The repercussions are still coming from the STEELTON - Bridge 12 collision at Port Robinson on August 25th. The problem which first reared its head was that of the lack of communication between the east and west halves of the small town which depended upon the bridge to join the two together into one community. Not only are folks on the west side no longer able to travel to the small (!) shopping area on the east, but the fire hall is located on the east side and the other half of the town has been effectively isolated from any municipal fire protection. The Seaway Authority finally agreed to pay the cost of erecting a shelter to house a fire truck on the west side of the canal and in addition agreed to provide a small ferry for those pedestrians wishing to cross the canal. We have not as yet seen any sign of the ferry but early in December the floating pier sections usually placed below Lock 4 were moved up to Port Robinson and it is evident that they will be used to provide a foot bridge once navigation on the canal has ceased for the winter.
A more important problem is posed by a number of lawsuits which have been commenced in U. S. Federal Court at Cleveland by shipowners who are claiming damages for loss of business as a result of their ships being delayed by the closing of the canal after the STEELTON accident. The defendant named in each action is the Bethlehem Steel Corp, but it seems reasonable to assume that the Seaway Authority will be added as a third party defendant since liability is in dispute. The ships involved are the passenger vessel STELLA MARIS II and the salt water freighter PALIAS and tanker BOW ROGN. The actions ask damages of $41,356.00, $61,917.00 and $100,848. respectively. It appears that further actions may be commenced by other vessel operators in the near future.
The Welland Canal itself will remain open until January 17 to allow the steel mills at Hamilton to continue shipments of coal and ore. Stockpiles had been running low due to the canal closing in August and also due to the two-month shipping strike in August and September. As a result of the extension to the lower lake shipping season, many of the larger carriers have not gone into winter quarters as yet and are still hauling coal. It appears that many of them will work into January on this run and will then, if weather conditions permit, head up the lakes for a transit storage cargo of grain.
The St. Lawrence Seaway section of the canals closed on schedule on December 17 and all salt water vessels were able to clear the canal without difficulty. Due to the warm weather conditions prevailing, there were no ice problems encountered.
At Strathearne Terminals in Hamilton, the last remains of the canal tanker CARDINAL have now disappeared under the wreckers' torches and work has commenced on the final scrapping of the Canadian Dredge & Dock tugs A. M. GERMAN, FRANK DIXON and STRATHMORE. It will be remembered that preliminary cutting was begun on this trio two years ago but work was stopped by court order because of legal problems arising out of the actions of a number of local gentlemen whose dealings had come under public scrutiny. Presently waiting at Strathearne and untouched as yet by the torches is the large steam tug CHRIS M.
Marine Salvage Ltd. is making short work out of the scrapping of the drill rig NORDRILL, (a) GLENCORRIE, (b) SIMCOE (I), at Humberstone. Meanwhile we have received a further report that JACQUES GRAVEL, currently reposing in Ramey's Bend, will in fact be used by Underwater Gas Developers Ltd. in connection with their gas drilling operations on Lake Erie. We understand that Marine Salvage only has the vessel to prepare her for her new duties.
Every once in a while the gremlins creep into these pages and so it was with the Marine News section of our December issue. Our thanks to the sharp-eyed readers who brought it to our attention that the Thursday in November on which ROY A. JODREY sank in the American Narrows section of the upper St. Lawrence was the 21st and not the 22nd as we had reported. In addition, we have further details to the effect that the motorship did actually strike Pullman Shoal itself and not just the buoy. The grounding occurred at 2240 hours on the evening of Wednesday, November 20th although the vessel did not sink below the surface of the river until 0309 on Thursday morning. We have still heard no explanation as to how the JODREY managed to get out of the regular channel.
A few issues ago, we reported that the Hindman Transportation Company Ltd. had sold its veteran steamer RUTH HINDMAN to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping. We now have word that the sale has not been completed and there is considerable doubt as to whether the vessel will be junked at this time. This of course, may not mean further operation for the ship but may just indicate that conditions are not right for a scrap sale now. In the event that further operation of the vessel is considered, we wonder how she will get through her inspection and survey (which is now due) as we understand that she is in pretty rough condition with much work to be done.
The newest Algoma self-unloader ALGOSOO entered service in December much, we suppose, to the relief of her owners who have been hurting since the loss of ROY A. JODREY. We have not as yet seen her ourselves, but we understand that she looks much like TADOUSSAC with her pilothouse forward and the boom aft.
