In these days of galloping dieselization, the sight of a steam tug at work is enough to cause even the calmest ship fan to let out a yelp and grab for the nearest camera. So it was on November 21st when the big (136 feet) steamer CHRIS M. appeared at Port Colborne to pick up the idle tanker ALFRED CYTACKI. The tug has been bought by the owners of CYTACKI which will now be returned to the St. Clair River service which she left in early autumn. CHRIS M. was built in 1943 at Willington Quay-on-Tyne as ASHFORD and came to the lakes after the war, being operated for many years in the Lake Superior logging trade by the Great Lakes Paper Co. Ltd. Some two years ago she was sold to Gravel and Lake Services Ltd., Port Arthur, but saw little if any service. She now appears to have a new job ahead of her pushing ALFRED CYTACKI, An oil burner, CHRIS M. has recently had a streamlined "coffee pot" style stack fitted, but strangely enough, she was observed carrying the old funnel lashed to the deck on the starboard side! In view of the almost complete disappearance of steam tugs from the lakes, we wish her many years of service.
The shipping business being what it is, accidents of one sort or another are bound to occur once in a while. One of the strangest shipboard occurrences of which we have heard took place on October 26th when the U.S. Steel self-unloader ROGERS CITY was unloading a cargo of stone at Carrollton, Michigan, on the Saginaw River. For some unexplained reason the ship's A-frame collapsed and let the unloading boom come down across the starboard side of the deck. No injuries were reported, but damage to the unloading equipment was severe. The boom had to be cut into pieces for removal and other equipment was called to the scene to complete the unloading process, ROGERS CITY was then moved to the Defoe Shipyard at Bay City for the job of repairing the A-frame and we understand that the boom will be replaced over the winter months. The collapse or buckling of self-unloader booms is not altogether a rare occurrence, but we must admit that we have never before heard of the failure of the A-frame itself.
Another strange accident occurred at Goderich on November 9th while the bulk carrier THORNHILL was unloading grain at the Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. elevator in the Lake Huron port. The unloading leg was right down to the tanktop in an effort to clean the last bit of grain from one of the holds when a large swell of undetermined origin hit the ship. As the vessel rose on the wave, the elevator leg hit the tanktop and, instead of puncturing the ship's bottom, was forced upwards until it burst right through the roof of the elevator's work house. When the ship fell on the receding water, the leg slipped back into the hold. The company was faced with a delicate problem in that the leg had to be cut away and a new section installed before the rest of the cargo could be removed.
Another old laker has made the last voyage to the scrapyard. G.G. POST arrived at Port Colborne on November 21st in tow of HERBERT A. and there was joined by the tug ARGUE MARTIN for the downbound trip through the canal and over to Hamilton. The POST has lain idle at Ojibway since 1968 and was last operated by Silloc Limited. She was known for her very noisy steam dock cranes and for the great clouds of coal smoke that she constantly emitted.
Two units of the Hall Corporation fleet, inactive this year, have been sold to a consortium of dredging firms for use in the removal of sludge during the current St. Lawrence improvement program. The two ships, HUTCHCLIFFE HALL and OREFAX, will operate east of Quebec City where the channel is being dredged to a depth of fifty feet to permit the entry of large tankers. The companies involved are the McNamara Construction Co. Ltd., the J. P. Porter Co. Ltd., and Marine Industries Ltd. There has been no definite word as to whether the ships will be used under their own power or as barges.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority has extended the closing date for the Welland Canal to December 31st in an effort to accommodate Canadian operators planning late sailings. Meanwhile, strict priorities have been instituted to regulate the passage of salt water vessels, increased numbers of which have been pouring into the lakes as a result of coastal labour problems. Lineups of up to two dozen ships at both ends of the canal were frequent throughout November and the situation was worsened by a shortage of pilots. An early freeze could conceivably trap many vessels in the system as a number of ships will obviously not complete their business in the lakes until the last moment before the closing of the lower canals.
Upbound in the St. Lawrence River on October 15 with a cargo of Christmas decorations for Chicago, the British freighter SINGAPORE TRADER ran aground about two miles above Clayton, New York. Although things did not look too serious at first, it proved impossible to refloat the ship with the equipment at hand and a salvage contract - no cure, no pay - has been awarded to Murphy Pacific Marine Salvage Co., Merritt Division. The company will try to float the ship after lightering the cargo and bunkers. More recent reports indicate that the hull may be in bad shape. SINGAPORE TRADER was built in 1944 at Wilmington, N. C., and is of the C-2 (S-AJ1) standard type. She previously sailed as (a) TORRANCE, (b) ALCOA ROAMER, (c) ELDORADO and (d) RICHMOND.
