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Belle Isle 1943 - 1943
Champlain 1943 - 1987

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Built by American Ship Building Co., Cleveland as hull 1009 at a cost of $1,972,000. Her keel was laid June 8, 1942 and launched on November 15, 1942 as BELLE ISLE for , an L6-S-Al Type Bulk Carrier built under contract for the U.S. Maritime Commission (U.S.M.C. Hull #569). Dimensions: 620' 0" loa x 60' 2" beam x 35' 0" depth; 8,758 GRT, 6,472 NRT. Powered by a 2,500 ihp four cylinder Lentz-Poppet double compound steam engine. Suffered a fracture across her main deck and down each side through the shear strake during her fit out. Repairs were made at the shipyard.

On July 11, 1943 she was traded to the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co., Cleveland, and renamed CHAMPLAIN. The CHAMPLAIN (3) was part of a government program designed to upgrade and increase the capacity of the U.S. Great Lakes fleet during World War II. In order to help finance the building of new ships, the U.S.M.C. authorized a program that would allow existing fleets to obtain new boats by trading in their older boats to the Government for credit. As partial payment for each new vessel, a fleet owner surrendered the equivalent tonnage of their existing and/or obsolete vessels, along with some cash, to the Maritime Commission. These existing, older vessels were chartered back to the original owners for war time operation. A total of sixteen Maritimers were built on the Great Lakes under this arrangement.
The CHAMPLAIN was the sixth Maritimer built and the third of the L6-S-Al class. This designation meant it was a Great Lakes vessel (L), and 600-699 feet in length (6), and was powered by a steam engine (S). 'Al' identified specific features. Some of these included a modified cruiser stern, a Lentz-Poppet double compound steam engine, and a short smoke stack, behind which the aft mast was mounted.
Cleveland-Cliffs obtained two Maritimers, the CHAMPLAIN (3) and the CADILLAC (4) in exchange for five vessels. These were: CHACORNAC (1902-1956), COLONEL (1901-1954), MUNISING (1902-1955), NEGAUNEE (1902-1955) and YOSEMITE (1901-1955). The five totaled 18,219 gross register tons and 30,200 long tons in trip capacity at mid-summer draft. The two new vessels added 17,815 gross register tons and 30,950 long tons in trip capacity. Cleveland-Cliffs retained the operating rights to these five chartered vessels until September, 1953 and then released them for dismantling the following year.
The CHAMPLAIN (3) was the largest ship built in Cleveland, and the first launched there since the CHARLES M. SCHWAB in 1923. CHAMPLAIN (3) sailed from Cleveland light on July 11, 1943 bound for Duluth, MN to load iron ore.

On April 5, 1957, a severe thunder storm went through Toledo with high winds and heavy rain. The CHAMPLAIN was torn from her winter lay up dock by 90mph wind and blown down river. The ship rammed the Fasset St. Bridge and knocked three spans in the water with no injuries. The CHAMPLAIN received a small gash in the bow. The damage to the Fassett St. Bridge was deemed to expensive to repair and the bridge was torn down. The CHAMPLAIN's starboard side was damaged when she side swiped the Swedish steamer BROLAND near the lower end of the St. Clair River cut-off, May 8, 1963. A 900 hp bow thruster was installed during the winter of 1965-66. Her boilers were automated and converted to oil-fired burners during the winter of 1969-70 at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc. On August 18, 1972, $50,000 in bottom damage occurred when an obstruction was hit in the Trenton Channel, on the lower Detroit River.

The CHAMPLAIN (3) was laid up September, 1981 at Toledo.

Sold to American Bulk Shipping in 1983 but never left Toledo.

Sold to Corostel Trading Ltd., Montreal in August, 1987. The tugs UTAH and MONTANA towed the ship from her berth, and handed her off to the tugs ELMORE M. MISNER and MICHAEL D. MISNER on August 26, 1987. Upon arrival at the Welland Canal, the CHAMPLAIN (3) was transferred to the tug TUSKER which towed her to Quebec City arriving there September 6th. The CHAMPLAIN (3) departed there on September 8th in tow of the Dutch tug THOMAS DE GAUWDIEF with her former fleetmate CADILLAC (4). They passed Gibraltar October 10th heading for Aliaga, Turkey arriving there on October 30, 1987 for dismantling by Cukurova Celik Endustrisi A.S.

 

Belle Isle 1943 to 1943
(U. S. Maritime Administration)

Cover of the November 1942 issue of Great Lakes News.
(Brian Ferguson Collection)

Construction being completed after launch, February 15, 1943.
(John Clark collection)

   
Champlain 1943 to 1983
(Cleveland-Cliffs)

Upbound in the Soo Locks, 1940's.
(Tom Manse Collection)

Winter lay up fleet tied up in the Buffalo Outer Harbor. The Cleveland-Cliff's boats are from Left to Right: Marquette, Champlain, Frontenac, and the Mather, 1950's.
(Brian Wroblewski Collection)

Pictures and news articles of the Fassett St. Bridge accident.

