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Algocanada working down the St. Marys River
3/10 - The downbound tanker Algocanada and USCG Katmai Bay took a few hours Saturday to reach the bottom end of Neebish Island, it took them four days to cover that distance coming up river. The pair ran into heavier ice Sunday, but nightfall they were stopped in Munuscong Bay above the Junction Buoy.
Erie port to receive $1.52 million for dredging
3/10 - Washington, D.C. – The Port of Erie, Pa., is located on the southeast shore of Lake Erie in a natural bay formed and sheltered by Presque Isle peninsula. Its harbor entrance channel is narrow and 29 feet deep. Dredging is a constant concern. In fact, dredging of harbors around the Great Lakes has been a hot button issue for the maritime industry. Funding is provided by the Harbor Maintenance Tax, a user fee collected by the Federal government to ensure the adequate maintenance and operations of waterway infrastructure by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
On Tuesday, the Corps released its next fiscal year budget. It included an additional $25 million for Great Lakes harbors – $13.8 million of which will be dedicated to dredging. The Port of Erie is slotted to receive an additional $1.52 million toward maintenance dredging of their waterway.
Raymond Schreckengost, executive director of the port, applauded the news. “The simple fact is that without this allocation, we would be severely impacted in our operations,” he said. “These additional dollars are a direct result of our industry lobbying efforts and we look forward to working with the Corps on ensuring that our channel and turning basin, which is about 10-15 acres, are ready for the 2014 shipping season.”
Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair, a member of the Erie marine community and a business that depends upon adequate water depth for deep-water vessels to access the Lake Erie facility, will also benefit from the dredging.
“Since our creation in December of 2009, we have been making positive strides every year, with the help of our friends and business partners throughout the Erie area most importantly the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority to increase our business,” said President and CEO J. Arnold Witte.
“With the recent signing of a new build contract for a 185,000 barrel chemical barge, the future remains bright. This proposed dredging project will allow us to continue to be in a position to offer both new build and repair services to the U.S. and Great Lakes marine communities and will help Donjon Shipbuilding remain a positive contributor to the continued economic success of the region.”
Proper dredging of Erie Harbor is also critical to the operations of Carmeuse Lime & Stone Erie Sand & Gravel. Scott Rehder, area operations manager, said Erie Sand & Gravel depends on the harbor for inbound stone shipments via self-unloading vessels, project cargoes and other port activities by salt-water vessels, dredging operations by the J.S. St. John, and for vessels that come each winter for repairs.
“We have also secured a multi-year contract with the Corps of Engineers to provide beach sand to Presque Isle State Park that must be delivered by lake vessel through the Erie Harbor,” Rehder added.
New Cliffs CEO predicts good times for Iron Range mines
3/10 - Duluth, Minn. – In his first 100 days on the job, Gary Halverson closed Canada’s third largest iron ore mine, halted a chromite mining project in Ontario and worked to fend off a Wall Street demand that his company split up. Other than that, it was mostly uneventful for the new president and chief executive officer of Cliffs Natural Resources.
Halverson was on the Iron Range on Thursday, where his company operates three of Minnesota’s six major taconite iron ore operations, saying his company is “shrinking to grow’’ but predicting a good year for its part of the state’s taconite industry.
Halverson, speaking to Iron Range business and community leaders, said he expects U.S. automakers to build 16.5 million vehicles in 2014, 1 million more than 2013; that new construction should increase 6 to 8 percent this year; and that U.S. steel demand should increase 4 percent this year over last, creating a good market for his company’s taconite iron ore.
“We’re about back to full production at NorthShore (mining) and we expect to produce between 22 and 23 million tons of pellets this year’’ at U.S. operations, Halverson said, noting that’s up from 21 million tons in 2013.
The Ontario native and former gold-mining executive said all three of Cliffs’ Minnesota operations — Hibbing Taconite, United Taconite and NorthShore Mining — will be at virtually full capacity with stable employment in 2014. Moreover, the company’s Upper Michigan operations, Empire and Tilden, also will keep producing, with Halvorsen at the helm, as Cliffs inked a deal last month with ArcelorMittal USA that will keep Empire open into 2017, two years after it was scheduled to be closed.
With the company scaling back on global growth plans and cutting new spending in half from 2013, Halvorson intends to “focus on the core business of what we do; iron ore” as part of the company’s “drive to a leaner, more efficient organization.” But, Halverson said his company will continue to invest in its Iron Range operations, noting they are among the most cost-competitive in North America.
Cliffs said in February that it would close its Wabush iron ore mine in Newfoundland and Labrador and suspend efforts to build a second phase at its Bloom Lake iron ore mine in Quebec. Cliffs also owns an iron ore mine in Australia and coal mines in the U.S.
Halverson’s company was praised by several Iron Range officials Thursday at the company’s annual breakfast gathering for Cliff’s stable operations and investment in Minnesota. The company has 1,856 employees on the Range with a payroll of $251 million.
He also said his company stands ready to produce so-called DRI-ready taconite pellets that are made for electric arc steel mills, but so far hasn’t found a customer near enough to Minnesota to warrant shipping costs. Cliffs current pellet production is generally aimed at traditional blast furnaces on or near the Great Lakes. But electric arc “mini mills” now account for about 60 percent of the U.S. steel made. Halverson said tests of about 30,000 tons of low silica, DRI-ready pellets at NorthShore Mining went very well but that the company won’t start making the pellets until a customer signs on.
“There are no customers yet in our field of view,’’ Halvorsen said. “But it’s coming.”
He added that Cliffs was “well-positioned’’ for an upcoming increase in global taconite production, including the massive Roy Hill mine in Australia that will produce more than all U.S. mines combined. There’s also additional U.S. capacity expected within three years at the Essar Steel taconite plant in Nashwauk under construction and the proposed Gogebic taconite operation in Wisconsin.
Duluth News Tribune
Lake Superior within reach of historic average water levels, Corps projects
3/10 - Detroit, Mich. – Another month of snow, ice and freezing temperatures has led government experts to project water levels in the Great Lakes will rise more in the coming months than earlier estimated — and possibly get one lake back to its historic average.
A typical March could drive Lake Superior to match its historic average for the month for the first time in more than 15 years, according to estimates from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released Wednesday. The last time the northernmost Great Lake was at its historic level was in April 1998.
Each year, as the collected snow and ice in the Great Lakes region begins to melt, it provides a seasonal boost for water levels in the spring and summer. And the ice buildup this year on the five lakes has been substantial, creating the potential for each to be several inches higher than it was last year, according to Army Corps of Engineer estimates.
For lakes Erie and Ontario, it could mean being within an inch or two of their historic averages from March till late summer.
Even with a large boost this year, Michigan and Huron are likely to remain several inches below their historical averages. The two lakes experienced their lowest water levels in roughly a century of recorded history in January 2013 following years of drought-like conditions and drier-than-usual winters and springs. But they should be in better condition compared with the same time last year for those who live and play on the lakes, such as shoreline property owners, recreational boaters and charter fishermen. Harbormasters and marina owners have worried about boats running aground in shallow waters, triggering a state-funded $21 million emergency dredging program for 58 harbors in Michigan. Shipping companies also have been concerned about restricted shipping channels.
Hydrologists use the snow water equivalent to measure the amount of liquid water waiting in the unmelted snow and ice. That estimate is larger in the Great Lakes this year than in years past.
On Wednesday, ice covered roughly 91 percent of the Great Lakes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It puts the Lakes within striking distance of the record of 94.8 percent set in 1994.
“The snow water equivalent in the Lake Michigan basin is 30 percent higher than at any other time over the last decade,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the Army Corps’ Detroit office. “We’re forecasting a 14-inch seasonal rise. But if we were to see a repeat of last spring’s very wet conditions with significant rainfall occurring, we could see a 20- to 22-inch seasonal rise in lakes Michigan and Huron.”
Six-month forecasts generated by the Army Corps raise the possibility that all but lakes Michigan and Huron could rise above their long-term averages by this summer. That’s only if the higher-end of precipitation estimates come to pass. And it’s no sure thing.
“There is always the chance that beyond that six-month window, a return to drier conditions could happen,” Kompoltowicz said. “That would lend themselves to water levels declining rather than gaining.”
In the report released Wednesday, lake levels in February were 3 inches to more than a foot higher than the same period a year ago in the five lakes and Lake St. Clair.
On Tuesday, one international group concerned about water loss in lakes Michigan and Huron called for additional steps to address the situation. Restore Our Water International called for the placement of structures in the St. Clair River to reduce the flow of water out of Lake Huron — a step the group has pushed for for years.
In April 2013, the advisory International Joint Commission urged the United States and Canada to consider creating artificial structures in the St. Clair River to raise water levels in lakes Michigan and Huron. The recommendation — estimated to boost water levels 5 to 10 inches — still would require the completion of a cost-benefit analysis and an environmental impact study.
“The foot-dragging by governments is unconscionable,” said Roger Gauthier, chair of ROWI and a retired Army Corps hydrologist.
“We recognize that this is a complex problem, but it is simply ‘paralysis by analysis.’ ”
Lake Erie levels expected to stabilize
3/10 - Lake Erie could create flooding concerns this spring, but experts at the Army Corps of Engineers predict that the lake’s water levels will remain close to the historic average.
The Army Corps of Engineers released its latest water level report Tuesday. The information contained the latest forecast of water levels for the Great Lakes and the current Great Lakes basin conditions.
Record cold temperatures, near-record ice cover and record-breaking snowfall are impacting water levels, with the possibility of significantly above-average seasonal rises for the second consecutive year.
Lake Superior is seeing a rise in water levels, but Lake Erie should see no real change, said Keith Kempoltowicz, chief of the watershed hydrology branch of the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Army Corps took measurements of the surface of the lake above sea level in Toledo, Cleveland, Port Stanley and Port Colborne. Those measurements were compiled into a mean water level.
Lake Erie’s level was recorded at 570.69 feet, slightly above the average last year but below the long-term average of water levels from 1918 to 2013. Kempoltowicz said Lake Erie experienced no seasonal rise in 2012 and a decline in water level for several months. Since then, in 2013, the water level began to rise. Such a rise in water level could affect recreational boating and access to beach areas.
Although water levels are expected to remain generally unchanged, flooding could be a concern if the ice covering Lake Erie melts quickly, said George Leshkevich, a Great Lakes environmental researcher.
Leshkevich said Lake Erie is about 96 percent covered by ice, and if the ice melts quickly, it could lead to ice jams. Runoff could also be a concern if there is heavy rainfall, he said.
The city of Vermilion recently experienced massive ice jams in the river near Mill Hollow, leading to flooding around Riverside Drive and West River Road. Those residents were evacuated during the floods at the end of February.
Kempoltowicz said the ice coverage on Lake Erie is not record-breaking — it has neared 100 percent coverage in the past — but the ice could create navigational problems.
“The ice has proven to be very challenging in the western basin of Lake Erie,” he said.
“Know Your Ships” preorders begin
3/10 - Preorders for "Know Your Ships 2014," the popular annual field guide to boats and boatwatching on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, are now being accepted. Order now and the book will be shipped the same day it is received from the printer, around March 21.
Standard binding, spiral binding and a digital version for the iPhone or iPad are all available.
"Know Your Ships," now in its 55th year, is meant not only for those with a casual interest in the parade of nautical commerce that passes our shores, but also for more serious-minded individuals who have a passion for all the details about the ships that ply the inland seas.
Preview at KnowYourShips.com
Obituary: William Clay Ford
3/10 - Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford Sr., who spent 57 years as an employee and board member of Ford Motor Co., died Sunday of pneumonia in his Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, home.
Mr. Ford had a Great Lakes connection.
In 1953, the Ford Motor Co., which operated its own fleet of vessels on the Great Lakes carrying raw materials, added a new laker to its fleet and named it after William Clay Ford.
The vessel, built at River Rouge near Detroit, made the headlines in 1975 when her captain, the late Donald Erickson, took the steamer into harm's way to search for survivors of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The Ford's pilothouse is now on display at Detroit's Dossin Great Lakes Museum. The vessel itself was scrapped in 1987. A second William Clay Ford now sails for the Interlake fleet as Lee A. Tregurtha.
Ford, 88, helped steer Ford Motor Co. into the modern era while also serving as a guiding hand for the Ford family. He linked Ford Motor Co.s past and future as the last surviving grandchild of company founder Henry Ford, son of Edsel Ford and the father of current Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr.
Detroit News, BoatNerd staff
Lookback #113 Former Harmonious sank in the Arabian Sea on March 10, 2000
3/10 - The bulk carrier Harmonious was only a year old when it first transited the Seaway in 1978. It had been completed the previous year at Takamatsu, Japan, and was operating under Panamanian registry.
The ship returned inland from time to time including two trips, to Thunder Bay and Duluth-Superior, in 1983. Its final voyage to our shores occurred in 1988.
The 148.1-metre-long vessel was sold later in 1988 and registered in the Philippines at Clipper Alliance. A decade later, it was resold for service under the flag of Cyprus as Kastor Too. Neither name appeared on the Great Lakes.
Kastor Too was en route from Aqaba, Jordan, with a cargo of phosphate for Visakhapatnam, India, when it began leaking and sank in the Arabian Sea fourteen years ago today. The 18-member crew were rescued by the nearby container ship Mildburg.
Updates - March 10
Today in Great Lakes History - March 10
CHARLES E. WILSON (Hull#710) was launched March 10, 1973, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp., for American Steamship Co. Renamed b.) JOHN J. BOLAND in 2000.
The ADAM E. CORNELIUS, built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works (Hull#53) in 1908, was renamed b.) DETROIT EDISON on March 10, 1948. In 1954, she was renamed c.) GEORGE F. RAND and in 1962, the RAND was sold to Canadian registry and renamed d.) AVONDALE. She was scrapped at Castellon, Spain in 1979.
FORT HENRY (Hull#150) was launched March 10, 1955, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., for Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.
KINSMAN VENTURE was launched March 10, 1906, as a.) JOHN SHERWIN (Hull#617) at West Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co.
On 10 March 1881, the propellers MORLEY and A. L. HOPKINS were purchased by the Wabash Railroad Company from the Morley Brothers of Marine City, Michigan.
The N. K. FAIRBANK (wooden freighter, 205 foot, 980 gross tons, built in 1874, at Marine City, Michigan) was sold by Morley & Morse to Captain H. Hastings on 10 March 1884.
The tug RIVER QUEEN sank at her dock in Port Huron, Michigan during the night of 10 March 1885. She was raised the following day and one of her seacocks was discovered to have been open that caused her to fill with water.
CADILLAC (steel ferry, 161 foot, 636 gross tons) was launched on 10 March 1928, by the Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge, Michigan (Hull #260) for the Detroit & Windsor Ferry Company. The ferry company claimed that she was the largest and most powerful ferry in North American waters. When she was launched, the Ambassador Bridge and the tunnel, which connects Detroit and Windsor, were being constructed. She was placed in service on 25 April 1928, and had a varied history. From 1940 to 1942, she ran as a Bob-lo steamer. In 1942, she was sold to the U. S. Coast Guard and renamed b.) ARROWWOOD (WAGL 176) and used as an icebreaker. She was rebuilt in 1946, renamed c.) CADILLAC, and served as a passenger vessel on Lake Erie. At the end of the 1947 season, she was tied up to the dock for use as a restaurant. She went through a couple of owners until she finally arrived at the scrappers' dock in Hamilton, Ontario on May 26, 1962 for breaking up.
In 2000, the HARMONIOUS, a Panamanian freighter dating from 1977, visited the Great Lakes in 1978 and returned on several occasions through 1986. It was lost on the Arabian Sea as c) KASTOR TOO while traveling from Aqaba, Jordan, to Visakhapatnam, India, with a cargo of phosphate on March 10, 2000. The crew of 18 were rescued by the nearby container ship MILDBURG.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
Algocanada finds easier going on downbound trip
3/9 - The 426-foot-long Algoma tanker Algocanada left Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario late Saturday morning. Moving at a good speed, the tanker followed the USCGC Katmai Bay down river. Earlier in the day, the USCGC Neah Bay had started up river from Drummond Island, the three passing by Six Mile Point. As the Katmai Bay and Algocanada continued on, passing the icebound 360-foot-long PML barge Ironmaster (marooned in the ice since Jan. 28), Neah Bay reached Soo Harbor around 1:30 where it was expected to help move ice, broken during the tanker’s movement, from the path of the Sugar Island ferry. Making much better time than its upbound trip, Algocanada had reached the North Channel around Neebish Island at 2 p.m.
The tanker and cutters all passed very close to the barge Ironmaster. The vessel, still anchored, has moved about 100 feet further down river. It is expected to be freed in a week or two when major ice breaking is done before the Soo Locks opening March 25.
Coast Guard scheduled to break out Sturgeon Bay
3/9 - U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay will be conducting ice breaking operations throughout the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and out to the Sherwood Point Light area Monday morning in preparation for the first vessel departing lay-up from the ship yard.
Lookback #112 Former Tronstad confiscated for drug smuggling on March 9, 1985
3/9 - U.S. authorities seized the freighter Cruz Del Sur and escorted it into Miami 29 years ago today. The ship had been confiscated for drug smuggling and detained for an investigation.
This vessel had been launched at Kiel, West Germany, on July 7, 1956. It first came to the Great Lakes, via the old St. Lawrence Canals, in 1957 as Tronstad under Norwegian registry.
Despite the opening of the Seaway in 1959, the small Tronstad returned to our shores 12 more times with four more trips in each of 1959, 1960 and 1961. It was sold to Finnish interests and renamed Eva in 1962 and registered in the Bahamas as Caribbean Tamanaco in 1969. The final name of Cruz Del Sur was acquired in 1980 and was at least initially registered in the Cayman Islands.
After the investigation had been completed, the 78.6-metre-long vessel was towed out into the Atlantic and scuttled off Miami on December 19, 1986.
Today in Great Lakes History - March 9
In 1905, the JAMES C. WALLACE (Hull#334) of the Acme Steamship Co., (A.B. Wolvin, mgr.), was launched at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. Purchased by the Interlake Steamship Co. in 1913, she was scrapped at Genoa, Italy in 1963.
On 09 March 1933, all nine steamers of the Goodrich Transit Company were seized by federal marshals under a bankruptcy petition. These steamers were CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, CAROLINA, ALABAMA, ILLINOIS, CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS, CITY OF ST. JOSEPH, CITY OF HOLLAND, and the CITY OF SAUGATUCK.
AMOCO ILLINOIS was launched March 9, 1918, as a) WILLIAM P. COWAN (Hull#724) at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co.
NOTRE DAME VICTORY (Hull#1229), was launched on March 9, 1945, at Portland, Oregon, by Oregon Shipbuilding Co., just 42 days after her keel was laid. She became the b.) CLIFFS VICTORY and sailed on the Great Lakes from 1951 until 1985.
WIARTON was launched March 9, 1907, as a) THOMAS LYNCH (Hull#73) at Chicago, Illinois, by Chicago Ship Building Co., for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. She was used as part of a breakwall at the Steel Co. of Canada Dock in Hamilton. The GROVEDALE of 1905, and HENRY R. PLATT JR of 1909, were also used.
March 9, 1920 - The PERE MARQUETTE 3 sank off Ludington after being crushed by ice.
On 9 March 1858, the propeller ferry GLOBE was being loaded with cattle at the Third Street dock at Detroit, Michigan. In the rush to get aboard, the cattle caused the vessel to capsize. All of the cattle swam ashore, although some swam across the river to the Canadian side.
1985: The Norwegian freighter TRONSTAD first came to the Great Lakes as a pre-Seaway visitor in 1957. It returned on another 12 occasions after the new waterway opened in 1959. The vessel was sailing a d) CRUZ DEL SUR when it was confiscated by U.S. authorities for drug smuggling and brought to Miami on this date in 1985. The 30-year old ship was towed out into the Atlantic and scuttled off Miami on December 19, 1986.
2007: The Greek freighter WISMAR was built in 1979 and came through the Seaway in 1980. It lost power below Lock 2 of the Welland Canal while upbound on August 30, 1980, and had to drop anchor. It was sailing as h) GRACIA from Thailand to Dakar, Senegal, with a cargo of rice, when the engine failed in heavy weather in the Indian Ocean on February 27, 2007. The crew took to the lifeboats and was rescued. The former Great Lakes visitor was last seen on March 7, adrift, with a 20-degree list to port, and likely soon sank.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
Despite “brutal” ice conditions, cargo needs push start of shipping season
3/8 - Ice may be nice, but not if you are a Great Lakes mariner. With record-setting cold and a waterway that’s almost completely frozen thanks to a winter that is not even over, a difficult spring breakout seems inevitable.
“It’s going to be brutal,” Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Ohio-based trade organization the Lake Carriers' Association, confirmed Friday. The group has been meeting with representatives of shipping companies and the U.S. Coast Guard to formulate plans for getting the long ships moving.
Thanks to a strong demand for cargo, Great Lakes vessel companies have already begun already calling crews back for the 2014 season. The early onset of ice last December and into January meant that some cargo commitments could not be fulfilled before winter ended the shipping season.
“We were not able to get stockpiles to their normal levels,” Nekvasil said. “People went into the winter not having quite as much (raw materials) on the ground as they wanted.”
Weather conditions will clearly play a role in breakout plans.
“We’re expecting that transit times are going to be double or triple their normal length,” Nekvasil said. “We fully expect there will be convoys again. It’s just going to be tough to get going. But with the delays we experienced in December and January, we’ve got to get going. The customers need cargo.”
He said the Soo Locks are expected to open as scheduled on March 25. Both upbound and downbound traffic will be using the Middle Neebish channel for the early part of the season, he added, with the Rock Cut opening at a later date depending on conditions.
The USCG icebreaker Mackinaw is expected to head to the St. Marys River around March 17 to get shipping lanes groomed in that area, and it’s hoped she will be able to lock up to begin work in Whitefish Bay around March 22. The Canadian Coast Guard cutter Samuel Risley will concentrate on the St. Clair River, with USCG Bay-class cutters deployed as needed.
“The good news is that all of the icebreakers that are stationed on the lakes are going to be ready for service,” he said, “although the Risley is down one engine. She won’t be capable of full operations, but she will be in service.”
The biggest concerns, Nekvasil added, are the eastern end of Lake Superior, the St. Marys River and the Straits of Mackinac. Duluth-Superior and Sturgeon Bay are obvious choices for early attention, he said, with two vessels expected to leave lay-up at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay next weekend.
“The eastern end of Lake Superior is just incredible. The ice is four feet thick – it’s going to be very, very hard to establish a track down to the St Marys River. And the eastern three-fourths of Lake Erie the ice is very, very thick. It’s pretty tough all over.”
Even though the locks will open as planned, Nekvasil said he’s unsure if there will be any vessels waiting in line to pass through, as there have been in years past that have enjoyed milder winters.
“It’s going to be tough having boats there for the opening, there’s no denying that. … We’re grateful that all the icebreaking assets should be ready to go. Unfortunately this has been such a rough winter they aren’t enough. We know that.
“We’re all going to have to work together and get some cargo moving in March.”
Roger LeLievre for BoatNerd.com
Great Lakes ice cover tops 90 per cent, may cause cool, dry summer
3/8 - Ice cover on the Great Lakes is now the second highest on record at 91%. That's the highest ice coverage since1979, when the ice cover peaked at 93.9 %. And scientists are warning we can expect the the vast ice cover that now blankets the lakes to have consequences for spring flooding and summer weather.
Ice jams in the mouths of rivers flowing in the lakes could contribute to upstream floods and the cooler lake temperatures caused by the prolonged ice cover could lead to a cooler and less humid summer.
Current numbers show Lake Ontario at 45% ice-covered (which is actually pretty high for Ontario), and Lake Erie at 95% ice-covered.
“If temperatures stay low, the ice will be around into the early spring—in the teens or the lower 20s (Fahrenheit)—that could prolong the ice on the lakes,” said George Leshkevich, a scientist with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. “The longer the ice is on the lakes it can delay the warming period.”
If this is the case, the water may stay extremely cold until later in the spring.
To compare, in 2013 the average winter temperature of Lake Erie was -2.5 C, compared to this year’s average of -8 C. Environment Canada expects temperatures in Lakes Erie and Ontario to be below normal through to mid-March.
“Temperature can affect evaporation... so the water levels could go up the following year,” said Leshkevich. Also consider that colder lakes and less evaporation could lead to a cooler, less humid summer.
The 91% ice cover for the lakes is the highest amount on record for this time of year- but the scientists believe the cover has peaked for the year.
Leshkevich says wind is a factor when predicting the breakdown of ice on the lakes because high winds over an opening in the ice can create waves that will run against the ice and break it faster.
The St. Lawrence Seaway's February prediction was for seaway traffic through Lake Ontario and the Welland Canal to begin on March 28. That is 6 days later than in 2013.
Hazel Breton, Water Resource Engineer for the Hamilton Conservation Authority says the extreme cold this year means water is not being absorbed by the snow pack but is turning into ice.
"There is a very good chance of flooding,” she said. In particular, the Red Hill Creek is a flashy system and reacts very quickly."
In many locations the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) is recording two or even three times as much water in snowpack as the long-term average. This could mean that come the spring melt, water levels along the river and into the tributaries could be significantly increased.
Ice jam is created when large pieces of ice get caught in shallow water and build up, cutting off the flow of water. Ice jams can build up quickly and cause major flooding making it difficult to put out timely warnings.
The GRCA is particularly concerned about build-up, which could be increased due to the amount of debris that fell from December’s ice storm. Communications Manager for the Grant River Conservation Authority David Schultz said a lot of tree branches and limbs fell into the river. If those branches get caught together, they could net the ice in some places, which can lead to flooding.
The spring melt is typically mid-March into late April, but “that doesn’t get us out of the woods entirely,” said Schultz. If the melt remains high into late April, when the spring rain falls, the water levels could continue to be higher than normal.
In a lot of parts along the river dikes have been build to manage high flow in the spring, however Schultz said there are some towns such as Caledonia and Dunnville that do not have dikes built which is putting them at an increased risk of flooding.
It’s not just the river area that can be affected by high water flow and ice jams, but the tributaries that connect, running into agricultural areas south of Hamilton are also as equal risk of overflow.
Lookback #111- Mezada lost at sea on March 8, 1981
3/8 - The Israeli bulk carrier Mezada was six years old when it began Seaway trading in 1966. The ship had been built at Hamburg, West Germany, and launched on May 19, 1960. During the early years Mezada stayed on saltwater routes but began coming to the Great Lakes after being lengthened to 676 feet in 1965. Mezada spent its career working as part of the Zim Israel Line. Its final cargo was a load of potash that came aboard in Baltimore, Maryland, and was destined for Haifa, Israel. The vessel broke in two crossing the Atlantic and sank about 100 miles east of Bermuda 33 years ago today. Only 11 members of the crew of 35 sailors survived. The other 24 on board perished in the cold waters of the Atlantic or went down with their ship.
Today in Great Lakes History - March 8
EUGENE P. THOMAS (Hull#184) was launched March 8, 1930, at Toledo, Ohio by Toledo Shipbuilding Co., for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.
March 8, 1910 - A fire from unknown causes destroyed the ANN ARBOR NO. 1 of 1892. The hull was sold to Love Construction Co., of Muskegon, Michigan.
On 8 March 1882, the tug WINSLOW left Manistee to tow the NORTHERN QUEEN to Marine City for repairs. NORTHERN QUEEN had collided with LAKE ERIE the previous autumn and then sank while trying to enter Manistique harbor. Robert Holland purchased the wreck of NORTHERN QUEEN after that incident.
