It has now become evident that the recent revival of the American lake shipbuilding industry, with the building of the two ships now under construction at Erie, and the one at Lorain, is not a flash in the pan. The American Shipbuilding Company has announced that it will immediately begin construction of two self-unloading bulk carriers for the Kinsman Marine Transit Co., Cleveland. The ships will be 630 feet overall (610 B.P.), with a beam of 68 feet and a depth of 36 feet 11 inches. The ships, the first of which is to be delivered in 1973 and the second the following year, will have a capacity of 15,500 tons each on a mid-summer draft of 25'0". The carriers will be diesel stemwinders with the unloading boom mounted aft, a la CANADIAN PROGRESS, and will be used to carry ore to the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation's Cleveland works.
January 28, 1971, was a day of humiliation for the veteran Detroit River steam carferry HURON. At about 9:45 a.m., she was backing out of the Windsor dock in preparation for the crossing when the fuel line between the boilers and the tank car carried on deck (her source of bunkers) froze in the 9 below zero temperature. HURON lost her steam as a result, and began to drift downstream towards the carfloat MANITOWOC moored in the Norfolk and Western upper slip. The skipper of the C. N. propeller asked for assistance from the N&W tug P.A.JOHNSON, then bound light up the river, and in short order the wayward HURON was pushed alongside the C.N. dock. It took only a few hours to sort out the HURON'S problem, but we can imagine the embarrassment of the steamer's engine crew at having to be pushed by a diesel tug.
We have a new tanker on the Great Lakes. During the latter part of January, a, minor crisis developed on Pelee Island in Lake Erie when the Hydro service to the island was interrupted. Fuel oil was required for the operation of the island's generating plant and it was decided to carry oil in the extra fuel tanks of the tug AMHERSTBURG. She was escorted to her destination by the icebreaker N.B. McLEAN.
The Hall Corp. fleet will have been reduced by the sale of two ships prior to the beginning of the coming shipping season. We understand that SEA TRANSPORT is now being sold to Philippine buyers and that the RIVER TRANSPORT will shortly be transferred to the same owners who purchased GULF TRANSPORT last fall, Compagnia Armatoriale Siculo Adriatica. RIVER and SEA are both post-war salt-water-built three-island diesel ships of 309 feet, and have been only infrequent visitors to the lakes.
The longest lake shipping season ever recorded came to a close on January 29, 1971, as PHILIP R. CLARKE cleared the MacArthur Lock at the Soo bound for Lake Michigan. Two days earlier, CASON J. CALLAWAY had attempted to make it up for another cargo but was forced by heavy ice in the St. Mary's River to turn back and go to winter quarters at Milwaukee.
The ice in the St. Mary's River has also caused troubles for residents of Sugar Island in that the jam in Little Rapids Cut forced the cessation of service by our Superferry, the SUGAR ISLANDER. Normally, the cold weather produces an ice bridge at the head of the Cut and the swift water itself remains clear, but this season the late passages by ore carriers succeeded in keeping the ice broken up with the result the ice jammed the area from Lake Nicolet to the lower harbour at the Soo. During the ferry's inactivity, emergency service was provided by the U. S. Coast Guard tug NAUGATUCK.
The battle still rages in Michigan over the attempts by the Mackinac Transportation Co. to abandon its ferry crossing at the Straits. Lately, a number of the state's political figures have opposed the move, the latest in a series of efforts by the company to retire its veteran ferry CHIEF WAWATAM. So far, the "Big Chief" has withstood the onslaught, partially due to her capabilities as an icebreaker.
A recent humourous incident on Lake Erie undoubtedly caused a few gloomy faces in the U. S. Coast Guard when it was found that the MACKINAW, renowned for her feats in heavy ice was unable to get the best of the Canadian icebreaker N. B. McLEAN. Around the beginning of February, the U.S.C.G. tug OJIBWA became stuck off Long Point while on a trip to Buffalo. The McLEAN was called in and managed to push through with OJIBWA as far as Point Abino where she was stalled by pressure ridges as high as sixteen feet. When the McLEAN could go no farther, the MACKINAW was called in, but it was, discovered that she could do no better and, finally admitting defeat, she turned and headed back to Cleveland with OJIBWA trailing behind.
Speaking of ice, things have not been good on Lake Michigan during mid-winter. On a number of occasions, the U.S.C.G. has had to go to the aid of the various carferries and tankers as well as the auto carrier HIGHWAY 16.
At long last, the Bethlehem Steel Corp. has announced the name chosen for the new self-unloading bulk carrier nearing completion at Erie. The vessel, known previously as "Stubby" or Hull 101 for want of a name more appropriate, will be christened STEWART J. CORT in honour of a gentleman who served from 1928 to 1947 as manager of the Bethlehem plant at Sparrows Point and for the next ten years as Vice-President, Steel Operations, and a director of the company.
We understand that during January the Soo Line hauled a number of partially derailed railway cars across its bridge on the river at Manitowoc. As a result, the bridge needs major repairs and it would appear that all the ships moored upriver will be caught until repairs are completed. The job is expected to take until at least late March.
Some time ago, we reported that the Wilson Marine Transit's steamer A. E. NETTLETON was not expected to see further operation. However, it is now apparent that we will see her around for a few more years, but as a barge. The original plan of Wilson to convert a number of their vessels to barges seems to have reared its ugly head once more and it is understood that NETTLETON will be operated for Wilson by the Escanaba Towing Co., owner of WILTRANCO. The tug OLIVE L. MOORE will move over to the NETTLETON while a newly purchased salt water tug will have WILTRANCO this year. Strangely enough, the conversion of A.E.NETTLETON will be done at Port Colborne as soon as she can be moved there.
Towards the end of January, LANSDOWNE suffered her first major accident since the conversion to barge operation last summer. While being docked at Windsor by the tug AMHERSTBURG, she climbed up on the piling around the slip and severely damaged the overhang on the starboard side forward. At last report, Romeo's Machine Shop had removed a large section and was replacing the steel supports and the decking, as well as the fender strake.
The U.S. Steel ore carrier HOMER D. WILLIAMS, moored in Toledo for the winter, apparently suffered extensive damage to a section of her side plating on February 9 when welding torches set fire to a pile of tarpaulins in the hold. We understand that she will have to be drydocked for repairs.
Two new salt water ships will make their appearance on the Great Lakes during 1971. For the first time, a Polish fleet, Polish Ocean Lines, will serve our area, operating to Northern European ports. According to the "Cleveland Plain Dealer," the vessels concerned carry the unlikely names of ZAWIEROIE and ZAWICHOST.
We understand that the veteran Canadian Government steam tug HERCULES has been, or shortly will be, dismantled. Built in Toronto in 1906 by the Polson Iron Works Ltd., she latterly served extensively on Lake Erie and frequently laid up for the winter at Toronto. Her registry was closed on December 11, 1970.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.