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Port Reports -  July 31

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation arrived at Lafarge Tuesday afternoon to load for South Chicago, Ill. Wednesday morning the G.L Ostrander along with the barge Integrity tied up under the silos at Lafarge and loaded cement for Superior, Wis. Once the Integrity departed the dock and headed out into the bay, the Alpena made its way into port.

Holland, Mich. – Jim Lindholm
The new cruise ship Pearl Mist visited on Monday.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
After unloading at the Bay Aggregates and Buena Vista docks on Saturday, the Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber were back on the Saginaw River again Tuesday with a cargo for the Lafarge Stone dock in Saginaw. The pair stopped in Bay City at the Wirt Stone dock for a number of hours before heading upriver to unload, however. A work truck and trailer were seen along side, as well as a diver in the water. The reason why is unknown. The pair was outbound for the lake early Wednesday morning.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Great Lakes Trader unloaded on Tuesday and was outbound in mid-afternoon.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
At Redpath Tuesday the bulker Mandarin was almost finished discharging and will sail Wednesday evening. The tugs Ocean Golf and Laprairie were on standby alongside at Sugar Beach.


Ex-Seaway salties sold for scrap

7/31 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections going for scrap in the August 2014 issue.

Ariadne of Loriet Navigation Co., Greece, has been sold to shipbreakers in Bangladesh. The 606 foot, 11 inch long bulk carrier arrived at Chittagong and was beached on April 23, 2014. This ship was a Great Lakes trader under four of its six names and had a long history of inland service.

The vessel was built as LT Argosy at Sedota, Japan, and completed in 1984 for Larsen Toubro Ltd. It was initially registered in India and began Seaway service that year. The ship was a regular inland trader, often on time charter to Fednav, and delivered steel while departing with grain. It went aground in the Saginaw River on Oct. 17, 1992, and was released with the aid of the tug Missouri. Following a sale in 1998, the ship returned inland as Millenium Hawk in 1998 with registry in the Cayman Islands. The bulk carrier made eight visits to our shores under this name to the end of 2001. It returned through the Seaway again as c) Cashin in May 2002 bringing sugar to Toronto. It was registered in Hong Kong and China.

Its fifth and final trip to the Great Lakes ended on Dec. 26, 2003, when the vessel was the last saltwater ship to exit the St. Lambert Lock that year. Another sale and another name in 2004 brought the ship under the flag of Malta as d) Oneida. As such, it remained off-lakes but it suffered damage when there was an explosion in the gas exhaust boiler while on the River Plate in South America on July 24, 2004. There were no casualties and Oneida was repaired at Montevideo, Uruguay. In 2005, the ship was sold and registered in Malta as e) Antikeri and made another 13 trips through the Seaway with its last up bound transit for the lakes on June 28, 2010. The ship was bound for Oshawa and Thunder Bay at the time. Before the end of the 2010 season, Antikeri was sold to Greek interests and renamed f) Ariadne. As such, it never came to the Great Lakes finishing its career in saltwater service before the trip to the scrapyard last April.

Jin Yuan Hu was built at Sunderland, England, as the SD-14 freighter Grand Faith. It was completed on April 25, 1980, and came through the Seaway for the first time in 1982. It was sold to China Ocean Shipping in 1984 becoming An Yang Jiang. Then, in 2009, it was renamed Jin Yuan Hu and remained under the flag of China until it was sold for scrap in 2012. The vessel arrived at Fanchang County, Anhui, China, and was broken up.

Kinship Bangar arrived at Mumbai, India, on March 18, 2014. Dismantling of the 32-year old vessel began on April 11. As b) Barbara E., the ship first entered the Seaway Aug. 31, 1995, carrying steel to Detroit. On the trip back to the Atlantic, the 336 foot, 4 inch long freighter loaded a press and press parts for overseas delivery. The ship had been built in 1982 as Finn Sif and was scrapped under her fourth name.

Yong Xiang came through the Seaway as Clipper Spirit in 1986. It had been built in Japan that year and first sailed under the flag of Panama. The 328 foot, 9 inch long bulk carrier was sailing as f) Yong Xiang when it was sold for scrap earlier this year. It arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, on March 25, 2014, and scrapping got underway on April 12.

Aniva was a Seaway trader under two names. Built as Yiannis L. in 1981, the ship began Great Lakes service in 1985 with Panamanian registry. It returned as d) Kuciste, Yugoslavia flag, in 1989 and as f) Baltic Trader (St. Vincent) in 1998 bound for Hamilton. The 399 foot, 9 inch long bulk carrier was sold to shipbreakers in India and arrived at Alang on April 22, 2014. Scrapping began a week later.

Compiled by Barry Andersen, Rene Beauchamp and Skip Gillham


Hedge fund claims victory in Cliffs Natural Resources board vote

7/31 - Cleveland, Ohio – Casablanca Capital triumphed on Tuesday in its proxy battle with Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., preliminary estimates show, putting the hedge fund in a position to replace Cliffs’ chief executive and sell off underperforming assets.

Shareholders of Cleveland-based Cliffs voted onto the company’s board all six nominees put forward by Casablanca, the New York-based fund said, citing estimates from its proxy solicitor. That means they will make up a majority of the 11-person board.

Cliffs CEO Gary Halverson said at the company’s well-attended annual meeting in Cleveland that because of the contested nature of the elections, the results would be announced in the next three business days.

Shares in Cliffs, a producer of iron ore and metallurgical coal, jumped as much as 10.4 percent to $18.33 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Cliffs is a major player in Minnesota’s taconite iron ore business and among the largest employers in Northeastern Minnesota. The company owns United Taconite in Eveleth and NorthShore Mining in Silver Bay and Babbitt, and is part owner and operates Hibbing Taconite. It also owns and operates the Tilden-Empire operations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula along with iron ore mines in Canada and Australia and several coal mines in the U.S. and abroad.

The vote outcome “is a culmination of years of frustration on behalf of shareholders,” said Garrett Nelson, a mining research analyst at BB&T Capital Markets.

Casablanca began a proxy fight in March against Cliffs, of which it owns 5.2 percent, accusing the company of destroying shareholder value through an ill-conceived expansion strategy. In the face of pressure from the hedge fund, Cliffs has cut costs and spending in recent months by closing its Wabush mine in Canada and scuttling plans to expand its Bloom Lake mine in Quebec.

Cliffs shares have fallen about 85 percent in the past three years, at a time when iron ore and coal prices have plunged.

The vote by Cliffs shareholders has “sent a resounding message of support for our efforts to drive meaningful change at Cliffs, bring true accountability to the company’s leadership, and restore shareholder value,” Casablanca Chairman Donald Drapkin said in a statement.

Casablanca has said it wants to replace Cliffs’ CEO with its preferred candidate, Lourenco Goncalves, a former CEO of Metals USA.

Other than naming a new CEO immediately, Casablanca will probably pursue the sale of three of Cliffs’ four operating segments: its Asia-Pacific iron ore business, its Eastern Canadian iron ore operations and its North American coal unit, said Nelson, the mining research analyst.

In recent weeks, Cliffs has made a series of concessions to Casablanca, cutting down its slate of director nominees so that at least four of Casablanca’s candidates were likely to win seats, and promising to elect a new chairman after the annual meeting.

Casablanca called these moves “a desperate attempt to resist change.”

Cliffs has been critical of Casablanca’s CEO candidate, arguing that he does not have enough experience.

To be sure, three proxy advisory firms — Glass Lewis, Institutional Shareholder Services and Egan-Jones — had recommended that Cliffs retain a majority of the board, Cliffs said last week.

The six Casablanca nominees put forward for the board were: Goncalves, Robert Fisher, Joseph Rutkowski, James Sawyer, Gabriel Stoliar and Douglas Taylor, Casablanca’s CEO.

Duluth News Tribune


National Museum Marine Mart to be held Saturday, Aug. 9

7/31 - Toledo, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lakes will hold a Marine Mart on Aug. 9 at the museum in Toledo, Ohio. Members of the museum as well as the general public have been invited to attend. The museum will be selling a wide variety of items including Great Lakes books and memorabilia as well as a large collection of general maritime books. Over 2000 volumes will be offered for sale. The museum will be selling such items as a 19th century ship’s wheel from a Great Lakes schooner, several models and the name board to the South American. Over 800 local members of the museum have been invited to a special members’ only sneak preview buying opportunity that begins at 9 a.m. The general public will be invited in at 10 a.m. Admission to the museum at any level includes admission to the marine mart.

Vendors interested in participating should contact James at as space is limited.


Michigan divers discover wreck of World War II plane

7/31 - Port Huron, Mich. – David and Drew Losinski are struck by the coincidence. They took a photo on April 11, from the surface of Lake Huron, of the wing of a World War II-era fighter plane that crashed during a training exercise, killing its pilot.

“That plane actually crashed April 11, 1944, which was 70 years to the date that the picture was taken,” Drew Losinski said. “We thought that was kind of unbelievable.”

The Losinskis are divers — David has been diving since 1977; his son, Drew, since 2002 — and both are former members of the St. Clair County Dive Team. They’ve seen lots of things underwater, but the story of the P39 fighter lost just off the Port Huron beachfront touched them.

“It was eerie,” David Losinski said. “We didn’t know really what we had.”

What they had was a one-seat warplane piloted by 2nd Lt. Frank H. Moody of Los Angeles. He was training with fellow pilots out of what was then Selfridge Field when his plane crashed.

“All four of the guys that were in that flight were from Tuskegee,” Losinksi said. “I didn’t know anything about the Tuskegee Airmen until we got into this.”

The Tuskegee Airmen were African-American members of the 332nd Fighter Group and 477th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Force who fought in Europe during World War II. They also were known as the Red Tails because they painted the tails of their aircraft red.

The Losinskis found an account of the crash in the Times Herald. The story stated Moody and three other pilots were taking gunnery practice about three miles north of Port Huron.

Cecil V. Fowler saw the crash, according to the Times Herald article. “It was the most horrible thing I have ever witnessed,” she said. “There were four planes, and I was watching them from our front window, as I usually do when they’re engaged in gunnery practice.

“Then everything happened so fast it seems unbelievable.

“Smoke started coming from the tail of the second plane, and I could see it was in trouble. The pilot apparently noticed it and tried to lift his ship.

“It was a feeble effort, for the plane seemed to lift for only a few feet and then it crashed, nose first, into the water. I saw a big splash, and then the plane went out of sight.”

Moody’s body was not recovered until it washed ashore in Port Huron on June 4, 1944 — two days before D-Day and the invasion of Normandy. David Losinski said he and his son were assisting the state Department of Environmental Quality with a barge that sank in Lake Huron in July 2012. During those efforts, they noted several areas they wanted to investigate, including one about four miles north of the Blue Water Bridge.

Superstorm “Sandy came along and moved things around,” David Losinski said. They resumed the investigation last spring.

“This year, we went out diving, and we could see these points of interest from the surface,” Losinski said. “Drew said, ‘Dad, that’s an airplane.’

“You could see the wings. We knew we had some kind of plane.”

He said the wreckage from the plane is scattered across the lake bottom. Pieces include the engine, the tail, part of the door and the 37-millimeter cannon that fired through the propeller hub.

The P-39 had a unique configuration with the engine placed behind the pilot and the drive shaft running under the cockpit to the propeller. The plane was equipped with the cannon and four .50-caliber machine guns — two mounted on the wings, two more just behind the propeller and timed to fire through the spinning blades.

“We came across the gauge cluster, which had the radio call tag,” David Losinski said. “Once we brought that up and cleaned the tag, we knew it was the 221226 serial number.”

The Losinskis said they want to preserve the site for people to dive on. “In a nutshell, this is what we’re trying to do — get permission to relocate the parts so they would resemble a plane,” David Losinski said.

That’s been easier said than done.

“The state says, ‘We don’t have jurisdiction over that; it’s the Air Force,’” Losinski said. “The Air Force says, ‘Any aircraft before 1961, we’ve abandoned it.’”

The Losinskis haven’t abandoned their quest to bring this long-forgotten chapter in the history of World War II to light. They’re looking for other divers who can assist with the effort. “We’ve done quite a bit of documenting and measuring,” David Losinski said.

They want the site to remain a memorial divers can visit.

“All the artifacts that were taken off were replaced in their original position and original situation except for the tag we cleaned up,” he said.

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #256 – Teeswood capsized due to heavy seas in the English Channel on July 31, 1956

The British freighter Teeswood had only a three-year career but it included some Great Lakes service in the Pre-Seaway era. It was lost 58 years ago today.

Teeswood had been built at Middlesborough, England, and launched on June 25, 1953. It was competed on Sept. 4, 1953, for the Jos. Constantine Steamship Line Ltd. and designed for service between Newfoundland and the Great Lakes.

The 226 foot long freighter was spotted on the Detroit River on April 28, 1954, with a cargo of British-made automobiles. It also became the first saltwater trader since 1940 to call at the Lake Erie community of Port Stanley when it arrived there in the spring of 1954.

On July 31, 1956, Teeswood encountered heavy seas from a storm on the English Channel about 4 nautical miles off Dungeness, Kent, England. The vessel was carrying coal loaded at Blyth, Scotland, for Shoreham, England, and was abandoned by the crew.

Teeswood capsized and went down about two miles off Dover. One member of the crew was lost.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 31

On this day in 1948, in a total elapsed time of 19 hours, the JAMES DAVIDSON of the Tomlinson fleet unloaded 13,545 tons of coal at the Berwind Dock in Duluth and loaded 14,826 tons of ore at the Allouez Dock in Superior.

On this day in 1955, Al A. Wolf, the first Chief Engineer of a Great Lakes freighter powered by a 7,000 hp engine, retired as Chief Engineer of the WILFRED SYKES. Chief Wolf started as an oiler on the POLYNESIA in 1911, became Chief Engineer in 1921, and brought out the SYKES in 1948.

Sea trials took place for the JAMES R. BARKER this day in 1976. She was to become Interlake's first 1000 footer and the flagship of the fleet for Moore McCormack Leasing, Inc. (Interlake Steamship Co., Cleveland, Ohio, mgr.). She was built at a cost of more than $43 million under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970. She was the third thousand-footer to sail on the Lakes and the first built entirely on the Lakes.

On July 31, 1974, the Liberian vessel ARTADI approached the dock at Trois Rivires, Que. where she damaged the docked GORDON C. LEITCH's stern.

The CEDARBRANCH was damaged and sunk by an explosion on July 31, 1965, several miles below Montreal, Quebec resulting in a loss of one life. Repaired and lengthened in 1965, she was renamed b.) SECOLA in 1978, and c.) KITO MARU in 1979, and scrapped at Brownsville, Texas, in 1985.

On 31 July 1849, ACORN (wooden schooner, 84 foot, 125 tons, built in 1842, at Black River, Ohio) was struck amidships by the propeller TROY near West Sister Island in Lake Erie. She sank quickly, but no lives were lost since all hands made it to the TROY.

On 31 July 1850, AMERICA (wooden side-wheeler, 240 foot, 1,083 tons, built in 1847, at Port Huron, Michigan) suffered a boiler or steam pipe explosion while sailing on Lake Erie. The explosion immediately killed nine persons and scalded others who died later. The vessel was repaired and sailed for three more seasons.

Data from: Jody Aho, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Russ Plumb, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series from the Marine Historical Society of Detroit.


Federal Rideau refloated after St. Clair River grounding

7/30 - Detroit, Mich. – A 656-foot freighter that went aground in Lake St. Clair over the weekend has been refloated and will resume its trip to Montreal after inspections, including an underwater survey of its hull.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there is no leakage or pollution concerns from the Hong Kong-registered Federal Rideau, which went aground at about 3 a.m. Sunday.

The grounding reduced shipping traffic to one direction, but two-way traffic was resumed once the freighter was freed Tuesday, Lt. Commander Scott Smith said.

“The freighter was freed at about 3 a.m. Tuesday,” Lt. Commander Jillian Lamb said. “It was then moved to the Belle Isle anchorage. It’s now anchored in the Detroit River near the Renaissance Center where it will undergo one to two days of inspections. A diver will also inspect the underside of the ship.”

According to the Coast Guard, the ship was grounded after it lost steering control because of motor coupling problems. After the mishap, five tugs were sent to free the ship but were unsuccessful after two tugs developed engine problems.

The Federal Rideau was constructed in Japan in 2000. The vessel is carrying 22,672 tons of wheat that was to be delivered in Montreal by July 30.

Detroit News


Massive green algae outbreak a threat on Lake Erie as waters warm

7/30 - Ohio state officials released the first beach advisory on July 23 after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a June 2014 report predicting a significant threat to Lake Erie due to harmful algal blooms (HAB).

The blooms are a malignant type of cyanobacteria that crowd water areas, typically late in the summer to early fall for the Great Lakes region. When the toxic algae blooms in a massive outburst, water conditions can prove unsafe for swimmers and animals.

Lake Erie endured an extreme bloom in 2011 that turned waters a putrid green and closed beaches due to health risks. Researchers expect 2014 blooms to be milder, though public safety could still be impacted.

A Recreational Public Health Advisory was issued at Maumee Bay State Park on Lake Erie on July 23, warning swimmers, especially children, elderly or those with compromised immune systems, that waters are at an elevated toxin level. Technically, swimming is still allowed in such waters, though it could prove to be adverse to health concerns.

Higher temperatures can be a contributing factor to an increase in blooms, according to Professor and Director at the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan Don Scavia. However, he explained that the key factor is the amount of phosphorus flowing into the lakes from agricultural watersheds.

When an excess of minerals, such as phosphorus, and other factors such as higher temperatures, the mix can create hazardous conditions.

According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the primary sources of nutrient pollution are runoff of fertilizers, animal manure, sewage treatment plant discharges, storm water runoff, car and power plant emissions and failing septic tanks.


Lookback #255 – Vares damaged while loading at Cleveland on July 30, 1970

7/30 - The Yugoslavian freighter Vares was an early user of the St. Lawrence Seaway. It made one trip inland when the waterway was opened in 1959 and returned for a total of 23 visits to the end of 1967. It continued to trade inland until becoming Branco in 1971.

The 352 foot, 10 inch long general cargo carrier had been built at Landskrona, Sweden, in 1951, and first sailed under Swedish registry as Paranagua. It joined Jadranska Slobodna Plovidba as Vares in 1959.

On July 30, 1970, Vares was loading a press at Cleveland when the heavy piece of equipment dropped damaging both the press and the vessel. Fortunately, no one was in the way as it crashed to the bottom of the hold 44 years ago today.

The vessel had four more names and did not come back to the Great Lakes. It was renamed Branco in 1971 for service under the flag of Panama, Athina with Cypriot registry in 1973, Sitia (Greek flag) in 1976 and Appolon (Liberian registry) in 1977. The latter was sold to Pakistani shipbreakers. It arrived at Gadani Beach and the dismantling of the hull got underway on Jan. 22, 1981.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  July 30

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the BBC Switzerland, Duzgit Endeavour, HHL Congo, HR Constitution, Kirkeholmen, Nilufer Sultan, Nogat, Peter Ronna, Reestborg, and Reggeborg.


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 30

July 30, 1996 - CSL's self-unloader H.M. GRIFFITH, which was off Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior, and bound for Nanticoke, Ontario, with a load of 22,775 tons of western coal, had a spontaneous combustion fire in her number 2 cargo hold. Water was used to cool the fire and the GRIFFITH used her unloading boom to dump 3,000 tons of coal into Lake Superior. After an inspection by the USCG at the Soo the following day, revealed only minor damage, the vessel was cleared to proceed on her journey. Reconstructed and renamed b.) RT HON PAUL J. MARTIN in 2000.

This News Page on the BoatNerd site was launched in 1996, reporting the coal fire aboard the GRIFFITH.

