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Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Canadian Century

By George Wharton

This unique traditional styled Great Lakes, self-unloading bulk carrier was built by Port Weller Dry Docks, St. Catherines, ON (hull #41). She was christened Canadian Century for Upper Lakes Group, Inc., Toronto, ON on April 15, 1967 by Mrs. G.E. Gathercole, wife of the Chairman of the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario. The Canadian Century is powered by a Burmeister & Wain type 574 VT2F 160 diesel engine rated at 7,394 b.h.p. at 115 r.p.m. burning intermediate grade 180 fuel driving a controllable pitch propeller giving the vessel at service speed of 14.5 knots. She is equipped with a 1,000 horsepower bow thruster. Her enormous single hold is fed by 22 hatches. She can carry 25,700 tons at maximum Seaway draft of 26 feet and is capable of carrying 31,600 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 29 feet 4 1/2 inches. Capacities include 465 tonnes of fuel oil, 75 tonnes of diesel oil, 186 tonnes of potable water, and 17,348 tonnes of water ballast.

The Canadian Century's original self-unloading system consisted of a single center-line conveyor belt gravity system with a 300-ton reclaimer feeding a bucket/hopper elevator system leading to a forward-mounted 250 foot discharge boom. The reclaimer consisted of 2 auger screws, each 26 feet long and 7 feet high. As they would turn, the cargo would be forced forward to the bucket elevator system. It could discharge at a rate of up to 4,000 tonnes per hour. Due to the technological advances in self-unloading systems, the Canadian Century's bucket elevator system was replaced in 1975/76 with a modern loop belt elevator system. The system can now discharge at a rate of up to 4,572 tonnes per hour. The discharge boom can be swung 95 degrees to port or starboard.

Since this vessel was commissioned during Canada's centennial year (1967); Upper Lakes deemed it appropriate to name the vessel in honor of Canada's "Century" of confederation. The word "Canadian" was in keeping with the fleet's theme.

At the time of her launch, the Canadian Century was the largest capacity self-unloading vessel on the Great Lakes. Her unique squared hull design reduced wasted space thus increasing her tonnage. Her tall wheelhouse and forward accommodations has given her the distinction of being known as the "little bank building on floats".

The Canadian Century was built specifically to accommodate U.L.S.'s first contract to carry coal for Ontario Hydro. During her first season of operations, she made 63 trips delivering coal totaling 1.7 million tons. On Dec. 8, 1967; she set a Welland Canal coal record by carrying 28,283 tons from Conneaut, OH to Dofasco, Hamilton, ON. June 18, 1969 saw the Canadian Century load a Conneaut, OH record of 31,081 tons of coal for Ontario Hydro's Lambton Generating Station at Courtright, ON. In her early years, she would sail to Sept Isles, PQ to rendezvous with her former fleet mate Ontario Power to transfer coal loaded aboard the latter vessel at Sydney, NS for delivery to Nanticoke, ON. The Canadian Century carried her first load of taconite ore pellets in 1986 when she loaded 25,427 tons at Pointe Noire, PQ for Hamilton, ON. The vessel has carried cargoes of salt from ports such as Goderich, ON and Fairport, OH. She is also noted to have carried the odd cargo of grain products.

The Canadian Century currently sails under the management of Seaway Marine Transport, St. Catherines, ON (partnership of Algoma Central and Upper Lakes Group). With the exception of the converted steamer James Norris, the Canadian Century is now the oldest self-unloader in the Upper Lakes fleet.

At St. Catherines, ON on Mar. 23, 2001; the Canadian Century was honored in the traditional Top Hat ceremony recognizing the passing of the first upbound vessel through the Welland Canal for the 2001 navigation season. During the ceremony, Upper Lakes Group President and CEO Marcel Rivard announced that the Canadian Century would undergo a $25 million (CDN) mid-life refit at Port Weller Dry Docks, St. Catherines, ON. The refit, to take place during the 2001/2002 winter layup, will include the replacement of her current cargo hold with a longer, wider hold and a one-belt self-unloading system with a flat tank top. Her bow and stern sections along with most of her main deck will remain intact. As a result, the Canadian Century will be able to carry more cargo and operate more efficiently through the increased use of modern technology.


Overall dimensions
Length 730'00"
Beam 75'00"
Depth 45'00"
Capacity (mid-summer tons) 31,600
Diesel engine horsepower 7,500


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