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Downbound the St. Marys River, July 27, 1983.

Herman Phillips

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Algoport

by George Wharton

At Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., Collingwood, ON, the keel was laid on September 27, 1978 for their hull # 217, a new self-unloader for Algoma Central Railway - Marine Division, Sault Ste. Marie, ON.  Built at a cost of $23.6 million (Cdn) net of federal government subsidies, the new vessel was to be of a smaller size than the regular Seaway-sized ships of the day (730' 00" / 222.50m) to provide service to smaller Great Lakes ports which could not accommodate the larger vessels.  The new "Nova Scotia" class self-unloader was given an ice strengthened hull and bulbous bow for winter and coastal service similar to that of her Seaway size fleetmate Algobay.  Algoma's intent was to have their new vessel see service on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Canadian east coast.  On May 7, 1979, Collingwood Shipyards launched their new build at a ceremony where the new vessel was christened Algoport by the new ship's sponsor Mrs. Henry R. Jackman, the wife of a former long-time Algoma Central board member.  Although of similar appearance to the Algobay, due to her smaller size, Algoma considered the Algoport a "sister ship" by purpose and size to the Agawa Canyon, Algorail and Algoway.  The Algoport name included the commonly used Algoma corporate ship prefix Algo" and the "port" suffix to honor the small city of Port Colborne, ON located at the Lake Erie entrance to the Welland Canal and home of the Algoma subsidiary Fraser Ship Repair.

The Algoport was powered by twin 5,350 b.h.p. (3,935 KW) Crossley Pielstick model 10PC 2V MK3 V-10 cylinder single acting, 4 stroke cycle diesel engines built by Crossley Premier Engines Ltd., Manchester, England burning intermediate grade 40 fuel oil.  The power was fed to a single controllable pitch propeller giving her a rated service speed of 13.8 m.p.h.. The vessel was equipped with a 1,000 h.p. (746 KW) bow thruster.  Nineteen hatches serviced 4 holds where the vessel was capable of carrying 32,000 tons (32,514 mt) at mid-summer draft.  The Algoport's holds had the cubic capacity to carry 25,443 net tons of coal (standard measurement for coal equivalent to 22,717 tons / 23,082 mt).  Optimized for the gypsum trade, the vessel's self-unloading equipment consisted of a three-belt gravity fed system feeding a stern mounted loop belt elevator to a 261' 00" (79.55m) discharge boom that could be swung 90 degrees to port or starboard. This special slow moving self unloading system had a designed discharge rate of up to 3,750 tons (3,810 mt) per hour.

After completing sea trials on Georgian Bay in August 1979, the Algoport left Collingwood on her maiden voyage August 27, 1979 sailing in ballast to Calcite, MI for a load of limestone to Spragge, ON.  That same year, on December 27 the Algoport had the honor of closing the Welland Canal for the season.  The vessel grounded briefly on the Manistee River on August 9, 1980 with little or no damage.  In 1981, the Algoport became the first vessel to load potash at Thunder Bay, ON taking on 19,091 tons (19,398 mt) in 15 hours.  The self-unloader is noted to have opened Thunder Bay for the season on March 24, 1984 and again on April 1, 1986.  The vessel was then noted to have allided with the sea wall at Grand Haven, MI on April 21, 1986 while inbound with a load of salt.

During the winter of 1991/92, the Algoport's engines were modified to burn the less expensive residual fuel consisting of a blend of bunker "C", marine diesel oil and heavy crude at an estimated cost of $1.3 million.  Beginning in 1993, the vessel with her self-unloading fleet mates commenced operating under the banner of the newly formed Seaway Self Unloaders, St. Catharines, ON, a pooling arrangement combining the self unloading fleets of Algoma Central Corporation and ULS Corporation (Upper Lakes Shipping).  This arrangement was modified in January, 2000 when the bulkers of the two fleets (sailing under the Seaway Bulk Carriers banner) were merged combining all the vessels of both fleets into one operational partnership known as Seaway Marine Transport, St. Catharines, ON.  The partnership was further modified in 2004 when Seaway Marine Transport took over the complete operation and management of the Algoma and Upper Lakes domestic self unloading and bulker fleets.

