Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. has announced that Hull 65, presently under construction in the graving dock at Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd., will be christened CANADIAN ENTERPRISE. She will he similar in design to Hull 64, CANADIAN TRANSPORT (II), except that she will have a larger propeller and her bottom aft will be built in tunnel fashion. These changes will permit a decrease in engine horsepower from 10,000 to 8,750 and a considerable saving in fuel costs will be realized even though the ship will be capable of the same speed (14.25 m.p.h.) as her earlier sister.
We understand that Upper Lakes Shipping will soon be faced with the major expenditure required to re-engine the self-unloader CANADIAN PROGRESS. It seems strange that a vessel built as recently as 1968 should already be in need of new machinery, but this appears to be the case. CANADIAN PROGRESS was built as Hull 48 of Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd.
The conversion of HULL NO. 3 would seem to put an end to any hopes that Medusa might rebuild its veteran steamer C. H. McCULLOUGH JR. Medusa purchased the 1907-built McCULLOUGH from the Interlake Steamship Company in 1971 and operated her for several years. Latterly, however, she remained idle awaiting an expected conversion to a cement carrier. It was with this intention that Medusa originally acquired her, but her age and size have caused the company to have second thoughts. It is anticipated that she will eventually be sold for scrapping.
Westdale Shipping Ltd. has continued the purge of its fleet and has now disposed of the last of the original set of self-unloaders purchased by Reoch from the American Steamship Company during the early 1960s. Word was recently received that Westdale has sold FERNDALE (II) to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping, the sale having been closed in early February. FERNDALE, currently wintering at Toronto, is a 511-foot steamer built in 1912 as Hull 95 of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ashtabula, for Boland and Cornelius, Buffalo. Converted to a self-unloader in 1932 at Lorain and sold to Reoch in 1963, she sailed previously as (a) LOUIS R. DAVIDSON (32), (b) DIAMOND ALKALI (I)(39), and (c) DOW CHEMICAL (II)(64). FERNDALE was given the dust-catching equipment formerly carried on PINEDALE to reduce the effects of cement clinker cargoes but her years of hard use have taken their toll and Westdale could not economically justify her continued operation.
The fifth and sixth tugs being built at Tacoma, Washington, for the U.S. Coast Guard will be named NEAH BAY and MORRO BAY respectively. Tentative delivery dates are July and October 1980, but we have not as yet heard where they will be stationed after their arrival in the lakes. It seems possible that they might be based at Cleveland and Buffalo to replace the aging tugs RARITAN and ARUNDEL which will be relegated to duty at those ports when replaced by new tugs at their current stations.
The town of Collingwood has been increasingly worried of late concerning the economic prospects for the area should further shipbuilding contracts not be secured by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. Although the yard has been kept fairly busy with repair work, it had no more contracts for new hulls after the self-unloader which is currently being built for Algoma Central Marine. This vessel is only 658 feet in length and will be launched during the coming spring.
The town received good news recently, however, when Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. announced that it had authorized the shipyard (a C.S.L. affiliate) to build a 730-foot self-unloader of the "Nova Scotia" class. We presume that this means that she will be similar to Algoma's ALGOBAY which was commissioned in October 1978. She will be specially strengthened for operation in ice and her construction will cost approximately $34,000,000.
During 1978, rumours circulated to the effect that Imperial Oil Ltd. was seeking to dispose of its Montreal bunkering "barge" IMPERIAL VERDUN, there being insufficient demand to keep two bunkering vessels active at that port. While we have no knowledge of any sale to date, we have learned that IMPERIAL VERDUN was taken from Montreal to Sorel under her own power during December and is currently laid up there. VERDUN and her sistership, IMPERIAL LACHINE, were built in 1963 at Port Weller. VERDUN has been held in reserve since 1976 and LACHINE has carried on alone.
The veteran Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker N. B. McLEAN was officially decommissioned at Quebec City on February 7th. The 260-foot steamer was built in 1930 at Halifax and, although she has been held in reserve recently, it appears that, at the time of her retirement, she was the oldest icebreaker in commission anywhere in the world. It will be recalled that the McLEAN made quite an impression on local observers several years ago when she was brought into the lakes to help with the spring ice problems in Lake Erie. There is a movement afoot to secure N. B. McLEAN for use as a marine museum at Quebec City and we sincerely hope that the plan meets with success.
It was back in December that the Ann Arbor Railroad, now operated by the Michigan Interstate Railway Company, announced that not only was it intending to stay in the carferry business, but that it had chartered CITY OF MILWAUKEE from Grand Trunk and would refurbish ARTHUR K. ATKINSON which had been idle since 1973 with mechanical woes. At the same time, Ann Arbor stated that it would reinstate service between Frankfort (Elberta, to be precise) and Manitowoc, a route which had been dropped in 1973 when ATKINSON was withdrawn. The Manitowoc service was to begin during the summer of 1979 but Ann Arbor, demonstrating its enthusiasm for carferry operations, jumped the gun and began sailings on January 29. This was possible with the acquisition of CITY OF MILWAUKEE and the return from drydock of the company's regular ferry VIKING which normally serves the Frankfort - Kewaunee route. The Manitowoc route will see one round trip sailing per day until it can be determined what sort of patronage it attracts and whether more frequent service can be justified.
