Our readers will recall that during the autumn of 1971 the Kinsman Marine Transit (or to be more correct, its parent firm - the American Shipbuilding Company) was conducting negotiations for the purchase of the lake shipping operations of Litton Industries Inc., namely the Wilson Marine Transit Company and Erie Marine Inc. The sale did not go through and this season Wilson has only been able to operate three vessels, BEN MOREELL, A.T. LAWSON and THOMAS WILSON, and has had scarcely enough business to keep even these in service. It was obvious that some news would be coming forward soon regarding Wilson's future and it was hence with very little surprise that we learned that the sale to Kinsman of the Wilson division of Litton (but not Erie Marine) was finally completed on August 15th. Almost immediately, the U.S. Justice Department commenced an action under the anti-trust laws to prohibit the sale which, if completed, would leave Kinsman with a strangle-hold on the independent shipping trade. At the time of writing, it appeared that the sale had in fact been completed but that a deal was worked out whereby Kinsman would purchase only three ships currently in operation. This leaves the future of the other Wilson ships together with some of the older Steinbrenner steamers in considerable doubt.
The American Shipbuilding Company has made two other important purchases during the summer. During May, the company bought the Tampa Ship Repair and Drydock Co. Inc., from Sparkman Channel Terminal Inc., Tampa, Florida, and this sale gives AmShip its first yard off the lakes. Then the firm bought the Great Lakes Towing Company which has a virtual monopoly on harbour towing at U.S. lake ports. There is no change planned in the appearance of the G tugs.
It was announced recently by the Interlake Steamship Company (Pickands Mather & Co.) that a contract had been let to Fraser Shipyards Inc., Superior, Wisconsin, for the lengthening of the steamer JOHN SHERWIN to 806 feet. This operation will be similar to that performed last winter on the SHERWIN'S sister ship CHARLES M. BEEGHLY. The job is scheduled for completion in April, 1973. Along with the lengthening, SHERWIN will get a sternthruster and automated oil fuel.
While on the subject of Pickands Mather, we should report that the firm sold its steamer HENRY G. DALTON to Dwor Metals Ltd. (Marine Salvage Ltd.) on June 26th. It appears that she will soon move to Humberstone for scrapping. Readers will remember that DALTON was lying at Buffalo where she suffered severe damage to her after cabin as a result of a galley fire,
The month of July saw the completion of the sale of the small salt water carrier GOSFORTH from the Burnett Steamship Co. Ltd., to Trico Enterprises Ltd., a Hamilton, Bermuda, subsidiary of the Ontario Paper Company Ltd. Rechristened THOROLD (IV), the ship is now registered at St. Catharines. After refitting at Sorel, she departed on her first trip with paper from Baie Comeau to Florida.
The Escanaba Towing Company's cranebarge (formerly craneship) O.S. MCFARLAND has been sold to the Hyman Michaels Company and was moved to the firm's scrapyard at Duluth in early July, The condition of the ship is not such as to permit her to be towed across the Atlantic and it looks as if she will end her days in Duluth.
Subsequent to the merger of the Sinclair Refining Company and the Atlantic Richfield Company, the two Sinclair lake tankers SINCLAIR GARY and SINCLAIR GREAT LAKES have been renamed GARY and GREAT LAKES respectively. The two motorships operate almost exclusively on Lake Michigan.
Subsequent to the commissioning of the SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. (II), whose troubles are related elsewhere in this issue, the Erie Sand Steamship Company disposed of its older vessel ALPENA to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping. When the SMITH was lost by collision, it was not feasible to refit the ALPENA due to her condition and also the fact that much equipment had been removed from her and placed in the newly acquired SMITH. Accordingly, to fill the very large gap left by the loss of the SMITH, the company has purchased the self-unloading bulk carrier JACK WIRT from the American Steamship Company (Boland and Cornelius, Buffalo). As of mid-August, the WIRT had gained the Erie Sand funnel colours but was otherwise unchanged from BoCo livery. Mr. Smith of Erie Sand, no doubt anxious to avoid even the thought of another tragedy, has decided against changing the name of the JACK WIRT!
