On June 25, 1980, a contract was signed between the Canadian Wheat Board of Winnipeg, MB and Algoma Central Corp. for a five year tonnage commitment to move western Canadian grain
from Thunder Bay, ON to St. Lawrence River ports for furtherance to overseas markets. Long-range analysis for this Canadian government agency indicated the need for several new
bulkers for export demand requirements resulting in several five year contracts being signed with Canadian carriers. The contract supported the financing for the building of a new
vessel. As a result, Algoma contracted with Collingwood Shipyards division of Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. of Collingwood, ON for the building of a new straight deck
bulk carrier at a cost of $26 million (CN) net of subsidy. The new vessel was launched April 26, 1982 as the shipyard's hull #226 and was christened Algowest on July 13, 1982 for
Algoma Central Railway - Marine Division, Sault Ste. Marie, ON. The vessel was sponsored by Mrs. G.N. Vogel, wife of the head of the Canadian Wheat Board. Senior officers for the new
vessel were Capt. Reg Hatcher and Chief Engineer Bill Adams. The bulker's name used the Algoma fleet prefix "Algo" and suffix "west" for western Canada, the source of her cargoes
handled through the Canadian Wheat Board. The Algowest was the first straight deck bulk carrier built new for the fleet since the launch of the Algocen (2)
on June 18, 1968.
As built, the Algowest could carry 32,200 tons (32,717 mt) at a mid-summer draft of 29' 02" (8.89m) or 27,900 tons (28,348 mt) at the old Seaway draft of 26' 00" (7.92m); the
cargo being contained in 4 holds serviced by 18 hatches. The vessel is powered by 2 Krupp MaK 6M552AK non-reversing, 6 cylinder 4,730 b.h.p. (3,479 kW) single acting, 4 stroke cycle
diesel engines built in 1982 by Krupp MaK Maschinenbau G.m.b.H., Kiel, Germany. Burning intermediate grade 180 fuel oil, the power is fed to a single controllable pitch propeller. Her
rated service speed is 13.8 m.p.h. She is equipped with a 1,000 h.p. (736 kW) bow thruster.
On July 21, 1982, the Algowest cleared Collingwood in ballast for Thunder Bay, ON to load her first cargo. She departed Thunder Bay on her maiden voyage with cargo on July 26 with
a Great Lakes/Seaway record 26,876.45 tons (27,308.21 mt) of barley bound for Baie Comeau, QC. The new laker then broke her own record on October 16, 1982 when she carried 27,077.23
tons (27,512.20 mt) of barley from Thunder Bay to Port Cartier, QC. The following year, on June 16, 1983, the Algowest set a Great Lakes wheat record loading 1,047,758 bushels of the
commodity at Duluth, MN bound for Baie Comeau.
A serious incident of note occurred on June 15, 1988, when, in dense fog on the St. Lawrence River, the Algowest was in collision with the small coastal freighter Coudres De L'Ile.
The small freighter sank with the loss of one life. The Algowest was permitted to continue on to Baie Comeau for unloading and then to Port Weller Dry Docks, St. Catharines, ON for
repair. On April 22, 1985, while downbound on the St. Lawrence River bound for Port Cartier with a cargo of wheat, the Algowest's port engine suffered a major mechanical failure
requiring the engine to be shut down. Other than smoke in the engine room, there were no injuries and the bulker proceeded to Sorel, QC for assessment and repair.
From January 1990 through until December 1997, the Algowest sailed under the management of Algoma Central Marine - Ship Management of St. Catharines, ON and was operated by Seaway
Bulk Carriers of Winnipeg, MB (a partnership of Algoma Central Marine and Upper Lakes Shipping pooling the bulkers of both fleets). With the Great Lakes grain trade dramatically
declining and an increased demand for capacity by the customers of Seaway Self Unloaders (similar partnership of Algoma Central and Upper Lakes pooling the self-unloaders of both
fleets, based in St. Catharines), the Algowest was to be converted to a self-unloader. The Algowest arrived at St. Catharines' Port Weller Dry Docks in December of 1997 for the
commencement of the 8 month, $20 million (CN) conversion, becoming the 4th Algoma bulker in the previous 10 years to be so converted.
