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Gales forecast for Friday; vessels seek shelter

10/31 - Grand Rapids, Mich. – A strengthening storm system will move straight over Michigan Friday, while deepening at the same time. A deepening storm means the wind speeds will increase.

The winds will be straight out of the north, which really builds the wave heights, especially on Lake Michigan. The flow of air down the entire length of Lake Michigan will cause waves to increase heading south on Lake Michigan. Winds are expected to gust over 40 mph on all of the Great Lakes shores. There is a storm warning in effect, and waves could build to 23 feet at the south end of Lake Michigan.

On Thursday evening, likely in anticipation of the blow, the lakers Joseph H. Thompson, CSL Assinibone and Stewart J. Cort were anchored in the lee of Seul Choix Point on northern Lake Michigan, while the Wilfred Sykes was headed to anchor off Manistique. Joseph L. Block was loading at the Port Inland dock.

Lake Huron and Lake Superior will also have big waves. The north wind on Lake Huron will make the tallest waves on the south end of Lake Huron from Harbor Beach to Port Huron, where 14 foot waves are expected. Lake Superior will have about the same situation with 14 foot waves along the southern shore of Lake Superior.

November is a famous month for dangerous storms on the Great Lakes. The basic reason is Great Lakes water temperatures are relatively warm, and the air aloft can turn much colder. The warm air over the lakes is light and wants to rise, much like a hot air ballon rises. The cold air aloft is heavier and wants to fall to the ground. The opposing movement of these different air masses causes part of the wind. This happens at the same time the strength of low-pressure systems is getting stronger.

The combination of stronger large-scale storm systems with the water-to-air temperature difference makes the wind on the Great Lakes a unique weather situation.

The cold air coming will also make it look like winter at times Friday afternoon and evening.

M Live


Strike threat on Seaway could impact most Great Lakes ports

10/31 - Toledo, Ohio – A threatened strike over automation of the locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway could cut off international traffic to Great Lakes ports, including Toledo. The strike, if it happens, could begin as early Friday afternoon.

Unifor, a Canadian union representing workers on the Seaway, recently served a 72-hour strike notice to Seaway management, according to news reports, most of which cited a Unifor news release.

At issue is the automation of the mooring process used in the locks along the Seaway, which includes the Welland Canal linking Lakes Erie and Ontario. The Welland locks raise and lower ships around Niagara Falls. Lock crews handle mooring lines, which secure the ships while they are raised or lowered.

In April, the Seaway announced it had received government funding to automate the process, effectively eliminating the jobs of the lock crews.

“We believe that having no one at the lock is not a good idea,” said Joel Fournier, Unifor national representative, in the news release. “The risk of an environmental disaster with all of the dangerous cargo going through the Seaway is very real.”

The earliest a strike could begin is 12:15 p.m. Oct. 31, according to the news release, which said 96 percent of workers had voted earlier to support a strike.

Increased cargo “throughput” — for example, cargo brought in on ships and sent elsewhere by other means — at Midwest Terminals, which handles most of Toledo’s overseas cargo, resulted in a 54 percent increase in general cargo through September, compared to the same period in 2013, according to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

Great Lakes shipping would be less affected, as lake freighter cargo for the most part stays in the four upper lakes. The locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., linking Lakes Huron and Superior, are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and so would not be affected.

Meanwhile, negotiations will continue with the assistance of a mediator appointed by the Canadian federal government, according to the Welland Tribune newspaper website.

Toledo Free Press


Labor inspectors to visit Canadian Miner cleanup site after worker hurt

10/31 - Sydney, N.S. – A laborer injured Tuesday in a fall at the cleanup site of the Canadian Miner on Scatarie Island will be back at work in a couple of days.

David Macdonald, general manager for RJ MacIsaac Construction of Antigonish, said Wednesday the worker was helping to remove equipment from the derelict freighter when he slipped on some rocks and broke two ribs.

Macdonald said the man, a general laborer from Sydney in his 50s, has been told by his doctor he can return to work after resting for two or three days.

He said work on dismantling the ship has been delayed due to weather, not because of the mishap, and that work would resume as weather permits.

“Operations were suspended due to high seas and wind conditions, and a couple of employees were removing some equipment from the Miner, crossing the breakwater road that we have to access the ship and … due to the high wind and sea conditions, the rocks were wet and one of our employees slipped and fell and broke two ribs,” Macdonald said.

A Cormorant helicopter from 14 Wing Greenwood flew the worker to hospital in Sydney.

On Wednesday, Labour Department spokeswoman Chrissy Matheson said the province has not issued a stop-work order “as of yet,” but inspectors are planning to visit the island as soon as possible to investigate the accident and to ensure the work-site safety plan is adequate.

Macdonald said staff trained in first aid are on Scatarie Island and the company has access to a helicopter, but it was away at the time of the accident.

By the time the company’s chopper arrived, the military helicopter was only a half-hour away, so staff decided to wait for it to arrive, he said.

Maj. Martell Thompson of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax said a call for medical evacuation was received at about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday and the helicopter from 14 Wing Greenwood arrived at Scatarie at about 3:20 p.m.

The patient was transferred to an ambulance and taken to Cape Breton Regional Hospital at about 4 p.m.

Earlier this year, the province awarded a $12-million contract to RJ MacIsaac Construction to remove the MV Miner from the shore of Scatarie Island after the former Great Lakes freighter ran aground three years ago.

The ship was being towed to Turkey for scrap when it came loose in heavy weather and drifted toward the island, about two kilometres offshore from the community of Main-a-Dieu.

Matheson said the province takes safety seriously at the site, especially since previous work was stopped over safety concerns. The Bennington Group, a New York company, ran afoul of provincial regulations and eventually walked away from the cleanup effort in 2012.

Macdonald said the company still plans to finish the cleanup in about a month. Most of the ship’s superstructures have been removed and work is progressing quickly.

“We’re still moving forward with trying to have it done by the end of November or early December,” he said. “We want to be out of there as contractors as fast as possible. We don’t want to get into winter conditions or winter work.”

The Chronicle Herald


Port Reports -  October 31

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Algolake was at Dock 3 on Thursday.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
The Luedtke dredger was working in the reach between the piers at the CSX River Bridge Thursday afternoon. While the bridge was in the raised position for the dredge, work crews were refacing the concrete on the counterweight, since it swings low to the ground when the draw is up. The tug Ohio remained at the vising ship dock. Vermont is now rafted alongside. Ohio brought the barge and derrick Farrell 256 from Erie to remove the old Black Rock Lock gates. The gates will be loaded onto the barge, and Ohio will be leaving with the gates headed to Cleveland. They were supposed to leave Thursday afternoon, but the lift of the gates was not yet complete. Weather may affect their departure. Vermont is now reassigned to Buffalo, and will take the place of the New Jersey. New Jersey has been resigned to Toledo. Washington will be staying in Buffalo due to her diesel electric versatility.


Left Behind #5 – Francisco Morazon – by Skip Gillham

The remains of the Francisco Morazon are likely still visible off South Manitou Island, Lake Huron. The vessel landed there while racing to clear the Seaway on Nov. 29, 1960. Since then, wind, waves, ice and occasional fires have added to the woes of this veteran saltwater ship.

The vessel had been built at Hamburg, Germany, and launched on Sept. 23, 1922. It was soon at work in the Hamburg-America line as Arcadia and was noted to provide fast service to shallow draft ports.

The 246 foot, 9 inch long freighter was equipped with a steam turbine engine. It was sold and renamed b) Elbing in 1934 and served as such until confiscated by the British Ministry of War Transport as a war prize in 1945. Renamed c) Empire Congress, the ship worked for the British until sold to Norwegian interests and renamed d) Brunes in 1946. Another sale led to a rename of e) Skuld in 1947 and then f) Ringas in 1948.

