By George Wharton
Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Manitoulin
The traditional styled self-unloading Great Lakes bulk carrier Manitoulin was built by Davie Shipbuilding Co., Lauzon, PQ for Canada Steamship Lines, Montreal, PQ. Being the first self-unloader built at this yard, the Manitoulin was launched May 26, 1966 and delivered to her owners on July 6, 1966. She is powered by 4 Fairbanks-Morse 38D8-1/8 diesel engines with a total installed horsepower of 8000 and is equipped with a bow thruster. Her 22 hatches feed into 6 holds where she can carry 24,500 tons at maximum Seaway draft of 26 feet and is capable of carrying 28,100 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 29 feet. The Manitoulin's bow-mounted self-unloading discharge boom can be swung 100 degrees to port or starboard and unload at a rate of up to 6,000 tonnes per hour.
The Manitoulin's first cargo consisted of 22,000 tons of manganese ore from Contrecoeur, PQ to Ashtabula, OH. On Dec. 13, 1966, she carried a record 22,446 tons of limestone from Port Colborne, ON to Cleveland, OH; the previous record having stood since 1953. Her career on the lakes has seen her carry millions of tons of coal as well as cargoes of ore, salt, grain, stone/aggregate, and cement clinker; all on behalf of Canada Steamship Lines. The Manitoulin has been noted as having delivered the first bentonite shipment to a new taconite ore pelletizing plant in Port Cartier, PQ in 1977. The Manitoulin has also participated in an ongoing project where CSL vessels load or top-off large ocean-going bulk carriers in the deep waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Over the years, the Manitoulin has had only a few notable groundings and minor mishaps; none of which resulted in any major damage or injury. Some of these events include a minor collision with the ocean vessel Saint Marcell in December 1971, a conveyor fire at Port Weller Dry Docks in January 1977; groundings off Sandusky, OH and west of Montreal, PQ in the St. Lawrence River in 1986, and a grounding in the Rouge River, Detroit, MI in 1998.
The Manitoulin was one of the first of CSL's self-unloaders to have her hull repainted red from the tradition black. This was completed during the winter lay-up of 1996-97 in Erie, PA. Until recently, CSL's self-unloaders traditionally had black hulls and their straight-deckers had red hulls.
Rumors of retirement started late in the 1999 season. The Manitoulin may not be sailing on the Great Lakes for too much longer. In late spring, 2000 she has been a busy carrier; having given her owners 34 years of productive sailings. If she is retired, her red hull, throbbing diesels, and distinctive whistle will certainly be missed.
Overall dimensions Length 730'00" Beam 75'00" Depth 41'00" Capacity (tons) 28,100 tons