It was announced on October 5th that the tug and barge combination currently under construction for the Litton Great Lakes Corporation will be named PRESQUE ISLE, a name chosen in a contest open to employees of Erie Marine Inc., the Litton subsidiary which is constructing the barge. The tug, built by Halter Marine Inc., New Orleans, was due to leave for the lakes about mid-October and the two vessels should be ready for sea trials in November, after which a christening ceremony will be held. Although both tug and barge will bear the same name, they will be documented separately and will thus receive different registry numbers. Skipper of the unit when in operation will be Capt. Bill E. Jeffery, formerly of the U. S. Steel craneship CLIFFORD F. HOOD.
Every year about this time, stories start making the rounds concerning older ships which may be retired at the end of the season. Needless to say, many of these rumours turn out to be completely unfounded. The "hot" ones for this autumn have it that 1973 will see the last operation of three Q & O vessels, namely PIC RIVER, BLACK RIVER and SHELTER BAY, and one steamer of the Inland Steel fleet, CLARENCE B. RANDALL. Only time will tell....
A minor collision occurred at 3:20 a. m. on September 28th when FRANK R. DENTON and the salty FEDERAL SCHELDE sideswiped each other off Mosquito Bay in the Upper St. Mary's River. The incident occurred during a dense fog. Damage was minor and both ships continued on their way later in the day.
Many observers were surprised that Bethlehem Steel did not dispose of the bulk carrier BETHLEHEM a few years ago when the company purged its fleet of a number of older steamers. In fact, BETHLEHEM has run steadily ever since, but it now seems that she has come to the end of her rope. We are extremely sad to report that she has been sold for use as a grain storage barge in West Germany and will be delivered to her now owners at Montreal between November 15 and 20. She will then be towed across the Atlantic to her new duties. BETHLEHEM was built in 1917 at Ashtabula by the Great Lakes Engineering Works and first sailed under the name of MIDVALE. She is 580 feet in length and is powered by Skinner Unaflow engines installed in 1951.
It seems unpleasant news items always come in bunches and it is certainly true this time around. The Kinsman Marine Transit Company sold the veteran steamer, JOE S. MORROW, plus one other vessel (as yet unnamed), for scrap on September 28th and it looks as if more Kinsman steamers may soon follow suit. One prime candidate for disposal appears to be KINSMAN INDEPENDENT which suffered damage in a grounding on August 21 and is presently laid up. Seems she lost her steering in the Neebish Rock Cut (of all places) and somehow managed to avoid striking the walls of the channel, grounding in the open water below the Cut. We are particularly sorry to see the little MORROW leave the active list as she has long been one of our personal favourites.
The Hall Corporation has purchased the oceangoing motorship TOMMY WIBORG and expects to take delivery of the vessel in December. The company will rename the ship as soon as she is handed over but we understand that the name is not yet chosen.
Another Halco vessel is in the news, and this is the 1957-built canaller CONISCLIFFE HALL which for the last three years has lain idle in Kingston harbour alongside the LaSalle Causeway. The motorship has been purchased by Underwater Gas Developers Ltd., Toronto, and will be converted to a drill rig platform in much the same manner as was the steamer SIMCOE which now serves on Lake Erie under the name NORDRILL. CONISCLIFFE HALL cleared Kingston under her own power at 1400 hours on October 15th and the next day passed up the Welland Canal. She is currently lying in Port Colborne alongside the West Street wharf, roughly in the position where ACTON spent so many years. She will later be moved back below the bridges for the winter. Plans call for the ship, once converted, to take up station in Lake Erie.
Incidentally, we understand that Halco is presently attempting to dispose of the last of their small bulk carriers, namely WESTCLIFFE HALL, EAGLESCLIFFE HALL and NORTHCLIFFE HALL, for off-lakes use. It is hoped that negotiations will be concluded this fall.
The U. S. Coast Guard's icebreaker SOUTHWIND entered the lakes in September bound for Milwaukee where she will be based for the winter months. This will, however, be SOUTHWIND's last year, for she is due to be decommissioned in the spring and will probably be replaced next year by WESTWIND.
In our last issue we reported the sale of the veteran cement carrier SAMUEL MITCHELL to the Selvick Marine Towing Corp. for use in the cement trade on Lake Michigan. We can now advise that the MITCHELL has been renamed MEL WILLIAM SELVICK. From a photo we have seen, she appears to be in horrible condition.
We can all breathe a great sigh of relief, for the DELTA QUEEN will continue to sail the western rivers for another five years. We earlier reported that the House of Representatives and the Senate had voted unanimously in favour of the further exemption from the Safety-at-Sea legislation, and we have now learned that the bill was signed into law by President Nixon on August 18th.