Ringas became a pre-Seaway saltie in 1952 and returned until at least 1956. Stops included Muskegon, Mich., with china clay, and Port Huron with what was listed as general cargo. At some point it also brought a load of pulpwood into the lakes.

Another sale in 1958 led to the rename of g) Los Mayas and this ship visited the Great Lakes again that year bringing more china clay to Muskegon. Now under the flag of Panama, the vessel hit bottom at some point and required a cement patch to stop the leak.

Sold again in 1959 and renamed h) Francisco Morazon, the then Liberian-flagged freighter came to Thunder Bay in 1959 to load grain and was back on the lakes with a stop at Chicago in 1960. It had left there with general cargo for Hamburg, West Germany, and Rotterdam, Holland, and was in a hurry to clear the Seaway when it landed securely on the bottom off South Manitou Island, Lake Michigan, on Nov. 29, 1960. What is left of the ship is still there.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #348 – Eider aground and damaged off Antofagasta, Chile on Oct. 31, 2005

Eider is one of the big, green-hulled ocean ships that come through the Seaway for Canfornav. The 656 foot, 2 inch long, 35,200 ton capacity bulk carrier was built at Xingang, China in 2004.

It came through the Seaway for the first time on Oct. 21, 2004, with a cargo of steel coils for Detroit before going to Thunder Bay to load canola.

The next year there were two more trips inland with Windsor as the destination before returning to Thunder Bay for a load of canola and a second time for peas.

Later that year, on Oct. 31, 2005, Eider ran aground near Antofagasta, Chile, while inbound to load copper ore for Hong Kong. A tank fractured and considerable fuel oil was spilled with reported damage extending along the coast.

Eider was refloated, fined and repaired. It resumed service after the accident of nine years ago today and was back on the Great Lakes later in 2006. It has returned on a regular basis making three trips inland in 2007 with steel and, on one occasion a cargo of sugar for Toronto.

Eider continues to trade for Canfornav and serves their customers along the Seaway and around the world.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  October 31

On this day in 1984, at approximately 10:30 p.m., the international railroad bridge at Sault Ste. Marie went askew and blocked boat traffic until 3:40 p.m. on Nov. 2. Twelve boats were delayed up to 41 hours by the incident, costing the operators an estimated $350,000.

On 31 October 1888, A W LAWRENCE (wooden propeller tug, 72 foot, 51 gross tons, built in 1880, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin) blew her boiler at 2:30 a.m. off North Point near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The tug quickly sank. Four of the six aboard were lost. None of their remains were ever found. The tug MERRILL rescued the cook and a passenger. The LAWRENCE was owned by Capt. Mc Coy & Banner and valued at $5,000.

CANADIAN EXPLORER's sea trials were conducted on October 31, 1983, on Lake Erie where a service speed of 13.8 m.p.h. was recorded.

The EDWIN H. GOTT was christened October 31, 1978.

On October 31, 1973, the H. M. GRIFFITH entered service for Canada Steamship Lines on her maiden voyage bound for Thunder Bay, Ontario to load iron ore for Hamilton, Ontario. The GRIFFITH was rebuilt with a new larger forward section and renamed b.) RT. HON PAUL J. MARTIN in 2000.

The CADILLAC was launched October 31, 1942, as a.) LAKE ANGELINE.

ELMGLEN cleared Owen Sound, Ontario on October 31, 1984, on her first trip in Parrish & Heimbecker colors.

On October 31, 1966, while down bound in the St. Marys River loaded with 11,143 tons of potash for Oswego, New York, the HALLFAX ran aground on a rocky reef and settled to the bottom with her hold full of water. She had grounded on Pipe Island Twins Reef just north of DeTour, Michigan.

The CHARLES L. HUTCHINSON, a.) WILLIAM C. MORELAND, struck a reef the night of October 31, 1925 three miles south of Manitou Island, off the Keweenaw Peninsula, on Lake Superior.

On October 31, 1983, the SYLVANIA was towed out of Toledo’s Frog Pond by the harbor tugs ARKANSAS and WYOMING. She was handed over to the tug OHIO for delivery to the Triad Salvage Co., at Ashtabula, Ohio, arriving there on November 1st. Dismantling was completed there in 1984. Thus ended 78 years of service. Ironically the SYLVANIA, the first built of the 504-foot-class bulkers, was the last survivor of that class. During her career with Columbia Transportation, the SYLVANIA had carried over 20 million tons and netted over $35 million.

On 31 October 1883, CITY OF TORONTO (wooden passenger-package freight sidewheeler, 207 foot, 898 gross tons, built in 1864, at Niagara, Ontario) caught fire at the Muir Brothers shipyard at Port Dalhousie, Ontario and was totally destroyed. She previously had her paddle boxes removed so she could pass through the Welland Canal, and she was in the shipyard to have them reassembled that winter.

On 31 October 1874, the tug FAVORITE was towing the schooner WILLIE NEELER on Lake Erie. At about 10:30 p.m., near Bar Point, the schooner suddenly sheered and before the to line could be cast off, the FAVORITE capsized and sank. One life was lost. The rest of the crew clung to the upper works, which had become dislodged from the vessel, and were rescued by the schooner's lifeboats.

On 31 October 1821, WALK-IN-THE-WATER (wooden side-wheeler, 135 foot, 339 tons, built in 1818, at Black Rock [Buffalo], New York) was wrecked on Point Abino, on the Canadian shore of Lake Erie during a storm. She was the first steam-powered vessel above Niagara and her frequent comings and goings during her career were very much in the newspapers in Detroit but her loss was not mentioned not at all since this steamer was virtually the only source of news from the east. Her engine was installed by Robert Fulton himself. After the wreck, it went into the steamer SUPERIOR and later ran a lumber mill in Saginaw, Michigan.

On 31 October 1880, TRANCHEMONTAGNE (wooden schooner, 108 foot, 130 tons, built in 1864, at Sorel, Quebec) was loaded with rye and sailing in a storm on Lake Ontario. She struck the breakwater at Oswego, New York head-on at about 3:00 a.m. She stove in her bow and quickly sank. The crew took to the rigging, except for one who was washed overboard and rode a provision box from her deck to shore. The Lifesaving Service rescued the rest from the breakwater. The schooner broke up quickly in the storm.

1885: WILLIAM T. GRAVES stranded at North Manitou Island, Lake Michigan, and was a total loss.

1911: The wooden lumber carrier D. LEUTY hit a squall off Marquette. The wooden steamer ran on the rocks off Lighthouse Point while trying to return to the harbor and was a total loss. The crew was saved and later the machinery was salvaged.

1929: SENATOR and MARQUETTE collided in fog on Lake Michigan and the former sank with the loss of 10 lives.

1952: The Swedish vessel RYHOLM was hit portside ahead of the bridge by the Swiss freighter BASILEA and beached 23 miles below Quebec City. The former had been a pre-Seaway visitor to the Great Lakes and was not salvaged until June 6, 1953. It became CARLSHOLM in 1957 and last came inland in 1967. The ship was scrapped at Aviles, Spain, as d) ARCHON in 1972.

1975: The tug JESSE JAMES operated on the Great Lakes from 1923 to 1966. It caught fire and sank as c) BALEEN about 30 miles southeast of Boston. All on board were saved.

1991: The MAHOGANY visited the Seaway in 1978 and as b) CARDIFF in 1981. It was sailing as f) PANAGHIA PHANEROMENI when in collision with the AQUILLA off Piraeus Roads. The ship was repaired at Perama, Greece, before it returned to service in January 1992.

2005: The Canfornav bulk carrier EIDER was only one year old when it ran aground near Famagusta, Chile, while inbound to load copper ore. The ship was damaged but refloated and repaired at Balboa, Panama. It was back through the Seaway in 2006 and has been a frequent caller since then.

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


Potential strike could close Seaway Friday

10/30 - St. Catharines, Ont. – The St. Lawrence Seaway could be facing a Friday strike at 12:15 p.m. that would close its shipping operations.