1981 MEZADA of the Zim Israel Line first came to the Great Lakes in 1966 after it had been lengthened to 676 feet. The vessel had been built in 1960 and foundered after breaking in two about 100 miles east of Bermuda on March 8, 1981. The 19,247 gross ton bulk carrier was traveling from Haifa to Baltimore with a cargo of potash and 24 lives were lost while only 11 sailors were rescued.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series
Ice interferes with Sugar Island ferry operation
3/7 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard says the ice is starting to have an impact on island communities. People trying to go to and from Sugar Island are dealing with getting stuck on either side. Wednesday night people were stuck, and that may be the case Thursday night as well. The USCG says it will continue to have an icebreaker out working, but they may not be able to get things clear by midnight.
The USCG says this problem may continue for some time. They said that Wednesday night the tanker Algocanada, carrying oil to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., passed through St. Marys River. When it did, it broke up ice and sent it downstream, which ended up near the Sugar Island ferry. They say the problem they are facing now is there is nowhere to put the ice as they break it.
9 & 10 News
Port of Monroe set record tonnage in 2013
3/7 - Washington, D.C. – The 2013 shipping season was a record-setter for the Port of Monroe, Mich. Nearly 2.2 million metric tons of cargo were handled by the port, marking the beginning of a period of revival. Over the course of the last 18 months, the Port of Monroe has seen exponential growth under the direction of new port director Paul C. LaMarre, who has worked to re-establish Monroe’s identity as an active seaport within the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System.
“In 2013, we had 97 vessel calls: 81 to DTE Energy’s Monroe Power Plant carrying bulk, three carrying project cargo (two of which were Seaway tonnage) and 13 liquid asphalt cargoes to Michigan Paving & Materials,” said LaMarre. “Additionally, we have established ourselves as a leading industry advocate in multiple legislative forums and are placing the sustainability of our industry as a whole before all other interests.
“The Port sees the 2014 shipping season continuing the momentum set last year. We anticipate significant tonnage increases as we develop multiple new outbound cargoes with DTE Energy, the most significant of which will be synthetic gypsum produced by the Monroe Power Plant’s new scrubbing units,” continued LaMarre.
The ability to receive materials and equipment by vessel is critical for the continued operation of tenant Monroe Power Plant. “The plant requires approximately 8.5 million tons of coal per year, and one-third of that volume is delivered by ship. Over the last 10 years, we have relied on vessels to deliver most of the modular components to be used in the construction of emissions control systems that are making the Monroe Power Plant one of the cleanest operating coal plants in the country,” explained Andrew S. Dobrzanski, manager of fuel supply for the plant.
“These components are too large to transport by rail or truck, so being able to receive them by ship has been key to our ability to minimize cost and schedule impacts on these major installations.”
Onsite developments at the port include a 23-acre general-cargo facility which will have 3,000 feet of waterfront and double-track rail on dock. This will be known as the port’s Riverfront Dock. The port will also be installing a rail spur into tenant Ventower Industries, which is now operating at full capacity. These two rail projects represent roughly $2 million in port/rail improvements to be constructed in 2014. The port is working closely with Canadian National and Norfolk Southern railroads to develop new cargo opportunities.
Dredging of harbors around the Great Lakes has been a hot-button issue for the maritime industry. Funding is provided by the Harbor Maintenance Tax, which is a user fee collected by the federal government to ensure the adequate maintenance and operations of waterway infrastructure by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. LaMarre sits on the National Freight Advisory Committee, which was established to advise the Secretary of Transportation on ways to improve national freight transportation policies and programs. LaMarre advocates for the Great Lakes shipping industry on issues such as dredging.
On March 4, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its newest budget. It included an additional $25 million for Great Lakes harbors. The Port of Monroe is slotted to receive an additional $510,000 toward maintenance dredging of its waterway. LaMarre said he is pleased with that news.
“This allocation is proof positive that our industry lobbying efforts have been successful,” he said. “In addition, we will also be conducting comprehensive maintenance dredging along our turning basin dock for the first time in over 20 years.
“Having our waterway dredged to its proper depth will ensure we meet our tonnage goals for 2014, as well as ensuring we help keep the economy moving in Michigan.”
Lake Michigan 1 percentage point away from record ice cover
3/7 - Holland, Mich. – Ice cover on Lake Michigan continues to expand, covering 92.2 percent of the lake — close to a record. The highest maximum ice cover for Lake Michigan is 93.1 percent in 1977, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The thickest ice is in the northern sections of the lake — some more than 54 centimeters thick, about 21 inches thick. The thinnest is in the south, from 0.1 centimeter to 6 centimeters (up to 2 inches). The mean thickness is 39.2 centimeters — about 15 inches.
Ice coverage on the entire Great Lakes is 91.8 percent. The record is 94.7 percent ice coverage in 1979.
This year has seen some unusual ice statistics, according to George Leshkevich with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.
For the first time since 1994, four of the Great Lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie — have 90 percent or more ice coverage. That hasn’t happened since 1994.
Great Lakes ice coverage has peaked twice this season — On Feb. 12-13, it was about 88 percent before a thaw dropped the ice levels, Leshkevich said. The ice recovered, hitting its current 91.8 percent. This double maximum hasn’t happened since 1996.
The ice coverage data is compiled through satellite and radar, Leshkevich said. “Most of the data is radar data, an all-weather, day-night sensor. It can ‘see through’ the clouds.”
Stranded dog rescued by crew of cutter Bristol Bay reunited with owner
3/7 - Cleveland, Ohio – The stray dog rescued on Monday afternoon on Lake St. Clair by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay was reunited with its owner Wednesday night.
Jodi Benchich of St. Clair Shores, Mich., visited with her 14-year-old pet KC at the Wilson Veterinary Hospital before taking him back home. The dog sustained frostbite on his paws and also lost a significant amount of weight during the time he was lost.
"KC is happy to be back home and is eating everything we give him," said a very happy Benchich. "We're forever grateful to the Coast Guard and hope to be able to thank the crew in person sometime soon."
On Monday afternoon, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay spotted the dog four miles from shore during ice-breaking operations on Lake St. Clair. The crew then brought him aboard the ship to provide him with food, water and first aid.
Once the ship returned to its homeport of Detroit on Tuesday afternoon, the crew contacted A Rejoyceful Animal Rescue, which made arrangements to have the dog taken to the vet clinic for further treatment. On Tuesday evening, Chief Petty Officer Joshua Bozarth of the Bristol Bay tapped his social media network to locate the owner.
"We are all happy this rescue had a happy ending," said Lt. Cmdr. John Henry, Bristol Bay's commanding officer."Although KC was on board for only a day, some of the crew really took a liking to him."
Federal Budget provides $71 million for local civil works projects
3/7 - Detroit, Mich. – The budget for fiscal year 2015 includes more than $4.561 billion in discretionary funding for the Civil Works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with more than $71 million for Detroit District projects around the Great Lakes.
The Civil Works budget funds the operation and maintenance program, which includes the maintenance of federal shipping channels on the Great Lakes, maintenance of federal structures, and the operation and maintenance of the Locks. Incorporated in the budget is funding that will be used across the district's jurisdiction in Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The FY15 funding will be distributed among the Detroit District major projects as follows:
St Marys River/Soo Locks, Mich. Navigation/Hydropower/Recreation $39.8 million
A total of $16.7 million will be used for dredging projects at the following locations: Detroit River, Mich., Duluth-Superior Harbor, Minn. and Wis., Green Bay Harbor, Wis., Grand Haven Harbor, Mich., Milwaukee, Wis., Monroe Harbor, Mich., Saginaw River, Mich., St. Clair River, Mich. and St. Marys River, Mich.
Also, $3.7 million will be used to continue monitoring lake levels and water flow throughout the Great Lakes.
Levels of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron may rise 8 to 14 inches
3/7 - Milwaukee, Wis. – This winter's heavy snow and massive ice cover will drive up the water levels of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron by 8-14 inches over the next six months, compared with the same time last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday.
But because they have been low for so long, the lakes are expected to remain 9 to 13 inches lower through the end of August than their long-term average, the Corps said. Lakes Michigan and Huron are considered a single lake for the purposes of hydrology.
In January 2013, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron plummeted to their lowest levels since 1918, when records started being kept. Lake levels have been down since the late 1990s.
The cause of the grand decline has been due to many factors, but scientists point to a key trend: Greater evaporation from the effects of wind and higher air and water temperatures.
Low water levels have had economic consequences, forcing commercial cargo ships to carry lighter loads. The low levels also harmed harbors, required more dredging, produced more vegetation on formerly sandy beaches and wreaked havoc on spawning beds of some fish species.
This winter, the abundance of snow and near-record ice cover are the reasons for the rebound in water levels, according to Keith W. Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist with the Corps' office in Detroit.
Snowfall around Lake Michigan is 30 percent higher than any time in the last decade, and ice cover on the lake is flirting with a record.
On Tuesday, ice on Lake Michigan reached 92.2 percent coverage, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich. That's the second highest level since the record of 93.1 percent in 1977.
The expanse of ice slows evaporation by blocking water vapor from leaving the surface of the lake.
The near-term effects: Potential flooding, Kompoltowicz said.
Great Lakes experts are predicting that the cold winter will also keep water temperatures below average and, in turn, produce a refrigerator effect, making spring and early summer cooler.
Ice expert George Leshkevich of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory said plentiful ice could have other possible ecological effects. In one instance, it could be good for whitefish, which require stable ice over spawning beds, he said.
But the winter of 2013-'14 can only have so much effect on the lakes. Water levels are cyclical and rise and fall due to a series of events over many months and years, Kompoltowicz said.
Even if the next six months mirrors the rainy spring of 2013, Kompoltowicz said, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron might reach within a few inches of the lakes' long-term average. The Corps doesn't make predictions beyond six months.
Meanwhile, Lake Superior is showing the clearest sign of a rebound, with data from the Corps showing that the lake is 12 inches higher than the same time last year and just 1 inch below the long-term average.
By the end of August, Lake Superior is projected to be only 2 inches below its long-term average, according to the Corps' analysis. But a conservation group said the reprieve offered by the snow and ice hasn't solved Lakes Michigan and Huron's problems.
The group, Restore Our Water International, this week called on U.S. and Canadian governments to restore water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron by installing flow reduction structures in the St. Clair River that would restore water levels by up to 20 inches.
Dredging of the St. Clair for a century has increased the flow of the river and lowered Lake Michigan and Lake Huron by about 16 inches, according to the federal government.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Lookback #110 – Algosoo caught fire on March 7, 1986
3/7 - A spark from welding work on the interior of the Algosoo at Port Colborne ignited the conveyor belt 28 years ago today. The smoky fire spread through the after cabins of the ship on March 7, 1986, leaving considerable damage.
Once shore based firefighters had extinguished the blaze, the clean-up began. The ship was taken to the Welland Dock where someone with a sense of humor added a “T” to the ship's name on the stern. This resulted in it appearing briefly as “Algosoot.”
Algosoo was repaired and returned to service on October 6, 1986. The 730 foot long self-unloader remains an active member in the Algoma Central Corporation fleet.
Algosoo was product of the Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. and completed in 1974. It was the last laker constructed with a forward pilothouse. The ship has set cargo records over the years, including delivering 31,936 tons of salt from Ojibway to Buffalo in July 1977 and a record 32,292 tons of salt out of Goderich for Toledo in May 1984.
Updates - March 7
Today in Great Lakes History - March 7
ALGOSOO suffered a serious fire at her winter mooring on the west wall above Lock 8, at Port Colborne, Ontario on March 7, 1986, when a conveyor belt ignited, possibly caused by welding operations in the vicinity. The blaze spread to the stern gutting the aft accommodations. The ship was repaired at Welland and returned to service on October 6.
TEXACO BRAVE was launched March 7, 1929, as a) JOHN IRWIN (Hull#145) at Haverton-Hill-on-Tees, United Kingdom by Furness Shipbuilding Co.
On 7 March 1874, the wooden tug JOHN OWEN (Hull#28) was launched at Wyandotte, Michigan, by the Detroit Dry Dock Company for J. E. Owen of Detroit, Michigan.
On 7 March 1896, L. C.WALDO (steel propeller freighter, 387 foot, 4,244 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #112). She had a long career. She was rebuilt twice, once in the winter of 1904-05 and again in 1914, after she was stranded in the Storm of 1913. She was sold Canadian in 1915, and renamed b.) RIVERTON. In 1944, she was renamed c.) MOHAWK DEER. She lasted until November 1967, when she foundered in the Gulf of Genoa while being towed to the scrap yard at La Spezia, Italy.
ANN ARBOR NO 1 (wooden propeller carferry, 260 foot, 1,128 gross tons, built in 1892, at Toledo, Ohio) got caught in the ice four miles off Manitowoc, Wisconsin in February 1910. She remained trapped and then on 7 March 1910, she caught fire and burned. Although she was declared a total loss, her hull was reportedly sold to Love Construction Co., Muskegon, Michigan, and reduced to an unregistered sand scow.
1969: The British freighter MONTCALM, a Seaway trader when new in 1960, made 29 trips to the Great Lakes to the end of 1967. A truck in #1 hold got loose on this date in an Atlantic storm 420 miles southeast of Halifax in 1969 causing a heavy list and a 12 foot gash in the hull. A U.S.C.G. helicopter dropped extra pumps and the ship reached Halifax and safety. The vessel later became a livestock carrier and arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, for scrapping as c) SIBA EDOLO on August 8, 1988.
1973: BISCAYA was a Danish flag freighter that first came inland in 1965. It was sailing as c) MARGARITA, and under Greek registry, when it sank following a collision with the ANZOATEGUI, a Venezuelan reefer ship, while in bound about 39 miles off Maracaibo, Venezuela on March 7, 1983. It was carrying barytes, a mineral used in oil-drilling fluids, from El Salvador.
1982: OCEAN LEADER came to the Great Lakes in 1980 and ran aground upbound near Sault Ste. Marie on November 11 when the radar malfunctioned. Later, in 1982 as c) FINIKI, the then 7-year old ship hit an underwater obstruction 10 miles west of the Moruka Light, while en route to Paramaribo, Suriname. The vessel reached Georgetown, Guyana, and was declared a total loss. It was reported as scuttled in the Atlantic off Jacksonville, Fla., on or after December 9, 1982.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, “Historical Collections of the Great Lakes,” “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Algocanada finally makes it to Soo, Ont., dock
3/6 - The tanker Algocanada finally made it to the Purvis Dock in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., settling in just before sunset Wednesday. The trip took approximately eight days, for what is normally a six hour trip. She was assisted throughout the passage by the USCG cutter Katmai Bay.
Port Reports - March 6
S. Chicago – Dan McNeil
Dog rescued from ice on Lake St. Clair reunited with owner
3/6 - KC the dog spent Wednesday night curled up on his favorite blanket, a far more pleasant spot to sleep than the frozen surface of Lake St. Clair.
The 13-year-old boxer-chow-Lab mix is being treated for frostbite but has a good prognosis for recovery after being rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter earlier this week.
“I’m so glad to have him home,” said KC’s owner, Jodi Benchich of St. Clair Shores, shortly after reuniting with her beloved pet.
KC — who was named Lucky by the ship’s crew — is going to be OK, according to Michelle Heyza, founder of A ReJoyceful Animal Rescue in Mt. Clemens, which took responsibility for the pooch Tuesday after its rescue Monday.
“He’s tired. He just wants to rest and be with familiar faces,” Heyza said. “He’s having a hard time walking. He needs his family. He needs his bed and he needs his people.”
The tuckered-out dog was reunited Wednesday with his owners at Wilson Veterinary Hospital in Washington Township, where he was treated with IV fluids. Heyza said his paws, lips and the inside of his ears were frostbitten, but his prognosis is “really good.” He is currently on medication.
Benchich said KC, who will turn 14 on April 20, disappeared Feb. 24. He had been tied up outside that morning for less than two hours when she and her father, David, noticed that the rope had been broken and he was missing.
“We dropped everything and started looking for him throughout the whole neighborhood,” she said.
Benchich said that same day, she put an ad about KC on the Facebook page For the Love of Louie, which lists lost and found animals.
On Tuesday, she got two happy phone calls. The first was from a woman who saw news coverage of the dog’s rescue and said it looked like KC. The second was from the U.S. Coast Guard.
The cutter Bristol Bay was on the lake Monday morning heading north to help another vessel stuck in ice when a lookout noticed what appeared to be a group of foxes in the distance. As the ship moved closer, it became clear that one animal was larger than the rest.
Three petty officers suited up in weather-resistant gear and left the ship to help the dog, which was on the ice about 4½ to 5 miles offshore from the area between Jefferson Beach Marina and Lake Front Park in St. Clair Shores. They placed it on a stretcher-like device and moved to the ship. The other animals scurried away.
The 140-foot ice-breaking tug pulled into its home port in Detroit. On Tuesday evening, a seaman disembarked to take the dog to a veterinarian.
KC was thrilled Wednesday to see Benchich and her father.
“His tail just started wagging. He lit up like a Christmas tree,“ Heyza said. Detroit Free Press
Snowy winter to boost Great Lakes levels up to 14 inches – but crisis isn't over
3/6 - Detroit, Mich. Record-breaking snow, ice cover and cold temperatures this winter will mean rising Great Lakes water levels over the next six months, but don’t expect too dramatic a recovery.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ six-month forecast for the lakes, released Wednesday, has good news for marinas, beach-goers and the shipping industry: The unusually deep, unusually water-heavy snow-pack melting and feeding the lakes is expected to help them continue to rebound from years of record-low water:
Connected Lakes Michigan and Huron through spring and summer are expected to see water levels up 9 to 14 inches from a year ago, but will still be 9 to 12 inches below the lakes’ long-term average. Lake Superior is forecast for levels 13 inches above a year ago, and could rise to 1 inch above its long-term average for March the first time the lake could exceed its monthly average since 1998.
Lake Erie is forecast to rise 2 to 6 inches above its levels of a year ago, but remain about 2 inches below its long-term average. Lake Ontario is expected to rise 2 inches above where it was in early spring last year, but to fall 5 to 7 inches below its levels of a year ago by the end of summer.
The Army Corps’ forecast also included Lake St. Clair, which is expected to rise 3 inches above its levels of last year, but to remain about 7 inches below its long-term average. Levels on the lake are being impacted by the extensive ice built up on the St. Clair River, which is impeding water flow into the lake, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of the Army Corps’ Watershed Hydrology Branch.
The improvements don’t eliminate Michigan’s worries from low-water levels, Kompoltowicz said.
“Depending on where you are on the Great Lakes, there still could be impacts to navigation on Lakes Michigan and Huron, elevations are still expeected to remain below average,” he said. “That will affect navigation, maybe by reducing load sizes and requiring more trips.”
The improving lake levels, along with a $105,000 grant from the Michigan Waterways Commission that helped pay for harbor dredging last October, have Boyne City municipal marina harbormaster Barb Brooks “breathing much easier” heading into this boating season, she said. The marina, near the city’s downtown, is on Lake Charlevoix, whose depths are tied to those in connected Lake Michigan.
“We should not have to turn anyone away due to the depth they need,” she said.
The modest-seeming lake level increases might surprise those who still have waist-deep snow in their yards. Lakes Michigan and Huron’s projected 14-inch rise, for example, compares to a typical seasonal rise of 12 inches. That largely has to do with the sheer vastness of the lakes. The Great Lakes cover 94,000 square miles and contain 6 quadrillion gallons of water that’s 6,000 trillion gallons.
Those expecting a bigger recovery could still see one if a rainy spring is on tap, Kompoltowicz said. “If we were to see a repeat of last spring’s rainy weather, we could see another 20- to 22-inch seasonal rise,” he said.
The near-record-setting ice cover on the Great Lakes more than 91 percent covered as of this week is likely to stick around well into spring, and that could be good news for lake levels going forward, said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.
“The heating season would be postponed if there’s ice cover on the lakes” well into spring, he said. “It certainly depends on summer temperatures, but we could have a cooler water temperature through the summer and fall, which affects evaporation and, therefore, water levels the next season.”
Aiding the lakes’ rebound is the unusually high water content in the heavy snow-pack on the ground, Kompoltowicz said.
“Around Lake Michigan we’re seeing snow water equivalents 30 percent higher than any time in the past decade,” he said.
It’s impossible to say if the Great Lakes’ water level crises of recent years is over, Kompoltowicz added. “The Corps really does focus on that 6-month forecast window,” he said. “There’s always a chance that beyond that 6-month window, a return to drier conditions happens.”
Detroit Free Press
Great Lakes levels rebounded in 2013
3/6 - Traverse City, Mich. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says Great Lakes water levels rebounded sharply last year after a prolonged low period dating from the late 1990s.
A report issued Tuesday says Lake Superior rose early two feet, almost twice as much ground as it usually gains during its seasonal rise. The biggest of the lakes exceeded its average net water supply for eight straight months.
Lakes Michigan and Huron rose 20 inches, which also was nearly double their average seasonal rise. It was a strong comeback from January of 2013, when those lakes hit their lowest level ever recorded.
Scientists say heavy evaporation caused by the milder climate and occasional dry spells caused the lengthy decline. Heavy snowfall the past two winters and a wet spring helped the lakes recover.
Marine News: Casualties and Demolitions for March 2014
3/6 - 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 March 2014 issue.
Balikesir first came through the Seaway in October 1984 headed for Duluth. The 475-foot vessel retained the same name through 33 years of trading and was sold for scrap last fall. The ship arrived at Alang, India, on Nov. 28, 2013, for recycling.
Captain Ismael was a Great Lakes visitor in 1981 under her first name of Golden Breeze. The 425-foot-long freighter survived 37 years carrying eight names and at least five flags of registry. Sailing as e) Cevi on Oct. 8, 1996, the ship went aground leaving Tampa and had to be towed back to port for repairs. It was sailing as Captain Ismael when it arrived in India for scrapping on Oct. 24, 2013.
Fatahur Rahman was a Seaway caller as Castano in 1986. The ship dates from 1982 and sailed under her sixth name of Fatahur Rahman since 2010. On March 29, 1988, as b) Castano, the ship rammed the Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier Simcoe while the latter was anchored off Pointe aux Trembles, Quebec. Then, in October 2004 as d) Atlantic Charm, it was immobilized in the Atlantic west of Dakar, Senegal, and had to be towed to Las Palmas, Canary Islands. The 31-year old vessel was beached at Alang, India, for scrapping on Nov. 3, 2013.
Irida was flying the flag of Belize when it arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping on November 27, 2013. The ship was known as Escuby, and only two years old, when it first entered the Seaway on May 2, 1984. The Spanish built freighter later sailed as Lux Scout and Uritsk before becoming Irida in 2002.
Mikhail Strekalovskiy was built in 1981 and came to the Great Lakes from 1982 to 2001, missing many of the in-between years. It was sold to Chinese shipbreakers and arrived at a Chinese port on April 23, 2013. The hull was broken up by Zhoushan Changhong International.
The tanker Mispillion dated from 1945 and came to the Great Lakes in 1964. It was rebuilt at Toledo with a new mid-body and left the next year to continue deep=sea service. It was reported as broken up in the USA and it appears this occurred at Brownsville, Texas about April 2012.
Salindo Perdana I came to the Great Lakes as Brazilian Express in 1977 under the flag of Netherlands. This 39-year old freighter spent most of its time in the Far East in recent years and has been under Indonesian registry since 1989. It was sold to Indonesian shipbreakers and dismantled in 2013.
Scipione was a Seaway caller as Caro in October 1999 and came inland to load soybeans at Windsor. The ship dated from 1984 and the 485-foot-long bulk carrier was operating as e) Scipione when it arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh for scrapping on Dec. 13, 2013.
Tanjung Oisina, the former Oranje Lijn passenger and freight carrier Prinses Irene, was built in 1959. It has been idle and beached at Jakarta, Indonesia, for many years after service as an Indonesian pilgrim ship and then as a troop carrier. The ship is reported in this issue as having been sold to Indonesian shipbreakers but it is believed that this occurred a number of years ago and the ship was been dismantled about 2000.
The Liberian tanker Wisdom first came through the Welland Canal as Ras Maersk on Nov. 13, 1994, headed to Port Stanley and Detroit with a cargo of chemicals. It was under its fifth name when sold to Indian shipbreakers. The 27-year old vessel was beached at Alang on Nov. 22, 2013, for dismantling.
CSL Cabo was used by the company in the west coast gypsum trade and then to Australia for new service in 2010 in the Zircon trade. The vessel dated from 1971 and came to CSL International in 1995. The date and location of the scrapyard were not listed. CSL Bergen was part of CSL Europe from 2011 to 2013. It was built at Lervik, Norway, in 1985 as Trollnes. The vessel arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, last summer and was broken up in a period of about six weeks.
Compiled by Barry Andersen, Rene Beauchamp & Skip Gillham
Lookback #109 – Former Indiana abandoned in Adriatic Sea on March 6, 1982
3/6 - Indiana seems like an unusual name for an Italian-owned, Italian built saltwater ship, but the vessel traded inland in 1959 and returned on four occasions in 1962.
The 361-foot-long general cargo vessel dated from 1956 and was chartered to Swedish interests for the 1962 visits to the Great Lakes.
Beginning in 1975, the ship was registered in Cyprus as Tassos Tsiris, became Theseus for a Greek company in 1969 and Zoe II, Panamanian flag, in 1980. It was sold again, without any change in name, in 1981 and re-registered in Liberia. The general cargo carrier was lost 32 years ago today.
On March 6, 1982, the former Indiana was abandoned on the Adriatic Sea, south of Pula, Croatia, while enroute to Koper, Slovenia. A severe list developed and the vessel, loaded with timber and bagged rice, was never seen again.
Updates - March 6
Today in Great Lakes History - March 6
EUGENE J. BUFFINGTON (Hull#366) was launched March 6, 1909, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co., for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. She lasted until 1980, when she was towed to San Esteban de Pravia, Spain, for scrapping.
At noon on 6 March 1873, the steam railroad carferry SAGINAW was launched at the Port Huron Dry Dock Co. She did not get off the ways at first and had to be hauled off by the tug KATE MOFFAT. She was built for use between Port Huron and Sarnia.
On 6 March 1892, SAGINAW (wooden 4-car propeller carferry, 142 foot, 365 tons, built in 1873, at Port Huron, Michigan) burned at the dock in Windsor, Ontario where she had been laid up since 1884. The hull was later recovered and converted to an odd-looking tug, a well-known wrecker in the Detroit River area until broken up about 1940.
1982 INDIANA was chartered to Swedish interests when it made four trips to the Great Lakes in 1962. It was sailing as d) ZOE II, under Liberian registry, when it was abandoned in the Adriatic Sea, south of Pula, Yugoslavia, (now Croatia) after a severe list had developed while on a voyage from Koper, Yugoslavia, (now Slovenia) to Ancona, Italy, on March 6, 1982. No further trace of the ship was ever found.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
3/5 - The USCG Neah Bay was reported in southern Lake Huron bound for the Soo Tuesday afternoon to assist in the upbound passage of the tanker Algocanada, which has spent the last several days battling ice on a trip to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Tuesday evening, Algocanada and USCG Katmai Bay were in the vicinity of Nine Mile Point, probably stopped for the night. Meanwhile, the tug Everlast and her barge finally made it to their Detroit destination on Tuesday, while Algosea arrived at Nanticoke. Algoeast has left Nanticoke and appears to be waiting in the Long Point anchorage for the CCGS Griffon to escort her back to Sarnia.
‘Lucky’ Dog rescued on icy Lake St. Clair
3/5 - Lake St. Clair, Mich. – Crewmembers with the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay helped rescue a dog Monday they found stranded on the open ice of Lake St. Clair about 4 miles off shore. The dog was hoisted aboard the cutter and given first aid as “his feet were pretty messed up,” said Coast Guard FS1 Brian Essler.
The large dog, estimated to be about 8-years-old, had badly injured his feet digging in the snow and ice to make a barrier for himself against the wind. “Lucky and Cutter are two names we came up with,” said Essler. “He was in the middle of nowhere, and couldn’t walk when we got to him.”
