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Lake St. Clair at Windmill Point, June 18, 2007.

Alex & Max Mager

-- Algontario --

(Ruhr Ore 1960 - 1976, Cartiercliffe Hall 1976 - 1988, Winnipeg (2) 1988 - 1994)

by George Wharton

Originally built in 1960 as the deep sea ore carrier Ruhr Ore by Schlieker-Werft, Hamburg, West Germany; this ship was launched March 19, 1960 as shipyard hull # 536.  The Ruhr Ore entered service in June of 1960 carrying iron ore from Venezuela to Europe for U.S. Steel offshore interests, operating under charter to Transatlantic Bulk Carriers, Monrovia, Liberia. The Ruhr Ore was last of three identical sister ships built by Schlieker-Werft for this service.  The other two vessels were the Rhine Ore launched April 11, 1959 (hull #  533) and the Ems Ore launched October 17, 1959 (hull # 535).

The Ruhr Ore was built with the wheelhouse amidships and with the original overall dimensions of 546’ 00” (166.42m) loa x 73’ 10” (22.403m) beam x 40’ 02” (12.243m) depth and a carrying capacity of 20,032 tons (20,354 mt).  The bulk carrier was and remained powered by a single B & W model 7-74VTBF-160 two stroke cycle, single acting 7 cylinder 8,750 b.h.p. (6,436 kW) diesel engine built in 1959 by Fried. Krupp Dieselmotoren GmbH, Essen, Germany.  The engine burned intermediate grade 180 fuel.

Hall Corporation Shipping Ltd. (Halco) of Montreal, QC bought the three ore carriers in 1976 to carry Labrador ore from Gulf of St. Lawrence ports to the steel mills in Hamilton, ON.  Officially registered Canadian at Toronto, ON November 4, 1977; the Ruhr Ore was the first of the three vessels to be converted to a Seaway sized Great Lakes bulk carrier by being lengthened and modernized at Davie Shipbuilding Ltd., Lauzon, QC (hull # 692) at a cost of $9 million.  Included in this work was a complete new mid body and bow installed from the engine room forward with the midship wheelhouse and cabins being modernized and relocated to the stern. Also installed were a 16 cylinder 1,200 h.p. (883 kW) Caterpillar diesel bow thruster and a controllable pitch propeller.  The original B. & W. power plant was retained.  The newly converted bulker had a rated service speed of 14.4 m.p.h.  The bulk carrier had 17 hatches servicing 6 holds where the vessel was capable of carrying 29,100 tons (29,567.5 mt) at mid summer draft of 27' 10.25” (8.49m) and 26,780 tons (27,210 mt) at the new Seaway draft of 26’ 06” (8.08m) which was implemented in 2004.  Her holds have the cubic capacity to hold 30,400 net tons (equivalent of 27,143 tons / 27,579 mt) of coal; 27,477 tons (27,918 mt) of wheat; 25,657 tons (26,069 mt) of corn or rye; 21,992 tons (22,345 mt) of barley or 18,790 tons (19,092 mt) of oats.  Other capacities include 492 tons (500 mt) of fuel oil and 11,465 tons (11,649 mt) of water ballast.  With this conversion, the new bulker displaced approximately 7,770 tons (7,895 mt) lightship.  The old forebody was sold for scrap and was towed (possibly in tandem with the old forebody of the Ems Ore) by the tug Irving Birch to Brownsville, TX arriving in December, 1977.

Halco renamed their new bulk carrier Cartiercliffe Hall, the vessel entering service in December of 1977.  The bulker laid up for the winter in Prescott, ON shortly after, requiring more work before making its maiden voyage upbound through the Welland Canal on April 16, 1978.  The other two ore carriers purchased by Halco were renamed as follows: the Ems Ore becoming the Montcliffe Hall, later the Cartierdoc, now sailing as the Cedarglen (2); the Rhine Ore becoming the Steelcliffe Hall and later the ill fated Windoc (2).