In a release, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. said it was served Tuesday with a 72-hour notice to strike by Unifor.

That union represents the Seaway’s 460 unionized employees in locals covering Niagara and elsewhere in Ontario and Quebec.

"We believe that having no one at the lock is not a good idea," said Unifor's national rep Joel Fournier. "The risk of an environmental disaster with all of the dangerous cargo going through the Seaway is very real."

Unifor says hands-free mooring will eliminate staff currently working at the locks, and is calling for minimum staffing to deal "with emergencies."

Lock staffing is an important source of jobs locally, Unifor says.

The Seaway counters the new technology will still allow shops to pass through locks in a "safe and secure manner."

"This program is essential to ensuring that the Seaway can operate on a basis that is both safe and sustainable," the Wednesday release said.

The Seaway received federal funding earlier this year to automate the locks.

Meanwhile, negotiations will continue with the assistance of a federally-appointed mediator.

The Seaway says the strike notification has prompted the implementation of "detailed plans for an orderly and safe shutdown of the system within the 72-hour notice period."

If the strike happens St. Lawrence Seaway will be closed to all its shipping traffic.

St. Catharines Standard and ErieMedia


Port Reports -  October 30

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
A busy day at the harbors in Marquette found Lewis J. Kuber loading ore and Mesabi Miner unloading coal at the Upper Harbor and Herbert C. Jackson unloading stone at the Lower Harbor. Kuber's visit was a first for 2014.

Drummond Island, Mich.
Wilfred Sykes loaded throughout the day and departed for a southern Lake Michigan port around 8 p.m.

Goderich, Ont.
Oakglen arrived Wednesday to load grain, an unusual port of call for this vessel.


Marina owner to move historic tug Reiss stuck in river

10/30 - Douglas, Mich. – A new effort is underway to remove a historic tugboat that's been stuck in the Kalamazoo River for years.

WZZM 13 went along on the water with a Douglas marina owner who is hoping to finally pull the Reiss out of the sand. It got stuck only a few hundred yards from land.

Tower Marine owner R.J. Peterson is making it his mission to get the Reiss unstuck. WZZM 13 followed along as he took us for an up-close look at the historic boat, which has some parts built more than a century ago.

"The engine is probably 1880, and the tug was built in the 20's sometime," says Peterson.

On-board, there was a one-of-a-kind steam engine, and the boiler room next to it.

"That's down about 15 or 16 feet, so you can understand why the tugboat is stuck in about 9 feet of water," says Peterson.

Peterson says the Reiss became stuck about a decade ago, on its way to a museum in Minnesota. Funding ran out, and it was left in the Kalamazoo River.

"Now, we're going back into a high-water period, so now it's time to move it to the dock," says Peterson.

Last week, Peterson used his own boat to push around the tug to see if it would move.

"We'll be able to spin it directly around so it's headed for the dock; right now, it's headed directly away from the dock," says Peterson.

"Pushed it back two or three times, had it moving pretty good," says John Kiss, the head of maintenance for Tower Marine.

Once the boat is turned around, the next step begins. Back on land, crew members are going to take about 200 yards of cable and tie one end to the boat and another end to the dock. Then, they plan to use a winch to bring the boat in.

Long-term, Peterson hopes to get the historic tugboat into a museum, "to get it someplace where it will be taken care of," he says.

Peterson says he may have a couple museums that are interested in restoring the tugboat. He hopes to have it on land in the next two weeks.



Now hiring: BayShip prepares for winter push

10/30 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Bay Shipbuilding is hiring. Of all the marine manufacturing companies in Wisconsin, Sturgeon Bay-based Bay Shipbuilding has the largest and most urgent need as winter closes in. The company is looking for 100 full-time workers and many seasonal workers for its ship repair business.

"We'll have 14 or 15 vessels stacking up like cordwood," human resources manager Bill Behme said of winter repair orders. "It will include all manner of repair and re-powering."

Bay Shipbuilding is one of the most significant large-ship repair yards on the Great Lakes.

"The beauty is, when we get into the winter months, anybody who would like to make lots more money based on overtime, there are ample opportunities," Behme said. "We work seven days a week. It's a narrow window (to get repairs completed). Boat owners don't want to miss deliveries."

Also, the company, which has 600 employees, most of them represented by one of four unions, has an order for nine new vessels in the next three years.

Bay Shipbuilding needs welders, pipefitters, electricians, engineers, CAD designers, supervisors and managers in its production area. It also needs semi-skilled and unskilled workers for its seasonal repair business. Wages range from $14 to $23 an hour.

"In a relatively short period of time, we will have to add on several hundred skilled workers," Behme said.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Left Behind #4 – Monrovia – by Skip Gillham

Monrovia, an Empire ship of the World War Two era, was lost on its first visit to the Great Lakes. It went down on June 25, 1959, following a collision with the Royalton about 11 miles off Thunder Bay Island, Lake Huron.

The accident occurred at 1450 hours after Monrovia had lost its way and wandered into the down bound shipping lane during a period of heavy fog. On board was a cargo of steel loaded at Antwerp, Belgium, and destined for Duluth.

Monrovia received a deep gash on the port side and remained afloat long enough for the crew to safely abandon the ship. As the holds and engineroom flooded, the 29 sailors on board took to the lifeboats and were picked up in about 20 minutes by the Norman W. Foy.

The ship had been built at Glasgow, Scotland, and launched for the British Ministry of War Transport on April 8, 1943, as Empire Falstaff. It carried valuable cargoes to assist the war effort and, when peace had been won, it was sold to the French Government and renamed b) Commandant Mantelet in 1945. The name was changed to c) Commandant Le Biboul in 1951 and it sailed as such until becoming Monrovia for the Eastern Shipping Co. in 1954. Registered in Monrovia, Liberia, the steamer Monrovia operated successfully on saltwater routes until its fateful visit through the newly opened St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959.

The hull of Monrovia rests upright on the bottom in about 140 feet of water. Some of the cargo of steel was salvaged in the 1970s but there would be no refloating the ship.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #347 – Aigle Marin ran aground near Cornwall on Oct. 30, 1973

The coastal freighter and occasional Great Lakes visitor Aigle Marin was built at Collingwood as Hull 88. The 160 foot long vessel was constructed as a minesweeper and commissioned for the Canadian Department of National Defense as H.M.C.S. Fundy on Sept. 1, 1938.

H.M.C.S. Fundy was based at Halifax for minesweeping and escort duty and, among other work, rescued survivors on January 15, 1945, from the torpedoed Liberty ship Martin Van Buren. The latter was on a voyage from Boston to France with vehicles and general cargo when attacked.

After being idle at Sorel for many years, the Fundy was rebuilt by Marine Industries Ltd. for coastal service and repowered. It began commercial trading as Aigle Marin and made occasional forays into the Great Lakes.

It was 41-years ago today that the ship ran aground in the Seaway near Cornwall while carrying 600 tons of ferrous chrome for delivery to Thorold. The vessel was released Oct. 31, 1973, with the aid of the tug Robinson Bay.

Aigle Marin was sold in 1978 and renamed Anne R.D. It also saw Great Lakes service, often in the steel trade out of Sault Ste. Marie and, on Oct. 20, 1981, there was a failure in the main gear box while crossing Lake Huron. As a result, the ship had to be towed to Alpena.

Anne R.D. was idle from 1983 to 1987 and scrapped at La Malbaie, Quebec, in the summer of 1987.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  October 30

On 30 October 1863, TORRENT (2-mast wooden schooner, 125 foot, 412 gross tons, built in 1855, at Newport [Marine City], Michigan) was carrying railroad iron from Buffalo to Little Bay de Noc when she foundered in a storm on Lake Erie, 10 miles east of Port Stanley, Ontario. No lives were lost.