Once indoors, the dog was given choice cuts of meat and even spent the night in the chief’s quarters to rest soundly. He was transferred to an area animal shelter for further care and is expected to recover.
The story went viral in the local media and the dog’s owners were found, the dog was reported missing last month.
Crews recover Coast Guard helicopter forced to make emergency landing
3/5 - Traverse City, Mich. A Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter that was on Washington Island after the crew made an emergency landing on Sunday was recovered Monday and is being transported back to Air Station Traverse City, Mich., to undergo necessary repairs.
A six-member recovery team from the air station arrived on Washington Island on Monday morning to begin the process of recovering the helicopter. At about 5 p.m. CST, the crew loaded the trailered aircraft onto the Washington Island ferry Arni J. Richter for a 30-minute transit back to Northport Pier in Door County, Wis. The aircraft is now being transported back to the air station on a commercially-contracted trailer for in-depth maintenance.
On Sunday morning, approximately 30 minutes after takeoff from Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, the air crew declared an in-flight emergency with air traffic control before landing safely on the beach on Washington Island. There were no injuries.
Ice cover on Great Lakes climbs rapidly
3/5 - The latest arctic outbreak, with morning low temperatures at record cold levels, has caused the Great Lakes to rapidly ice back up.
The overall entire Great Lakes system is rated at 90 percent iced over, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). This is the highest percentage of total ice cover this year, and increasing rapidly. GLERL has been using the same method to rank ice cover percentage since 1973. The highest ice total on the entire Great Lakes was 94.8 percent in 1994.
Lake Superior is now 95 percent covered with ice. That is up from 78 percent one week ago. The satellite image and shows a whole lot of ice. Lake Superior has been frozen over 100 percent one time since 1973, back in 1996.
Lake Michigan's ice cover has made the most dramatic increase in the last seven days. The ice cover percentage has grown from 30 percent last week to 90 percent March 2, 2014. This 90 percent ice cover is the highest so far this season, and the highest amount of ice cover since 1994. The record since 1973 is 93.1 percent, back in 1977.
Lake Huron is also flirting with being entirely frozen over. Right now Lake Huron is listed with 95 percent covered with ice. It has been that way for the last five days. This is the most ice since 2003, and the record level since 1973 is 98.5 percent.
Lake Erie is also virtually frozen over, with 95 percent of it covered in ice. Lake Erie has been 100 percent covered in ice three times: 1978, 1979, and 1996.
Lake Ontario has finally started to have ice grow on the surface. It is now rated as 45 percent covered in ice. This is the most ice on Lake Ontario since 2003. The highest ice total on Lake Ontario is 86.2 percent in 1979. There are even reports of parts of the Niagara Falls freezing. Lake Ontario is the slowest to ice up because it is deep without much surface area for heat to escape.
The next three days look very cold across the entire Great Lakes, so ice should continue to grow. Some areas of the southern Great Lakes could warm to between 32 and 36 degrees on Friday. After Friday, temperatures will generally be below normal, but at times warm into the 30s.
Great Lakes may reach peak ice this Thursday or Friday. We only have 4.9 percent to go to reach record ice levels. We've come this far. We might as well have a record. That way we can say we remember when...
Toronto fire boat making record ice-breaking voyage
3/5 - Toronto, Ont. – A Toronto fire boat is set to shatter its own record for consecutive ice-breaking missions in the city’s frozen harbor.
The William Lyon Mackenzie, which doubles as an ice breaker, is slated to make its 79th consecutive daily ice break on Lake Ontario on Tuesday, surpassing a previous record it set during the 2001-02 winter season. Toronto Fire Services spokesman Mike Strapko said that with this year’s intensely-cold winter, “every single day we’ve been going out.”
Named after Toronto’s first mayor, the Mackenzie is also marking its 50th anniversary. The vessel was built at the Russel Brothers Ltd. shipyard in Owen Sound in 1964. It went through a $1-million refurbishment in 2004 and is expected to stay in service until 2037.
In addition to fighting fires, the boat is used to clear emergency water lanes leading to the Toronto islands.
“A benefit of that is by keeping those emergency routes open, the island ferries get to use them as well,” Strapko said. “But the main purpose is to keep it open for itself, for fire fighting ... because we have the (island) airport there, residents, and other buildings to protect.”
Senior fire boat captain Adrian Lewicki added that before winter ends, he expects the number of ice break missions completed by the Mackenzie to go into the “high 80s or low 90s.” Docked at the Toronto Fire and Marine Station 334 on Queens Quay, the boat operates all year, according to the fire department.
It is 24 metres long, weighs around 150 tonnes and has a 3,000-horsepower diesel engine capable of pushing the WLM through the water at a top speed of 22 km/h.
Ice caves along Lake Superior draw 78,000 since mid-January
3/5 - The ice caves near the Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin are still proving to be extremely popular. According to the National Park Service, nearly 78,000 people visited the caves along Lake Superior from Jan. 15 through the end of February.
The last time the ice was thick enough for people to see the caves was in 2009, but only about 8,400 visited in January and February that year. Julie Van Stappen, with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, has said social media is playing a bigger role this year in getting the word out.
It's unclear how long the lake ice will be sturdy enough to handle visitors. Park officials say one of the longest seasons was probably in 2009, when the caves were accessible for February and March.
Lookback # 108 – The former Antonis P. Lemos disappeared on March 5, 1997
3/5 - The second of two ships to travel through the Seaway as Antonis P. Lemos was sailing as Albion Two when it was reported overdue 17 years ago today. The 585-foot, 8-inch long bulk carrier had loaded a cargo of steel products at Gdynia, Poland, and was bound for Kingston, Jamaica, when it disappeared. A search was mounted and, in time, the wreckage was located and identified. The remains rest in over 400 feet of water off the coast of France. All on board were lost.
The ship had been built at Osaka, Japan, by the Namura Shipbuilding Co. and launched as Antonis P. Lemos on Sept. 15, 1975. It came to the Great Lakes the next year under Greek registry.
This bulk carrier was sold and renamed Macfriendship in 1993. It came through the Seaway that November, Cypriot flag, with a cargo of steel for Hamilton. Sold again and renamed Albion Two in 1996, it did not return to our shores before being lost in March 1997.
Updates - March 5
Today in Great Lakes History - March 5
On 05 March 1997, the Canadian Coast Guard cutter GRIFFON pulled the smashed remains of a 1996 Ford Bronco from the icy depths of the Straits of Mackinac. The vehicle flipped off the Mackinac Bridge on 02 March 1997, and the driver was killed. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter BISCAYNE BAY served as a platform for the M-Rover submersible craft used to locate the Bronco in 190 feet of water.
HARRY L. ALLEN was launched March 5, 1910, as a.) JOHN B. COWLE (Hull#379) at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. She was declared a constructive total loss after a fire on January 21, 1978. The vessel was in winter lay-up at the Capitol elevator in Duluth when part of the elevator complex burned. Debris from the elevator fell on the boat, badly damaging it. The owners decided to scrap it rather than repair it. The ALLEN was scrapped at Duluth in 1978.
LEADALE was launched March 5, 1910, as a.) HARRY YATES (Hull#77) at St. Clair, Michigan, by Great Lakes Engineering Works. Scrapped at Cartagena, Columbia in 1979.
March 5, 1932 - In distress with a broken steering gear off the Ludington harbor, S.S. VIRGINIA entered port under her own power.
On 05 March 1898, the WILLIAM R. LINN (Hull#32) (steel propeller freighter, 400 foot, 4,328 gross tons) was launched at the Chicago Ship Building Company in South Chicago, Illinois. In 1940, she was sold, renamed b.) L.S. WESCOAT and converted to a tanker. She was scrapped in Germany in 1965.
1997 - The former Greek bulk carrier ANTONIS P. LEMOS had been built at Osaka, Japan, in 1976, and visited the Great Lakes that year. As c) ALBION TWO, the ship departed Gdynia, Poland, for Kingston, Jamaica, with a cargo of steel products and was reported as missing on March 5. Wreckage was later found off the coast of France and identified as from the missing vessel. All 25 crewmembers were lost. The ship had also been through the Seaway as b) MACFRIENDSHIP in November 1993 with a cargo of steel for Hamilton.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Eric Holst, Mike Nicholls, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series
St. Marys River navigation update
3/4 - The USCG cutter Katmai Bay has managed to work the upbound tanker Algocanda through part of the east Neebish channel in the St. Marys River. The pair stopped for the night just south of Stribling Point. The USCG Neah Bay is expected to join in the effort soon. In the lower St. Clair River, the USCG Bristol Bay continues to work with the tug Everlast and her barge, which have been beset for several days. Finally, the CCGS Griffon remains on station working with the tanker Algosea, which has been struggling to reach Nanticoke.
Port Reports - March 4
Milwaukee, Wis. - Dan McNeil
USCG faces tough work to meet deadline
3/4 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Old Jack Frost has been hard at work during the 2013-14 winter season. He punched in early, leaving snow on the ground well before Thanksgiving and worked hard through December, January and February to keep temperatures well below the magical 32-degree mark.
And while March didn't necessarily roar in like a lion, it has brought more of the same, with nights falling well below zero and daytime highs only reaching single digits.
"I hesitate to say this is record breaking, but this is the most ice we have seen here in our 35 years," said Director of Vessel Traffic Services Mark Gill of the U.S. Coast Guard as the plate ice in the lower St. Marys River System is almost completely covered with a solid three feet. "Thirty-six to 40 inches."
Coast Guard crews already have gotten a taste of the task at hand, and it appears, that like Jack Frost, himself, they will have to work long and hard to get the shipping channels ready to handle the traffic in time for the Soo Locks to open on March 25.
The tanker Algocanada, entered the St. Marys River with various petroleum products bound for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and despite the best efforts of the 140-foot Katmai Bay the vessel is still well short of its goal.
"Day six, and we still haven't gotten them above Neebish Island," said Gill of the ice-breaking activity. "They're moving, it's just taking an extended period of time." A second 140-foot icebreaker, the Neah Bay, is slated to join in the effort. But Gill predicted the task will be measured in days and not hours as the two ships work together to break a path for the tanker.
"Right now, thankfully, we are in the closed navigation season," he said.
With the thick bed of ice atop the St. Marys River, Lake Superior and Lake Huron, the big guns — including the 290-foot Mackinaw among others — will begin to arrive in full force for the official break-out operation commencing March 10. The Soo Locks are scheduled to open March 25.
Predicting there will be difficulty, Gill said Coast Guard personnel has scheduled a meeting with the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority in an effort to address anticipated interruptions in ferry travel as the thick sheets of ice will likely clog those various routes connecting island residents with the mainland before all is said and done.
"There will be some service delays for the ferries," Gill predicted. "There is nowhere for this ice to go."
Reflecting back on his years with the Coast Guard, Gill indicated that the ice can create difficulty well beyond the winter season.
"It's not unprecedented to us to be breaking ice in June," he said before adding the 2014 season is shaping up to be a tough one for all involved. "I see this being a very long process."
Gill also indicated that a slow and steady warm-up would be ideal adding that if it comes on too quickly there could be potential flooding problems at unspecified locations if a sudden heat wave caused all of the snow and ice to go in a short period of time.
"It would be nice just to get some temperatures that were above freezing," he concluded.
Soo Evening News
Trees planted for windbreak along Welland Canal
3/4 - St. Catharines, Ont. – A large number of trees and cedars have been planted along the Welland Canal Parkway below Lock 2 and also along the parkway below the Seaway office south of Glendale Ave. The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation reports the trees will have a practical function when they grow bigger.
Alvina Ghirardi, manager of operational services, said the primary purpose for the planting below Lock 2 and near the Glendale office is to provide a windbreak for ships. She said those particular locations have large open areas to the navigational channel for wind to sweep across. The trees provide wind reduction.
The windbreak tree planting is unrelated to the Seaway’s tie up wall project above Lock 2, which will also include landscaping. Trees that are planted by the Seaway are carefully chosen so they don’t grow roots that will negatively impact the structural integrity of the dyke or grow too tall for overhead utility lines.
St. Catharines Standard
Sunken oil pipeline raises fears
3/4 - St. Ignace, Mich. A freshwater channel that separates Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas is a premier Midwestern tourist attraction and a photographer's delight, offering spectacular vistas of two Great Lakes, several islands and one of the world's longest suspension bridges.
But nowadays the Straits of Mackinac is drawing attention for something that is out of sight and usually out of mind, and which some consider a symbol of the dangers lurking in the nation's sprawling web of buried oil and natural gas pipelines.
Stretched across the bottom of the waterway at depths reaching 270 feet are two 20-inch pipes that carry nearly 23 million gallons of crude oil daily. They are part of the 1,900-mile Lakehead network, which originates in North Dakota near the Canadian border. A segment known as Line 5 slices through northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula before ducking beneath the Straits of Mackinac and winding up in Sarnia, Ontario.
The pipes were laid in 1953. They've never leaked, according to the system's owner, Enbridge Energy Partners LP, which says the lines are in good shape and pose no threat.
But a growing chorus of activists and members of Congress is demanding closer scrutiny as stepped-up production in North Dakota's Bakken region and Canada's Alberta tar sands boosts the amount of oil coursing through pipelines crossing the nation's heartland.
Concern has risen in the past year following serious spills in Arkansas and North Dakota, and as the government weighs the proposed Keystone pipeline project that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The issue is especially sensitive in Michigan, where another Enbridge line ruptured in 2010, spewing more than 840,000 gallons of crude into the Kalamazoo River and a tributary creek.
The Straits of Mackinac epitomizes a potential worst-case scenario for a pipeline accident: an iconic waterway, ecologically and economically significant, that could be fiendishly hard to clean up because of swift currents and deep water that's often covered with ice several months a year.
The 5-mile-wide straits link Lakes Huron and Michigan and flow near Mackinac Island, which is famed for its horse-drawn carriages and fudge shops. Several villages draw drinking water from the Straits and cargo freighters and passenger ferries use it as a passageway. Sport anglers chase salmon and trout, while commercial crews harvest whitefish and perch for restaurants.
Hundreds of activists attended a rally to protest the pipeline last summer. Local residents haven't paid it much attention over the years, but a packed crowd grilled Enbridge representatives at a community meeting this month.
"It's a huge pipeline carrying oil in one of the most ecologically beneficial and sensitive places in the world," said Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office. "A massive oil spill there would have dire and irreversible consequences."
The Senate's second-ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow sent a letter of concern to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in December. Agency head Cynthia Quarterman said Enbridge has agreed to step up its inspections of the Lakehead system since the Kalamazoo River spill.
"We've invested a lot of money, time and resources to ensure that we're using the best available technology to operate our pipelines with the utmost integrity," said Jackie Guthrie, spokeswoman for the company, based in Calgary, Alberta.
Now, line 5's segment beneath the straits is getting extra attention.
Enbridge has reached an agreement with Michigan Technological University to deploy a newly developed "autonomous underwater vehicle" to provide digital images of the pipeline eight times in the next two years. The device resembles a 7-foot-long missile with a tiny, whirring propeller and will be fitted with sonar devices, cameras and computers.
The equipment probably isn't capable of detecting cracks, but "never before have you been able to see this kind of detail," said Guy Meadows, a director of the university's Great Lakes Research Center.
The National Wildlife Federation maintains it's time to replace the lines. The group posted a short video taken by divers that appears to show broken supports and sections suspended above the bottom or covered with debris. Critics also complain the company won't release enough data from its inspections of the pipelines and note that above-ground sections of Line 5 have ruptured in numerous spots on land, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons.
But Guthrie said the underwater section is sound.
"It's been operating there for decades and operating safely," she said.
The U.S. Coast Guard has conducted spill-response exercises in the straits the past three years. Some have taken place in winter to test technology for tracing oil beneath ice, said Steve Keck, a contingency specialist based in Saul Ste. Marie.
Dean Reid, planning commission chairman in Mackinac County who organized the community meeting, said locals needed more information about the pipelines, which many didn't know existed until recently.
"We tend to take for granted what's here," Reid said, "and sometimes don't know what's here."
Portland Harbor project offers insight into how dredging works
3/4 - Portland, Maine – They're working seven days a week, 24 hours a day, digging up the bottom of the harbor so ships have a clear channel. Here's what it's like to be onboard the Dale Pyatt, one of the largest dredges in the nation.
Sitting in a massive crane propped on the edge of a barge, Tim Kollman pulls a lever that lifts a clamshell bucket off the bottom of Portland Harbor. As the bucket rises, the entire crane swivels until the boom hangs over a hollowed-out barge called a dump scow. He releases the bucket’s contents, swings the crane back to position and lets the bucket drop to the water.
Kollman makes this same maneuver every 70 seconds. In one shift, he lifts up the bucket 300 times and digs up enough mud to fill more than five Olympic-sized swimming pools.
“You strive to be the best,” said Kollman, who works to keep the bucket moving as efficiently as possible. “The better you are, the more you work.”
Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, crews on the dredge barge are digging up the bottom of Portland Harbor, a $9.2 million project funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They began digging Feb. 6 and won’t stop until March 25, when the bucket makes its last scoop in Casco Bay somewhere off Spring Point.
This is a maintenance dredge, meaning the goal is to maintain the shipping channel’s charted depth at low tide of 35 feet. Because the dredge bucket is not accurate, the crew is digging to 37 feet to make sure it doesn’t leave behind anything that could grab the bottom of a passing oil tanker.
The Dale Pyatt is one of the largest in the nation. With each scoop, its bucket picks up 54 cubic yards of sediment – enough to fill the beds of 27 full-sized pickup trucks. There are 12 workers assigned to the barge. They work in 12-hour shifts, half at night and half in daylight.
Six other workers run a smaller barge, the F.J. Belesimo, which wields a smaller, heavier bucket with teeth. That barge, which operates only during the day, is used to tackle the hard-bottomed sections of the harbor’s shipping channel, while the Dale Pyatt grabs the soft clay and sand.
At the end of each shift, crew members are ferried home on a boat that drops them off at Rickers Wharf next to the Google barge, which hasn’t moved since it was towed into the harbor last October.
‘Walking’ Barge, Moving Lobsters
The Dale Pyatt moves. It doesn’t have a propeller, though. It moves as though it was an old man walking with a cane.
The dredge has three legs, or “spuds,” which sink into mud and hold the dredge in place while the crane is digging. The dredge lifts its twin front spuds while a cable pulls the lone stern spud so it pivots at an angle and propels the barge backward. The crane operator uses the bucket to steer the barge, which can “walk” in only one direction.
The shipping channel runs between 400 and 1,000 feet wide, and the dredge digs in 80-foot-wide lanes mapped out on a computer screen that displays a color-coded view of the harbor bottom based on depth.
The dredge reaches the end of one lane, turns around and starts on another.
“We are basically mowing the lawn, if you will,” said Norman Bourque, project manager for Cashman Dredging. Most of the dredging is focused on the edges of the shipping lane because ship turbulence clears out the middle and pushes the sediment to the side.
Four tugboats haul the four dump scows to a designated spot 7.1 miles east of Cape Elizabeth. There, hydraulic doors on their bottoms open up, releasing the sediment to the ocean floor about 200 feet below. The digging only stops when the seas outside the harbor are too rough for the tugs to safely haul the dump scows.
In preparation for the dredging, since December a local two-man crew has been removing lobsters from the harbor and taking them to an undisclosed location on the other side of Fort Gorges. Using special traps designed to catch juvenile as well as adult lobsters, they must clear an area of lobsters before the dredge barge can start digging.
“The dredge is then free to come and follow us down the river,” said Lance Hanna, deputy harbormaster, who along with lobsterman Jim Buxton make up the lobster relocation team.
In 1998, the last time the harbor was dredged, crews removed more than 36,000 lobsters. But the trapping was done in the early fall. By the time trapping began this year, most of the creatures had already relocated themselves by crawling out of the harbor to deeper water, which is warmer in winter. As of Feb. 25, Hanna and Buxton had captured only 998 lobsters.
The lobster removal project, designed to protect the lobster fishery, cost $90,000, which is split three ways by the Maine Port Authority and the cities of Portland and South Portland. If no more lobsters are trapped, it will have cost $90.18 to relocate each individual lobster.
Because of the high cost, the lobster removal idea will be reconsidered the next time the harbor is dredged, Hanna said.
Blasting Needed To Bust Granite
Besides mud, sand and the occasional lost lobster trap, dredge crews also have removed 1,550 cubic yards of rock from the harbor.
Crews on another Cashman vessel, a drill boat called the Kraken, last month drilled holes into granite outcroppings in the shipping lane, packed them with explosives and blasted. The granite is located in the shipping lane in five spots. Although the ledge was about 35 feet below the surface, sediment over time would build them up. So the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called in the Kraken.
An odd-looking vessel that has three drill towers, the Kraken is named after a legendary sea monster that is said to dwell off the coasts of Norway and Greenland.
The Kraken lived up to its name in Portland Harbor. Each blast was actually multiple explosions set off in rapid succession in a linear pattern. The explosions were muffled by the water. Shock waves from the blasts created a low, fast-moving wave of foam, the kind a sea monster might make while swimming just below the water’s surface. Watch a vide of the blasting here.
Fish killed by the blasts floated to the surface and become quick meals for sea gulls. In New York Harbor, where the blasting occurred much more frequently during a recent dredge project, the gulls would swarm the Kraken whenever they heard the alarm announcing the one-minute countdown that preceded each explosion. Portland’s gulls never figured out that trick.
Before the blasting began in Portland, residents in the condominiums on Chandlers Wharf were anxious about the blasts, and some tried to stop them. They can now relax. The Kraken left the harbor Saturday morning.
At the end of this month, the rest of the dredging crew will leave Portland and move on to New Haven, Conn. There, they will dredge a harbor clogged with sand and sediment stirred up by hurricanes Sandy and Irene.
This is their life, traveling from harbor to harbor and up and down the nation’s waterways. The lifestyle is fun when one is young, but gets harder when their children grow old enough to attend school, crew members say.
The money is good. Kollman, for example, earns more than $36 an hour as a licensed crane operator, the highest-paid job on the union scale. But he misses his 10-year-old daughter back home in Pennsylvania.
He took some time off last week to be with her on her birthday. He then headed back to Portland to start digging again.
“She still cries when I leave,” he said.
Help wanted: Sterling Fuels, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
3/4 - Sterling Fuels is the premier fuel and lubricant supplier to the marine shipping industry on the Great Lakes. With its modern fueling dock in Windsor, refueling barges in Hamilton, and its fleet of trucks, Sterling Fuels has served both the marine and land Great Lakes market for over 30 years and is the licensed Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil lubricant distributor for the area. Recent growth opportunities have seen Sterling expand to the Port of Halifax to serve the Atlantic Canada region. This sales position has been created to lead and nurture our expansion into the Atlantic Canada marine bunkering business. Sterling is always looking for competent, dynamic people who want a challenge and to be a part of a growing company.
Duties and Responsibilities:
Interested applicants are requested to apply to Human Resources by March 7, 2014. Send your resume and cover letter to:
Lake Superior Marine Museum Association seeks volunteers
3/4 - The Lake Superior Marine Museum Association (LSMMA), in conjunction with the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, will host its annual Spring Cleaning Day on Tuesday, March 11 at the Visitor Center at 600 S. Lake Ave., in historic Canal Park in Duluth, Minn.
Volunteers are needed from 10 am to 3 pm to dust, update various displays and exhibits, polish brass, make sure electronic equipment is in working order and assist Park Rangers with any special projects. Complimentary lunch will be provided by Grandmas Sportsgarden. If you can volunteer to help, please contact LSMMA at 218-727-2497 or email email@example.com.
Lookback #107 – Former Seaway trader Gretafield hit the breakwall at Capetown, South Africa, on March 4, 1976
The British vessel Gretafield was originally a 523-foot-long oil tanker. It was built by the Furness Shipbuilding Co. at Haverton Hill, England, and launched on June 9, 1952. The ship operated under British registry for the Northern Petroleum Tank Steamship Co. but was converted to a bulk carrier in 1961.
Gretafield first visited the Great Lakes with two trips inland in 1962. The 10,856 gross ton vessel was sold to Bystas Cia de Nav. and registered in Panama as Mayflower X in 1972. It became Siroco I in 1975 for the Joselyn Shipping Co. S.A. another Panamanian flag owner.
On March 4, 1976, 38 years ago today, Siroco I hit the breakwall entering Capetown, South Africa, pushing the bow back considerably. Now 24 years old, the ship was sold to shipbreakers in Taiwan and arrived at Kaohsiung on July 5, 1976. It was broken up for scrap there by the Hua Lien Iron & Steel Works.
Today in Great Lakes History - March 4
In 1944, the U.S.C.G.C. MACKINAW (WAGB-83) was launched by the Toledo Ship Building Company (Hull #188) at Toledo, Ohio. Her name was originally planned to be MANITOWOC. MACKINAW was retired in 2006.
CECILIA DESGAGNES, a.) CARL GORTHON, departed Sorel, Quebec, on March 4, 1985, bound for Baie Comeau, Quebec, on her first trip in Desgagnes colors.
March 4, 1904 - William H. Le Fleur of the Pere Marquette car ferries was promoted to captain at the age of 34. He was the youngest carferry captain on the Great Lakes.
In 1858, TRENTON (wooden propeller, 134 foot, 240 gross tons, built in 1854, at Montreal, Quebec) burned to a total loss while tied to the mill wharf at Picton, Ontario, in Lake Ontario. The fire was probably caused by carpenters that were renovating her.
On 4 March 1889, TRANSIT (wooden 10-car propeller carferry, 168 foot, 1,058 gross tons, built in 1872, at Walkerville, Ontario) burned at the Grand Trunk Railroad dock at Windsor, Ontario on the Detroit River. She had been laid up since 1884, and the Grand Trunk Railroad had been trying to sell her for some time.
In 1871, FLORENCE (iron steamer, 42.5 foot, built in 1869, at Baltimore, Maryland) burned while docked at Amherstburg, Ontario at about 12:00 p.m. The fire was hot enough to destroy all the cabins and melt the surrounding ice in the Detroit River, but the vessel remained afloat and her engines were intact. She was rebuilt and remained in service until 1922 when she was scrapped.
1976 - The former British freighter GRETAFIELD of 1952, a Great Lakes visitor for the first time in 1962, hit the breakwall entering Cape Town, South Africa, as c) SIROCCO I and received extensive bow damage. It was sold to Taiwanese shipbreakers and departed May 15,1976, arriving at Kaohsiung July 5 for dismantling.
1983 - The former Danish freighter MARIE SKOU of 1962, inland for the first time in 1966, caught fire in the engine room and was abandoned by the crew south of Sicily as b) CLEO C. The vessel was towed to Malta on March 9 and scrapped there beginning in April.
1986 - The onetime Greek freighter YEMELOS, built in 1962 as MIGOLINA and renamed in 1972, first came inland in 1973. It was abandoned as e) TANFORY off Trincomolee, Sri Lanka, en route from Kandla, India, to Chittagong, Bangladesh, with salt and bentonite. The ship was presumed to have sunk.
1995 - The tug ERIE NO. 1, a) DUNKIRK, b) PEGGY M., c) RENE PURVIS sank at the dock in Toronto. It was raised by a crane June 18, 1995, but the cable snapped, dropping the hull on the dock breaking the tug’s back. The vessel was broken up at that location in late 1995.
2011 - LOUIS JOLLIET caught fire at Montreal during winter work. The ex-St. Lawrence ferry was being used as an excursion vessel.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Icebreaking resumes at the Soo for Algocanada
3/3 - The USCGC Katmai Bay left the base in Sault Ste. Marie around 4 p.m. Sunday, traveling back down river to rejoin the tanker Algocanada. They made great time, reaching the north part of Neebish island in time to do some ice breaking before evening. By nightfall the Algocanada’s position was unchanged, and icebreaking stopped for the night.