The Algoma Central Railway Company has let it bo known that it will not operate its veteran steamer MICHIPICOTEN after the end of this season. The ship has been running almost exclusively in the Toledo to Sault Ste. Marie coal trade but she will soon be replaced by the new self-unloader ALGOWAY which is due to be delivered by Collingwood Shipyards in September.
On August 8th, a contract was let by Inland Steel Corp., for the building of two 1000-foot bulk carriers at Sturgeon Bay. The Bay Shipbuilding yard, recently moved from Manitowoc to Sturgeon Bay due to the lack of room for building large vessels at Manitowoc, already is building one vessel for Boland and Cornelius, The Inland Steel ships are scheduled for delivery in 1974 and 1975 respectively. If Inland retains its reputation for building very good-looking vessels, perhaps wo can look for something reasonably attractive by way of design for the new ships. How about a 1000-foot version of WILFRED SYKES?
At long last all of the "Big Three" lakers are in operation. With CHARLES M. BEEGHLY and STEWART J. CORT already in operation, we were waiting only for U.S. Steel's ROGER M. BLOUGH, The BLOUGH underwent her dock trials on June 8th and her sea trials on June 12th. She cleared Lorain on her maiden voyage at 1:30 a.m. June 15th and since has been operating regularly with the exception of a throe-week period in late July when she returned to Lorain for modifications in an attempt to reduce vibration. We understand that she is to return to the shipyard again this winter for further work.
The small excursion vessel NIAGARA BELLE which has operated in past seasons on the upper Niagara River, passed down the Welland Canal on May 13 enroute to Toronto where she is now running excursions from Ontario Place, the new pavilion complex operated by the provincial government. The three-decked diesel vessel is fitted out to resemble, albeit very remotely, a traditional Western riverboat but the effect is entirely ruined by a very disproportionate fake sternwheel. She has been renamed MARIPOSA BELLE.
The first major accident of the 1972 navigation season occurred on May 4th and involved the tanker VENUS. The motorship, owned by Cleveland Tankers Inc., was downbound in the St. Lawrence Seaway on a trip from Ogdensburg, N. Y., to Montreal. She was beset by fog and anchored some six miles upstream from Cornwall. The crew proceeded to use the time to clean the vessel's tanks and it was during this operation that two severe explosions occurred, causing extensive damage to the ship. Four crewmen were injured and the vessel's master was killed. VENUS was lying in Canadian waters at the time of the explosions and accordingly the authorities permitted her to be taken to a Canadian shipyard. She was repaired at the facilities of Marine Industries Ltd, Sorel, and has since re-entered service.
The United States Maritime Administration has approved a two-year operating subsidy for eight vessels of the American Steamship Company operating between Canadian and American lake ports. To take effect in 1973, the contract is the first of its type ever approved by the agency and the subsidy itself is estimated to be approximately one million dollars. One result of the deal is that Boland and Cornelius tonnage may be seen on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. It is rumoured that other American lake shipping firms may apply for similar subsidies.
Forty-three years ago this autumn, on the night of October 22nd, 1929, the Grand Trunk Railway's Lake Michigan carferry MILWAUKEE sailed out of her namesake port enroute to Grand Haven, Michigan, with a full load of railway cars. The ship was never seen again and was presumed to have foundered in heavy seas that were sweeping down the open lake at the time. However, it was announced this spring that a group of divers has located the wreck of the big ferry lying in an upright position in 122 feet of water less than ten miles from Milwaukee harbour entrance. Artifacts recovered by the divers have proved the identity of the wreck and it is hoped that something may now be learned of the cause of the steamer's sinking.
