It never rains but it pours. Only a short time ago, Bethlehem Steel announced the name for its new self-unloading bulk carrier building at Erie, Pennsylvania, and right on the heels of this development comes the news that the new U.S. Steel bulk carrier under construction at Lorain will be christened ROGER BLOUGH in honour of a former Chairman of the Board. The new ship will make her appearance later this year. For quite some time it has been generally accepted that if Bethlehem named its ship after an officer of the company, U.S. Steel would be more or less obligated to follow suit. Nevertheless, your editor still feels that ships are more appropriately christened if their names honour places, or even manufactured words, rather than gentlemen who are already honoured by the memory of their deed in the service of their businesses.
Shipping enthusiasts in the Toronto area are now facing the prospect of having two more tug and barge combinations added to the local scene. As many of our readers will know, Canada Cement Lafarge Ltd. is now building a new plant on Lake Ontario near Bath, Ontario, The new facility is scheduled to replace the present plant in 1973. In order to carry cement from the Bath plant to Toronto, the company is investigating the possibilities of building two 8,000 ton pusher barges and two 2,300 h.p. tugs, the first combination to be operative in 1972. Decisions on the design of the units and the method of unloading to be employed are expected within a few months. If the plans are carried through to fruition, 1971 could be the last year of operation for the veteran motorship CEMENTKARRIER, long a familiar sight on our waterfront.
The American Steamship Co., whose expansion in the near future is limited to new construction as a result of anti-trust regulations, has contracted for a new vessel to be built at Sturgeon Bay for 1973 delivery. The ship will be, predictably, a diesel stemwinder with boom aft and will be 680 feet in length, 78 feet in the beam. To cost $12,600,000., she will have a capacity of 26,000 gross tons of pellets at mid-summer draft. The company has until June to exercise an option on building a second vessel.
It has been announced that the U. S. Coast Guard will bring the icebreaker SOUTH-WIND to the Lakes this spring to assist MACKINAW in opening up the shipping channels. From reports that we have been getting, it would appear that the main trouble spot for ice will be Lake Erie where accumulations have been heavier than normal. The old workhorse N.B.McLEAN will, of course, look after the Canadian portion of the chore.
Several lake fleets, notably the Huron Cement Company, are off to an early start for the 1971 navigation season. March operation is nothing unusual these days, but the large bulk carriers normally do not fit out until the end of March or the beginning of April, Nevertheless, Inland Steel jumped into the ring early by starting E. J. BLOCK at mid-month with a trip from Indiana Harbor to Milwaukee with hot-rolled steel coils. The BLOCK spent most of 1970 in the shipyard at South Chicago after a mishap in the Middle Neebish cut. All Inland vessels were fitting out in March and the company has requested the U.S. Coast Guard's assistance in opening Escanaba harbour for the first week in April.
Speaking of Huron Cement, the company has announced its appointments for 1971 and included was J.B.FORD which has spent the past few years in idleness at Buffalo. Surprisingly, E.M.FORD and LEWIS G.HARRIMAN do not appear on the list.
Although the report was delayed in reaching us, we understand that the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation office in Edmonton, Alberta, had set a deadline of January 6 for the receipt of bids on the veteran Yukon sternwheelers WHITEHORSE and CASCA which have been reposing on shore at Whitehorse for a number of years. However, for some reason, the opening of the bids was stalled, and local residents have been hoping that the delay might be due to efforts on the part of a local committee set up to attempt to preserve the ships as a historical display in the northern city. An engineering report stated that the older WHITEHORSE, built in 1901 and rebuilt in 1937, was "no longer usable", but that CASCA, of 1937, was still reasonably sound. Even if the veterans escape demolition, operation is, of course, a virtual impossibility. The last of the Yukon sternwheelers to operate in the passenger trade was KLONDIKE which was still running in the tourist cruise service in the late fifties.
The U.S. Steel Corporation's Great Lakes Fleet has announced its appointments for the 1971 season, and it is of interest that only 35 of the 40 available straight-deck bulk carriers will fit out. Presumably, this is in anticipation of the entry into service of ROGER BLOUGH. Nevertheless, WILLIAM J. FILBERT, GEORGE G.CRAWFORD and HENRY PHIPPS will not begin the season. One might have presumed that the other two ships to lie idle would be HENRY H.ROGERS and PETER A.B.WIDENER, but this is not the case and while these two will fit out, WILLIAM P. PALMER and J.P.MORGAN JR. will remain at the wall. All of the self-unloaders will operate, as will the veteran craneship CLIFFORD F. HOOD.
Last month we mentioned that Polish Ocean Lines would be entering the lake trade in 1971 and we have now received details on the service. There will actually be three ships, not two. ZAWIEROIE will call at Toronto in the period April 7 to 9, ZAWICHOST on May 5-7, and ZABRZE on June 3-4. The trio will provide a service from Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Detroit, Milwaukee and Chicago to Antwerp, Hamburg and Gdynia.
It was recently reported that the Hall Corporation was arranging to dispose of its small tankers SEA TRANSPORT and RIVER TRANSPORT. We have now received confirmation of the sale of SEA to Philippine buyers, but it seems that RIVER will not pass out of the fleet until at least the end of the 1971 season. We presume that a sale is in the works but that delivery will be somewhat later than was originally planned.
In our last issue, we reported that Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. had received a $60-million contract for three large tankers for the Vardinoyannis group of Piraeus, Greece, the largest order for commercial vessels ever placed with a Canadian yard. Things seem to be really cooking for Canadian shipyards now, since two other yards have also received major orders for ocean vessels. Three 30,000 ton tankers will be built by the St. John Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. Ltd. for Esso Tankers Inc., New York, while Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. has landed a contract for two 20,000 ton newsprint carriers. The Port Weller ships will be built to the order of the Burnett Steam Ship Co., Newcastle, a subsidiary of the Federal Commerce & Navigation Co., Ltd., Montreal, and will operate under charter to the Atlantic Transportation Co. Ltd., Montreal, a subsidiary of Canadian International Paper.
We understand that a prominent vessel broker recently sent out feelers in the hope of finding a purchaser for the Papachristidis fleet of maximum-sized lakers. The price? $22.5 million! Shortly thereafter, Papachristidis officially denied that the fleet was for sale, however we understand that the fleet's owner may wish to concentrate his shipping interests elsewhere, and we suspect that a major Canadian shipping company is interested in taking over ownership of the five vessels involved, namely: MONTREALAIS, QUEBECOIS, FEUX-FOLLETS, GRANDE HERMINE and PETITE HERMINE.
A late report has confirmed that the Kinsman Marine Transit Co., Cleveland, has once again expanded its fleet, this time by purchasing the veteran Republic Steel steamers SILVER BAY, HARRY L. ALLEN and PETER ROBERTSON (II). The sale of the latter two is subject to approval of the cost of refitting them if they cannot pass their five-year inspections which are now due. The ALLEN and ROBERTSON are expected to be drydocked in Mid-April, with Republic to foot the bill. SILVER BAY is not due for inspection for another year.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.