Although no official announcement has yet been made, it has become evident that Canada Steamship Lines' new self-unloader currently building at Collingwood will be christened NEKOUBA. Other names were apparently suggested but visitors to the shipyard report that NEKOUBA has been cut into the steel plating on the bow, so there appears to be little doubt. The rather strange name is said to be a continuation of the series of Indian names given to upper lake self-unloaders in recent years. Following completion of this hull, Collingwood has orders for two more self-unloaders the first for the Algoma Central Railway and the second for C.S.L.
Ramey's Bend in the Welland Canal at Humberstone has another guest. On October 21st, the tugs HERBERT A. and G. W. ROGERS brought in the Gartland Steamship Company's veteran self-unloader W. E. FITZGERALD and, at the time of writing, Marine Salvage Ltd. had already begun to dismantle the vessel. The steamer was a 1906 product of the Detroit Shipbuilding Co., Wyandotte, and was converted to a scraper type self-unloader in 1928 at Cleveland. She had the distinction of being the first upper lake self-unloader to trade into Lake Ontario after the opening of the present Welland Canal. She also takes the dubious honour of being the first bow-thruster-equipped laker to be scrapped. W. E. FITZGERALD has not operated since the purchase of Gartland by the American Steamship Co.
Incidentally, we hope that all our local members took advantage of the opportunity to photograph the two Sullivan steamers W. E. FITZGERALD and HENRY R. PLATT JR. together at Humberstone. Never again will the chance to see two vessels of this fleet side by side be available. PLATT was recently loaded with stone at Port Colborne and on November 10 was taken down the canal by G. W. ROGERS and HERBERT A., arriving in Hamilton on November 11. There she will be used as a retaining wall along with GROVEDALE. The steamer had been stripped of all her superstructure prior to being loaded.
The Ford Motor Company has confirmed rumours making the rounds for some time, that it has no intention of again operating its collier ROBERT S. McNAMARA, currently laid up in the River Rouge. The ship was built in 1909 for the Stadacona Steamship Co. and was christened STADACONA. She later passed to an American subsidiary of C.S.L. and in 1920 became W. H. McGEAN of the Pioneer Steamship Co. Upon the dissolution of the Hutchinson fleet in 1962, she was bought by Ford and has been used primarily in the Toledo-Detroit coal run, having last operated this Spring.
Not only has the American coal miners' strike reduced coal shipments on the lakes it has also led to some ships being laid up due to the scarcity of bunkers. Hardest hit has been the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad's fleet of Lake Michigan carferries. All five steamers presently available for service, PERE MARQUETTE 21, PERE MARQUETTE 22, CITY OF MIDLAND 41, BADGER and SPARTAN, are powdered coal burners and all were put to the wall by November 5th. A sixth vessel, CITY OF SAGINAW 31, is currently lying a Manitowoc pending the outcome of a dispute regarding the cost of repairs necessitated by a recent fire.
Layups in the American fleets continued during November as ore demands fell off even further from their previous low levels. As of mid-month only Bethlehem and Cleveland Cliffs could boast of having all available vessels in commission.
Two issues ago, we reported that the Canadian Pacific tug and barge combination PRESCOTONT and OGDENSBURG had moved to Windsor from their old station on the St. Lawrence. We have now received official confirmation from the Windsor-Detroit Barge Line, a new company formed by Mr. Joe Carollo, that it is negotiating for the vessels under a rental-purchase agreement that should see the ships under its ownership before the end of the year. Once in operation (as soon as salt water traffic declines enough to make dock space available in Detroit), the barge will load on each trip, nine flatcars in Windsor. These will be ferried across to the Detroit side where their cargo of containers will be removed by crane and replaced by others bound for the Quebec City C.P.R. container port. The barge will then be moved back to Windsor where the flatcars and their containers will be rolled ashore. Earlier reports that the carfloat MANISTEE would also be used on the service are not correct.
Disturbing word comes from New York where it seems ALEXANDER HAMILTON has been put up for sale by the Hudson River Day Line. Most observers had been under the impression that upon retirement the ship would be placed in the South Street Seaport Museum. She is pictured in a large advertisement circulated recently and is described as "ideal for restaurant, night club, convention halls....," somewhat optimistically we feel! The brokers involved are Hughes Bros. Inc., who advertise themselves as a "clearing house for marine difficulties." Who would ever have thought of the grand old lady of the Hudson as a "marine difficulty" ?