GORDON C. LEITCH (Hull#36) was launched July 30, 1952, at Midland, Ontario, by Canadian Shipbuilding & Engineering Ltd. for the Upper Lakes & St. Lawrence Transportation Co. Ltd., Toronto, Ontario.

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker C.C.G.S. ALEXANDER HENRY entered service July 30, 1959. Since 1985, the HENRY has served as a museum in Kingston, Ontario.

On 30 July 1871, the 162-foot bark HARVEY BISSELL was carrying lumber from Toledo to Tonawanda, New York. When she was on the Western end of Lake Erie, she sprang a leak. Although the crew worked the hand-powered pumps constantly, the water kept gaining at a rate of about a foot an hour. The tug KATE WILLIAMS took her in tow, intending to get her to Detroit to be repaired, but this proved impossible. So the BISSELL was towed close to Point Pelee and allowed to sink in 14 feet of water. The WILLIAMS then left for Detroit to get steam pumps and other salvage equipment. On returning, they pumped out the BISSELL, refloated and repaired her. She lasted until 1905.

On 30 July 1872, the Port Huron Dry Dock launched SANDY, a lighter. Her dimensions were 75 feet x 20 feet x 5 feet.

On 30 July 1873, George Hardison of Detroit announced the beginning of a new shipyard in Port Huron, Michigan. It would be located above the 7th Street Bridge on the Black River on land owned by J. P. Haynes, accessible by River Street. Within 30 days of this announcement, the new yard had orders for two canalers three-and-aft rig for delivery in the spring of 1874. Their dimensions were to be 146 feet overall, 139 feet ¬keel, 26 foot beam and 11 foot 6 inches depth.

On 30 July 1866, CITY OF BUFFALO (wooden propeller, 340 foot, 2,026 tons, built in 1857, at Buffalo, New York as a side-wheeler) was unloading 72,000 bushels of wheat at the Sturgis Elevator at Buffalo, New York, when arsonists set fire to the complex. The fire destroyed the wharf, the elevator, several businesses and the ship. The arsonists were caught. Incidentally, the CITY OF BUFFALO was converted from a passenger side-wheeler to a propeller freighter during the winter of 1863-64. After the conversion, she was dubbed "the slowest steam-craft on the Lakes".

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Lake Huron Lore Sociery, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. Marine Historical Society of Detroit.


Federal Rideau refloated

7/29 - Detroit, Mich. – About 2:45 a.m. the Federal Rideau was refloated on Lake St. Clair. After waiting for upbound traffic to clear, she moved down to the Belle Isle anchorage where she will be inspected.

Original report - Salvage plans call for more tugs to help free a freighter aground in the lower end of Lake St. Clair.

The Federal Rideau ran aground in the downbound shipping channel off Peche Island in Lake St. Clair around 3 a.m. Sunday. The vessel grounded because a motor coupling failed, causing a loss of steering. As of Monday evening, the vessel was still aground.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit Command Center Chief Jillian Lamb said the vessel lost steering for 60 seconds and that's when it ran aground. Lamb said the part has been replaced but the ship remains stuck.

One attempt to refloat the freighter failed Sunday, when one of the two tugs on scene had motor issues.

After leaving Thunder Bay, it was headed for Montreal — then overseas to Namibia — when it veered off course and became stuck.

“It’s a most regrettable incident,” said Tom Paterson, senior vice-president for Fednav, the Canadian company that owns the ship. “It was a mechanical failure of the steering system. We have sent our representative there to determine the cause (why the steering failed).”

The ship was travelling at such a low rate of speed there was no threat to the shore — even if it had occurred in the narrow and populated confines of the Detroit River, he added.

“The captain has 20 years experience and this is a senior crew, so we have the right people to deal with this,” Paterson said.

The ship’s load of wheat is a little more than half capacity with fuel located in the rear of the ship, not the front, so there is no danger of a spill.

“We are a good company, take responsibility — and working together with the Coast Guard will ensure the safety of the environment,” Paterson said.

Once freed, the ship will be anchored and receive further inspection for damage by a dive team before being allowed to proceed.

Early attempts Sunday by two local tugs to free the vessel were unsuccessful and larger tugs were on the way to add assistance on Monday, said Petty Officer Jim Connor of the Coast Guard’s Ninth District.

If the larger tugs are unable to free the ship, a barge has been summoned and will be used to transfer the wheat and lighten the load, Paterson said.

“It’s frustrating, but I’m optimistic that we will be able to refloat the ship soon,” he concluded. “We will get this sorted out quickly and do it safely with the environment in mind.”

CBC, Windsor Star


Port Reports -  July 29

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
The cement barge St. Marys Conquest, pushed by the tug Prentiss Brown, departed Sturgeon Bay at 6:30 p.m. on Monday after spending a few weeks in port for unknown reasons. The tug and barge are due in Milwaukee at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. The USCG Mackinaw also remains in port, where she has been for about a week. It is unknown why she is in Sturgeon Bay.

Holland, Mich. – Kevin Brower
Manistee was in Holland at the Verplank Dock on Sunday.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Robert S. Pierson made a rare appearance when it brought a load of salt to the Alpena Oil Dock late Saturday night. The Pierson is not a common visitor to the river. The Alpena arrived at Lafarge on Sunday afternoon to load cement. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation are expected in port on Tuesday.


Cliffs fights for its life against hedge fund

7/29 - Duluth, Minn. – The view from Cliffs Natural Resources’ Minnesota operations looks pretty good.

One of the state’s largest players in the taconite iron ore business, the company’s Northshore Mining, United Taconite and Hibbing Taconite plants are running near capacity with solid domestic markets and long-term contracts with U.S. steelmakers.

The company has more than 1,850 employees on the Iron Range with a payroll of $251 million.

There even was good news from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula this year when Cliffs announced its Empire taconite operations wouldn’t close after all, with a new contract for its ore keeping it running into 2017.

Even after weathering a cold spring and slow start to the shipping season, the company expects to produce about 22 million tons of taconite in the U.S. this year, up from 21 million tons last year. Northshore Mining is back to near full capacity after a temporary slowdown in 2013.

But on a global scale the view is less rosy. The Cleveland-based mining company is fighting for its life, with the decisive battle set for Tuesday.

That’s when Cliffs will hold its annual shareholder meeting and election of corporate officers, and it’s when New York-based hedge fund Casablanca Capital will make its play to take over Cliffs.

Casablanca in January announced that it wanted to take control of Cliffs, saying the company was overextended overseas and was spending too much money on new projects. Casablanca, which owns about 5.2 percent of Cliffs stock, claims that Cliffs’ “incompetent and entrenched” board has “destroyed shareholder value,” and Casablanca wants Cliffs to sell some of its riskier overseas operations and send more cash to shareholders.

Casablanca also has proposed replacing Cliffs’ top management with a slate of its own, hand-picked leaders, and has engaged in a proxy war to get shareholders to vote for its team.

It will be up to shareholders on Tuesday to decide the fate of a company, formerly Cleveland-Cliffs, that traces its roots back to 1847 and which has been a part of Minnesota iron mining for decades.

Clearly, Cliffs has struggled through tough times recently. Its stock value has plummeted from about $89 per share three years ago to about $16 as of Friday’s close of trading. That’s in large part because global iron ore prices have been halved during that period, from nearly $200 per ton to less than $90 now.

Without its own steel mills to feed, Cliffs has to sell everything it mines. And while the company can produce taconite iron ore in Minnesota for about $67 per ton, the current global price is about the same as what it costs Cliffs to produce ore at its Canadian operations, leaving little or no room for profit.

But Cliffs’ current managers have battled back, and they’re asking shareholders to back their management team over Casablanca’s takeover. Pushed by Casablanca’s actions, Cliffs this year also has taken major steps to cut costs. In February the company moved to 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. The company also shelved plans to open a chromite mining operation in Canada.

Still, Cliffs’ current team is heading into Tuesday’s meeting bearing some bad news. Last week, the company announced it lost $2 million, or 1 cent per share, in the three months ending in June, down from a profit of $133 million, or 82 cents a share, in the second quarter of 2013. The company’s lower revenue primarily were driven by significantly decreased market pricing for iron ore and metallurgical coal, as well as a 24 percent decrease in sales volume from U.S. iron ore operations thanks in large part to the extremely cold winter and ice that impeded Great Lakes shipments well into April.

Cliffs recently said two independent firms — ISS and Glass Lewis — have recommended that shareholders not vote for a majority Casablanca slate. But in an effort to satisfy Casablanca, Cliffs announced earlier this month that it will elect a new chairman after Tuesday’s meeting and give up to four seats on a nine-person board to Casablanca. Cliffs earlier had offered two seats, which Casablanca rejected.

Last week, Cliffs sent all its shareholders a letter explaining their two options: Vote using the white card, which means voting for a board comprised of seven Cliffs nominees and four Casablanca nominees, or use the gold card, meaning Casablanca gets six board members and control of the company.

If Casablanca wins, Cliffs officials claimed in the letter, Casablanca could tear the existing mining company apart.

“At our upcoming annual meeting, Cliffs shareholders have an important and strategic choice to make regarding the future of the Company,” Cliffs said in the letter.

“If shareholders vote using the gold card, it is almost certain that Casablanca will be able to use Cliffs’ cumulative voting provision to elect all six of their nominees, providing Casablanca with a majority of the board and enabling them to enact their potentially value-destructive plan to conduct a fire sale of Cliffs assets at the bottom of the commodity cycle. … By voting on the white card, Cliffs shareholders can elect a board that includes shareholder representation by Casablanca as recommended by ISS and Glass Lewis, but that also retains a majority of the directors Cliffs believes have the necessary industry and commodity cycle experience to enable (Cliffs) to succeed in the current iron ore and metallurgical coal pricing environment and emerge from the downturn as a stronger company.”

Outlook for Cliffs

It remains unclear what a Casablanca takeover would mean for Cliffs’ U.S. operations. In addition to owning and operating Northshore Mining in Silver Bay and Babbitt and United Taconite in Eveleth and Forbes, Cliffs also is a co-owner and operator of Hibbing Taconite and owns the Empire/Tilden operations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The company also owns metallurgical coal mines in the U.S. and other iron ore mines in Canada and Australia.

“If Cliffs retains control of the board, it likely means the company will not sell off its Asian operations, as Casablanca has suggested it should, in the hopes that massive spending cuts will be enough to see it through a weak commodity price environment,” said Arjun Sreekumar, an industry analyst writing for The Motley Fool. “But if Casablanca gains control of the board, the hedge fund will push Cliffs to divest its Asian assets and sell off its high-cost Bloom Lake mine.

“I think it’s safe to say that a Casablanca ‘victory,’ whether it be the election of all six of Casablanca’s nominees or just four of them, would likely provide a boost to Cliffs’ share price since investors don’t appear to believe that the company’s cost-cutting efforts will be enough to get the company through a prolonged period of depressed iron ore prices,” Sreekumar noted, adding that, either way, the current global market for iron ore looks crowded with capacity and primed for lower profits.

As new iron ore mines expand worldwide “they could push high-cost producers like Cliffs out of the market,” he said. “In short, investing in Cliffs right now is akin to betting on high iron ore prices over the next several years — a highly unlikely proposition.”

Duluth News Tribune


Steam ferry connects two states across Lake Michigan

7/29 - Ludington, Mich. — A cursory glance at a road map suggests that a traveler who persists in driving west on U.S. 10 from this Lake Michigan harbor town will get very, very wet. But there is a treat in store for travelers who are interested in exploring a piece of floating history, or just in cutting hours off the drive around Lake Michigan to Wisconsin.

The 6,650-ton, 410-foot-long SS Badger, the last coal-fired steamship operating in the United States, first sailed in 1953 and still carries passengers and cargo across the lake between Ludington, Mich., and Manitowoc, Wis. The ship can carry up to 600 passengers.

The ferry service, in effect, continues U.S. 10 from its stopping points on either side of the lake. A giant U.S. 10 highway symbol is even painted above the ramp where cars making the trip are loaded aboard the Badger.

Although the 60-mile voyage takes four hours, the cross-lake route eliminates a grueling drive south around the lake through the traffic of Chicago, shaving at least two hours off the trip and allowing passengers to enjoy the Badger’s many diversions.

On the Michigan shore, passengers board next to the SS Spartan, the Badger’s twin, now permanently docked and used only to supply otherwise unavailable parts for the Badger’s upkeep. (I’ll leave fans of Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin, respectively, to thrash out any metaphorical implications.)

Passengers who prefer privacy during their voyage can book one of the Badger’s 24 small private staterooms for the crossing, but most find common areas such as the main lounge or the large Cabana Room to be comfortable and pleasant.

As we left port, many passengers chose to watch from one of the open-air decks as Ludington slipped away behind us. But a stiff breeze and a chill fog soon sent most of us indoors, although a hardy few jogged or walked exercise laps around the deck.

A few passengers spent the voyage dozing in the ship’s “quiet room.” The room also houses the ship’s museum, which tells the story of the Badger and other historic Great Lakes ships.

The Badger is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its propulsion system has been declared a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

The Badger was designed to transport train cars as well as passengers; railroad tracks are still visible in the cargo hold. But the rail-car service ended in 1990.

A few years later, the ship was renovated as a ferry for passengers, automobiles and trucks. The engine room was restored to its original condition. Four coal-fired boilers still power the two four-cylinder steam engines, and the captain sends orders to the engine room using an old-fashioned bell system.

Elsewhere aboard the Badger, passengers will find a souvenir shop, two bars, a cafe and a deli, a television room and a small movie theater.

The crew also organizes free games in the main lounge, with prizes supplied by the souvenir shop. My bingo and trivia-game winnings included a souvenir pint glass and a refrigerator magnet.

Smaller children have a playroom of their own, and there is an arcade for the older set.

If getting there is half the fun, the other half can be found before and after a ride — on the Michigan and Wisconsin coasts.

On the Ludington side, the magnificent black-and-white Big Sable (rhymes with “hobble”) Point Lighthouse is open for tours in Ludington State Park. The 112-foot-tall lighthouse, completed in 1867, is one of the tallest on Lake Michigan and has been completely restored.

Also in Ludington, visitors will find several beautiful mansions now serving as bed-and-breakfast inns, a quaint downtown district and several nice eateries including the Jamesport Brewing Co. restaurant and craft brewery.

Manitowoc is home to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, one of the largest on the Great Lakes. There, visitors will find a number of exhibits including an unusual and exhaustive collection of antique outboard motors — machines that, when restored to a gleaming, like-new condition, are as beautiful as they were useful.

Also moored at the museum and open for tours is the USS Cobia, said to be the most completely restored World War II-era submarine in existence.

With the SS Badger offering an easy and pleasant connection, travelers can also explore the many other interesting towns on both coasts.

Columbus Dispatch


SS City of Milwaukee annual meeting Aug. 9

7/29 - The SS City of Milwaukee/USCGC Acacia will have its annual Carferry/180 Reunion meeting Saturday, Aug 9. Scheduled speakers are Ric Mixter, who will do a presentation of diving on the wreck of the SS Milwaukee, stories of 4 Coast Guard cutters (including the original Mackinaw and the Escanaba), and stories of the shipwrecks Cedarville, Nordmeer, Henry Cort, & Carl D Bradley; and Marc & Jill VanderMeulen, who will be doing a presentation on their conversion of the pilothouse of the cement boat John W. Boardman into a summer cottage at Detour Mich. A model of a triple-expansion steam engine built by Charles Hayes will be on display. Also there will be a Silent Auction from 11 am-5 pm. A cold-cut sandwich buffet along with sloppy joes will be provided between presentations. Visit for more information.

Bob Strauss


Lookback #254 – George J. Whalen capsized and sank in Lake Erie on July 29, 1930

7/29 - The George J. Whalen had only been recently rebuilt as a sandsucker when it capsized and sank off Dunkirk, New York, 84 years ago today. The ship got caught in a storm and only six members of the crew were saved. Another 15 lives were lost.

This ship was built at Toledo in 1910 and first served as the lumber carrier Erwin L. Fisher. In less than a year it was on the bottom of the Detroit River after a collision with the Stephen M. Clement on May 4, 1911.

The vessel was refloated and resumed service until leaving the lakes in 1916 for East Coast service as Bayersher. It headed overseas to trade for the French Government as Port de Caen in 1921 and the 227 foot long steamer was sold to Canadian interests in 1922 to become Bayersher again.

In 1923, this became the first steel-hulled vessel purchased by Capt. Scott Misener and was renamed Claremont. The ship often traded between Wallaceburg and Toronto carrying packaged sugar and then going to Montreal to load raw sugar.

Capt. Misener sold the ship in early 1930 and it was rebuilt as a sandsucker at Ecorse, Michigan. It came back to U.S. registry as Erwin L. Fisher before being renamed George J. Whalen prior to beginning a short career in the sand trade.

The hull of the vessel has been found, lying on its port side, off Barcelona, New York, and divers report that it is in a good state of preservation.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  July 29

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 29

OTTERCLIFFE HALL cleared Lauzon, Quebec, July 29, 1969 on her maiden voyage as the last "straight deck" Great Lakes bulk freighter built with a pilothouse forward.

While at the Manitowoc Ship Building Co. for general repairs and engine overhaul, the CITY OF SAGINAW 31 caught fire on July 29, 1971, destroying her cabin deck and rendering her useless for further use. The blaze was caused by an acetylene torch, and caused over $1 million in damage. She was not repaired. The CITY OF SAGINAW 31 was sold to Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne, Ontario, for scrapping.

On July 29, 1974 the W.W. HOLLOWAY grounded in Lake St. Clair off the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club while running downbound with stone. Lightering into the J.F. SCHOELKOPF JR was necessary before she was freed by four tugs on July 31st.

ENDERS M. VOORHEES departed Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, Michigan, on her maiden voyage July 29, 1942, bound for Duluth, Minnesota, to load iron ore. She was the second of five "Supers" for the Pittsburgh fleet to enter service.

July 29, 1974 - PERE MARQUETTE 21 was towed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to be reduced to a barge.

The steam barge MARY ROBERTSON burned near Mackinac on 29 July 1872. Her crew escaped to a schooner-barge they were towing.

The MATERIAL SERVICE foundered in a heavy summer gale in 1936, off the South Chicago lighthouse. She was a canal motor barge not designed for open-lake use.

The side-wheel river steamer DOMINION burned to the water's edge at her dock in the Thames River near Chatham, Ontario, on 29 July 1875. She was built in 1867, at Wallaceburg, Ontario.

1912 – REPUBLIC stranded at Point Louise in the St. Marys River and sustained bottom damage.

1930 – The sandsucker GEORGE J. WHALEN capsized and sank off Dunkirk, N.Y., in heavy seas and 15 sailors perished. Only 6 were rescued and taken aboard the AMASA STONE.

1942 – The first PRESCODOC was torpedoed and sunk by U-160 off Georgetown, British Guiana, with the loss of 15 lives. The bauxite-laden steamer went down quickly, bow first, while enroute to Trinidad and only 5 were saved.

1943 – LOCKWELL and KEYBELL collided above Bridge 11 of the Welland Canal. The former was repaired at Port Dalhousie with $13,450 in damages.

1946 – TEAKBAY went aground on Featherbed Shoal off Carleton Island in the St. Lawrence while bound for Montreal with a load of coal. This member of the C.S.L. fleet was released, with the aid of tugs, the next day and proceeded to Kingston for repairs.

1971 – While undergoing a major refit at Manitowoc, fire broke out aboard the CITY OF SAGINAW 31 destroying the top deck and accommodation area. The damage was listed as between $450,000 and $700,000 and the vessel became a total loss. It was towed to Castellon, Spain, for scrapping.

