In 1971 the Canadian federal government awarded a $21-million contract to a consortium of three firms for dredging in the St. Lawrence. The companies involved are McNamara Marine, the J. P. Porter Co. Ltd., and Marine Industries Ltd. The contract calls for the removal of 14 million cubic yards of "spoil" from the river bed off Ile d'Orleans, a large island located just downstream from Quebec City. This will permit deep-sea ships of 100,000-ton capacity to dock at Quebec.
The Consortium has purchased three "stretched" canallers to assist in the dumping of the spoil material. These are being converted to self-propelled hopper scows. The spoil will be pumped into the hoppers and the ships will then proceed to the specified dumping area where the hoppers will be opened for fast unloading. This method will allow for a continuous dredging process.
The three vessels involved are OREFAX (a) SOUTHCLIFFE HALL, HUTCHCLIFFE HALL, and BULKARIER. All three were purchased late in 1971 and now undergoing conversion to spoil carriers. OREFAX was idle at Hamilton during 1971 and in the fall was towed to Whitby. HUTCHCLIFFE HALL had been laid up at Kingston since the end of the 1970 season but was taken to Sorel before the Seaway closed. BULKARIER has been inactive for several years and was purchased from J. D. Irving Ltd. Her conversion is being done at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
The former Hall Corp. motorvessels OREFAX and HUTCHCLIFFE HALL will be renamed ISLE ROYALE and ILE AUX COUDRES respectively. Their old engines have been removed and in the future they will be propelled by large Harbour Master marine outboards. BULKARIER, a steamer, will be renamed SABLE ISLAND and will be equipped with a 1600 h.p. General Motors diesel. Bow and stern thrusters will also be added.
The problem of supplying electricity to the dredges is being solved by the conversion of the former Canadian National Railway east coast carferry PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND to a floating "mother ship". She will be equipped with six diesel generator sets of 1200 h.p. each. This will enable the Consortium's dredges to operate over a wide area. The mother ship will also serve as a dock for the spoil ships. The spoil will be pumped through the floating pipeline to the mother ship and then into one of the hopper scows. Two vessels can be moored at one time so that when one is filled and moves away, the spoil can be directed to the second carrier. PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND is currently undergoing conversion at Whitby.
Two other veteran lake vessels are involved in this operation. The former tanker CREEK TRANSPORT has been acquired for conversion to a "coastal floating station" (whatever that may be). She has been idle at Montreal and latterly at Sorel since 1969. When she enters service, she will carry the eighth name of her career, ILE DE MONTREAL.
The former canal bulk carrier LOADMASTER (a) NORMAN B. MacPHERSON was acquired in the spring of 1971. She had left; the lakes back in 1959 and had served as a dredge and hopper barge around Saint John, New Brunswick. She was brought back to the lakes during the past summer and was taken to the Whitby yard of McNamara Marine. There, she was outfitted with dump scow bottoms and Harbour Master marine outboards. She is now on the St. Lawrence as (c) ILE D'ORLEANS,
It seems possible that ILE D'ORLEANS will be reunited with her sister ship and former running mate CHARLES R. HUNTLEY, Together, they sailed originally for the Eastern Steamship Co. and later for the Upper Lakes & St. Lawrence Transportation Co. Ltd. The HUNTLEY has been a dredge for McNamara for the last decade. It appears that she may see some service on the North Traverse project as her outboard propulsion, which replaced her original steam machinery several years ago, has now itself been exchanged for conventional diesel engines.
The North Traverse job requires a unique approach to dredging. Considerable imagination and engineering skill has gone into the preparation for the challenge and perhaps we are witnessing the start of what might become common dredging procedure.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.