Bonnie Barnes and Jerry Masson
Duluth-Superior icebreaking starts this week
3/3 - Duluth, Minn. – The United States Coast Guard will start breaking ice in the ports of Duluth, Minn. and Superior, Wis. beginning March 4 in preparation for the 2014 shipping season.
The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder will commence icebreaking operations in the waters of the Duluth Harbor out to Lake Superior. This will include ice covered areas normally used by recreational users such as but not limited to Superior Front Channel, Superior and Duluth Harbor Basins, East Gate, the Entry Channels into Duluth and Superior Harbor and the ice in Lake Superior adjacent to Minnesota Point.
These icebreaking efforts will expand and increase in frequency as the ice and demands of shipping require. This will include all navigable waters in and around the ports of Duluth and Superior, as well as the waters of Silver Bay, Taconite Harbor and Two Harbors in Minnesota.
Coast Guard air crew makes emergency landing on Washington Island
3/3 - Washington Island, Wis. – A Coast Guard air crew made an emergency landing on Washington Island, Wis., Sunday morning after the helicopter experienced flight control malfunctions.
At 8:31 a.m., the crew, aboard a Dolphin helicopter based out of Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., contacted the operations center at the air station and declared their intent to execute an emergency landing to the beach on Washington Island.
The aircraft's four-member crew launched early Sunday morning from Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, en route to the Iron Mountain Airport in Iron Mountain, Mich.
Approximately 30 minutes after take off and while near the western shore of Lake Michigan, the crew declared an in-flight emergency with air traffic control and safely landed on the beach of Washington Island.
The crew was uninjured, and members of the air station are making plans to recover the aircraft.
Lookback #106 – Former tanker Itororo caught fire at Talara, Peru, on March 3, 1958
3/3 - Itororo was built at Elizabethport, New Jersey, in 1920 and was originally a refrigerated package freight carrier. It often carried meat to and from South America and frequently traded to Argentina.
It was sold, rebuilt at Quebec City in 1926 and fitted with a trunk deck. The bridge was moved forward, from its earlier mid-ships position, at this time. The 258-foot-long vessel returned to service as a pulpwood carrier. The name remained unchanged and, with a capacity of 800 cords at a 14-foot draft, it usually ran from Bersimis, Quebec, to Quebec City.
The ship was rebuilt as a tanker at Lauzon, Quebec, in 1940 and came to the Great Lakes on occasion for Transit Tankers & Terminals Ltd.
Service in the Canadian tanker trade was brief. Itororo was sold to Chilean interests in 1944 and renamed Don Pancho. It operated in the South American coastal trade and became Don Jose, for a Peruvian company, in 1948.
Don Jose was likely loading at the refinery in Talara, Peru, when fire broke out there 56-years ago today. The now 38-year old tanker was apparently a total loss and soon disappeared from Lloyds Register.
Updates - March 3
Today in Great Lakes History - March 3
The keel was laid on March 3, 1980, for the COLUMBIA STAR (Hull#726) at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., by Bay Shipbuilding Corp. She now sails as AMERICAN CENTURY.
At midnight on 3 March 1880, DAVID SCOVILLE (wooden propeller steam tug/ferry, 42 foot, 37 gross tons, built in 1875, at Marine City, Mich.) burned at the Grand Trunk Railway wharf at Sarnia, Ontario. Arson was suspected. No lives were lost.
1947: NOVADOC of the Paterson fleet was lost with all hands (24 sailors) off Portland, Maine, while en route from Nova Scotia to New York City with a cargo of gypsum. The ship had also sailed as NORTHTON for the Mathews and Misener fleets.
1958: The tanker DON JOSE, formerly the ITORORO that operated on the Great Lakes for Transit Tankers & Terminals in the early 1940s, was destroyed by a fire, likely in a loading mishap, at Talara, Peru.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Steve Haverty, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
Efforts to free Algocanada from ice to resume today
3/2 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Canadian tanker Algocanada remained stuck in heavy ice in the lower St. Marys River at the bottom end of Neebish Island's upbound channel Saturday night.
The USCG cutter Katmai Bay, which has been breaking ice for the tanker the past two days, was expected back at its Soo base for fuel and supplies late Saturday afternoon. Enroute, Katmai Bay passed the icebound barge PML Ironmaster around 1:45 p.m. High winds in the area have blown a rail panel off the barge and on to the shore.
Katmai Bay will return to the Algocanada on Sunday, according to Soo Traffic Vessel Traffic Management Specialist Ken Curry.
Curry said ice is heavy in the river system. "The last report is 30 inches in the track," he told Boatnerd.com by phone Saturday afternoon. "It's a lot of ice, a lot of brash ... 30 inch broken plate (ice)."
Algocanada, which hove to south of Johnson's Point on Neebish Island Saturday afternoon awaiting the Katmai Bay's return, will discharge her cargo at the Purvis Dock in the lower harbor once she arrives in port.
The current situation does not bode will for the start of the shipping season March 25, when the Soo Locks reopen.
"It's gonna be challenging," Curry said.
Earlier Saturday, the Port Huron-based cutter Hollyhock was unable to break through heavy ice in the lower river. Saturday afternoon she was westbound in the Straits near Mackinac Island. The USCG Mackinaw remains at its home base in Cheboygan; it is down for maintenance and unavailable for assistance.
Algocanada was built in 2008 in Turkey. She is part of the Algoma Tankers fleet, operated by the Algoma Central Corp.
Roger LeLievre and Bonnie Barnes for Boatnerd.com
Lookback #105 – Saltwater visitor Bencomo completed on March 2, 1950
3/2 - The Norwegian freighter Bencomo was launched at Landskrona, Sweden, on December 15, 1949, and completed by Orestsundvarv A/B 64 years ago today.
The 385-foot, 6-inch long general cargo carrier served Fred Olsen & Co. and provided some limited refrigerated cargo space to company customers.
Bencomo was a regular on saltwater routes before making a visit to the Great Lakes in 1966.
After 25 years of service, the ship was sold to Orri Navigation Lines S.A. and registered in Saudi Arabia as Al Riyadh in 1975. It put in another eight years on their account before being sold to shipbreakers in Pakistan.
The former lakes visitor arrived at Gadani Beach on March 22, 1983, and the dismantling of the hull was begun on April 18, 1983 by a company listed as Golden Pickers & Leather Industries.
Today in Great Lakes History - March 2
On 02 March 1889, the U.S. Congress passed two acts for establishment of a light station at Old Mackinac Point and appropriated $5,500 for construction of a fog signal building. The following year, funds were appropriated for the construction of the light tower and dwelling.
March 2, 1938 - Harold Lillie, crewmember of the ANN ARBOR NO 6, stepped onto the apron as the carferry was approaching and fell into the water and suffered a broken neck.
March 2, 1998, a fire broke out on the ALGOSOO causing serious damage to the self-unloading belts and other nearby equipment. Almost 12 years earlier in 1986, a similar fire gutted the aft cabins.
On 02 March 1893, the MARY E. MC LACHLAN (3-mast wooden schooner, 251 foot, 1,394 gross tons) was launched at F. W. Wheeler's yard in West Bay City, Michigan as (Hull #96). The launch turned into a disaster when the huge wave generated by the vessel entering the water hit the freighter KITTIE FORBES (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 209 foot, 968 gross tons, built in 1883, at W. Bay City, Michigan). The FORBES had numerous spectators onboard and when the wave struck, many were injured and there was one confirmed death.
1972 - HARMATTAN, a Seaway trader beginning in 1971, arrived at Karachi, Pakistan, for scrapping after suffering missile damage at sea from Indian Naval units during a conflict between the two countries.
1976 - BROOK, a former Seaway trader as EXBROOk beginning in 1968, arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for scrapping.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, and Steve Haverty
Efforts to free Algocanada from ice to resume Sunday
3/1 - 4 p.m. update - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Canadian tanker Algocanada remained stuck in heavy ice in the lower St. Marys River at the bottom end of Neebish Island's upbound channel Saturday afternoon.
The USCG cutter Katmai Bay, which has been breaking ice for the tanker the past two days, was expected back at its Soo base for fuel and supplies late Saturday afternoon. The Katmai Bay passed the icebound PML barge Ironmaster around 1:45 p.m., high winds in the area have blown a rail panel off the barge and on to the shore.
Katmai Bay will return to the Algocanada on Sunday, according to Soo Traffic Vessel Traffic Management Specialist Ken Curry.
Curry said ice is heavy in the river system. "The last report is 30 inches in the track," he told Boatnerd.com by phone Saturday afternoon. "It's a lot of ice, a lot of brash ... 30 inch broken plate (ice)."
Algocanada, which hove to south of Johnson's Point on Neebish Island Saturday afternoon awaiting the Katmai Bay's return, will discharge her cargo at the Purvis Dock in the lower harbor once she arrives in port.
The current situation does not bode will for the start of the shipping season March 25, when the Soo Locks reopen.
"It's gonna be challenging," Curry said.
Earlier Saturday, the Port Huron-based cutter Hollyhock was unable to break through heavy ice in the lower river. Saturday afternoon she was westbound in the Straits near Mackinac Island. The USCG Mackinaw remains at its home base in Cheboygan, they are down for maintenance and unavailable for assistance.
Algocanada was built in 2008 in Turkey. She is part of the Algoma Tankers fleet, operated by the Algoma Central Corp.
Roger LeLievre for Boatnerd.com and Bonnie Barnes
1 p.m. update
By Saturday afternoon the Hollyhock was unable to break through heavy and returned to Detour passage, out to Straits area.
Original report - The tanker Algocanada and the USCG cutter Katmai Bay remained stuck in the lower St. Mary River Friday. Friday night the pair was stopped below Neebish Island in Mud Lake. They may be waiting for additional icebreakers to continue the trip to the Canadian Soo.
Lake Superior hits normal water level for first time in 9 years
3/1 - Duluth, Minn. – Lake Superior hit its normal level in February for the first time in nine years, according to the International Lake Superior Board of Control. The big lake dropped just 0.4 inches in February, a month it usually declines about two inches, bringing the lake level in line with its long-term average for March 1.
Lake Superior now sits 13 inches above the level of March 1, 2013, and appears to be continuing an upward trend that started about one year ago. The lake has now pulled far away from its lowest points, when it hit monthly record lows in August and September 2007.
The last time the lake’s water level was at or above normal was April 2005, said Cynthia Jarema of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District.
“It’s taken a long time, but it’s back up to normal, and that’s noteworthy,” Jarema told the News Tribune on Friday.
Water supply to Lake Superior was up in February, including snow, rain and river runoff.
Meanwhile, the level of Lakes Huron and Michigan dropped 0.4 inches in February, a month when it usually stays the same. Those lakes remain about 13 inches below their long-term normal level, but 13 inches above their March 1, 2013 level.
The level of the lakes is important for shipping interests as lower water levels can force Great Lakes freighters to lighten their loads, requiring more trips and higher costs to haul cargo such as taconite and coal. The water levels were so low a few years ago that they affected even recreational boating on some Great Lakes, with anglers and boaters unable to get into docks or landings.
The Great Lakes usually rise from April to September, and then fall through the winter when water is locked up in snow and ice. The lake levels are affected by rain and snow, evaporation and other factors such as how much water is released for hydroelectric power.
Experts have speculated that this year’s substantial ice cover will help reduce evaporation, while heavy snow will add to the rising lakes come spring.
Duluth News Tribune
Winds shatter Lake Michigan ice cover
3/1 - Traverse City, Mich. – Don’t underestimate waves on the Great Lakes. A windstorm last week created waves so strong it blew the ice lid off much of Lake Michigan. In a matter of days, ice coverage shrank from about 60 percent of the lake to 30 percent.
Wind creates waves in the open water, which crash into the ice and break it up. The tumult also churns the water, which in turn mixes warmer deep water with the surface water and heats it to just above freezing.
“The ice is getting shoved under the main ice pack so you get melting and compacting of the ice, so you’re opening up even more water,” said Nick Schwartz, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gaylord. “It’s not overly complicated, but it’s a bit of a snowball effect that goes on.”
Ice cover on the lake peaked at 82 percent around Feb. 13. Winds broke it down to 60 percent over several days, but the windstorm Friday to Saturday did the most damage, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour and waves of 10 feet or more.
Other lakes also lost ice coverage, though not such a large percentage.
“Lake Michigan took the biggest hit because of existing open water,” Schwartz said. “Once you had a decent stretch of open water, it lent itself to a decrease in open water ice coverage.”
Ice over deep water is much less stable than the ice that forms over inland lakes and bays. “It’s very prone to fracturing and winds,” Schwartz said.
Rain and warm temperatures last week also made it hard for the water to refreeze, said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Lake Michigan hasn’t frozen to such an extent since 1994, when it was about 90 percent covered, Leshkevich said. The weather likely affected the quality of the remaining ice, too.
“It probably formed snow ice or slush ice with a lot of bubbles in it,” Leshkevich said.
Most of Lake Michigan’s bays remain ice-covered, as is the lake north of Beaver Island. An open Lake Michigan means a return of lake effect snow to the Traverse City area. Though that could mean more evaporation, there’s no need to worry about lake levels, said Hans Van Sumeren, the director of the Great Lakes Water Study Institute at Northwestern Michigan College.
“Even before we had ice cover, it rebounded significantly over the lows,” Van Sumeren said. “We have an enormous amount of snow pack, which will contribute an awful lot of water to the system, as well.”
Traverse City Record-Eagle
Record lows shattered; Two Michigan cities were colder than -40
3/1 - Record low temperatures were shattered across most of Michigan overnight and early Friday morning. A few locations even dropped colder than -40.
Of the major reporting cities in Michigan, only three cities didn't set new record low temperatures. Detroit, Lansing, and Traverse City fell shy of new records. All other cities from the southern border to the U.P. set record low temperatures.
Here are some of the low temperatures:
The coldest temperature ever recorded in Michigan was 51 below zero at Vanderbilt back on February 9, 1934.
Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment to cap Sturgeon Bay series
3/1 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – For anyone who would like to know more about the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment in Sturgeon Bay, the final program in the Door County Maritime Museum’s Maritime Speaker Series, Thursday, March 6, at the museum in Sturgeon Bay, should be of interest.
Led by Lieutenant Commander John Kaser, supervisor of the local office, a trio of presenters will talk about their facility’s operations. While the Canal Station and the USCGC Mobile Bay may represent a more significant presence on the peninsula in terms of size, the Marine Safety Detachment has some significant responsibilities.
Oversight of new vessel construction and domestic deep draft vessel inspections are two principle responsibilities, along with others that Kaser will discuss along with co-presenters Marine Science Technician First Class Brian O’Neil and CIV Marine Inspector Jim Condra.
All programs begin at 7 p.m. in the Reddin Bridge Room at the Sturgeon Bay museum and are free and open to the public. Call (920) 743-5958 or visit www.dcmm.org for more information.
Lookback #104 – Former Swedish freighter Barbara lost on March 1, 1980
3/1 - The Swedish flag Barbara was built nine years after its West German counterpart noted in yesterday's story. It was launched at Sunderland, England, on May 4, 1962, and was wrecked 34 years ago today.
This 566 foot, 2 inch long bulk carrier entered service in October 1962 making it maiden voyage to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before heading to Amsterdam, Netherlands. It began Seaway trading in 1966 with four trips inland that year and four more in 1967.
It returned to the Great Lakes as Barkand in 1968 and as Marianna in 1969. It carried the latter name, along with Greek registry, until becoming Maria Bacolitsa in 1980.
Still under Greek registry, the ship was wrecked near Constanza, Romania, while inbound with 22,000 tons of pig iron from Vitoria, Brazil, on March 1, 1980. An S.O.S. was sent out but the message did not give the ship's position and the vessel was lost with all hands. An estimated 30 sailors perished. The hull was later located about 3.5 miles offshore from Mangalia, Romania, but it was too late to save the ship or any of its crew.
Today in Great Lakes History - March 1
HENRY FORD II (Hull#788) was launched on March 1, 1924, at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co. She served as flagship of the Ford Motor Company fleet for many years and was eventually sold to Interlake Steamship Company when Ford sold its Great Lakes division. It was renamed b.) SAMUEL MATHER, but never sailed under that name. It was scrapped in 1994, at Port Maitland, Ontario by Marine Recycling & Salvage Ltd.
In 1881 the steamship JOHN B. LYON was launched at Cleveland, Ohio by Thomas Quayle & Son for Capt. Frank Perew. She was a four mast, double-decker with the following dimensions: 255 foot keel, 275 feet overall, 38 foot beam, and 20 foot depth.
On March 1, 1884 the I.N. FOSTER (wooden schooner, 134 foot, 319 gross tons, built in 1872, at Port Huron, Michigan) was sold by Clark I. Boots to E. Chilson. This vessel lasted until 1927, when she was abandoned in Buffalo, New York.
1926 - The passenger ship WHITE STAR of Canada Steamship Lines burned at Hamilton. It then became a coal barge and was rebuilt in 1950 as the diesel powered, self-unloading sandsucker S.M. DOUGLAS. It operated mainly on the St. Lawrence and was sunk as a breakwall at Kingston, ON in 1975.
1972 - The Dutch passenger and freight carrier PRINSES ANNA first visited the Great Lakes in 1967. It was lost in Osumi Strait, 18 miles south of Cape Sata, Japan, as HWA PO while on a voyage from Nagoya to Whampoa, China. The cargo shifted and 20 of the 36 on board were lost when the ship went down.
1980 - The Swedish freighter BARBARA was 4-years old when it first came inland in 1966. It returned through the Seaway as BARKAND in 1968 and as MARIANNA in 1969. The ship was under a fourth name of MARIA BACOLITSA and in bound from Brazil with pig iron for Constanza, Romania, when it went down on the Black Sea with all hands. An S.O.S. had been sent out without giving the location and rescuers were helpless to lend any assistance.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Steve Haverty, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Port Reports - February 28
St. Marys River - Bonnie Barnes
Lake Erie -Dave Doane
Kingston, Ont. - Brian Johnson
Deal with AreclorMittal keeps U.P’s Empire mine open at least two more years
2/28 - Marquette, Mich. – Cliffs Natural Resources announced today that it will keep its Empire taconite operation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula open beyond the end of this year, when the pant had been scheduled to be closed.
Cliffs said it has signed an extended agreement to supply ArecleorMittal USA Inc. with iron ore pellets from the Empire operation through the end of January 2017, more than two years beyond the previously announced closing date. Cliffs also extended its joint operating agreement for Empire with ArcelorMittal, which also had been set to expire at year’s end.
“We are pleased to continue as a reliable supplier of high-quality iron ore pellets to one of ArcelorMittal USA's facilities which is also good news for our dedicated employees who have demonstrated that Empire remains a safe, viable producer of high-quality, cost-competitive pellets,” said P. Kelly Tompkins, Cliffs' executive vice president of external affairs.
Cliffs’ officials said the agreement won’t change its overall U.S. taconite production expectations for the current year.
The Empire mine is located on the Marquette Iron Range in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, about 15 miles southwest of Marquette. Cliffs has a 79 percent ownership of Empire and a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal USA owns the remaining 21 percent.
In addition to the Empire operations, Cleveland-based Cliffs also owns the Tilden operations in the U.P. and owns and operates United Taconite in Eveleth, NorthShore Mining in Silber Bay, and is co-owner and manager of Hibbing Taconite in Minnesota.
Duluth News Tribune
Shipwreck survivor Dennis Hale to share story Friday in Sheboygan
2/28 - Sheboygan, Wis. – It was November 1966 and 26-year-old Dennis Hale was asleep in his cabin on a Great Lakes steamer making its last run of the season, when his books began tumbling off a shelf. Minutes later, he was in 44-degree Lake Huron, wearing boxer shorts, a navy blue pea coat and life jacket.
Hale would eventually climb aboard a life raft with three other men. All but Hale froze to death, making him the lone survivor of a shipwreck that killed each of his 28 crew mates.
“There was nothing much you could do,” said Hale, during a phone interview from his home in northeast Ohio, where he recounted the experience.
Hale, who’s now 74, will share his survival story during an appearance at 7 p.m. Friday at the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan. The program will also include a performance by maritime singer/songwriter, Dan Hall.
Hale said it’s a story that he hopes will help inspire others as they deal with difficulty in their own lives, though for the first 24 years following the shipwreck it was something he never shared with anyone, including his own family. “It was painful to talk about,” said Hale, who for decades suffered from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. “I lost 28 really good friends.”
Hale was working for Bethlehem Steel as a watchman aboard the Daniel J. Morrell when the wreck occurred. The ship was on its way to northern Minnesota, where it would pick up a load of taconite.The weather was mild when Hale finished his watch. He later had dinner with several crew mates, where they talked about the prospects of seeing their families over the holidays. It was to be their last run until the following spring.
Hale was awoken just before 2 a.m. by a loud bang. Then another. The ship’s alarm sounded, and Hale raced to the deck to find that the vessel was coming apart. “I could see what was happening,” Hale said. “The ship was breaking up.”
Hale was knocked into the water by a 35-foot wave. Once in the life raft, he and three crew mates watched as their ship was tossed about by 30-foot waves before splitting in two.
Hale said the ship was built using the same steel blamed for the Titanic’s sinking, which became brittle in cold weather and was a large factor in the 603-foot-long Morrell breaking in half from the bottom up as waves held up each of its ends.
Within 14 hours, his three raft companions were dead from exposure to the frigid water and 33-degree air. Hale would sit alone next to their bodies for another 24 hours before being rescued, during which he says he had an afterlife experience.
Hale said the first time he ever shared his story was when he gave a talk at a shipwreck museum, which left everyone in tears. The experience was cathartic and he’s continued to open up since.
He self-published an autobiography in 2010 and now travels the country giving motivational talks and has made numerous television experiences, including on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and NBC’s “The Today Show.”
Hale regularly gets letters from people who attend his talks, including children who think he’s a superhero. He believes there’s a message in his story for everyone. “It’s been very therapeutic for me,” Hale said. “I feel like a whole person again.”
Lookback #103 – Barbara was launched at Emden, West Germany, on February 28, 1953
2/28 - Two saltwater ships named Barbara have visited the Great Lakes in the Seaway era. One traded inland under the flag of Sweden, the other was registered in West Germany. Today and tomorrow were important days for these two ships.
The West German-flag Barbara was launched 61 years ago today at the city of Emden. The 382-foot, 11-inch long general cargo carrier was ready to enter service in April 1953. This vessel first came to the Great Lakes in 1964 with two trips and returned twice more in each of 1965 and 1966.
On November 23, 1968, Barbara ran aground on Crab Island Shoal, at the entrance to the Detour Passage. It stranded on an underwater field of boulders while down bound with general cargo for Bermuda. The vessel had some of the cargo removed allowing it to float free on November 26. There was some hull damage including a slight leak in #1 cargo hold.
Barbara was sold and resold on several subsequent occasions. It was renamed Zeno, flag of Panama, in 1971, Duendes, similar registry in 1979, and became Cherry Molek for the same owner in 1981.
Following a sale to shipbreakers in India, the vessel arrived at Bombay on August 11, 1982, and was broken up by Ashok Steel at Jamnagar, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Kutch, beginning that November.
Three other Barbara named ships, the Barbara E., Barbara H. and Barbara Leonhardt, have also been Seaway traders.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 28
VENUS (steel propeller bulk freighter, 346 foot, 3,719 gross tons) was launched on 28 February 1901, by the American Ship Building Company (Hull #307) at Lorain, Ohio for the Gilchrist Transportation Company, converted to a crane-ship in 1927. She was renamed b.) STEEL PRODUCTS in 1958, and lasted until 1961, when she was scrapped at Point Abino, Ontario, the spot where she had run aground and partially sunk while being towed for scrap.
The lighthouse tender MARIGOLD (iron steamer, 150 foot, 454 gross tons, built in Wyandotte, Michigan) completed her sea trials on 28 February 1891. The contract price for building her was $77,000. After being fitted out, she was placed into service as the supply ship to the lighthouses in the Eleventh District, taking the place of the WARRINGTON. The MARIGOLD was sold in 1947, converted to a converted to dredge and renamed MISS MUDHEN II.
The rail ferry INCAN SUPERIOR (Hull#211) was launched February 28, 1974, at North Vancouver, British Columbia by Burrard Drydock Co. Ltd. She operated between Thunder Bay, Ontario and Superior, Wisconsin until 1992, when she left the Lakes for British Columbia, she was renamed b.) PRINCESS SUPERIOR in 1993.
OUTARDE was launched February 28, 1906, as a.) ABRAHAM STEARN (Hull#513) at Superior, Wisconsin by Superior Ship Building Co.
In 1929, the Grand Trunk carferry MADISON, inbound into Grand Haven in fog and ice, collided with the U.S. Army dredge General G.G. MEADE, berthed on the south bank of the river for the winter. Damage was minor.
1965: The bow section of the tanker STOLT DAGALI, broken in two due to a collision with the passenger liner SHALOM on November 26, 1964, departed New York for Gothenburg, Sweden, under tow to be rebuilt. The ship had been a Seaway trader as a) DAGALI in 1961, 1962 and 1963.
1974: The Dutch freighter AMPENAN visited the Great Lakes in 1960 and 1961. It arrived at Busan, South Korea, for scrapping as c) OCEAN REX.
1995: CHEM PEGASUS, a Seaway trader as far as Hamilton in 2012, was launched on this date as a) SPRING LEO.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Dave Swayze, Steve Haverty, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
Port Reports - February 27
Soo, Ont. – Bonnie Barnes
Winter puts Great Lakes salt in demand
2/27 - Toledo, Ohio – Deep beneath the world’s largest supply of fresh water lays an abundance of one of its most essential minerals: salt. But while Great Lakes water is in demand year-round, the need for the rock salt mined at seven locations in New York, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario can vary from year to year, depending on winter weather.
Right now — with the Great Lakes region as a whole in the midst of its roughest winter in at least two decades, and Toledo pushing toward an all-time record snowfall — salt companies are selling every ton they can lift out of their mines to snow and ice-weary highway agencies desperate to replenish stockpiles.
“All of our assets in the United States are at maximum output, maximum capacity,” Jim Vincent, vice president of operations for Morton Salt, said Friday. Between October and January, he said, Morton shipped three times as much salt as it did during that part of the previous season.
“It’s been a very challenging situation for our mines and our stockpiles,” Vincent said, noting that besides salt from mines in Fairport, Ohio, and Ojibway, Ont., Morton has sent bargeloads of Louisiana salt up the Mississippi River to fill Midwestern orders.
A spokesman for Cargill Salt, which since 1997 has operated Ohio’s other major rock salt mine in Cleveland, painted a similar picture. “The unprecedented winter across the Snow Belt has led to huge demand for road salt,” Mark Klein said in an email interview. “We are working overtime in our mines to try to keep up with the demand.
“In addition to widespread demand, the weather is affecting transportation, slowing trucks, trains, and barges,” Klein added.
Both company representatives declined to discuss, however, whether their firms would respond to an Ohio Department of Transportation request for bids to provide emergency salt deliveries to any or all of seven state stockpiles that would be made available to local and county agencies whose supplies are dwindling.
“As with most winters, our priority has to be with customers who sought bids from us and gave us the contracts,” Klein wrote. “As any new solicitation would be under competitive bids, I’d prefer not to let our competitors know if we will or won’t.”
Steve Faulkner, a spokesman at ODOT headquarters in Columbus, said the department’s goal is to arrange for 10,000-ton deliveries to each of the seven stockpiles once during each of three 10-day periods between mid-February and mid-March. One stockpile will be at ODOT’s Wood County maintenance garage in Bowling Green.
That salt would be available to counties, townships, and municipalities on the verge of running out. Any agency taking the salt would have to pledge to deliver a matching quantity back to ODOT once supplies are more readily available, Mr. Faulkner said — essentially, an IOU for salt.
Among communities that could be interested is Ottawa Hills, where Village Administrator Marc Thompson said this week that trucks are loaded and the 120-ton capacity salt shed is full — but that’s it.