The days are drawing short for the last few remaining wooden goelettes on the St. Lawrence River and among those currently abandoned which had made trips into the lakes in happier times are MONT STE. MARIE at St. Joseph de la Rive and AMANDA TRANSPORT and G. MONTCALM at Ile-aux-Coudres. Also laid up at the latter location is JEAN RICHARD, one of the last wooden goelettes built. Those of our members who attended the December meeting will recall that we saw an excellent film showing the construction of the JEAN RICHARD at La Petite Riviere St. Francois in 1959.
At the end of the 1973 season, the future of the tanker IMPERIAL SARNIA was in considerable doubt as the company had let it be known that her retirement was imminent. It was, therefore, with much surprise and happiness that we saw her fit out this spring and the fact that she was repaired after her spring grounding in the St. Lawrence led us to believe that she might not have one foot in the grave after all. Our doubts may now be laid to rest for in the Winter issue of "Imperial Oil Fleet News" an official announcement was made by Imperial Oil Ltd. to the effect that plans to retire IMPERIAL SARNIA have been shelved and she is expected to continue serving the fleet for some considerable period of time to come. This is indeed good news.
In the December issue, we mentioned that the barge and former carferry PERE MARQUETTE 21 was seen late in November loading portions of the old kilns at the Peerless Cement plant at Port Huron, Michigan. The plant is being dismantled (much to the pleasure of photographers at the Huron Cut) and sections are being shipped to Saudi Arabia for reassembling there. PERE MARQUETTE 21 passed down the Welland Canal on December 11 in tow of the tugs AMERICA and OHIO, with SALVAGE MONARCH assisting, and appears to have cleared the lakes before the closing of the St. Lawrence section of the Seaway. It is believed that the barge will make the crossing of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean with her cargo and we are wondering about the joys of crossing the North Atlantic in mid-winter on a cut-down Great Lakes carferry. It remains to be seen whether PERE MARQUETTE 21 will return to the lakes in the spring to pick up more pieces of the Peerless plant.
The former Trois Rivieres ferry LAVIOLETTE, a 168-foot steamer built in 1947 at Sorel, was purchased during the fall by Capt. Albert Avery of Mooretown, Ontario, with the idea of running excursions out of Sarnia. He had intended to bring her from Norfolk (and we have no idea why she is at Norfolk nor how she got there) to Sarnia for reconditioning, but his plans appear to have been blocked by the failure of the Ontario Development Corporation to agree to a grant (or loan?) of the considerable funds needed to put the ferry in service. We rather doubt that Capt. Avery's dream will ever come to fruition, although we would like to see some kind of excursion service running out of Sarnia, and it appears that the ship will be disposed of to buyers on the Gulf of Mexico unless something can be worked out quickly.
It was announced in December that the Ontario Paper Company Ltd. has purchased the Inland Chartering Company Ltd., a Winnipeg broker for grain cargoes. Inland will now be arranging cargoes for the vessels of the Quebec & Ontario Transportation Company Ltd., the shipping arm of Ontario Paper.
A number of ceremonies of differing natures were held in the St. Catharines area toward the end of November to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of construction for the first Welland Canal in 1824. A week of special activities was carried out under the title of "Merritt Week" and most of the activities were centred around the life and work of William Hamilton Merritt, the man considered mainly responsible for the development of the canal and of the idea of a seaway system (however primitive it may have been at that time).
Canadian Minister of Transport Jean Marchand announced just before Christmas that the federal government had purchased the Bay of Fundy auto and passenger ferry PRINCESS OF ACADIA from Canadian Pacific. The ferry, built in 1970 at St. John, New Brunswick, and operated on the route from St. John to Digby, Nova Scotia, has allegedly been losing money ever since she entered service in 1971 (so what else is new for a C.P.R. passenger facility?) and the government will now study the prospects for future service on the run. In the meantime, C. P. will continue to operate the PRINCESS OF ACADIA on her regular schedule.
We understand that the barge HILDA, formerly one of the Roen Steamship Company's pulpwood barges and originally the carferry PERE MARQUETTE 19, will be stripped down for use in the Mediterranean. She is to be taken down the Mississippi on her way to salt water.
The 60-foot tug BAGOTVILLE, purchased earlier in 1974 from the Aluminum Company of Canada Ltd. by the Canadian Dredge & Dock Company Ltd., was rebuilt at Kingston during the late fall by her new owners. Although rather smaller than either GLEN ROVER or G. W. ROGERS, the other tugs stationed at Toronto by Canadian Dredge, BAGOTVILLE is quite a good looking tug and is making herself useful in the harbour.
