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St. Marys River.

Todd Davidson

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Seaway Queen

By Todd Davidson

When the St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened in April of 1959, a new era was created for the Great Lakes. The demand for larger ships, both domestically and from around the world would shape the face of shipping on the Lakes. Upper Lakes Shipping had the foresight into the new expanse of growth and had began designing a new vessel to become the true "Queen of the Lakes". On May 30th, 1959 at Port Weller Dry Docks, a new maximum seaway laker was christened. The new ship "Seaway Queen" was the pride of the ULS fleet and was given the honor of the new company flagship. The Queen cost over $7 million dollars to build and was a true classic steamboat, both inside and out. The St. Lawrence Seaway costs over $700 million to construct and employed over 22,000 men. She was named to honor those men and their efforts to forever change the future of Great Lakes shipping.

The Seaway Queen was active in the grain run from the head of the lakes to the seaway, sometimes bringing a return load of ore or coal to the Dofasco Steel Mill in Hamilton, Ontario. Grain was her mainstay, accounting for more than half of her seasonal cargoes. On December 20th, 1988, she delivered the 100 millionth ton of iron ore to Dofasco, taking part in a huge ceremony and celebration honoring the event. This came after a long 6 year lay-up during the recession years of the 80's.

She has a capacity of 24,300 tons and can carry over 23,300 metric tons of wheat. She is powered by a Inglis Turbine steam engine with 8,250 horsepower and can run 14.5 knots fully loaded, also is equipped with a bow thruster. The Seaway Queen is the second oldest Canadian straight decker on the lakes, only P&H Shipping's classic grain boat Oakglen is older (by one year). Only the Kinsman boats on the American side have more years on the ladder vessels, with only one active today, the Kinsman Independent (built in 1952).

The Seaway Queen entered lay-up in Toronto in 1999. Over the following years equipment was removed from the classic laker, a sure sign the end was near. In 2003 the Seaway Queen was sold for scrapping and moved to Montreal, the first leg of her trip to the scrap yard.

In October, 2003 the Seaway Queen was towed from Montreal heading for scrapping in Alang, India. The Oakglen was paired with the Seaway Queen at Quebec City, where the two tows were joined as one pulled by the tug Seaways 5 for their trip to the scrap yard.

The tow took a Southerly route rounding the Cape of Good Hope to escape the rough weather the North Atlantic dishes out that time of year. The tug Seaways 2 with the Mapleglen in tow reportedly took a severe beating in October transiting the North Atlantic. A towing company spokesperson reported it is more economical going this route with the two vessels in tow, the Suez Canal will only allow one vessel per transit.

The scrap tow of the Seaway Queen and Oakglen ended February 11, 2004 with the safe arrival in Alang, India.

The trip was not with out incident. The Seaway Queen experienced flooding after rounding Cape Town, South Africa. Her rivets started to pop and faced the threat of sinking. The salvage tug pulling the vessels carried heavy duty salvage pumps. These pumps kept the Seaway Queen afloat until her arrival in Alang.

The trip from Dubai to Montreal to Alang took 165 days.

Overall dimensions
Length 713'03"
Beam 72'00"
Depth 37'00"
Capacity (tons) 24,300
Turbine steam engine horsepower 8,250

On Deck, 2001. N. Schultheiss.


Builder's Plate was removed in 2001 and sent to the corporate office for safe keeping.


Loading Sarnia. Marc Dease

Icy Port Huron passage. John Belliveau

Welland Canal. Roger LeLievre

Soo Locks. Roger LeLievre

Toronto lay-up 2002. Ted Siuda

Close up. Ted Siuda

Stern view

Stern view underway. Roger LeLievre

Night passage in the Welland Canal.

Rock Cut. Marc Vander Meulen

Loading. Rod Burdick

Seaway Queen with the Gaelic tug Galway Bay as they were headed to load grain. Jim Hoffman

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