On June 4, 1979; the Cartiercliffe Hall had loaded 24,830 tons (25,229 mt or 993,000 bushels) of corn and departed from Duluth, MN bound for Port Cartier, QC.  Early the next morning, while downbound on Lake Superior about 11 miles off Copper Harbor on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, a serious fire broke out in the crew’s quarters of the aft end accommodations.  The fire quickly spread throughout the stern accommodations area and consumed the wheelhouse before any distress calls could be sent.  The wheelsman was only able to sound the general alarm before he was forced from the wheelhouse by intense smoke.  The fire was spotted by the upbound U.S. Steel vessel Thomas W. Lamont who advised the U.S. Coast Guard station at Hancock, MI of a ship on fire and immediately altered course to lend assistance.  The “abandon ship” order had been given and the Thomas W. Lamont arrived to pick up 17 of the 25 crew who were in the lifeboat.  Canada Steamship Lines’ self unloader Louis R. Desmarais arrived on the scene shortly after and picked up 2 of the crew from a life raft.  Bethlehem Steel’s Arthur B. Homer, Inland Steel’s Philip D. Block, and U.S. Steel’s A.H. Ferbert also arrived to search for the remaining 6 crew.  Unfortunately, the 6 unaccounted for crew members had died in the fire.  A seventh member succumbed to his injuries later.  The smouldering vessel was taken under tow to Thunder Bay, ON by Halco’s Doan Transport with the assistance of the tug Peninsula, arriving late in the morning of June 6. Transport Canada later confirmed the fire had started in the crew accommodation area on the port side but could not determine the exact cause of the blaze due to the intensity of the fire.

The cargo of corn which was relatively undamaged by the fire was lightered on June 26 into the Beavercliffe Hall.  The tug Wilfred M. Cohen towed the Cartiercliffe Hall from Thunder Bay to the Collingwood Shipyards, Collingwood, ON arriving September 12, 1979 for repairs and the rebuilding of the bulker’s aft accommodations and wheelhouse.  This work was assigned “hull # 221” and cost approximately $6 million to complete.  While the final work was being completed, on May 7, 1980 an on board accident at the shipyard killed one and injured another person.  The Cartiercliffe Hall returned to service on May 26, 1980.

On June 24, 1980; the Cartiercliffe Hall experienced steering gear failure and grounded in the St. Lawrence River near Cornwall, ON. The bulker was refloated with the aid of three tugs and continued on to Conneaut, OH with the load of iron ore.  On December 11, 1986; a ruptured fuel line to a generator caused another fire on board the Cartierdoc while the vessel transiting the Welland Canal. This fire was quickly controlled and contained with the bulker continuing her voyage on December 13.

With the demise of Halco due to economic conditions, Canada Steamship Lines acquired the Cartiercliffe Hall in April of 1988, renaming the bulker Winnipeg (2).  From 1991 through 1993, the Winnipeg sailed under the management of Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, a consortium of the bulk carriers from the Canada Steamship Lines, Misener Holdings Ltd., and Pioneer Shipping.  On December 14, 1992, the Winnipeg grounded on a sand bar in the Detroit River above Belle Isle.  After lightering some of her cargo, the vessel was refloated with tug assistance on  December 18 and after inspection, proceeded to the Ojibway Anchorage near Windsor, ON to reload her cargo and continue her voyage.  There was no reported damage.  In 1993, the Winnipeg carried 23 cargoes consisting of 11 grain, 10 iron ore, and 2 cement.

With the collapse of Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, on April 8, 1994 Algoma Central closed a deal purchasing the Winnipeg (2) and her fleet mates Richelieu (3) and Simcoe (2) from Canada Steamship Lines for approximately $4.5 million.  In June of 1994, following a refit at Port Weller Dry Docks, St. Catharines, ON; the bulker entered service for new owners Algoma Central Marine Group, St. Catharines, ON sailing under the management of Seaway Bulk Carriers, Winnipeg, MB bearing the new name Algontario.  The Algontario takes its name from the standard Algoma fleet prefix “Algo” and the Province of Ontario being the home province of the vessel’s owners.  The Algontario’s fleet mates were renamed Algocape (2) and Algostream respectively.  On June 10, 1995, the Algontario was noted to have struck her starboard quarter on the 106th St. Bridge in S. Chicago, IL while transiting the Calumet River.  Only minor damage was reported after a Coast Guard inspection.  During the 1997 season, the Algontario carried 27 cargoes consisting of 12 grain, 8 iron ore, 6 cement, and 1 sugar (for winter storage at Toronto).