A tentative list of layup ports for the U.S. Steel fleet shows the A. H. FERBERT wintering at Bay City, Michigan. This has led many observers to speculate that the vessel may receive major work on her machinery.
The local troubles of the Wellington Transportation Co., operators of the Soo carferry SUGAR ISLANDER, seem to be continuing. Not only is the company still engaged in litigation over a new fare structure which aroused the ire of some members of the Sugar Island community, but Island residents are now pushing for increased service on winter evenings. Considering the ice conditions that have plagued Little Rapids Cut during recent winters, it seems to us that the Islanders are lucky to have any winter service at all!
The first grain cargo shipped from the port of Huron, Ohio, in seven years was loaded on November 11th from the recently reactivated Pillsbury elevator into the Reoch self-unloader AVONDALE, The load of soybeans was destined for Toronto's Victory Soya Mills.
Le Sault de Sainte Marie Historic Sites Inc. is moving ahead with plans to rebuild the former Kemp Coal Dock and Johnstone Street slip in the Michigan Soo to provide a permanent home for the museum ship VALLEY CAMP. It would be the first step in a proposed comprehensive restoration of the Water Street-Fort Brady area of town.
We have received word that the former Mohawk Navigation Co. motorship BELVOIR, latterly operating in the Caribbean for the Bamar Marine Co. Ltd., was sold in 1970 to Cia. Peruana de Vapores and renamed NAZCA. She now sails under the Peruvian flag.
The details of the sale of another former laker, the Halco tanker GULF TRANSPORT, have now been clarified somewhat. Originally sold by Hall Corp. late in 1970 to Cia Aramtoriale Palermitana "Cabrilla" S.A., she was resold the same year to Cisterniera Azionaria Sicula Adriatica S.p.A, and was renamed NONNA VALERIA.
Photographers at Sault Ste. Marie can usually time the arrival of ships by the rule of thumb that a passage across Lake Superior between Duluth and the Soo usually takes about 24 hours. It is, naturally, with some surprise that we learn that the Brazilian motorship ITAIMBE made the 380 mile upbound passage in 15 hours and 55 minutes on November 3rd, setting a record that may well stand for many years.
Many of our readers will be saddened to learn of the sale for scrapping of one of the most familiar salt water ships to trade into the Great Lakes in recent years, ROONAGH HEAD, a 1952 product of Harland and Wolff, Belfast, had traded here for over a decade under the flag of the Ulster Steam Shipping Co. Ltd., commonly known as the Head Line. Powered by steam turbine machinery, the ship was part of a trio that, up until a few years ago, also included RATHLIN HEAD and RAMORE HEAD. A handsome vessel fitted with beautiful passenger accommodations, ROONAGH HEAD was perhaps best known for her involvement in a collision on the foggy St. Lawrence on July 20, 1963, a collision that sent the ore carrier TRITONICA to the bottom. ROONAGH HEAD made her last departure from Toronto on July 21st amid a chorus of salutes, the significance of which was not then known to observers, and has since made the one way trip to Spanish breakers.
The schooner HARRY W. ADAMS, a feature of the Toronto waterfront for several years until sold this autumn, made a return visit to the port early in November. Her new owner, Chicago contractor John Mosele, was taking her back to salt water on the first leg of a globe-circling voyage. It is extremely doubtful that we will ever see her back.
Faced with a fine each time she enters Wisconsin waters, the riverboat DELTA QUEEN will be fitted this winter at New Orleans with a revolutionary new water purification system. The plant will convert sewage water into clean water suitable for washing or boiler feed.
Ever since the sale of EMPRESS OF ENGLAND, many observers felt it would be but a short time before Canadian Pacific would cease deep sea passenger service altogether but the recent announcement that the last White Empress would be retired because of a lack of patronage was still a shock. The upcoming Caribbean winter cruising schedule for EMPRESS OF CANADA has been cancelled and, in fact, the November l7th sailing from Montreal for Liverpool will be the last trip for the ship under the C.P. flag. EMPRESS OF CANADA was a fairly new ship having been built for C.P. in 1961 by Vickers-Armstrongs. For a number of years, the C.P.R. has made it abundantly clear that it wanted out of both the rail and sea passenger business and that purpose is not far from being accomplished. Afloat, only the British Columbia and Bay of Fundy services are still operating and we fervently hope that the axe does not fall on PRINCESS PATRICIA.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.