Upbound at Mission Pt.
(Photo by Tom Manse, Roger LeLievre Collection)

Downbound at Mission Pt.
(Photo by Tom Manse, Roger LeLievre Collection)

Downbound at Mission Pt.
(Photo by Tom Manse, Roger LeLievre Collection)

Downbound at Mission Pt.
(Photo by Tom Manse, Roger LeLievre Collection)

Downbound at Mission Pt.
(Photo by Tom Manse, Roger LeLievre Collection)

Downbound at Mission Pt., August 11, 1964.
(Photo by William Lafferty)

Heading upbound for another load, June 1965.
(Marc Vander Meulen Collection)

Upbound just below the Ambassador Bridge, June 1965.
(Marc Vander Meulen Collection)

Upbound entering the St. Clair Cutoff, August 1968.
(Photo by John Mackay)

Upbound in the St. Marys River, late 60's.
(Photo by Tom Manse, Roger LeLievre Collection)

Stern view in the St. Marys River, late 60's.
(Photo by Tom Manse, Roger LeLievre Collection)

Near 6 Mile Point in the St. Marys River, late 60's.
(Photo by Tom Manse, Roger LeLievre Collection)

Aft view while unloading coal at the Marquette Coal Dock, Summer 1969. New
(Photo by Gary Gustafson)

Passing the time on deck watch, Summer 1969. New
(Photo by Gary Gustafson)

Wheelhouse, Summer 1969. New
(Photo by Gary Gustafson)

Upbound at 9 Mile Point at dusk, 1970's.
(Photo by Roger LeLievre)

Running light in the Detroit River, 1970's.
(Photo by Don Dube, Skip Gillham Collection)

Passing 6 Mile Point in the St. Marys River, 1974.
(Photo by Roger LeLievre)

Downbound St. Clair River, Summer 1974.
(Photo by J. W. Bissell)

Loading coal at C&O 4 dock, late 1970's.
(Photo by Jim Hoffman)

Downbound at 6 Mile Point in the St. Marys River, June 1976.
(Photo by Roger LeLievre)

On the Detroit River.
(Photo by Emory Massman, Marc Vander Meulen Collection)

On the St. Clair River.
(Photo by Emory Massman, Marc Vander Meulen Collection)

Lining up for the Davis Lock, 1978.
(Photo by L. David Sulewski)

Profile of the stern, 1978.
(Photo by L. David Sulewski)

Another view of the stern, 1978.
(Photo by L. David Sulewski)

Close up of the bow, 1978.
(Photo by L. David Sulewski)

Close up of the pilothouse, 1978.
(Photo by L. David Sulewski)

Upbound in the lower St. Marys River, July 26, 1979.
(Marc Vander Meulen Collection)

Lay up astern of the Raymond H. Reiss possibly in Cleveland, December 27, 1979.
(Marc Vander Meulen Collection)

Underway in the evening light, June 14, 1980.
(Photo by Jim Hoffman)

The Champlain, Ashland, and Thomas Wilson out of service in Toledo's Frog Pond, 1987.
The Cadillac and McKee Sons can be seen in the background.
(Photo by Jim Hoffman)

Closer view of the Champlain and Ashland, 1987.

The Cadillac and McKee Sons can be seen in the background.
(Photo by Jim Hoffman)

Trip summaries from 1944 to 1952.
(Complied by Mark Shumaker & Skip Gillham)

Trip summaries from 1944 to 1952.
(Complied by Mark Shumaker & Skip Gillham)

   
Champlain 1983 to 1987
(American Bulk Shipping Inc.)

Tied up in Port Colborne during her scrap tow, August 29, 1987.
(Photo by Skip Gillham)

A view from across the Canal, August 30, 1987.
(Photo by Marc Dease)

Looking down the deck aft, August 30, 1987.

The William P Snyder Jr can be seen in the distance next to the stack being scrapped.
(Photo by Skip Gillham)

Close up of the stack, August 30, 1987.
(Photo by Skip Gillham)

Officer's dining room, August 30, 1987.
(Photo by Skip Gillham)

Crew's dining room, August 30, 1987.
(Photo by Skip Gillham)

Entrance to the engineroom, August 30, 1987.
(Photo by Skip Gillham)

Looking down into the dark engineroom with a flash, August 30, 1987.
(Photo by Skip Gillham)

Another look, August 30, 1987.
(Photo by Skip Gillham)

Deck winch, August 30, 1987.
(Photo by Skip Gillham)

Passing under Glendale Bridge on the Welland Canal, September 1, 1987.
(Photo by Jimmy Sprunt, Skip Gillham collection)

 

 

Audio of the ship
Click on the tape to listen.

Calling in to Soo Control asking if there are lighted bouys set in the West Neebish Channel, April 23, 1971.
(Provided by Roger LeLievre)

     

 

Masters and Chief Engineers of the Champlain
(Courtesy of Russ Plumb)
Masters Chief Engineers
William T. Mooney 1943 - 44
Milton J. Brown 1945
Jack G. Olsen 1945
Walter F. Amsbary 1946
Jack G. Olsen 1946 - 57
John J. Johnson 1957
Edward J. Scott 1957 - 61
Eilif Knutsen 1961
Edward J. Scott 1962
Charles V. Jilbert 1962
Arthur M. Pocotte 1962
Eilif Knutsen 1962
Edward J. Scott 1963
Myron H. Bickley 1964
John J. Johnson 1965 - 73
Norman M. Proctor 1974
W. C. Wittenmyer 1975
Norman M. Proctor 1975 - 77
Walter J. Dunlap 1977
P. W. Singler 1978
Walter J. Dunlap 1978 - 80
Earl C. McArthur 1980 - 81
Matthew Kuntz 1943 - 47
Erwin C. Ahrens 1948 - 57
Unknown 1958
Erwin C. Ahrens 1959 - 60
George H. Taylor 1961 - 62
H. W. Bromeier 1963 - 66
William J. Eder 1967 - 68
Darwin E. Hollister 1969 - 73
Joe D. Leavery 1973
Joe D. Leavery 1974 - 75
F. J. Milakovich 1976
J. H. Ferrier 1976 - 79
Dwight R. Bludgett 1980
Unknown 1981

 


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Last updated: September 29, 2013.

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