Launched as the ocean bulk carrier Rhine Ore on April 11, 1959; this vessel was built as hull #533 by Schlieker-Werft, Hamburg, West Germany for Navios Corp. (Transatlantic Bulk Carriers Inc.), Monrovia, Liberia. The Rhine Ore’s dimensions as constructed were 546’
(166.42m) loa x 73’10” (22.50m) beam x 40’02” (12.24m) depth and 19,900 dwt
(20,220 tonnes). The vessel was powered by a B & W model 774VTBF 160 single acting, two stroke cycle 7-cylinder diesel engine rated at 8.750 b.h.p. The engine burned intermediate grade 180 fuel; the power being fed to a single KaMeWa 157S4 controllable pitch 18.7'
(5.70m) diameter propeller driving the vessel at a rated service speed of 14.4 m.p.h.
After 17 years of ocean trading carrying iron ore for U.S. Steel interests from Venezuela to Europe; Hall Corporation Shipping Ltd (Halco), Montreal, QC bought the vessel in late 1976 and had her renamed Steelcliffe Hall in April, 1977. Over the winter of 1977/78, Hall had their new vessel lengthened and rebuilt as a Great Lakes bulk carrier by Davie Shipbuilding, Lauzon, QC (hull #694) at a cost of approximately $9 million. Her entire hull forward of the engine room was replaced with a new lengthened and widened bow and cargo section. Included in the reconstruction was the moving of the mid-ship wheelhouse and accommodations to the stern and the installation of a 1,200 h.p. 16-cylinder Caterpillar diesel bow thruster equipped with a KaMeWa 6.6'
(2.0m) diameter propeller. The original main engine was retained. The vessel now had 17 hatches
servicing 6 holds where she could carry 29,100 tons (29,567 tonnes) at a mid-summer draft of 28’03 ¼”
(8.61m) and approximately 26,600 tons (27,027 tonnes) at Seaway draft of 26’03”
(8.0m). Other capacities included 11,464.65 tons (11,649 tonnes) of water ballast and 491.5 tons
(499.4 tonnes) of fuel oil. The vessel displaced 7,770 tons ( 7,824 tonnes) lightship.
The last of three similar conversions, the Steelcliffe Hall entered service for Halco May 4, 1978. The vessel was typically a late season trader being the last to fit out in the 1983, 1985, and 1987 navigation seasons; her activity being focused on the grain and iron ore shuttle. As the Steelcliffe Hall, there were only two reportable incidents of note. On April 9, 1982; the vessel suffered bottom damage while in transit from Prescott, ON to Port Cartier, QC. On October 2, 1984; she suffered an engine explosion while approaching the Cargill elevator in Duluth, MN; seriously injuring one person. With Halco having financial difficulties in the mid 1980’s, ownership of the Steelcliffe Hall was surrendered to the Royal Bank of Canada (Navican Management) who operated the vessel in 1986 and 1987.
Following the liquidation of the Halco fleet, the Steelcliffe Hall was acquired by N. M. Paterson & Sons Ltd., Thunder Bay, ON in 1988 when she was given the name Windoc (2). The vessel was named in honor of the city of Winnipeg, MB (“Win”); home of her owner’s corporate head offices, with the common fleet suffix “doc” referring to the “D”ominion “O”f “C”anada.
The first vessel in the Paterson fleet to carry the Windoc name was built by Globe Iron Works, Cleveland, OH; being launched March 25, 1899 as the M. A. Hanna for the Cleveland Steamship Co. Her dimensions were 430’
(131m) loa x 50’ (15.24m) beam x 24’ (7.32m) depth; 4,661 GRT, 7,400 dwt and was powered by a triple expansion 1,400 i.h.p. steam engine with three coal-fired Scotch boilers (being reboilered with 2 new Scotch boilers in 1904). The vessel was acquired by the Interlake Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH and renamed Hydrus (2) in 1916. The Hydrus was reregistered Canadian and joined the Paterson fleet being renamed Windoc (1) in 1926. She continued sailing for the Paterson fleet until being sold in 1967 for scrap; the vessel arriving at La Spezia, Italy for scrapping August 1, 1968. Of particular note; on October 2, 1938 while passing underneath the C.N.R. Bridge #20 of the Welland Canal; the lift bridge prematurely descended on top of the Windoc before she could clear. The spar, stack, and lifeboats were damaged, idling the vessel for eight days while repairs were made.
For Paterson, the Windoc (2)’s activity had been focused primarily on the Seaway
grain and iron ore shuttle. Other spot loads such as bauxite were also carried.
With the exception of remaining idle in 1993, the Windoc had been an active
member of Paterson’s bulk carrier fleet with few reportable incidents until
August 11, 2001. On that date; while passing downbound underneath the Welland
Canal’s Bridge #11 at Allanburg, ON, the lift bridge structure descended
prematurely on top of the Windoc before the vessel could clear. This voyage had
seen the Windoc depart Thunder Bay, ON with 26,023.9 tonnes of wheat on August
8, 2001 bound for Montreal, QC. The Windoc’s wheelhouse from the forward facing
windows on up was sheared off tearing the stack from her deck. The heavily
damaged vessel became a deadship drifting a short way down the canal before
grounding and blocking the waterway. A serious fire erupted in the stern by the
main engine casing spreading to the accommodations area. The crew valiantly
worked the ship and fought the fire in an attempt to save her until shore-based
assistance arrived. There were no reported injuries and her cargo (worth $6 - $8
million) was undamaged. The Windoc, in addition to serious damage aft, also
received eight hull fractures. A complete incident report can be found on the
http://www.tsb.gc.ca/en/reports/marine/2001/m01c0054/m01c0054.pdf; the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s website, report number M01C0054.
On August 13, 2001; the Windoc was freed with the assistance of McKeil Marine’s tugs Carrol C 1, Lac Vancouver, Paul E No. 1, Progress, and the spud barge Henry T; the vessel being gently moved to the approach wall above Welland Canal’s Lock 7 where she was secured. After emergency repairs were completed to keep the hull afloat, the Windoc was towed to Hamilton, ON where all but 5,000 tonnes of her cargo of wheat was transferred to the Upper Lakes Shipping bulk carrier Canadian Provider which had been in lay up in Toronto. The transferring of the cargo was completed on September 22, 2001 with the Canadian Provider taking the cargo on to Montreal.
The Windoc had been declared a total constructive loss and ownership had been transferred to the vessel’s insurers who, in turn, offered the hull for sale at auction. The vessel was bought back by Paterson who subsequently sold the hull “as is” in the spring of 2002 to Le Groupe Ocean for delivery to Montreal, QC. Le Groupe Ocean was exploring the possibilities of converting the hull to a tug/barge combination, using it as a storage barge, or selling the hull as scrap.
Misfortune was not through with the Windoc yet. On March 9, 2002; high winds caused the vessel to break free of its moorings at Pier 8, Hamilton, ON and drift out into Hamilton harbor, grounding on the other side of the harbor just off of the Eastport Expressway. Again, 4 McKeil tugs pulled the vessel free on March 12, 2002 returning the hull back to Pier 8. On September 3, 2002; McKeil tugs Bonnie B III and Progress towed the Windoc from Hamilton harbor for delivery to Le Groupe Ocean in Montreal, arriving September 6, 2002.
In late April of 2006, Algoma Central Corp. of St. Catharines, ON and Upper
Lakes Group, Inc. of Toronto, ON acquired the Windoc from Le Group Ocean.
Both new buyers hold equal shares in the vessel. Having remained tied up
in Montreal since her arrival there in 2002, the future of the Windoc will now
be observed with interest.