On 30 October 1870, JOSEPH A. HOLLON (wooden barge, 107 foot, 158 gross tons, built in 1867, at E. Saginaw, Michigan) was in tow of the tug CLEMATIS (wooden tug, 179 tons, built in 1863, at Cleveland, Ohio) in a terrific gale on Lake Huron. The barge broke free and drifted off. The waves washed completely over her and the captain was swept overboard. Her cabins were destroyed. The next day the wife of the mate and another crewmember were rescued by the bark ONEONTA (wooden bark, 161 foot, 499 gross tons, built in 1862, at Buffalo, New York) and taken to Detroit, but the HOLLON was left to drift on the Lake. The newspapers listed her as "missing". Five days later the vessel was found and was towed into Port Elgin, Ontario. A total of four lives were lost: three were missing and the fourth was found "lashed to a pump, dead, with his eyes picked out.”

The tugs GLENADA and MOUNT MC KAY towed AMOCO ILLINOIS from Essexville, Michigan, on October 30, 1985, and arrived at the M&M slip in Windsor, Ontario, on November 1st. where she was to be scrapped.

The Maritimers CADILLAC and her fleetmate CHAMPLAIN arrived under tow by the Dutch tug/supply ship THOMAS DE GAUWDIEF on October 30, 1987, at Aliaga, Turkey, to be scrapped.

The ISLE ROYALE (Canal bulk freighter) was launched October 30, 1947, as a.) SOUTHCLIFFE HALL for the Hall Corporation of Canada Ltd. (which in 1969, became Hall Corporation (Shipping) 1969 Ltd.), Montreal.

On 30 October 1874, LOTTA BERNARD (wooden side wheel "rabbit", 125 foot, 147 tons, built in 1869, at Port Clinton, Ohio) was carrying general merchandise from Silver Islet to Duluth when she foundered in a terrific gale off Encampment Island in Lake Superior. Three lives were lost. She was capable of only 4 miles per hour and was at the mercy of any fast-rising storm.

During a storm, the schooner ANNABELLA CHAMBERS was wrecked on the islands off Toronto, Ontario, on 30 October 1873. One sailor was washed overboard and lost. The skipper was rescued, but he had the dead body of his small son in his arms.

On 30 October, 1971 - The PERE MARQUETTE 21 was laid up due to a coal strike. She never sailed again as a carferry.

On 30 October 1877, CITY OF TAWAS (3-mast wooden schooner, 135 foot, 291 tons, built in 1864, at Vicksburgh [now Marysville], Michigan as a sloop-barge) was carrying 500 tons of iron ore when she struck a bar outside the harbor at St. Joseph, Michigan, while attempting to enter during a storm. She drifted ashore with a hole in her bottom and was pounded to pieces. One brave crewman swam ashore with a line and the rest came in on it.

1918: The bulk carrier VULCAN went aground off Point Abbaye, on Lake Superior and the pilothouse caught fire and burned. The ship was enroute to Hancock, MI with coal and, after being released, was towed to Houghton, MI. The vessel was repaired and became b) VINMOUNT in 1919.

1960: JOHN SHERWIN went aground several miles above the Soo Locks and received serious bottom damage. The vessel was pulled free on November 7 and went for repairs.

1973: AIGLE MARIN, enroute to Thorold with 600 tons of ferrous chrome, went aground in the Seaway near Cornwall, ON. The tug ROBINSON BAY helped pull this small coastal freighter, a product of the Collingwood Shipyard, free on October 31.

1974: JOHN O. McKELLAR of the Misener fleet went aground in the St. Marys River and had to be lightered before being refloated. It was stuck for 3 days.

1978: The Cypriot freighter KARYATIS came through the Seaway in 1973. The ship, later under the Greek flag, was damaged in a collision on the Western Mediterranean with the SPRING. The latter, as a) IRISH ROSE, had made been a Great Lakes visitor from 1956 through 1958, and was declared a total loss after the collision. It was scrapped at Santander, Spain, in 1979. KARYATIS was repaired and was later broken up at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, as e) NOURA after arrival on April 7, 1987.

1980: The wooden-hulled former coastal freighter AVALON VOYAGER II, enroute to Owen Sound for planned use as a restaurant, had pump problems, lost power and struck bottom off Cape Hurd. The anchors failed to hold. The ship drifted into Hay Bay and stranded again. All on board were saved but the ship was a total loss.

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


Seaway served with strike notice

10/29 - Montreal, Que. – Workers along the St. Lawrence Seaway from Niagara to Montreal could be on strike as early as this Friday, said the union which represents them.

Unifor, which represents 460 members in Locals 4212 and 4211 in Niagara and Cornwall, Locals 4319 and 4320 in Montreal and Local 4323 in Iroquois, served strike notice on the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. Tuesday.

A release from the union said the notice was served at the resumption of contract talks in Cornwall, the first time the two sides had met in months. Unifor filed for federal conciliation in August.

The earliest a strike could begin is Oct. 31 at 12:15 pm., and workers had earlier voted 96% in favor of a strike.

“Traffic is up along the seaway this year. It is difficult for us to understand why the seaway would risk a work stoppage at this point,” said Unifor national representative Joel Fournier.

At issue is a plan to automate the locks along the seaway, eliminating the staff currently working on them, said the union. In April, the seaway announced it had received funding from the federal government to automate the locks, eliminating the staff currently working.

Work has already begun to retrofit Lock 3 on the Welland Canal with the new hands-free system. All locks across the seaway are to be retrofitted by 2018. The union sees the hands-free system as s safety issue.

“We believe that having no one at the lock is not a good idea. The risk of an environmental disaster with all of the dangerous cargo going through the seaway is very real,” said Fournier.

Unifor, he said, is calling for minimum staffing levels on the locks to deal with emergencies.

“The communities along the Seaway benefit both from the good jobs it provides, and the work our members do to keep the waterway safe,” Fournier said.

Erie Media


Port Reports -  October 29

Drummond Island, Mich.
Wilfred Sykes, paying a rare visit to the St. Marys River, was anchored Tuesday evening north of Drummond Island, where she is scheduled to take on limestone. Federal Weser was also anchored there, but was spotted outbound at DeTour for Montreal at 10 p.m.

Vessel traffic, Seaway and Great Lakes ports – Andre Blanchard
Ships at Montreal heading to Great Lakes:
Victorious/John J. Carrick to depart on Wednesday for Detroit, Mich., Algoma Spirit to depart on Thursday for Thunder Bay, Ont., Vega Desgagnes to depart Wednesday for Oakville, Ont. , Pochard S to depart Wednesday for Hamilton, Ont.

Ships due in Montreal and onto the Great Lakes:
Maccoa due Oct. 31 for Ashtabula, Ohio, Muntgracht due Nov. 4 for Hamilton, Ont., Sarah Desgagnes due Oct. 28 for Oakville, Ont., Federal Mackinac due Oct. 30 for Burns Harbor, IL, Federal Hudson due Nov. 4 for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Michigan due Nov. 2 for Detroit, Mich., Great Lakes due Nov. 2 for Detroit, Mich., Adfines Star due Oct. 30 for Mississauga, Ont., Finnborg due Oct. 28 for Hamilton, Ont.

Ships at Quebec City but heading to Great Lakes:
Sedna Desgagnes to depart Oct. 31 for Hamilton, Ont., Cinnamon to depart Oct. 28 for Toronto, Ont.