On April 5, 1999 the Algontario grounded in the St. Marys River north of Johnson’s Point while upbound for Duluth, MN with 18,611 tons (18,910 mt) of cement from Clarkson, ON.  The grounding effectively blocked the upbound channel (Middle Neebish Channel). The bulker was freed from her strand 18:30 on April 7 with the aid of 3 tugs and the lightering of some fuel and the emptying of ballast tanks.  The Algontario was also carrying 376 tons (382 mt) of fuel oil and 96.5 tons (98.05 mt) of diesel.  After inspection and temporary repairs, the Algontario was allowed to continue on to Duluth to unload then proceed in ballast to Thunder Bay, ON for repair.

The Algontario arrived at Pascal Engineering’s dry dock at Thunder Bay on April 13, 1999.  Incident related damages were found to include extensive bottom shell plating damage with the starboard double bottom ballast tank numbers 4, 5, and 6, the feed water tank, and cofferdams by way of the engine room all breached.  The cost of repairing these damages combined with other non incident related damages requiring repair at the vessel’s next dry docking as noted by Transport Canada at Hamilton, ON in March of 1999 (Hamilton being the Algontario’s 1998/99 winter lay up port) prior to the vessel’s sailing again contributed to Algoma’s decision to place the vessel into long term lay up in an “as is” condition at Thunder Bay.

The Algontario had faced a very uncertain future since the 1999 incident; be it repair, rebuild, or scrap.  During the winter of 2003/04, it became apparent that the 2004 navigation season would see the probable need for additional hulls to move an expected higher number of grain cargoes as compared to the previous number of years.  With the projected need for additional capacity and hulls extending beyond the 2004 season, the Algontario was placed in Pascal Engineering's dry dock on April 14, 2004 with the intent of returning the bulker to service.  On September 4, 2004, the Algontario was removed from the dry dock and began to fit out.  The Algontario completed sea trials on October 7, 2004 and berthed at Keefer Elevators to load.  The bulker returned to active service sailing from Thunder Bay, ON on October 10, 2004 with 25,855 tons (26,270.415 mt) of wheat for Montreal, QC.

The Algontario was operated and managed by Seaway Marine Transport of St. Catharines, ON, a partnership company formed by Algoma Central and Upper Lakes Group to effectively operate and manage the combined fleets.  The bulker saw extended service in her 2007 navigation season, operating well into 2008 in the St. Lawrence River iron ore trade running between Port Cartier, QC and Contrecoeur, QC.   The Algontario saw continued service from her return to service in 2004 through to the 2009 season.

Four more recent noted incidents follow.  After departing her winter lay-up port of Hamilton, ON March 25, 2005, the Algontario arrived at Thunder Bay, ON April 2, 2005 discovering the next day that her steering gear had been damaged by ice while at Thunder Bay.  After temporary repairs were made, the bulker sailed on April 10 with a load for Baie Comeau, QC.  The vessel arrived back at Thunder Bay and was dry-docked June 12, 2005 for rudder repairs and departed July 2 loaded for Quebec, QC.  Then, after leaving Prescott, ON July 21, 2006 loaded for Quebec, the Algontario touched bottom above the St. Lawrence Seaway's Beauharnois Lock 4 and subsequently had engine failure on July 23.  Repairs were effected and the vessel was shifted to the discharge berth at Cote St-Catherine (Montreal) on July 26, then arriving at Quebec on July 30.  The Algontario departed Port Cartier, QC on December 9, 2006 with iron ore for Hamilton and touched bottom December 11 near the St. Lawrence Seaway's Snell Lock below the Cornwall/Massena, NY bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River..  The bulker was taking water into the number 1 forward ballast tank but was under way the next day arriving at Hamilton on December 13, 2006.  Finally, after leaving Port Cartier, QC on March 24, 2008 on a voyage to Contrecoeur, QC loaded with iron ore, the Algontario received ice damage in the St. Lawrence River and was taking on some water forward.  She continued on to Contrecoeur at a reduced speed arriving there on March 26.  After unloading and attending to the damage in the forepeak, the Algontario sailed the next day for Port Cartier, QC arriving there on March 29, 2008.

