1890, INDIANA (wooden propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 220 foot, 1,178 gross tons) was launched by Burger and Burger at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, for the Goodrich Transportation Company. The total cost of the vessel was $135,000.

On April 5, 1984, the joined sections of the HILDA MARJANNE and CHIMO emerged from Port Weller Dry Dock Ltd., as the b.) CANADIAN RANGER.

Sea trials for Canada Steamship Lines new bulk freighter, PRAIRIE HARVEST (Hull#227) of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., were complete on April 5, 1984. She operates on the Lakes today as the self-unloader d.) ATLANTIC HURON.

The a.) LUZON (Hull#54) of the Chicago Ship Building Co. was launched for the Erie Steamship Co., E.D. Carter, mgr., on April 5, 1902. Renamed b.) JOHN ANDERSON in 1924 and c.) G. G. POST in 1933. She was scrapped at Izmir, Turkey, in 1972.

April 5, 1977 - The Chessie System announced that the CITY OF MIDLAND 41 would be withdrawn from service and only the SPARTAN and BADGER would run for the season.

On 5 April 1854, AMERICA (wooden side-wheeler, 240 foot, 1,083 tons, built in 1847, at Port Huron, Michigan) was bound for Cleveland from Detroit. After the captain had set her course and gone to bed, the 2nd mate changed the course to the north. The 1st and 2nd mates disagreed about the course and as they awoke the captain, the ship ran aground near Point Pelee, Ontario. Wave action reduced the vessel to rubble but no lives were lost.

On 5 April 1879, the 3-mast wooden schooner RESUMPTION was launched at the Wolf & Davidson yard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her dimensions were 143 foot x 29 foot x 10 feet, 294 gross tons, 279 net tons.

April 5, 1962, the tanker ROBERT W. STEWART was renamed b.) AMOCO MICHIGAN, The WILLIAM P. COWAN was renamed b.) AMOCO ILLINOIS, the EDWARD G. SEUBERT was renamed b.) AMOCO WISCONSIN and the RED CROWN was renamed b.) AMOCO INDIANA, after being transferred from Standard Oil Company in a sale to the American Oil Company for $10 for each ship. Each ship traded in their names and their well-known red superstructure for a typical white paint job which stuck with them until their end. The only change came to the AMOCO INDIANA when she traded in her black hull for the blue paint of c.) MEDUSA CONQUEST, d.) SOUTHDOWN CONQUEST, e.) CEMEX CONQUEST and f.) ST MARYS CONQUEST. She operates today as a self - unloading cement barge.

1921: The Imperial Oil tanker IMPOCO (ii) had combined Great Lakes and coastal trading and had gone as far afield as the Mediterranean Sea and the Falkland Islands during World War One. The 8-year old vessel stranded at Blonde Rock, Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, on this date in 1921 while en route from Halifax to Saint John with a cargo of gasoline. The ship was lightered, salvaged on May 4, and beached at Charles Harbour and then at Halifax as not worth repair. The hull was apparently not scrapped until 1953.

1983: The small Finnish freighter KENITRA visited the Great Lakes in 1957. It was abandoned by her crew in the Red Sea while sailing as d) ALASKA on this date in 1983. It had developed a severe list while traveling from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Mersin, Turkey, and sank the same day.

1996: The Liberian freighter STEEL FLOWER ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Wellesley Island while upbound on this date in 1996 and was stuck for two days. The ship had also been a Seaway trader as a) FEDERAL RHINE (i) from 1978 to 1992, as STEEL FLOWER from 1994 to 1996 and as c) NARRAGANSETT from 1997 to 1999 before going to Alang, India, for scrap later in 1999.

1999: The PATERSON (ii) ran aground in Lake St. Francis and was stuck for two days. The ship went to Les Mechins, QC for repairs and returned to work on May 13. The vessel now sails for Canada Steamship Lines as b) PINEGLEN (ii).

1999: ALGONTARIO ran aground at Johnsons Point in the St. Mary's River while upbound with a load of cement from Clarkson to Duluth. The ship was released April 7 and, after unloading, was laid up at Thunder Bay until eventual repairs and a return to service on October 10, 2004. The vessel was towed to Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping in 2011.

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


Cason J. Callaway opens 2014 Soo Locks shipping season

4/4 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. 1 p.m. update - Nine days of chuggging, grinding, rumbling and ice-breaking the largest of the five Great Lakes culminated Friday morning with the arrival of the downbound Cason J. Callaway in mid-morning as the vessel officially opened the 2014 shipping season.

Local dignitaries were on hand to greet the vessel and present a commemorative plaque. The Callaway was followed by the John G. Munson.

The Soo Locks were officially opened on March 25. But, even with a convoy of ice-breakers to lead the commercial vessels, it took nearly two weeks to bust through the massive sheets of ice.

“It’s been nine days since they left Duluth,” said Director of Vessel Traffic Services Mark Gill of the U.S. Coast Guard Sault Ste. Marie. To put that in perspective, with good weather and no stops that same trip could be completed in 20 hours during the summer season.

Of the three commercial vessels that left Duluth, only two arrived at the Soo Locks, as the heavy ice “tore a hole in the side” of the Presque Isle, according to Gill, forcing the ship to turn back for repairs.

Led by the 240-foot Mackinaw and a pair of 140-foot cutters the Morro Bay and the Katmai Bay even the ice breaking ng vessels had difficulty as the Morro Bay sustained a damaged rudder and was unable to complete the trip.

Gill said Lake Superior proved to be a challenge with a solid bed of 28-inches of ice for a large part of the journey laden with another foot of snow, which created friction further slowing the down bound vessels. And those, he indicated, were the easy spots, as certain portions of the lake had broken ice 8-10 feet below the solid smooth plate on top of the lake.

The 322-foot Pierre Radisson, flying the Canadian flag, was credited for providing assistance on the last leg of the journey.

The Callaway docked at the Union Carbide Dock to take on fuel at 1:20 p.m. The Munson will wait its turn to dock. Once re-supplied, each vessel will continue down the St. Marys River.

Gill said he anticipated that the arrival of the two ships will likely interfere with Sugar Island ferry traffic, predicting that when the harbor ice collapses it could temporarily create a complete blockage of the water way between the island and the mainland.

Gill explained there are a half-dozen vessels off on DeTour and Drummond Island awaiting the downbound convoy before they can begin their upbound trips. The first slated to head north, will be a tanker bound for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., followed by five other vessels that will proceed through the Soo Locks destined for Lake Superior ports.

Soo Evening News


Ice Convoy reaches St Marys River

4/4 -  Two cargo vessels, Cason J. Callaway and John G. Munson, led by the Canadian icebreaker Pierre Radisson and the USCG icebreaker Mackinaw, made significant progress toward the Soo Locks on Thursday. They have been battling extraordinarily thick Lake Superior ice since they left the western end of Lake Superior more than a week ago.

At 10 p.m. Thursday, the vessels stopped for the night between Light 26 and Point Iroquois in the upper river. They were expected to get back underway around 7:30 a.m. Friday, according to a spokesman for Soo Traffic. The Callaway is expected to make the first commercial passage, followed by the Munson.

Also beset is the tanker Algocanada, which has been working her way upbound in the lower river for several days. Thursday night she was off Point Aux Frenes.

Once the downbound vessels are moved through the lower river, the icebreakers will begin to escort an upbound convoy to the locks. Five vessels – Stewart J. Cort, Roger Blough, Edwin H. Gott, Arthur M. Anderson and Sam Laud are hove to east of the Mackinaw Bridge waiting for the downbounders to clear. The Cort headed to DeTour to take on supplies Thursday before returning to the anchorage.

