Information is gradually coming to light regarding the extent of the damage suffered by the U.S. Steel bulk carrier ROGER BLOUGH in that disastrous fire at Lorain earlier this year. Fortunately, earlier fears that a whole new after end would have to be have proven to be unfounded, and no major hull damage has been discovered. The two Pielstick diesels were damaged beyond repair, however, and two new engines have been ordered from Fairbanks Morse, the company from which the ship's first single diesel had been ordered prior to the switch to Pielstick. The reduction gearing may require considerable work and, of course, there is much other equipment that will be in need of restoration. The engines are expected to be delivered in January, and the target date for the entry into service of the vessel has been set back to August, 1972.
A major collision occurred on August 27th at the lower end of Lake Huron. The Brazilian salty NETUNO, downbound, apparently failed to make the turn at the buoy above the narrows at the Blue Water Bridge and struck the upbound German freighter TRANSMICHIGAN. The latter ship received a bad gash in her No. 2 hold and was beached below the bridge. Temporary repairs were made at Sarnia so that the vessel could sail to Lorain. NETUNO received little damage.
Another casualty is the Q & O flagship THOROLD which suffered severe bow damage when she rammed a wall in the Welland Canal after a steering failure in late August. The ship was taken to Port Weller Drydocks where she received temporary repairs, but we understand that complete repair would bo so expensive that the company intends to retire the steamer at the end of this season.
One more aging laker will soon be heading to the scrapper's yard. The MICHIPICOTEN, a unit of Algoma Central's Providence Shipping Co. Ltd., was surveyed for scrap recently while unloading in Hamilton. It appears that the steamer, built in 1905 and for many years known as the tin-stacker HENRY C. FRICK, will finish out the year but she obviously holds no place in the future of the completely modernized Algoma fleet.
It seems that major news items have been appearing so frequently during the past few weeks that not all can be given their due coverage in these pages for want of space. Elsewhere in this issue, we recorded the final demise of the remains of the Gartland Steamship Co., and it now becomes our unpleasant duty to comment on the winding up of the Tomlinson Fleet Corp. This company, whose vessels have made the red stack with silver bands a familiar sight around the lakes for many decades, was one of those firms which, at the end of the 1950's, found itself with a fleet made up of aging and somewhat decrepit tonnage. One by one the ships were retired until only three were left, the self-unloaders SYLVANIA and G. A. TOMLINSON and the straight-deck bulk carrier JAMES DAVIDSON. Indeed, the latter has not been a recognizable unit of the Tomlinson fleet for a number of years in that she has recently operated in the colours of first the Buckeye Steamship Co. and latterly the Columbia Transportation fleets. Now, all three ships have been sold to Oglebay Norton & Co.'s Columbia division and the self-unloaders are already carrying their new colours. Tomlinson's affairs are expected to be wound up by the end of the year, and so ends the history of the fleet whose ships for so many years bore the familiar names' beginning with the letter S and ending with A, a la SHASTA, SPARTA and SINALOA. The future looks good for G. A. TOMLINSON and SYLVANIA, but somewhat less rosy for the DAVIDSON.
As our more avid photographers will have noted, traffic on the rivers and canals of the lakes has not been particularly good this past summer. A declining demand for iron ore combined with labour troubles to relegate many carriers to lay-up status. The steelworkers' strike set for August 1st did not actually hit any companies apart from Pickands Mather, but even so, many vessels were sent to the wall in anticipation of trouble, lay-ups being most common in the P.M., Inland, Bethlehem and U. S. Steel fleets. While Bethlehem soon returned to full operating strength, U.S. Steel is still holding several older ships in reserve, Interlake, which had no ships running at the height of the troubles, reactivated all but COL. JAMES PICKANDS, WALTER E. WATSON and SAMUEL MATHER which will remain in ordinary. Inland's L. E. BLOCK went to Manitowoc for extensive refitting and work was done on other ships of that fleet, including CLARENCE B. RANDALL during the forced pause in operations.
Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. has announced its plans to continue with the conversion of bulk carriers to self-unloaders, a trend that had been halted for the past year or two. The motorship SAGUENAY will soon enter Port Arthur Shipyards for the conversion work which will include an eleven foot increase in molded depth. The manager of the Port Arthur yard indicated that another similar conversion would follow on the heels of the SAGUENAY job. C.S.L. also has a new self-unloader on the ways at Collingwood and we are anxiously awaiting news of the name to be given this ship.
Details have been very slow in coming to light concerning a fire that occurred aboard the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad ferry CITY OF SAGINAW 31 on July 29th. The 1929-built Lake Michigan ferry was laid up at the yard of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. where she was undergoing engine repairs and a general refit when a fire, possibly started by a welder's torch, swept through her accommodations on the upper deck and in the bow. Damage appears to be extensive.
In our last issue, we reported the circulation of an unconfirmed report that Pickands Mather's Interlake Steamship Co. was intending to dispose of its bulk carriers CHARLES M. BEEGHLY and HARRY COULBY to the Inland and Cleveland-Cliffs fleets, respectively. Happily, we have now received official confirmation that no such sales or transfers are in the works, so that rumour may be laid to rest!
Our last report to you on the trials of the tanker GOLDEN SABLE had her riding at anchor in Montreal after seizure by disgruntled and unpaid crewmen. Late in August, the ship was taken over from Penn Shipping Ltd. by Neal Petroleum Ltd., Toronto, a subsidiary of the Golden Eagle Refinery. She began operation in the Lake Erie area.
The craneship O. S. MCFARLAND, whose sale to scrappers had fallen through as reported in earlier issues, and which had reverted to Columbia ownership, was sold in August to the Escanaba Towing Co. for use in the Toledo to Detroit coal trade. She was towed from Saginaw and passed down the Detroit River on August 14. The veteran began service in her new role but we understand that many problems have arisen. She is, of course, being used as a barge.
The little craneship YANKCANUCK journeyed far from her usual stamping grounds on the Soo to Windsor steel run recently. Towards the end of August, she loaded steel products for Pugwash, Nova Scotia. From Pugwash, she headed back to Sept Isles where she loaded ore for Cleveland. After delivery of this cargo, she took coal from Toledo back to her home port of Soo, Ontario.
In the Mid-Summer issue, we ran a feature article on the Hudson River Day Line sidewheeler ALEXANDER HAMILTON, cautioning all those who had not had the pleasure of a cruise aboard this steamer to hurry to New York in view of the impending retirement of the vessel. Well, it has now happened. Complete with press coverage, the Grand Old Lady of the Hudson made her last trip on Labour Day. Reports reaching the writer indicate that a sizeable crowd was aboard to take part in this most solemn occasion, but we suspect that there were many hundreds of persons aboard who had no idea that they were a party to the passing of the last major sidewheel excursion steamer on the North American continent. All things must pass, but must they pass so quickly?
Another lake fleet that will disappear at the end of this season will be that of the Republic Steel Corporation. Having disposed of its three conventional steamers HARRY L. ALLEN, PETER ROBERTSON (II) and SILVER BAY (the latter having, incidentally, returned to service after extensive bow repairs) to the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, the fleet was left with only the trio of salt water conversions, CHARLES M. WHITE, TOM M. GIRDLER and THOMAS P. PATTON. It has now become evident that these three will pass to the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Co, when this firm takes over the contract for hauling Republic ore from the present carrier, the Wilson Marine Transit Co.
The Canadian Dredge and Dock Co. Ltd. has a contract to do some landfilling work in Hamilton Bay at the Steel Company of Canada plant. Apparently, the job will involve the construction of a permanent wall or breakwater and, to this end, the company has obtained the veteran lake steamers HENRY R. PLATT JR. and GROVEDALE. The former, which has lain at the Marine Salvage yard at Ramey's Bend in the Welland Canal since last fall, has now been stripped of her cabins and we understand that the same operation has been performed on GROVEDALE in Hamilton. The two vessels will be moved to the Stelco site this fall, but more old hulls will be needed next year and we understand that Canadian Dredge will bring to Hamilton the LACKAWANNA, KINSMAN VENTURE and RIDGETOWN which are owned by the firm and are now being used as a temporary breakwater during construction of the Nanticoke hydro plant.
