Click on image for a full screen view

Loading in Sarnia

George Wharton

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Atlantic Huron

by George Wharton

Launched October 18, 1983 as the Prairie Harvest for CSL Group Inc. (Canada Steamship Lines, Inc.), Montreal, PQ; this vessel was built as a "Caribbean Class" lake bulk freighter by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., Collingwood, ON at a cost of approximately $35 million. The Prairie Harvest was the last straight deck bulker built for Canada Steamship Lines and was named in honor of the location and cargoes she was to handle. She was constructed to carry western wheat to the Atlantic seaboard and was designed and equipped to be converted to a self-unloader at a later date. The vessel was the first "Caribbean Class" ship built as a result of consultations between the Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian Shipbuilding & Engineering Ltd. (Collingwood Shipyards), and Lloyd's of England.

The Prairie Harvest is powered by a single Sulzer 6RLB66 6-cylinder 11,094 b.h.p. diesel engine burning intermediate grade 180 fuel driving a four-blade controllable pitch propeller giving her a rated service speed of 17.3 m.p.h. She is equipped with a 1,000 h.p. electric drive bow thruster and an ice breaking bulbous bow.

Following her sea trials April 5, 1984, the Prairie Harvest departed Collingwood April 6, 1984 on her maiden voyage light to Thunder Bay, ON where she loaded wheat for Port Cartier, PQ. She broke a Great Lakes barley record in 1986 with a load of 1,241,082 bushels. The vessel remained active in various Seaway trades until late 1988 when she arrived at Port Weller Dry Docks, St. Catharines, ON for conversion to a self-unloader.

After her conversion, the vessel could carry 34,600 tons in 5 holds fed by 17 hatches at her maximum mid-summer draft of 31 feet 11 inches and 26,200 tons at maximum Seaway draft of 26 feet. Her stern-mounted unloading boom can be swung 90 degrees to port or starboard and discharge at a rate of up to 6,000 tonnes per hour. Unique about her discharge boom is that it is painted the color of her hull ("CSL red") whereas most others are painted white.

The vessel resumed trading November 30.1989 after being renamed Atlantic Huron (2). The name signifies her dual ocean/ Great Lakes service area "Atlantic" for the Atlantic Ocean and "Huron" for Lake Huron. After carrying a couple of loads of coal to test her new machinery, the Atlantic Huron left the Great Lakes for the Atlantic Ocean. She was active in the phosphate trade from the Gulf States to Mexico and the iron ore trade down the Orinoco River in Venezuela to the transfer station for loading giant ocean freighters.

The Atlantic Huron is the second vessel in the CSL fleet to have carried this name. The first Atlantic Huron was built by Govan Shipbuilding Co., Govan, Scotland in 1982 being launched as the Pacific Peace, operated by Lombard Discount Ltd. of Great Britain. The vessel was acquired by Ocean Lines Ltd. (subsidiary of Canada Steamship Lines) in 1986 when she was renamed Atlantic Huron. This "Panamax" freighter was 747' loa x 104' wide, 66,000 tons dwt and powered by B & W diesel engines. After this vessel's conversion to a self-unloader, she was renamed CSL Innovator on April 19, 1988. The vessel was then sold to Egon Oldendroff in 1993; being renamed Christoffer Oldendorff in late 1993.

The Atlantic Huron returned to the Great Lakes in 1992 to carry ore from Superior to Hamilton, ON. She then returned to the Atlantic to carry salt and aragonite from Ocean Cay, Bahamas. While on one of these voyages between Camden, NJ and Ocean Cay, Bahamas; the Atlantic Huron was caught March 15, 1993 in the so-called "storm of the century". The intense rolling and pitching caused internal damage to the engine room, accommodations, and deck area but the solid vessel survived.

In 1994, the Atlantic Huron was renamed Melvin H. Baker II honoring one of the founders of the National Gypsum Co. as a result of a new contract obtained by CSL to carry gypsum products from Halifax, NS to various American east coast ports.

After a refit at Lauzon, PQ in 1997, the vessel's name of Atlantic Huron (2) was restored. During that year, the Atlantic Huron and two of her fleet mates (Atlantic Erie and Nanticoke) participated in the "Hibernia Challenge". The vessels delivered magnetite ore loaded at a special dock at Georges Bay, Nfld for delivery to the Hibernia oil platform off the coast of Newfoundland. The ore slurry was used as ballast to set the platform base firmly on the sea bed. Each vessel was fitted with special discharge systems with most of their forward cargo hold used to house the added special machinery. Each vessel made 4 round trips averaging 12 days each. After completing this project, the Atlantic Huron returned to the Great Lakes bulk trades including the occasion loads of wheat from the upper lakes to Halifax.

While downbound in Lake Erie destined for Halifax with a load of wheat, the Atlantic Huron was in collision with the CCGS Griffon on September 25, 2000 at approximately 130am. The Griffon was anchored northeast of Pelee Island servicing the Pelee Light when the accident occurred. There were no reported injuries but the 234 foot Griffon received substantial damage above the water line abaft the port bow buckling at 20 foot section in 2 feet deep. The Atlantic Huron received only superficial bow damage and was able to continue her voyage. The Griffon proceeded to Sarnia for repairs.

This highly efficient vessel continues to be a productive member of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet operating under the management of Acomarit Canada, Inc.

Overall dimensions
Length 736'06"
Beam 75'10"
Depth 46'06"
Capacity (tons) 34,600 tons

Refit at Port Weller Dry Docks.

Close up. Alex Howard

Side tanks cut out. Alex Howard

Close up.

Old tank removed.

Old tank.

New tanks installed. Jeff Thoreson

Stern view at Mission Point.

Prairie Harvest at Point Edward, Ont., in September, 1984. Eric Treece

On the St. Lawrence River with new side tanks, 2003. Marc Piché

Stern view. Marc Piché

Whitefish Bay, April 2002. Paul Beesley

Detroit River. Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

Bow profile. CSL

Underway. CSL

Aerial view underway. Don Coles

Thunder Bay. Rob Farrow

Stern view Welland Canal. Jeff Thoreson

St. Marys River. Dave Swain

Thunder Bay. Rob Farrow

Departing Thunder Bay. Rob Farrow

Return to Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping     Great Lakes Fleet Photo Gallery

Copyright © All Rights Reserved.