Although the Great Lakes' shipping season officially started more than a week ago, the Soo Locks have remained inactive other than locking up the two coast guard cutters.

As of Thursday, no commercial ship had passed through the locks because significant areas of ice still exist across much of the northern Great Lakes, making for an extremely slow start to the season. Coast Guard officials don't expect ice-breaking efforts, which wrapped up on April 27 last year, to end until well into May.

The branch is down to two icebreaking ships after one, the Morro Bay, had to be docked in Duluth, Minn., because of a broken rudder, said Levi Read, a second-class petty officer with the Ninth Coast Guard District External Affairs Office.

Aside from ice already floating on the lakes, several factors are hampering crews' efforts to clear the way for commercial ships, including some chunks up to eight-feet thick and stiff winds. Once crews are able to create an open-water path, Read said the wind closes it by pushing the ice together.

"The commercial shipping season is definitely slowed down, almost to a halt," he said. "There is warmer weather coming, so we hope that helps."

Depending on the ice's thickness, icebreaking ships only can travel at speeds ranging from 3 to 10 knots, which make for long days for its crews, Read said.

The Great Lakes' ice for the season wasn't enough to snag first place but managed to settle behind 1994's and 1979's record at 92.19 percent. Today, ice on Lake Superior alone remains at about 90 percent with all of the Great Lakes just under 70 percent.

Boatwatchers headed to the Soo Friday for the first vessels may want to bundle up. The forecast calls for a wintry mix of sleet, snow and wind.



Port Reports -  April 4

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
There are now five freighters waiting on northern Lake Huron: Stewart J Cort, Roger Blough, Edwin H Gott, Arthur M. Anderson and Sam Laud. At 10 pm Thursday the Blough was maneuvering at 8 knots east of Cheboygan, while the Cort was heading southeast off Drummond Island at 10 knots. They have both been on northern Lake Huron for a week. One issue now is ice pressure from winds, especially on northern Lake Michigan. There's an area southwest of Lansing Shoal, what I refer to as the Lansing Trapezoid (a trapezoid bounded by the 273 deg. line, the 241 deg. line, the 56.5 deg. line and the 45 deg. 50 latitude line), which has some extremely tough ice and appears to be prone to ice pressure. The group here consists of the Edgar B Speer, Joyce L. Van Enkevort, Alpena, Manitou and CG icebreaker Biscayne Bay. They started Thursday in this area, and after 12 hours of icebreaking they ended the day in essentially the same place, their positions just shifted around a bit. At 10 pm the Biscayne Bay was still breaking ice at 4-5 knots while the other vessels were all stationary. A storm system is forecast to move through with higher winds on Friday and Saturday.

Escanaba, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Wednesday at the CN ore dock, Burns Harbor loaded on the north side of the dock, and Joseph L. Block waited on the south side. Paul R. Tregurtha was anchored in heavy ice north of the dock, waiting to load.


Shipping season frozen as freighters battle thick ice

4/4 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Two freighters bound from Duluth, Minn. are battling their way through what a US Coast Guard spokesperson called “brutal” and “extreme” ice conditions on Lake Superior to reach the Soo Locks.

The vessels, John P. Munson and Cason J. Callaway, are following the USCG Cutter Mackinaw and the Canadian cutter Pierre Radisson. By Thursday night they had made considerable progress and were nearing the locks.

Randy Elliott, vessel traffic manager with the USCG stationed in Soo Michigan, said Tuesday that the convoy left Duluth around the time the Soo locks opened for traffic on March 25.

As of late yesterday, the southbound convoy was confronting ice three to three and a half feet thick with windrows six feet high in some places. The three vessels opted not to use their normal route across the lake, and instead are following the north shore of Lake Superior, Elliott said.

No commercial ships, either north or southbound, have locked through since the official opening a week ago. That also is not normal.

“Usually at this time of the year we would see 12 to 15 vessels north and southbound a day using the locks,” Elliott said.

Meanwhile there are three northbound freighters parked just south of the entrance to the lower St. Marys River.

“They are waiting for the first downbound vessels to clear [the locks] before they head up,” Elliott said.

The Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Pierre Radisson, arrived in the Sault Wednesday to assist its American counterparts, who "are stretched with the resources we have" in opening the shipping channel, Elliott said.

On a separate note, he said Essar Steel Algoma has not had any freighter traffic yet, which is also abnormal. “Their shipping season usually starts around the time the locks open even if the ships were not using the locks.”

As for comparisons with previous years, Elliott, who has been stationed in Sault, Mich. since 2002, said this winter has been the most severe in his memory. He noted weather experts are comparing the extreme conditions this winter to those in 1996 and 1978.

Soo Today


At Houghton, spring is here, but so is the ice

4/4 - Houghton, Mich. – The extremely cold temperatures of January and February froze Portage Lake and the Portage Lake Shipping Canal to depths not seen in years, and the continuing colder-than-normal temperatures mean some activities on those bodies could be delayed beyond their usual start times.

Phyllis Green, superintendent of Isle Royale National Park, said the park's ferry, the Ranger III, is in dry dock in Wisconsin for its five-year maintenance. The plan is for it to return to its mooring site at the park headquarters in Houghton the first week in May, but exactly when it returns will depend on the ice situation on Lake Superior and the shipping canal.

"We'll have to see how it goes," she said.

Green said staff and equipment usually go out to the park before campers and visitors, but this year they will be delayed. "We normally try to get there the second week in April," she said.

Last year, ice on Lake Superior delayed the first trip to the island until the last week in April, Green said. Green said occasionally the United States Coast Guard is asked to break a path in the ice so the Ranger can get to the island.

"We try not to impact the Coast Guard," she said.

Visitors are usually taken to the island for the first time about Memorial Day, Green said.

Exactly when an ice breaker will get to Portage Lake and the shipping canal is uncertain according to Mark Gill, United States Coast Guard director of vessel traffic services in Sault St. Marie, Mich.

Although clearing a path for the Ranger III is on the Coast Guard's list of jobs, Gill said ice breakers are currently working to clear ice on Lake Superior, which is thicker than it's been in decades, with depths of 30 to 60 inches. There are also wind-created "stacks" up to 14 feet high.

"This has been a monumental year," he said.

Although the Soo Locks opened to shipping on March 25, Gill said no ships have been able to travel on Lake Superior, yet. Because of the efforts on Lake Superior, Gill said it's uncertain when work can start on breaking ice on Portage Lake and the shipping canal.

"We're probably three to four weeks away from that," he said.

Gill said the Coast Guard station at Dollar Bay has recorded ice on the shipping canal of 24 to 28 inches, with some spots as deep as 36 inches.

Gill said the ice on Lake Superior is so thick, it may not be completely clear until May or June. "This is one of those once-in-a-generation events," he said.

Mining Gazette


Waiting for a break in Montreal’s icy economy

4/4 - Montreal, Que. – The St-Lawrence seaway is finally open for business – 10 days later than scheduled. The ice-covered maritime route has grounded cargo vessels waiting to ship merchandise between St-Lambert and the Great Lakes.

Five Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers were dispatched to break ice that is three to five feet thick. Normally only two are needed at this time of year. In St-Lambert, two ice breaking tugboats are working overtime to prevent ice jams in the locks.

“It’s been very difficult. Ice is at least three feet thick in the canal between here and Lake Ontario,” Jack Meloche of the St-Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. told Global News.