In response to mounting pressures from various ecologically minded groups, the Federal Government this summer began considering ways of removing the 22,000 gallons of bunker C fuel oil from the rusting hull of the tanker IRVINGLAKE which has lain in the Bay of Chaleur, near Bathurst, New Brunswick, ever since she grounded there in 1963. The tanker's owners, the Irving Oil Co. Ltd., had made no effort to recover either the ship or her cargo, IRVINGLAKE is lying close to the shoreline, and it has been feared that, as her condition deteriorates, a major oil spillage might occur. Early in September, the first attempts at remedying the situation were made and gasoline was being pumped into the holds and set afire in an effort to get the heavier bunker oil burning, IRVINGLAKE, to the best of our knowledge, has never appeared on the lakes under that name, however, she was a frequent visitor to our area during the 1950's while trading under the name NIPIWAN PARK. She carried for B.A. Oil at that time. She is, perhaps, best known for her close escape from destruction during the second war when she had her entire bow section blown off by a torpedo in the Atlantic off Halifax in 1944.
With the amount of traffic crossing the Detroit River by carferry apparently on the increase, it is neither unnatural nor unexpected that the Canadian Pacific Railway should begin using its own ships again on the run that it abandoned so many years ago. In past years, most of the C.P.R. freight cars have been taken across the river by the Norfolk and Western's four barges, but during mid-September, Canadian Pacific moved its tug PRESCOTONT and railferry barge OGDENSBURG to Windsor. This pair, formerly on the Prescott to Ogdensburg route, has not operated since the unfortunate destruction of the Ogdensburg wharf by fire. There is some indication that the Bultema Dock and Dredge Co.'s barge MANISTEE, formerly the Lake Michigan ferry ANN ARBOR 3, and latterly used as temporary replacement for CHIEF WAWATAM on the Straits route, may serve as a second boat on the C.P.R. service. One thing we know for sure: the handsome tug PRESCOTONT will provide a good contrast to the dubious pulchritude of the N & W and C.N.R. pusher tugs!
Difficulties continue to plague the new Bethlehem carrier STEWART J. CORT. Most of the problems have been worked out and the vessel has passed her sea trials, but is not expected to enter service until sometime in October due to trouble with her unloading system. The future of ships of her type planned by Litton for building at Erie, Pennsylvania, would seem in doubt since the purchase of the Erie yard by American Shipbuilding.
A familiar sight around the Toronto waterfront for several years, the Lunenburg fishing schooner HARRY W. ADAMS has been sold to American interests. The vessel, owned by Capt. Arthur Scott, had been completely rebuilt for cruising service but plans to use her for excursions for local school children had been abandoned because of continuing obstacles placed in the way by the Federal Government. The ADAMS, which has made a number of trips this year in charter service, was sold to Grand Banks Schooners Inc. and then resold to Chicago buyers. She left Toronto in mid-September. A similar but smaller vessel, ROBERT J. KNICKLE, is still at Toronto.
For the past two seasons, the excursion steamer COLUMBIA has delighted many hundreds of persons who have taken part in her special holiday trips to Port Huron. The Labour Day excursion this year, however, was probably somewhat more exciting than normal. While attempting to turn in the St. Clair River after leaving the dock in Pinegrove Park at Port Huron, the steamer encountered difficulties and made an unscheduled landing amongst some wooden pilings on the Canadian shore. The dock suffered damage in the area of $10,000 and COLUMBIA, after returning to her Detroit pier, was sent to the American Shipbuilding Co.'s yard at Toledo where the necessary inspection and repairs were completed.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.