Several issues ago we reported that the Q & O fleet, or to be more precise, Comet Enterprises Ltd., was intending to dispose of its flagship THOROLD for scrap because of extensive repair work needed by the vessel. The steamer was a 1917 product of the Lorain yard of the American Shipbuilding Co. and was built according to the Isherwood design which called for longitudinal rather than transverse side framing. Her tender age of fifty-four had led us to believe that she could not possibly be beyond economical repair, but the ship was indeed sold to Marine Salvage Ltd, in late autumn. She passed down the Welland Canal on December 12th with her last cargo, grain for Prescott, and then headed back up Lake Ontario. She entered the Canal upbound on December 17th and laid over for the night at her owner's dock in her namesake town. On the morning of the 18th, she continued on up the canal and put herself to rest for the last time in the scrapping berth in Ramey's Bend. An interesting problem developed when it was found that she was drawing too much water for the entry into the old channel and she grounded hard on the bar across the mouth. Some furious pumping out of ballast finally lightened her enough to get her across, THOROLD is one of the few vessels that have sailed into Ramey's Bend in recent years under their own power. We shall hope against hope that some other operator will purchase her and sail her out again.
In the December issue, we reported that G. G. POST had arrived at Port Colborne en route to Hamilton for scrapping. Our news item was written while the ship was still in Port Colborne Harbour. Nevertheless, as many readers will be aware, she did not make a complete transit of the canal, being moored instead at Ramey's Bend. It is not yet clear whether Marine Salvage Ltd, will dismantle the craneship there or resell her for breaking up elsewhere.
Speaking of Marine Salvage Ltd., it has now been confirmed that this firm was the purchaser of ONTADOC when she was retired in 1970. As of the beginning of December, the vessel was still lying at Sorel along with CREEK TRANSPORT and GEORGE M. CARL. The latter vessel was still listed as a unit of Scott Misener Steamships Ltd. at the end of the month of September.
During the past autumn, the Abitibi Paper Co. Ltd. sold its 1938-built tug NIPIGON to one J. Reid of Sarnia. The only difficulty was that the tug was on Lake Nipigon and had to be lifted from the water and transported by trailer to the waters of Lake Superior. She has since been moved to Sarnia where she is to serve in the general towing business.
The United States Coast Guard has recently been testing a hovercraft to assist in winter navigation and in search and rescue missions. Stationed at St. Ignace, the machine has been nicknamed "Old Frisbee" by its crew. The hovercraft got off to an inauspicious start on her new service, however, when she sank in 100 feet of water in northern Lake Huron on November 23, 1971. The U.S.C.G. has not let this accident alter plans for the vessel and, at the time of writing, salvage operations were underway.
It has become evident that the two east coast carferries completed by Port Weller Dry Docks in the Spring of 1971 were actually renamed at a very early stage. While we had known no other names for the pair than VACATIONLAND and HOLIDAY ISLAND, the names given them in the christening ceremonies, they appear to have been laid down as THOMAS HAVILAND and WILLIAM POPE respectively. Congratulations should go to whoever saw fit to give them something other than "people names."
Back in 1966, the Canada Steamship Lines package freighter BATTLEFORD was sold to Nassau interests and left the lakes. She entered service as (c) REAL GOLD and has seen only intermittent use since. Recently she was sold by Bahamas Package Carriers Ltd. to Antilles Lines Ltd., another Bahamas firm, so it appears that another operator is taking a turn at trying to operate the vessel in the Caribbean, a trade for which she certainly was never designed.
Last issue we reported the sale of the Ulster Steam Shipping Co.'s vessel ROONAGH HEAD for scrapping and we may now report that she arrived at the breakers' yard at Castellon, Spain, on September 14, 1971.
During the Second War, it was not an uncommon occurrence to hear that a salt water vessel well known on the lake trade had been sunk by enemy action. Fortunately, such reports have not been forthcoming in recent years due to a generally peaceful state on the shipping lanes. However, one such news item did cause considerable shock recently. On December 8th, 1971, the British motorship HARMATTAN of the Gowland Steamship Co. Ltd., London, which had spent considerable time on the lakes during 1971, was discharging cargo in the West Pakistani port of Karachi. An Indian gunboat began shelling the port and HARMATTAN was hit by some sort of missile. The vessel was burned out and seven crew members lost their lives.
Minor grounding incidents occur with such regularity on the lakes that they are seldom worth reporting. However, when a vessel manages to go aground twice on the same voyage, interest is aroused. On December 5th, the Paterson motorship LAWRENDOC was upbound in the St. Mary's River en route to the Algoma steel plant at Sault Ste. Marie Ontario. She found the bottom in the Middle Neebish Channel but was able to free herself after a short time with no damage. She proceeded up through Lake Nicolet and Little Rapids and locked up to the Lake Superior level. While approaching the Algoma dock, she grounded once again, apparently on Vidal Shoals. Again, damage was minimal.
At the time of writing, scrapping operations were proceeding rapidly on the remains of MAUNALOA II at Hamilton. As of mid-December, only the tank top was left from the forecastle back, but the bow was still intact including the bridge structure.