1979 – The Cayman Islands registered QUIDNET came through the Seaway in 1978 but sank, in a collision with the SEA TIDE at Mamei Curve in the Panama Canal while enroute from Callao, Peru, to Trinidad. The hull was abandoned as a total loss and had to be cut in two before being towed away to a dumping ground. The ship had also been a Great Lakes visitor as b) LUDMILLA C. in 1968.

1993 – The second FEDERAL SCHELDE to visit the Great Lakes was built in 1977 and came inland that year on its maiden voyage with sugar for Montreal and Toronto. The ship received major bow damage after striking the ARARAT in the Orinoco River of Venezuela. It went to Hamburg, Germany, for repairs and resumed service. It became b) TRIAS in 1994 and continued Seaway service until 1999. The ship arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for scrapping on December 12, 2000.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Jerry Pearson, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series, Marine Historical Society of Detroit


Coast Guard responding to Federal Rideau, grounded in Lake St. Clair

7/28 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Coast Guard was responding Sunday to a 656-foot freighter hard aground in the downbound shipping channel of Lake St. Clair.

At around 3 a.m., response coordinators at Coast Guard Sector Detroit received notice that the motor vessel Federal Rideau, a Hong Kong-flagged vessel, grounded on the downbound channel in Lake St. Clair near the Detroit River.

The vessel is carrying approximately 22,672 tons of wheat.

Coast Guard marine inspectors from Coast Guard Sector Detroit responded to the grounding to assess the situation and determine the extent of any structural damage to the vessel. Initial reports indicate there is no resultant pollution and no injuries were reported.

The vessel was en route to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The cause of the grounding was determined to be a loss of steering caused by a motor coupling failure and repairs to the coupling have been completed.

One attempt to refloat the freighter by two tugs was unsuccessful after one of the tugs experienced engine issues. Two more tugs were scheduled to arrive on scene Sunday night and attempt another refloating.

About 580 feet of the grounded vessel was in the shipping channel but the channel was still open to traffic.

Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Services in the Sarnia Traffic Zone was notifying mariners of the waterway obstruction and is directing one-way traffic in the area.


Port Reports -  July 28

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Sunday the English River was unloading cement. Replicas of the Nina and Pinta were docked for service at Marine Museum.


Seaway carrying 50 locomotives bound for Africa

7/28 - Massena, N.Y. – The Eisenhower and Snell Locks at Massena are part of the plan for moving 50 General Electric railroad locomotives from a Lake Erie terminal through the Seaway to their destination of Mozambique in Africa.

When the work order was drawing to an end and shipping arrangements were being made earlier this spring, the GE Transportation logistics professionals found that there was a nationwide shortage of railroad flat cars for the job, so the shipping option of moving the locomotives on rail flat cars to the East Coast, where they would be loaded onboard ocean vessels for final delivery, was not available.

According to the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the company called on the Port of Erie for assistance, and Erie Sand and Gravel geared up for the largest project cargo operation in two decades at the port.

Erie Sand and Gravel Terminal has the largest crane in the Great Lakes Seaway system, and it is loading the locomotives aboard German BBC heavylift ships.

Five batches of 115-ton locomotives, 10 per ship, were being set to move safely and competitively from the GE plant near the terminal and be marshalled into a staging area near the 1,400 foot quay. The CSX Rail company moved the locomotives aboard flat cars to the terminal only three miles from the plant’s doors.

On May 18, the BBC Xingang arrived in port and the first batch of locomotives were being stowed on deck. Within 24 hours, the ship was headed downbound towards Seaway locks, the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean for the crossing to the country of Mozambique.

Deliveries of the next 40 canary yellow locomotives will be spread out over the summer. This is among the largest project cargo movements in the Seaway System history, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

The good news continues as other project cargo is moving through the Seaway, this time destined for Massena.

Within a week of the first export of locomotives, three 180-ton electrical transformers manufactured in the Netherlands arrived aboard Fednav’s Federal Kumano.

Three more are due in late July, to arrive in Massena where they will be put to use by the New York Power Authority.

North Country Now


Lookback #253 – Norman J. Kopmeier almost rolled over on July 28, 1949

7/28 - It was 65-years ago today that the Norman J. Kopmeier, a self-unloader in the American Steamship Co. fleet, was arriving at Muskegon, Mich., with a cargo of coal from Chicago. While inbound, the 524-foot-long vessel struck an underwater obstruction, punching a hole in the hull.

The captain managed to beach the damaged freighter but the ship almost rolled over before it could be stabilized, patched and removed for repairs.

This vessel was built at Wyandotte, Mich., in 1906 and served the Carter Steamship Co. as E.D. Carter. The vessel moved to the Lake Superior Steamship Co. in 1914, part of the Algoma Central and Hudson Bay Railway, but remained under the U.S. flag.

It was sold to the American Steamship Co. in 1916 and sailed on their behalf as William T. Roberts. then, beginning in 1932, as the self-unloader Dow Chemical, before becoming the Norman J. Kopmeier in 1939.

It remained with the American Steamship Co. until sold to Redwood Enterprises Ltd., one of the Reoch fleets, in 1961. The ship moved to the Canadian side of the lakes as Pinedale and operated through 1976 before being tied up at Hamilton. It was finally scrapped there by United Metals in 1980-1981 after having seen temporary duty as a breakwall east of Toronto.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 28

On July 28, 1973, the ROGER M. KYES (Hull#200) was christened at Toledo, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. by Mrs. Roger Kyes for the American Steamship Co. Renamed b.) ADAM E. CORNELIUS in 1989.

B.A. PEERLESS (Hull#148) was launched July 28, 1952, at Collingwood, Ontario, by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. for British American Transportation Co. Ltd. Renamed b.) GULF CANADA in 1969, and c.) COASTAL CANADA in 1984.

The JOHN T. HUTCHINSON was delivered on July 28th to the Buckeye Steamship Co. (Hutchinson & Co., mgr.), Cleveland. The HUTCHINSON was part of a government program designed to upgrade and increase the capacity of the U.S. Great Lakes fleet during World War II. In order to help finance the building of new ships, the U.S.M.C. authorized a program that would allow existing fleets to obtain new boats by trading in their older boats to the Government for credit. The vessel was the ninth Maritimer and fourth of the six L6-S-Al types delivered. "L6" meant the vessel was built for the Great Lakes and was 600 to 699 feet in length. The "S" stood for steam power and "Al" identified specific design features.

On 28 July 1854, BOSTON (wooden propeller, 134 foot, 259 tons, built in 1847, at Ohio City, Ohio) was bound from Chicago for Ogdensburg, New York, with pork, corn, whiskey and produce. On Lake Ontario, about 20 miles off Oak Orchard, New York, she collided with the bark PLYMOUTH and sank in about 20 minutes. No lives were lost. The crew and passengers made it to shore in three lifeboats. The boat that the captain was in sailed 50 miles to Charlotte, New York.

In 1900, the freighter PRINCETON (Hull#302) was launched at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

On 28 July 1862, CONVOY (2-mast wooden schooner, 130 foot, 367 tons, built in 1855, at Buffalo, New York) was sailing downbound on a dark night on Lake Erie with 18,000 bushels of wheat when she collided with the empty bark SAM WARD and sank quickly in 12 fathoms of water. Her wreck drifted along the bottom and during the shipping season several vessels collided with her.

1922 – The wooden passenger and freight carrier CARIBOU went aground in the North Channel of Georgian Bay near Richards Landing.

1923 – The wooden steamer W.J. CARTER, enroute from Oswego to Cobourg with a cargo of coal, began leaking and sank in Lake Ontario 20 miles south of Point Peter. Nine crewmembers were rescued by the KEYPORT.

1929 – The newly-built canaller C.H. HOUSON was in a collision with the collier WABANA off Cap au Saumon on the St. Lawrence in heavy fog. The investigation of the accident was critical of the operation of both vessels. The former served in the Misener fleet, becoming b) PAUL MANION in 1949, and was scrapped at Deseronto, Ontario, in 1961.

1949 – NORMAN J. KOPMEIER was holed by an underwater obstruction entering Muskegon with a cargo of coal from Chicago. The vessel had to be beached and almost capsized. It was later refloated and repaired. The ship last sailed as e) PINEDALE in 1976 and was scrapped at Hamilton in 1981.

1961 – After loading a cargo of scrap steel for Japan on its first visit to the Great Lakes, the Greek freighter MIHALIS ANGELOS ran aground leaving Toronto harbor. The ship had been one of the “Empire Class” ships of World War Two, being built as a) EMPIRE MASEFIELD. It arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for scrapping as f) GLORIA on December 6, 1967.

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


Port Reports -  July 27

Manistee, Mich. – Tom McAdam
On Friday, Manitowoc came into Manistee to deliver coal to Tondu Energy in Filer City.

Detroit, Mich. - Bruce Lolmaugh
Sunday morning the Federal Rideau lost steerage while downbound on Lake St. Clair and grounded above the Peche Island Range Light at the north end of Belle Isle. Mid-morning they were trying to back off the bank using her cranes to rock the boat from side to side, without success. The bottom in the area is clay and no damage is expected to the vessel.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
The bulker Mandarin departed Redpath Friday evening and the handy-size bulker Tundra docked at the sugar refinery early Saturday morning. At about 9 a.m. the Stephen B. Roman cleared the east gap outbound for Picton to pick up another cargo of cement.


Lookback #252 – Baarrie aground in St. Lawrence on July 27, 1931

7/27 - Barrie was one of the small bulk canal-sized ships of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet. It was built at Collingwood for the George Hall Coal Co. in 1925 and sailed for them as Robert P. Kernan.

After joining C.S.L. in 1926, the ship completed the season but then was renamed Barrie prior to resuming service in 1927.

The 259 foot, 7 inch long vessel was an ideal fit through the existing Welland Canal and St. Lawrence canals of that day, and often carried grain to the St. Lawrence and returned west with pulpwood.

Barrie ran aground 83 years ago today. It stranded at Les Ecureuils Shoal near Donnacona, Q.C, on the St. Lawrence while bound for Quebec City. The ship was ultimately released, but did find the bottom of the St. Lawrence again on May 11, 1948, near Montreal.

This ship was the first C.S.L. carrier to use the Eisenhower Lock when it was opened on July 4, 1958. It was down bound at the time and became the 12th vessel overall through the new Seaway-sized lock at Massena, N.Y.

The opening of the Seaway spelled the end for the Barrie and it tied up at Kingston at the conclusion of the season. Following a sale for scrap, the ship was towed to Hamilton in July 1960 and dismantled by the Steel Company of Canada.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 27

On 27 July 1884, ALBERTA (steel propeller passenger/package freight vessel, 264 foot, 2,282 gross tons, built in 1883, at Whiteinch, Scotland, by C. Connell & Co.) collided in fog six miles north north west of Whitefish Point on Lake Superior with the JOHN M. OSBORNE (wooden propeller "steam barge", 178 foot, 891 tons, built in 1882, at Marine City, Michigan. The OSBORNE had two barges in tow at the time. ALBERTA stayed in the gash until most of OSBORNE's crew scrambled aboard, then pulled out and the OSBORNE sank. ALBERTA sank in shallow water, 3 1/2 miles from shore. 3 or 4 lives were lost from the OSBORNE, one from ALBERTA in brave rescue attempt while trying to get the crewmen off the OSBORNE. This was ALBERTA's first year of service. She was recovered and repaired soon afterward. She was the sister of the ill-fated ALGOMA which was lost in her first year of service. The wreck of the OSBORNE was located in 1984, 100 years after this incident.

On 27 July 1900, the steel freighter RENSSELAER (Hull#402) was launched in Cleveland, Ohio, by the American Ship building Co. for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company.

1897 – SELWYN EDDY and MARIPOSA collided head-on in dense fog off Manitou Island, Lake Superior. The damage was light, as both ships were proceeding slowly due to the conditions.

1912 – G. WATSON FRENCH, later the first ALGOWAY, was in a collision with the MATAAFA in Lake St. Clair and the latter was heavily damaged and almost sank.

1931 – The Canada Steamship Lines bulk canaller BARRIE went aground at Les Ecureuils Shoal in the St. Lawrence while enroute to Quebec City.

1944 – The FORT PERROT was damaged by a torpedo in the English Channel south of Hastings, while providing support for the ongoing invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Europe. As c) DORION, this ship made two trips to the Great Lakes in 1959. The vessel was scrapped at Yokohama, Japan, as e) ANTONIOS S. after arriving on June 17, 1963.

1987 – The ANDREW H. went aground off Cornwall Island, in the St. Lawrence, after experiencing steering problems. The ship, loaded with steel for Dofasco in Hamilton, was lightered by MAPLEHEATH and released on August 2. The cargo was reloaded at Valleyfield. The ship first came inland as EKTOR in 1976. It arrived at Alang, India, for scrapping as e) BLUEWEST on January 31, 1998.

1999 – The SPIRIT OF 98 went aground on a rock in the Gulf of Alaska 40 miles southeast of Juneau, forcing the passengers to abandon the ship. Flooding was checked and the ship released and repaired. As c) VICTORIAN EMPRESS, the ship saw passenger service on the St. Lawrence and came into the Great Lakes to Lake Ontario beginning in 1990.

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


Lake Michigan water level up 2 feet since January 2013

7/26 - New Buffalo, Mich. – Water levels of Lake Michigan are up roughly 2 feet in the last year and a half and that delights marine enthusiasts, particularly the owners of large boats with difficulties running aground the past few seasons.

The lake is still below its normal level but nowhere near the record low set in January 2013.

''A complete turnaround,'' said Bob Stratton, the owner of Service 1 Marine outside of New Buffalo. ''It's the highest I've seen in years.''

According to measurements compiled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lake level in June stood at 578.67 feet above sea level. Despite the rise, the water level is still just below the average level since 1918 of 579 feet above sea level, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers calculations.

And the level is way above the record low for Lake Michigan of 576.02 above sea level set in 2013.

Steve Davis, a Lake Michigan specialist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources out of Michigan City, said he hasn't seen any homes at the edge of cliffs at risk of toppling over from beach erosion because the lake was so low before the water started rising again.

Beaches are narrowing. By some estimates a rise of 1 inch in the lake level reduces the width of beach by 10 inches. But Davis hasn't seen any major negative effects.

He has, though, witnessed benefits including more water in channels such as Trail Creek, which is used to get back and forth from Lake Michigan. Also there are fewer sandbars lurking close to the water's surface.

Larger watercraft and sailboats with long masts sometimes were running aground or skimming the very edge of the bottom in recent years due to water levels being low.

More dredging to accommodate large recreational boats in the recent past also had to occur to remove sediment that normally wouldn't make harbors or the mouths of channels too shallow.

Davis said large cargo ships traveling to and from the Port of Indiana, for example, also had to carry lighter loads to ease the risk of running aground.

''It definitely helps,'' said Davis, who added that below normal levels have prevailed in Lake Michigan for the most part since 1999.

Beach erosion that undercut some houses was a major problem in 1997 and 1998 along with the mid-80s and mid-70s when lake levels rose sharply, said Davis.

Davis noted the levels largely reflect precipitation and evaporation rates. This year, levels are up in part because the Great Lakes were frozen over, preventing evaporation.

Stratton said levels the previous two seasons dropped enough to leave some boats stranded from resting on the bottom in their own slips. In some cases, boaters had to rely on a bad storm to fill the marinas with enough water from the lake just to get their watercraft out of harbors and into storage.

South Bend Tribune


Grain shipments up this season

7/26 - Grain shipments via the St. Lawrence Seaway have skyrocketed this season as both Prairie and Ontario farmers take advantage of the waterway to meet export demand in Europe, the Middle East and other world markets.

According to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, while combined shipments (U.S. and Canadian) are up 38 per cent, Canadian grain shipments from March 25 to June 30 totaled 2.7 million metric tons, a 50 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Grain traders are using the Port of Thunder Bay and the Great Lakes-Seaway system to export a backlog of Prairie grain that built up through the winter. Likewise, Ontario farmers are taking advantage of expanded facilities at the Port of Hamilton to ship canola, corn, soybeans and wheat through the navigation system to mainly international markets.

The Port of Thunder Bay had its busiest June in 17 years as both domestic and ocean carriers loaded over 965,000 metric tons of grain during the month. Grain shipments at the Port of Hamilton have also soared, with more than 380,000 metric tons transiting the port since the opening of the season.

The Canadian grain rush has helped shipping rebound considerably after a crippling start to the season due to ice coverage.

However, total year-to-date cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway were 11.1 million metric tons, down 7 per cent compared to 2013 due to decreases in iron ore and coal traffic.

The bi-national Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway marine industry generates $35 billion in business revenues and supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada.


Port’s new wharf accepts first shipments in East Toledo

7/26 - Toledo, Ohio – Many months and millions of dollars in the making, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s new wharf on the former Gulf Oil refinery site in East Toledo has begun receiving waterborne freight.

Along with ongoing use of its railroad tracks for railcar storage, Great Lakes freighters have delivered several loads of railroad ballast stone to the Ironville Dock off Front Street, Joe Cappel, the port authority’s director of cargo development, said Wednesday.

While ballast stone also is handled at the Midwest Terminals stone dock, “this is a new opportunity to serve Norfolk Southern’s rail ballast needs,” Cappel said, noting that Midwest’s stone dock has access only to CSX Transportation.

At the request of Midwest Terminals of Toledo International, the port authority stevedore that also operates Ironville, the port’s board of directors today is to consider $1.3 million in further work.

That includes upgrades to its fire-suppression system, expansion of the paved lay-down area for cargo, facilities for aluminum storage and handling, and addition of a transloading pump station and related safety equipment.

“This is the final slug of money that will finish everything off, that will make Ironville a fully operable facility,” Cappel said.

The port authority has spent $23 million on the project. That includes $4.5 million to buy the property from Chevron, financed primarily by an array of state and federal grants and loans.

The new improvements’ cost will be built into Midwest’s Ironville lease over the next eight years, effectively making the $1.3 million a loan from the port authority, Cappel said. “We may as well make the interest, instead of a third party,” he said.

Ironville Dock occupies 71 acres of the former refinery’s total 181 acres, representing the portion between Front Street and the river. The port authority hopes to attract businesses to the remaining property based on its proximity to the new dock across the street.

Ironville has been designed to handle bulk materials primarily, with rail-truck transfers possible along with ship-rail or ship-truck.

Norfolk Southern’s access to Ironville complements access by CSX, its main competitor, to the port authority’s other bulk-materials facility, the International Cargo Dock downriver.

Cappel said the port authority and Midwest also are pursuing potential business at Ironville in the handling of stabilized condensate, a petroleum byproduct of eastern Ohio’s growing natural-gas production.

Toledo Blade / Associated Press


Port of Monroe receives award

7/26 - Monroe, Mich. – The Port of Monroe has been presented with the Pacesetter Award during the American Great Lakes Ports Association meeting earlier this week. The meeting was hosted in Monroe and included representatives from U.S. ports throughout the Great Lakes region.

“This meeting gives us an opportunity to plan for the future, discuss critical industry issues and celebrate recent accomplishments,” said Paul C. LaMarre III, director of the Port of Monroe, in a press release.

Last year the port saw more than 2.1 million tons of cargo pass through, and it will become the sole distributor of DTE Energy’s synthetic gypsum. It also will be dredged to chartered depths of 21 feet and 18 feet in the turning basin by next year. These accomplishments are some of the reasons the port has won the award.

Betty Sutton, administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, spoke highly of Mr. LaMarre in the release.

“I applaud your hard work, your leadership and commitment, and hope and believe this first Pacesetter Award is just the beginning of many more to follow,” she said.

Port of Monroe


Michigan tells Enbridge to install more support anchors beneath Straits oil pipes

7/26 - Traverse City, Mich. – Two oil pipelines at the bottom the waterway linking Lakes Huron and Michigan will get additional support structures to help prevent potentially devastating spills, officials said Thursday.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Dan Wyant, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, said they had put Enbridge Energy Partners LP on notice following the company's acknowledgement it was partly out of compliance with an agreement dating to 1953, when the pipelines were laid in the Straits of Mackinac.

