Once again, rumours have been circulating to the effect that the Kinsman fleet has been looking at four or five idle tinstackers for possible addition to its roster. In the past, such rumours have usually come to naught for various reasons, not the least of these being that United States Steel has been unwilling to dispose of any but its oldest ships. With the recent updating of the "Steel Trust" fleet, however, the company has formally declared most of its inactive tonnage to be entirely surplus to its needs. U.S. Steel broke tradition early in 1978 by dealing RICHARD V. LINDABURY, (b) KINSMAN INDEPENDENT (II), to Kinsman to replace the latter's HARRY L. ALLEN which was destroyed in a Duluth elevator fire. The latest rumours have generally been taken rather lightly, but observers have conceded that the tinstack fleet included such steamers as WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE, AUGUST ZIESING, D. G. KERR, D. M. CLEMSON and GOVERNOR MILLER which, if not of any use to the "Steel Trust", are still good enough to find a future with some other operator.
It was, therefore, with some considerable surprise that we learned that, on October 10, Kinsman closed a deal for the purchase from U.S. Steel of WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE. This vessel, which has been inactive for the past two years, will be reactivated this autumn for Kinsman and, while no official announcement has been made as to the renaming of the boat, it would seem reasonable to assume that she will bear the name GEORGE M. STEINBRENNER (III) .
With other Kinsman steamers, such as the aging KINSMAN ENTERPRISE, to name but one, nearing the end of their active lives, it is possible that Kinsman may acquire other tonnage to bolster its operations.
The new self-unloader BUFFALO, recently completed by Bay Shipbuilding for the American Steamship Company, cleared Sturgeon Bay on September 23. Her maiden voyage took her to Escanaba where she loaded a cargo of ore for delivery to Indiana Harbor. BUFFALO is a better looking ship than most of the recent products of the Sturgeon Bay yard and is very similar to the earlier SAM LAUD. Let us hope that BUFFALO will have better luck than did the LAUD, which was involved in a number of damaging accidents during her first few years of service.
The fitting out of the tanker IMPERIAL LONDON for service in the Caribbean and South American waters continues slowly at Ramey's Bend. By early October, she had been repainted in the Imperial blue hull colour, her boot top being a dark red. Her cabins have been opened up (they were earlier sealed as a precaution against vandalism) and painted white. Her stack is blue with two white bands. Several possible names for the ship have been mentioned but, at the time of this writing, no new name has yet appeared on her. We expect developments in this direction shortly, as her new owner will undoubtedly wish to get the tanker out of the lakes before the close of navigation.
IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD was placed back in service late in August after her five-week summer holiday lay-up at Sarnia. Despite the fact that she is still active, we continue to hear suggestions to the effect that Imperial Oil Limited would like to find a buyer for the steamer after the close of the season. IMPERIAL SARNIA, likewise, is going strong at the present and she is scheduled to go on the drydock at Port Weller during December for inspection. Once she has been docked, a decision will be made on whether or not to proceed with the extensive work which SARNIA reportedly needs if she is to remain in service. The fact that Imperial is going to the expense of putting her in drydock at all would indicate that there is still hope that she may be retained in the fleet.
For several years now, the C.S.L. package freighter FRENCH RIVER has been idle at Hamilton, this despite suggestions that she was to be used as a carferry on the St. Lawrence (a deal which fell through two years ago), or converted to a cement carrier as was her younger sister, ENGLISH RIVER. We now understand that FRENCH RIVER will be drydocked at Port Weller this fall refitted in order that, in 1979, she can be reactivated in the package freight trade as a replacement for the retired FORT HENRY. This news comes as a bit of a surprise because we really have not thought that the C.S.L. package freight service was in a sufficiently healthy state to require the use of FRENCH RIVER in addition to FORT YORK, FORT CHAMBLY and FORT WILLIAM. Meanwhile, FORT HENRY has been given a proper lay-up at Kingston and C.S.L. is seeking a buyer for the steamer. We believe that the main reason for her retirement is that she is more expensive to operate than the other boats used on the route.