“We are like many places — we’re beginning to conserve salt,” Thompson said. “If we were in late March right now, I would not be worried, but it’s early February. I’ve been contacting supply companies, without any luck at this point.”
Other northwest Ohio communities with which ODOT has had salt discussions include Waterville, Bowling Green, Republic, Hicksville, Van Wert, and Lima, Faulkner said, along with the Lucas, Henry, and Williams county engineers and Bowling Green State University. But the extent to which ODOT will get bidders for its plan remains to be seen.
Faulkner said the department is optimistic that, by about two weeks from now, salt producers will have caught up on backlogged delivery contracts and be able to start filling new orders. “We’re hearing a lot of them could be caught up,” the ODOT spokesman said.
Besides Morton and Cargill, ODOT has solicited bids from Detroit Salt Co. and North American Salt Co., which operate or are affiliated with mines in Detroit and Goderich, Ont., respectively.
Together, those four firms account for six of the seven rock-salt mines in the Great Lakes region; the seventh, in Hampton Corners, N.Y., south of Rochester, is operated by American Rock Salt Co.
Lookback #102 – Mount Athos abandoned on February 27, 1966
2/27 - The Liberty ship Mount Athos was abandoned in leaking condition 48 years ago today. The 441- -foot, 6-inch-long cargo carrier was en route from Gocek, Turkey, to Baltimore, Maryland, with a load of iron ore.
Originally the J. Maurice Thompson, the vessel was built at Richmond, California, and launched on November 19, 1943. It was operated by the American President Lines during World War II.
The ship was sold to Greek interests in February 1947, renamed and sailed as Mount Athos until 1962. It lost its propeller while traveling form Marseilles, France, to Hampton Roads, Virginia, in June 1949 and had to be towed into Barcelona, Spain, for repairs.
Mount Athos made three trips through the Seaway in 1959 despite the fact that the year was interrupted by a collision three miles east of South Goodwin, England, due to fog, on July 11. The accident sank the small, year-old vessel Saint Rowan.
In 1962, Mount Athos was resold and renamed Euxeinos. It served well until the hull began leaking on February 27, 1966. After being abandoned in the Atlantic, about 360 miles southwest of the Azores, the ship is presumed to have sunk.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 27
GOLDEN SABLE was launched February 27, 1930, as a.) ACADIALITE (Hull#170) at Haverton-Hill-on-Tees, United Kingdom by Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.
In 1916 MOUNT STEPHEN, formerly of Canada Steamship Lines, struck a mine and sank off Dover, England, while carrying coal as part of a convoy but the crew was rescued.
The former Great Lakes trader GEORGETOWN, built at Buffalo in 1900, sank in 1917 as ETRETAT in a storm off the Bay of Biscay while carrying barreled oil although there was some suspicion of enemy action.
In 1966 the Greek Liberty ship EUXEINOS was abandoned in the Atlantic 360 miles southwest of the Azores after developing leaks the previous day. She had made three trips through the Seaway as MOUNT ATHOS in 1959. The crew as picked up by a passing tanker and delivered to Halifax.
1917: GEORGETOWN was built at Buffalo in 1900 and sank on this day enroute from New York to Le Havre in heavy weather while carrying barreled oil. The ship went down as b) ETRETAT off Ile D'Yeu, Bay of Biscay, and there was lingering suspicion of enemy action being involved.
1966: In 1966, the Greek Liberty ship EUXEINOS was abandoned in the Atlantic 360 miles southwest of the Azores after developing leaks the previous day. She had made three trips through the Seaway as MOUNT ATHOS in 1959. The crew was picked up by a passing tanker and delivered to Halifax.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Steve Haverty, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Port Reports - February 26
St. Marys River – Bonnie Barnes
Amherstburg, Ont. - D Cozens
Great Lakes ice declines in past week
2/26 - Despite a lot of media hype about the Great Lakes “freezing over’’ in recent weeks, the amount of ice on the five big lakes actually declined significantly in recent days.
The lakes, combined, are now only an estimated 62 percent ice-covered, and you’d get wet trying to walk across any of them. That’s down from a high of 88 percent estimated ice cover on Feb. 13.
Lake Superior dropped from a high of an estimated 94 percent ice cover at mid-month to just 77.5 percent on Monday, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Large gaps of open water are visible along many of its shorelines, both from shore and in satellite photographs.
There has been ample speculation that Superior would reach virtual freeze-over this year for the first time since 1996 and one of the few times in recent memory. But that hasn’t happened yet.
Lake Ontario was less than 10 percent ice-covered Monday, while Erie sat at 84 percent, Huron at 73 percent, and Michigan was about 30 percent frozen.
Ice experts say that current weather patterns are the most critical factor in determining Great Lakes ice cover. A few warm days and very windy conditions likely contributed to the recent decline in ice cover. An increasingly higher and more potent sun also makes it harder for ice to form as winter heads toward spring.
“Wind, warmer air temperatures and, at least for the lower lakes, rain’’ all combined to reduce ice, George Leskevich, longtime Great Lakes ice forecaster, told the News Tribune on Monday.
Still, the forecast of more below-zero temperatures in coming days could see the ice cover grow later this week but that “depends on how cold and for how long,’’ Leskevich noted.
Great Lakes ice cover generally peaks in late February and then declines in March, depending on weather conditions.
Duluth News Tribune
U.S. Navy debuts seal of sixth installment of the USS Detroit warship
2/26 - Detroit, Mich. – The seal of the sixth U.S. Navy ship to bear the USS Detroit name was unveiled at the Port of Detroit last Friday by local officials, members of the navy and ship sponsor Barbara Levin, the wife of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.
The seal of the Littoral-class ship, which is currently being built in Wisconsin by Lockheed Martin, includes a winged tire as a nod to Detroit’s automotive manufacturing heritage, as well as a partial depiction of the city flag.
On the crest, there are sixth stars, symbolizing this being the sixth Detroit-named ship. Here’s a brief history of the other five:
• The first USS Detroit dates back to 1813. It was 12-gun ship that was captured by the British during the Battle of Lake Erie. “So it fought on both sides of the conflict,” said John Peracchio, who is Vice Chairman of the USS Detroit Blue and Gold Committee for the Metropolitan Detroit Council of Navy League of the United States.
• The second USS Detroit served from just May to August 1869 and was then renamed after Canandaigua, a town in upstate New York.
• The third installment was a cruiser that had no active defense system. It served from 1893 to 1904. Despite not being armed, the ship served in spirited engagements in the Caribbean during the Spanish-American War, Peracchio said.
• The fourth USS Detroit was a light cruiser that served from 1923 to 1946. It was present at Pearl Harbor during World War II, and also fought in the Aleutian Islands, escorted numerous Allied convoys and was present in Tokyo Bay during the Japanese surrender.
• And the fifth USS Detroit was a combat support replenishment ship that was commissioned in 1970 and served until 2005.
The ship is expected to be christened in Wisconsin later this year, and will likely be commissioned in July 2016 John Jamian, executive director of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority, said he’d like to see the commissioning, a ceremony that officially puts the ship into active services, happen in the Detroit River.
“It’s a possibility and we’re certainly hoping and rooting for it,” he said.
Littoral Combat Ship cuts aren't a done deal, lawmakers say
2/26 - Marinette, Wis. – Wisconsin members of Congress say they will continue to push for the construction of 52 Littoral Combat Ships despite a Defense Department proposal to trim the program to 32 vessels.
Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette is one of two shipyards building the warship which is designed to operate in shallow coastal waters. About 2,000 people show up to work at the shipyard on a daily basis.
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, said the ship is a key tool for the Navy and that Monday’s announcement of the planned cuts to the program aren’t a done deal.
“The future of the LCS, or its next iteration, is far from settled and there are numerous debates and discussions that will be occurring in the days and weeks ahead,” Ribble said in a press release.
“I have had dozens of discussions with the Navy, Marinette Marine, and the Department of Defense on the needs of the Navy and the future of the LCS and I will continue to work aggressively on preserving our national security during an era of limited defense budgets."
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said she also continues to back the full program.
“I have fought for and will continue to fight for this program because it employs thousands of hardworking Wisconsinites and positively impacts not only the local community but has a ripple effect across the state, boosting our made in Wisconsin economy,” she said in a e-mailed statement.
Lockheed Martin in the prime contractor on the ships being built in Marinette, which is in the middle of a 10-ship contract. Another version of the ship is being built by Austal USA in Alabama.
“We are currently reviewing the Pentagon’s spending plan as outlined today by Secretary Hagel, and we’ll continue to assess the budget once the President delivers it to Congress and they begin their appropriations process,” Lockheed Martin said in an e-mailed statement.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the program would be trimmed by 20 ships and the design given another look.
“Additionally, at my direction, the Navy will submit alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate. I’ve directed the Navy to consider a completely new design, existing ship designs, and a modified LCS,” Hagel said during a press conference on Monday. “These proposals are due to me later this year in time to inform next year’s budget submission.”
The proposed budget is expected to be given to Congress next week.
“The Navy fully supports the program, but the Navy is also supportive of the president’s budget,” Chris Johnson, a spokesman with Naval Sea Systems Command, said Tuesday.
Green Bay Press Gazette
2/26 - Help wanted: Marine officers and engineers Full-time employment opportunity for Deck Officers and Engineers for Canadian flag Great Lakes self-unloading tug/barge cement carriers.
Fettes Shipping Inc. is looking for candidates with some dry bulk or tug/barge experience. Fettes offers highest salaries and benefits in tug/barge operations including two months onboard with one month off, paid vacation, medical coverage and Family Security Plan all under a collective agreement.
Fettes expect strong communication skills and good work ethic from candidates. Candidates must be able to travel to the US portions of the Great Lakes area and must have valid Canadian passport, all applicable Transport Canada certificates and valid medical certificate issued by Transport Canada.
Transport Canada certificates required for following positions are:
Please send your resume to:
Lookback #101 – Former tug Nipigon sank off Louisiana on February 26, 1998
2/26 - The tug Nipigon was a product of the Marine Industries Ltd., shipyard of Sorel, Quebec. It was built in 1938 for the Abitibi Power & Paper Co. and used to tow log rafts on Lake Superior.
The good-looking, 95-foot-long vessel operated into the 1960s and was then sold to the Stanley P. Goodfellow Construction Co. and based at Corunna, Ontario. It joined McNamara Marine Ltd. in 1975 and saw some service in towing and salvage work. Among its jobs was helping refloat the saltie Pearl Asia aground off Port Weller in 1976.
Nipigon was laid up at Whitby and then Toronto before leaving the Great Lakes, via the Seaway, on December 12, 1988. It was en route to Bahamas for use in a construction project and was re-registered in the Cayman Islands while in the south.
The tug was sold to A & J Towing Inc. and renamed Florida Seahorse in 1996. It was working off the coast of Louisiana when it sank in the Gulf of Mexico 16 years ago today. All five sailors on board were rescued.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 26
The completed hull of the BELLE RIVER (Hull#716) was floated off the ways February 26, 1977, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp. Renamed b.) WALTER J. MC CARTHY JR in 1990.
JOSEPH L. BLOCK (Hull#715) was launched February 26, 1976, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp.
On 26 February 1874, the tug WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE JR. was launched at Port Huron Dry Dock. Her dimensions were 151 feet overall, 25 foot 6 inches beam, and 13 foot depth. Her machinery was built by Phillerick & Christy of Detroit and was shipped by rail to Port Huron. She cost $45,000. Her master builder was Alex Stewart.
On 26 February 1876, the MARY BELL (iron propeller, 58 foot, 34 gross tons, built in 1870, at Buffalo, New York) burned near Vicksburg, Michigan.
The Liberty ship BASIL II, a Seaway visitor in 1960, ran aground on a reef off the west coast of New Caledonia as EVER PROSPERITY in 1965 and was abandoned as a total loss.
ANGLEA SMITS, a Seaway trader in 1983, was abandoned and believed sunk in the Atlantic en route from Norway to Australia in 1986.
1947: The T-2 tanker ROYAL OAK came to the Great Lakes in 1966 as b) TRANSBAY and was rebuilt at Lorain. The vessel departed later in the year as c) TRANSHURON. But as a) ROYAL OAK, it caught fire on this day in the Pacific off Esmeraldas, Ecuador, and had to be abandoned by the crew. The vessel was later reboarded and the fires extinguished. The listing vessel almost sank but it was salvaged and rebuilt for Cities Service Oil.
1965: The Liberty ship BASIL II came through the Seaway in 1960. It ran aground on a reef off New Caledonia as d) EVER PROSPERITY. The vessel was traveling in ballast and had to be abandoned as a total loss.
1981: A spark from a welder's torch ignited a blaze aboard the MONTCLIFFE HALL, undergoing winter work at Sarnia. The fire did major damage to the pilothouse and accommodations area, but the repairs were completed in time for the ship to resume trading on May 27, 1981. It was still sailing in 2013 as d) CEDARGLEN (ii).
1986: ANGELA SMITS, a Seaway trader for the first time in 1983, developed a severe list and was abandoned by the crew on a voyage from Norway to Australia. The hull was sighted, semi-submerged, later in the day in position 47.38 N / 07.36 W and was believed to have sunk in the Atlantic.
1998: The Abitibi tug NIPIGON was active on Lake Superior and often towed log booms from the time it was built at Sorel in 1938 until perhaps the 1960s. The vessel also saw work on construction projects for different owners, and left the Seaway for the sea on December 12, 1988. It was operating as b) FLORIDA SEAHORSE when it sank in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. All 5 on board were rescued.
2011: Fire broke out on the bridge of DINTELBORG while enroute from the Netherlands to Virginia. The ship was taken in tow the next day by the ROWAN M. McALLISTER out of Providence, R.I. The repaired Dutch freighter was back through the Seaway later in 2011. The tug was also a Seaway caller in 2012, coming inland to tow the fire ravaged PATRICE McALLISTER back to Providence.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Historic tug Wilhelm Baum sinks in South Haven
2/25 - South Haven, Mich. – A docked tugboat sank Sunday behind the Michigan Maritime Museum. Authorities have not determined why the Wilhelm Baum tugboat sunk in the Black River. The tug was resting on the bottom with only the top of its pilothouse above water. The owner of the vessel, the Coast Guard and federal authorities have all been notified.
There was no one aboard the tugboat when it sank.
Wilhelm Baum was built in 1923 as an Army Corps of Engineers tugboat. In 2003, on the boat's 80th birthday, it was given a permanent spot at the museum docks, according to Kalamazoo Gazette archives.
Harbormaster Paul VandenBosch said the boat is still sunken at its dock, as of Monday morning. VandenBosch said he has been in contact with the owner of the boat and they are currently working out the logistics of lifting the vessel out of the water in conjunction with their insurance company and the United States Coast Guard. In the meantime, the Coast Guard will check the boat once a day for fuel or oil leaks.
Until the boat can be lifted, authorities said they cannot determine what caused it to sink at its permanent spot at the maritime museum’s dock.
“I think all parties involved would like to see it lifted,” John Crisler, Padnos Boat Shed director for the Maritime Museum said of the Wilhelm Baum. “Most things don’t do well underwater.”
VandenBosch, who is also the assistant city manager for the City of South Haven, said the boat’s owner has several options for lifting the steel-hulled tug out of the water. He said it is possible that the boat could be lifted by inflating bags underwater with air, pushing the boat above water. Another option would be to hoist the boat out via a crane that is either on land or a barge.
All of these options are problematic this time of year, VandenBosch said. Thick ice prevents a barge from reaching boat, built in 1923 as an Army Corps of Engineers tug, at its dock. The inflated bag option is also difficult, as the damage that caused boat to sink would need to be quickly repaired before it sinks again.
“We generally expect that there may be some problems due to ice,” VandenBosch said. “That boat may be there until the ice goes away.”
Black River Ice breaking tug stopped by freezing temperatures
2/25 - Port Huron, Mich. – High winds and cold weather have stopped officials from using a tug boat to break ice on the Black River in Port Huron. The operation is part of an attempt to reduce flooding for residents along the bank of the river, Port Huron Safety Director Michael Reaves said.
“Well the ice is still there,” Reaves said. “It’s the beginning of the process — it was never our intention to drive the tug to Sandusky.”
Reaves said that the Canadian tug boat the city hired Friday and Saturday was able to break ice just east of the 10th Street Bridge. Wind and weather concerns caused the process to be halted. “Now that the weather is turning extremely cold again we’ll decide on the ice break plan moving forward,” Reaves said.
After a relatively warm weekend, temperatures are expected to stay below freezing this week and could drop as low as four degrees below zero Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service.
Reaves said the tug was able to break the ice around the mouth of the river, the hope being that more ice and water will be able to flow into the St. Clair River.
“As the weather continues to change we will look into other options,” Reeves said. “It’s a work in progress."
A meeting to inform residents who live along the river about the city’s plan to address flooding is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Howard D. Crull Elementary School. Reeves said he would have more information on plans to combat the ice at that time.
Port Huron Times Herald
Port Reports - February 25
Amherstburg, Ont. - D. Cozens
2013 season saltwater vessel recap
2/25 - As the 2013 Seaway shipping season wrapped up on January 1, here is a recap of the 2013 season, which opened on March 22 with the upbound transit of the tanker Clipper Mari of the Bahamas. The season closed on January 1, 2014 with the last transit of the Marshall Islands-flagged salty Orsula.
The 2013 season saw 197 saltwater vessels make 356 transits through the Eisenhower Lock in Massena, N.Y. That number was down 32 from the 2012 season’s total of 229 vessels. It was also down 16 vessels from the 2008-12 five-year average as well. During that five-year period, the highest total of vessels that transited the Eisenhower Lock was in 2010, with 231 vessels. The lowest total in that time frame was in 2009, during the recession, which saw just 185 vessels.
A breakdown by the month of the 2013 transits show that there were 47 transits in March/April, followed by 44 in May, 32 in June, 24 in July, 35 in August, 36 in September, 47 in October, 67 in November and 24 in December.
The 2013 season also saw 51 first time visitors to the Great Lakes/Seaway system. This was down 38 vessels from the 2012 season’s total of 89 first time visitors to the system. The highest total of first-time visitors to the Great Lakes/Seaway system was 89 during the 2012 season, while the lowest number was 42 during the 2008 season.
There was also one saltwater vessel renamed in 2013. BBC Wisconsin, although it did not make an official Seaway transit in 2013, was renamed Jette (Antigua/Barbuda flag) in Montreal on November 6, 2013 and later transited the Seaway with that name.
The 2014 season is expected to begin on March 28 with the opening of the Montreal-Lake Ontario section along and the Welland Canal. The March 28 opening date is six days later than in the last three previous seasons, when the opening date for both waterways was March 22.
Reservation line opens for S.S. Badger’s upcoming season
2/25 - Lake Michigan Carferry has announced that its reservation lines are now open. To celebrate, the company is offering a prize package that one winner can share with their friends. Just like Lake Michigan Carferry’s Feb. 24 Facebook post and share the post and you're entered. The winner will be notified by March 10. A new Badger blog has also been launched via www.ssbadger.com
Lookback #100- Former Antonio wrecked by grounding on February 25, 1978
2/25 - The Italian freighter Antonio first came to the Great Lakes with one trip in 1964. It returned on two occasions in 1965 and was the last saltwater ship down bound in the Welland Canal that year heading to the sea on December 4.
The 487-foot-long freighter had been built at Malmo, Sweden, and was completed for Belships Co. Ltd. as Bellully in June 1957. It was sold to Messana Soc. di Nav. S.p.A. and registered in Italy as Antonio in 1959.
There were three more sales and renames ahead. It became Camingoy, Singapore flag, in 1973, Lendas under Cypriot registry a year later and finally Omalos, Greek flag, in 1978.
The ship had loaded cargo at Constanza, Romania, and was bound for Vietnam, thirty-six years ago today, when it ran aground in the Aegean Sea off Chios Island. Omalos was refloated on March 1, 1978, but due to the extent of the damage, was laid up at Piraeus, Greece.
It remained there until sold at auction and towed from the port on May 11, 1983. The destination was Megara, Greece, where the hull was broken up for scrap by Sideroscrap.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 25
CREEK TRANSPORT was launched this day in 1910, as a.) SASKATOON (Hull#256) at Sunderland, England, by Sunderland Shipbuilding Co.
1964: CISSOULA, a Greek freighter that visited the Seaway in 1961 and 1965, was abandoned after a collision in fog with the Swedish vessel SOLKLINT off Selsey Bill in the English Channel. The damaged freighter was taken in tow and repaired. It was delivered to shipbreakers at Hsinkang, China, on September 24, 1969.
1968: AZAR first came to the Great Lakes as c) CELESTE in 1960 and returned with one trip under this, her fifth name, in 1967. The Liberian-registered, but Canadian-built freighter went aground off Cuba enroute from Venezuela to Tampa, Florida. The ship suffered extensive damage when it caught fire on February 29 and was declared a constructive total loss. It is believed that the hull was dismantled locally.
1978: The Italian freighter ANTONIO was the last saltwater ship to transit the Welland Canal in 1965. It ran aground off Chios Island, Greece, enroute from Constanza, Romania, to Vietnam as e) OMALOS. The ship was refloated on March 1 but laid up at Piraeus, Greece, and subsequently sold, at auction, for scrap. The vessel was broken up at Megara, Greece, beginning on June 13, 1983.
1979: The Panamanian freighter d) FENI was damaged in a collision on the Black Sea at Sulina Roads, Romania, with ATLANTIS STAR and had to be beached. The ship was refloated on February 28 and repaired. It had been a Seaway trader as a) DEERWOOD in 1960 and returned as b) SEBASTIANO in 1969. The ship was scrapped as f) SIRLAD at Split, Yugoslavia, following an explosion off Algeria, on January 3, 1982.
1994: BANDERAS visited the Great Lakes from 1975 through the 1980s. It was abandoned by the crew off the coast of Brazil as b) AEGEAN TRADER due to a fire in the accommodation area. The vessel was towed to Valencia, Spain, to be unloaded and arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping as c) EGE TRADE on August 11, 1994.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
St. Marys River ice breaking operations to begin Tuesday
2/24 - Beginning Tuesday morning and continuing through the remainder of the week, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Katmai Bay will be breaking ice in the St Marys River in preparation for a tank vessel transit. Ice breaking operations will extend from Sault Ste. Marie down to Detour Reef Light via the Middle Neebish Channel.
Ice breaking to continue in St. Clair River over next few days
2/24 - Port Huron, Mich. – The sound of ice being cleared from the Black River was audible Friday blocks away from where a Canadian fish tug crashed through it. The ice breaking efforts started about noon. City officials said they want to be proactive in addressing concerns about flooding in low-lying areas.
Public Safety Director Michael Reaves said it is too soon to tell if the efforts will help reduce the impact of flooding during the first big thaw of the season. But either way, he said it was worth trying something new. “It’s an attempt to be proactive — I’m very concerned with flooding,” Reaves said.
The tug began in the mouth of the Black River and work westward, reaching the Seventh Street Bridge in its first few hours. Reaves said work will hopefully continue in the river the next few days, but will depend on the weather. The tug also will push the ice out of the Black River and into the St. Clair River.
“My concern is for public safety and property damage, this was a small window that the opportunity was there to do this,” he said Friday.
Reaves said it was challenging to find a boat capable of ice breaking that could also fit in the river. He wouldn’t release the cost of the work, as it was ongoing.
“Ice formation on the river has historically caused significant issues for homeowners along the Black River banks,” according to the statement from the Public Safety Department. “Snow melt-off and spring rains (can) cause heavy water flows in the river which are restricted by ice dams caused by melting ice.
“The ice dams prevent water flow causing water/ice backups on the river which annually threatens waterfront residents and their property.”
In 2009, ice jammed in the Black River and resulted in $540,000 worth of damage to city homes and a business. Reaves said the ice breaking efforts will make it unsafe on the river for pedestrians and vehicle traffic and urges people to stay off of it. The Black River is often used by snowmobilers. The ice breaking could continue for the next few days dependent on progress and weather conditions.
A meeting about potential flooding is scheduled from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Crull Elementary School for residents who live in the area. Reaves said all options of breaking the ice and what responsibility the city has to property owners will be discussed.
Port Huron Times Herald
Close to two months since Bluewater Ferry made a trip across St. Clair River
2/24 - Marine City, Mich. – The Bluewater Ferry service that runs between Sombra, Ont., and Marine City, Mich., has been shut down since Jan. 3 due to Great Lakes ice cover. The ferry has been stuck at the Canada Customs dock and there will be no passage any time soon for the commuter carrier.
"It's hurting us," says Bluewater Ferry owner Rob Dalgety. "There's deck hands and people aren't working. It definitely hurts us and we have a lot of workers that cross. They have to go up and cross the bridge now and it's just inconvenient, I guess."
According to Environment Canada, about 86 per cent of the Great Lakes are covered in ice and that’s well above the normal level of 35 per cent coverage for this time of year.
The ferry normally runs 30 trips per day and over the course of two months that's about 1,800 lost trips so far. Last winter there were no shutdowns due to ice. But it's not all the fault of Mother Nature. The nearby Lambton Generating Station, which closed last fall, used to pump warm water into the river, causing ice melt in some places.
On the other side of the river, you can see open water from a pair of Michigan power plants.
Ferry service is not expected to resume until at least next month, when winter starts to loosen its grip and the river starts to flow again. Last April, extremely low water caused the closure of the ferry service and for the first time ever, the owners of the service were forced to rebuild their docks so their vessels could cross the St. Clair River.
Pet coke storage battle shifts to River Rouge
2/24 - River Rouge, Mich. – The battle over petroleum coke storage along the banks of the Detroit River has shifted several miles south to a new location on the River Rouge/Ecorse border.
Detroit Bulk Storage has a permit application before the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that could clear the way for the material to be stored at its headquarters. The property, listed at 530 W. Great Lakes St., sits roughly eight miles from where the storage of petroleum coke in Detroit last year became an issue of contention between the company and residents in the United States and Canada.
After months of protests and back and forth between Detroit Bulk Storage and the city of Detroit in 2013, the company agreed to stop storing the material along the riverfront near the 2200 block of Fort Street. A company official said Wednesday the permit could allow Detroit Bulk Storage to potentially store petroleum coke at its headquarters site, where it has been doing business for 30 years.
Petroleum coke — or pet coke — is a byproduct of the coal refinery process that’s often sold as a fuel source. The mounds along the Detroit River last year were produced at the nearby Marathon Oil Refinery and purchased by Koch Minerals LLC.
For much of 2013, Detroit residents and elected officials raised concerns about dust from the material blowing into neighborhoods and washing into the river — which they argued could hurt public health. The DEQ has said testing of the material shows it poses no threat to human or animal health.
State officials will host a public information session March 5 in Wyandotte from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Grand Harbor Banquet Hall, 1 St. John St.
“If we’re permitted to do so in our permit to Install, we would certainly look at storing pet coke here,” said Noel Frye, vice president of Detroit Bulk Storage. “But there’s no guarantee that will happen. I can say that yes, we’d love to have it. But are we going to get a contract to do that, I don’t know because we don’t have it now.”
The permit allows a company to lay out how it will deal with on-site materials. Detroit Bulk Storage’s permit application addresses fugitive dust with steps that include:
• Use of truck-mounted water cannons and misting bars to control the material when being moved.
• Positioning of a marine barge between freighters and the shore to protect the Detroit River area from material that may follow during the loading process.
• Restricting handling and loading when sustained winds exceed 30 miles per hour or gusts reach 45 miles per hour.
• Treating with water piles stored for less than 45 days to suppress dust, while sealing with an epoxy piles stored longer than 45 days.
While those steps may represent more precaution that what was in place last year, they may not go far enough to satisfy some critics. State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, lobbied against the pet coke storage last year and wants the material banned unless it is in covered storage.