The Algontario sailed from her winter layup berth  at Montreal, QC on April 6, 2009 only to lay up again at the Welland Canal's Wharf 10 at Thorold, ON on April 8, 2009.  That trip proving to be her last powered voyage, the bulker was moved deadship transiting the Welland Canal downbound on May 30, 2009 and laying up for a final time on July 4, 2009 at Toronto. 

Then on May 25, 2011, after the bulker's name, stack and hull markings were removed, the first leg of the former Algontario's scrap tow to Aliaga, Turkey began.  With McKeil Marine's tug Tony MacKay towing and Nadro Marine's tugs Vigilant I and Seahound controlling the stern, the scrap tow departed Toronto bound for Montreal, QC to wait for her tow overseas.  Departing Hull, UK on June 14, 2011; on June 25, the large ocean tug Herakles arrived at Montreal  to take the Algontario on her final journey.  The 1980 built 1,641 gross ton Herakles is registered out of Valetta, Malta and is owned by Marine Carrier A/B, Pitea, Sweden.  The powerful tug has 4 12-cylinder Ruston diesels with a total output of 11,280 b.h.p. (8,296 kw).  After final preparations were made, the Herakles departed Montreal with the Algontario in tow early on June 27, 2011.  The McKeil Marine tug Tony McKay controlled the Algontario's stern for the St. Lawrence River transit.  The Herakles with the Algontario in tow arrived at Aliaga on August 4, 2011.

By The Numbers (metric)
 Length - overall  730' 00" (222.5m)
 Beam - extreme  75' 09" (23.09m)
 Depth  40' 02" (12.243m)
 Capacity - mid-summer  29,100 tons (29,567.5 mt)
 at draft of 27'10.25" (8.49m)
               - Seaway  26,780 tons (27,210 mt)
 at draft of 26' 06" (8.08m)
               - coal  30,400 net tons (27,579 mt)
               - wheat  27,477 tons (27,918 mt)
               - corn or rye  25,657 tons (26,069 mt)
               - barley  21,992 tons (22,345 mt)
               - oats  18,790 tons (19,092 mt)
               - fuel oil  483 tons (491 mt)
               - diesel oil  143 tons (145 mt)
               - potable water  89 tons (90 mt)
               - water ballast  11,283 tons (11,465 mt)
 Displacement - lightship  7,770 tons (7,895 mt)
 Power (diesel)  8,750 b.h.p. (6,436 kW)

Herakles6-27-11-km-a.jpg (29283 bytes)
Herakles towing the Algontario with the Tony McKay controlling the stern downbound the St. Lawrence River at Verchers, QC, June 27, 2011.
Kent Malo
Herakales6-27-11-km-b.jpg (47092 bytes)
Close up of the Herakles downbound at Verchers.
Kent Malo
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Beached at Alaiga, Turkey, Aug. 11, 2011.
Selim San courtesy of Kent Malo
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Tony Mackay takes Algontario down the Seaway to Montreal, May 27, 2011. Ron Beaupre
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Vigilant 1 & Seahound are on the stern of the tow.
Ron Beaupre
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Waiting at Montreal, QC for the scrap tow overseas.
June 2, 2011. Dave Bessant
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Deadship transit downbound the Welland Canal,
May 30, 2009. Phil Nash
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Bow view. Phil Nash
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Stern detail. Phil Nash

Upbound Welland Canal clearing Lock 7,
July 14, 2008. Bill Bird

Stern view. Bill Bird

Upbound Detroit River, July 15, 2008.
Blake Kishler

Welland Canal approaching Lock 1 downbound,
Sept. 15, 2007. Richard Jenkins

Entering Lock 1. Richard Jenkins

Turning in inner harbor, Goderich, ON,
Dec. 1, 2007. Wayne Brown

St. Marys River, July 2, 2007.
Roger LeLievre
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St. Marys River, Aug. 6, 2007.
Herm Phillips