The inactive Kinsman steamer PAUL L. TIETJEN has been sold for scrapping, but not to Marine Salvage Ltd. as might have been expected. Instead, the ship has been acquired by an Ashtabula firm identified as Triad Salvage Inc. We have not heard previously of this concern but suspect that it may well have some connection with Acme Scrap Metals which has, in recent years, dismantled numerous vessels, including the tanker VENUS and the Kinsman steamer CHICAGO TRADER.
The late remains of the Johnstone Shipping Ltd. tanker CONGAR (II) are rapidly disappearing at Strathearne Terminals in Hamilton. Little is left of the ship, which for many years served on the east coast as IMPERIAL HALIFAX, except for her bow section.
Despite the scrapping of the steam canal tanker LAKE TRANSPORT (II) at Sorel recently, the Hall Corporation's idle tanker BAFFIN TRANSPORT still continues to lie untouched at the same port. It is not known whether she, too, will be broken up at Sorel, but it is certain that she has no future with the Halco fleet.
The tanker MAPLEBRANCH (II), the last vessel in the fleet of Branch Lines Ltd. to carry a traditional "Branch" name, may well be nearing the end of her active service for the company. The motorship was built twenty years ago at Sorel by Marine Industries Ltd. and since has seen service from the Great Lakes to the Arctic, carrying everything from crude oil to bulk cement. Now, however, she is showing the ravages of time and hard use, and her condition appears to be such that her owner is seriously considering the economics of further operation. It may well be that the refurbishing of the tanker might be economically unwarranted, in which case it would not be surprising if the ship were put up for sale in the near future.
During the month of July, the Bethlehem Steel "Maritime Class" bulk carrier STEELTON (III) was sold to Medusa Cement for eventual conversion into a bulk cement carrier. STEELTON has not operated in 1978 and has been lying at Erie since last autumn. Now comes word that the steamer has been renamed HULL NO. 3 in preparation for her upcoming conversion. It seems possible that the sudden renaming of the boat may be designed to free the historic name STEELTON for use on another boat of the Bethlehem fleet.
The hull of CAPE TRANSPORT was removed during August from Sill's Marina at Sodus Bay where it had been lying since being towed over from Toronto in December of 1977. Preparatory to her move to the Caribbean via the New York State Barge Canal for use as a water tanker, CAPE TRANSPORT has been taken to Clayton, New York, where her tanks are being cleaned. At present, it is not known whether it will be possible for her trip southwards to be made this year.
The Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company's WALTER A. STERLING is now in service after her conversion to a self-unloader. The conversion was to have been done by the American Shipbuilding Company at Lorain, but the STERLING was removed from the shipyard during the summer when it became obvious to her owner that she would be caught in the midst of the yard's labour problems. She was taken to Toledo, where the remaining work was completed by the Merce Boiler and Welding Company. The ship cleared Toledo on October 2.
In our last issue, we speculated that the new self-unloader "building at Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. would be named CANADIAN PIONEER. Only a few days after we wrote that item, we visited Port Weller again and found that the shipyard workers had welded the raised letters of the ship's future name to her hull fore and aft. But the name was not CANADIAN PIONEER; it was CANADIAN TRANSPORT. We wondered how this might be, since the company already possessed a ship of this name, the idle giant lying in ordinary at Tampa, Florida. Now all has become clear. On October 5th, the old (24 years) CANADIAN TRANSPORT cleared Tampa in tow for a Spanish scrapyard. This leaves the name free for use on the new laker but, if hitches should develop in the registry process, Upper Lakes Shipping will name the new motorship CANADIAN TRANSPORTER. She should be out of the graving dock and alongside the fitting-out wharf shortly.