HENRY R. PLATT JR. and GROVEDALE were loaded with stone brought from Port Colborne by HOCHELAGA during late November and have now been sunk in Hamilton Harbour across the end of the Stelco property. The hulls are still readily identifiable and are slightly deeper in the water than they would be if operating at mid-summer draft. The ships are placed stern to stern, with PLATT facing roughly easterly and GROVEDALE towards the west.
By Christmas, all of the Cleveland offices of the U.S. Steel Great lakes Fleet had been closed down and moved to new quarters at Duluth. The move will put operating departments closer to the company's sphere of operations.
In the December issue we speculated that major machinery work would be done on A. H. FERBERT this winter while she is tied up at Bay City, Michigan. It was subsequently announced by U.S. Steel that she would be converted to oil fuel and given automated boiler controls.
The Bethlehem Steel Corp. has let it be known that the new STEWART J. CORT will not be put into any sort of operation for the company until at least next spring. The company has refused to accept delivery of the vessel until her builders, Erie Marine Inc., make satisfactory alterations to several systems which have yet to satisfy Bethlehem management. At one point, observers had hoped to see the ship in operation as early as last August but the numerous delays have threatened to postpone her entry into service so many times that ROGER BLOUGH might just beat her to it!
Step by step, the once-proud sidewheel carferry LANSDOWNE is being reduced to little more than a scow. Previously she had, of course, lost her pilot house and stacks so as to make her more suitable for the barge service. During October her bridge structure itself was removed and cut up for scrap making her hardly recognizable.
On November 30th, while sixteen miles off Muskegon on Lake Michigan, the Grand Trunk carferry MADISON ruptured a steam line. The steamer, helpless in the eight-foot seas, called for help as it was feared that serious damage could result should any of her railway cars break loose. The call was answered by the U.S.C.G. cutters ARUNDEL and WOODBINE and by other assorted rescue craft. With their assistance temporary repairs were completed and MADISON was able to make Muskegon harbour safely.
It has been announced that Litton Great Lakes Corp. has let a contract to the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, for construction of the bow section of Hull 102, the self-unloading barge currently being built at Erie, Pennsylvania by Litton's subsidiary, Erie Marine Inc. The bow section will be 68 feet long.
The salt water freighter SINGAPORE TRADER, which had been aground in the St. Lawrence near Clayton since October 15th, was finally released on November 28th and taken to Ogdensburg, New York, for Coast Guard inspection. The job was being rushed along to make sure that the vessel would be able to clear the Seaway before it closed for the winter. Strangely enough, the McAllister tug DANIEL McALLISTER, which had helped to free the ship, and which was on the way from Kingston to Ogdensburg to assist in towing SINGAPORE TRADER out of the Seaway, herself grounded 2 1/2 miles upstream from Calumet Island on December 7th. She was freed on December 9th.
One of the most important historical discoveries of recent months has been the finding by divers of the hull of the three-masted schooner ROUSE SIMMONS in Lake Michigan off Rawley Point, Two Rivers. The vessel is lying in about 180 feet of water. ROUSE SIMMONS has, over the years, become a lake legend and is familiarly known as "The Christmas Tree Ship." Built in 1868, she vanished on the storm swept lake late in November 1912 with a cargo of Christmas trees bound for Chicago. Her entire crew went with her to the bottom. The hull is apparently in tolerably good condition and the divers presented the remains of one of her Christmas trees to officials of a Milwaukee bank that features a painting of the ship on its cheques.
An unusual visitor to our harbour recently was V.W. SCULLY of the Algoma Central fleet and her cargo was just as unusual - - sugar for the Redpath plant at the foot of Jarvis Street. The sugar plant had been shut down for the entire autumn as a result of labour troubles and at least five salt water vessels with sugar cargoes had to be diverted to other ports. The SCULLY apparently loaded at the Redpath plant in Montreal, arriving in Toronto on December 8th. Unloading took four days. Lake ships have unloaded at Redpath's very infrequently and most such shipments were in canallers before the opening of the Seaway permitted the passage of larger ships. If we remember correctly, the last laker to unload there was the barge M.I.L. 495 (formerly FAIRMOUNT) which brought in a lightered cargo in November 1963.
The new C.S.L. self-unloader NEKOUBA was successfully launched at Collingwood on Thursday, December 16th, 1971. The only difficulty is that NEKOUBA is not her name! Two days before the launch, it was decided that the ship should be named in honour of C.S.L.'s current Board Chairman and accordingly she was christened J. W. McGIFFIN.
The BOYER has been owned by P.M. and chartered to the Republic Steel Corp. since 1969. The Republic colours will not disappear from the lakes, however, as was previously believed. The three "red tomatoes," THOMAS F. PATTON, TOM M. GIRDLER and CHARLES M. WHITE, have not been sold to Cleveland Cliffs but only obtained by the fleet under a twenty year bareboat charter. It is understood that they will retain the Republic livery.
It has been reported that the Hall Corporation has plans to convert the lengthened and deepened canaller ROCKCLIFFE HALL (II) to a tanker over the winter. The vessel, a motorship built in 1958 at Levis, has seen only limited service during the last few years as a result of decreasing demand for bulk carriers of her size.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.