At long last, the refurbishing of the former steam tug NED HANLAN in her new berth next to the Marine Museum of Upper Canada, Toronto, has been completed. On July 28th, the vessel was officially opened to the public in a gala ceremony at which the tug was christened with a bottle of bubbly by the Misses Hanlan, the two daughters of the famous oarsman for whom the tug was named. Following the ceremonies and inspection of the tug by invited guests, a banquet was held in Hanlan Court, the newly landscaped area in front of the museum building.
There has been much speculation recently concerning the new names which the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company would choose for its recently-acquired steamers RAYMOND H. REISS and WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR., as the firm had let it be known that both would be rechristened shortly. Nevertheless, no action was taken at the meeting of the Board of Directors of the company in July and it looks as if we shall have to wait a while longer.
It has been confirmed that the city of Superior, Wisconsin, has acquired the whaleback tanker METEOR from Cleveland Tankers Inc. The veteran steamer is to be towed from her present lay-up berth at Manitowoc during the summer. The METEOR, which was built at Superior by the American Steel Barge Company in 1896, is due to become a museum and a special berth will be built for her at Barker's Island.
Speaking of museums, we should report that Le Sault de Sainte Marie Historical Sites Inc., operators of the museum ship VALLEY CAMP at the Michigan Soo, have been presented by the Great Lakes Towing Company with the long-disused wrecking tug FAVORITE which was stationed at the Soo for many years. FAVORITE was towed to the Soo by LAURENCE C. TURNER, leaving Cleveland on August 18. The group has also obtained a quarterboat from the Corps. of Engineers, this item being a scow on which is built a wooden two-decked cabin much resembling a barn with windows. It was used for accommodating workmen on long jobs.
Earlier in this issue, we reported that Bay Shipyards Inc., Sturgeon Bay, had received an order for two new ships for Inland Steel. We neglected to mention that they have also landed a contract for another self-unloading bulk carrier for the American Steamship Company. This means that Boland and Cornelius will have one new ship building at Toledo and two at Sturgeon Bay.
While on the subject of shipbuilding, we have heard that the Algoma Central Railway is interested in building a self-unloader similar to J. W. McGIFFIN. Since C.S.L. is already building such a ship at Collingwood, we suspect that Algoma might purchase this hull while it is under construction. We understand that Algoma doesn't think much of the McGIFFIN's looks, but that her ability to carry money-earning loads is most pleasing to the firm.
Greene Line Steamers Inc. has announced plans to build a new riverboat to complement the services provided by the veteran DELTA QUEEN. The vessel will be 365 feet in length and will be powered by gas turbines. Hull tests were completed by the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in May. Incidentally, with the retirement this year of Congressman Garmatz, the chairman of the House Merchant Marine Committee, and his replacement by Leonor K. Sullivan, a long-time supporter of the DELTA QUEEN, the survival of the older steamer past the 1973 deadline for her operation seems reasonably certain.
As of the time of writing, we have not heard whether ROCKCLIFFE HALL has entered service as a tanker yet; however, we have some information on how she will look after the conversion is complete. The rebuilt motorship will have all her cabins aft and a salt-water type curved bow with no bulb on it. The conversion will increase her overall length by about six feet.
The former Reiss and Boland straight-deck bulk carrier JOHN P. REISS has been moved from Whitby to Hamilton after the removal of her bowthruster which has been placed in OREFAX. It appears that both she and OTTO M. REISS will be scrapped but it is not yet clear whether this will be done at Hamilton or in Europe.
Scrapping operations have begun in Ramey's Bend at Humberstone on THORO (a) CARMI A. THOMPSON, (b) THOROLD (III). It seems that there was an immediate demand for scrap steel in the Port Colborne area and thus cutting was begun more quickly than had been planned by Marine Salvage Ltd. It also appears that this same firm may be looking for an overseas buyer for C.G. POST.
The French bulk carrier CHRISTINE found her way into trouble in Lake Nicolet on the St. Mary's River late in July when she ran aground during a heavy fog. Two tugs from Escanaba Towing Company and two from the McLean Towing Company managed to free the ship on July 26th after she had spent a week in the mud.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.