Launched March 31, 1973 for the American Steamship Co, Williamsville, NY; this Great Lakes self-unloading bulk carrier was built as hull # 200 by the American Ship Building Co.,
Toledo, OH at an approximate cost of $14 million. Christened as the Roger M. Kyes by Mrs. Roger Kyes at Toledo on July 28, 1973; the vessel's namesake had been Chairman and CEO of
American Steamship Co. from 1969 until his death in 1970. A series of "firsts" accompanied this vessel's entering service. The Roger M. Kyes was the first new vessel to have been
built at the Toledo yard since 1959 as well as the largest vessel built there. The vessel was the first new vessel added to the American Steamship fleet since 1959 and was the first
vessel to enter service (though the second launched) for American Steamship Co. under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970. This act provided U.S. government guaranteed
financing and tax deferred benefits for fleet modernization. The vessel was also one of the first American ships built on the Great Lakes with the bridge and all accommodations
Power for this vessel comes from 2 General Motors EMD type 20-645-E78 two stroke cycle, single acting V-20 cylinder diesel engines built in 1973 by General Motors Corp., La
Grange, IL; each engine rated at 3,600 b.h.p. (2,648 kw). Burning marine diesel oil, these engines feed power through single reduction gears to a single controllable pitch propeller.
Her rated service speed is 16.1 m.p.h. She is equipped with 1,000 h.p. (736 kw) bow and stern thrusters. Her 20 hatches service 4 holds where she is capable of carrying 29,200 tons
(29,669 mt) at a mid-summer draft of 27' 11" (8.51m). Capable of transiting the Seaway system, the Adam E. Cornelius can carry approximately 26,789 tons (27,219 mt) at the new Seaway
draft of 26' 06" (8.08m) implemented in 2004. The vessel displaces 7,604 tons (7,726 mt) lightweight. Her self-unloading equipment consists of a conveyor belt system feeding a stern
mounted loop belt elevator to a 260' (79.25m) discharge boom capable of unloading the vessel at a rate of up to 6,000 tons (6,096 mt) per hour.
The Roger M. Kyes departed on her maiden voyage August 22, 1973; leaving Toledo light for Escanaba, MI to load iron ore pellets. Thus began a career on the Great Lakes that would
earn her the reputation of being a "hard luck" ship. Following the ice strengthening of her bow at Toledo during the 1975/76 winter lay up; a survey at Sturgeon Bay on June 24, 1976
revealed a damaged propeller blade and controllable pitch hub which were replaced. Then on September 22, 1976; the Roger M. Kyes struck bottom in Buffalo harbor suffering holes in
two double bottom tanks and damaging three others. She was permitted to proceed to Chicago arriving September 27, 1976 for dry docking, survey, and repair. The vessel then lost power
on Lake St. Clair September 7, 1978 requiring the assistance of tugs Maine and Maryland to the Great Lakes Steel dock. Then on July 24, 1983; the vessel's mast struck the I-75
overpass while proceeding upbound on the Rouge River, Detroit, MI.
The Roger M. Kyes grounded off McLouth Steel on August 23, 1984 going crossways in the Detroit River's Trenton Channel. She was lightered by the Richard J. Reiss and freed with
the assistance of ten tugs. After repair at Sturgeon Bay, WI, the vessel returned to service September 26, 1984. This grounding was followed by a further grounding October 29, 1987
on Gull Island Shoal, Lake Erie's middle channel while she was upbound laden with coal from Sandusky. The lightering of 3,000 tons (3,048 mt) of coal to her fleet mate American
Republic allowed the vessel to free herself on October 30. The Roger M. Kyes was dry docked at Sturgeon Bay on November 3, 1987 for extensive repair.
The vessel was renamed Adam E. Cornelius (4) at Buffalo on June 15, 1989 following the sale of the 3rd namesake to Keybulk Transportation. The renaming continued the tradition of
American Steamship Lines in honoring Mr. Adam Edward Cornelius, one of the two founding partners of Boland & Cornelius; the forerunner of American Steamship Lines. The 1st Adam E.
Cornelius was a 440' (134.11m) loa vessel built in 1908 at Great Lakes Engineering, St. Clair, MI and bore the name from her launch until 1948. This vessel was scrapped as the
Avondale (2) by Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne, ON in 1979. Built by American Ship Building Co., Lorain, OH in 1927; the 2nd Adam E. Cornelius was launched as the George M.
Humphrey for Kinsman Transit. The 605' (184.4m) loa vessel bore the Adam E. Cornelius name from 1948 through 1959 and was scrapped in 1988 as the Consumers Power (3). The 3rd
namesake was built in 1959 by Manitowoc Ship Building Co., Manitowoc, WI and bore the name from her launch until her sale as mentioned above in 1988 being renamed Sea Barge One,
currently sailing as the self-unloading barge Sarah Spencer.
The Adam E. Cornelius was chartered to Inland Steel (Central Marine Logistics) from 1994 through 1998. Though being painted Inland Steel colors, she did not carry the "Inland
Steel" name on the side of her hull. "Hard luck" continued to follow with a grounding July 14th, 1994 occurring 450' (137.16m) west of the approach piers to the Soo Locks while the
vessel was downbound in the St. Marys River. After some lightering and a damage survey, she was permitted to continue to her destination port of Indiana Harbor to complete the
unloading of her taconite cargo. The vessel then proceeded to Sturgeon Bay for repair.
The vessel received ice damage in March of 1996 followed by more serious ice damage January 24, 1997 after departing Escanaba with taconite. An 18" fracture at the 28' mark on
the starboard side causing forward flooding resulted in the Adam E. Cornelius proceeding directly for repair to Sturgeon Bay under the escort of tugs with a U.S.C.G. helicopter on
The Adam E. Cornelius was returned off her charter to American Steamship Lines in 1999. This, in turn, lead to the retirement of the John J. Boland (3); which now sails as the
Saginaw (3) for Lower Lakes Towing. On April 29, 2000; the Adam E. Cornelius lightered 3,100 tons
(3,150 mt) of coal from her fleet mate American Mariner which had grounded in Lake Huron just above Sarnia/Port Huron blocking the shipping channel.
The Adam E. Cornelius has been an active vessel in the American Steamship Company fleet participating in the stone, limestone, coal, and taconite/iron ore pellet trades. With a
downturn in the steel industry, the vessel was laid up in Toledo from May through September 2001 after which she returned to service. She laid up again at Huron, Ohio, on Jan. 6,
2015 and remains there still.
Written by George Wharton.