Opening the seaway as early as possible is of vital national economic interest. Meloche hopes more than 40 million tons of merchandise will pass through the seaway this year – an amount they haven’t seen since the financial crisis of 2008.

“Steel mills want their steel. Wheat companies want to get out their wheat so they’ve been waiting. We had a hard closing in December so it’s just continuing from closing,” Meloche said.

Meloche hopes to make up for lost business this spring and summer.

But first, icebreakers have to do their job and Mother Nature has to bring some heat to help carve the way to more prosperous economic future.

Global News


Ice-breaking operations scheduled for Saginaw Bay

4/4 - Detroit, Mich. – The Coast Guard is scheduled to begin ice-breaking operations in the vicinity of the Saginaw Bay Entrance Channel Sunday beginning at 7 a.m. The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock will be ice breaking from Gravelly Shoal to the entrance of the Saginaw River. Any ice in the vicinity of the cutter or the track that it creates should be considered unsafe and the Coast Guard advises everyone to stay clear. For additional information, contact Lt. Jillian Lamb, public affairs officer at Coast Guard Sector Detroit, at 313-568-9587. The Hollyhock is a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender homeported in Port Huron, Mich.


After 157 years, it’s facelift time for Point Clark Lighthouse

4/4 - Goderich, Ont. – The 157-year-old Point Clark Lighthouse on the shores of Lake Huron at Huron-Kinloss Township is finally getting the makeover it was promised years ago. Limen Group Const. Ltd. will complete the year-long restoration of the 110-foot tall limestone tower this summer.

This restoration will please locals and tourists because the landmark lighthouse — designated a national heritage site in 1966 — and its museum have been closed for some years. The light, however, has remained in service over that time and continues to serve maritime traffic throughout the restoration project.

While there has been previous work to the lighthouse, Limen’s scope of work will conserve and bolster the structure for years to come. Parks Canada is the actual owner and the project is being managed by Public Works and Government Services Canada.

The most unusual element of Limen’s restoration contract is pressure grouting the inner core of the tower to consolidate the walls, which are in “an advanced state of deterioration,” explains Arran Brannigan, vice-president of operations.

The process entails an injection of hydraulic lime grout through portholes at masonry joints. The holes were drilled in each course and plastic tubes inserted to transport mortar to fill voids in the inner wythe rubble core walls, he says. The low-pressure injection (10-15 psi) ensures that the weakened walls don’t sustain further damage.

The injection process was performed starting from the base of the lighthouse and working up, with two crews operating from scaffolding on opposite sides of the tower and working in a counterclockwise direction.

“It is a fairly unique way to do the consolidation process,” says Brannigan, whose firm has plenty of heritage restoration experience.

At the lantern courses near the top of the tower, the exterior walls had to be strapped to pull the pressure “into the building,” while inside the lighthouse shoring and bracing helped “to push it out.” The idea was to “stiffen” the structure prior to grout injection to prevent the walls from “bulging out or pushing in,” he points out.

Installing the scaffolding in itself was tricky because of the round shape of the tower. “We had to assemble it square and then build off pie-shaped inner corners.”

Other responsibilities for the masonry contractor include: replacement of about 400 units of limestone stones; Dutchmen repairs to damaged limestone; crack repairs; and repointing the entire structure with soft lime mortar.

“As conservation best practices were applied, we had to try and conserve or salvage materials where possible.” But to replace limestone units beyond repair, Limen had some help. “The existing limestone was tested and its properties were provided in the contract specifications.”

Limen sourced a compatible replacement stone called Eramosa limestone from a quarry in nearby Wiarton, Ont.

“Quite a few Dutchmen repairs” were required, says Brannigan. The repairs involved cutting out damaged sections of individual limestone pieces and anchoring in new pieces with stainless steel spiral dowels, says Brannigan. Large cracks were filled with hydraulic lime mortar; small cracks with epoxy.

John G. Cooke & Associates Ltd., of Ottawa, was retained for the structural design and engineering of the specialized masonry shoring and bracing required for the project.

The 110-foot tower, one of the taller lighthouses in Ontario, is being completely repointed with a hydraulic lime mortar, he adds. The lighthouse’s location typically faces harsh weather so the complete structure is enclosed in tarps which allows the team to work in all types of weather.

Constructed over two years, the lighthouse was completed in 1859. It was the first lighthouse in Ontario to achieve a national heritage designation.

Daily Commercial News


Mackinac Island named one of world’s best island destinations

4/4 - Mackinac Island, Mich. – Michiganders know that Mackinaw Island is the state’s crown jewel destination and now, others across the world are starting to take notice. Mackinac Island added another gem to its crown after being named the No. 5 Best Island Destination in the world by National Geographic Traveler magazine.

The magazine enlisted a panel of 522 international travel experts to rank islands based on a specific set of criteria. The “best-rated” islands scored 77 or above.

Ranking above many other famous islands, and one of only two American islands in the top 10, Mackinac Island scored 80 and is noted as: “No cars (banned since 1898), no high-rises, and little development pressure earns praise for the iconic isle in Lake Huron. Overall the island is a gem.”

“Word is getting out that Michigan has some of the most spectacular vacation destinations in the world,” George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan, said in a statement. “Mackinac Island is a perfect example of a Pure Michigan getaway.”

For additional information, visit


Huron, Ohio could scale back on popular Jet Express offerings

4/4 - Huron, Ohio – For Huron officials, the newly-proposed price for boat rides to Cleveland and back is sounding less like a mini excursion on Lake Erie and more like a Caribbean voyage. The Lorain Port Authority more than doubled this year’s rate for Jet Express boat trips out of Huron. The trips are largely scheduled around Cleveland Browns games and casino outings.

In 2013, the inaugural year for the voyages, Huron officials spent $1,300 in taxpayer funds to secure four trips on a 77-foot Jet Express boat. This year, the same four journeys would have cost about $3,200 total, Huron city manager Andy White said.

The reason for the price hike? A year ago, Jet Express operators underestimated the amount of time and fuel needed to get a boat to and from Huron, which is between stops in Port Clinton and Lorain.

It’s almost a straight shot between Port Clinton and Lorain. Because Huron is farther south than these two cities, however, it requires more resources to pick up and drop off passengers there, said Rick Novak, Lorain Port Authority’s executive director. End result: The steep increase will keep Huron from offering four rides this year.

Still, city leaders want to provide the service to some extent, given the apparent popularity in the community.

Two of last year’s trips suffered from poor turnout because of bad weather, but the other two rides were at or near full capacity. On this particular Jet Express boat, full capacity is about 150 passengers. And when the boat was in Huron last year, the majority of the riders were local residents.

City council and administrators are negotiating a new deal, in which the port authority would provide two boat trips at a total cost of $1,600.

“We want to subsidize a recreational opportunity for local residents and establish a presence on the Huron River with the JetExpress for passenger ferry service as we continue to develop the area” White said.

Novak said he’ll cooperate with city officials in hopes of continuing the rides, which load and depart at the Huron Boat Basin.

“We most certainly want to work with the city of Huron” Novak said. “We think this works well for both of us”

Details on the proposal are still being sorted out. A year ago, the port authority charged riders $39 for the 12-hour round-trip. It takes about three hours to travel from Huron to Cleveland, where riders stay about six hours before making the three-hour return trip.

If the plan works out, riders would likely pay the same rate as last year, White said.