As a condition of an easement granted by the state, Enbridge agreed that support anchors would be placed at least every 75 feet. In a response last month to a lengthy series of questions about the condition of the lines from Schuette and Wyant, the Canadian company acknowledged some sections don't meet the requirement, although the average distance between supports is 54 feet.

"We will insist that Enbridge fully comply with the conditions of the Straits Pipeline Easement to protect our precious environmental and economic resources and limit the risk of disaster threatening our waters," Schuette said.

Enbridge spokeswoman Terri Larson said the company had agreed to add more supports, even though engineering analyses peer-reviewed by experts at Columbia University and the University of Michigan concluded previously that gaps of up to 140 feet between supports would be safe. The work will begin in early August and be completed within 90 days, she said. Afterward, the average distance between supports will be 50 feet.

"The Straits of Mackinac crossing has been incident-free since it was constructed in 1953," Larson said. "Through even greater oversight, the use of new technology and ensuring all risks are monitored and where necessary mitigated, Enbridge is committed to maintaining this incident-free record into the future."

The two pipelines are part of the 1,900-mile Lakehead network, which originates in North Dakota near the Canadian border. A segment known as Line 5 runs through northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula before ducking beneath the Straits of Mackinac, then continuing to Sarnia, Ontario.

The line divides into two 20-inch pipes beneath the straits at depths reaching 270 feet and carries nearly 23 million gallons of crude oil daily. The 5-mile-wide straits area is ecologically sensitive and a major tourist draw.

A June report by hydrodynamics specialist David Schwab of the University of Michigan Water Center concluded that because of strong currents, a rupture of the pipeline would quickly foul shorelines miles away in Lakes Huron and Michigan.

Larson said Enbridge began installing steel anchors for the underwater lines in 2002, replacing sandbag supports. They consist of 10-foot-long screws augured into the lakebed on either side of the pipes, holding a steel saddle that provides support. No washouts have been seen during inspections since then, she said.

Schuette and Wyant said their staffs are still reviewing Enbridge's responses to other questions about the pipelines. Enbridge Energy Partners is a unit of Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc.


Great Lakes cleanup efforts get new funding

7/26 - In the ongoing effort to clean up the Great Lakes, the federal government is committing new funding worth $418,000 to four projects around the St. Clair River in Southwestern Ontario.

The 65-km St. Clair has been listed as one of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. It was placed on the Remedial Action Plan, a restoration plan, in 1987.

“Fish and wildlife habitat on both sides of the St. Clair River have been considerably altered due to industrialization, urban development, diking, drainage for agricultural purposes, and the development of navigational channels,” notes a Michigan Department of the Environment report on the St. Clair River Areas of Concern in 2008.

“There were 43 areas of concern in the Great Lakes. These are areas that were identified as having experienced high levels of environmental harm. So 12 of those 43 were Canadian, 5 were shared, and the others were in the U.S.,” Colin Carrie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, said in an interview.

“Work has been completed on three of the Canadian areas. By 2019 we anticipate being able to complete remedial action for a further five Areas of Concern, but there is more work to be done.”

The Great Lakes Water Agreement penned between the U.S. and Canada in 2012 requires that remedial action plans be developed by each country that identify beneficial use, work with local communities, summarize how the measures have been completed, and undertake ongoing monitoring of restoration progress.

The city of Sarnia, a region the US Environmental Protection Agency has listed as a major source of concern due to its high industrial and agricultural practices, will receive $75,000 of the new funding to improve its wastewater monitoring of flows into the St. Clair.

Another $90,000 will go toward creating 4-10 km of shore buffers around the river and to restore 40 acres of wetland.

The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority will receive $110,000 to restore natural stone along a section of the St. Clair, while the Essex Conservation Authority has been granted $138,000 to improve water quality in the Detroit River.

“Each group has its individual project that they are working toward,” said Claire Sanders with the Essex Conservation Authority. “There has been a huge amount of work done in these Areas of Concern and there is a long way to go.”

A total of 27 new projects worth $1.5 million are slated for restoration around the Great Lakes between 2014 and 2015.

“It is a work in progress. What we have to do is continue what was done today,” said Carrie.

Epoch Times


Library of Michigan hosts Michigan Nautical Gathering

7/26 - On Saturday, Oct. 11, the Library of Michigan will be hosting the Michigan Nautical Gathering in Lansing. It is intended to be an event where scholars and organizations converge to discuss current and historical maritime issues from throughout the state. Michigan Nautical is the second program in a three-program series titled “Michigan Travel & Transit.” For more information, contact Edwina A. Murphy, Michigan Collection Curator, Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo St., Lansing, MI 48909.


Lookback #251 – Hiawatha sunk by vandals at Toronto on July 26, 2000

7/26 - The steel-hulled ferry Hiawatha has been plying the waters of Toronto Bay since 1895. The ship was built in Toronto that year for the Royal Canadian Yacht Club at a cost of $7,000.

The 100 passenger capacity ferry began service on July 9, 1895. It has operated between the mainland and the Yacht Club, located on Toronto Island, delivering their members and guests from the downtown dock to the clubhouse.

In 1919, the ship carried the Prince of Wales, the heir to the British throne, to lay the cornerstone for the new clubhouse being erected on the island. The ship has also been used to take patients from the Hospital for Sick Children for tours of Toronto harbor.

Hiawatha was repowered with an oil-fired diesel engine in 1944 and no longer burned anthracite coal. The ship was also rebuilt in 1982-1983 at a cost of $150,000 and restored to its old color scheme of a blue hull with an off-white superstructure and burgundy trim.

Vandals got on board during the night of July 26, 2000, and they managed to sink the vessel at the mainland dock. The derrick dredge Rock Prince was able to life Hiawatha out of the water and it was taken to Hamilton for restoration.

Hiawatha continues in its 119 years of service and remains a fixture on the Toronto waterfront.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 26

On July 26, 2005, the salty ORLA ran aground at Kahnawake, Quebec, and the passing rum tanker JO SPIRIT made contact with her. Both vessels were damaged and repaired in Montreal.

ALGOWEST sailed on her maiden voyage in 1982 from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to Quebec City with a 27,308 ton load of barley.

On July 26, 1943 the BRUCE HUDSON caught fire while loading gasoline at East Chicago, Illinois, and four people lost their lives.

CONALLISON departed Windsor, Ontario on her first trip for Johnstone Shipping Ltd. on July 26, 1981.

WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE (Hull#154) sailed light on her maiden voyage from Great Lakes Engineering Works at Ecorse, Michigan on July 26, 1916, to Duluth, Minnesota, to load iron ore. Renamed b.) HENRY STEINBRENNER in 1986. She was scrapped at Port Maitland, Ontario, in 1994.

On 26 July 1885, ISLE ROYALE (wooden propeller passenger/package freight vessel, 92 foot, 92 gross tons, built in 1879) sprang a leak near Susick Island near Isle Royale on Lake Superior. She sank but her passengers and crew made it to the island. She was owned by Cooley, Lavague & Company of Duluth. She was originally built as the barge AGNES.

1910 ZENITH CITY went aground at Au Sable Reef, near Marquette, due to fog. The ore-laden steamer sustained damage to 60 planes.

1943 The Canadian tanker BRUCE HUDSON caught fire loading high-octane gasoline at Phillips Petroleum in South Chicago. The Captain, his son and 2 crewmen were killed. The ship was rebuilt and eventually scrapped at Cartagena, Colombia, by 1983 as c) WITCROIX.

1948 ROGN, a Norwegian tanker, went aground in the St. Lawrence at Toussant Island, near Iroquois, after the steering gear failed. The tugs SALVAGE PRINCE and SALVAGE QUEEN pulled the vessel free. It was in ballast and operated on charter to the McColl-Frontenac Oil Company. The ship was scrapped at Piraeus, Greece, as c) PIRAEUS III in 1981.

1965 The Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier GEORGIAN BAY stood by the small wooden pulpwood carrier PRINCE QUEBEC on Lake Ontario. Cables were strung to the small ship, enroute to Tonawanda, NY with a cargo of pulpwood, to help keep it afloat. PRINCE QUEBEC was later taken to La Petite Riviere, Quebec, beached and never repaired. Apparently the hull was burned by vandals in the 1970s.

1983 PRA RIVER was registered in Ghana when it came to the Great Lakes in 1963. It went aground, enroute from Las Palmas, Canary Islands, to Lagos, Nigeria, as c) MAYON II on this date in 1983 and was abandoned.

2000 HIAWATHA, a ferry dating from 1895, was sunk by vandals at Toronto. It operated between the mainland and a Toronto Island yacht club. The hull was refloated July 28 and taken to Hamilton for restoration, repairs and a return to service.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series, published by the Marine Historical Society of Detroit.


Rising Lake Superior levels are a mixed blessing

7/25 - Ashland, Wis. – What a difference a year can make. A year ago, Lake Superior was a full foot below its current level, and the Lower Great Lakes were recording record lows that hadn’t been reached in over a century and a half of recording lake level data.

Lake Superior reached its own record-breaking low in 2007, reaching a level of 600.4 feet, down from its average elevation of 602.1 feet. These days, that level is 602.56 feet, say the Army Corps of Engineers, about seven inches above the average level. According to climate change scientists at the George C. Marshall Institute, it’s the fastest 12-month rise in Lake Superior’s levels since 1916.

That abrupt reversal has ended, at least for the time being, a steady decline in lake levels that has gone on for the past 14 years.

According to a meteorologist for the National Weather service, at least part of the reason for the higher lake levels is increased precipitation and last winter’s brutal cold.

“I’m not sure I can tell you everything, but I can tell you we’ve had a lot of rain, and I would assume all the snow we had over the winter has caused some of the increase,” said Geoff Grochocinski of the Duluth office of the National Weather Service.

Another factor was the widespread sheet of ice over the big lake.

“That lowered the amount of evaporation that was able to take place over the lake until it disappeared, helping the lake to retain more water than usual,” he said.

The colder-than-usual lake water also combined with a cool, wet spring to cut back on evaporation, while a National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center forecast that shows continued cooler than normal weather for the Upper Great Lakes suggests that trend might continue, again, for the time being.

In the grand scheme of things, a foot of water more or less might not seem like a huge thing on a lake with an area of 49,300 square miles, but it can have huge impacts. In the case of commercial shipping, each one-inch increase in draft available to a thousand-foot bulk carrier means up to 250 tons more cargo that can be shipped out of ports like Duluth-Superior, said an official of the Lakes Carrier Association. That means up to 3,000 tons per ship with an extra foot of water under the keel. Over the course of a year’s operations, that could mean as much as one or two extra voyages over the course of a shipping season.

It’s also a big deal for recreational boaters who now find they can go places that were too shallow to navigate even a year or two ago.

“The rising lake levels have definitely had a positive impact for boaters,” said Ashland Marina manager Scott Stegmann. “For the fishing crew guys who do smallmouth fishing, they’ve been able to get into areas that they’ve never been able to get to before.”

Stegmann said the higher lake levels have means less weeds in the marina, and a deeper draft for sailboats.

“There’s no getting stuck in the mud or sand, so yes, it’s been positive,” he said.

Stegmann said with the marina’s floatable docks and a high bulkhead, there was no real downside to the higher water.

“For us, it’s not a problem at all,” he said. “I’d love to see it stay at this level, that’s for sure. I understand the problems with beaches. There is a cycle of nature, and right now we are on the high side.”

The high water has not been an unmitigated plus for some, such as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where a combination of higher water and fierce storms has meant problems with erosion.

“The biggest thing is that we are seeing a lot of erosion. Some dock damage, but a lot of erosion,” said Julie Van Stappen, chief of planning and resource management for the National lakeshore.

That erosion has led the Lakeshore officials to move a campsite on Outer Island.

“The previous one was getting eroded away,” She said. “We lost probably 10 feet of land because of the increased lake levels and winter storms. We are also seeing a lot less beach throughout the entire park.

“It’s especially noticeable at places like the sand spit, Long Island and places like that.”

Van Stappen said the docks are holding up so far, although there has been some damage.

On the other hand, most vessels are easily able to tie up at the docks on the islands, something that wasn’t always possible even two years ago.

“Four or five years ago, we had really low lake levels, but this is the highest we have seen things in a very long time, maybe back into the ‘80s,” she said.

Van Stappen observed that erosion was a natural process on the islands, but was unwelcome in some areas. “It was really high lake levels in the 80s that caused a lot of the bluff erosion on he north ends of the islands near the light houses, where we had to do quite a bit of work,” she said.

Van Stappen noted that the rising lake levels could simply be an anomaly.

“The long-term trend is for the lake to go down, due to climate change,” she said. “The overall trend seems to be going down, but with periodic spikes of lake levels. It’s always keeping us guessing.”

And what is the best current guess?

The Army Corps of Engineers thinks the lake will rise another couple of inches in the next month or two. After that, who knows?

One potentially ominous note is that the National Weather Service is calling for a moderate El Niño event to take place. In 1998, a major El Niño resulted in abnormally warm weather in the equatorial Eastern Pacific Ocean. That, in turn, resulted in greatly increased evaporation of water from the Great Lakes, precipitating the cycle of lower lake levels.

No one can really say what is in store for the largest of the Great Lakes, but as long as the water levels are high on Superior, the International Board of Control, responsible for the structures that partially control Great Lake levels, are going to see if they can send some of Superior’s bounty to the still water-short lower lakes.

The board recently announced that they would increase the outflow of the St. Mary’s river, which drains Lake Superior at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to get more water into Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, which are both about five-and-a-half inches below average.

Ashland Daily Press


In Canada, a drive to match veterans with mariner jobs

7/25 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Colin Anderson considers himself an underutilized veteran. The St. Catharines resident has had more than two decades of electronics experience with the Canadian Forces in the 1970s and 80s.

Yet Anderson's more recent employment has been in retail. On Thursday, he ships-out from Port Colborne for work on the Canada Steamship Lines vessel Baie St. Paul.

"I haven't been using the training and experience I've been through, so this is a great opportunity for me," said Anderson, who is in his early 50s and is hired as an electronics technician. "And there wasn't a lot in Niagara for it.

"This is exciting, it's another chapter," said the veteran, who'll almost be doubling his salary. "I've spent a lot of years previously training in this area, so it's nice to be able to use it."

Anderson is part of a major push by the Seafarers' International Union of Canada to focus on training and hiring Canadian Forces veterans in transition to civilian life.

On Wednesday, The Seafarers, St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra and other officials held a media event in Thorold to roll out project details. Anderson was also at the gathering and spoke afterward.

The Seafarer's hiring blitz is in partnership with the shipping industry and department of veterans affairs and targets veterans for mariner positions. Training would also be provided by the union.

Seafarers' president James Given said his union is not being federally funded in the hiring initiative. The jobs pay roughly $60,000 per year at entry level and can rise up to $140,000.

Veterans making transitions to civilian employment can also access up to $75,800 in federal money for education and re-training expenses.

"The Seafarers recognizes these people have a great deal of knowledge, experience and fortitude to offer," Dykstra said at the event, which was held at the Seafarers' Thorold hall. "When (we worked with the union) to find a way to utilize that experience, we saw the opportunity for a great match."

Given said the hiring program has already been rolled out, starting in Thorold. It will include areas across Canada. "We needed the bodies on board the ships, and had already spoken to six of the veterans who wanted to be involved," he said. "We were able to get them all jobs."

Given said after factoring in retirements and the needs of shippers, about 100-200 veterans could move into positions every year.

"They fit the skill sets we need," Given said. "It's the basic culture of how we operate, being gone from home and in a tight environment and working as a team.

"And it's also about the training they've had. It all fits."

St. Catharines Standard


Port Reports -  July 25

Oshawa, Ont.
The saltie Fritz departed Oshawa on the evening of July 23 for Hamilton Pier 26. She still has the same engine problems that plagued the vessel during her Seaway transit. The vessel will attempt to complete repairs in Hamilton. Her next destination is unknown.


Lookback #250 – George A. Stinson grounded on July 25, 1994

7/25 - The George A. Stinson was one of the “thousand footers” in Great Lakes service. It was built at Lorain, Ohio, and joined the National Steel Corp. fleet in 1978.

The vessel has had some minor problems over the years. It got stuck in ice north of Port Huron on Jan. 23, 1979, and had its boom collapse at Detroit on April 17, 1981. This latter accident resulted in weeks of service as a straight decker until the boom could be repaired.

Management moved to the Interlake fleet in 1992. Two years later, it became the first thousand footer to deliver a cargo to Algoma Steel at Sault Ste. Marie, arriving with a shipment of ore from Superior on June 6, 1994.

It was 20 years ago today that the George A. Stinson was down bound with a cargo of iron ore when the ship got stuck in the St. Clair River. This was apparently due to a propeller problem and the vessel, en route to Detroit, was repaired and refloated.

The George A. Stinson also carried cargoes for U.S. Steel but it is currently owned by the American Steamship Co. Now known as American Spirit, this ship opened the Soo Locks, downbound, for the year on March 25, 2005. It continues to keep busy throughout the navigation season.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 25

In 1991 the 16-man crew of the ocean-going tug PACIFIC TIDE NO 3 were arrested at Montreal on charges of smuggling drugs. The tug had arrived from the Philippines to tow the damaged Spanish vessel MILANOS to Spain.

Algoma Central Marine's former ALGOCEN departed Montreal on July 25, 2005, under tow of the tugs ATLANTIC OAK and ANDRE H bound for Keasby, New Jersey. She was renamed b.) VALGOCEN and was registered in Panama. She later sailed as J.W. SHELLEY and PHOENIX STAR.

The bow section of the ROGER BLOUGH (Hull#900) was floated into the new American Ship Building Co. Lorain dry dock on July 25, 1970, and was joined with the 421-foot stern section. The launch of the completed hull was scheduled for July 1971, but a fire broke out in the engine room on June 24, 1971, killing four yard workers and extensively damaging her Pielstick diesel engines. Extensive repairs, which included replacement of both engines, delayed the launch for nearly a year.

CANADA MARQUIS was upbound at Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1983, on her maiden voyage for Misener Holdings Ltd. She sails today as CSL's e.) BIRCHGLEN. July 25, 1983 - A wedding was held aboard the BADGER. Chris Gebhart and Pat Sroka of Ludington were married by Rev. John Christensen.

The wooden lumber tug CYGNET, which worked on the Shiawassee and Bad Rivers and Lake Huron, was destroyed when her boiler exploded in "Blow-up Bayou" on the Shiawassee River in 1875.

The wooden bulk freighter D C WHITNEY was launched at Langell's shipyard in St. Clair, Michigan on 25 July 1882. Her dimensions were 229 feet x 40 feet x15 feet, 1090 gross tons.

1911: Efforts to beach the leaking wooden, coal-laden, freighter RAPPAHANNOCK failed and the ship sank off Jackfish Point, Lake Superior after an unsuccessful battle with 75 mph winds. All on board were saved

1964: SUNNABRIS made 4 trips through the Seaway in 1959 and returned as c) SEA FRIEND in 1961 and d) DEMOKRITOS in 1962. The ship dated from 1929 and it went aground, while inbound at Alexandria, Egypt, on this date and was abandoned as a total loss. The hull was sold to Yugoslavian salvors and cut up for scrap where it was.

1991: YANKCANUCK (ii) went aground in the St. Marys River about four miles from DeTour. The ship was carrying a cargo of scrap steel for Chicago and was operating as a barge under tow of the ANGLIAN LADY. The vessel was lightered and released.

1994: GEORGE A. STINSON, downbound with a cargo of iron ore for Detroit, went aground in the St. Clair River but was refloated.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Lake Huron Lore Society, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series, Marine Historical Society of Detroit.