Before the Columbia Transportation self-unloaders HURON and WYANDOTTE were dispatched overseas for scrapping this fall, their oil burners were removed. We have now heard that these will be installed this coming winter in SYLVANIA and G. A. TOMLINSON of the same fleet. We understand that the steamship inspectors have not had kind words for the present condition of the boilers of either ship.
The 709-foot Norwegian salty ROLWI sustained serious damage in a collision with the Liberian vessel MARATHONIAN in upper Lake Michigan on October 2nd. The collision, a head-on affair, ruined the entire bow of ROLWI which proceeded to Lorain for temporary repairs. With her bow still pushed in, she then descended the Welland Canal on her way home for permanent repair.
The Canadian Coast Guard buoy tender WOLFE will make her way to Port Weller Dry Docks in April 1974 for lengthening by 30 feet and the fitting of an icebreaking bow. The contract, which calls for the delivery of the vessel by the end of June, is worth $1,250,000 to Port Weller. The yard is also low bidder for the construction of a 400 foot carferry for the Canadian National service to Newfoundland and officials of the yard are anxiously awaiting word on whether they will be awarded the contract.
Two salt water vessels have been the victims of autumn groundings in lake waters, both accidents occurring on October 20th. The Liberian tanker OLYMPIC SKY, a regular visitor to Toronto this summer, lost her steering in the Seaway and grounded on Crysler Shoal above Cornwall. The British bulk carrier VANCOUVER TRADER went hard aground the same day in Port Colborne harbour after holing herself on a rock. Both vessels were released the following Thursday.
The American Steamship Company has let a contract with the Bay Shipbuilding Company of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for another self-unloader which will probably be similar to CHARLES E. WILSON. Scheduled for delivery in 1976, the motorship will measure 770 x 92 x 52. Bay Shipbuilding will also build a vessel for Inland Steel and this carrier should be ready by 1977.
One of the most surprising news items to come to light in recent months concerns the 68-year old Boland and Cornelius self-unloader NICOLET. The veteran steamer, still actually owned by the Gartland Steamship Company, will be dieselized this winter at Bay City, Michigan, by the Defoe Shipbuilding Company. Seems the old girl must have lots of life in her yet!
Quite a bit of publicity has been given recently to a young lad from Plymouth, Michigan, who was visiting Pelee Island in Lake Erie during the month of August and found lying on the shore a ringbuoy from the self-unloader CARL D. BRADLEY. The BRADLEY sank in Lake Michigan on November 18, 1958, with the loss of thirty-three lives. Now, we have not been involved in the investigation of this peculiar find nor would we care to suggest that the artifact is not genuine, but we do have our doubts that any lifering could survive fifteen years of exposure to the elements....
At the time of this writing no decision has yet been made by municipal authorities on the proposed rebuilding of the steam sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM, but the three Toronto papers have been giving the plan a great deal of publicity and the general atmosphere amongst the politicians seems to be favourable. With any luck at all, we may be seeing TRILLIUM in operation in a few years. If the project should be approved, the Metro Parks Department, operators of the Island ferry service, hope to use TRILLIUM in the charter service on summer weekday evenings (they already do quite a charter business with the current ferries) and in regular service to Centre Island on weekends.
Lake vessel operators have announced plans to keep at least thirty-two vessels running late this winter in an attempt to demonstrate further the possibilities of an extended shipping season. One surprise is that U. S. Steel plans to keep ROGER BLOUGH going as long as possible. We had thought that, after last winter, they might not push their luck with her. One of the U. S. S. boats, IRVING S. OLDS, is to go to Fraser Shipyards in Superior for conversion from coal to oil firing and Fraser has asked the Seaway Port Authority of Duluth to keep the Duluth entry to the Superior-Duluth harbour open into the first week of February so that the OLDS can proceed there after she finishes her icy duties. She is expected at Fraser's about February 8th.
A dispute in early October between crewmen of the Great Lakes Towing Company's tugs and the members of the Upper Great Lakes Pilots Inc. led to chaos at Duluth and Superior as salt water vessels began to back up and clog the harbour. The dispute allegedly started when tugmen refused to deal with the pilot assigned to the Belgian vessel FEDERAL SCHELDE and the pilots replied by refusing to handle any other vessels. At our last report things were still up in the air as relations between the groups remained strained.
Another hot spot at Duluth-Superior was the Arrowhead Bridge which, on October 2nd, was struck by the Kinsman steamer PETER ROBERTSON. The vessel sustained little if any damage, but the bridge required replacement of two main supports, a fender and a pile cluster, a job estimated to take approximately two weeks. The bridge which carries heavy interstate traffic was to be closed to autos for the repair period.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.