Sandusky Register


Lookback #138 – Nakwa River sold for scrap to satisfy creditors on April 4, 1984

4/4 - The Black Star Line of Ghana sent a number of their ships to the Great Lakes in the early years of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The company was operated on behalf of the Government of Ghana and many of their vessels had “River” names.

Nakwa River was built by Barclay Curle & Co., and launched at Glasgow, Scotland, on January 15, 1965. It was completed in May 1965 and first came to the Great Lakes the following year. The 454 foot 6 inch long cargo carrier was registered at 4,979 gross tons and able to handle cargoes of 7,750 tons deadweight.

The ship was outbound from the Great Lakes when fire broke out, just prior to docking at Montreal, on December 4, 1966. The blaze caused extensive, but repairable, damage.

The Black Star Line fell on difficult economic times and Nakwa River was laid up at Hamburg, West Germany, on February 4, 1982. It remained idle and was sold to satisfy creditors 30 years ago today. The vessel arrived at Santander, Spain, under tow, on April 10, 1984, and was broken up for scrap by Desbar.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 4

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 4

On 05 April 1890, INDIANA (wooden propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 220 foot, 1,178 gross tons) was launched by Burger and Burger at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, for the Goodrich Transportation Company. The total cost of the vessel was $135,000.

On April 5, 1984, the joined sections of the HILDA MARJANNE and CHIMO emerged from Port Weller Dry Dock Ltd., as the b.) CANADIAN RANGER.

Sea trials for Canada Steamship Lines new bulk freighter, PRAIRIE HARVEST (Hull#227) of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., were complete on April 5, 1984. She operates on the Lakes today as the self-unloader d.) ATLANTIC HURON.

The a.) LUZON (Hull#54) of the Chicago Ship Building Co. was launched for the Erie Steamship Co., E.D. Carter, mgr., on April 5, 1902. Renamed b.) JOHN ANDERSON in 1924 and c.) G. G. POST in 1933. She was scrapped at Izmir, Turkey, in 1972.

April 5, 1977 - The Chessie System announced that the CITY OF MIDLAND 41 would be withdrawn from service and only the SPARTAN and BADGER would run for the season.

On 5 April 1854, AMERICA (wooden side-wheeler, 240 foot, 1,083 tons, built in 1847, at Port Huron, Michigan) was bound for Cleveland from Detroit. After the captain had set her course and gone to bed, the 2nd mate changed the course to the north. The 1st and 2nd mates disagreed about the course and as they awoke the captain, the ship ran aground near Point Pelee, Ontario. Wave action reduced the vessel to rubble but no lives were lost.

On 5 April 1879, the 3-mast wooden schooner RESUMPTION was launched at the Wolf & Davidson yard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her dimensions were 143 foot x 29 foot x 10 feet, 294 gross tons, 279 net tons.

April 5, 1962, the tanker ROBERT W. STEWART was renamed b.) AMOCO MICHIGAN, The WILLIAM P. COWAN was renamed b.) AMOCO ILLINOIS, the EDWARD G. SEUBERT was renamed b.) AMOCO WISCONSIN and the RED CROWN was renamed b.) AMOCO INDIANA, after being transferred from Standard Oil Company in a sale to the American Oil Company for $10 for each ship. Each ship traded in their names and their well-known red superstructure for a typical white paint job which stuck with them until their end. The only change came to the AMOCO INDIANA, when she traded in her black hull for the blue paint of c.) MEDUSA CONQUEST, d.) SOUTHDOWN CONQUEST, e.) CEMEX CONQUEST and f.) ST MARYS CONQUEST. She operates today as a self-unloading cement barge.

1921: The Imperial Oil tanker IMPOCO (ii) had combined Great Lakes and coastal trading and had gone as far afield as the Mediterranean Sea and the Falkland Islands during World War One. The eight-year old vessel stranded at Blonde Rock, Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, on this date in 1921 while en route from Halifax to Saint John with a cargo of gasoline. The ship was lightered, salvaged on May 4, and beached at Charles Harbour and then at Halifax as not worth repair. The hull was apparently not scrapped until 1953.

1983: The small Finnish freighter KENITRA visited the Great Lakes in 1957. It was abandoned by her crew in the Red Sea while sailing as d) ALASKA on this date in 1983. It had developed a severe list while traveling from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Mersin, Turkey, and sank the same day.

1996: The Liberian freighter STEEL FLOWER ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Wellesley Island while upbound on this date in 1996 and was stuck for two days. The ship had also been a Seaway trader as a) FEDERAL RHINE (i) from 1978 to 1992, as STEEL FLOWER from 1994 to 1996 and as c) NARRAGANSETT from 1997 to 1999 before going to Alang, India, for scrap later in 1999.

1999: PATERSON (ii) ran aground in Lake St. Francis and was stuck for two days. The ship went to Les Mechins, QC, for repairs and returned to work on May 13. The vessel now sails for Canada Steamship Lines as b) PINEGLEN (ii).

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


Convoy heading for Soo

4/3 - Sault Ste. Marie - 8:45 p.m. update - The Canadian Coast Guard ship Pierre Radisson, U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw, Cason J Callaway and John G Munson were downbound at Gros Cap Light tonight heading for Soo Locks. Radisson will hold at light 26 in the ice overnight.

10 a.m. update - The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Pierre Radisson has reached the downbound convoy of Cason J. Callaway, John G. Munson and USCG Mackinaw. At 10 a.m. Thursday they were off Whitefish Point. The Radisson was upbound in the St. Marys River Wednesday and passed through the Soo Locks about 1 p.m. to join the Mackinaw to break out Whitefish Bay and then continue working Lake Superior. The Radisson reached Whitefish Bay about 4:30 p.m. and made steady progress in the heavy ice. By 11 p.m. Wednesday she was north of Whitefish Point in Lake Superior and had about 35 miles to travel to meet the downbound convoy that left Duluth seven days ago.


Port Reports -  April 3

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Mitch Custer
The Edgar Speer left Sturgeon Bay Wednesday evening and the CSL Niagara was headed back in.

St. Marys River -
The USCG cutter Mobile Bay is expected to escort the Algocanada upbound in the river system Thursday during day light hours. Algocanada was stopped in ice at Lime Island in the lower river. Edwin H. Gott, Stewart J. Cort, Roger Blough and Sam Laud remain anchored in the Straits of Mackinac waiting for upbound passage on the St. Marys River and Lake Superior


Ships get coast guard escort on Lake Erie

4/3 - A Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker led a convoy of five vessels out of the Welland Canal Tuesday into the still-frozen waters of Lake Erie to get the shipping season underway on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system.

Andy Maillet, the Canadian Coast Guard’s Superintendent of Operations for the Central and Arctic Region, said the CCGS Des Groseilliers, a medium-class icebreaker, arrived Monday, March 31. Maillet said the coast guard sent the Des Groseilliers just days after the CCGS Pierre Radisson arrived in Port Colborne.

“The Pierre Radisson had determined the conditions on the lake were too severe at the time to start any escort operations.”

Maillet said the first probe the Radisson put into the lake — about five miles offshore — found ice between two and three feet thick. It also found ice ridges between four and 10 feet.

“It was estimated it take anywhere from four to seven days before things changed on the lake.” When the Des Groseilliers arrived, it made a 25 mile run into the lake to assess the conditions and see whether if it was safe to conduct escort operations.

“It gave the nod to go ahead and set up the convoy this morning,” said Maillet.

He said the vessel was leading the five ships — Algoma Disovery, Algoma Equinox, Algoma Enterprise, CSL’s Baie Comeau and the tug and barge Sea Eagle II — to the western edge of the Lake Erie eastern ice pack.