Lee Murdock turns to Kickstarter to raise money for new CD

7/24 - Great Lakes troubadour Lee Murdock has launched a Kickstarter online fundraising campaign to finance his 19th CD, “What About the Water,” a collection of songs from the Great Lakes region.

This is the first time Murdock has gone the crowd-funding route.

“The myth that the ‘record company’ pays for everything on these albums is just that, a myth,” he said. “Recording and manufacturing this album will cost close to $15,000.00. In the past, I was able to cover these costs through sales of my other titles and help from family. Times have changed. Sales are soft and revenue from digital downloads have not lived up to expectations. I feel, though, that this work is very important. It gives everyone who listens to these songs a very personal sense of place, history with a human touch.”

A variety of reward packages are available, depending on contribution level. For more information, or to donate:


Port Reports -  July 24

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Wednesday, Capt. Henry Jackman unloaded potash.


Lookback #249 – Former Grainmotor sank in the Caribbean on July 24, 1974

7/24 - When the Grainmotor was built in 1929, it was the first vessel constructed of an experimental design that many thought would gradually replace the old steam-powered canal ships of that era. Due to the impact of the Great Depression, these plans were curtailed and only Grainmotor was built.

The diesel-powered Grainmotor required less engine room space to accommodate the power plant and, as a result, could transport more cargo. It could carry an extra 5,000 bushels of grain per trip resulting in a profit increase of $275.00 for the voyage. The engine did seem to have a problem they called for “dead slow." It had the periodic tendency to stall resulting in the occasional accident.

Grainmotor often traded through the old St. Lawrence Canals delivering various grains to storage elevators along the St. Lawrence. There were other cargoes as well. The ship was trying to load steel bars at Stelco during a strike at the plant in 1958 and the S.I.U. crew left in a tug leaving the vessel idle for weeks.

Following a sale for saltwater service, Grainmotor loaded its final Great Lakes cargo at Port Colborne and departed the Seaway for the last time in early July 1966. The name was changed to Bulk Gold in 1967 and the ship had mixed results as a saltwater trader.

After being idle, again, it was sold and registered in Nicaragua as Andy in 1974. The vessel was lost 40 years ago today on a voyage from Pensacola, Fla., to Guayaquil, Ecuador. It went down off Isla de Providencia on July 24, 1974, but may have been aground for a day or two before it was lost.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  July 24

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 24

On July 24, 1980, 34 ships were delayed when the BALTIC SKOU, a 595 foot Danish-flag freighter built in 1977, ran aground after losing power three miles east of the Snell Lock, near Massena, New York. The ship, loaded with sunflower seeds, was headed for Montreal and the Atlantic Ocean when the grounding occurred. No injuries or pollution resulted from the accident and the vessel did not take on any water.

ALGOSOO (Hull#206) was launched July 24, 1974, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. for Algoma Central Railway, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. BURNS HARBOR’s sea trials were conducted on July 24, 1980, during which she performed an emergency stop in 3,160 feet loaded to a depth of 25/26 feet. She was the third 1,000-footer built for Bethlehem and the tenth on the Great Lakes.

ST. CLAIR (Hull#714) was launched July 24, 1975, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, by Bay Shipbuilding Corp. for the American Steamship Co.

WILLIAM G. MATHER left River Rouge, Michigan, on her maiden voyage July 24, 1925, for Ashtabula, Ohio to load coal for Port Arthur/Fort William, Ontario.

The wooden steamer OSCAR TOWNSEND was launched at 2:20 p.m. at E. Fitzgerald's yard in Port Huron on 24 July 1873. The launch went well with a few hundred spectators. She was built for use in the iron ore trade by the Lake Superior Transportation Co. Her dimensions were 210 feet overall, 200 foot keel, 33 foot 10 inches beam and 15 foot depth. She had three masts and was painted deep green.

On 24 July 1847, CONSTITUTION (wooden passenger/package freight side-wheeler, 141 foot, 444 tons, built in 1837, at Charleston, Ohio) struck a pier in Sandusky harbor, stove a large hole in her bow and sank. Her machinery was later recovered and installed in J D MORTON.

1915: EASTLAND rolled over and sank on her side at Chicago with the loss of 835 lives. It was the worst marine accident in Great Lakes history.

1960: The idle tanker COASTAL CASCADES was being used for occasional storage when she sank at the dock at Montreal. The hull was salvaged in August and dismantled at Montreal in 1961-1962.

1970: The 226-foot Danish freighter NORDLAND SAGA made one trip through the Seaway in 1965. It was wrecked off Oman as c) ADEL of the Dubai National Shipping Corp., while enroute from Bombay, India, to Dubai with a cargo of steel bars and generals.

1974: The former GRAINMOTOR left the Great Lakes in 1966 for saltwater service. It was lost as c) ANDY enroute from Pensacola, Fla., to Guayaquil, Ecuador, in the Caribbean on this date off Isla de Providencia.

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


Port Reports -  July 23

Suttons Bay, Mich. - Al Miller
Tug Leonard M. anchored off Omena, Mich., in the lee of the Leelanau Peninsula on Tuesday night as a windy weather front moved through the region. AIS showed the vessel as bound for Ludington.

St. Clair, Mich. – Bob Markus
Indiana Harbor arrived Tuesday at the power plant with a load of coal.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
Pearl Seas Cruises new cruise ship Pearl Mist arrived early Monday morning and moored at the International Marine Passenger Terminal. The 200-passenger vessel is on its maiden voyage into the Great Lakes system beginning with an inaugural Great Lakes and Georgian Bay cruise to Chicago. Also Monday morning the Stephen B. Roman was back at the Essroc Villiers Street facility unloading cement.


Ex-laker Pioneer beached at Aliaga scrapyard

7/23 - The self-discharging bulk carrier Pioneer, built at Port Weller Dry Docks as Canadian Pioneer in 1981 was run up on the beach at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping on July 22. The ship had been at anchor off Aliaga since arriving under her own power from Lake Charles, Louisiana, on July 18.

Skip Gillham


Proposed ferry service would link Buffalo’s Canalside to outer harbor

7/23 - Buffalo, N.Y. – A ferry service linking Canalside to the outer harbor could begin by next summer. The ferry would carry between 50 to 100 people on trips between Canalside’s Central Wharf and the outer harbor.

“I will personally be very disappointed if we don’t have a very active, back-and-forth ferry for passengers by this time next year,” said Robert D. Gioia, chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.

Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo, developed the proposal and secured support from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., which oversees Canalside, and the New York Power Authority, which owns the shoreline property across the water.

“The whole idea is extending the Canalside experience to the outer harbor,” Ryan said. “If you go by the mantra we have been going under post-Bass Pro, it’s ‘lighter, quicker, cheaper.’ ”

That’s the principle coined by former consultant Fred Kent, president of Project for Public Spaces, to guide the waterfront development.

Buffalo BikeShare plans to make bike rentals available on both sides.

Officials said they do not know how much the ferry project would cost. Another question includes where the money would come from to pay for the project.

The New York Power Authority has prepared an engineering report on a landing site and conceptual drawings for the boat design.

“From now, we are going to secure funding to actually bid the work out and build the launch points on both sides, and also finance the construction of the boat,” Ryan said.

A ferry service linking downtown to the outer harbor would come as officials work to build a bridge between the outer harbor and inner harbor.

At best, such a bridge is years away, Gioia said. Until then, a ferry would do the trick, he said. Others agreed.

“A bridge to the outer harbor will happen at some point,” said Sam Hoyt, regional president of Empire State Development and a board member of the harbor agency. “But in the meantime, having a reliable, affordable and accessible means of getting there from Canalside is really a no-brainer. We should have done it already, and our goal is to have it done by this spring.”

Hoyt said those who came to Buffalo last month to attend the Congress for the New Urbanism pointed out the difficulty in getting to the outer harbor and stressed the need for better access.

The waterfront agency initiated a $2 million bridge review in April 2009 to examine potential bridge sites and bridge designs. Some estimates put the cost of a new bridge in the range of $80 million to $100 million.

The South Michigan Avenue Bridge over the City Ship Canal, the last direct link to the outer harbor, was destroyed in 1959 by a runaway freighter.

A ferry to carry cars will also be needed at some point, Gioia said. But that requires more planning to decide where to unload them, he said.

“There will be another bridge. The question is not if but when,” Gioia said. “And that could take five to 10 years. So we have to find a way to get cars over quickly, and I think it’s ultimately a car ferry.”

The ferry service at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in Toronto is instructive, Gioia said. The short ferry rides – boats run every 15 minutes and make 90-second trips covering 132 yards – move some 2 million people a year. The ferry service there is free for people on foot and charges $11 for a car.

Ferry service would mark the first time a ferry has launched from the Buffalo River since the short-lived Americana ferry-cruise boat’s two-year run ended in 1989. The SS Canadiana passenger ferry operated between Buffalo and Crystal Beach, Ont., from 1910 to 1956.

The outer harbor became a priority for the waterfront agency after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo helped engineer its transfer from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

A public hearing last week attracted nearly 300 people, many of whom expressed their strong preference for open space and parkland at the site. Far fewer showed support for apartments or a new Bills stadium.

The feedback will be used by Perkins + Will, a consulting firm hired to come up with a blueprint for redeveloping nearly 200 acres of the waterfront land.

The Buffalo News


Meeting charts future of Lake Superior ports

7/23 - Duluth, Minn. – The future of Lake Superior and its adjoining ports is a little less murky today than it was a few months ago.

That was the message delivered Monday by Rep. Rick Nolan, following a meeting with members of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They discussed the future of the Great Lakes shipping industry under the newly passed Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which seeks to boost funding for harbor projects and prioritize those projects to make shipping more efficient.

“The (Duluth) harbor is dramatically better because of the work that we’ve done,” said Nolan, who added an amendment to the measure that sets aside money to fix a nearly 10-year backlog on dredging, among other maintenance activities. “We’re proud of that and excited about it.”

Inked into law by President Barack Obama last month, the act guarantees that an increasing amount of money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will actually pay for harbor projects. Of the nearly $2 billion that collects in the fund each year, Nolan said only about $800 million reaches the harbors, because Obama and past presidents have dipped into the money to finance unrelated projects.

“Obama and Bush and Clinton and all these guys saw that fund and started raiding it for other purposes,” Nolan said.

The new law requires 80 percent of harbor maintenance money to be spent on harbor projects by 2020, with the goal of eventually putting 100 percent of the money into those programs.

Another aspect of the law classifies the Great Lakes as a singular entity, meaning harbor projects will be prioritized with an eye for what is best for the Great Lakes as a whole.

“Each and every one of the ports was competing for funding with no obligation to look at the overall impact that it’s having,” Nolan said. “It’s a series of lakes and channels and connectors, and any one bottleneck in the entire chain … is a bottleneck for everybody. And we’re at the end of that chain.”

Nolan said he will be watching the implementation of the act “very, very closely.”

Vanta Coda, executive director of the Port Authority, said every ship that can’t enter Duluth Harbor because of maintenance issues caused by a lack of funding is a lost economic opportunity for the area.

“I won’t be happy until we get 100 percent of the harbor maintenance taxes and fees used for harbor maintenance,” Nolan said. “That’s what it’s there for.”

Duluth News Tribune


Cruise ship Pearl Mist arrives to fanfare in Clayton

7/23 - Clayton, N.Y. – The 335-foot Pearl Mist arrived Monday night in Clayton, the first time a cruise ship has stopped at the Thousand Islands Regional Dock.

“It’s absolutely great,” Town Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said. The ship was greeted with a “water welcome” from the Clayton Volunteer Fire Department fireboat “Last Chance.” Mr. Taylor said it’s a tradition reserved for big welcomes, and Monday’s arrival was long awaited by a village eager to make itself a cruise ship port of call.

The six-deck ship with 108 staterooms, carrying 210 passengers and nearly 50 crew members, is on an 11-day cruise from Quebec City to Chicago. It was originally scheduled to dock at 8 a.m., but its arrival was delayed by complications with the locks on the St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and Montreal, said Nina Padder, a shore excursions manager with Pearl Seas Cruises. The ship tied up just past 6 p.m., and the passengers, after clearing customs, came ashore at 7 p.m.

The village-owned dock at Frink Park is certified by the Department of Homeland Security as a U.S. port of entry. A temporary chain link fence was put up so Customs inspections could be conducted.

“This is the first time we’ve set up a secured facility for the arrival of a cruise ship,” said Kevin J. Patnode, village chief of police and port security officer. “We’ve welcomed private boats, cargo ships and numerous super yachts.”

Debbie L. Scholes, a sales representative for Clayton Islands Tours, said she has been working since February to organize an itinerary for the passengers’ visit.

“They were originally supposed be to in Clayton from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., so we had to alter the plans,” Ms. Scholes said. “We have charter buses waiting to take people to the Antique Boat Museum, and others have chosen to go to the Coyote Moon winery or just walk around town.”

Michael J. Folsom, the Antique Boat Museum’s director of marketing and communications, said the staff stayed at the museum after its regular 5 p.m. closure.

“Our staff’s going to stay late to get as many of the cruise passengers through the museum as possible,” Mr. Folsom said. “Try to give them the Clayton experience on a short schedule.”

Ms. Scholes said 100 of the passengers signed up to tour the museum, about 40 passengers were planning to attend a wine tasting at Coyote Moon and two small groups were going to walk around. She said even though the welcoming groups were “organizing on the fly” throughout the day, there is a lot within walking distance for them to see.

Village Mayor Norma J. Zimmer said the port authorities were ready and the dock had been evaluated by the U.S. Coast Guard at 6 a.m.

“This is our first experience with a cruise ship, and this is a relatively new cruise line,” Mrs. Zimmer said.

She said the cruise line took a chance picking the village of Clayton as a stopping port, but it is a great opportunity to bring new visitors and potentially more cruise ships into Clayton.

“This is going to be a great experience for both us and the cruise line,” Mrs. Zimmer said. “We’re the only place qualified for cruise ships to stop between Montreal and Ontario.”

The Pearl Mist, registered in the Marshall Islands, is scheduled to dock at Clayton again in September.

Watertown Daily Times


Lookback #248 – Peter Reiss in collision at Duluth on July 23, 1918

7/23 - Thick fog and a heavy current were blamed for a collision at the #3 ore dock in Duluth on July 23, 1918. The accident of 96 years ago today involved the American bulk carrier Peter Reiss and the Canadian freighter Glenshee. Both ships sustained damage with the Peter Reiss getting the worst of the meeting.

Peter Reiss was part of the North American Steamship Co. but was transferred to the Reiss Steamship Co. in 1921. It had been built at Superior, WI in 1910 and operated into 1972. The vessel was converted to a self-unloader at Manitowoc, WI in 1949 and spent its final years (1969-1972) as part of the American Steamship Co.

Over the years, the vessel received additional bumps and bruises. There was a grounding at Buffalo in 1928, a collision with the north pier at Milwaukee in 1929, and another with a dock at Sandusky in 1935.

The Peter Reiss tied up at Fairport, Ohio, shortly after grounding on Jan. 18, 1972. It was sold for work as a barge in the coal trade but was plagued with problems and only saw limited service. The ship arrived at Port Colborne on June 8, 1973, and was broken up by Marine Salvage in 1973-1974.

Glenshee was smaller and older but lasted longer than the Peter Reiss. It had been built as the first Howard M. Hanna Jr., and was one of the casualties of the Great Storm on Nov. 1913. It became Glenshee in 1915, Goderich in 1927, Agawa in 1963 and spent its final years as the grain storage barge Lionel Parsons beginning in 1968. It was towed into Thunder Bay on June 3, 1983, and broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 23

On this day in 1908, the 556-foot ELBERT H. GARY arrived to a 21-gun salute to deliver the first cargo of Minnesota ore at the new United States Steel mill in Gary, Indiana.

The keel for the TEXACO CHIEF (Hull#193) was laid July 23, 1968, at Collingwood, Ontario, by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., for Texaco Canada Ltd. Renamed b.) A.G. FARQUHARSON in 1986, and c.) ALGONOVA In 1998. She was sold for further service overseas in 2007.

CANADOC sailed on her maiden voyage July 23, 1961.

Upper Lakes Shipping Co. Ltd.'s, RED WING was christened on July 23, 1960, as the first all-welded vessel to emerge from Port Weller Dry Docks.

On 23 July 1878, H R PRESTON (wooden quarter-deck canal boat built in 1877, at Oneida Lake, New York) was carrying 250 tons of ashes from Picton, Ontario to Oswego, New York, in tow of the tug ALANSON SUMNER along with three other canal boats when they encountered a storm on Lake Ontario. About 15 miles from Oswego, the PRESTON broke her towline and was taken alongside the SUMNER with some difficulty. About a mile out of port she lost her hold tarps and began to sink quickly. She was cut loose from the tug and her two crewmen were saved by the Oswego tug WM AVERY. Though she was lying heavily on the bottom in 50 feet of water, her wreckage came ashore near 4 Mile Point in early September.

1918: PETER REISS and the GLENSHEE were in a collision at the #3 ore dock at Duluth. Fog and the current were blamed for the accident, with only limited damage to both ships.

1934: An explosion and fire aboard the tanker barge EN-AR-CO during fit-out at Toronto resulted in the loss of 4 lives. The ship was rebuilt as a coal barge and was finally scrapped at Hamilton in 1969.

1955: The tug HELENA capsized at South Chicago while taking on coal from a scow and two sailors were lost. The vessel was refloated on July 26. It survives today as c) DANIEL McALLISTER, a museum ship on display in the Lachine Canal at Montreal.

1968: The former tanker ORION was operating as a sand barge when it sank in Lake Erie about 1,000 feet off the Lorain lighthouse due to choppy seas. The hull was raised by the Corps of Engineers, beached August 2 and assumed to have been subsequently scrapped.

1985: FOTINI D.E. first came through the Seaway in 1976 and, in 1980, became the first overseas vessel to load grain at the port of Goderich. It ran aground on this date in 1985, enroute from Venezuela to a U.S. Gulf coast port, and was abandoned as a total loss on July 31.

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


Severstal steel plant sale comes amid pollution worries, lawsuit

7/22 - Dearborn, Mich. – Severstal, the steel company Henry Ford launched as an anchor of the historic Rouge complex, will return to American ownership as Ohio-based AK Steel agreed purchase its Dearborn plant for $700 million just two months after the Russian owner won a revised state permit to release higher levels of certain pollutants into the air.

Christopher Bzdok, an attorney representing residents opposed to the new air permit, said he hopes AK Steel will take a fresh look at the issue and agree to make changes to meet residents’ concerns.

Bzdok was part of a coalition of community and environmental groups that filed a suit earlier this month challenging the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to issue the revised permit.

“The right way to do this is to invest in pollution-control technology. Not to increase your emission limits,” Bzdok said.

It’s too early to know what the Dearborn sale, which is expected to close by the end of this year, means for the 1,800 workers there. But James Wainscott, AK Steel CEO said the deal should mean more work for the plant.

“Let me offer a hearty AK Steel welcome to the employees ... we look forward to having you with us as part of our organization,” Wainscott said. “AK Steel’s acquisition is not about rationalization. It is about expansion and optimization of our combined assets.”

AK also is buying a coke-making plant in West Virginia and three joint ventures that process flat-rolled steel products.

Severstal, which is owned by billionaire Alexey Mordashov, has been exploring a possible sale since mid-2013. Severstal also reached a separate agreement to sell its Columbus, Miss., operations to Ft. Wayne, Ind.-based Steel Dynamics for $1.63 billion.

The company receives its raw materials via Great Lakes freighters.

The steel industry continues to grapple with the problem of too many mills for the current and near-future demand. Competition from low-cost imported steel and the trend of automakers’ push for lighter-weight alternatives such as aluminum are hurting demand in the U.S.