We have mentioned previously that the Upper Lakes Shipping bulk carrier ST. LAWRENCE PROSPECTOR will be rebuilt as a 730-foot "laker" during the coming winter at the New Brunswick yard of the St. John Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. It was thought that her sister, ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR, would be left as she is, but the company seems to have had a change of heart and is intending to rebuild the NAVIGATOR in a similar manner. We have heard reports to the effect that the work may be done either at St. John or at Port Weller, but we would opt for the former. The fact is that the Port Weller graving dock will be occupied for some time to come with CANADIAN TRANSPORT (ER) and with her sister for which a contract has already been let. In addition, the yard will have to shut down for a while if management goes ahead with plans to construct a gate between the regular drydock and the graving dock. The work on the NAVIGATOR, which will involve the construction of an entire new forward end, could not be done in the drydock itself without obstructing the heavy schedule of repair work which the yard attracts. Bearing all this in mind, it seems to us likely that Port Weller will not be given the job of converting ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR.
Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. is also intending to have its salt water bulk carrier CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER converted to a self-unloader. Of course, we will never see the HIGHLANDER in the lakes, as she is far too large to transit the Seaway locks. She will be used on the St. Lawrence River and the east coast.
For some time now, we have been hearing rumours to the effect that the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. is on the verge of retiring its steamers SHELTER BAY and HERON BAY. As fate would have it, however, it is an entirely different vessel of the Q & O fleet that has succumbed to her advanced age.
The motorship PIC RIVER arrived at Toronto via the Eastern Gap on the evening of October 17 and proceeded to the Canada Malting Company's elevator at the foot of Bathurst Street. There she lay for the duration of the deck officers' and engineers' strike, unloading her cargo of malt and barley. On the morning of October 25, she moved over to the foot of Sherbourne Street and, at 1:30 that afternoon, she sailed from Toronto via the Western Gap, her destination being Strathearne Terminals at Hamilton. We understand that she either has been or soon will be sold for scrapping, the reason for her sudden retirement being her somewhat precarious condition. PIC RIVER was built in 1896 as a barge, (a) JAMES NASMYTH (37), and later sailed as (b) MERLE H. (49). She and her sister, BLACK RIVER, were rebuilt as diesel-powered bulk carriers over the winter of 1952-53 at Port Weller. The Soo River Company's steamer GEORGE G. HENDERSON, a veteran of nearly seventy years' service, was recently placed on the drydock at Port Weller. We are pleased to report that she passed her survey and inspection with flying colours despite her age, and should be able to serve the Pierson interests for many years to come. Amongst the Soo River vessels, she is surpassed in age only by the 1905-built H. C. HEIMBECKER.
The small bunkering tankers MARINE FUEL II and WM. H. BENNETT returned to Cleveland upon completion of their tour of duty with the visiting U.S. Navy destroyers in September. The BENNETT is not operating at present and is lying at the Marine Fuel dock at Cleveland. MARINE FUEL II is presently in service at that port along with MARINE FUEL OIL.
The mid-October strike of deck officers and engineers brought Canadian lake shipping to a virtual standstill for a week and a half. The deck officers agreed to terms within a week of the commencement of the strike but the engineers' dispute continued and, early on the morning of October 24, the Canadian Senate gave approval to back-to-work legislation which had passed quickly through the House of Commons the previous evening. The engineers obeyed the legislation and Canadian lakers were back in operation very soon. Although a number of the boats had continued in service during the strike, with supervisory personnel replacing striking crew members, the BROOKDALE, NORDALE, FERNDALE, SILVERDALE, E. J. NEWBERRY, PIC RIVER, METIS, ENGLISH RIVER, H. M. GRIFFITH and JEAN PARISIEN all spent at least part of the time at the wall in Toronto. The government resorted to legislation to end the strike in order to ensure the smooth flow of grain movements during the autumn.
The idle tanker WILLOWBRANCH, formerly of Branch Lines Ltd., is still lying along the west wall of the Toronto turning basin. After her arrival in port in tow of the tug ROBERT H. on August 14, very little had been done to her apart from the preliminary stripping of some of her equipment. In mid-October, however, work on the vessel was started in earnest. Ship Repairs and Supplies Ltd. is looking after the cutting down of the tanker to a barge, in much the same manner as CEMENTKARRIER was reduced earlier in the year.