Ships due in Quebec City but will proceed to the Great Lakes:
Capt. Henry Jackman due Oct. 29 for Chicago, IL, Energy Patriot due Oct. 30 for Montreal, QC, Mottler due Nov. 01 for Toronto, ON, Valle Bianca due Nov. 01 for Montreal, QC, Brant due Nov. 11 for Toronto, ON

Ships Expected in Hamilton, Ont.
Algoma Guardian - Bulk Carrier - Oct.28
Blacky - Bulk Carrier - Oct. 29
Algosteel - Bulk Carrier - Oct. 29
Algoma Progress - Bulk Carrier - Oct. 30
Mapleglen - Bulk Carrier - Oct. 30
Algoma Navigator - Bulk Carrier - Oct. 30

Ships Expected in Sarnia, ON
Sichem Melbourne - Tanker - Oct. 29
Jana Desgagnes - Tanker - Oct. 31

Ships Expected in Clarkson, ON
Algoma Transport - Bulk Carrier - Oct. 29

Ships Expected in Oakville, ON
Vega Desgagnes - Tanker - Oct. 29

Ships Expected in Thunder Bay, ON
Algoma Discovery - Bulk Carrier - Nov. 01
Strandja - Bulk Carrier - Nov. 03

Ships Expected in Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Undaunted - Tug/Barge Combo - Oct. 28-2104
Algosar - Bulk Carrier - Oct. 29
Sharon M I - Tug - Oct. 30

Ships Expected in Goderich, ON
Oakglen - Bulk Carrier - Oct. 29


Detroit voted in Top 10 best American riverfronts

10/29 - Detroit, Mich. – Readers of USA Today have chosen Detroit’s riverfront as one of the best in the nation. Detroit came in at number nine in the top 10 of cities chosen. Wilmington, North Carolina was voted as the top ranked riverfront in the country, while the riverfronts in Spokane, Washington and Davenport, Iowa round out the top three.

“The riverfront redevelopment in Detroit, a city with 14 miles of shoreline along the Detroit River, is one of the city’s most exciting initiatives,” according to the newspaper. “Stretching for 5.5 miles from the Ambassador Bridge to the Bell Isle Bridge, the Detroit International RiverWalk includes a cruise terminal, marina, several parks, restaurants, shops and hotels. In warmer months, the riverfront parks play host to festivals and community literacy and fitness programs.”

As reported by WWJ’s Edward Cardenas, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy recently opened the new West RiverWalk located just west of Joe Louis Arena in mid-July, which has become a popular spot for running on the extra-wide RiverWalk along with fishing, running, soccer games and other outdoor activities.



Left Behind #3 – Prins Willem V

10/29 - The vessels of the Oranje Lijn began Great Lakes trading in 1938. When business conditions picked up after World War Two, they added more ships to their fleet.

Work on building the first Prins Willem V got underway at Hardinxveld, Netherlands, in 1940, but the hull was taken over by the German occupying forces and the uncompleted vessel was scuttled at Rotterdam on Oct. 5, 1944, to try and block the invading Allied ships seeking to liberate the country.

The ship was refloated in 1947, the accumulated mud was pumped out and the vessel completed in 1948. It began its maiden voyage as Prins Willem V on Jan. 8, 1949, and began Great Lakes service once the locks of the St. Lawrence had cleared of ice.

Prins Willem V made 25 trips to the Great Lakes before being lost, via collision, on Oct. 14, 1954. The vessel went down off Milwaukee after it met up with the barge Sinclair XII being pushed by the tug Sinclair Chicago. An 8 foot by 20 foot hole was punched in the starboard side and the Dutch ship went down in 90 feet of water.

The general cargo carrier had loaded at Chicago and the shipment included auto parts, juke boxes, twine, printing presses, musical instruments and televisions.

There was initial hope of salvaging the hull and this persisted for a number of years. It was sold as late as 1965 to a group wanting to use the vessel for storage and demonstration purposes but Prins Willem V never budged from the bottom.

A lawsuit over the sinking was settled out of court with Sinclair paying the Oranje Lijn a reported $200,000. Because of its depth, Prins Willem V proved attractive to some divers but there have been at least four casualties among those exploring the wreck.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #346 – Pierson Independent stuck in the St. Lawrence on Oct. 29, 1979

The Pierson Independent looked splendid painted up in the colors of the Soo River Company. The ship had been purchased by Robert Pierson for his fleet in 1979 and the vessel was upbound in the Welland Canal for the first time under this name on August 22.

Sadly, the ship would only carry a few cargoes. The final load of corn came aboard at Toledo and Pierson Independent headed for the Seaway only to run aground in the St. Lawrence near Brockville, Ont. on October 28, 1979.

The ship was able to release itself from the bottom but then was intentionally beached due to the damage. It was still stuck there 35 years ago today and had to be lightered and patched before being released. Pierson Independent was cleared to go to Trois Rivieres to unload and then returned to Port Weller Dry Docks on Nov. 11 for assessment.

The news was not good. The 552-foot-long bulk carrier was found to be beyond economical repair and sold to United Metals of Hamilton for scrap. The ship was tied up for the winter at Hamilton but was resold in 1980 and headed overseas as f) Company, passing down the Seaway on May 3 between the tugs Salvage Monarch and Cathy McAllister.

Company arrived at Santander, Spain, on June 11, 1980, behind the tug Fairplay X and the 74-year old vessel was dismantled.

Pierson Independent had been built at Ecorse, Mich., in 1906 as a) J.H. Sheadle. Thanks to great seamanship from Capt. Lyons, the vessel rode out the worst of the "Great Storm" of November 1913. It later sailed as b) F.A. Bailey and c) LaSalle before joining Upper Lakes Shipping as d) Meaford in 1966.

Skip Gilham


Today in Great Lakes History -  October 29

The whaleback barge 127 (steel barge, 264 foot, 1,128 gross tons) was launched by the American Steel Barge Company of W. Superior, Wisconsin, on 29 October 1892. She lasted until 1936, when she was scrapped at New Orleans, Louisiana.

On 29 October 1906, the schooner WEST SIDE (wooden schooner, 138 foot, 324 gross tons, built in 1870, at Oswego, New York) was carrying pulpwood from Tobermory, Ontario, to Delray, Michigan, when she was caught in a severe gale on Lake Huron. There was no shelter and the vessel was lost about 25 mile off Thunder Bay Island. The skipper and his crew, consisting of his wife and three sons aged 10 to 18, abandoned in the yawl. They all suffered from exposure to the wind and waves, but luckily the FRANK H. PEAVEY (steel propeller freighter, 430 foot, 5,002 gross tons, built in 1901, at Lorain, Ohio) picked them up and brought them to Port Huron, Michigan.

ALGOLAKE (Hull# 211) was launched October 29, 1976, at Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd. for the Algoma Central Railway.

On October 29, 1986, the JAMES R. BARKER, which had suffered an engine room fire, was lashed side-by-side to the thousand-foot WILLIAM J. DE LANCEY and towed to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin for repairs.

The pieced-together CANADIAN EXPLORER (Hull#71) was christened on October 29, 1983, at Port Weller Dry Docks. She was created from the bow section of the NORTHERN VENTURE and the stern of the CABOT. The stern of the EXPLORER is now the stern of the ALGOMA TRANSFER.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled on October 29, 1991, that Total Petroleum was responsible for the fire that destroyed the tanker JUPITER because of faulty moorings and exonerated the BUFFALO from primary responsibility.

On the afternoon of October 29, 1987, while upbound with coal from Sandusky, Ohio, the ROGER M. KYES went aground on Gull Island Shoal in Lake Erie's Middle Passage and began taking on water. About 3,000 tons of coal was transferred to the AMERICAN REPUBLIC after which the KYES freed herself the next morning. Damage from the grounding required extensive repairs. She was renamed b.) ADAM E. CORNELIUS in 1989.

The tug portion of the PRESQUE ISLE departed New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 29, 1973.

The H. C. HEIMBECKER's last trip started at Thunder Bay, Ontario, with a load of grain bound for Owen Sound, Ontario where, on October 29, 1981, it was discovered that one of her boilers was cracked. When unloading was completed on October 30th, the HEIMBECKER proceeded under her own power to Ashtabula, Ohio, for scrapping.