As for the Pierre Radisson, Maillet said a crew change was underway in Sarnia. Once complete, the icebreaker was headed to Goderich, Ont. to make a pass in the harbour and then headed to Lake Superior.

Maillet said both the Des Groseilliers and Pierre Radisson have been on the Great Lakes before, but it was the first time in a long time they were both needed.

“It’s been an extraordinary year we’ve been having … this was the only place for them.”

The two medium-class icebreakers are usually found operating on the St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence in the winter and spring, and in the Arctic in the summer.

“It’s been said this is a record year for ice and I am not going to argue that point with anyone. It’s certainly been a record in recent operational time. Lake Superior and Lake Erie are frozen, most of Lake Huron …”

Maillet said conditions on Lake Superior are similar to Lake Erie, and coast guard ships have reported ice between 20 and 28 inches thick. The Pierre Radisson, he said, would start to escort ships on Lake Superior and St. Mary’s River, by Sault St. Marie.

With the Radisson and Des Groseilliers operating on the St. Lawrence River, Maillet said it was easy to move them above the Welland Canal to help out.

The Radisson was swapped in for the CCGS Griffin, a high endurance multi-tasked vessel that normally operates on the upper lakes in the winter season along with the Samuel Risley, a medium endurance multi-tasked vessel currently working the Nanticoke, Ont. area on Lake Erie.

“Doing the swap was a godsend … it gives us heavier capacity on the lakes.”

The moves, Maillet said, would allow the U.S. Coast Guard to free up the Canadian port of Thunder Bay, allowing the bigger breakers to move ships.

The fleet of Canadian and American icebreakers on the Great Lakes operate as one, clearing ports and shipping lanes on both sides of the border.

“With the (St. Lawrence) Seaway open, ships needed a place to move,” he said, adding at least one of the vessels in Tuesday’s convoy was headed to Lake Superior. “We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and slowly starting to get traffic moving.”

Erie Media


Marine News Casualties & Demolitions for April 2014

4/3 - April 2014
Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections as casualties or going for scrap in the April 2014 issue.

Tibil, a Turkish chemical tanker, suffered fire damage after a tank exploded off Tuzla, Turkey on Jan. 20, 2014. The vessel took on a list and all 19 members of the crew abandoned ship. One later died from his injuries. The vessel first came through the Seaway in 1984 as Brage Nordic. While the 33-year old tanker was taken to Tuzla for inspection, the age an damage to the ship may lead to a one-way tow to a scrapyard.

Admiral Ushakov was one of ten sister-ships built for use in extreme cold and northern latitudes and was designed to carry ore, bulk or 442 TEU containers. It was built at Warnemunde, East Germany, in 1979 and first traveled through the Seaway in 1983. The ship returned from time to time and will be remembered for an incident at Port Huron on Nov. 6, 1994, when it lost power and hit the seawall damaging about 150 feet of the barrier. The vessel continued Great Lakes trading, at least through 2000, but has now been sold to Chinese shipbreakers. It arrived at Jiangyin Xiagang Changjiang to be broken up.

Al Hadi was a Seaway trader as c) Waldhorn in 1981. The ship dated from 1969 and had a total of six names with its final one coming in 1996. It arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for dismantling on Nov. 30, 2013. D. Ocean came inland under two of her names. The ship was built at Varna, Bulgaria, in 1983 and visited the lakes that year as Corato under British registry. The bulk carrier was back as b) Clare in 1986 with registry in Bahamas. Since then there have been additional names for the 607'6 long vessel but none ever made it back to the Great Lakes. The final name of D. Ocean was applied in 2011 and, the same year, the ship was sold for scrap and arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Jan. 11 of that year.

Fadil Rabi II was originally one of the ten ships with Balsa names that traded through the St. Lawrence Seaway. This one was named Balsa 23 when it was built in 1982 and it appeared on the Great Lakes the next year. Since then, it has had five more names with registry in Panama, Jordan and St. Vincent before being sold to Pakistani shipbreakers in 2013. The ship arrived at Gadani Beach for scrapping last June.

Fesco Aleksandrov has been sold to Bangladesh shipbreakers. The ship dated from 1986 and construction at Varna, Bulgaria, as Grigoriy Aleksandrov. The vessel served under the flag of the USSR and first came through the Seaway on June 12, 1996, headed for Chicago with a cargo of steel. It returned for single trips in 2001, 2002 and 2003 carrying fertilizer and calcined bauxite before leaving with grains such oats and canola. It became Fesco Aleksandrov in 2011 and arrived at Chittagong on June 13, 2013.

Fortune Forest had been a Seaway trader as Chada Naree under the flag of Thailand. It headed up bound in ballast for Hamilton to load steel coils on Sept. 3, 1995. The ship was under its fifth name of Fortune Forest when sold to Chinese shipbreakers last year. It arrived at Jiangyin Jiangsu for dismantling by the Jingjiang Xinmin Ship Breaking Co. on Dec. 26, 2013.

Inaya was a Seaway caller as Ikhnaton in 1982. The Egyptian-built, Egyptian-flag freighter was 426 feet, 2 inches long and had only become Inaya in 2012. The vessel arrived at Mumbai, India, for dismantling on Dec. 1, 2013.

Incegul first came to the Great Lakes as Suncaribe in 1979 and returned as Anangel Sky in 1983. It began sailing under a sixth name of Incegul earlier in 2013 and was registered in the Marshall Islands when it arrived at the scrapping berth of Gemi Yan Sanayi ve Ticaret at Aliaga, Turkey, on Nov. 30, 2013.

Lofty Wind-Y dates from 1980 when it was built at Kochi, Japan, as Western Searoad. The 465 foot, 9 inch long Japanese bulk carrier came through the Seaway the next year and was back again, under the flag of Panama, as c) Sitia Bay in 1983. It received its sixth name of Lofty Wind-Y in 2012 and arrived at Gadani Beach on June 6, 2013 for scrapping.

Long An Cheng was built at Aioi, Japan, in 1983 as Agamemnon and visited the Great Lakes the following year under Greek registry. It was up bound again in May 1997 as b) Kent Navigator carrying steel to Cleveland and Chicago. It resumed sailing as c) Agamemnon later in 1997 and visited inland one more time in 1999 for Detroit and Burns Harbor. It has sailed as d) Long An Cheng, under the flag of China, since 2005 and was been sold for dismantling and arrived at Jiangyin Xiagang Changjiang on May 18, 2013.

Mesamar first came through the Seaway in 1998 as the Greek registered Polydefkis P. The vessel's first voyage inbound was held up at the Iroquois Lock on Oct. 28, due to a malfunctioning gyro compass. The ship returned with a cargo of steel for Chicago in 2001 and, after unloading, the 528 foot, 3 inch long Japanese-built bulk carrier proceeded to Duluth to load grain. On an earlier occasion, Polydefkis P. had been in a collision with the Anna Spiratou in fog off Busan, South Korea. The latter was lost with all hands on June 15, 1996. Polydefkis P. was sold and renamed Mesamar in 2010 and resold to Indian shipbreakers for scrap in 2013. The ship arrived at an unidentified port last May 25,for dismantling.

OM Shakti arrived at Alang, India, on Dec. 26, 2013, for dismantling by Bharat Shipbreakers Corp. The 481'1 long bulk carrier was built at Sasebo, Japan as Clipper Hope in 1982 and began Seaway service as b) Skaw Trader in 1989. It had four subsequent names before going for scrap late last year.