Speaking of Canadian Dredge, we understand that the company's boneyard at Kingston now consists only of the dredge PRIMROSE and the decommissioned tugs LOTBINIERE and J. A. CORNETT together with some small workboats. The dredge LELAND was, of course, scrapped at Humberstone and the thing (?) JACQUES GRAVEL is at Ramey's Bend awaiting a new career. The other longtime resident of the junkyard at Kingston, the big dredge MIDLAND, was towed from there in the early fall by G.W.ROGERS but we do not know where she was taken. Presumably she has been scrapped (her condition could warrant nothing else) but we would appreciate details from anyone who may know where she went.
Making a rush to catch the Seaway before it closed, NORTHCLIFFE HALL cleared Kingston under her own power on December 15th and is presently at the Montreal yard of Canadian Vickers undergoing a refit to ready her for new duties in the Caribbean. She was the last of the three Hall Corporation motorvessels so sold to leave Kingston, EAGLESCLIFFE HALL and WESTCLIFFE HALL having preceded her to salt water. No doubt the Hall suffix will be dropped from her name as it was with the earlier pair.
As mentioned earlier in an unconfirmed report, the tanker LAKE TRANSPORT did not make the planned transatlantic crossing under her own power and is, in fact, still lying at Sorel. She was to have been used as a bunkering vessel in Spanish waters but the sale for some reason was not completed and we assume that the 1930-vintage steamer (formerly the TEXACO-WARRIOR) will be broken up on this side of the Atlantic.
A former running mate of TEXACO-WARRIOR, the still-active steamer TEXACO-BRAVE, arrived at Toronto on November 11th and tied up at the western end of the Texaco dock in the Ship Channel. She did not let down steam for the winter until mid-December so it would seem that in the interim she received a fairly exhaustive engine overhaul. If this is the case, then it would appear that the BRAVE may yet see a few more years of service. Her status has been in considerable doubt for the last few years and we had become somewhat worried since, as strange as it may sound (how soon they slip away), she is the last of the steam canal tankers still in service.
Protests are being made to U. S. authorities over the plans to close down three Customs stations at the ports of entry of Algonac, Roberts Landing and Marine City, Michigan. The closings were to occur as Customs officers at the three ports retire since replacements have been considered uneconomical due to the small volume of persons passing through the ports. More important to ship fans, the projected closings would eliminate the ferry services which currently operate between Walpole Island and Algonac, between Port Lambton and Roberts Landing, and between Sombra and Marine City. Protests directed through the Canadian Consulate in Detroit have apparently caused a delay in the closings, but it is doubtful that any lasting victory can be won in a fight against the bureaucracy of the Immigration Department. Many travellers would regret the cessation of ferry operations on these routes as they provide scenic, relaxed and uncrowded alternatives to the push and crush of the Sarnia and Windsor crossings.
The 1974 shipping season on the lakes has proven quite costly in terms of damage sustained in marine accidents of one sort or another. The latest in a series of major accidents occurred at 0245 hours on the morning of December 11th when the Greek bulk carrier GEORGIOS A. and the American self-unloader H. LEE WHITE collided in fog on the St. Clair River about one mile upstream from the town of St. Clair. The WHITE was upbound light at the time, having just unloaded an iron ore cargo at Great Lakes Steel in Trenton, Michigan, while the Greek vessel was downbound from Duluth, presumably with a load of grain. H. LEE WHITE, in her first season of operation, returned downstream to Nicholson's Dock at Ecorse for inspection and it appears that her damage was not particularly serious. The GEORGIOS A, however, received a badly ripped bow and, after going to anchor in the river, was towed stern first to Toledo by the tugs BARBARA ANN and ATOMIC. We understand that in Toledo a portion of the cargo was lightered from the ship and temporary repairs were put in hand to enable her to clear the Seaway before its December 17th closing. It is interesting to note that GEORGIOS A. was the former PATIGNIES of Belgian registry and had been a regular visitor to the lakes for quite a few years. Her name was changed at Duluth just before she began the trip on which the collision occurred.
Another recent collision, fortunately involving very little damage to either ship, occurred on Lake St. Clair on December 8th at which time the U. S. Steel bulk carrier PHILIP R. CLARKE and the Kinsman veteran MERLE M. McCURDY came together in a sideswipe impact. The CLARKE had just returned to service in the last week of November following her lengthening at Fraser Shipyards, Superior.