On 29 October 1892, ZACH CHANDLER (3 mast wooden schooner-barge, 194 foot, 727 gross tons, built in 1867, at Detroit, Michigan) was carrying lumber from Ashland, Wisconsin, in tow of the steamer JOHN MITCHELL when the two became separated in a northerly gale in Lake Superior. The CHANDLER was overwhelmed and broke up on shore about three miles east of Deer Park, Michigan. Five of the crew made it to shore in the lifeboat and the Lifesaving Service saved two others, but one perished. Three years earlier, the CHANDLER stranded at almost the same spot and sustained heavy damage.

On 29 October 1879, AMAZON (wooden propeller freighter, 245 foot, 1,406 tons, built in 1873, at Trenton, Michigan) was carrying "provisions" - 900 tons of freight plus 7,000 barrels of flour - from Milwaukee to Grand Haven, Michigan. She struck the notorious bar off of Grand Haven in a gale and broke up. All 68 aboard survived. Her engine was later recovered.

On 29 October 1880, THOMAS A. SCOTT (4-mast wooden schooner-barge, 207 foot, 1,159 tons, built in 1869, at Buffalo, New York as a propeller) was riding out a storm at anchor one mile off Milwaukee when she was struck by the big steamer AVON (wooden propeller, 251 foot, 1,702 gross tons, built in 1877, at Buffalo, New York). The SCOTT sank quickly. She had been bound from Chicago for Erie, Pennsylvania, with 44,000 bushels of corn. Three of her crew scrambled onto the AVON while the seven others took to the yawl and were towed in by the Lifesaving Service.

1887: VERNON, enroute from Cheboygan to Chicago, foundered off Two Rivers, Wisconsin, in a sudden and violent Lake Michigan storm. Only one on board was saved while another 36 lives were lost.

1907: CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS, a wooden passenger steamer recently brought into Canadian registry, caught fire while stopped at Tobermory for the night while enroute from Wiarton to Manitoulin Island. The blazing ship was cut loose, drifted into the bay and sank.

1917: RISING SUN stranded at Pyramid Point, Lake Michigan, in snow and the 32 on board were rescued before the ship was broken apart by the surf.

1924: GLENORCHY sank in Lake Huron, six miles ESE of Harbor Beach after a collision with the LEONARD B. MILLER. Dense fog mixing with smoke from forest fires were blamed for the accident. All on board were saved. No lives were lost but the GLENORCHY sank and the estimated damage to the two vessels was $600,000.

1926: TORHAMVAN, built at Midland as CANADIAN LOGGER, was wrecked off Newfoundland after going aground in fog enroute to Montreal. Area residents rescued the crew.

1929: The passenger and freight carrier WISCONSIN foundered off Kenosha, Wisconsin, with the loss of 16 lives.

1942: NORLUNA, built at Chicago in 1919 as LAKE GETAWAY, stranded in Ungava Bay, off the coast of Labrador near Fort Chimo, and was a total loss.

1951: After unloading grain at Buffalo, the PENOBSCOT was in a collision on the Buffalo River with the tanker barge MORANIA 130, pushed by the tug DAUNTLESS NO. 12. The barge was carrying gasoline and a terrible fire broke out. A total of 11 sailors, including two on the freighter, died from burns.

1959: MARISCO had visited the Great Lakes as a) MOYRA and b) HEIKA. The ship foundered in the Gulf of Laconia, off Gythion, Greece, after developing a leak in the engineroom. It was enroute from Varna, Bulgaria, to Genoa, Italy, with iron ore.

1968: GLOUCESTER CITY began Great Lakes trading in 1966. The ship was sailing as b) ST. JOHN when it put into Fort Dauphin, Malagasy Republic, with engine trouble on a voyage from Montreal to Djakarta, Indonesia. Two days later the vessel broke its moorings in a gale and was blown on a sandbank as a total loss.

1978: The Swedish freighter FREDBORG, b) FREDRIK RAGNE, a Great Lakes visitor under both names before and after the Seaway was opened, returned as c) ANASTASSIA in 1968. The vessel was towed out of Tema, Ghana, as e) GAYTA on this date in 1978 and scuttled in the deep waters of the Atlantic.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Russ plumb, Ahoy & Farewell II, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes at B.G.S.U and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Lakes ore surge continues in September

10/28 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes topped 7 million tons for the third straight month in September. The 7,014,295 tons moved represented an increase of nearly 14 percent compared to a year ago, and nearly 18 percent when compared to the month’s long-term average.

U.S. Great Lakes ports again powered the trade. Loadings totaled 6.5 million tons, an increase of 17.4 percent. Included in that total were 125,000 tons shipped to Quebec City, Quebec, where they were then loaded into oceangoing vessels.

Shipments from the two active Canadian iron ore ports in the Seaway totaled 500,000 tons, a decrease of 20 percent compared to a year ago. The closure of Wabush Mines has stopped ore loading out of Pointe Noire.

Year-to-date the Lakes ore trade stands at 40.7 million tons, a decrease of 2 percent compared to a year ago. After suffering staggering delays in March and April due to massive ice formations throughout the Lakes, shipments from U.S. ports are now down by less than one percent. However, loadings from Canadian ports in the Seaway have dipped by 14 percent.

Ore transshipments to Quebec City stand at 765,000 tons, a decrease of nearly 70 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Ohio salt supplier imports shipments from Morocco

10/28 - Toledo, Ohio – An Indiana company that supplies road salt to Ohio is importing shipments from the northern Africa nation of Morocco because of the short supply and high prices. Midwest Salt plans to bring in 171,000 tons through the port of Toledo.

"Typically, we're purchasing from domestic producers as well, but this was the next-best option," said Andrew Thiele, president of Midwest Salt, which is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Most of the salt that typically comes through the Toledo port is from mines in northeast Ohio or southern Ontario, not from overseas.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's first shipment from Midwest arrived earlier this month.

At least four more ships have been booked, said Joe Cappel, director of cargo development at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

The state will provide a trucking service to get the salt to stockpiles as needed so that communities buying salt through the state will need only to pay for the salt itself, said Steve Faulkner, a spokesman for state transportation department.

"We're saving local communities potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in transportation" he told The Blade.

Ohio used more than 1 million tons of salt on state roads last year — a nearly 60 percent increase over the average. The average price per ton was $35 a year ago. This year, it's up to more than $100 per ton. A few counties received no bids from suppliers.

The state employs a complicated buying program that allows counties and communities to join in and receive bids from salt suppliers for their winter supply, although not all communities participate.

The prices, which are bid on by county, were higher than last year in the first round of bidding — between $36 a ton and $81 a ton, compared to the state average of $35 per ton last year. Some communities waited until the second round in hopes of getting a better price but prices went up, including one quote of $165 per ton.

Several loads were also delivered to Michigan.

Associated Press


Great Lakes shippers see sharp rise in Lake Michigan levels this year

10/28 - Muskegon, Mich. – Rising Lake Michigan water levels have translated into increased business for at least one Muskegon-based shipping company.

The reason: With Lake Michigan more than 20 inches higher than at this time last year, Great Lakes vessels can carry more cargo without the fear of running aground as they enter various ports around the lakes.

Port City Marine Services Inc. has picked up an average of 250 tons of extra cargo per trip this year compared to the last few years, said Vice President of Operations Edward Hogan. Over this season, in which the company expects to make 87 trips, the ability to haul additional cargo each trip amounts to five extra boatloads of cement that Port City Marine is able to haul this year at the same cost, he said.

“We’re as busy as I’ve seen it in many years,” Hogan said. “I can’t think of anybody that would be have bad feelings about higher water levels because so many people have suffered with low levels.”

Port City Marine operates two vessels on Lake Michigan, primarily transporting cement from northern Michigan to companies in Milwaukee, Chicago, Grand Haven and other regional ports.

Water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron — which are hydraulically the same lake because of their connection at the Straits of Mackinac — have hovered just north of 579 feet above sea level this month — almost two feet higher than last year, according to data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District.