Saguenay began Great Lakes service as a) Federal Thames when it was new in 1981. It was a frequent Seaway trader and, beginning in 1995, returned inland a total of 44 times as b) Lake Superior. It joined Canada Steamship Lines in 2008 and was renamed c) Saguenay in 2009. After being idle in 2013, the ship sailed from Montreal on Nov. 6 and was beached at Aliaga, Turkey, on Dec. 1 for dismantling by Izmir Gemi Geri Donusum Ltd.

The tanker Simple was built for the USSR-Georgian Shipping Co. in 1987. Originally Akademik Vekua, it was renamed b) Vekua in 1994 and came through the Seaway in June 1995 to load xylene at Sarnia. This was the first of four trips inland that year and came back on a regular basis for Hamilton, Port Stanley, Sarnia and Clarkson. On Aug. 24, 1997, the vessel hit the lock wall up bound for Hamilton and a quantity of jet fuel escaped. The area was evacuated during the clean-up. The vessel was back as c) Gali in 2001 and as d) Arabian Wind in 2006 while registered in the Marshall Islands. It was known as g) Simple when it arrived for scrapping at Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Dec. 21, 2013.

Star Prince was another former Russian ship, with Great Lakes connections, to go for scrap. It was known as a) Petr Strelkov when it came to the Great Lakes in 1996. The Polish built freighter dated from 1977 and was back inland again in 1997 and 1999. Following a sale in 2009, the ship spent its final years as b) Star Prince and arrived at Alang, India, for dismantling by Shree Gautry Ship Breaking on Dec. 2, 2013.

TK London was the sixth name for this Japanese built cargo carrier. It dated from 1982 and construction at Imabari as La Mancha. Following several sales and renames, the vessel became f) TK London in 1998 and entered the Seaway registered in Malta in 1999. The 31-year old freighter was sold to shipbreakers in 2013 and arrived at Aliaga for scrapping on Dec. 22, 2013.

The former Tuscarora was a regular Seaway trader as Rixta Oldendorff from 1986 through 2004. This Hong Kong flag bulk carrier handled a wide variety of cargoes including steel, titanium slag, potash, peas, wheat and other grains. It also had space for up to six passengers. The ship was sold and renamed b) Tuscarora in 2005 and resumed Great Lakes visits the next year under Liberian registry. The vessel was sold to shipbreakers in Bangladesh and arrived at Chittagong on May 25, 2013.

Compiled by Barry Andersen, Rene Beauchamp and Skip Gillham


Lookback #137 - J.W. McGiffin blown aground in the Welland Canal on April 3, 1975

4/3 - The 1975 navigation season was barely underway when the big self-unloader J.W. McGiffin of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet was blown against the bank in the Welland Canal near Thorold on April 3, 1975. Two holes were punched in the hull 39-years ago today and the vessel required a stop at Port Weller Dry Docks to repair the damage.

J.W. McGiffin was Hull 197 from the Collingwood shipyard and it entered service in April 1972. The vessel set early cargo records for coal and grain and made news on March 28, 1973, for the earliest, to that date, opening of the Welland Canal.

The 730-foot-long self-unloader was rebuilt at Port Weller in 1998-1999 receiving a new forebody. The old section was towed to Port Colborne and scrapped while the newly rebuilt hull resumed trading as CSL Niagara on July 28, 1999.

The ship now measured 740 feet long and was back in the record books for establishing a new standard for wheat taking 29,707 tons out of Thunder Bay on Nov. 26, 1999. CSL Niagara remains an active member of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 3

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 3

On 03 April 1969, RALPH MISENER (steel propeller bulk freighter, 730 foot, 19,160 gross tons, built in 1967, at Montreal, Quebec) suffered serious fire damage to her engine room during fit-out at Port Colborne, Ontario. She went overseas for scrap in 2012 as b.) GORDON C. LEITCH (ii).

On April 3, 1991, the pilothouse of the WILLIAM CLAY FORD of 1953 was moved by a barge towed by Gaelic tug's CAROLYN HOEY and placed on a specially built foundation at the Dossin Museum for display facing the Detroit River as a fully equipped pilothouse.

The tanker a.) TEMBLADOR (Hull#15) of the Barnes Ð Duluth Shipbuilding Co., was launched April 3, 1943, for the Creole Petroleum Corp, for off lakes use. She later sailed on the lakes as b.) LIQUILASSIE.

On 3 April 1872, the passenger/package freight steam barge ROBERT HOLLAND was launched at Marine City, Michigan. She was towed to Detroit by the propeller TRADER to have her machinery installed.

On 3 April 1876, the Port Huron Times reported "The wreck of the schooner HARMONICA, which has been missing for a month or more, has been discovered on the beach near Whitehall, Michigan completely buried in the ice. Four are supposed to have perished."

On 3 April 1894, WILLIAM H. BARNUM (wooden propeller freighter, 219 foot, 937 gross tons, built in 1873, at Detroit, Michigan) was carrying corn on her first trip of the season. She was reportedly in poor condition and was insured only for this voyage. Her hull was cut by floating ice and she sank in the Straits of Mackinac about two miles east of present Mackinac Bridge. The tug CRUSADER got her crew off before she sank.

1942: The second TABORFJELL to visit the Great Lakes for the Fjell Line was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic east of New Jersey on this date by U-576. The vessel was en route from Matanzas, Cuba, to New York and Montreal with sugar. The three survivors waited for 20 hours before being rescued. Another 17 crewmates perished. The 1339 gross ton vessel first came inland shortly after being delivered in August 1938.

1975: The self-unloader J.W. McGIFFIN of Canada Steamship Lines was blown aground in the Welland Canal near Thorold. Two holes were punched in the hull and they were repaired at Port Weller Dry Docks. The ship was rebuilt as CSL NIAGARA in 1999.

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


Pierre Radisson to lock through

3/26 - 12:30 update - The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Pierre Radisson is upbound in the St. Marys River and is expected to lock through the Soo Locks about 1 p.m. She will join the Mackinaw to break out White Fish Bay and then continue working Lake Superior.


Port Reports -  April 2

St. Marys River
There was still no sign of the downbound convoy of Cason J. Callaway and John G. Munson, led by the cutter Mackinaw, as Tuesday drew to a close. A week after the locks officially opened, they have yet to see a commercial transit due to ice conditions. Two sure signs of spring are the opening of Clydes and the West Pier drive-ins, favorites of BoatNerds.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
The Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader completed their passage across the Straits and northern Lake Michigan Tuesday morning, apparently unassisted, and arrived in Escanaba Tuesday afternoon. Stewart J. Cort, Edwin H. Gott and Roger Blough (current AIS destination: Ice off Two Harbors) spent Tuesday waiting in the ice east of Round Island Passage. At 9 p.m., they appeared to be drifting to the northeast with strong southwest winds. The Blough turned and was moving at 8 knots to the southeast off of Bois Blanc Island. The Cort appeared to be maneuvering as well.

Escanaba, Mich.
Great Lakes Trader and Hon. James L. Oberstar were at the dock loading Tuesday, with the Burns Harbor waiting her turn. Wilfred Sykes departed in the morning.

Burns Harbor, Ind.
Interlake's Paul R. Tregurtha finished discharging ore pellets at Arcelor Mittal on Tuesday. The Paul R. arrived on spring-like Monday morning with temperatures in the high 50s. Strong south and west winds have cleared the harbor of all ice.

Goderich, Ont. - Robert Jeffrey
Pierre Radisson arrived at Goderich around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to do a quick ice breakout on the outer harbor and alongside Algowood.

