At the time of writing, officials of the Kinsman Marine Transit Co. and the Litton organization were still holding discussions on the proposed purchase by Kinsman (or rather by the parent firm, AmShip) of Litton's lake operations including Erie Marine Inc. and the Wilson Marine Transit Co. It seems that problems, presumably of a monetary nature, have developed and there is considerable doubt as to whether the deal will be concluded. If the sale is not consummated, it will be interesting to see what work will be found for the Wilson fleet now that the contract to carry ore for the Republic Steel Corp. has been lost to the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Co.
It has been announced that the three Maritime Commission class steamers of the Wilson fleet will have their decks strapped this winter. THOMAS WILSON will have the work done at Erie while J. H. HILLMAN JR. and J. BURTON AYERS will he handled at Lorain. The operation is, of course, designed to give more longitudinal strength to the hull so that the vessels may gain an extra six inches of draft and thus increase their carrying capacity.
It seems that the fortunes of the Escanaba Towing Co. have taken a turn for the worse. At one time this year, it had in operation three barges, WILTRANCO, A. E. NETTLETON and O. S. McFARLAND, as well as two tugs OLIVE L. MOORE and LEE REUBEN. However, the U.S.Coast Guard has withdrawn the certificates of WILTRANCO and McFARLAND due to their condition. The former is now laid up at Escanaba along with the MOORE while the MCFARLAND is being used in a stationary capacity to assist in unloading of NETTLETON which is currently in service on the Toledo to Detroit coal run. The future of the NETTLETON herself is rather undecided in view of the possible sale of the ship along with other Wilson vessels to Kinsman.
The Boland and Cornelius self-unloader PETER REISS, laid up for some months at Toledo and allegedly for sale in connection with the BoCo divestiture of Reiss vessels, was back in operation recently. The veteran steamer was operating in the Detroit River area in mid-January. For a number of years, PETER REISS has been used in the Toledo-Detroit winter coal run.
Earlier reports that the Erie Sand Steamship Co. would operate both J. L. REISS and SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. in 1972 have proven to be incorrect. Over the winter, the oil burners are being removed from the SMITH and placed in the REISS to make her more economical to operate. The first SMITH will revert to her original name of ALPENA. She will then be held in reserve and there are indications that the company might consider deiselizing the ship and converting her to a sand carrier. J. L. REISS will be renamed SIDNEY E. SMITH Jr.(II)
Speaking of conversions to oil fuel, we have learned that MARTHA HINDMAN is being so converted this winter at Owen Sound. It is only natural that any ship which may be used in the grain trade to the St. Lawrence should be an oil burner since bunker coal is no longer available east of Port Colborne.
In our last issue, we reported the sale of three idle lakers, OREFAX, BULKARIER and HUTCHCLIFFE HALL to a consortium of dredging contractors for use in the lower St. Lawrence. We now learn that a fourth ship is involved, the Hall Corp. tanker CREEK TRANSPORT which has been idle at Sorel since 1970. All four vessels will be reduced to flat scows and present indications are that they will be needed for about four years.
At the present time we are unable to say anything more definite simply because the plans of the company are not yet firm, but suffice it to say that we hope all our readers have managed to get an excellent photograph of the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR during the last few years .......
A major fire occurred on January 2nd at the Pillsbury flour mill in Buffalo. Extensive damage was suffered by the mill building itself although the fire, believed started by welders, did not spread to the elevator. The mill is located on the old City Ship Canal and moored alongside were the Cliffs steamers PONTIAC and WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR. They were pulled away before any major damage could be done to them but television coverage did show part of the after cabin on PONTIAC to be afire.
Work on the lengthening of CHARLES M. BEEGHLY is progressing well at Superior, Wisconsin, and it is planned to have her ready for service in mid-May. Her owners have estimated that the ship will lose very little by way of speed with the addition of the 96-foot midsection but her carrying capacity will be greatly increased. When commissioned, she may well be the largest ship operating on the lakes if STEWART J. CORT is still kept in port by the troubles that plagued her last year.
A second lengthening operation is in progress during the winter months. Arnold Line's diesel ferry HURON, a regular on the Straits of Mackinac service, is being stretched by 20 feet in the drydock of the Soo Welding Co. at the Michigan Sault. HURON was built at Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1955.