The newly installed self-unloading equipment in the hopper-styled holds consists of a variable speed, single belt gravity system with bulk flow basket type unloading gates with
plastic linings and vibrators throughout. The cargo is fed to a single stern loop-belt elevator to a 260' (79.26m) discharge boom that can unload up to 5,905 tons (6,000 mt) of iron
ore or stone per hour. The new system slightly reduced her capacity to 31,700 tons (32,209 mt) at her mid-summer draft of 29' 02 (8.89m) or approximately 27,647 tons (28,092 mt) at the
new Seaway draft of 26' 06" (8.08m) implemented in 2004. She has the cubic capacity for 23,000 net tons (20,536 tons / 20,866 mt) of coal. Other capacities include 449 tons (456 mt)
of fuel oil, 249 tons (253 mt) of diesel oil, 71 tons (72 mt) of potable water and 16,897 tons (17,168 mt) of water ballast.
On July 10, 1998, the Algowest was re-dedicated at a ceremony held at the Port Weller Dry Docks. Among the dignitaries attending were Canada's deputy prime minister at the time,
The Honorable Herb Gray; Hal Jackman, Chairman of Algoma Central Corp., Algoma's President Peter Cresswell and Tim Rigby, Mayor of St. Catharines. Operated by Seaway Self Unloaders,
the Algowest returned to service on July 13, 1998. Instead of grain products being her primary cargo, the Algowest's new cargoes would include salt, stone, aggregates, coal and iron
On March 30, 1999, Captain Almer Strong of the Algowest was awarded the traditional "Top Hat" for being the first upbound vessel to completely transit the Welland Canal in a
ceremony celebrating the opening of the Canal for the 170th consecutive season. The self-unloader was in transit from Hamilton, ON to Windsor, ON to load salt for Milwaukee, WI. This
was the second time the Algowest was honored in the opening of the Welland Canal, the first being when Captain Reg Hatcher received the "Top Hat" on April 1, 1985. On June 29, 1999 the
Algowest assisted in the rescue of 4 people from Lake Ontario by rescuing 2 people (mother and a 11 year old daughter) from a drifting zodiac whose engine would not start after a line
parted stranding 2 divers (rescued by Coast Guard).
The Algowest entered the Welland Canal downbound at Port Colborne, ON on October 13, 2001 bearing no name on her hull. Her name had been painted out in preparation for the vessel
being rechristened Peter R. Cresswell at a private ceremony held on Sunday, October 14, 2001 at Port Weller (St. Catharines, ON) below the Welland Canal's Lock 1. The self-unloader was
named in honor of Mr. Peter Ross Cresswell, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Algoma Central Corp. who was retiring at this ceremony. He had been appointed to that
position in 1990 following a corporate name change that same year from Algoma Central Railway to Algoma Central Corp. Laden with salt from Goderich, ON, the newly christened Peter R.
Cresswell then continued her voyage to Cote St. Catherine, QC. (Algoma press release of the rechristening ceremony.)
During the Peter R. Cresswell's 2003/04 winter lay-up at Hamilton, ON, her self-unloading equipment was modified with the addition of a dust suppression system for the handling of
cement clinker cargoes for Algoma's new customer St. Marys Cement. Some of her loading hatches were modified to enable the proper dust-free loading of this specialized cargo. The Capt.
Henry Jackman also received these modifications as her self-unloading equipment is very similar to that of the Peter R. Cresswell. The Peter R. Cresswell departed Hamilton on March 25,
2004 for Bowmanville, ON to load her first cargo of cement clinker.
The Peter R. Cresswell broke the Goderich, ON harbor record on February 21, 2006 for the latest arrival of the 2005 navigation season. She was on the "salt runs" carrying salt from
Goderich to various Great Lakes ports and went to Sarnia for a short winter lay-up on February 23. The previous record was held by the Canadian Progress set on February 15, 2005.
After wintering at Port Colborne, ON, where engine parts were removed for use in her near-sister Capt. Henry Jackman, she made her way through the Welland Canal under her own power
on May 17, 2016 bound for Montreal. Enroute she met her former fleetmate the tanker Algosar, which was being towed up the canal to Port Colborne for scrapping at IMS. Once Peter R.
Cresswell arrived at Montreal, her name was shortened to Peter and she departed under tow for Aliaga, Turkey, on June 16, 2016.
Written by George Wharton.