“We see it as a public health and nuisance issue,” she said Wednesday. “If they want to store this stuff with piles that are 40 feet high or more, they have not shown they can contain it.”
Lookback #99 – Former Ulysses Castle foundered with heavy loss of life on February 24, 1975
2/24 - Ulysses Castle was a refrigerated general cargo carrier dating from 1954. It had been built at Hamburg, West Germany, that year and completed as Perikles on September 7, 1954. The 393-foot, one-inch-long freighter operated for 13 years under the German flag.
Perikles was sold to Ulysses Shipping Enterprises and registered in Greece as Ulysses Castle in 1967. It made its first trip through the Seaway in 1969 and then became Ithaki Castle in 1972. The latter returned to the Great Lakes, still under the Greek flag, for two visits in 1973.
Then, in 1974, the ship was resold and registered in Saudi Arabia as Mohamedia by Globe International Ltd. This vessel foundered in the Red Sea 39 years ago today. Leaks developed in the 21-year old hull while on a voyage with livestock from Djibouti to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. One member of the crew perished when the ship sank on February 24, 1975. While I am not aware of the total casualties among the 1,300 cattle, 118 camels and 700 sheep that were on board , I suspect that a significant number, if not all of the animals, were lost.
Updates - February 24
Today in Great Lakes History - February 24
The Pittsburgh Steamship Co.’s RICHARD V. LINDABURY (Hull#783) was launched February 24, 1923, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. Purchased by S & E Shipping (Kinsman) in 1978, renamed b.) KINSMAN INDEPENDENT. She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey in 1988.
The founder of Arnold Transit Co., long-time ferry operators between Mackinac Island and the mainland, George T. Arnold filed the Articles of Association on Feb. 24, 1900.
On 24 February 1920, TALLAC (formerly SIMON J. MURPHY and MELVILLE DOLLAR, steel propeller, 235 foot, built in 1895, at W. Bay City, Michigan) was on a voyage from Colon, Panama to Baltimore, Maryland, when she stranded and was wrecked 18 miles south of Cape Henry, Virginia.
1975: The MOHAMEDIA foundered in the Red Sea enroute from Djibouti to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with a cargo of livestock that included 1300 cattle, 700 sheep and 118 camels. One member of the crew was also lost. The vessel had been a Seaway trader as b) ULYSSES CASTLE in 1969 and c) ITHAKI CASTLE in 1973.
1976: FRAMPTONDYKE visited the Seaway in 1969. It sank following a collision with the ODIN in the English Channel enroute from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Cork, Ireland, as b) WITTERING. All on board were rescued.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Ice breaking efforts underway in Black River
2/23 - Port Huron, Mich. – Ice breaking efforts have begun in the Black River in Port Huron. Tugboats started in the mouth of the Black River and are working westward, according to a statement from the Port Huron Public Safety Department.
Public Safety Director Michael Reaves said the efforts are being made in an attempt to limit or minimize any flooding in the area.
"Ice formation on the river has historically caused significant issues for homeowners along the Black River banks," according to the statement. "Snow melt-off and spring rains (can) cause heavy water flows in the river which are restricted by ice dams caused by melting ice.
"The ice dams prevent water flow causing water/ice backups on the river which annually threatens waterfront residents and their property." Reaves said the ice breaking efforts will make it unsafe on the river for pedestrians and vehicle traffic.
The ice breaking could continue for the next few days dependent on progress and weather conditions.
Port Huron Times Herald
Lookback #98 – Lennox torpedoed and sunk on February 23, 1943
2/23 - For the second day in a row, the German submarine U-129 sank a Canadian ship engaged in the South American bauxite trade. The Lennox, also en route from Dutch Guiana to Port au Spain, Trinidad and Tobago with bauxite, was hit about 1 p.m. local time 71 years ago today. The difference this time is that the ship did not explode. There were 18 survivors and only two lives lost.
One member of the crew was killed by falling debris while the cook was never seen again. The U-boat came alongside the lifeboat and the commander provided them with a course to reach land. The 399 gross ton coastal tanker Athelrill found the survivors and took them to safety.
Lennox dated from 1923. It had been launched at Wallsend, England, as Glenlinnie on April 18, 1923. The vessel crossed the Atlantic for Great Lakes service for the Great Lakes Transportation Co. It joined the George Hall Coal Co. in March 1926 and then Canada Steamship Lines that October.
Renamed Lennox for the start of the 1927 season, the 261 foot long vessel operated through the old St. Lawrence Canals and Third Welland Canal of that era.
It was requisitioned for the Caribbean bauxite trade in 1940 and served effectively until lost. U-129 survived the war with a record of 29 ships sunk. It surrendered to the French in 1945.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 23
The e.) U.S.S. ROTARY (YO-148) was commissioned on February 23, 1943, at Sullivan's Dry Dock & Repair Co., Brooklyn, New York and assigned duty with the Service Force, Third Naval District, Atlantic Fleet. The tanker was built in 1915 at Chatham, England by Chatham Dock Yard Ltd. as a.) H.M.S. SERVITOR. Renamed b.) PULOE BRANI in 1922, brought to the Lakes and renamed c.) B.B. MC COLL in 1927, and d.) A.J. PATMORE in 1929. After her U.S. Naval Service ROTARY reverted to her previous name f.) A.J. PATMORE and then g.) PEGGY REINAUER in 1946. Renamed h.) DETROIT early in 1955, she traded on the lakes until 1975. Her partially dismantled hull was abandoned in 1985 in the backwaters of Lake Calumet.
On 23 February 1843, SANDUSKY (wooden side-wheeler, 148 foot, 377 tons, built in 1834, at Sandusky, Ohio) caught fire at her dock on Buffalo Creek in Buffalo, New York and burned to the hull. She was recovered, rebuilt as a 3-masted bark and lasted another two years.
1942: LENNOX was also a victim of the German submarine U-129. The Canada Steamship Lines bulk canaller was attacked southwest of Trinidad in P: 09.15 N / 58.30 W. This time there were two sailors lost but 18 survived as the ship did not explode. The torpedo struck on the starboard side and the U-boat Commander came alongside the lifeboat and gave course directions to reach land.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
Seaway Notice No. 1: Opening of the 2014 navigation season
2/22 - The opening of the 2014 navigation season is scheduled to take place on March 28 at 8 a.m. This includes the Montreal / Lake Ontario section as well as the Welland Canal.
Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.
The Soo Locks will open on March 25.
Allowable draft in the Montreal / Lake Ontario Section the draft will be 80.0 dm (26' 3") until the South Shore Canal is ice free or April 15th, whichever occurs first, at which time, if water levels are favorable, the draft will be increased to 80.8 dm (26' 6") for all vessels.
In addition, there will be zero tolerance for ship's draft in excess of 80.8 dm (26' 6"). Mariners are reminded that for ships loaded to a draft greater than 80.0 dm (26' 3"), speeds will be monitored carefully between St. Lambert Lock and St. Nicolas Island. In the Welland Canal, a maximum allowable draft of 80.8 dm (26' 6") will be in effect from the start of the navigation season for all vessels.
In addition, there will be zero tolerance for vessel drafts in excess of 80.8 dm (26' 6''). Please note that, for vessels loaded to a draft greater than 80.0 dm (26' 3"), speeds will be monitored carefully between the upper entrance to Lock 7 and former Bridge 12 in order to reduce bank erosion in this area.
Lookback #97 George L. Torian torpedoed in Caribbean on February 22, 1942
2/22 - While the canal-sized bulk carrier George L. Torian was built at the saltwater port of Hull, England, the ship was designed for Great Lakes trading through the old canals of that day. The small vessel came overseas for freshwater service in 1926 and was initially operated by the Eastern Steamship Co.
The 261-foot-long steamer usually carried grain and became part of the Upper Lakes & St. Lawrence Transportation Co. in 1936. It operated in their colors before being requisitioned in 1941 by the Federal Minister of Munition and Supply, on behalf of the British War Ministry, for a return to saltwater sailing.
George L. Torian headed to the Caribbean to load bauxite at inland river ports for delivery to the transshipment center at Trinidad and then north to the aluminum mills. The vessel had a full cargo and was en route from Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana, when it was torpedoed and sunk by U-129 off the coast of British Guiana seventy-two years ago today. This was one of seven ships sent to the bottom by that infamous German submarine prowling in the area over a two-week period.
Reports on the number of lives lost varies, but there was at least one and possibly four sailors who survived the February 22, 1942, attack.
Boatnerd and hockey fan Mike Nicholls in finals, needs your vote again
2/22 - Detroit, Mich. – In addition to being a regular contributor to the Boatnerd Photo Gallery, Diamond Jack’s River Tours’ Capt. Mike Nicholls is a hockey fan and needs your vote as one of the contest finalist.
Nicholls has been a Michigan hockey fan for over 40 years and a season-ticket holder since the 1995-96 season missing only one game on Jan. 17, 2004. He is most well known for his streak of attending 420 consecutive home and away games that began in 2005 and ended in 2013.
Nicholls has logged over 130,000 travel miles watching the Wolverines play and his travels now include six trips to Alaska, four trips to Omaha, Neb., two trips to Manchester, N.H., along with numerous other destinations. He has been honored by the hockey program for his dedication and received awards following his 100th game and 250th game, which included an on-ice presentation and plaque from the team. At the end of last season, Mike was voted Michigan Hockey's "Super Fan" by the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) during the Celebrate the Legacy Super Fan contest.
Now he’s in the final running to be the Ultimate Hockey Fan. Cast your vote for a fellow Boatnerd here: http://www.mgoblue.com/fanzone/ultimate-hockey-fan.html
Today in Great Lakes History - February 22
On 22 February 1920, the Goodrich Line’s ALABAMA (steel propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 272 foot, 2,626 gross tons, built in 1909, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) ran aground on a concrete obstruction which was the foundation of the old water-intake crib in Lake Michigan off Belmont Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The SIDNEY O. NEFF (wooden package freighter, 149 foot, 346 gross tons, built in 1890, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) took off the ALABAMA’s cargo and then harbor tugs pulled the ALABAMA free. Repairs to her hull took the rest of the winter and she didn’t return to service until May 1920.
February 22, 1925 - The ANN ARBOR NO 7 made her maiden voyage. On 22 February 1878, the 156 foot wooden freighter ROBERT HOLLAND was purchased by Beatty & Co. of Sarnia for $20,000.
1942: The Great Lakes canal-sized bulk carrier GEORGE L. TORIAN of the Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Co. had been requisitioned for saltwater service in the bauxite trade in 1941. The ship was torpedoed by U-129 off the coast of British Guiana in position 09.13 N / 59.04 W and sank quickly. Most of the crew were killed.
1945: H.M.C.S. TRENTONIAN was a Flower Class naval corvette that had been built by the Kingston Shipbuilding Company and completed at Kingston, Ontario, on December 1, 1943. It was torpedoed and sunk by U-1004 near Falmouth, England, and went down stern first. Six on board, one officer and 5 enlisted crew members, were lost.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
Port Reports - February 21
Coast Guard warns western Lake Erie communities of ice-breaking activity
2/21 - Detroit, Mich. – The Coast Guard is advising residents of southern Lake Erie islands including Catawba Island, Ohio, that the commercial tug Ohio is scheduled to break ice from South Bass Island to Catawba Island Tuesday morning.
This ice-breaking operation does not involve a Coast Guard icebreaker, nonetheless, the Coast Guard is advising residents and visitors that any ice in the area may be particularly unstable and dangerous.
The Ohio will depart Cleveland Monday at about 1 a.m. and head toward South Bass Island, transiting between Kelleys Island and Middle Island. The Ohio will later depart from Put-in-Bay in South Bass Island and head toward Catawba Island at about 10 a.m. with a barge in tow. The vessel will transit around the eastern portion of South Bass Island toward the Miller's Ferry Dock on Catawba Island following the Miller Boat Ferry Route. The vessels plan to remain in Catawba Island for 2 hours loading construction supplies. After loading, the vessels are expected to depart Catawba Island at about 1 p.m. In case of a delay loading at Catawba Island, the Ohio may depart Wednesday morning.
All transit times and locations are subject to change based on weather conditions.
Seaway Saltie News
2/21 - The following saltwater vessels have been renamed. Each made at least one visit to the Great Lakes-Seaway system in their careers. The list includes the one-time French registered passenger and cruise ship Le Levant. She last toured inland in the early 2000s and now sails as Tera Moana from the Bahamas. Alam Senang of Malaysia, which had many names in its career, has been renamed as Ismail Deeb of Belize registry. She first came inland in 1984 with the name Golden Alliance from 1984-88, and returned as Atlantic from 1988-93, and as Alam Senang from 1993-2012. Alam Sempurna, also of Malaysia, has had many names as well. She now sails as Uni Brothers of Panama. This vessel first came inland in 1984 with the name Saint Laurent from 1984-91 and as Alam Sempurna from 1991-2009. She was renamed Atlantic Cozumel from 2009-12, but never came inland with that name. Atlantic Steamer, which made only one visit under that name in 2012, has been renamed S Kuznetsov of Russia. She is better known as the BBC Spain, which first visited in 2003. Egbert Wagenborg, which last visited in 2011, has been renamed Kunahir of Russia.
Lookback #96 – Former Cleveland abandoned by crew on February 21, 1979
2/21 - The French freighter Cleveland, of Cie Generale Transatlantique, was especially designed for trading through the newly opened St. Lawrence Seaway. The 450-foot-long general cargo carrier was equipped with some refrigerated cargo space and completed in July 1960.
It began visiting the Great Lakes in 1961 making four trips inland that year and a total of 16 transits to the end of 1965. Cleveland could carry 7,500 tons of cargo, was ice strengthened and equipped for transporting up to 12 passengers.
Cleveland loaded at French, German and Belgian ports for the Great Lakes and, during the winter months, traded to Caribbean destinations.
The ship was sold in 1977, becoming Despina H. under the flag of Greece that year and then Despina U. under Liberian registry in 1978. It resumed sailing as Despina H., Greek flag, again in 1979 but not for long. The ship was carrying sugar from Cuba to Syria when it began to leak 35 years ago today. The crew abandoned ship about 900 miles southeast of Bermuda and their vessel is reported to have sunk two days later on February 23.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 21
EDWIN H. GOTT arrived at Two Harbors, Minnesota, (her first trip) February 21, 1979, with the loss of one of her two rudders during her transit of Lake Superior. The other rudder post was also damaged. She was holed in her bow and some of her cargo hold plating ruptured as a result of frozen ballast tanks. Even the icebreaker MACKINAW suffered damage to her port propeller shaft on the trip across frozen Lake Superior.
At Port Weller Drydocks Ltd., the keel of the new bow section for HILDA MARJANNE was laid on February 21, 1961, while at the same time the tanker hull forward of her engine room bulkhead was being cut away.
On 21 February 1929, SAPPHO (wooden propeller passenger ferry, 107 foot, 224 gross tons, built in 1883, at Wyandotte, Michigan) burned at her winter lay-up dock in Ecorse, Michigan. She had provided 46 years of service ferrying passengers across the Detroit River. She was neither repaired nor replaced since the Ambassador Bridge was nearing completion.
Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
Port Reports - February 20
St. Clair River - Kevin Majewski
Great Lakes water levels: How much will snow raise Lake Michigan and Lake Huron?
2/20 - Ann Arbor, Mich. There is obviously a lot of snow on the ground in Michigan. How much will all the snow raise Lake Michigan and Lake Huron when it melts? We asked the geography department at Northern Illinois University to help with some math.
Wei Luo, Ph.D., Presidential Research Professor at NIU, imported data into a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program. Luo found that the drainage basin of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron hold an average of 5.5 inches of water. So we took the area of Lake Michigan-Huron and put that amount of water on top of the lake surface. The 5.5 inches of water on the drainage basin equals 11.1 inches of water on the lake. In other words, if all of the snow melted and made it into Lake Michigan-Huron, the lake level would rise 11.1 inches.
Drew Gronewold, Ph.D., Physical Scientist at NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, says the assumption that all of the snow will make it into the lakes is incorrect. He says that the snow cover could also evaporate, sublimate and even go into the deeper ground water. Gronewold says a rule of thumb would be that 30 percent of the snowmelt would make it into the lakes. He does say that there are a lot of reasons to believe in a significant rise in lake levels of lakes Michigan-Huron this spring and summer. Aside from the snow melting and running off into the lakes, the colder water now could mean lower evaporation this summer.
GLERL runs a computer model that attempts to predict lake levels. The research computer model currently predicts a rise of nearly 17 inches on Lake Michigan-Huron from the current level. This level would be reached in July or August.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, issues the official lake level forecast. Jim Lewis, hydraulic engineer at the Corps, says the most current forecast calls for Lake Michigan-Huron to rise 13.5 inches from its current level. Lewis says that means Lake Michigan-Huron will make gains on approaching its long-term average. When the lake level tops out this summer, Lake Michigan-Huron is projected to be only 11 inches below the long-term average. Last year the lakes topped out 14 inches below long-term average.
At the forecast peak level this coming summer, Lake Michigan-Huron will be eight inches higher than last summer.
Lewis also says Lake Michigan-Huron has risen 15 inches since the low water mark in January 2013. To put it in perspective, that is an additional 12 trillion gallons in lakes Michigan-Huron.
The current lake level forecast uses the Climate Prediction Center's summer forecast, and assumes near normal precipitation in the spring and summer. If we should get into heavy rainfall like last spring, the lake levels would be higher than currently predicted.
A new lake level forecast will be issued by the Army Corps of Engineers in March. But it is safe to assume there will be more water to swim in this year. It just may be that the water may be a little too cold to stay in long.
Great Lakes nearing 80 percent ice cover
2/20 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Superior are now almost totally covered with ice.
Monday marked the 22nd straight day of subzero temperatures recorded by the Duluth National Weather Service (NWS), tying a 50-year-old record. NWS representative Steve Gohde expected Tuesday morning would break that record. “We expect temperatures across the Northland to be in the teens below zero,” Gohde said.
In all, the Duluth-Superior area has had 55 days of subzero temperatures so far this winter, with packed ice over 78 percent of the Great Lakes, when the norm is 55 percent. Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory scientist George Leshkevich said that's an impressive amount, since there's still another month of ice-making weather ahead. The record is 95-percent cover in 1979.
“It's fluctuated pretty wildly... in the past few years,” Leshkevich said. “I wouldn't want to say we're going to have less ice cover or more ice cover. It's something that's hard to predict.”
All that adds up to thick ice around Sault St. Marie, Michigan: ice cutting territory where ships connect with Lakes Superior and Michigan. Coast Guard vessel traffic manager Mark Dobson says it will make for a tough break-out when shipping traffic resumes March 25.
“You know, you can only do so much with an icebreaker. They're not magic little ships that melt the ice and spread fairy dust everywhere and it all goes away, you know? Two feet is two feet, and it's two knots or five knots,” Dobson said. “It depends on the thickness and everything else. We don't have magic hairdryers that can make it soft and go away.”
Lake Michigan has 62 percent ice cover while Lake Ontario has 18 percent ice.
Hands-free mooring elbows into Niagara
2/20 - St. Catharines, Ont. – The Seaway sees hands-free mooring as key to its financial health. But a union representing workers affected by the technology, fears for dozens of potential lost jobs. One lock has been completed in Montreal, with preparations under way to bring three more into a modernization program.
Among those is Lock 3 in St. Catharines, Ont., with that hands-free system operational by the close of the navigation season. Andrew Bogora, spokesman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., said the plan is to equip each high-lift lock in the Seaway with three double-pad mooring units.
That would mean fitting Locks 1 to 7 in the Welland Canal over the next five years.
Bogora said the Seaway is running an operating deficit and has been told by the federal government to cover its own costs. He said modernization, including hands-free mooring, will help it become "financially self-sufficient on a operating basis."
That hands-free system secures a vessel during a lock transit without lines tied to a bollard, by using vacuum pads mounted to a rail fixed within the lock wall. As the water level in the lock is raised or lowered, the pads move with the ship, up or down the track on the wall, and keep the ship secured.
Gerry Stull, chairperson of Unifor Local 4212 said his union "has concerns about how (hands-free mooring) could affect our members. Potentially, it could reduce the amount of workers on the Seaway." The local represents about 200 Seaway maintenance and clerical staff in Niagara and Cornwall.
Stull otherwise declined to comment on other hands-free mooring issues given the sensitivity of collective bargaining discussions with the Seaway.
Bogora confirmed that jobs will be phased out as the new system becomes operational. The Seaway has about 585 full-time positions, with 74 to be eliminated over the next four to five years due to modernizations that include hands-free mooring.
He said phase-outs will happen gradually, with "a significant potential for these positions to be dealt with through attrition." Bogora said that's especially true in Niagara, as many employees will become eligible for retirement over that time.
He adds the project will also improve access to the Seaway for ocean vessels that don't regularly come into the system, as they may have to be otherwise refitted. Bogora said with hands-free mooring, those vessels should not have to be refitted to the same extent.
Meanwhile, the Seaway's Jean Aubry-Morin said the new system will actually boost safety along its ship-handling waterways. Aubry-Morin, the SLSMC's vice-president of external relations said a thorough risk assessment has been done on the hands-free system. He said it actually reduces overall risks when compared to traditional mooring with cables.
"The steel cables used for mooring … are not present in the new process," he said. Aubry-Morin said it also eliminates the potential of cable breaks, "which are very dangerous for employees." Hands-free systems are also more reliable at securing vessels, he said.
St. Catharines Standard
Norgoma to survive another year?
2/20 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – The Norgoma may yet survive as a museum ship on the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront for another year. At its regular meeting Tuesday, City Council, in the first of two recorded votes, rejected by a count of 6-4 a City staff recommendation to end ongoing City financial support for the vessel and pursue an "exit strategy" whereby the Norgoma's surrounding marina docks would be temporarily removed, the basin surrounding its stern dredged, and the vessel itself taken to a ship breaking yard.
That exit strategy would have cost the City between $200,000 to $300,000.
Voting to reject City staff's recommendation were Acting Mayor Terry Sheehan and Councillors Lou Turco, Steve Butland, Susan Myers, Brian Watkins and Pat Mick. Voting to accept the recommendation were Councillors Marchy Bruni, Joe Krmpotich, Rick Niro and Frank Fata. Mayor Debbie Amaroso, along with Councillors Paul Christian and Frank Manzo, were absent.
In a second recorded vote, the same Council members voted 6-4 in favour of a new resolution that called for funding for the Norgoma for a further year to be included in 2014 City Budget deliberations.
The resolution stated that 2013 saw an increase in visitor numbers to the Norgoma and that more time is needed to build and enhance a Cultural Corridor partnership (consisting of various historical tourist attractions) along the Sault's waterfront.
A request for continued funding was made to Council in a presentation by Norgoma Board member Jim Waycik (with added support from Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre Executive Director Mike Delfre).
Norgoma Board President Louis Muio, in a letter to Council dated February 18, stated that excellent progress in the development of the ship has been made over the past six years with City support, and that in 2013 there was a large increase in attendance, and much more use of the ship for public events.
The Norgoma originally served as a passenger ferry throughout the 1950s to the early 1970s along the north shore of Lake Huron, connecting various communities in the area with Sault Ste. Marie.
The St. Mary's River Marine Heritage Centre (SMRMHC), the group which now operates the Norgoma as a museum ship, has attempted throughout the years to make the vessel into a profitable tourist attraction, with the help of ongoing City funding.
Though historic in nature, the ship has been a financially challenged tourist attraction on the Sault Ste. Marie riverfront for decades. The City had a five-year agreement in place with the St. Marys River Marine Heritage Centre beginning in 2007 whereby the Norgoma would receive $15,000 in City funding annually for five years, with the understanding the Norgoma would not be subsidized by the City beyond 2012. However, in 2013, the City gave $15,000 in funding to the Norgoma for the 2013 season only, with the intention of deciding on any future City funding moving forward.
On Tuesday, Waycik said that in return for continued financial support from the City, the Norgoma provides summer employment for students, an historic link to Northern Ontario's past, a visible presence on the St. Marys River, and a component of the Cultural Corridor that runs from the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre to the Parks Canada site.
Ward Two City Councillor Susan Myers pleaded with Council not to "pull the plug" on the Norgoma. Ward Three City Councillor Pat Mick said the cost of City support for the Norgoma was preferable in comparison to the costly exit strategy recommended by City staff. Other Councillors, such as Ward Four's Rick Niro and Ward Five's Marchy Bruni, felt that ongoing use of City funds for supporting the Norgoma had to come to an end.
Lookback #95 – King caught fire during winter work at Buffalo on February 20, 1940
2/20 - The package freight carrier King was moored at Buffalo for the winter of 1939-1941 when a fire broke out during the installation of insulation to provide additional refrigerated cargo space. Several firemen were overcome by the smoky blaze, but damage to the ship was negligible.
King was built at Cleveland as Lake Faristell in 1919. The 261-foot-long freighter was constructed for war duty but peace had been won by the time that the ship had been completed. It departed for coastal service before returning inland for the Minnesota-Atlantic Transit Co.
Renamed King in 1925, the ship was part of the “Poker Fleet” that included the Ace, Queen, Jack, Ten, and Nine. Primary service was between Duluth and Port Huron but later this was expanded to Detroit and Buffalo.
After joining the Great Lakes Transit Co. in 1942, King was requisitioned by the United States Maritime Commission and returned to the Atlantic. It survived the war and became Milena, Panamanian flag, in 1947 and Evgenia, same registry, in 1948.
The vessel stranded off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on September 7, 1953, and became a total loss. The hull was salvaged, taken to Baltimore, Maryland, and dismantled in 1954.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 20
On February 20, 1959, Interlake Steamship Co.’s HERBERT C. JACKSON (Hull#302) was launched at Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge, Michigan.
The Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker DES GROSEILLIERS (Hull#68) was launched February 20, 1982, at St. Catharines, Ontario by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd.
On 20 February 1903, the straight-deck steamer G. WATSON FRENCH (steel propeller, 376 foot, 3,785 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co. (Hull#608). She lasted until 1964, when she was scrapped by Lakehead Scrap Metal Co. at Fort William, Ontario. The other names she had during her career were b.) HENRY P. WERNER in 1924, c.) JOHN J. BOLAND in 1937, and d.) ALGOWAY in 1947.
1940: A fire broke out in the cargo hold of the package freighter KING at Buffalo when insulation, being installed for refrigeration purposes, ignited. Several firemen were overcome by the smoke, but damage to the ship was negligible.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Port Reports - February 19
Cleveland, Ohio - P. Gauche
Coast Guard medevacs injured man aboard R/V Sikuliaq
2/19 - Marinette, Wis. – A man injured aboard a ship undergoing sea trials near Marinette was taken to shore on Monday by crews from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay.
The crew of the Mobile Bay was alerted to the injury around 8:45 a.m. on the Sikuliaq, a 254-foot U.S.-flagged research vessel. The cutter was escorting the vessel at the time of the incident.
The ship was about 200 yards from shore and the Mobile Bay broke ice around the Sikuliaq and launched a small boat to get the man and take him to shore. Sikuliaq, built at Marinette Marine Corp., is undergoing testing on Green Bay.
The patient was taken to Bay Area Medical Facility in Marinette with an ankle injury, the Coast Guard said. His name was not released.
Green Bay Press Gazette
Great Lakes become nearly covered with ice
2/19 - Cheboygan, Mich. – From the bridge of the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, northern Lake Huron looks like a vast, snow-covered field dotted with ice slabs as big as boulders, a battleground for the icebreaker's 58-member crew during one of the roughest winters in memory.
It's been so bitterly cold for so long in the Upper Midwest that the Great Lakes are almost completely covered with ice. The last time they came this close was in 1994, when 94 percent of the lakes' surface was frozen.
As of Friday, ice cover extended across 88 percent, according to the federal government's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.