Welland Canal at Port Colborne, ON,
Sept. 15, 2007. Roger LeLievre
1-Algontario-6-27-07-hp.jpg (46702 bytes)
Upbound the Welland Canal above Lock 8,
Port Colborne, ON, June 27, 2007. Herm Phillips
Upbound the St. Marys River at Mission Point,
June 29, 2007. Lee Rowe

Stern view, July 2, 2007. Roger leLievre

Turning into the St. Clair River at Point Edward, ON, May 28, 2007. Marc Dease

Downbound Lake St. Clair at Windmill Point,
May 28, 2007. Alex & Max Mager

Downbound St. Marys River below Nine Mile Point,
June 15, 2007. Herm Klein

St, Marys River, Apr. 29, 2006.
Roger LeLievre

Welland Canal, June 2006.
Jay van der Doe

Downbound the St. Marys River at the Rock Cut,
Oct. 6, 2006. Roger LeLievre

Stern view, May 25, 2005. Mike Nicholls

St. Lawrence River, Wellesley Island, NY,
Aug. 14, 2005. Fritz Hager

Upbound at the Soo, Oct. 7, 2005.
Roger LeLievre

Upbound the Detroit River, May 20, 2005.
Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

Downbound the Detroit River, May 25, 2005.
Mike Nicholls

Point Edward, ON Apr. 12, 2005.
George Wharton

Bow profile. George Wharton

Stern view. George Wharton

Cartiercliffe Hall
loading in Toledo before the fire. Jim Hoffman

St. Marys River before the fire. Jim Hoffman
Cartiercliffe_Hall_-_origin.jpg (73578 bytes)
Welland Canal, July 9, 1978 J. Heintz photo, Jimmy Sprunt Collection,
courtesy Tom Stewart
Newspaper clippings of the June 4, 1979 fire from the Thunder Bay newspaper Chronicle-Journal, June 7, 1979,
from the Tom Stewart collection
Cartiercliffe_Hall_fire_001.jpg (117617 bytes)
J.P. Fraser photo
Cartiercliffe_Hall_fire_002.jpg (94382 bytes)
J.P.Fraser photo
Cartiercliffe_Hall_fire_003.jpg (293056 bytes)
Cartiercliffe_Hall_-_rebuil.jpg (107799 bytes)
Richardson's Elevator, Thunder Bay, ON
May, 2 1983. Tom Stewart
Loading grain at Andersons Elevator Toledo after the fire. Jim Hoffman

Downbound Maumee River. Jim Hoffman

Downbound from Cherry Street Bridge, Toledo. Jim Hoffman.

Another view. Jim Hoffman

Loading in Thunder Bay, April 24, 1987. Gene Onchulenko from the 2002 MHSD calendar
15-Winnipeg-6-89-GB.jpg (121695 bytes)
Downbound at Port Huron, MI, June 1989,
Jeff & Greg Barber

Winnipeg under way, 1990.
Roger LeLievre

Winter lay-up, Hamilton, ON, Mar. 11, 1991.
John McCreery

Welland Canal, July 6, 1991.
John McCreery

Stern view. John McCreery

Loading at Cargill, Duluth. Glenn Blaszkiewicz

St. Marys River. Rod Burdick

MacArthur Lock. Roger LeLievre

Mission Point. Roger LeLievre

Lay-up in Thunder Bay, 2002.
Rob Farrow

Dry docking in Thunder Bay.
Apr. 24, 2004. Rob Farrow

Loading in Thunder Bay Oct. 10, 2004.
Rob Farrow

Floating in Pascol's dry dock on 9/04/04.
Barbaranne Wright.

Being removed from the dry dock.
 Barbaranne Wright..

On the bow.  Barbaranne Wright.

Prop in dry dock. Harry Wright

Harry Wright

Loading in Thunder Bay Oct. 10, 2004.
Rob Farrow

Departing. Rob Farrow

Port Huron, Oct. 12, 2004. Dick Wicklund

St. Clair River passing Marine City,
Oct. 12, 2004. John Meyland

Upbound the Welland Canal, Oct. 18, 2004.
Ian Baker

Stern view. Ian Baker


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