Port Huron-Sarnia
The Canadian icebreaker Pierre Radisson left Sarnia Friday and headed for lower Lake Huron escorting the tanker Algocanada. Sam Laud was upbound at Port Huron Tuesday afternoon.

Detroit, Mich.
H. Lee White has departed Toledo layup, and was docked at Zug Island Friday night.


Icebreakers challenged, start of Marquette shipping delayed

4/2 - Marquette, Mich. – U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers challenged by Lake Superior ice as thick as six feet in some places are not expected to make it into Marquette Harbor for several days, delaying the local opening of the shipping season.

"You're not even on our radar," Mark Dobson, vessel traffic controller for the Coast Guard's Operation Taconite in Sault Ste. Marie, said Monday of Marquette's ice-breaking prospects. "We can only imagine what that ice is like in Marquette right now."

Across Lake Superior, Coast Guard cutters were struggling Monday to break this winter's tremendous ice cover, which on Lake Superior is the thickest it's been in two decades. The Great Lakes overall have been almost completely locked in ice for the first time since 1979.

Cutters Katmai Bay and Alder were heading to break out thick ice in Taconite Bay, Minn., continuing north across the Canadian border to Thunder Bay, while the Mackinaw was 45 miles from Whitefish Point Monday afternoon, working to lead a two-ship convoy along the Canadian shoreline, downbound to Whitefish Bay and eventually through the Soo Locks.

Another ship initially in the Mackinaw's convoy - the Presque Isle - was damaged and returned to Duluth Harbor, much like the cutter Morro Bay, which was also in port at Duluth with a damaged rudder. "It's slow going everywhere," Dobson said. "It's just so thick and heavy, there's nothing you can do."

The thickness of the ice, and the preoccupation of the icebreakers, has resulted in a delay of boats into the L.S.& I. Railroad Dock in Marquette's Upper Harbor.

Jennifer Huetter, Cliffs Natural Resources district manager for public affairs in Michigan, said Monday the first boat scheduled to arrive at the coal unloader was the Mesabi Miner, which had been set to arrive Saturday.

The James L. Kuber was initially scheduled to pick up pellets Wednesday as the first ore boat of the season. "The Mesabi Miner did not arrive and the Kuber was rescheduled," Huetter said. Michipicoten, which is laid up on the Canadian side of the Soo Locks, was expected to arrive Wednesday, but that too was put off. Lakes Contender is now scheduled to be the first ore boat of the season, due to arrive Sunday.

"The icebreaker, the cutter, is going to have to lead that boat in," Huetter said. "The guys at the ore dock said that's the only way it's going to get in."

Huetter said ice thickness on the Upper Harbor at the ore dock was estimated at two feet. The first coal boat of the season is now expected to be the James R. Barker, which would be expected to follow the Lakes Contender into port, Huetter said.

Dobson said the ice thickness the cutters are encountering was at least three feet in some places, four feet in others. In the middle of Lake Superior, ice rubble fields six feet thick were being encountered.

As the Mackinaw moves south toward the Soo Locks, additional cutters were to keep the locks cleared, with only single lane downbound traffic operating. Dobson said there were three or four ships waiting to come up into Lake Superior after the Mackinaw convoy clears the locks.

He said the cutters can be moving along decently and then hit a "rock solid" section of ice. In some cases, ships have needed four hours to move one mile.

"They're chugging through it," Dobson said. "But it's very time consuming."

Mining Journal


Updates -  April 2

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated
Lay-up list updated


Lookback #136 – Soodoc opened Seaway season up bound at St. Lambert on April 2, 1979

4/2 - It was 35 years ago today that the 1979 navigation season got underway along the Seaway. The first upbound transit of the year at the St. Lambert Lock was Soodoc of the N.M. Paterson fleet.

The 355-foot, 6-inch-long bulk carrier had been Hull 210 of the Collingwood shipyard and it entered service in 1976. Soodoc carried a wide variety of cargoes over the years and has ventured far from its Great Lakes home with trips to docks in Europe, Vancouver, the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Arctic as well as to Mediterranean and Black Sea ports.

The ship joined Desgagnes Transports Inc. as Amelia Desgagnes in 1990 and remains in their service. It trades in and out of the Great Lakes carrying pig iron, aluminum, coal, grain and salt. This is a handy sized vessel and specializes in delivering small lots to customers when a large quantity is not needed.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 2

A total of 60 ore boats departed Cleveland between March 31 and April 2 to start the 1948 shipping season.

On 02 April 1900, the JOHN MINER (wooden 3-mast schooner, 134 foot, 273 gross tons, built in 1866, at Detroit, Michigan as a bark) was purchased by S. R. Chamberlain from Frank Higgie for $800. She only lasted until 19 October 1902, when she was lost in a storm on Lake Huron.

On April 2, 1951, CLIFFS VICTORY was towed, bound for New Orleans, Louisiana, with her deck houses, stack, propeller, rudder and above deck fittings stored on or below her spar deck for bridge clearance. She was outfitted with two 120-foot pontoons, which were built at the Baltimore yard, that were attached to her hull at the stern to reduce her draft to eight feet for passage in the shallow sections of the river/canal system.

LEON FALK JR. was launched April 2, 1945, as a.) WINTER HILL, a T2-SE-Al, World War II, a single-screw fuel tanker for U.S. Maritime Commission.

CLIFFORD F. HOOD was launched April 2, 1902, as the straight deck bulk freighter a.) BRANSFORD for the Bransford Transit Co., (W. A. Hawgood, mgr.).

SENATOR OF CANADA sailed under her own power on April 2, 1985, to Toronto, Ontario, where she was put into ordinary next to her fleet mate the QUEDOC. She was scrapped in Venezuela in 1986.

WHEAT KING was lengthened by an addition of a 172 foot 6 inch mid-section (Hull #61) and received a 1,000 h.p. bowthruster. This work reportedly cost $3.8 million Canadian and was completed on April 2, 1976.

On April 2, 1953, the straight deck bulk freighter J. L. MAUTHE (Hull#298) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works entered service for Interlake Steamship Co. She operates currently for Interlake as the self-unloading barge PATHFINDER.

April 2, 1975 - The State of Michigan filed a Federal Court suit to stop the Grand Trunk Railway from selling the GRAND RAPIDS. It was felt that selling the ferry would build a stronger case for abandonment of the entire ferry service.

On 2 April 1874, A. H. HUNTER (wooden propeller tug, 58 foot, 28 gross tons) was launched at Saginaw, Michigan. She was built for Donnelly & Clark of Saginaw by Wheeler. The engine was built by Bartlett & Co. of Saginaw. Her boiler and some other equipment were from the almost new tug KATY REID that burned at Salzburg, Michigan in October 1873.

1976: WHEAT KING was refloated at Port Weller Dry Docks. It had arrived on December 12, 1975, and was lengthened to 730 feet over the winter. The ship would only sail six years with the new dimensions and was retired at the end of the 1981 season.

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


Port Reports -  April 1

St. Marys River
Monday morning the Biscayne Bay headed up toward DeTour with the Edwin H. Gott following. The Gott stopped at Detour for supplies, delivered via the Drummond Island ferry, while the Biscayne Bay broke a track in the river. Mobile Bay joined the Biscayne Bay about 2:30 p.m. About 3 p.m. the Gott return to wait in the Straits with the Roger Blough and Stewart J. Cort. The cutters broke out the river below Mud Lake and stopped for the night at Lime Island about 8 p.m.