Sections of the lakes, which hold nearly one-fifth of the freshwater on the world's surface, harden almost every winter. That freezing keeps the Coast Guard's fleet of nine icebreakers busy clearing paths for vessels hauling essential cargo such as heating oil, salt and coal. But over the past four decades, the average ice cover has receded 70 percent, scientists say, probably in part because of climate change.
Still, as this season shows, short-term weather patterns can trump multi-year trends. Winter arrived early and with a vengeance and refuses to loosen its grip.
"That arctic vortex came down, and the ice just kept going," said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist with the federal lab.
The deep freeze is more than a novelty. By limiting evaporation, it may help replenish lake water levels – a process that began last year after a record-breaking slump dating to the late 1990s. Also getting relief are cities along the lakes that have been pummeled with lake-effect snow, which happens when cold air masses suck up moisture from open waters and dump it over land.
Buffalo, N.Y., got nearly 43 inches of snow in January, but this month just 13 inches have fallen, a decline resulting largely from the freeze-over of Lake Erie even though Lake Ontario has remained largely open, said forecaster Jon Hitchcock of the National Weather Service. Heavy ice can also protect fish eggs from predators, and it has delighted photographers, ice anglers and daredevil snowmobilers.
At Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, the rock-solid cover has allowed around 35,000 visitors to trudge miles over Lake Superior to explore caves featuring dazzling ice formations. It's the first time in five years the lake surface has been firm enough to allow passage.
With no letup in the cold, the ice hasn't experienced the usual thaw-and-freeze cycle, so nature's artistry is even more delicate and beautiful, with needle-like hoarfrost crystals sprinkled across sheets that dangle from cave ceilings like giant chandeliers.
"Seeing them like this is almost a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Superintendent Bob Krumenaker said.
There's even an (apparently) tongue-in-cheek Facebook page inviting people to join a convoy of snowmobiles, cars and other vehicles on a nearly 80-mile trek across Lake Michigan. Never mind that its waters remain partly open and experts warn the ice can be dangerously unstable.
For Coast Guard icebreaker teams, it's all business. They've logged four times more hours this season than the average for the same period in recent years, said Kyle Niemi, spokesman for the agency's Cleveland district headquarters.
The 240-foot Mackinaw began its duties Dec. 16 – several weeks earlier than usual – and worked nonstop until Feb. 8, when traffic slowed enough to allow a break.
"As you can imagine, the crew's tired," Cmdr. Michael Davanzo said this week during a tour of the ship in its homeport of Cheboygan.
A 35-year Coast Guard veteran who has spent 12 years on the lakes, Davanzo said this winter is the toughest he's experienced because the ice came so soon and is so thick and widespread, and the weather has been constantly bitter.
The Mackinaw, commissioned in 2006 to replace an older vessel with the same name, is designed specifically for duty on the Great Lakes. It's propelled by two Azipod thrusters that can spin 360 degrees and fire jets of water at adjacent ice, weakening it. Sometimes the crew will drive the ship's bow onto an ice sheet to crack it with sheer weight. Or they'll go backward, chopping up ice with the propeller blades.
When the going gets tough, there's the battering-ram option – hurling the reinforced hull directly against walls of ice that can be several feet thick.
The workload typically drops sharply after navigational locks on the St. Marys River, the link between lakes Superior and Huron, close in mid-January and most large cargo haulers dock for winter. But the ice was so thick this year that a number of freighters were still struggling to complete final deliveries days later. Even now, demand for road salt and heating oil in the Midwest is keeping some icebreakers busy.
One day last month, the Mackinaw spent 16 grueling hours helping a freighter squeeze through a narrow 3.5-mile section of the St. Marys. As the Mackinaw attacks the ice, the engines roar and the ship vibrates. The noise and motion are "like living in an earthquake 16 hours a day," Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Alderman said.
Davanzo hopes for rain and warmer temperatures that would melt some ice before the locks reopen in late March, when the Mackinaw will venture onto Lake Superior and clear paths for iron ore and coal haulers.
"But if the weather stays like this," he said, "we could be breaking ice all the way to the middle of May."
Despite the inconvenience, there's a silver lining for shippers. Since the low-water period began in late 1990s, they've been forced to carry lighter loads to avoid scraping bottom in shallow channels and harbors. Heavy snow and rain in 2013 finally raised water levels.
Ice cover blocks evaporation, the leading cause of low water. It also will keep the lakes cooler for a longer time this year, delaying the onset of heavy evaporation season, scientist John Lenters reported in a paper last month, although the benefit is partially offset by stepped-up evaporation shortly before the ice forms.
In Lake Superior, snowbound Isle Royale National Park is home to a dwindling and inbred wolf population that is usually trapped on the island. Biologists hope a newcomer or two will venture to the park now that the lake is almost entirely frozen over. The park's first wolves are believed to have crossed an ice bridge from Canada, 15 miles away, in the late 1940s.
There's also a chance that one or more of the island's wolves could grab the rare opportunity to escape.
"They are inveterate travelers," veteran wolf expert Rolf Peterson said. "And they don't need a reason that would make sense to us."
Cliffs is bullish on US iron ore, steel production
2/19 - Duluth, Minn. – Officials at Cliffs Natural Resources last week gave a recap of their 2013 business and a look-ahead to 2014, when the mining company expects increased demand for iron ore with a growing U.S. economy.
In its quarterly report and conference call with industry analysts, Cliffs officials said they expect “accelerating economic growth in the United States to support domestic steel production and thus demand for steelmaking raw materials” such as taconite.
For 2014, Cliffs is maintaining its full-year sales and production volume expectation of 22 million to 23 million tons from its U.S. iron ore business, up from about 21 million tons in 2013. Much of that increase will come from a return to full production at Northshore Mining in Silver Bay.
The company said it is producing taconite pellets for about $70 per ton at its U.S. operations and selling them for about $110 per ton. The company said it expects to see overseas sales of iron ore to average about $128 per ton and that it expects demand from China to remain strong.
Cliffs is one of Minnesota’s major taconite iron ore producers. It owns and operates Northshore Mining in Silver Bay and Babbitt and United Taconite in Eveleth and Forbes. It also is co-owner and operator of Hibbing Taconite and owns and operates the Tilden/Empire taconite operation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
On Oct. 13, Cliffs reported fourth-quarter and full-year results for 2013, including a 3 percent decrease in revenue from 2012, although the company said the year ended with a solid fourth quarter. Cliffs reported full-year revenues of $5.7 billion, down $181 million, saying results were “driven by slightly lower global iron ore sales volumes and significantly lower market pricing for metallurgical coal products.”
For the full year, Cliffs recorded net income attributable to Cliffs’ shareholders of $414 million, or $2.37 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $899 million, or $6.32 per diluted share, in 2012.
The company also announced last week that Gary B. Halverson, 55, formerly president and chief operating officer, has been appointed as president and CEA, effective immediately. He also serves as a director on Cliffs’ board of directors. Halvorson said the company is working to cut costs and increase shareholder value.
Company officials, who have come under fire in recent months by a vocal investor group to cut costs and raise dividends, on Friday issued an open letter to its shareholders that they were working hard to accomplish those goals but would not react to all of the demands made by Casablanca, the New York-based hedge fund that now owns about 10 percent of Cliffs’ shares.
Company officials said they are working to become a “leaner and more efficient’’ company but that Casablanca is urging too many changes, such as selling off foreign assets, too fast.
Earlier this month the company announced it was closing its Wabush iron ore mine and processing operations in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s third largest iron ore operation, because of high operating costs. The company also said it was indefinitely suspending its efforts to develop a chromite mine in Canada and cutting in half new spending on expanding its Bloom Lake iron ore mine in Quebec.
Duluth News Tribune
Welland Canal's Inn at Lock 7 sold
2/19 - Thorold, Ont. – The Inn at Lock 7, familiar to boatwatchers and a favorite place to stay for many, has been sold. The sale was confirmed in an e-mail from owners Patty Szoldra and Ed Kuiper.
"Last July we decided to put the Inn up for sale thinking it would be a couple of years before we sold it, according to our real estate agent. Well we closed a deal in the first week of January and the new proprietors are eager to move in so we turn the land, building and business over to them February 19, 2014," they wrote.
The Inn overlooks Lock 7 of the Welland Canal. It provides a spectacular view of vessels as they climb the Welland Flight Locks.
Characterizing the new owners as boatnerd-friendly, the e-mail continued by saying "The new proprietors are wonderful people and they would like to carry on in the way we ran the business. We are in contact with them regularly and will help them get things ready for their opening on March 14.
"They will be keeping the same rates for 2014. Any reservations that were made for 2014 are in the reservation book and will be honored by them 100 percent."
Szoldra and Kuiper plan on moving to Stoney Creek, which is 25 minutes away from the Inn. "We have taken pride in our business over the past 16 years and we will miss seeing our guests, many which have become great friends," Szoldra and Kuiper added.
"Thank you all for making our business a successful one and please welcome the new proprietors in their endeavor."
Lookback #94 – The Bulgarian freighter Vihren driven on breakwall on February 19, 1992
2/19 - The Bulgarian built and Bulgarian owned bulk carrier Vihren was two years old when it entered the Seaway, bound for Thunder Bay, on October 9, 1983. The 605-foot, 8-inch-long freighter was diesel powered and able to carry 24,150 tons of cargo at deep sea draft.
Vihren returned to the Great Lakes on subsequent occasions until becoming a total loss twenty-two years ago today. The vessel got caught in a storm on the Black Sea and was driven into the breakwater at Tuapse, USSR. The storm continued and the helpless hull was broken in two becoming a total loss.
The two pieces were eventually salvaged and sold to Turkish shipbreakers. The stern section arrived at Aliaga, on August 20, 1992, and the bow was pulled into that port a few days later for dismantling.
Updates - February 19
Today in Great Lakes History - February 19
The b.) TROY H. BROWNING, c.) THOMAS F. PATTON was towed from the James River with two other C4s, LOUIS MC HENRY HOWE, b.) TOM M. GIRDLER and MOUNT MANSFIELD, b.) CHARLES M. WHITE, to the Maryland Dry Dock Co., Baltimore, Maryland, February 1951, to be converted to a Great Lakes bulk carrier according to plans designed by J.J. Henry & Co., New York, New York.
Wolf & Davidson of Milwaukee sold the JIM SHERIFFS (wooden propeller, 182 foot, 634 gross tons, built in 1883, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) to Kelley Island Line on 19 February 1887.
1981: The Indian freighter JYOTI VINOD, a Seaway caller as a) JALAZAD beginning in 1969, departed Bombay with a cargo of jute, general freight and school buses. The nightmare voyage, which proved to be its last, did not reach Tema, Ghana, until December 23, 1981
1992: VIHREN, a Bulgarian built and flagged bulk carrier, was driven on the breakwall at Tuapse, USSR, in severe weather. The vessel later broke in two. The ship first came inland in 1983, headed for Thunder Bay. The two sections of the hull were refloated and each arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for dismantling in August 1992.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Sikuliaq heads to Lake Michigan for Sea trials
2/18 - Marinette Marine Corp. has a vessel out on sea trials in Lake Michigan. The University of Alaska research vessel Sikuliaq is on acceptance trials in the lake between Traverse City and Ludington. They are docking in Ludington each evening.
Deep freeze pushes Great Lakes ice cover to 88 percent, close to 1979 record
2/18 - If this winter needed a theme song, it might be “Ice Ice Baby.” The Great Lakes are on the cusp of a record for ice cover.
“In the last one to two weeks, we’ve seen rapid accumulations on Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan,” said Jeff Andresen, an associate professor in Michigan State University’s geography department who also is the state climatologist.
The ice cover on the lakes increased from 79.7 percent to 88.4 percent just in the last week, putting the region close to the record of almost 95 percent set in February 1979, according to data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.
The extensive ice cover has had some interesting and positive effects, like shutting off lake-effect snow, making it sunnier in parts of northern and western Michigan and limiting evaporation, which could help boost lake levels. And the ice cover, Andresen said, could help delay the spring warm-up – good news for farmers as it helps keep certain crops, like fruit trees, dormant longer and less susceptible to freezing early in the growing season.
Andresen said that the winter of 2013-14 also is shaping up to be one of the five coldest in Michigan in recorded history, although its still early to say for certain.
“We haven’t seen many winters like this that are cold from beginning to end,” he said, “noting that this is the fourth consecutive month that is colder than normal. It has been an extraordinary winter, and the ice cover is a manifestation of that unusually cold winter.”
He cautioned that temperatures forecast in the 40s next week could hurt the chances to break a record for ice cover. “Given the warmer weather next week, it may not be in the cards, but it’s way, way above normal,” Andresen said.
Still, he cautioned not to put the snow blower away just yet because some forecasts predict that extremely cold weather could return later in the season.
George Lessens, chief meteorologist at WZZM-TV (Channel 13) in Grand Rapids, agreed that the ice cover on the Great Lakes is substantial, but he doubts the region will hit a record.
“We could see the lakes getting close to that record if we had another week to 10 days (of below-freezing temperatures), but were going to go into the 40s next week. That’s really going to put the brakes on it,” he said.
If the lakes fail to beat the record, we can blame Lake Ontario. “Lake Ontario is still quite a bit uncovered. They’re holding everyone back,” Lessens said.
Lake Ontario’s depth and the churning caused by Niagara Falls mean that it needs long stretches of exceptionally cold weather to freeze. It had ice cover of just over 40% Thursday. Other lakes are almost completely covered: Superior, 93.6 percent; Huron, 95 percent, and Erie, 95.7 percent. Michigan was at 81 percent.
The extensive lake ice provided a backdrop for U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, on Thursday as she traveled aboard the U.S. Coast Guard’s 225-foot icebreaker, the Hollyhock, from Port Huron.
“I was interested to see up close the vast amount of ice blanketing Lake Huron and extremely impressed with the skill, dedication and persistence demonstrated by the crew of the Hollyhock as they cut through the ice,” Miller said in a news release.
Seaway saltie news
2/18 - The following saltwater vessels have been renamed. Each made at least one visit to the Great Lakes/Seaway system in its career. Turid Knutsen, a Norwegian tanker and long-time visitor, is now the Princess Oge of Liberia. She last visited during the 2009 season. Ziemia Gornoslaska, a former Polsteam vessel and long-time visitor, is now the Kanuni from the Cook Islands. Ziemia Gornoslaska was her name from 1990-91, although it wasn't until 2003 that she first came inland with that name. Prior to that, she also visited as Lake Charles from 1991-2003. Two former Bahamas-flagged tankers have been renamed. Clipper Kristin, which first visited in 2006, is now the Harbour Kristin of Bahamas, while Clipper Karen, which last visited in 2007, is now the Fortune Kristin of South Korea. Sammi Aurora, which last visited in 1998 under the South Korean flag, has been scrapped. Her previous name was Maritime Alliance from 1978-83. Federal Power, a former Fednav vessel which last visited in 2012, is now the Atlantic Power of Cyprus. This was also her original name, carried from 2000-2001.
Port Huron getting downtown kayak, canoe launch
2/18 - Port Huron, Mich. – A new kayak and canoe launch ramp for use by paddlers on the Black River is planned for Port Huron as officials work to boost the city’s downtown. The Community Foundation of St. Clair County decided last week to give the city a $30,000 grant to build the ramp just east of the Seventh Street Bridge, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported. It’s expected to be ready by early May.
“I think kayaking is becoming more and more popular, and there’s really nowhere to get out in Port Huron,” said Port Huron Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Winzer. “Just having it right there, accessible by the downtown businesses, is just amazing.”
St. Clair County Parks and Recreation plans to supply about $30,000 to buy and install a floating dock for canoes and kayaks at the bottom of the ramp. The ramp is expected to meet the accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The city has approached a business to offer canoes and kayaks for rent. The ramp and dock will be the third ADA-accessible ones on the Black River.
Last year, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the area’s Island Loop as a national water trail. The Island Loop is a 10-mile kayak and canoe route from the Black River to the Black River canal to Lake Huron to the St. Clair River, and then back into the Black River.
Lookback #93 – A fire aboard Richelieu killed three at Thunder Bay on February 18, 1983
2/18 - In the days of the wooden steamers, fire was a regular threat while navigating the lakes. While a blaze may still break out while in service, it appears that most of the recent ship fires have occurred during maintenance work while at the dock.
Thirty-one years ago today, three workers died in the bow section of the Canada Steamship Lines’ bulk carrier Richelieu at the Port Arthur shipyard in Thunder Bay. The men were trapped by the blaze during a welding operation and could not escape before they were overcome.
The vessel, once the flagship of C.S.L., was built at Lauzon, Quebec, in 1967. It was well-known around the Great Lakes, down the St. Lawrence and usually had a long season.
Richelieu was first ship of the year up bound in the Seaway on March 25, 1975, again on March 25, 1981, and the last up bound trader for the year on December 22, 1992. The vessel was idle the next year except for a single trip, under tow from Thunder Bay to Windsor with a part load of canola, in November 1993.
The 730-foot-long bulk carrier joined the Algoma Central Corp. as Algocape (ii) in 1994 and operated to the end of the 2011 season. Under this name, it managed one more Seaway opening on April 2, 1997, and another through the Welland Canal on March 31, 2003.
Following a sale to shipbreakers in Turkey, the name was shortened to Goc for the tow Aliaga for dismantling in 2012. The ship was beached there on August 22, and scrapping got underway in mid-September.
Port Reports - February 18
Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Andy Deegan
Today in Great Lakes History - February 18
IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR participated in an historic special convoy with DOAN TRANSPORT, which carried caustic soda, led by C.C.G.S. GRIFFON arriving at Thunder Bay, Ontario on February 18, 1977. The journey took one week from Sarnia, Ontario through Lake Superior ice as much as six feet thick, and at one point it took four days to travel 60 miles. The trip was initiated to supply residents of the Canadian lakehead with 86,000 barrels of heating oil the reserves of which were becoming depleted due to severe weather that winter.
The b.) JOSEPH S. YOUNG, a.) ARCHERS HOPE, was towed to the Great Lakes via the Mississippi River and arrived at the Manitowoc Ship Building Co., Manitowoc, Wisconsin on February 18, 1957, where her self unloading equipment was installed. This was the last large vessel to enter the Lakes via the Mississippi. She was the first of seven T-2 tanker conversions for Great Lakes service. Renamed c.) H. LEE WHITE in 1969, and d.) SHARON in 1974. SHARON was scrapped at Brownsville, Texas in 1986.
The Murphy fleet was sold on 18 February 1886. The tugs GLADIATOR, KATE WILLIAMS and BALIZE went to Captain Maytham, the tug WILLIAM A. MOORE to Mr. Grummond, the schooner GERRIT SMITH to Captain John E. Winn, and the tug ANDREW J. SMITH to Mr. Preston Brady.
1980: PANAGIS K. arrived at Alexandria, Egypt, on this date and was soon placed under arrest. The ship was idle and in a collision there with NORTH WAVE on January 23, 1981. The hull was abandoned aground, vandalized and, on October 12, 1985, auctioned off for scrap. The ship first traded through the Seaway in 1960 as a) MANCHESTER FAME and returned as b) CAIRNGLEN in 1965, again as c) MANCHESTER FAME in 1967 and as d) ILKON NIKI in 1972.
1983: A fire in the bow area during winter work aboard the Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier RICHELIEU (ii) at Thunder Bay resulted in the death of three shipyard workers.
2010: The sailing ship CONCORDIA visited the Great Lakes in 2001 and participated in the Tall Ships Festival at Bay City, MI. It sank in the Atlantic about 300 miles off Rio de Janeiro after being caught in a severe squall. All 64 on board were rescued from life rafts after a harrowing ordeal.
2010: The tug ADANAC (Canada spelled backwards) sank at the Essar Steel dock at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. It was refloated the next day.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
Port Reports – February 17
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian Wroblewski
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Wendell Wilke
Body of Sault Michigan woman found below International Bridge
2/17 – Sault St. Marie, Mich. - According to Northern Michigan news outlets, a Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, woman was found dead on the ice below the International Bridge Friday.
Officials reportedly discovered Theresa May Ranger's vehicle parked on the bridge shortly after 1:30 a.m. Footprints from the abandoned vehicle lead to the bridge railing, and Ranger's body was discovered on the ice in the second lock.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Police Department reports that foul play is not suspected.
Coast Guard rescues snowmobiler who fell through ice
2/17 – Cleveland, Ohio - The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a snowmobiler who fell through the ice Saturday night on the Saginaw River in the vicinity of the Channel Islands in the Saginaw Bay. The name of the rescued individual is not being released.
At 9:15 p.m., a watchstander at Coast Guard Station Saginaw River, in Essexville, Mich., was patched into a phone call between the Bay City emergency dispatch and a man reporting that his friend fell through the ice on his snowmobile.
The watchstander issued an urgent marine information broadcast and also directed the launch of an ice rescue team aboard a 20-foot airboat. The ice rescue team arrived on scene at 9:32 p.m., and immediately launched rescue efforts. The man was pulled from the water and loaded onto the airboat and treated for hypothermia. The man was conscious but was slurring his speech.
“It was an excellent response by our team in a dire situation,” said Chief Petty Officer Zachary Hamilton, coxswain of the airboat and leader of the ice rescue team. “The man was in a dangerous situation because he wasn’t wearing the proper clothing to be immersed in the water. We encourage anyone participating in ice recreation, especially those who are on the ice, to be properly clothed including at least a life jacket for an emergency entrance into the water.”
The man was transferred to emergency medical services personnel who were waiting at Station Saginaw River.
USCG news release
Updates - February 17
Lookback #92 – Pinemore beached after collision on February 17, 1964
The British owners of the general cargo freighter Pinemore took advantage of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in April 1959, to send this vessel into the Great Lakes.
The 372-foot-long ship had been built at Burntisland, UK in 1955 and sailed for Johnson-Warren Lines. It was managed by several well-known British shipping interests at various times including Shaw, Savill & Albion, the Prince Line and Furness Withy.
From 1959 through 1962, Pinemore made 11 trips to the Great Lakes. Fifty-two years ago today, on February 17, 1962, the ship was heavily damaged and beached in Delaware Bay following a collision with the freighter American Archer. Pinemore, on a voyage from Philadelphia to New York, was refloated February 21 and repaired. It made its final two Seaway visits later in the year.
The vessel was renamed African Prince in 1965 and, following a sale to Maldives Investments (London) Ltd., in 1971, became the Maldive Mail.
Fire broke out in #1 hold off the coast of Veravel, India, on May 31, 1975. The blaze spread to the engine room and the ship was anchored off the port before the crew abandoned ship.
Maldive Mail was on a voyage from Karachi, Pakistan, to Singapore when the fire erupted. The anchors dragged in a subsequent storm and the hull went aground on June 8, 1975, where it broke in two.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 17
In heavy weather on February 17, 1981, the WITSUPPLY, b.) TRANSTREAM foundered in the Caribbean Sea off Cabo de la Vela, Colombia. She was being towed to the scrap yard at Cartagena, Columbia when she sank.
February 17, 1977 - The CITY OF MIDLAND 41 shortly after departing Ludington encountered a heavy ridge of ice that snapped all the blades off her starboard propeller. One of the blades ripped a hole two feet long by three inches wide, which caused the 41 to take on water, but pumps were able to keep her afloat. SPARTAN came out to free her but also became mired in the ice. On February 18 the cutter MACKINAW freed them.
1962: PINEMORE began Seaway service when the waterway was new in 1959. The ship was heavily damaged from a collision on Delaware Bay with the AMERICAN ARCHER and had to be beached. It was refloated on February 21, 1962, repaired and made it back to the Great Lakes later in the year. The vessel was lost as c) MALDIVE MAIL off Veravel, India, on May 31, 1975, following a fire and subsequent grounding.
1966: A rogue wave smashed the British freighter RIALTO on the Atlantic enroute from Saint John, NB to Aberdeen, Scotland, damaging the bridge. The ship was a regular Seaway trader beginning with 5 trips in 1962. It was ultimately scrapped at Whampoa, China, as b) SANDRA in 1971.
2010: The crankshaft aboard the Turkish freighter YAZUV SULTAN SELIM broke, disabling the vessel in the Ionian Sea southwest of Zakynthos. The ship was towed to Sicily and declared a total loss. Following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, it arrived at Aliaga March 10, 2010, for dismantling. The ship had been a Seaway trader as a) RIO EXPLORER beginning in 1976 and as c) TURKAY B. beginning in 1993.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Port Report – February 16
St. Marys River
Troubled Welland Canal bridge getting a boost
2/16 – St. Catharines Ont. - Of the nine bridges working over the Welland Canal, the Allanburg calls in sick the most. But St. Lawrence Seaway Management officials are working on a fix this winter that should keep it in better health.
Luc Boisclair, general manager of engineering in Niagara for St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, said electrical cables and motors are being replaced this winter. The cables bring electricity from the towers, or fixed parts of the bridge on each end, to the movable span that goes up and down.
The Allanburg has been closed so often and unexpectedly in the past because of outages caused by those aging electrical cables. The brand new cables should be good for 20 years.
Boisclair cautions that doesn’t mean the bridge won’t ever be shut down. “There will still be planned maintenance every year,” he said. “It should be less impact to the public with new cables and motors.”
The Allanburg recently underwent repairs and will be closed again March 10-14. Boisclair said the closures are lasting longer than expected due to weather. A few days of work were lost because of snowstorms and high winds, which made it unsafe to get to the top of the structure. As well, deck replacement work, which began last year, was carried over to this year’s to-do list.
As for other Welland Canal bridges, closures happen from time to time for two reasons — emergency repairs or regular maintenance and improvements.
Planned closures happen in the winter when the canal is shut to ship traffic. They include safety improvements or upgrades on handrails, guardrails, traffic barriers and traffic lights. Cable and motor improvements will also happen at the bridges, just not to the extent of the Allanburg. And in the next three to five years, the Allanburg, Glendale and Clarence St. bridges in Port Colborne, will be painted.
“We have some jobs that are planned 20 years in advance,” Boisclair said. “We have to keep it safe.”
Boisclair said the seaway is sensitive to pedestrians and vehicular traffic and tries to reduce the amount of time the bridges are closed by having longer workdays.
Updates - February 16
Lookback #91 – Former Port Arthur-built War Osiris mined and sunk February 16, 1943
It was 51 years ago today that the small cargo ship Listo struck a mine and sank near Spodsbjerg, Denmark. The vessel had left Narvik, Norway, and was bound for Emden, Germany, with a cargo of iron ore when it went down on February 16, 1943.
The 261-foot-long vessel was built as Hull 20 of the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.. It was launched as War Osiris in May 1918 and constructed for The Shipping Controller of Great Britain. Following completion in July 1918, it left the Great Lakes for saltwater service.
With the war over, the freighter joined Les Armateurs Francais as Colmar in 1920 and moved to Herlof Andersens Rederi A.S. of Norway in 1929 as Listo. When Norway was overrun in the early stages of World War Two, this was one of the vessels that fell under German control. As a result, it was operating to assist their interests and considered an enemy ship by the Allies when it hit the mine.
Today the wreck of the Listo rests in about 90 feet of water.
Today in Great Lakes History – February 16
EDWIN H. GOTT sailed on her maiden voyage February 16, 1979, in ballast from Milwaukee, bound for Two Harbors, Minnesota. This was the first maiden voyage of a laker ever in mid-winter. She was in convoy with three of her fleet mates; CASON J. CALLAWAY, PHILIP R. CLARKE and JOHN G. MUNSON each needing assistance from the U.S.C.G.C. MACKINAW to break through heavy ice 12 to 14 inches thick the length of Lake Superior. The GOTT took part in a test project, primarily by U.S. Steel, to determine the feasibility of year around navigation.
JAMES E. FERRIS was launched February 16, 1910, as the ONTARIO (Hull#71) at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works.
On February 16, 1977, a four-hour fire caused major damage to the crews' forward quarters aboard the W.W. HOLLOWAY while at American Ship Building's South Chicago yard.