Larger steelmakers, including ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp, have been cutting production, jobs and idling or selling plants in the last few years in response to oversupply and lower steel prices.

The current unrest between Russia and Ukraine, and economic sanctions the U.S. has imposed on Russia, was not a reason for the sales, Mordashov has said.

“Severstal has not experienced any pressure whatsoever to sell the U.S. business,” the company said in a statement provided to the Free Press on Monday. “We made this decision on the basis of what is right for the business and shareholder value.”

Wainscott said AK Steel’s top priority is to serve the auto industry, and especially Ford.

“Ford will remain a major consumer of steel. We are very focused on developing that next generation of high-strength steels,” Wainscott said.

The legal skirmish between Severstal and a coalition of environmental and citizen groups that are challenging the seller’s pollution permit did not discourage AK Steel.

“The decision to grant this permit to pollute violates the Clean Air Act and means families living in Dearborn and Detroit will be breathing more toxic air for years to come,” Rhonda Anderson, Sierra Club’s senior Detroit organizer, said in a statement Monday.

Severstal said it has worked closely with the Michigan DEQ on the permit.

“We look forward to working through the permit appeal process with the MDEQ in demonstrating the robust nature of the permit application and appropriateness of the permit as approved,” the company said in a statement.

Detroit Free Press


Unsecured lenders accepted Essar Steel Algoma restructuring plan

7/22 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – Essar Steel Algoma and a group of unsecured noteholders have agreed to a restructuring plan to refinance the money-losing Sault Ste. Marie steel maker.

After missing a June 15 interest payment on unsecured bonds, the company began negotiations last month with creditors representing 70 per cent of the 9.875 per cent of US$385 million in senior unsecured notes.

Under the agreement, the Essar Global Fund – a unit of the parent company Essar Global in Mumbai, India – will provide as much as $300 million in new equity to the Canadian operation.

The company provided no further details of the restructuring plan. Essar receives its raw materials via Great Lakes freighters.

The former Algoma Steel was once one of the most efficient and profitable North American steel mills after emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2002. The Mumbai, India-based Essar Group purchased the operation in 2007.

The steel plate and sheet manufacturer has lost money over the last nine consecutive quarters.

Company CEO Kalyan Ghosh was understandably pleased.

“This path offers the best means to maximize long-term value while offering certainty of supply for customers and continued security for our employees, retirees, vendors and all other important stakeholders, which were key considerations.”

Northern Ontario Business


Seaway steel shipment boost largely due to auto industry demand

7/22 - Massena, N.Y. – A large jump in steel product shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway this season has been due to demand from the U.S. automobile industry, among other factors.

According to a news release sent out by the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the shipments to ports of Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana-Burns Harbor and Milwaukee also are a result of the improving American economy.

“In addition to an upbeat auto industry and an improving economy, robust oil and gas industries depend upon manufactured iron and steel goods,” St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. spokeswoman Nancy T. Alcalde said.

General cargo shipments, including steel slabs and coils and aluminum, totaled 872,000 metric tons from March 25 to June 30, according to the Seaway Corp.

This represented a 44 percent spike from 2013.

“We are seeing exports as well as imports. Advance notifications from industries suggested 2014 would be a good year, and we’re heading in that direction,” Ms. Alcalde said. “An example is that 20 high-value GE locomotives have been shipped through the Seaway to Mozambique and 30 more are set to leave this summer. Wind component movements to Duluth and Muskegon are on the rise. The new liner service between Cleveland and Antwerp has also resulted in new cargo tonnage for this navigation season.”

A Canadian grain rush is another factor behind the increase, according to the Marine Commerce release. “However, total cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway from March 25 to June 30 were 11.1 million metric tons, down 7 percent compared to 2013 due to decreases in iron ore exports and coal traffic,” it read.

Ms. Alcalde said that the Seaway Corp. is expecting the steel shipment increase to continue in the foreseeable future.

“The slow start to the navigation season was due to the lengthy winter that lasted well into April” she said.

We expect cargo tonnage to continue to increase for the remainder of 2014 and improve upon last year’s tonnage performance,” Ms. Alcalde said.

Watertown Daily Times


Port Reports -  July 22

St. Marys River
Algoma Harvester made its maiden voyage through the Soo Locks upbound for Thunder Bay in the late afternoon Monday.

St. Clair, Mich. – Bob Markus
James R. Barker was unloading at the power plant on Monday.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The Luedtke #16 dredge rig was working between the CSX lift bridges on the Buffalo River this past weekend.


Lookback #247 – Ulysses Reefer caught fire at Toronto on July 22, 1970

7/22 - Ulysses Reefer was a refrigerated general cargo carrier that dated from 1950. It was built at Copenhagen, Denmark, and completed on Dec. 13, as Jessie Stove. It operated under the Danish flag for Lorentzens Rederi Co. before being sold to Erling Hansens Rederi A/S of Norway in 1958. They renamed the 336 foot 6 inch long vessel Ranhall.

It moved under the flag of Greece as Ulysses Reefer in 1966 and began Seaway service in 1969. The first year went well but the next two presented problems. Ulysses Reefer caught fire at Toronto on July 22, 1970, and the blaze of 44 years ago today did a reported $30,000 in damage. Most of this was confined to the cargo and the ship was able to resume service.

While back on the Great Lakes in 1971, the vessel was in a collision with the cement carrier J.B. Ford on June 4 in Lake Huron off Forty Mile Point. Again, the damage was not significant and both ships continued trading.

Resold and renamed Ithaki Reefer in 1972, the ship returned to the Great Lakes that year still under the Greek flag. It was sold for scrap in 1973, and broken up by Hughes Bolckow Ltd. at Blyth, Scotland.

The long idle, 110-year old J.B. Ford, second ship in the June 4, 1971, collision, may soon be headed for scrap as well after years of use as a cement storage barge.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  July 22

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Harbour Krystal, MCT Monta Rosa, and Tundra


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 22

On this day in 1961, the barge CLEVECO, originally lost with a crew of 22 during a December 02, 1942, storm on Lake Erie, was floated by salvagers, towed outside the shipping lanes, and intentionally sunk.

PERE MARQUETTE 22 (Hull#210) was launched on July 22, 1924, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. for the Pere Marquette Railway Co. One hundred years ago on 22 July 1900, the tug MATT HESSER was launched at Lorain, Ohio, by H. D. Root for Captain Burke of Erie.

The M.I. MILLS (wooden propeller tug, 122 foot, 152 tons, built in 1867, at Marine City, Michigan), which sank in a collision with the bark UNADILLA on 9 May 1873, was found on 22 July 1873, in 90 feet of water in Lake Huron off Sand Beach, Michigan. Plans were made to raise her at the cost of $5,000. This effort was unsuccessful as was another abortive attempt in 1895.

1965 MARIVIKI dated from 1940 as a) TEMPLE INN and visited the Seaway in 1960. The ship was beached in Colla Bay, near Mormugao, India, after developing leaks on a voyage from Madras, India, to Constanza, Romania. The hull later broke in two and was a total loss.

1967 A small fire erupted in the machine shop of the West German freighter TRANSAMERICA while a crewman was welding in Milwaukee. The blaze was soon brought under control. The ship last operated in 1978 as f) ARISTOTELES before being broken up at Gadani Beach, Pakistan.

1968 The Paterson bulk carrier CANADOC, loading at the Continental Elevator in Chicago, was struck on the starboard side by the Belgian vessel TIELRODE as it passed upsteam under tow. The latter returned through the Seaway as c) GEORGIOS C. in 1977 and was scrapped at Huangpo, China, as e) OPORTO in 1985.

1970 ULYSSES REEFER caught fire in Toronto resulting in an estimated $30,000 in damage. The ship first came inland in 1969 and returned as c) ITHAKI REEFER in 1972 prior to being scrapped at Blyth, Scotland, in 1973.

1989 MAR CATERINA, downbound at the Snell Lock, struck the fender boom and all Seaway navigation was temporarily delayed. The ship began Seaway trading as b) ASTORGA in 1985. As of 2012, the vessel is apparently still operating as e) ASPHALT TRADER.

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


Port Reports -  July 21

St. Marys River
When the 1,014-foot Paul R. Tregurtha locked downbound Sunday morning, it was the last trip for Captain Timothy Dayton. According to radio traffic, the veteran and well-liked Interlake skipper is retiring.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chandra McClain
After loading cement at Lafarge on Friday morning, the Alpena was seen heading out onto the lake. The Manitowoc was in port on Saturday unloading at Lafarge. On Sunday the tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation took on cargo at Lafarge. Fleetmate tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity were delayed getting to the dock on Sunday because of fog out in the bay.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Joe Thompson was inbound Lorain at 15:18 Sunday, headed to the Jonick Dock.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
The Canadian Coast Guard inshore patrol vessel CCGS Corporal Teather CV is currently alongside over at Terminal 52. At about 9:30 Sunday morning the island ferry Sam McBride was pulled out of service when the hinge mechanism that connects the hydraulic ram to one of the passenger ramps failed. Engineers using an acetylene torch and a very big hammer removed the defective bits and pieces and then welded replacement parts into place. The vessel was back in service at before noon.


Lookback #246 – Marquette caught fire and abandoned in Atlantic on July 21, 1964

7/21 - The French freighter Marquette was on a voyage from Chicago to Marseilles, France, when it caught fire 800 miles ESE of Cape Race, Newfoundland, on July 21, 1964. The crew of about 25 sailors was forced to take to the lifeboats and all were saved.

Marquette had been a frequent Great Lakes trader since being built at Arnhem, Netherlands, in 1953. It came inland on three occasions that year and was back on a regular basis. It was lengthened from 257'4” to 304'10” in 1959, to coincide with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The ship made another 15 voyages to the Great Lakes before catching fire 50 years ago today.

On board at the time of the blaze was a mixed cargo that included calcium phosphate, bales of jute, newsprint, aluminum ingots and wood pulp. The burning ship was taken in tow of the French ore carrier Pentellina and arrived at Brest, France, on July 29, 1964. The cost of repairs could not be justified. Instead, Marquette was sold to French shipbreakers and broken up for scrap in Brest.

The three-year-old Pentellina was not a Seaway traveler. However, it did come inland in 1976 under its third name of Unimar. The latter is remembered for running aground leaving Thunder Bay on Dec. 7, 1976, and was one of the last ships out of the Seaway that year. This vessel was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, after arriving on Sept. 10, 1984.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 21

The JAMES DAVIDSON and KINSMAN INDEPENDENT arrived under tow at Santander, Spain, on July 21, 1974, for scrapping.

On July 21, 1975, the GEORGE D. GOBLE arrived at Lorain, Ohio, with an unusual deck cargo loaded at American Ship Building Company's yard at South Chicago, Illinois. She was carrying the deckhouses for two Interlake Steamship Company thousand-foot self-unloaders being built at AmShip's Lorain yard. These vessels were completed as the JAMES R. BARKER and MESABI MINER.

On 21 July 1875, the schooner ELVA, which was built in Port Huron, Michigan, in 1861, for Capt. Sinclair, was sailing from Holland, Michigan, for Milwaukee, Wisconsin loaded with stove bolts. She capsized 12 miles from Milwaukee. Her crew took to the boats and made a landing in Kenosha and then rowed to Milwaukee. A tug was sent for the schooner and she was recovered.

In 1900, R. J. GORDON (wooden propeller passenger-package freighter, 104 foot, 187 gross tons, built in 1881, at Marine City, Michigan) was placed back in service carrying freight and passengers between Chicago and Grand Haven. She had burned in September 1899 at Chicago but was rebuilt during the winter.

On 21 July 1875, the old barge HURON, which had been in use for a number of years as a car ferry for the Grand Trunk Railroad at Port Huron/Sarnia, was sold to Sandie and Archie Stewart. They planned to convert her to a dry-dock by adding three feet to her sides and removing her arches. The sale price was $1,500 in gold.

1910 TRUDE R. WIEHE was destroyed by a fire at Portage Bay, Green Bay.

1911 Thirty plates were damaged when the WACCAMAW went aground in the St. Lawrence. The ship was later repaired at Buffalo.

1959 A collision in western Lake Erie between the CHARLES HUBBARD and the Swedish freighter SIGNEBORG resulted in damage to both ships. Both were repaired and continue in service. The latter is scrapped at La Spezia, Italy, after arriving as d) ALFREDO, on November 10, 1971. The former was sunk as a breakwall at Burns Harbor in 1966 after being idle at Milwaukee for several years. The hull was reported to have been subsequently scrapped there.

1964 The French freighter MARQUETTE began Great Lakes trading in 1953 and was lengthened in 1959 with the opening of the Seaway. Fire erupted enroute from Chicago to Marseilles, France, and the vessel was abandoned in the Atlantic. The gutted ship was towed to Brest, France, and was sold to French shipbreakers. All on board were saved.

1965 A smoky fire, that could be seen for miles, broke out in the cargo of rubber aboard the ORIENT TRADER at Toronto and the hull was towed into Toronto Bay and beached while firefighters battled the blaze. The Greek flag vessel was sold for scrap but before it departed for overseas, is was used in several episodes of the CBC television series “Seaway.” The hull was towed into Valencia, Spain, on July 11, 1966, for dismantling.

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


Port Reports -  July 20

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
American Mariner arrived Saturday evening at LS&I to load ore.

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Cuyahoga arrived at Port Inland in the late morning on Saturday to load. Also expected to arrive at Port Inland on Saturday during the early evening was the Wilfred Sykes. Both the Joseph L. Block along with the Pere Marquette 41/Undaunted are expected to arrive on Monday with the Block arriving in the early morning and the Pere Marquette 41/Undaunted arriving in the early evening.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Manitowoc was expected to arrive at Cedarville on Saturday during the late afternoon. Joseph L. Block is expected to arrive on Sunday during the late morning hours. There are no vessels scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Pathfinder/Dorothy Ann loaded on Saturday and were due to depart around 4 p.m. There are no vessels scheduled for Sunday. On Monday, the Lewis J. Kuber is expected to arrive in the late morning.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Lewis J. Kuber loaded at Calcite on Saturday and they were expected to depart around 8 p.m. Manistee also loaded at Calcite on Saturday and they were expected to depart around 9 p.m. There are three vessels due in on Sunday with the Arthur M. Anderson arriving first in the morning for the North Dock followed by her fleetmate the John G. Munson which is due also in the morning for the South Dock. Rounding out the schedule will be the John J. Boland in the early afternoon hours loading at the North Dock.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
In the last week on the Saginaw River, there have been four commercial vessel passages. Mississagi was inbound on Tuesday, calling on the Wirt Sand and Stone dock in Essexville to unload. Friday saw the arrival of three vessels. The Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber arrived with a cargo for the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City. Algoway traveled to the upper Saginaw River to deliver the first salt cargo of the season to the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee, and the G.L. Ostrander - Integrity called on the Lafarge Cement dock in Essexville.

St. Clair, Mich. – Bob Markus
John J. Boland was unloading at St. Clair Aggregates on Saturday.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Algoma Olympic remained at the CSX Coal Dock #4 Machine on Saturday waiting on transit coal which was expected to arrive at 8 p.m. Saginaw was expected to arrive at the Coal Dock on Saturday and was due to start loading upon arrival. After the Saginaw finishes, Algoma Olympic will then move back under the #4 coal loader to finish loading. Also due at the CSX Coal Dock is the American Mariner on Tuesday in the morning followed by the Ashtabula/Defiance on Wednesday in the early morning and they will be returning to load on Thursday, July 24 in the early morning. The John J. Boland is also due on Thursday, July 24 at noon followed by the Algoma Enterprise also on Thursday, July 24 in the late afternoon and the James L. Kuber is also due at the Coal Dock on Thursday, July 24 in the late evening. The Whitefish Bay is expected to arrive with a stone cargo for the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock on Sunday in the morning hours. At the Torco Dock, American Mariner is due there on Tuesday, July 22 in the early morning. James L. Kuber is due on Thursday, July 24 during the late afternoon. The Manitowoc is due on Monday, July 28 during the late morning. Rounding out the schedule is the Great Lakes Trader due on Friday, July 29 in the early morning. The tug Huron Service and barge remain in port. Also in port was the tug Wilf Seymour and barge Alouette Spirit, and the Algosteel, which unloaded a salt cargo loaded from Goderich.


Lake Ontario 'shark' turns out to be a publicity stunt

7/20 - Bell Media says the video that popped up online recently of a shark allegedly spotted in Lake Ontario was actually a publicity stunt, designed to promote an upcoming program on the Discovery Channel.

The description that had been associated with a YouTube posting had claimed that the video was shot on Wolfe Island, near Kingston, Ont. Wolfe Island Mayor Denis Doyle said Wednesday that it was "rather concerning" to learn the clip was a hoax.

Other Wolfe Island residents were glad that the shark wasn't real.

"I was really fearful," Laura Staley said Wednesday. "Overall, I'm absolutely relieved."

Kody Paul said he had been discussing the matter with his young sons in recent days.

"Our kids grow up swimming in these waters," he said. "It certainly switched up the atmosphere around here."

While Paul said the stunt was "a little bit off-putting," he said that his family was also feeling relieved. "We're choosing not to get too upset about it," he said.

Ahead of the revelation of the hoax on Wednesday, several experts had quickly cast doubt that the creature shown in the online video was truly a shark.



Cruise Sold Out

Our August 2 Detroit River Cruise has sold out, thank you for getting your reservations in early. Check the Gatherings page for more local events


Lookback #245 – Tritonica sank on the St. Lawrence after collision in fog on July 20, 1963

7/20 - I remember waking up 51 years ago today and finding my ship, the tanker Lubrolake, at anchor in the St. Lawrence. Venturing on deck, I could not see the pilothouse from the stern and, on a canaller, that is thick fog.

We learned from the captain at breakfast that there had been a terrible collision just east of us and that the Tritonica, trailing us by a number of miles up the river, had sunk with a high loss of life. The final count proved to be 33 sailors and the ship was a total loss. Seventeen others on board survived the sinking.

Tritonica had been built at Sunderland, England, in 1956 and had made three trips to the Great Lakes in 1959. A 12,863 gross ton bulk carrier, it was being used in 1963 to carry ilmenite ore from Havre St. Pierre to Sorel and operated with registry in Bermuda.

The hull was dynamited as a hazard to navigation in the fall of 1964 to clear the channel and then partially buried in a trench dug along the side of the remains of the vessel enabling it to slide into deeper water.

The second ship in the accident of July 20, 1963, was the Roonagh Head. It was a regular Seaway trader in the early years and sustained significant bow damage in the collision. It was repaired and resumed Great Lakes trading making a total of 28 trips through the Seaway to the end of 1967. This vessel dated from 1952 and arrived at Castellon, Spain, for scrapping on Sept. 4, 1971.

An investigation noted both ships were proceeding at excessive speed for the conditions.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 20

LEON FALK JR. was christened at Cleveland, July 20, 1961, after one trip to Duluth, Minnesota, for ore.

HORACE JOHNSON (Hull#805) was launched July 20, 1929, at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

JAY C. MORSE (Hull#438) was launched on July 20, 1907, at Cleveland, Ohio by American Shipbuilding Co. for the Mesaba Steamship Co. (Pickands & Mather & Co., mgr.) Sold Canadian in 1965, renamed b.) SHELTER BAY, used as a storage barge at Goderich, renamed c.) D. B. WELDON in 1979. In 1982, her pilothouse was removed and is used as a museum in Goderich Harbor. The WELDON was scrapped at Thunder Bay in 1984.

At the end of June, 1877, the ferry MYRTLE began running between Port Huron and Sarnia. However, on 20 July 1877, The Port Huron Times reported that "The ferry MYRTLE has been taken off the route on account of the extreme dullness of the times."

The scow DIXIE burned during the night of 20 July 1875, while lying at Kenyon's dock in East China Township on the St. Clair River.