While Lake Michigan levels have flirted with the long-term average at times in the last decade, the level surpassed the average in September for just the second time since 1998, according to data from the Corps of Engineers. In fact, just 20 months ago in January 2013, water levels on Lake Michigan set a new all-time record low at 576.02 feet — more than three feet lower than the current water level.

If the Corps of Engineers’ six-month projections in its October Great Lakes report hold, the water levels in Lake Michigan could be above the long-term average for the foreseeable future, perhaps breaking the 16-year cycle of below-average water levels.

“For the shippers, obviously this is a boon,” said Alan Steinman, director of the Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon. “They don’t have to light load their cargo, and it’s certainly advantageous for moving freight throughout the lakes with less dredging and a cascade of benefits.”

For every inch the water level increases, shippers can add between 50 tons to 270 more tons of cargo per load, industry sources said.

Year-to-date total U.S. dry goods cargo shipped on the Great Lakes reached nearly 11 million tons as of August — the latest data available — a 5 percent increase from 2013, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association, a shipping industry group based in Rocky River, Ohio. This year marks a 16 percent increase from the same time in 2012 when shippers moved approximately 9.5 million tons of cargo on the Great Lakes.

While the increased shipping activity has certainly been aided by the water levels — allowing certain freighters to carry an additional 10,000 tons in some cases — the uptick in shipments also reflects an improving economy and pent-up demand, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association.

Although shippers have embraced the additional cargo capacity this year, 2014 started out with its share of challenges. Last winter, Lake Michigan set a record with over 93 percent of its surface covered in ice, and the conditions delayed the traditional shipping season on the lakes, Nekvasil said.

That led to a 45 percent reduction in cargo in March and April compared to last year, he said. Trips that were scheduled to take three days took as long as eight days, leading to spot shortages of certain commodities across the Great Lakes region, sources said.

“We really started the year late because of the ice buildup,” Hogan said. “Everybody was at the same point: Customers were out of product and the mills up north had a bunch (of product) but couldn’t move it.

Now we end up with the best water levels we’ve seen in a decade, and it’s really helping us get caught up.”

In recent years, low water levels posed navigational challenges for Great Lakes commercial vessels as silt choked off access to even deepwater ports such as Muskegon. In response, shippers had to light-load their freighters, meaning they couldn’t haul as much cargo per trip, which resulted in increased costs per ton for their customers, as MiBiz previously reported. On top of that, federal funding for harbor dredging has become a political football in recent years, effectively delaying action to open some ports for shipping activity.

Even with the higher water levels, the importance of dredging hasn’t been diminished, Nekvasil said. With 18 million cubic yards of sediment throughout the Great Lakes system, ports and shipping channels will still need to be dredged to meet the demand for cargo, he said.

“This is a welcomed development and we needed all the help we could get this year, but we have to recognize that this is Mother Nature,” Nekvasil said. “Water levels are going to go down again and dredging is still the most important thing.”

The same ice that clogged shipping channels and delayed cargo also played a crucial role in the higher water levels shippers are currently enjoying, Steinman said. The ice cover greatly reduced the amount of evaporation from the lake’s surface and kept levels higher than they would have been without the ice cover, he said.

High precipitation levels throughout the Great Lakes basin this year contributed to the increase in water levels as well, Steinman said.

Since numerous factors play into water levels, thinking about them in the context of a checking account makes it more simple, Steinman said. Direct precipitation and runoff represent money coming in, while evaporation shows money going out.

The coming winter will largely determine next year’s water levels, but scientists aren’t eager to forecast exactly what those may be.

“It’s a fools errand to predict what water levels will do in the future,” Steinman said. “One thing that we can be assured of is it’s not going to be stable. Water levels are affected by climate and the climate is changing every day. It’s the extremes that create problems.”


Great Lakes coal shipments up 12.2 percent from last year

10/28 - Coal shipments originated on the Great Lakes totaled nearly 3 million short tons in September, up 13.4 percent from August and up 12.2 percent from the year-ago month, the Lake Carriers Association said.

Year to date, coal shipments totaled more than 15.7 million st, down 7 percent compared with last year.

The Superior Midwest Energy Terminal, in Superior, Wisconsin, led all Great Lakes ports with September coal shipments of 1.7 million st, up 16.1 percent from the prior month and up 7.8 percent from the year-ago month.

Coal shipments were all strong from CSX’s coal pier in Toledo, Ohio, which shipped 521,448 st during September, up 33.6 percent from August and up 126% from last year. Attempts to reach the terminal’s manager were unsuccessful.

Joe Cappel, with the Toledo-Lucas Port Authority, attributed the increase in tonnage to a pick-up in overall economic activity through the port, which has seen increases in a number of different commodities this year.

“Coal goes up and down, and last year it was down pretty low, so I think it may be more of a return to normalcy than anything else,” Cappel said.

For vessels that stay within the lakes, a full load is typically around 70,000 st, the association said. Ocean-going vessels are constrained by the lakes’ lock system and have a maximum cargo size of roughly 25,000 mt, Cappel said.



Sewer overflows during storm hit 10 billion gallons

10/28 - Detroit, Mich. – Almost 10 billion gallons of sewer overflows poured into southeast Michigan's waters in the historic August flooding, according to a Free Press review of data from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

That number includes more than 44 million gallons of raw sewage from sanitary sewers and almost 3 billion gallons from combined sewer and storm water systems, all untreated, raising concerns about deteriorating water quality in the Great Lakes system.

A full accounting of the total was not available immediately, but the Macomb County Health Department had posted information after the storm indicating 1 billion gallons of overflows had poured into Lake St. Clair or its tributaries, according to an earlier Free Press report. The volume affecting the whole region was 10 times that total, and the number now reported by Macomb County is more than twice the initial estimate.

Detroit Free Press


Obituary: Andrew Francis Rajner Sr

10/28 - Andrew Francis Rajner, Sr., whose three decades sailing the Great Lakes included a voyage aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald just before the freighter sank in Lake Superior in 1975, and who testified at a Coast Guard inquiry into the disaster, died Thursday at Kingston of Perrysburg.

Mr. Rajner, 89, suffered from Parkinson’s and was under hospice care, said his son-in-law, J.P. Smith.

Twelve of those 30 years were as captain for eight Oglebay Norton Co. freighters. Mr. Rajner served on the Edmund Fitzgerald from Sept. 12 to Oct. 3, 1975. His role on the Fitzgerald was relief first mate, who filled in for the regular first mate, Mr. Smith said.

The Edmund Fitzgerald, the largest and fastest ship of its day on the Great Lakes, sank on Nov. 9, 1975, during a gale on Lake Superior. All 29 hands aboard were lost.

The following month he was called to testify in Cleveland before a Coast Guard maritime casualty inquiry. He was the highest-ranking officer with the most recent experience aboard the doomed ship, his son-in-law said.

Mr. Rajner was born in Toledo on Sept. 16, 1925, to Peter and Mary Rajner. He left Waite High School at age 16 in 1942 to serve as a deck hand and within a year joined the Merchant Marine, sailing in the Pacific Ocean supplying war materiel.

His post-war service in the Merchant Marine was sailing to Europe to repatriate German and Italian prisoners of war and to bring U.S. servicemen back home. He joined Oglebay Norton in 1957. He attended navigation school in Cleveland, becoming a first class pilot who was qualified for all five Great Lakes. He earned licenses as third, second, and first mates.

In 1976, a year after the Fitzgerald’s sinking, he received his master’s or captain’s license. He retired in December, 1987, at the end of the shipping season, with 30 years, 8 months with Oglebay Norton, Mr. Smith said. He held command of eight ships, all of which called regularly at the Port of Toledo, Mr. Smith said. He ended his service on the Fred R. White Jr.

A fellow Oglebay Norton skipper, Mike Capser, recalled attending winter meetings of ships’ captains with Mr. Rajner. Mr. Rajner had a reputation as a stern skipper “who followed the rules,” he said.