February 16, 1939 - The state ferry CHIEF WAWATAM was fast in the ice in the Straits of Mackinac. She freed herself the next day and proceeded to St. Ignace.
The little tug JAMES ANDERSON burned on Long Lake near Alpena, Michigan, on the morning of 16 February 1883. Arson was suspected.
1943: WAR OSIRIS was built at Port Arthur, Ontario, now part of Thunder Bay, in 1918. It was mined and sunk as c) LISTO near Spodsbjerg, Denmark, while enroute from Larvik, Norway, to Emden, Germany, with iron ore.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Port Report – February 15Buffalo – Brian Wroblewski
The fireboat Edward M. Cotter was out breaking ice on the upper navigation section of the Buffalo River Friday morning.
Coast Guard warns of upcoming vessel transit on Pere Marquette Lake
2/15 – Sault Ste. Marie – The Coast Guard is alerting residents, particularly ice fishermen, snowmobilers and other recreational users of Pere Marquette Lake, of ice-breaking activities scheduled to begin Tuesday and last into the weekend. The nearest towns to Pere Marquette Lake are Ludington and Scottville, Mich.
The research vessel Sikuliaq is scheduled to transit through Pere Marquette Lake multiple times in order to gain access to Ludington's Occidental Chemical Facility, Feb. 18-22. The vessel has ice-breaking capabilities.
All ice fishermen should remove their ice shacks and equipment from these areas. Snowmobilers, all-terrain vehicle operators and other recreational users of the ice should plan their activities carefully, avoid shipping channels, and use caution near these areas of operation.
The Sikuliaq (pronounced "see-KOO-lee-auk") is a new research vessel built by Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wis., for the National Science Foundation.
USCG news release
Tugs, icebreakers to assist vessel movements at Cleveland Saturday2/15 – Cleveland - The Great Lakes Towing Company, Great Lakes Shipyard, and the United States Coast Guard are working together to coordinate the departure and arrival of two Great Lakes freighters on Saturday.
The Interlake Steamship Company’s articulated tug barge Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder has completed its winter work and layup and will be departing Great Lakes Shipyard. Lower Lake’s Manitowoc will be relocating to its berth to commence its winter work.Multiple tugs from The Great Lakes Towing Company will be breaking ice in the Cuyahoga River prior to the Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder’s departure as well as assisting them out of the shipyard and to mouth of the river. The United States Coast Guard icebreaker Neah Bay will also be breaking ice and assisting with the Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder’s departure and the Manitowoc’s relocation. The Great Lakes Towing Company tugs are expected to begin breaking ice around 4 a.m. The freighters will begin moving around 6:30 a.m.
Great Lakes Shipyard has acquired multiple contracts for winter work projects on Great Lakes’ lakers. Commencement and completion of various projects require maneuvering vessels for arrivals and departures. These maneuvers tend to be interesting, particularly in the river’s icy conditions and with the collaboration between companies, their vessels, and their captains and crews.The Great Lakes Towing Company and Great Lakes Shipyard
Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival celebrates region's marine heritage
2/15 – Ann Arbor - The 33rd annual Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival, a celebration of the rich heritage of marine travel on local waterways, will take place on Feb. 22 at Washtenaw Community College. But don’t let the name fool you. The festival is about much more than simply vessels lost at sea.
“For the non-diver, there is plenty of Great Lakes history presented, and for someone who is looking to just get away, there are some great exotic travel destinations described,” said Brian Carson, one of the GLSF organizers. “There are also a number of presentations that will appeal to those who have an interest in science and biology.”
From 9 a.m.-5 p.m., the festival will play host to three hourly presentations running concurrently in the Morris J. Lawrence Building on the campus of WCC. A variety of speakers and experts are divided into three presentation rooms: Great Lakes, Exotic Saltwater, and Educational/Technical Diving/Equipment. The seminars are designed to entertain and inform.
Highlights from the Great Lakes room include shipwreck hunter David Trotter recounting his discovery of the Keystone State shipwreck in Lake Huron last July; The Mystery of Northwest Flight 2501, a flight that disappeared over Lake Michigan in 1950; and exploration of the water surrounding Isle Royale.
Topics from the Exotic Saltwater room include exploration to Indonesia, the Philippines, North Sulawesi, a discussion of sharks, and symbiotic relationships in the ocean. And from the Educational/Technical Diving/Equipment room topics include ancient landscapes beneath Lake Huron, exploration of the St. Clair River, fossilized shark teeth, and the use of Go Pro camera.
“The presenters are all very experienced and are accessible after their presentation, so if there was a question that was not answered, you can have that one-on-one discussion just outside the presentation room,” Carter said.
In addition to the daylong series of presentations, two-dozen exhibits will be on display throughout the festival groups, including scuba diving-related businesses, travel operations and other related organizations.
“The festival covers a wide range of
dive topics, from the Michigan shores, to exotic travel locations, to
educational and technical subjects,” Carson added. “There are also a wide
range of interests covered in the display and booth area, and the exhibitors
are very knowledgeable and eager to share what they have to offer.”
Updates - February 14
Lookback # 90 – Tug Lois T. swamped at Hamilton on February 15, 1990
The tug Lois T. was caught by a severe winter storm at Hamilton 24 years ago today. The wind and waves proved to be too much for the small vessel. The hull received a gash, the ship flooded and sank at the dock. The damage was temporarily repaired and the Lois T. was refloated the next day and eventually received permanent work.
Originally a Lake Erie fish tug, the 63-foot-long vessel was built at Port Dover, Ontario, as Kolbe in 1944. It was rebuilt as a diving tender in 1984 for work on Lake Erie as Lois T.
The vessel was sold to Nadro Marine in 1994 and then to International Marine Salvage in 2002. The latter renamed the tug Charlie E. and it is usually stationed at Port Colborne along the West St. Wharf to help move vessels at the company's IMS scrap yard on the east side of the outer harbor.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 15
In 1961, HARRY R JONES, a.) D.G. KERR arrived at her final port of Troon, Scotland, where she was cut up for scrap the same year.
1990: The tug LOIS T. was swamped while docked at Hamilton and sank in a storm. The vessel was pumped out, refloated and repaired. It now serves as the Port Colborne based tug CHARLIE E.
1993: BELLE ISLE, an SD-14 cargo carrier, visited the Seaway when new in 1971. It was sailing as g) VAST OCEAN when it reported in on this day as sailing on the Sea of Japan. It was never heard from again and disappeared with all hands on a voyage from Vanimo, Russia, to Shanghai, China.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Ahoy & Farewell II and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Port Report – February 14
With the Maumee scrapping complete, workers have begun cutting in to the stern of the former canaller D.C. Everest.
Coast Guard icebreakers slicing ice to keep economy moving
2/14 - Toledo, Ohio – Record cold has allowed ice to swallow up the Great Lakes, but the coast guard is slicing through the ice to save the local economy. "Sometimes you are out here for 10 to 14 hours and sometimes you only move five miles because it is that thick,” said Lt. Commander John Henry on the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bristol Bay.
Eighty-seven percent of the Great Lakes are ice covered. From western Lake Erie north to southern Lake Huron the only open water you will find is behind the Bristol Bay ice breaker. This has been the toughest year for the ice breaking crew in at least 20 years, and the general consensus is that this winter is the top two worst years since 1979. "Everything came about one month ahead of time,” Henry said.
Nearly 7,000 jobs and 1.1 billion dollars a year comes into Toledo by boat. The area depends on winter deliveries of heating oil, coal and road salt. If the shipments stop, the local economy will come to a halt. "It is a never- ending struggle, but that is why we sign up for the job, that is why we are out here, and this is what we are built to do,” Henry said.
“When we were on the Bristol Bay ice cutter, the mission was to clear a path for two freighters. One was the Joyce L. VanEnkevort, which was on route to Toledo, but the cold weather and dense ice kept delaying those plans. Henry said, "We have the throttle all the way down right now and we are barely making about four knots.
“The quartermasters of the watch operate on the bridge, or top deck. They are the ones that are working all of the navigational equipment, working the radio, communicating with vessel traffic, and making sure we are navigating safely. The cook stays busy cooking for 20 to 30 men. It isn't uncommon for the cook to fire up the outside grill on the boat even when temperatures drop below 0 degrees.”
"Actually we did have it the other day,” Lieutenant Executive Officer Steven Kingsley said. “You can always tell when we are having something on the grill. You will see the cook come in and he is bright red and he is freezing."
On the forward most part of the ship you can really feel where the ice is hitting the haul. The crew describes life on an icebreaker as living in an earthquake 10 to 14 hours a day. There are two seven-man berthing areas with racks three high. It is a very tight squeeze for the crew. There is also a room on the boat devoted to emergencies that may come up while on the open water. Kingsley said. "Obviously we can't call 911…we have to be self sustaining at all times and ready to fight whatever comes at us."
The mission named Operation Coal Shovel will keep going for weeks to come thanks to the harshest winter in decades. "That is some tough ice right snow, so unless we get some significantly warm weather day after day after day, this stuff isn't going anywhere. I am saying for at least a couple months,” said Henry.
Eventually temperatures will warm up and when they do ice jams could happen, but if they do occur the Coast Guard will be there, unclogging the jam.
Research vessel will be in Ludington harbor next week
2/14 – Ludington, Mich. – The oceanographic research vessel R/V Sikuliaq will be in Ludington harbor next week performing sea trials. During that time, the vessel will be breaking ice through the Ludington channel to its destination at the OxyChem dock. The vessel is expected to arrive from Marinette, Wis. on Feb. 17 and will be in and out of port until Feb. 23. Fishermen are urged to use caution during that time.
The 260-foot $200 million vessel was built by Marinette Marine Corporation in northern Wisconsin with funds from the American Reinvestment Research Act. The vessel is owned by the National Science Foundation and will be operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. It is scheduled to be sent to Alaska on March 1.
A company spokesman said the vessel will be in Ludington to test its deep water research capabilities. Lake Michigan is over 800 feet deep in an area north of Ludington. Pronounced “see-KOO-lee-ack,” the ship was designed by Seattle-based Glosten Associates.It will have a 20-person crew and carry 26 scientists.
“R/V Sikuliaq is one of the most advanced research vessels in the world,” said NSF Director Subra Suresh. “Its capabilities to operate in extreme ecosystems will serve the science and engineering research communities for decades to come, while providing opportunities for educators and students to learn first-hand about the arctic environment.”
The Sikuliaq is the first research vessel built for the NSF since 1981 and will be the only ship in the national academic fleet rated for year-round operations in first-year ice. The vessel’s name, Sikuliaq, is an Inupiaq word meaning “young sea ice.” The name was chosen to reflect both the university’s focus on arctic research and Alaska heritage.
The Sikuliaq is uniquely equipped for operating in ice-choked waters. A reinforced double hull, two rotating thrusters and scalloped propeller blades will enable it to break through ice up to 2.5 feet thick. The ship is also outfitted with the latest technology for oceanographic research, including advanced navigation systems, acoustic mapping systems and sensors, and systems for deploying a wide array of science equipment into and out of the water.
Sikuliaq will primarily support oceanographic research in polar and sub-polar regions of the world.
Premier announces third transmission line to Labrador West
2/14 - Premier Tom Marshall announced Thursday that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has been given the green light to proceed with the construction of a third transmission line between Churchill Falls and Labrador West.
"We will be moving forward with the construction of a third line to supply power from Churchill Falls to western Labrador,” said Marshall. The construction of an additional transmission line will help to supply power for new developments, such as the Kami Iron Ore Project.
This week, Alderon Iron Ore Corp. said if its Kami mine goes ahead, it could hire every single worker facing a layoff at the idled Wabush Mines site.
Nearly 400 workers at Wabush Mines lost their jobs this week when U.S.-based parent company Cliffs Natural Resources said it could no longer afford to cover the operating costs at the aging mine on Tuesday.
According to a government news release, all of the planning, design and construction activities pertaining to the transmission line will be exempt from review by the PUB.
Pet coke is moved from Detroit River, but more stuff may pile up
2/14 - Detroit, Mich. – Detroit Bulk Storage vice president Noel Frye says the company has abandoned any ideas of storing petroleum coke or coal along the Detroit River. But company officials now want to store other products, such as limestone and salt, on their property on Rosa Parks Boulevard in piles up to 100 feet high.
Company officials appeared before the Detroit Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday to ask for a height variance. City zoning allows pile storage only as tall as a property’s fence line, Frye said. “If they said, ‘We’ll grant you a height variance as long as you don’t store coal or petroleum coke there?’ Perfect; no problem. That’s all we’ve been asking for,” Frye said.
Pet coke, a byproduct of tar sands oil refinery used as a cheap but dirty-burning fuel, was stored in piles along the Detroit River that at one point were about four stories high. That caused controversy for months last year as concerns were raised about the potential for runoff into the Detroit River and neighbors in nearby apartments complained about dust entering their homes. A YouTube video of a swirling black cloud of pet coke dust blowing across the Detroit River into Canada in July went viral and galvanized opposition to the piles.
In August, then-Detroit Mayor Dave Bing ordered the piles removed, and Detroit Bulk Storage complied by the end of the month. City officials cited four violations of city regulations, including failing to get permission for open bulk storage of pet coke at the site.
“We can live with not putting petroleum coke or coal there, but we still need a height variance to store limestone, sand, rail ballast (rocks or other materials placed around railroad tracks to give them stability) or salt there,” Frye said.
Mark Kincannon lives in a Riverfront Towers condominium on Riverfront Drive, less than a block from where the pet coke was piled. “You’d get a fine dust,” he said. “In the summertime you have your windows open, and you’re coughing and gagging.” That problem stopped when the pet coke piles were removed, he said.
Kincannon noted the extension of the RiverWalk and other recent recreational improvements in the area.
“I’m just a retiree who loves walking on the riverfront, jogging, riding my bike,” he said. “The city just put two new parks there” off West Jefferson Avenue nearby. “People are going to be coming out there with their children; they don’t need to be breathing that stuff.”
A change in the products piled there likely won’t be enough to satisfy him, Kincannon said. “I don’t want the company to go out of business; I just want them to move to an industrial area,” he said. But, decades ago, the city moved cement companies from north of the Renaissance Center downriver, limiting where limestone can be stored, Frye said.
“There’s only so many properties that are on the Detroit River or Rouge River that can accommodate deep-water freighters,” he said, adding the property also has helpful rail access and is near to where the city stores salt for de-icing roads.
“I understand people moving into the lofts and that’s great,” Frye said. “But you are still in an industrial building that you converted into lofts.”
The products Detroit Bulk Storage seeks to store are denser than pet coke and shouldn’t have issues with dust blowing off-site, Frye said, but the company will adhere to any directives from the city or Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to prevent outside environmental issues.
State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, an outspoken critic of the pet coke piles, said she wants “to hear the specifics” of Detroit Bulk Storage’s no-pet-coke offer.
“One hundred feet is huge,” she said, referring to the height variance the company seeks for storing other aggregate products. “For them to be able to put that right behind the studio apartments — and only feet from the development on the river — it’s got to not create a nuisance for the residents nearby.”
Detroit Free Press
2/14 - Crystal Beach, Ont. – Looking at the caves, it’s hard to believe they are at the southern-most tip of Ontario’s Great Lakes. The shallow shores of Lake Erie, at Crystal Beach appear to have been pushed into itself creating a shelf of icy ridges.
The so-called “ice shoves” stretch for over a kilometre on the coast of Lake Erie. The phenomenon is rare southern Ontario, says Ontario Science Centre scientist, Donna Francis and are the result of water and ice being pushed together.
Francis explained it happens when water under the frozen lake gets “shoved into the shore.” “It forms these interesting angulations that we see that are ice caves,” she said. The caves are attracting explorers in the Niagara area.
“This has been a long winter,” Niagara resident Linda McKellar said. “This makes it a bit worthwhile.”
And Nikki Passero is amazed that she is even standing on the lake. “It’s the weirdest thing ever – its so cool, it’s so beautiful,” she said. Passero and her friend Ashley McLaren spent time Wednesday climbing some of ridges. “I can’t even believe its ice,” she said. “It’s smooth, like plastic.”
Some of the “ice shoves” on the Lake Erie coast might actually be two of the ridges, pushed together, Francis said. “It might be two separate sheets of ice that got pushed up onto the shore at different times, but are meeting at that little bridge at the top,” she said while looking at a photo of the shoves.
In some areas, the caves stand almost 20 feet high, with only small pockets of light peaking through the ice. “[It is] hard to say exactly how they formed, unless you get the chance to see it at that moment but its definitely something really amazing to see,” Francis said.
Lakes coal trade well below long-term average in January
2/14 – Cleveland, Ohio – Coal shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 373,000 tons in January. While the total represents an increase of 62 percent compared to a year ago, January 2013 was well below previous years, and even this January’s total is 25 percent below the month’s long-term average.
The harsh weather did limit coal shipments in January. Vessels experienced significant delays due to heavy ice on the Lakes and slower loads at some docks.
Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as salt, sand and grain. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo per year. Those cargos support more than 103,000 jobs with an average wage of $47,000. More information is available at www.lcaships.com.
Lake Carriers’ Association
Updates - February 14
Lookback #89 – Forward cabins of Leadale burned on February 14, 1973
Over the years, two self-unloaders sailed as Leadale in the Dale fleets. The first caught fire at Hamilton 41 years ago today. The stubborn blaze gutted the forward cabins and local firefighters poured tons of water on board in their effort to quell the flames. While they were successful, the stability of the ship was impacted and there were fears it might roll over.
Fortunately, Leadale remained up right, the winter storage cargo was not damaged and, despite its 63 years of age, the ship was repaired. The vessel sailed another five seasons before being retired.
This 524-foot-long bulk carrier was built at St. Clair, Michigan and entered service on May 17, 1910, as the Harry Yates of the American Steamship Co. It was rebuilt as a self-unloader for this company in 1934 and resumed trading that year as Consumers Power. It became Fred A. Manske in 1958 and was sold to Dale in January 1962 to become Leadale for Leadale Shipping.
After being laid up at Toronto the previous fall, the ship was towed to Hamilton on August 24, 1978, and loaded scrap steel. It departed under tow on November 11, and was idle at Sorel, Quebec, until heading south on May 30, 1979, for dismantling at Cartagena, Colombia.
Today in Great Lakes History - February 14
MESABI MINER (Hull#906) was launched on this day in 1977, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. becoming the fourth 1,000-foot bulk carrier on the Great Lakes and Interlake's second. She had been built under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 at a cost of $45.1 million.
Ford Motor Co., looking to expand its fleet, purchased the JOSEPH S. WOOD, a.) RICHARD M. MARSHALL on February 14, 1966, for $4.3 million and renamed her c.) JOHN DYKSTRA. In 1983, she was renamed d.) BENSON FORD. Renamed e.) US.265808, in 1985, she was scrapped at Recife, Brazil in 1987.
On February 14, 1973, the LEADALE’s forward cabins burned during winter lay-up at Hamilton, Ontario and were later repaired. Built in 1910, at Great Lakes Engineering Works (Hull#77) as a,) HARRY YATES, for the American Steamship Co. renamed b.) CONSUMERS POWER in 1934, c.) FRED A. MANSKE in 1958 and d.) LEADALE in 1962. Scrapped at Cartagena, Columbia in 1979.
1997: The SD 14 cargo ship PATRICIA M. was a Seaway trader in 1974 and returned as c) SELATAN in 1991. It was sailing as d) NIKA II when it stranded on a breakwall near Veracruz, Mexico, while inbound, in ballast, to load sugar. The hull was refloated on March 8, towed to an anchorage and declared a total loss. It was broken up for scrap at Tuxpan, Mexico, beginning on April 27, 1997.
2000: ZAFIRO, a Seaway trader in 1984, sank as d) ZAFIR off Calabria, Italy, after a collision with the ESPRESSO CATANIA while carrying 6000 tons of cement clinker. Thirteen sailors were lost or missing.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Ahoy & Farewell II and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Port Report – February 13
Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
Michigan Street Bridge to close for repairs next week
2/13 – Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – A freighter damaged a structure that protects the Michigan Street Bridge in Sturgeon Bay last month, and the bridge will be temporarily closed next week for repairs, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation office in Green Bay. The bridge itself was not damaged and is safe for use, the announcement said.
Just after noon Jan. 11, a freighter passing under the bridge struck one of the four cylindrical dolphins that line the entry through the bridge on either side.
The bridge is scheduled to close from 8 a.m. to noon Monday and again from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 19. Motorists will need to find alternate routes. The closures will not affect marine traffic. Repair crews will use the first closure to stage their equipment for repair of the southwest dolphin. The bridge will be closed a second time so crews can remove the equipment. Estimated cost for the work is $30,000.
Door County Advocate
Cliffs will idle Canadian iron ore operation
2/13 – Duluth, MN - Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. on Tuesday announced it will close its Wabush Scully Mine operations in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, because the mine’s operating costs are too high. Cliffs said the operations will be closed by the end of March.
“With costs unsustainably high, including fourth-quarter 2013 cash costs of $143 per ton, it is not economically viable to continue running this operation,” Cliffs said in a statement Tuesday. Cliffs had already idled Wabush Mine’s Pointe Noire pellet plant in June 2013.
About 500 employees at both the Wabush Scully Mine and the Pointe Noire rail and port operation in Quebec are affected by the closures. The Wabush mine and concentrator have been open since 1965.
Cleveland-based Cliffs, which has been under pressure by some investors to increase its dividends and cut costs, also said it will spend far less money this year building out its Bloom Lake mine project in Quebec.
Cliffs is among Minnesota’s largest taconite iron ore operators, owning and operating North Shore Taconite in Silver Bay/Babbitt and United Taconite in Eveleth/Forbes. It also is a co-owner and operator of Hibbing Taconite and owns the Empire/Tilden operations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“Over the past three years we have seen (iron ore) pricing drop and Wabush Mine’s costs escalate all while we have made significant capital investments into the operation. This is a regrettable but necessary decision. We simply cannot continue operating a high-cost mine while pricing and freight markets are so volatile,” said Gary Halvorson, Cliffs president and chief operating officer.
The company did not say if closing the Canadian operation would have any impact on its U.S. operations. But in past statements the company has praised its Minnesota operations for their relatively low cost-per-ton for taconite production. The company announced in October it would reopen two idled lines at Northshore.
In addition to its Canadian operations, Cliffs also has iron ore mines in Australia and coal mines in the U.S. The company will release their fourth-quarter financials at the end of the business day Thursday and field questions from industry analysts on Friday.
The company said it plans to scale back capital expenditures in 2014 by more than 50 percent, from a planned $862 million to about $400 million, mostly by scaling back at Bloom Lake. While the company said it still has plans for expanding Bloom Lake, officials said global demand and pricing for iron ore doesn’t justify that expenditure at this time.
Falling through ice expensive
2/13 – Catawba, OH — Ice fishing on the Western Basin has been heating up in recent weeks and as ice continues to build, more and more anglers are making their way onto the ice — many on sleds and ATVs. While the rides make for easy access to distant honey holes, they can be bad news and cost big bucks if they break through ice.
On Jan. 31, two men in a Land Rover broke through about a quarter-mile north of the Miller Ferry docks on Catawba. Both men made it out of the SUV before it plunged into about 20 feet of water.
And in other areas around Lake Erie, plenty of snowmobiles and ATVs have taken plunges. While ATVs often float and are often able to be pulled out by other ATVs, snowmobiles sink.
“The Land Rover that went through, we’re working on that right now with the Coast Guard,” said Gino Barna, Lake Erie law enforcement supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
He said generally a person whose vehicle goes into a body of water could be in line for a stream littering citation. “It’s a third-degree misdemeanor and could result in up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail,” Barna said.
According to Petty Officer Levi Read, with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Ninth District Public Affairs Office in Cleveland, the USCG’s dealings with vehicles breaking through would first involve safety. “Our first concern would be the people,” he said.
After ensuring the safety of involved parties, Read said, USCG marine safety inspectors would be called to investigate and evaluate. They would look into any contamination issues, he said, and evaluate a salvage plan submitted by the owner.
“We would evaluate the plan to make sure it has the least impact on the environment,” Read said. “It’s quite a process to bring something up off the lake bottom.”
Jeff Nehls, supervisor with the Ohio Division of Watercraft, said his office would look into incidents only if they involved open water sinkings. “If there was an airboat and they were going across open water jumping from ice to ice,” he said.
Matt Montowski, of Montowski Insurance Agency, said he has heard that auto insurance companies won’t pay a claim on a vehicle that’s gone down, but he hasn’t seen it. In fact, he said, several years ago he knows at least one such claim was paid.
Snowmobiles and ATVs are a different story, Montowski said. “It definitely needs separate coverage,” he said. “It’s not covered on your homeowners policy, but a lot of people think it is.” A homeowners policy would cover ATVs that were used at home for property maintenance or chores, he said.
Jake Dumfee, who owns Rescue Marine, said he and another company on South Bass Island have already pulled about six ATVs from the ice. For that, it could be as cheap as $800, he said. “For a vehicle on the bottom, it could be in the $15,000 to $20,000 range,” Dumfee said. And he said, crews usually try to get started immediately.
The main cause of equipment going through the ice, he said, is people riding in areas where the ice is never good. “Definitely be a follower,” he said.
Port Clinton News-Herald
Coast Guard cutter strives to maintain proficiency in other mission areas
2/13 – Cleveland, Ohio — An early and intense winter season has meant an increased demand for ice-breaking operations for the Coast Guard 9th District's ice-breaking fleet, but that didn't stop the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay, homeported in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., from conducting important training earlier this week.
Across the district, ice-breaking crews logged nearly four times the five-year average of operational ice-breaking hours during the 1st Quarter 2014.
Earlier, the crew of Katmai Bay was operating in the Straits of Mackinac in ice ranging from 24-30 inches thick, not including pressure ridges. Despite a record season for ice-breaking hours by cutter crews, the Coast Guard must maintain proficiency in all mission areas.
The crew of the Katmai Bay, homeported in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., along with the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay, homeported in Detroit, have spent the past few days trying to keep the Straits open to shipping traffic.
Lookback # 88 – Fire struck the former Mitera Maria on February 13, 1973.
The Greek salty Mitera Maria came through the Seaway in 1967. The 511-foot, 7-inch long vessel was 18 years old and carried an interesting cargo when it left the lakes in August. On board was a deck cargo of former Toronto Transportation Commission street cars for use overseas.
The ship had been built for the Strick Line in 1949 and operated as Armanistan under the British flag. It was sold and renamed Conway in 1965, Liberian registry, and became Mitera Maria in 1967.
It began sailing as Marbella in 1971 and, as such, was registered in the Somali Republic and then Jordan. The vessel had stopped at Karachi, Pakistan, to load cargo for Yokohama, Japan, when a fire broke out in the engine room 41 years ago today. The blaze did sufficient damage that the ship could not complete its voyage.
Instead, the former Seaway trader was sold to local shipbreakers, taken to Gadani Beach, and dismantled by Dada Steel Mills beginning on January 6, 1974.
Updates - February 13
Today in Great Lakes History - February 13
POINTE NOIRE was launched February 13, 1926, as a.) SAMUEL MATHER (Hull#792) at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.
February 13, 1897 - PERE MARQUETTE (later named PERE MARQUETTE 15) arrived in Ludington on her maiden voyage, with Captain Joseph "Joe" Russell in command.
1941: The first WESTCLIFFE HALL, overseas to assist in the war effort, was damaged when hit by a bomb while two miles off Whitby High Light. The ship was repaired and returned to the Great Lakes after the war. It last sailed as b) WHEATON in the Misener fleet before scrapping at Hamilton in 1965-1966.
1973: MITERA MARIA loaded street cars on deck during a Great Lakes visit to Toronto in August 1967. The ship sustained fire damage in the engineroom at Karachi, Pakistan, as d) MARBELLA and sold for scrap. The 25-year old vessel was broken up at Gadani Beach in 1974.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series
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