Those who follow the comings and goings on deep-sea passenger vessels will no doubt be interested to learn of several developments involving P & O operations. Their SPIRIT OF LONDON, just fresh from a refit at Yarrows in Victoria, B. C., has been renamed SUN PRINCESS and she will operate in the Pacific in conjunction with ISLAND PRINCESS recently purchased by P & O. Meanwhile, the company has also purchased SEA VENTURE from K/S Sea Venture A/S & Co., Norway, and it is to be assumed that she will be taken round from the Atlantic to join the P & O Pacific services. To replace SEA VENTURE on the Bermuda cruise run, Flagship Cruises Ltd. has chartered Holland America's idle VOLENDAM and she will be renamed SEA VENTURE 2 for her new duties.
Last month we reported the loss of BELVOIR, (a) BELVOIR (70), (b) NAZCA which sank after striking a submerged object in the Caribbean on November 12. NAZCA had been sold in 1973 by Compania Peruana de Vapores, Peru, to Surpana S.A., also a Peruvian concern. At the time of her loss she was owned by Bamar Marine Company Ltd., Nassau, and although this has yet to be confirmed, we presume that she had been sold to them in 1974 and that it was at this time that she reverted to her original name.
In the December issue we also commented on the grounding of EAGLESCLIFFE, (a) EAGLESCLIFFE HALL, in the Caribbean on October 18. We had been wondering why she was under tow at the time and it appears as though our question has been answered. We have a report to the effect that EAGLESCLIFFE had been on a voyage from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Talara under her own power when, for some unknown reason, she called for assistance. The British tug RUMPOINT went to the scene from New Orleans and it was while she was attending the former lake motorship that both vessels grounded. They were both refloated with no major damage and no further assistance was required.
We are normally on the lookout for hot news items to fill these pages and how we overlooked this one, we'll never know. We first learned some two months ago that the Hall Corporation had sold SCOTIACLIFFE HALL to Norwegian buyers, but we missed reporting the sale earlier. SCOTIACLIFFE HALL made her last trip down the lakes with grain from the Lakehead and was handed over to her purchasers at Halifax during the first week of December. We suspect that her owners may not have found her ideally suited for lake trading.
When the U. S. Steel lay-up list came out in late fall, it was known that HENRY PHIPPS would be joining the "surplus tonnage" fleet at Duluth's M.P. & L. dock. It now looks as though two more steamers will be joining the crowd, namely WILLIAM B. SCHILLER and RICHARD TRIMBLE which date from 1910 and 1913 respectively. The TRIMBLE was on drydock at Fraser's at the close of the season and we gather that she was found to require considerable work. The SCHILLER, always recognizable by the peculiar dip in her pilothouse sunvisor, had surprised observers when she returned to service in 1968 after the better part of a decade in lay-up. Perhaps she will be able to escape the torch a second time.
Local observers were somewhat surprised to see MARTHA HINDMAN with a cargo of sugar for the Redpath plant in Toronto last month. She arrived in port on December 14 and cleared on the morning of December 16. Later the same day, however, she returned to the Redpath dock and the next day was towed to a lay-up berth alongside the Texaco dock in the Ship Channel by the tugs GLEN ROVER and BAGOTVILLE. We have no explanation of what the problem was that caused her to go into winter quarters so unexpectedly, but from the fact that she was towed down the channel, we suspect engine troubles, MARTHA's problems have continued since she was laid up, for on the afternoon of December 31st she suffered rather severe fire damage to her after cabin, the blaze apparently starting in the galley area. The flames were shooting from portholes, the skylight and galley stack when the Toronto Fire Department arrived, but prompt action on the part of the fireboat WM. LYON MCKENZIE and shore-based firemen soon had the fire extinguished. There is little exterior evidence of the fire apart from a bit of soot staining the port side of the cabin, but we suspect that interior damage must be fairly extensive.
Once again this winter, Canada Steamship Lines package freighters will go awandering on salt water. ESKIMO has been chartered to the Agence Maritime to run between Montreal, Quebec, Baie Comeau, Port Cartier and Sept Iles. Meanwhile, PORT CHAMBLY has taken a cargo of equipment and newsprint down the east coast with stops to be made at Newport News and Florida. By the time this appears in print, she will have returned and will be operating under charter to the Quebec North Shore Paper Company for the running of newsprint from Baie Comeau south to Florida. CHAMBLY will relinquish this role during January when FORT ST. LOUIS will re-enter service after repairs necessitated by a recent fire in her cargo hold. It is not known whether FORT CHAMBLY will then lay up or whether another charter has been arranged for her. It well could be that other units of the fleet may stray from the lakes as well, since the only package freighter laid up at the usual spot beside the Hamilton terminal is FORT HENRY.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.