Although the two skippers never served together, they became friends on the golf course and from bowling leagues, Mr. Capser said. Mr. Rajner and Mr. Capser frequently would golf with other ships’ captains in a league at Collins Park Golf Course, a layout not far from the East Toledo docks where their ships were berthed.

He was a retired member of the International Ship Masters Association.

Toledo Blade


Left Behind #2 - Viator

The Norwegian freighter Viator has been on the bottom of Lake Huron since Oct. 31, 1935. The 231.7 foot long by 33.3 foot wide general cargo carrier went down after a collision with the Ormidale.

The accident occurred about 10 miles south of Thunder Bay Island Light. The saltwater ship was struck amidships, flooded and sank within five minutes. The Captain of the Ormidale held his vessel in place long enough for all on board the foreign ship to be rescued.

Viator had loaded a cargo of cod liver oil and sardines at Oslo, Norway, and was headed to Chicago for discharge.

The lost ship had been built at Stavanger, Norway, and completed in June 1904. It first came to the Great Lakes in 1932 and had always sailed under the flag of Norway.

Ormidale had been built at Manitowoc, WI in 1917 as Motor I and it had originally sailed for Norwegian interests before being requisitioned by the U.S. Shipping Board and renamed b) Lake Mohonk in 1918.

It returned to the Great Lakes as d) Ormidale in 1922 and was converted to a crane ship to carry pig iron and rip-rap stone in 1934. It was down bound from Duluth to Buffalo when the accident occurred.

Ormidale was sunk by U-576 as f) Bluefields on July 15, 1942, while on a voyage from New York to Havana, Cuba. One life was lost in the attack.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #345 – The tug R.P. Reidenbach sank at Ashtabula on Oct. 28, 1939

The tug R.P. Reidenbach was working at the stern of the bulk carrier E.A.S. Clarke when the small ship rolled over and sank 75 years ago today. Two members of the crew were trapped below deck and died in the accident.

The tug went down in about 25 feet of water and it is thought that wash generated by the larger vessel's propeller swamped the tug.

R.P. Reidenbach was part of the fleet of the Great Lakes Towing Co. The 68.8 foot long vessel had been built by the company at Cleveland in 1910 and had served well as a harbor tug for 29 years.

The vessel was refloated and eventually returned to service. The name was changed to b) Cornell in 1941 and the tug operated until about 1947 when it was laid up as too small and too light. It apparently remained idle until being scrapped at Ashtabula in 1964.

The freighter E.A.S. Clarke was part of the Interlake Steamship Co. fleet. It had been built as H.P. Bope in 1907 and was renamed in 1913. It was idle at Erie, PA from 1961 to 1970 when it was refitted for a brief return to service in the Kinsman fleet as c) Kinsman Voyager. It saw sporadic service and then tied up at Toledo on May 25, 1973. This vessel was towed overseas in 1975 but not scrapped until 1978 when it was broken up at Santander, Spain, after some work as a grain storage hull in Germany.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  October 28

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  October 28

On this day in 1939, the Pittsburgh steamer D. G. KERR, Captain H. D. Mc Leod, rescued six men from the cabin cruiser FRANCIS J. H. that was disabled and sinking on Lake Erie.

On this day in 1953, the McKEE SONS loaded her first cargo of 17,238 tons of stone at Port Inland for delivery to East Chicago. Originally built as the C-4 MARINE ANGEL, the McKEE SONS was the first ocean vessel converted to a Great Lakes self-unloader.

On this day in 1978, a new 420 foot tanker built at Levingston Shipbuilding, Orange, Texas, was christened GEMINI during ceremonies at Huron, Ohio. The GEMINI was the largest American flagged tanker on the lakes with a capacity of 75,000 barrels and a rated speed of 15.5 mph. Sold Canadian and renamed b.) ALGOSAR in 2005.

On October 28, 1891, DAVID STEWART (3-mast wooden schooner, 171 foot, 545 gross tons, built in 1867, at Cleveland, Ohio) was dragged ashore off Fairport, Ohio, by a strong gale. She was stranded and declared a total loss. However, she was salvaged and repaired in 1892 and lasted one more year.

CANADIAN PIONEER's maiden voyage was on October 28, 1981, to Conneaut, Ohio, to take on coal for Nanticoke, Ontario.

CANADIAN TRANSPORT was launched October 28, 1978, for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., Toronto, Ontario.

FRED G. HARTWELL (Hull# 781) was launched October 28, 1922, by American Ship Building Co. at Lorain, Ohio, for the Franklin Steamship Co. Renamed b.) MATTHEW ANDREWS in 1951. Sold Canadian in 1962, renamed c.) GEORGE M. CARL. She was scrapped at Aviles, Spain, in 1984.

D. M. CLEMSON (Hull# 716) was launched October 28, 1916, at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co., Cleveland, Ohio.

CHARLES M. WHITE was launched October 28, 1945, as a C4-S-A4 cargo ship a.) MOUNT MANSFIELD for the U.S. Maritime Commission (U.S.M.C. Hull #2369).

On October 28, 1887, BESSIE BARWICK, a 135 foot wooden schooner built in 1866, at St. Catharines, Ontario, as a bark, left Port Arthur for Kingston, Ontario, with a load of lumber during a storm. For more than ten days, her whereabouts were unknown. In fact, a westerly gale drove her into the shallows of Michipicoten Island and she was pounded to pieces. Her crew was sheltered by local fishermen and then made it to the Soo in a small open boat.

On October 28, 1882, RUDOLPH WETZEL (wooden propeller tug, 23 tons, built in 1870, at Buffalo, New York) was racing for a tow with the tug HENRY S SILL when her boiler exploded 12 miles north of Racine, Wisconsin. She quickly sank. All three on board were killed and none of the bodies were ever found.

1901: The wooden schooner JULIA LARSON sank in a gale a half-mile northeast of Grand Marais, MI. The ship was later recovered and returned to service.

1928: The newly built DEEPWATER ran aground at Sugar Loaf Point, west of Port Colborne, in fog. The ship was lightered and released four days later and went to Montreal for repairs. The vessel later sailed the lakes as b) KEYMONT and c) HAMILDOC (ii) before being scrapped at Port Dalhousie in 1962.

1939: The tug R.P. REIDENBACH, with E.A.S. CLARKE (ii) under tow at Ashtabula, rolled over and sank with the loss of 2 lives. It was refloated, became b) CONNEAUT in 1941 and was scrapped at Ashtabula about 1964.

1959: The tug BROWN BROTHERS, enroute to Port Burwell under tow of the tug LUKE, was overwhelmed by the waves and sank off Long Point with no loss of life. Originally a fish tug, the vessel served as the b) IVEY ROSE from 1946 to 1950 pushing the barge T.A. IVEY in the Lake Erie coal trade.

1964: BORGFRED, a Great Lakes visitor in 1952, caught fire in the engine room as g) GIANNIS and sank off Malta two days later while on a voyage from Romania to Algeria.

1970: WEARFIELD, a British freighter began Great Lakes visits in 1964 as the largest saltwater ship to yet use the Seaway, was blown aground at the entrance to the Soo Locks due to high winds on this date in 1970. It took over 5 hours to release the vessel. Service ended on arrival at Shanghai, China, for scrapping as f) FAIR WIND on March 15, 1985.

1979: PIERSON INDEPENDENT ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Brockville while downbound with a cargo of corn. The ship was released but then beached as it was taking on water. Temporary repairs allowed the vessel to be refloated again on October 31 and it sailed to Trois Rivieres to be unloaded. 2007: SEA MAID, a small Danish freighter, came through the Seaway in 1997 with steel for Cleveland. It was wrecked as d) OMER N. 18 miles west of Gedser, Denmark, and was dismantled in sections at Grenaa, Denmark, in 2008.

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

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