1940: The first LACHINEDOC ran aground at Ile-aux-Coudres but was refloated the same day after 600 tons of coal were jettisoned. The vessel became b) QUEENSTON in 1946 and was sunk as a dock facing at Bob-Lo Park in 1962.

1963: Thick fog prevailed overnight on the St. Lawrence contributing to three accidents. The TRITONICA sank after a collision with the ROONAGH HEAD off Ile d'Orleans with the loss of 33 lives. To the west, the Swiss freighter BARILOCHE ran into the CALGADOC (ii) and then veered into the CANADOC (ii) before all ships on the water went to anchor. BARILOCHE later visited the Seaway as b) ST. CERGUE in 1967 and as c) CALVIN in 1978. It was scrapped at Shanghai, China, in 1985.

ROONAGH HEAD received significant bow damage in her collision but was repaired and operated until she arrived at Castellon, Spain, for scrapping on September 14, 1971.

1964: ZENICA went aground in the Straits of Mackinac enroute to Chicago and was lightered by the MARQUIS ROEN and released. She passed downbound at Port Huron under tow. This vessel was beached at Karachi, Pakistan, for scrapping as f) CONSTANZA on June 1, 1980.

1965: The Norwegian freighter LYNGENFJORD sustained stern damage when it backed into the SALMELA while leaving the dock at Montreal. The former made 35 trips to the Great Lakes from 1959 through 1967 and was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, after arriving prior to May 3, 1980, as c) EASTERN VALOUR. The latter, a British vessel, began Great Lakes service in 1965 and arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for scrapping on April 21, 1985, as c) ELENI.

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


Bay Ship receives contract to build two tugs, barges

7/19 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Bay Shipbuilding Co. announced Friday that it has been awarded a contract to build two 155,000-barrel capacity barges and two 6,000-horsepower tugs at its Sturgeon Bay shipyard for Kirby Corp.

Bay Ship, a subsidiary of Fincantieri Marine Group, built several ATB units for Kirby in the mid-2000s. The new articulated barge (ATB) units will haul petroleum and chemical products domestically. The first ATB unit is scheduled for delivery in the fall of 2016 and the second unit will be delivered in summer of 2017.

"This repeat business from Kirby Corp. is validation of Bay's quality products and positive history in this product range," Todd Thayse, BSC vice president and general manager, said in the news release announcing the contract. "Bay Shipbuilding has built 22 ATB-units over the past 15 years, and is now under contract for several more. The new business from Kirby, combined with our current ATB orders, will further allow BSC to invest in our infrastructure, and it strengthens our backlog position."

Kirby Corp., based in Houston, is the nation's largest tank barge operator, transporting bulk liquid products throughout the Mississippi River System, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, along all three Unites States coasts, and in Alaska and Hawaii.

Door County Advocate


Former Canadian Pioneer arrives off Aliaga for scrapping

7/19 - The former Canadian Pioneer arrived off Aliaga, Turkey, on July 18 and went to anchor pending being beached at a scrap berth. The ship has been sailing as Pioneer since 1987 and arrived in ballast from Lake Charles, La.

Canadian Pioneer was built by Port Weller Dry Docks as Hull 67 and was floated to the fit-out berth on May 27, 1981. It sustained fire damage there on July 16, 1981, when a welder's torch ignited the conveyor belt. The damage was quickly cleaned up and Canadian Pioneer was christened on Sept. 12, 1981.

This vessel was 730 feet long by 75 feet, 9 inches at the beam. It was registered at 24,194 gross tons and could carry 37,500 tons deadweight at saltwater draft. The last Doxford diesel engine to be built, a 4-cylinder, 9000 bhp model, was installed and served the ship well for 32 years of trading.

Canadian Pioneer was heralded as the largest self-unloader built for ocean service in Canada. It had low fuel consumption for its day, a slow speed, large diameter, propeller and, for the benefit of the crew, a swimming pool and a sauna.

This vessel managed a few trips in 1981 and initially operated on Great Lakes and Seaway routes. It went aground in the Detroit River on April 14, 1982, due to a reported steering problem, but was lightered and refloated by tugs prior to heading back to Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines for repairs.

Canadian Pioneer moved into more saltwater trading carrying potash, grain, coal, ore, gypsum and stone with early stops in Baltimore, New Orleans, LA, Mexico, Mobile, AL and Texas.

The ship returned to the Great Lakes on occasion and, on Nov. 30, 1987, sustained damage to some of the wiring of a control panel from a fire at Nanticoke. Repairs were undertaken at the Welland Dock and the ship departed the lakes in mid-December.

Canadian Pioneer arrived at Sorel, on Dec. 18, 1987, and was placed under the flag of Vanuatu as Pioneer. Originally built for Upper Lakes Shipping, it was transferred to ULS International and then another subsidiary called Marbulk Shipping. Service now concentrated on saltwater routes and the ship saw little freshwater sailing. It last came through the Seaway when it brought a cargo of coke from Baltimore to Port Colborne passing up bound on December 12, 2002.

After delivering a final load of coal from Baltimore, Md., to Lake Charles, La., Pioneer sailed for Aliaga on June 19 for a rendezvous with overseas shipbreakers.

Skip Gillham


Port Reports -  July 19

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
John J. Boland was expected to arrive during the late evening on Thursday to load. Due in the early morning Friday was the Pere Marquette 41/Undaunted. Wilfred Sykes was also expected to arrive Friday in the early afternoon.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Philip R. Clarke loaded and departed from Cedarville on Thursday. Wilfred Sykes arrived on Thursday and was expected to take the dock following the Clarke's departure. Manitowoc is expected to arrive on Saturday in the early afternoon to load.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Joseph H. Thompson arrived Thursday and was due to depart around 5:30 a.m. on Friday. Great Republic was due to load Friday following the Thompson's departure.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Cason J. Callaway loaded at Calcite on Friday and was expected to depart around 9 p.m. Two vessels are due to arrive on Saturday morning, with the Lewis J. Kuber arriving first to load at the South Dock and the H. Lee White loading at North Dock.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Baie St. Paul of CSL was expected to arrive at the Torco Dock in the late morning on Friday to unload an iron ore cargo. Also expected to arrive at the Torco Dock is the American Mariner on Monday during the late evening. The James L. Kuber is due on Thursday, July 24 around lunchtime. Both the Manitowoc and the Mesabi Miner are due for arrivals on Monday, July 28 with the Manitowoc arriving in the early morning followed by the Mesabi Miner in the early evening. Algoma Olympic was due to load at the CSX Coal Dock on Friday in the early afternoon. Also due at the Coal Dock is the Saginaw on Saturday in the early morning. American Mariner is due on Tuesday, July 22 in the early morning, with two vessels due on Wednesday, July 23. Both the Ashtabula/Defiance and the H. Lee White are expected that day in the early morning. The Whitefish Bay of CSL is expected to arrive at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock on Sunday in the early afternoon to unload a limestone cargo. Adam E. Cornelius has started to show some signs that she may be returning to service this season. Her AIS signal has been activated this week and it is expected that she may sail sometime within the next 8-9 weeks. This would be the first time that she has sailed since the 2011/12 shipping season. Her other two ASC fleetmates, the American Fortitude and American Valor, still remain in long-term lay-up with no signs of activity aboard either vessel. However it has been said that the American Fortitude is starting to show signs she may be leaving for the scrapyard soon with parts removed recently. The tug Huron Service and barge still remain in port.


Are Rolls-Royce's robo-ships the future of seafaring?

7/19 - Ship captains of the future may not be salty sea dogs with their hand at the helm, and the ocean at their feet. They may not even step on-board a boat, if revolutionary new technology is given the green light.

As Google unveils its driverless car, and Amazon tests out drones delivering goods to our door, could the high seas be the next frontier for robotic transport?

Crewless cargo ships, operated by remote control, could be sailing our globe within the next decade says luxury engineering company Rolls-Royce. "The time is ripe for a fundamental change in shipping," insisted its vice-president of innovation, engineering and technology, Oskar Levander, while unveiling new concept boat designs.

"Camera technology can be far superior than the human eye when it's dark, or foggy, or raining," he said, speaking from his office in Norway.

But not everyone is so quick to jump on board.

"There's an argument that if you have too much technology, there's a tendency for human beings and seafarers to look at their screens rather than out their window," said Simon Bennett of the International Chamber of Shipping, in London.

"So your systems are telling you there's an iceberg a couple of miles away. But actually, if you looked out the window you'd realize you're about to smash into it."

The technology might be available now, but whether it'll actually make it onto our oceans will be down to maritime regulators -- a scenario Bennett dismisses as "very unlikely in the short-term future."

Could engineering company Rolls Royce -- which makes engines for airliners and military aircraft, and power systems for ships -- be the one to bring a change of tide?

In this futuristic vision of seafaring, captains would be relocated to onshore control centers, using real-time cameras to maneuver a fleet of ships.

Centuries after wooden boats with billowing sails and hundreds of crew navigated the world's trade routes, could we soon see 10 captains operating 100 ships by remote control, as imagined by Levander?

"If you go back in history, maybe 150 years back, a normal cargo vessel had about 250 crew. And it's been reducing ever since -- now we are down to 12 or 15," he said.

"And the question is why would it stop now?"

Once you get rid of on-board accommodation -- cabins, kitchen, bathroom, heating, food and water supplies -- the ship increases cargo space and reduces fuel consumption, says Levander.

"We make the ship lighter, distribute the weight better, and take off these consumers of energy," he explained.

"One of these standard ships transporting iron ore could save about 15% in fuel on an annual basis, if it was unmanned."

Would sailors also be pleased with the new working arrangement? Bennett is skeptical.

"The unions would have something to say about the de-manning of ships," he said. "Technology has its role in complimenting the competency of seafarers, but there's a balance to be had.

"A lot of people now are reliant on the GPS systems in their car -- but what happens when the systems go down? It's important then for seafarers to have celestial navigation, getting out their sextants or looking at the moon to work out where they are."

These days, captains are more likely to have their head down in paperwork, rather than gazing up at the stars, says Levander.

"If you look at the captain today, he is highly trained, and he's been educated on how to operate the ship in difficult situations, and maneuvering in ports, and so on. But what does he really do? It's probably less than 5% of his time that he's spending on really maneuvering the ship.

"Most of his time today is spent on paperwork, administration and bureaucracy."

And if this high-tech computer system did lose contact with ground control?

"It will be programmed to automatically go into safe mode," explained Levander. "It will still float, it's still there."

With cargo ships carrying 90% of the world's trade goods, is it really safe to have them on the open ocean without anyone at the helm?

"If you look at the incidents happening in shipping today, most of them are related to human factors," said Levander.

"The crew on board, they don't get enough rest, they're tired, they're not concentrating on the task ahead. And by moving the navigation onshore, we can have a better working environment -- people are not out there in a rolling, and heaving, and pitching environment."

Without any crew on ships, there would also be less incentive for pirates to attack, says Levander: "If they don't have hostages, it's much easier for the navy to come in and take the ship back."

Rolls-Royce may have floated the idea of robo-ships. Whether it sinks or swims is another matter. CNN


Lookback #244 – Bergfalck in serious collision on July 19, 1981

7/19 - The West German saltwater freighter Bergfalck was built in 1970. Early in its career, the 343 foot, 4 inch long vessel provided a feeder service from Halifax to U.S. East Coast ports but, when that ended, the ship came inland through the Seaway for the first time in 1976. By then, it was under flag of Singapore.

The name was changed to Berglind in 1976 as it saw additional charter service for Saguenay Shipping and then for Islenska Haupship Ltd. of Iceland. As such, she was not a Seaway trader.

Thirty-three years ago today, Berglind was on a voyage from Hampton Roads, Va., to Reykjavik, Iceland, when it was in a collision with the Charm in thick fog off Cape Breton Island. The accident on July 19, 1981, resulted in serious hull damage. The Canadian tug Irving Elm took the Berglind in tow but it sank the next day.

In the fall, the hull was pumped out and taken well out to sea by the tugs Point Vibert and Point Carroll. It was scuttled in deep water ending a short, 11 year career.

Irving Elm, the rescue tug, was only a year old at the time. It came to the Great Lakes in 1992 to push the cement barge Metis. Irving Elm was renamed Atlantic Elm in 1998 and remains active in Canadian East Coast service.

The two tugs entrusted to the final voyage are still with us as part of the McKeil Marine fleet. Point Vibert now sails as Florence M. while Point Carroll serves them as Tony Mackay.

While Charm had not been a Seaway trader under this name, it had been inland, beginning in 1967, as Marie Reith. This ship was repaired of the collision damage and was on its ninth name of Davut I when it arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping on Oct. 4, 2011.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 19

On this day in 1970, ARTHUR B. HOMER established a new Great Lakes loading record when she loaded 27,530 tons of ore at Escanaba. This eclipsed the previous record of 27,402 tons set by the EDMUND FITZGERALD.

EDWIN H. GOTT (Hull#718) was float launched July 19, 1978, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Co. for U. S. Steel Corp.

CLARENCE B. RANDALL sailed light on her maiden voyage July 19, 1943, from Ashtabula, Ohio, bound for Two Harbors, Minnesota. She was renamed b.) ASHLAND in 1962. The ASHLAND was scrapped at Mamonel, Columbia, in 1988.

N. M. Paterson & Sons, CANADOC (Hull#627) was christened on July 19, 1961. The registry of GORDON C. LEITCH, of 1954, was closed on July 19, 1985, as 'sold foreign'. She was scrapped at Setubal, Portugal, in 1985.

JOHN P. REISS in tandem tow with the carferry CITY OF SAGINAW 31 arrived at Castellon, Spain, prior to July 19, 1973, for scrapping.

JOSEPH S. YOUNG, a.) ARCHERS HOPE, was christened at Buffalo, New York, on July 19, 1957. The YOUNG was the first of seven T2 tanker conversions for Great Lakes service.

On 19 July 1831, the wooden schooner HENRY CLAY was carrying 800 barrels of salt and passengers from Oswego, New York to the Welland Canal on her maiden voyage when she capsized in a squall and sank about 10 miles off Port Dalhousie, Ontario, on Lake Ontario. About 11 persons were aboard and at least 6 of them lost their lives. Three were saved by the steamer CANADA.

On 19 July 1900, the name of the Toledo tug A. ANDREWS JR was changed to PALLISTER.

On 19 July 1871, J. BARBER (wooden propeller steamer, 125 foot, 306 tons, built in 1856, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying fruit from St. Joseph, Michigan, to Chicago when she caught fire and sank 14 miles off Michigan City, Indiana. Five lives were lost.

1893: LIZZIE A. LAW stranded in the Pelee Passage, Lake Erie, following a collision with the DAVID VANCE. It was refloated September 14.

1921: After losing her way in fog, the BINGHAMPTON stranded on Gannet Rock Ledge, near Yarmouth, NS enroute from Boston to Reval, France, and Riga, Latvia, with relief supplies. The vessel was abandoned and later caught fire. The ship had been built at Buffalo as H.J. JEWETT in 1882 and left the lakes, in 2 pieces, in 1915 for saltwater service.

1981: BERGFALCK was registered in Singapore when she first came through the Seaway in 1976. The ship was sailing as b) BERGLIND when in a collision with the CHARM off Cape Breton Island. It was taken in tow but sank July 20. The hull was later refloated and taken out to sea and scuttled in the fall.

1982: FARO, a Norwegian freighter dating from 1960, visited the Seaway in 1970. It was gutted aft from a fire that began in the galley at Ghazawet Roads, Algeria, as b) ARGOLICOS GULF. It was sold for scrap and arrived as Castellon, Spain to be dismantled on October 1, 1982.

1992: ROSARIO, a Greek flag SD 14, visited the Great Lakes in 1978. It began leaking in the Indian Ocean as c) AL RAZIQU on this date in 1992 and was escorted into Mombasa, Tanzania, on July 29. The ship was allowed to sail to Alang, India, for scrapping and, after a resale, to Karachi, Pakistan. However, the vessel was sold again, taken to Dubai for repairs, and resumed trading as d) DELTA III. It developed a heavy list as e) CHALLENGE on August 2, 1993, after leaving New Mangalore, India. Attempts to tow the ship to shallow water fell short when the hull rolled over and sank with the loss of 3 lives.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Russ Plumb, Lake Huron Lore Society, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series from the Marine Historical Society of Detroit.


New Algoma Harvester christened at Hamilton

7/18 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Algoma Harvester, the Algoma Central Corporation’s second Equinox-class bulk cargo vessel, was christened at Pier 26 South in Hamilton Harbor Thursday morning. The ceremony was observed by an audience that included local dignitaries and members of the marine industry.

Kathy Baske, wife of Jim Baske, President and CEO of ArcelorMittal Dofasco, imparted the traditional blessing. As is customary for these ceremonies, a bottle of champagne was broken against the bow of the ship, a banner revealing the ship’s name was dropped, and Father David Mulholland of the Mission to Seafarers offered prayers and other words of inspiration to the Canadian crew of the ship.

The Equinox class represents the next generation of Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway bulk cargo vessels. The ships have been designed to optimize fuel efficiency and operating performance thus minimizing environmental impact. A 45 percent improvement in energy efficiency over Algoma’s current fleet average is expected, resulting from the use of a modern Tier II-compliant engine, increased cargo capacity, and an improved hull form.

In addition, a fully integrated IMO approved exhaust gas scrubber will remove 97 percent of all sulfur oxides from shipboard emissions. Algoma is the first company to use an IMO approved integrated scrubber on a Great Lakes – St. Lawrence vessel class.

“We have been extremely pleased with the performance of the first Equinox-class vessel, the Algoma Equinox, since she joined the Algoma fleet last November,” said Greg Wight, President and CEO of Algoma. “We are also very pleased to host the Algoma Harvester christening in Hamilton today with our major customer, ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

“The Equinox Class bulkers have been designed to optimize performance in the movement of iron ore for companies like ArcelorMittal Dofasco and for the movement of grain products. We expect the ship to move 1 million tonnes per year of these commodities,” Mr. Wight continued.

“Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway marine transport is integral to our business and fleet renewal is critical for a sustainable supply chain,” added Jim Baske. “Sustainability is a core value for our company and a main area of focus. The range of environmental improvements that we see on this fleet aligns with our efforts to continuously improve our productivity, efficiency and environmental footprint. It‘s a win-win when one of our partners is able to achieve the kinds of improvements that Algoma has with this new fleet, effectively reducing the environmental impact of our supply chain, from raw material inputs to shipping of finished products.”

Algoma took delivery of the Algoma Harvester on May 13th and the vessel departed from the shipyard in China on May 18th. The Algoma Harvester picked up its first load of cargo at Port Cartier, Quebec on July 11th, following a 54-day voyage across the Pacific and through the Panama Canal to get to Canada. The first cargo of iron ore, which has set a new record size, will be delivered to ArcelorMittal Dofasco in Hamilton immediately following the ceremony.

The vessel joins its sister ship, the Algoma Equinox, as part of Algoma’s 32-vessel Canadian flagged Great Lakes fleet. Algoma is investing $300 million to construct six state of the art Equinox class vessels with two additional Equinox Class vessels currently under construction for CWB Inc. These CWB Inc. vessels will be managed by Algoma as part of the fleet serving our customers in and around the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Waterway.

Algoma Harvester will serve primarily agricultural and iron and steel industry customers, making regular voyages from lakehead ports on Lake Superior such as Thunder Bay and Superior/Duluth to Port Cartier, Quebec City, and Baie Comeau in the St. Lawrence. In between, this maximum seaway-size bulker also visits other ports such as Contrecoeur, Hamilton, Toledo, Chicago, and Milwaukee during the course of a navigation season.