On October 9, 2001, the Algoport was reported aground at Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and was refloated the next day with no reported damage.  Then on May 6, 2004, the vessel received hull damage while attempting to dock at the stone quarry at Stephenville, NL.  Temporary repairs were made prior to loading and after delivering the load to Sept Isles, QC, she proceeded to Les Mechins, QC arriving May 12 for dry-docking to complete permanent repairs including a 5-year survey and inspection.  After departing Les Mechins on June 11, the Algoport sailed to Lower Cove, NL to load.  Later in 2004, on November 1, the self-unloader lost her port anchor about 656' (200m) from the Grand Entree Wharf at Iles de la Madeleine.  While berthing at the Lafarge Cement dock at Clarkson, ON September 8, 2007, the vessel sustained a hole (2' 04" / .72m x 3' 02" / 1.01m) in the lower forepeak tank with ingress of water forward of the bow thruster.  After unloading and damage inspection, she proceeded to Hamilton, ON arriving September 10 for repairs, returning to service 2 days later.  From late 2007 on into 2009, the Algoport continued to have occasional but persistent issues with the ingress of water in areas of the forepeak and numbers 1 and 2 ballast tanks (as reported by Lloyd's Marine Investigation Unit November 2007, April 2008, November 2008 and June 2009). 

In 2007 Seaway Marine Transport announced that they had entered into agreements to construct two maximum Seaway size self-unloading forebodies and to attach these new forebodies to the refurbished aft ends of the Algoport and Algobay. The forebodies were to be constructed by Chengxi Shipyard Co. Ltd. in Jiangyin, China.  The two vessels  were expected to be in service by September 2010 and December 2009 respectively, at an expected cost of approximately $125 million. The Algoport remained operational into the 2009 navigation season and the Algobay had last operated in 2002 and remained laid up in Toronto, ON until being towed to Hamilton, ON in 2007 and then on to Montreal, QC where the overseas tow originated May 25, 2008 arriving at Jiangyin, China on September 10, 2008.

On April 3, 2009, the Algoport was drydocked at Seaway Marine & Industrial Inc. (formerly Port Weller Dry Docks) for hull strengthening and other necessary modifications to be completed for the upcoming voyage to China.  As fate would have it, the Algoport loaded what would prove to be her final cargo on June 4, 2009 when the vessel arrived at Little Narrows, NS for a load of gypsum destined for Bowmanville, ON.  After unloading at Bowmanville on June 10, she proceeded in ballast to Hamilton's Pier 10-4, arriving there later the same day.  New bridge wings were added to meet Panama Canal transit requirements and other final preparations completed for her overseas voyage.  On June 27, 2009, the Algoport departed Hamilton sailing under her own power for Balboa, Panama to await her tow to Jiangyin, China.  She passed through the Panama Canal on July 19, 2009 anchoring about 8 miles (13 km) south of Balboa to wait for the tug.

On September 6, 2009 the Algoport broke in half and sank overnight in heavy seas while under tow of tug Pacific Hickory (formerly the Canadian registered Atlantic Hickory, renamed March, 2007). The tow had encountered some rough seas from Tropical Storm Dujuan that had passed near the vessel's route.  The tow was about one week away from her destination when the Algoport sank in approximately 16,404' (5,000 m) of water, location 300'0" N by1300'0" E (East China Sea south of Japan).  The Pacific Hickory managed to release the tow wire before the vessel sank. There were no injuries, loss of life or environmental issues reported from the foundering.  While the Algoport did have some fuel oil onboard to power its generators, the fuel is contained in the bunker tanks with all vents closed as a requirement of the tow. The tug reported that no signs of pollution or debris were evident after the vessel's sinking.  An official news release from Algoma Central on September 10, 2009 confirmed the loss and stated that insurance proceeds would be used to source an aft end to attach to the forebody under construction in China. 


Overall Dimensions (metric)
 Length  658' 00" (200.56m)
 Beam  75' 10.5" (23.13m)
 Depth  46' 06" (14.17m)
 Capacities - mid summer  32,000 tons (32,514 mt)
at draft of 33' 05.75" (10.205m)
                 - Seaway  23,320 tons (23,695 mt)
 at draft of 26' 06" (8.08m)
                 - fuel oil  476 tons (484 mt)
                 - diesel oil  79 tons (80 mt)
                 - potable water  112 tons (114 mt)
                 - water ballast  14,602 tons (14,837 mt)
 Power (diesel)  10,700 b.h.p. (7,980 KW)

Transiting the Panama Canal on July 19, 2009 heading for Balboa to await
a tow to China for a new forebody.

Miraflores Lock webcam (thumbnail size only)
Algoport_southbound-Panama-.jpg (5997 bytes)
Leaving the Great Lakes for the last time ...