In several past issues, we have mentioned that the former Westdale Shipping self-unloader PINEDALE was serving as a breakwater on Lake Huron, allegedly in the Kincardine area. At least, that is where we thought she was, as we had been told earlier that she was to serve there at a construction site. We were led astray, however, for we now learn that she is not on Lake Huron at all but rather on Lake Ontario, where she serves as a breakwater during the construction of an Ontario Hydro generating plant near Bowmanville, east of Oshawa.
The retired Westdale self-unloader LEADALE, meanwhile, has been lying at Hamilton after her sale to Mexican interests fell through and her Canadian registry was restored. She has, nevertheless, been sold by United Metals Ltd. through a U.S. broker to Uruguayan purchasers who plan to scrap her in South America. Since arriving at Hamilton under tow on August 24th, she has been loaded with scrap metal and will soon be departing under tow to keep her appointment with the cutting torches.
Another steamer lying idle at Hamilton during the 1978 navigation season has been the Misener bulk carrier ROYALTON which was towed over from Toronto in the spring. She was being held in reserve by Misener and it was anticipated that she would be reactivated during autumn for the late grain trade. Further service by this 54-year-old boat would now seem to be in considerable doubt, for she was recently the object of an episode of vandalism wrought by some less-than-law-abiding residents of the Steel City. It seems likely that Misener management will not consider the cost of refitting ROYALTON for service unless there should be a marked improvement in grain movements.
Observers have remarked recently on the number of Huron Cement boats that have been running down the Welland Canal to pick up cargoes of cement at Bath, Ontario. Huron Cement has sold its plant at Oswego, New York, to Canada Cement Lafarge Ltd., and the influx of Huron boats to Bath is suspected to be related somehow to this sale. A particularly frequent visitor to Bath has been the 1904-built steamer J. B. FORD.
One of the most notable lake steamers for many years was the Reiss self-unloader CHARLES C. WEST, the first modern steel-hulled Great Lakes vessel to be built with a cruiser stern. The WEST became a member of the fleet of the American Steamship Company when BoCo bought out the Reiss shipping interests in 1969. Due to her relatively small size, the WEST saw but a few years of service for Boland and Cornelius and has since spent many years languishing in idleness in the Frog Pond at Toledo. She would certainly have been sold for scrap a long time ago had it not been for legal action instituted as a result of an accident involving a crew member who was injured aboard the ship. In any event, the litigation having been concluded, CHARLES C. WEST was towed out of Toledo during the third week of September, her destination being Buffalo where she will be dismantled by interests who have yet to be identified.
We seldom report sales involving salt water freighters because it is too hard to keep track of these vessels, particularly once they are no longer trading into the lakes. Nevertheless, we feel compelled to mention the sale of three ships from the fleet of Ellerman City Liners. Ellerman boats have been seen on the Great Lakes for many years and have been the subject of much interest because of the fact that this British line has always made it a practice to combine carrying capacity with pleasing appearance when ordering new vessels. This aspect of ship construction has pretty much fallen by the wayside with most operators these days. During the summer months, Ellerman sold its CITY OF WELLINGTON and CITY OF NEWCASTLE to the Mulroy Bay Shipping Company Ltd. and the Venture Bay Shipping Company Ltd. of Monrovia, and they will now operate under the flag of Singapore as EASTERN ENTERPRISE and EASTERN ENVOY, respectively. In addition, CITY OF RIPON has been transferred to William Thomson's Ben Line and, under the name BENVANNOCH, will continue to fly the British flag. All three of these handsome motorships were built at British yards in 1956 and all gross in the area of 7,700 tons. They have been frequent visitors to the lakes for several years.
In recent years, the larger Toronto Island ferries have normally been sent to Whitby for drydocking at the McNamara yard when necessary. The most recent to make the trip eastward is the 43-year-old passenger ferry WILLIAM INGLIS, laid down as COLUMBINE and first christened (a) SHAMROCK (II), which, after completing her summer assignment as mid-day boat on the Ward's Island route, departed Toronto for Whitby on October 4. She had been scheduled to leave the previous day but was forced to turn back by weather conditions. At the time of this writing, TRILLIUM was expected to head for Whitby in tow of the tug WILLIAM REST on October 30 with the INGLIS returning to Toronto under her own power on October 31.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.