The U.S. Coast Guard, forced by winter weather conditions to abandon attempts to retrieve its sunken hovercraft, has brought another craft of the same type to the lakes. The new machine has had polystyrene foam placed in its air tanks in the hope that it will avoid the fate of its predecessor. Meanwhile, the U.S.C.G. is embarking on a program of consolidation of services which mean, in fact, a reduction in the number of ships in commission. The only effect on the lakes area will be the withdrawal of the buoy tender WOODBINE, currently stationed at Grand Haven, Michigan. The 1944-built tender will be decommissioned in February and there do not appear to be any plans for a permanent replacement, although some other ship may fill in at Grand Haven.
We have received confirmation of the sale by the Bultema Dock & Dredge Co. of its 140 foot tug MUSKEGON to Hannah Inland Waterways Corp., Chicago. The vessel has been renamed JAMES A. HANNAH. Built in 1945 at Pt. Pleasant, West Virginia, as LT-820, the tug will be best remembered for her part in Bultema's unsuccessful attempt to replace the Straits of Mackinac steam railway ferry CHIEF WAWATAM with a tug and barge combination several years ago.
The former passenger and package freight motorship NORMAC has been open since 1970 as a restaurant in Toronto Harbour. Moored at the foot of Yonge Street, NORMAC (or Captain John's Harbour Boat Restaurant as she is more properly known) has enjoyed considerable success. Now, however, the ship has been rendered almost unrecognizable by the stripping off of the upper deck cabins as well as the crew's quarters and pilothouse. It is apparently planned to have open air eating and drinking facilities on a new upper deck, but we trust that her owner will rebuild her in something of a marine manner, else the ship will lose a good deal of the character that has helped to make her so popular.
Although mild weather conditions have allowed a number of vessels to operate on the upper lakes well into January, we should report, for the records, a few "season closers." The last salt water ship to pass through the Seaway was the Greek AKRA RION. She cleared the system on December 18, well past the deadline set earlier for such vessels. The last downbound ship in the Seaway was the Halco tanker HUDSON TRANSPORT which cleared St. Lambert Lock on December 19. The following day, the Seaway was closed with the upbound passage of LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL. The Welland Canal had its longest season ever, staying open until January 8 to facilitate coal shipments. Ice was kept to a minimum at the American Lakehead by warm weather and the Duluth-Superior shipping season did not close until the January 5th departure of the tanker MERCURY. The last ship out of Thunder Bay was the self-unloader TADOUSSAC which cleared for Hamilton on January 3rd with a cargo of 24,085 long tons of pellets. Toronto Harbour closed on January 3rd with the arrival of the tanker CONGAR which subsequently went into winter quarters.
The polar icebreaker EDISTO, brought to the lakes by the U.S.C.G., is already proving herself of value to late operators. In mid-january she was called upon to free several U.S. Steel vessels as ice began to accumulate in the St. Mary's River and the Straits.
A number of operators have followed the lead of Pickands Mather & Co. in applying for approval to set up tax-deferred construction reserve funds. The U.S. Maritime Administration has recently approved applications from the Kinsman Marine Transit Co., the American Steamship Co., Oglebay Norton & Co., the Ford Motor Co., Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Co. and O. D. Schmidt (whoever the latter may be) in addition to the previous approval given to P.M. Applications are pending from Ashland Oil Co. (Cleveland Tankers), Hannah Island Waterways Corp., and the Luedtke Engineering Co. The plan will cover the building of two ships for Kinsman, two for BoCo and the lengthening of CHARLES M. BEEGHLY by P.M. It is thought that Cliffs may be considering the construction of three self-unloading motorships, but plans are not yet firm for this or any other companies involved. Incidentally, it has recently been announced that the two BoCo self-unloaders will be named ROGER M. KYES and CHARLES E. WILSON in honour of two Detroit industrialists who held interest in American Steamship.
The McNamara drydock at Whitby, Ontario, is being enlarged to accommodate the OREFAX which will have a hopper bottom installed prior to taking up her duties on the St. Lawrence with the dredging consortium. HUTCHCLIFFE HALL is currently laid up at Sorel alongside CREEK TRANSPORT, both these ships being destined for the same service. We have a report that there is another vessel in the group at Sorel, this being the ILE D'ORLEANS, a self-unloader registered at St. John, N. B. We suspect that this may be the former BULKARIER but we are awaiting confirmation of this point.
A late report indicates that negotiations are nearing finalization for the purchase of RAYMOND H. REISS from Kinsman Transit by the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Co. Elsewhere in this issue we recorded the earlier sale of this ship to Kinsman from American Steamship.
It appears that at long last something is being done about re-engining the Lake Ontario sandsucker W. M. EDINGTON. The little steamer is well known for her lack of speed and it has been decided that she will receive a second-hand diesel engine. Presumably the work will be done while EDINGTON is in winter quarters at Hamilton.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.