She is expected to depart from Hamilton for Thunder Bay on July 18th. The vessel is expected to make approximately 10 grain and iron ore trips on the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Waterway over the balance of 2014.

Algoma Central Corp.


St. Lawrence Seaway grain shipments surge, offsetting iron, coal weakness

7/18 - Montreal, Que. – Western Canada's bumper crop, as well as output from Ontario, have boosted grain shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway by 50 per cent to 2.7 million tonnes so far this shipping season.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., the agency that manages the waterway, says combined U.S. and Canadian grain shipments were up 38 per cent from March 25 through June 30.

Despite the increased grain traffic, however, overall shipments through the seaway are down seven per cent to 11.1 million tonnes due to decreases in iron ore and coal traffic.

The Seaway Management Corporation says shipments of grain from Western Canada and Ontario have surged by 50 per cent to 2.7 million tonnes so far this shipping season.

Meanwhile, the Port of Thunder Bay, Ont., had its busiest June in 17 years as domestic and ocean carriers loaded more than 965,000 tonnes of grains in June.

Grain shipments through the Port of Hamilton soared 70 per cent to more than 380,000 tonnes this season.

While western grain traders are using the seaway to export a bumper grain crop, Ontario farmers are using Hamilton's expanded facilities to ship canola, corn, soybeans and wheat, mainly to international markets in Europe and the Middle East.

Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the Seaway, says the corporation anticipates higher grain activity will continue throughout the summer.

Last year's bumper grain crop of 76 million tonnes — 50 per cent more than average — should allow Seaway shipments to increase throughout the year after slipping 3.2 per cent in 2013 because the crop, although a record, was quite late.

Times Colonist


Port Reports -  July 18

St. Marys River
Lakes Contender / Ken Boothe Sr. spent the day at the Carbide Dock undergoing unspecified repairs. They were still there in the late evening.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
Frontenac departed Wednesday night after unloading a load of salt at Cargill. Over at Terminal 52, the German-flagged heavy lift vessel BBC Switzerland unloaded heavy electric power plant components: large transformers and high pressure steam generators.


St. Lawrence Seaway cargo shipments rise at U.S. ports

7/18 - Washington, D.C. - U.S. ports throughout the Great Lakes uniformly saw increased tonnage in several cargo categories during the month of June.

“Salt, chemicals, and steel all posted excellent tonnage numbers through June when compared to last year’s figures,” said Rebecca Spruill, director of trade development for the SLSDC.

“We’re rapidly making up ground for the slow start to the season imposed by a winter lasting well into April. Our U.S. ports are encouraged by the increase in traffic, most notably salt, registering a double digit percentage increase, dry chemicals which saw a threefold tonnage increase, and high value general cargo on track to top 2.5 million tons.”

The Port of Cleveland is off to an outstanding start to the 2014 shipping season. “Our international tonnage is up approximately 23 percent through June compared to 2013. In addition, the Cleveland-Europe Express, our new liner service between the Port of Cleveland and the Port of Antwerp that started in April, more than doubled our revenue in June compared to both April and May,” said David Gutheil, vice president of maritime and logistics.

“We continue to see positive momentum in the market for this service, and the interest is coming from a much broader geographic base than we originally anticipated. We have handled cargo from as far away as Iowa, and to countries in southeast Asia and the Middle East in addition to the European continent.”

“Industry spirits were buoyed by strong gains in cargo movements during the month of June,” added Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director. “We had two ships from Europe arrive loaded with energy-related project cargo destined for North Dakota and Alberta, Canada. Coal and iron ore tonnages were up by 16 and 7 percent respectively over May. And both commodities were running ahead of where they stood a year ago – coal up 17 percent in June 2014 and iron ore up nearly 48 percent compared to the same month’s totals in 2013.”

Coda acknowledged that the year-to-date snapshot is a bit more sobering – total tonnage for the port is still off 17 percent. However, he was quick to point out, “We’re moving in the right direction, having made double digit gains in most commodity groups during June.”

Shipments at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor were up over 40 percent from the previous year, driven primarily by steel-related cargoes that more than doubled the 2013 mid-year totals. Ocean shipments remained steady through the first half of 2014, up slightly from the previous year as a result of continued steel trade with European ports and fertilizer deliveries to local farmers. Through June, the Port handled significant increases in steel (up 130 percent), grain (up 70 percent), limestone (up 25 percent), and minerals (up 20 percent). “The increases are certainly a good sign for the regional economy, especially in the manufacturing sector,” said Rick Heimann, port director.

“Despite this year's late start due to ice conditions, we have managed to catch and surpass last year's tonnage total. The surge in May and June can be attributed to more coal, general cargo and dry bulk shipments moving through Toledo. So far this year we have seen more overseas traffic than in previous years,” said Joe Cappel, director of cargo development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “Diversified overseas trade including inbound sugar, pig iron, fertilizer and steel and outbound corn, soybeans, and bulk materials has helped make a difference this year. We hope that the momentum will continue for the balance of the 2014 season.”

“The Port of Oswego has accepted shipments of approximately 16,000 metric tons of aluminum in June contributing toward a year record projected to be 100,000 tons in 2014,” said Zelko Kirincich, executive director at the Port. “The growth of the Novelis automotive business has continued to fuel the growth of aluminum shipments through the Seaway System contributing to the diversity of the Port’s cargo base.”

Tonnage at the Port of Green Bay was up 28 percent over 2013 to 350,654 metric tons. “June’s increase is helping to close the gap on year-to-date numbers which are now only four percent below last year’s mark,” said Dean Haen, director of Brown County Port and Resource Recovery Department. “The biggest jump was the shipment of limestone, which increased by 63 percent to 147,072 metric tons compared to 2013.”

The Port of Muskegon, a new member of the AGLPA, is looking forward to the August arrival of three additional shipments of wind turbine components from Germany. “The Port of Muskegon not only has a significant historical past, but will play an important role as new technologies such as wind energy generation and other large scale or bulk cargoes representing new business and industry interests require water based transportation assistance,” said T. Arnold Boezaart, Muskegon County Port Advisory Committee member.

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 28 to June 30 were 11.2 million metric tons, down 7 percent over the same period in 2013. Iron ore and coal – usually solid performers – were both down by 37 and 21 percent respectively.

General cargo was up 44 percent overall with steel and project cargo shipments posting increases of 111 and 119 percent over 2013. U.S. grain shipments were down by 8 percent in June over last year. The liquid bulk category posted a downturn of 25 percent to just over 1 million metric tons. The dry bulk category was also down by 2.5 percent over 2013. However, within that category, stone, salt, cement and gypsum were all in the positive column, with stone at a 78 percent hike. Cleveland-Europe Express showing growth Cleveland, Ohio – The Port of Cleveland has announced that its Cleveland-Europe Express, the dedicated monthly liner service that launched in April, had its best month to date in June. This start-up service doubled its revenues in June when compared to either April or May.

“The Port of Cleveland is booming and we are very encouraged by the performance of the new Cleveland-Europe Express service, which is still in its infancy,” said William D. Friedman, president and CEO. “The large increase in volume in June bodes well for the remainder of the year as we continue to offer companies and shippers throughout the interior U.S. a faster, more cost-effective and greener shipping alternative to Europe and the world.”

The Port’s traditional maritime and development finance services are also seeing increased demand and are forecasted to have a record year. Vessel calls at the Port of Cleveland are up 75% through June, another indicator that the Greater Cleveland economy continues to grow. Additionally, revenues from the Port’s financing business are forecasted to be at an all-time high.


Effort abandoned to save 111-year-old freighter as museum ship

7/18 - Duluth, Minn. – The laker J.B. Ford’s days as a survivor appear to be numbered. Having made it through the storms of 1905 and 1913 that counted dozens of ships among its casualties, the Ford will succumb to old age.

The Great Lakes Steamship Society last week abandoned its effort to save the 111-year-old craft as a museum ship. The Ford is docked in Superior.

“It’s a real shame we can’t save her,” said Steve Haverty, founder and president of the society. “But with this economy it’s been real tough getting the money together. We gave it a good effort and bought her a couple more years.”

It had been estimated that $1.5 million to $2 million was necessary to save the J.B. Ford from the scrapyard. Lafarge North America owns the ship. When the News Tribune reached its communications department, the company spokesperson gave “no comment” on the ship’s future.

Haverty’s group still is working with Lafarge to salvage certain artifacts, including the forward cabins. The Great Lakes Steamship Society is turning its attention to saving another vessel, possibly the S.T. Crapo docked in Green Bay, Wis.

Other vessels are considered more feasible to salvage.

The J.B. Ford was distinguished by its three-cycle reciprocating steam engine — the last of its kind in existence — and last sailed in 1985 as a cement barge.

Paul Mattson worked for 16 years for Lafarge in Superior, and spent many days working in and around the J.B. Ford after it had been relegated to floating cement storage. Some workers, including Mattson, considered it haunted, he said.

He recalled it being sold for scrap for $1 in 2007, before the society stepped it to try and save it.

“It was an amazing ship in its day,” Mattson said. “She’s got an amazing history. I spent many hours working on the J.B. Ford, but it’s had its time.”

The J.B. Ford was launched as the Edwin F. Holmes in Lorain, Ohio, on Dec. 12, 1903. It is 440 feet long, with a beam of 50 feet, a depth of 28 feet and a capacity of 8,000 tons.

By comparison, the William A. Irvin, launched 34 years later, is 611 feet long, with a beam of 60 feet, a depth of 32.5 feet and a capacity of 13,600 tons.

For the first several decades of its life, the Ford — sailing first as the Holmes and then as the E.C. Collins — hauled iron ore, coal and grain. It was upbound on Lake Superior during the 1905 Mataafa Storm, during which 29 vessels were lost or damaged. It was downbound on Superior during the 1913 White Hurricane storm, during which 12 vessels were lost and 32 driven aground.

The Ford escaped the breakers-yard fate of many of its contemporaries by finding a specialized niche in the 1950s, when the Huron Portland Cement Co. bought and converted it to a self-unloading cement carrier. It was Huron that renamed the vessel the J.B. Ford.

Lafarge bought the Ford in the 1980s and used it as a cement barge, first in Chicago, then in Superior.

Steve Lindsey of Keene, N.H., informed the News Tribune of the latest development in the life of the J.B. Ford. He’s a one-time Coast Guarder (1984-91) and self-described “historic preservationist” responsible for a couple of Wikipedia entries on lakers and shipping, as well as campaigns to save churches and other examples of architecture. With the Coast Guard, he helped break ice for ships like the J.B. Ford and developed an affinity for the shipping trade. He laments the inability of places like the National Trust for Historic Preservation to salvage more ships from what he called, “the Golden Age of steamers.”

“We got to know and love these ships,” Lindsey said. “Someday, all we’re going to have are motorized barges — without character, without stories. They’ll be like drones, and we won’t have ships as living entities anymore. It’s important to save a little of it, because this is stuff we’ll never see again.”

The Duluth News Tribune


Help wanted: Marine engineers

7/18 - Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. is looking for competent, practically skilled Marine Engineers with 2nd Class Motor TCMS certification and 4th Class Motor TCMS certification to join our team. Canadian Great Lakes dry bulk experience or related experience, a good work ethic and the ability to work in a fast paced environment are considered prerequisites for this position. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are a must, as is a leadership style based on mutual respect of all Officers and Crew within a proactive, team oriented work environment. Candidates must be bondable, possess a valid passport and will have all applicable certificates and Transport Canada medical in good order.

If you are a leader or potential leader that is looking for a change we offer a very competitive wage and benefit package, positive work environment and an industry leading leave system with a Month On, Month Off work rotation on a year round basis for Engineers with 2nd Class.

Applicants who meet the job requirements for these positions are encouraged to send a resume and cover letter to: Personnel Manager, Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. PO Box 1149 – 517 Main Street, Port Dover, ON Ph: (519) 583-0982 Fx: (519) 583-1946, email:


Help wanted: City of Toronto: Marine Engineer 2 and Deck Hand

7/18 - Job Classification Title: Marine Engineer 2
Requisition # 1977276X
Work Location: Jack Layton Ferry Terminal Toronto
Job Type: Seasonal, Full-Time
Temporary Duration: 13 Weeks
Salary/Rate: $28.91 / Hour
Number of Positions Open: 2

Job Classification Title Deckhand
Requisition # 1946448
Job Type Non-Seasonal, Full-Time
Temporary Duration 19 Weeks
Salary/Rate $26.37 / Hour
Hours of Work (bi-weekly) 80.00
Shift Information Rotating Shift
Number of Positions Open 2

Interested applicants are requested to send their resume and cover letter to the City of Toronto's website. Please visit, by July 25 to view entire job postings referenced above.


Call for photos for Duluth Seaway Port Authority calendar

7/18 - The Duluth Seaway Port Authority is hosting its 38th annual calendar contest to find the perfect photo, painting or illustration to feature on its wall calendar for next year. The group is looking for stunning, captivating images of ships or scenes that highlight the port from unique perspectives in a variety of seasons that tell engaging stories at a glance.

The winner’s image and name will be featured prominently on 12,000 calendars, distributed in the Twin Ports, across the Great Lakes and around the world. A grand prize of $250 will be awarded. A story about the entrant will be featured in the winter issue of our North Star Port magazine.

• Photographs, paintings and/or illustrations are eligible for consideration.
• Submit up to 10 high-resolution images on a CD/DVD or USB flash drive
• Entries must be received by August 25, 2014
• Label images (and disc/stick) with your name/initials. Provide phone number email & snail mail address.
• Due to file sizes, please do Not send images via email.
• All photos/artwork must be original in design and execution, taken/created within the past three years and not published elsewhere or sold to other clients prior to submission.

Other rules apply. If you are interested in submitting an entry or have questions, please direct them to:

Adele Yorde, Public Relations Manager Duluth Seaway Port Authority 1200 Port Terminal Drive Duluth, MN 55802 218.727.8525


Updates -  July 18

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the BBC Switzerland, Oslo Bulk 2, Sichem Melbourne, and Sten Bergen.


Lookback #243 – New York News buckled while loading salt at Pugwash on July 18, 1967

The New York News (iii), had only recently been added to the Quebec & Ontario Transportation Co. fleet and did not get off to a good start in their colors. On July 9, 1967, the ship was in a collision with the Nordglimt off Escoumins, Quebec, but only suffered light damage. Things got worse 47 years ago today.

The bulk carrier was at Pugwash, Nova Scotia, loading salt when the hull buckled amidships at the dock on July 18, 1967. Later, the hull was cut in two by divers to facilitate salvage operations. The sections were refloated separately and towed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for repairs.

New York News resumed trading but occasionally ran into more trouble. She went aground at the mouth of the Detroit River on Sept. 18, 1979, but was freed two days later. She also stranded on a sandbar off Ogdensburg, NY on Aug. 11, 1982, and required tug assistance.

This ship was Hull 19 from Port Weller Dry Docks and joined Beaconsfield Steamships in 1956 as Tecumseh. Originally 259 feet long, it was lengthened to 349 feet overall in 1959-1960.

New York News stayed with Q. & O. until the company carriers were sold to Desgagnes in 1984. This ship became Stella Desgagnes in 1986. Following a sale for saltwater service, it became Beam Beginner in 1993 but the deal was not completed.

The vessel was resold and renamed Wolf River at Hamilton in 1995 and has seen only limited service on Lake Superior in subsequent years. Wolf River is still intact at Thunder Bay, Ont., but has been idle for years.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  July 18

On this day in 1974, Interlake Steamship decommissioned the COLONEL JAMES PICKANDS after 48 years of service due to continuing problems with her boilers and engines.

AGAWA CANYON struck an abutment at Welland Canal's Bridge 11, at Allanburg, Ontario, on July 18, 1977, while downbound with salt for Kingston, Ontario, and sustained a 30-foot gash just above the waterline at the port bow.

The canal tanker COMET (Hull#705) of the American Ship Building Co., at Lorain, Ohio, entered service on July 18, 1913, for ocean service. Sold Mexican and renamed b.) COMETA in 1928. She returned to the lakes in 1936, renamed c.) COMET for Cleveland Tankers. She was lengthened in 1940. She was scrapped at Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1973.

The WILLIAM J. FILBERT was in collision with the KINSMAN INDEPENDENT, of 1907, at the Burlington Northern Dock on July 18, 1970, when the Steel Trust steamer lost control in the current entering the slip.

The entire forward superstructure of the b.) JOHN DYKSTRA, a.) BENSON FORD of 1924, including the forecastle deck, was delivered to South Bass Island in Lake Erie on July 18, 1986, on the barge THOR 101 towed by the tug GREGORY J. BUSCH. The superstructure was moved for use as a summer home where it remains. The hull of the DYKSTRA was sold to Marine Salvage, Port Colborne, Ontario and was towed from Cleveland, Ohio, July 10th by the tugs ARGUE MARTIN and GLENBROOK to Ramey's Bend arriving there on July 12, 1986, where she was scrapped.

WILLIAM A. REISS was launched July 18, 1925, as a.) JOHN A. TOPPING (Hull#251) at River Rouge, Michigan, by Great Lakes Engineering Works for the Columbia Steamship Co.

WILLIAM G. MATHER completed her sea trials on July 18, 1925.

On 18 July 1858, ANDROMEDA (2-mast wooden schooner, 112 foot, 568 tons, built in 1848, at Madison Dock, Ohio) was carrying 800 barrels of salt from Oswego to Chicago. She sprang a leak suddenly and foundered 20 miles from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The crew escaped in her boat, many just in their underwear. They arrived at Manitowoc the next day.

On 18 July 1872, the schooner D. L. COUCH of Detroit (formerly AVCORN) sank about 10 miles from Long Point on Lake Erie. Two lives were lost.

The wooden propeller freigjhter N. K. FAIRBANK (205 foot, 980 gross tons) was launched in Marine City, Michigan by W. B. Morley on 18 July 1874. She was then towed to Detroit, where her engines were installed by William Cowie. She had two direct-acting condensing engines 34 foot x 32 inches on one shaft and her boiler was installed on her main deck. She only lasted until 1895, when she stranded and burned near Port Colborne, Ontario. The remains of the hull were sold to Carter Brothers of Port Colborne and it was rebuilt and enrolled as a new vessel with the name ELIZA H. STRONG. The STRONG lasted until she burned in 1904.

1911: The wooden steamer TAMPA sank in the Detroit River after a collision with the JOHN W. GATES of U.S. Steel. The former was raised and moved to Marine City and then, after being partially dismantled, was sunk in 1915 as a breakwall to halt erosion off the Belle River.

1938: ISLET PRINCE (ii), enroute to Owen Sound for a new service, stopped for the night behind Chantry Island, Southampton, and was struck by lightning. The ship caught fire, but all on board were rescued before the vessel sank the next day.

1954: LAKE GADSDEN was built at Manitowoc, in 1919, and lost near Corrubedo Light, off the coast of Spain, as g) SAN NICOLAS after going aground. The vessel slid back into deep water and sank.

1960: IRISH MAPLE, a Great Lakes visitor beginning in 1966, sank the 479 gross ton DENBIGH COAST in the River Mersey after a collision. IRISH MAPLE remained in service until reaching the scrapyard at Karachi, Pakistan, as c) ANNOOR on October 24, 1981.

1967: NEW YORK NEWS (iii) buckled and sank while loading salt at Pugwash, NS. The ship was raised and towed to Halifax in two sections for repairs. It survives in 2012 as e) WOLF RIVER, but has not operated for years.

1984 PANAGIOTIS S., a Seaway trader beginning in 1975, suffered severe fire damage aft in the Gulf of Aden, while on a voyage from Antwerp, Belgium, to Calcutta, India. The ship was a total loss and, while sold and renamed d) OTIS, it was taken to Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for scrapping. PANAGIOTIS S. had also visited the Great Lakes as a) VIZCAYA in 1972 and EMILIA LOVERDOS in 1975.

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

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