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|Downbound the Welland Canal
Mar. 27, 2007.
Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature --
Peter R. Cresswell
By George Wharton
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 ore.
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
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.
* The shipping
industry standard measurement for coal is the "net ton" (2,000 lbs / 907.2k)
whereas other commodities use the gross ton (2,240 lbs / 1,016k).
** For an
excellent description of cement clinker and the modifications made to handle
this cargo, see Seaway Marine Transport's new newsletter "Current" at:
|| 730' 00"
|| 75' 10.5"
|| 42' 00"
tons (32,209 mt)
at a draft of 29' 02" (8.89m)
b.h.p. (6,958 kW)
Detroit River, May 2002. Mike Nicholls
Stern view. Mike Nicholls
Loading in Windsor. Mike Nicholls
Welland Canal. Alex Howard
Rouge River. Don
Inbound Duluth. Tim Slattery
Detroit River, June 2003.
Port Weller, fall 2003.
Showing dust collectors on either
side of self-unloader, Apr. 2004.
Underway, June 2004. Mike Nicholls
Winter lay-up Welland Canal, Feb. 2005.
Welland Canal, Port Colborne, ON.
Loading salt at Goderich, ON, Jan. 2006.
Goderich, ON Feb. 2006. Dale Baechler
Laid up at Sarnia, ON Feb. 24, 2006 rafted to the Nanticoke. Dave Wobser
St. Lawrence River, Aug. 12, 2006.
Welland Canal, Sept., 2006.
Upbound the St. Clair River, Sept. 1, 2006.
Stern view. Todd Shorkey
St. Clair River, Dec. 9, 2006.
Coming off of Lake Huron at Buoys 1 & 2,
Apr. 17, 2007. Marc Dease
Into the turn. Marc Dease
Completing the turn and entering the St. Clair River.