In our February issue, we reported that the Ford Motor Company's steamer WILLIAM CLAY FORD would be lengthened by approximately 120 feet during the winter at Fraser Shipyards of Superior, Wisconsin. We now know that not only will FORD be lengthened but she will also be receiving a sternthruster. She will be one of only a handful of lakers to be so fitted.
We previously reported that the conversion of CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER to a self-unloader by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. would be handled by the shipyard at St. John, New Brunswick. It was mentioned that she had been towed to St. John from Tampa, Florida, and that work would be under way shortly. We have a spy in Tampa, however, who has advised that, as of February 9, CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER was still in ordinary there. It is possible that her owner does not wish to risk the long tow during the winter months when the weather conditions off the east coast can be, to say the least, terrible.
We regret to report that, although Triad Salvage Inc. had hoped to sell the Skinner Unaflow engine removed from PAUL L. TIETJEN, a buyer was not forthcoming and the powerful engine has now been scrapped. TIETJEN herself is now about half dismantled at the Ashtabula scrapyard.
To say that the lake shipping fraternity has reacted violently to the use of V. W. SCULLY for the proposed film "November Gale", and to the temporary renaming of the ship so that she might pose as EDMUND FITZGERALD, would be the understatement of the year. With many shipping companies, particularly those in the United States, up in arms over the incident, and with Canadian taxpayers wondering why ALEXANDER HENRY was diverted (at their expense) for a full day of filming out on Lake Superior while numerous ships in Thunder Bay were in need of the assistance of the icebreaker to escape the port on their last trips of the season, SCULLY is wintering at Port McNicoll with the "Fitz" name still boldly displayed on her bow and iron deckhand. It is no wonder that certain observers have begun to refer to the ship as "The Spook".
The government in Ottawa has approved the transfer of the operation of the Canadian Canal at Sault Ste. Marie from the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority to Parks Canada, the changeover to take effect on April 1st. Sanction for the transfer was granted by the Treasury Board on January 17. According to the regional director of Parks Canada, "there will be no visible changes at the canal this year but interpretive work on the historical aspects of the facility will be conducted, as well as discussions with Great Lakes Power Corp. Ltd. which is building a power generating plant in the river". As is typical of most of the statements made in Ottawa these days, we find it difficult to understand exactly what this person is trying to tell us! Many observers are afraid that Parks Canada will allow the Canadian Lock to degenerate (it really doesn't have far to go) into a facility for pleasure craft only and that it may eventually be closed altogether when the need for expensive repairs and modernization becomes a pressing reality.
Winter is traditionally a time when shipowners take advantage of the opportunity to refurbish their vessels and undertake major repairs. No exception during the current winter is the Soo River Company which is doing major work on several of its steamers. PIERSON DAUGHTERS, wintering at Hamilton, is having her boilers retubed, while E. J. NEWBERRY is undergoing certain engine repairs at her Toronto berth. Also at Toronto, GEORGE G. HENDERSON is undergoing a refitting of her accommodations to update their standards. Perhaps the best news of all is that the 74-year-old H. C. HEIMBECKER is having a new galley fitted whilst in winter quarters at Midland. The expenditure of serious money on a vessel of her age almost certainly ensures her continued operation for the foreseeable future.
Although winter navigation was progressing without too many problems at the end of January, the extremely cold weather which invaded the Great Lakes area during the first three weeks of February brought shipping movements to a virtual standstill and sent many lakers to winter quarters. As we go to press, only a handful of vessels remain in service and it is very questionable whether they will be able to manage for much longer. We have insufficient space here to describe all the difficulties encountered, but there have been some interesting incidents.
On the morning of February 1, ARTHUR M. ANDERSON rear-ended the icebreaker WESTWIND in Lake Erie about 12 miles west of Ashtabula, buckling her bow plating badly and dropping her towing bridle and fairlead roller onto WESTWIND's fantail. Both headed for Conneaut and ANDERSON was later sent to Milwaukee for repairs. EDWIN H. GOTT set out on her official maiden voyage from Milwaukee in mid-February and promptly got herself totally mired in the ice of the St. Mary's River. JEAN PARISIEN went into lay-up at the Canadian Soo at the end of January despite the fins which had been fitted on her bow to enable her to operate more easily in heavy ice.
The most frustrating incident of all involved ROGER BLOUGH which, from February 7 until the 16th, was hung up on a pressure ridge off Conneaut. The ridge was thought to extend right down to the bottom of the lake and WESTWIND could do nothing to extricate BLOUGH until a wind change caused the ice to shift. It was necessary for the breaker to ferry supplies and bunkers to the BLOUGH during her incarceration in the ice.
By mid-February, Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie, as well as Georgian Bay, were completely ice-covered, a most unusual circumstance. Lake Ontario had an extraordinary 75%-plus ice cover and Lake Michigan about the same. The spring break-up ought to be fun this year!
CAPE BRETON MINER has been undergoing extensive hull repairs whilst in winter quarters on the east wall of Toronto's turning basin. Much steelwork has been done on each side near the bow and at one stage there was so much of the plating removed that it was possible to look right into her hold and out the other side.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.