Sailing down the St Lawrence River, at
Trois-Rivieres, QC, to Balboa Panama,
June 30, 2009. Kent Malo
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Captain Clarence Vautier standing on the newly added bridge wing to enable Algoport transit the Panama canal, seen here  from the pilot boat. at Trois-Rivieres, QC. Kent Malo
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Algoport is due to arrive at Balboa, Panama, July 13, 2009, crew will disembark July 15.
Kent Malo
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St. Lawrence River passing Mariatown, ON,
June 29, 2009. Murray Blancher
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Entering the St. Lawrence Seaway's Iroquois Lock, June 29, 2009. Murray Blancher
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Stern view departing the lock. Murray Blancher
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Hamilton's Pier 10, June 15, 2009.
John McCreery

Welland Canal at Port Weller, May 9, 2009.
Joe van der Doe
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Downbound entering the St. Lawrence Seaway's Iroquois Lock, May 18, 2009. Murray Blancher
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Stern view. Murray Blancher
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With tug assistance, slowly turning into position to enter the drydock, Apr. 3, 2009. Paul Beesle
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Tug Wyatt M working aft entering the drydock. Paul Beesley
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Downbound above Lock 3, Welland Canal bound for Port Weller and dry-docking,
Apr. 3, 2009. Paul Beesley
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After leaving Lock 3. Paul Beesley

Upbound the Welland Canal approaching
Lock 1, Sept. 8, 2008. Bill Bird

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Winter lay up at Hamilton, ON, Mar. 31, 2009.
Phil Nash

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Another view. Phil Nash

Upbound S. Lawrence River at Mariatown, ON with gypsum for Clarkson, ON from Little Narrows, NS, May 29, 2008. Ron Beaupre

Stern view. Ron Beaupre

St. Lawrence Seaway near St. Lambert Lock,
Montreal, QC, Oct. 4, 2007. Michel St-Denis

Draft marks. Michel St-Denis

Downbound the St. Lawrence River in the 1000 Islands, July 5, 2007. Fritz Hager

Winter lay up, Montreal, Feb. 2006.
Laurent Cote

Bow profile. Laurent Cote

St. Lawrence River from the Quebec Bridge at Quebec City, QC, June 30, 2005.
Michel St-Denis

Downbound the St. Lawrence River from Wellesley Island, July 29, 2005. Fritz Hager

St. Lawrence Seaway, July 26, 2007.
Michel St-Denis

Wintering at Montreal, QC, Feb. 18, 2005.
Kent Malo

St. Lawrence River, Sept. 23, 2004 as seen from the Queen Mary II. John Meyland

Another view from the Queen Mary II.
John Meyland 

Winter passage, Detroit River Jan. 14, 2003.
Mike Nicholls

St. Lambert Lock near Montreal, QC,
Sept. 24, 2003. Kent Malo

Beautiful day off the Gaspe Coast, 2003.
Ken Hamilton
Algoport-launch_5.7.79.jpg (107550 bytes)
Launch and sea trial collection of photos
courtesy of Andrew Torrence.

Stormy day on the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
Oct. 2003.  (collection of photos)
Ken Hamilton
algoportsink-2.jpg (58551 bytes)
Algoport Sinking 2009

Onboard collage, Sept. 1979.
Capt. A. Gindroz

Gulf of St. Lawrence, Sept. 1979.
Capt. A. Gindroz
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Downbound in the Rock Cut, Neebish Island,
July 27, 1983. Herman Phillips

Upbound the Maumee River, Toledo, OH,
Dec. 1984. Jim Hoffman

Winter lay up with the Capt. Henry Jackman
at Hamilton, ON, Dec. 18, 1992. John McCreery

Downbound the St. Clair River, Apr. 1993.
Jim Hoffman

Welland Canal, 1995.
Roger LeLievre

At the Soo, 1997.
Roger LeLievre

Inbound the Welland Canal.
Jim Hoffman

Waiting to load at C & O #4, Toledo, OH.
Jim Hoffman

Downbound the Welland Canal above Lock 8, Port Colborne, ON. Jim Hoffman

Port Huron. Larry Leverenz

St. Marys River. Rod Burdick

Seaway passage.

Downbound the Welland Canal waiting for Lock 7 with salt from Goderich, ON to Montreal, QC,
Apr. 20, 2002. George Wharton

Stern view. George Wharton

Another view. George Wharton

Welland Canal, July 12, 2002.
Alex Howard

Loading salt at Windsor, ON,
July 14, 2002. Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

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