Straits of Mackinac – Robert Benben
The USCG icebreaker Mobile Bay started the day near Lansing Shoal then moved east to northern Lake Huron where the Roger Blough and Stewart J. Cort have spent the past four days in the ice waiting for clearance to head up the St. Marys River. Also waiting was the Edwin H. Gott. The three ships are now grouped together around six miles east of Round Island Passage. The Joyce L. Van Enkevort pushing the barge Great Lakes Trader was westbound on the Straits Monday evening. At 9:30 pm it was moving at over eight knots just north of Garden Island.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The tug St. Marys Conquest and barge Prentiss Brown came into port very early Sunday morning. She came in light and was still slowly loading cement Monday for shipment out which is very unusual for the St. Marys terminal in Ferrysburg. This is the first boat of the season as it was last season, however, last year it was making a delivery.


Coast Guard investigates damage to icebreaker Morro Bay

4/1 - Duluth, Minn. – An exploratory dive of the disabled U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay revealed that several key bolts that attached its rudder to a control post were gone by the time the vessel limped back to Duluth with help from its sister ships, the Katmai Bay and the Alder.

Lt. Kenny Pepper, commanding officer of the Morro Bay, said Sunday that it was too soon to know exactly what had happened. “They’re taking a look at the data and trying to make a determination as to the cause right now,” he said.

The 140-foot ship encountered challenging ice conditions as it joined the Katmai Bay and the cutter Mackinaw in clearing the way for three freighters that left the Twin Ports last week: the Cason J. Callaway, the John G. Munson and the Presque Isle.

The ships were bound for the Soo Locks, but the Morro Bay and the Presque Isle turned back after experiencing difficulties. The Morro Bay and the Katmai Bay went to Thunder Bay to help break ice there. But the Katmai Bay ended up towing the Morro Bay most of the way back to Duluth, before the Alder took over eight miles from its own home port in Duluth.

“Icebreaking may have contributed to the bolts going missing, but no one is drawing any conclusions about that yet. It’s certainly possible that ice conditions may have exacerbated the problem,” Pepper said.

The extent of the repairs required still is being determined, as well.

Pepper said the best-case scenario would involve the fabrication of replacement bolts to facilitate an underwater repair of the rudder. If more complicated and prolonged repairs are deemed necessary, the cutter could be forced into drydock.

“We’re hoping for the best,” he said. “As a captain and crew, we’re itching to get back out there doing what we’re meant to do, and that means breaking ice at this time of year.”

Meanwhile, the Callaway and the Munson continued to make progress following the lead of the Mackinaw on Sunday toward Michipicoten Island in eastern Lake Superior, en route to the Soo Locks, according to Ken Curry, a vessel traffic management specialist for the U.S. Coast Guard sector office in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Monday the vessels were south of Michipicoten Island and east of Caribou Island heading east southeast trying to find the open ribbon of water that that satellite photos are showing.

Duluth News Tribune


Lookback #135 – Ghislain aground off Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on April 1, 1965

4/1 - Ghislain mainly worked as a coastal freighter but visited the Great Lakes in 1969 after an earlier appearance as Ghislain Marie in 1966. The ship was built at Goole, England, as Falster in 1949 and became Sappho in 1960 for coastal work around the British Isles.

The ship came to Canada for Euclide Bouchard as Ghislain Marie in 1966 and took a northern supply trip to Rankin Inlet that summer and also traded into the Great Lakes.

The name was shortened to Ghislain in 1967 and 46 years ago today, on April 1, 1968, the 217 foot, 6 inch long freighter ran aground while approaching Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, with a cargo of 1,400 tons of herring. After being released, the vessel was repaired at Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

Later that year, on December 7, the ship almost capsized when another cargo shifted. The crew was forced to abandon the listing vessel. The captain was the last to leave and he was taken off by a helicopter from HMCS Provider. However, Ghislain was not lost. The ship was taken in tow and beached. It was later righted, repaired, returned to service and brought pulpwood to the Great Lakes in 1969.

Sold and renamed Anik in 1970, the ship became Maya in 1971 and Anik again in 1973. It was noted “in need of repairs” in 1974 and, since then, presumably scrapped.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 1

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Today in Great Lakes History -  April 1

On 01 April 1887, W. T. Botsford & Company of Port Huron, Michigan bought the COLORADO (wooden propeller package freighter, 254 foot, 1,470 gross tons, built in 1867, at Buffalo, New York). She was added to their two other vessels: DEAN RICHMOND and ROANOKE.

STEWART J. CORT was commissioned on April 1, 1972.

In April 1965, Interlake's steamer J. A. CAMPBELL was renamed c.) BUCKEYE MONITOR after being purchased by the Buckeye Steamship Co.

Realizing that the bulk trades were too competitive, Captain John Roen's Roen Transportation Co. sold the CAPTAIN JOHN ROEN to the American Steamship Co. (Boland & Cornelius, mgr.) on April 1, 1947, for $915,000.

ROY A. JODREY started her first full season opening navigation at the Soo Locks April 1, 1966, with a load of stone for Algoma Steel.

Dismantling of the G. A. TOMLINSON, a.) D. O. MILLS, began in Ashtabula, Ohio, on April 1, 1980, and was completed eight months later.

April 1, 1903 - Gus Kitzinger of the Pere Marquette Line steamers, acquired the PERE MARQUETTE 3 & 4 from the Pere Marquette Railway Co.

Sailors at Chicago went on strike on 1 April 1871, for an increase in pay. They were getting $1.50 a day. Some ship owners offered $1.75 but when word came that the Straits of Mackinac were clear of ice, the sailors demanded the unheard of daily wage of $3.25. Although some ships stayed in port, the $1.75 wage was accepted and the barks MARY PEREW, J G MASTEN and C J WELLS, along with the schooners DONALDSON, PATHFINDER and CHAMPION set sail on 1 April 1871

On 1 April 1904, CONDOR (2-mast wooden schooner, 58 foot, 22 gross tons, built in 1871, at Sheboygan, Wisconsin), while lying at anchor in the Kalamazoo River at Singapore, Michigan, was crushed by ice moving out in the spring breakup.

1941: ROBERT W. POMEROY had served the Eastern Steamship Co. as well as Upper Lakes & St. Lawrence Transportation Co. while on the Great Lakes from 1923 to 1940. It went overseas and worked for the British Ministry of War Transport hauling coal on coastal routes. While north bound on April 1, 1942, the ship hit a mine and, four minutes later, a second mine and went down in the North Sea off Norfolk, U.K. Twenty-two survived although two were injured when the boiler exploded.

1942: The Norwegian salty GUDVANG came to the Great Lakes in 1939. It was intercepted by a German patrol boat between Denmark and Norway, while trying to escape to England, on this date in 1942. The ship was sunk by gunfire and the crew became prisoners of war.

1968: GHISLAIN was more at home on the St. Lawrence, but had delivered pulpwood to the Great Lakes in the late 1960s. It had several escapades during these years including a grounding while entering Yarmouth, NS with 1400 tons of herring on this date in 1968. The vessel was repaired at Liverpool, NS. It was listed as g) ANIK in 1974 and in need of repairs. While it was not deleted from LR until 1986, the ship was likely broken up in the mid-1970s.

1983: REGENT MARIGOLD visited the Great Lakes in 1975 under Panamanian registry. It was sailing as d) LEXINGTON when the hull fractured in a storm while en route from Bukpyong, South Korea, to Bangladesh. It went down on this date about 200 miles northwest of Penang, Malaysia.

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

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