Nothing startling has yet been announced regarding the disposal of further units of the Kinsman Marine Transit Company's fleet but a number of U. S. companies are reportedly interested in acquiring some of the ships. In addition, we have heard that two Canadian operators have been casting covetous eyes on certain vessels. Bearing in mind that the shipping season for 1975 is not far off, news should begin to break on the Kinsman situation shortly.
Scrapping operations on the retired U.S. Steel bulk carriers have now begun and we have received a report that cutting is progressing quickly on HENRY H. ROGERS at Duluth. Next in line for the torch after the ROGERS is gone will be GEORGE G. CRAWFORD. It looks as if quite a few of the older Tinstack steamers may feel the torch before this purge is completed.
Local observers were somewhat surprised when Halco's coastal tanker RIVER TRANSPORT made a trip into the lakes late last autumn. This 309-foot wartime-built motorship ran into the lakes regularly during the early and mid-sixties but in later years has kept mostly to the St. Lawrence and the east coast. She is presently laid up for the winter at Hamilton and on a recent visit to the port your Editor noted that the port of registry on RIVER TRANSPORT's stern had been freshly changed from Montreal to Nassau. This could mean a transfer of ownership to Halco's Bahamian subsidiary, the Algonquin Corporation, but we suspect instead that a sale to foreign interests has been completed and that RIVER TRANSPORT will be forsaking Canadian waters for the warmer climes of the Caribbean.
Scrapping of the tugs A.M. GERMAN and STRATHMORE has been completed at Strathearne Terminals in Hamilton but the hull of the big tug FRANK DIXON, another former Canadian Dredge & Dock unit, is still lying at the back of the Wellington Street slip. It is to be assumed that she will follow under the torch in the spring. Meanwhile, the only vessel lying at the Strathearne yard at present is the steam tug CHRIS M. She has been stripped out pretty well but has not yet been moved into the scrapping berth.
The hovercraft TORYOUNG II, damaged in an accident last autumn and seized by the Toronto Harbour Commission for salvage costs, is still lying on the dock at the foot of Parliament Street at Toronto and as yet no move has been made to repair the tear in her starboard quarter. Her owner, Can-Am Hover Express, went out of business last October and we rather doubt that anyone will wish to take over the Toronto-Niagara service. Who's for running a steamboat on the route?
Two of the Canada Steamship Lines bulk carriers laid up at Montreal this winter have very unusual storage cargoes. It would be normal to assume that they would have loads of grain, but this is not the case. BAIE ST. PAUL and RICHELIEU called at Pointe Noire, Quebec, on December 24th and 27th respectively and each loaded iron ore pellets from Wabush Mines. The cargoes are being held in transit at Montreal for the winter months and when the canals reopen the two vessels will proceed to Hamilton. The ore is consigned to the Steel Company of Canada Ltd.
Much to the surprise of residents of the Port Robinson area, Canadian Minister of Transport Jean Marchand announced on February 3rd that no replacement will be built for the former Bridge 12 over the Welland Canal. Earlier speculation was to the effect that either a new bridge would be built or else a tunnel dug under the canal somewhere between Port Robinson and Allanburg. The federal government has apparently studied the situation and feels that the volume of traffic to which the facility would cater does not warrant the great expense involved in constructing a new crossing. Needless to say, the provincial authorities are likewise not interested in becoming involved in such a project. Since the announcement by Mr. Marchand, there has been an extremely hostile reaction from the Thorold town council and from the local regional municipality and it appears that the residents will continue their fight for a bridge or tunnel. While we really must agree with certain comments concerning the size of the town of Port Robinson and the fact that the transportation needs of its few residents could hardly warrant such a huge outlay of taxpayers' money, we do feel that Bridge 12 was an important canal crossing and the construction of an alternative route should not be dismissed so abruptly. Anyone who ever waited in the resulting line of traffic whenever the bridge was raised can vouch for the large number of motorists who regularly used the bridge.
We understand that the new Paterson motorship currently under construction at Collingwood will bear the name ONTADOC when she enters service this spring. launched in January., the vessel will be very similar to PRINDOC (III) and LABRADOC (II) which were built in 1966 at Lauzon. We are pleased to note that the ship will be reviving a most historic Paterson name. The original ONTADOC, retired in 1970 and subsequently sold overseas for scrapping, will be remembered as the last conventional steamer in the company's fleet.
For those of our members who may be rolling in extra cash, we should report that the U.S. Maritime Administration has approved the sale of the idle 23-year old passenger liner UNITED STATES to a group of businessmen who have plans of turning the famous vessel into a floating condominium for the "ultra, ultra rich." We somehow doubt that these plans will ever come to fruition, despite the fact that the buyers have bid something in excess of $13-million, but there is a certain attraction to the idea of having a home that travels from one city to another by sea. The attraction speedily departs at the slightest mention of the astronomical sums which the new owners will be asking from those seeking to buy space aboard the vessel - a single room will go for $650,000 and from there on the sky is the limit!
The mayor of the city of Cleveland has asked for $100-million from the State of Ohio to be used to reconstruct the entrance to Cleveland harbour, to provide modernized docking facilities and to develop the old river for use by maximum-sized vessels. Local authorities seem to feel that this reconstruction will be necessary if Cleveland is to survive as a port serving the operators of 1000-foot carriers.
The details of the Hamilton Harbour Commission scandal are gradually coming to light as an inquiry digs deeper into the problems involving the awarding of dredging contracts. What has been labelled as the "Hamilton Harbourgate" now appears to be a much bigger problem than was earlier expected and the name of a federal cabinet minister has even been mentioned in the probe. To make matters worse, there are now allegations of contract-fixing among a number of dredging firms including Porter, McNamara, and Canadian Dredge & Dock, and the scope of the inquiry has been broadened to investigate alleged improprieties in the handling of the North Traverse dredging project near Quebec City. This has all the earmarks of becoming a very dirty and drawn-out affair.
The fleet of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. has gained a new vessel, but we will never see her in the lakes. On Thursday, February 27th, Leitch Transports Ltd., an Upper lakes subsidiary, took delivery at Hamburg of the Norwegian bulk carrier THORSDRAKE, formerly owned by Thor Dahls Hvalf. A/S of Sandefjord. Launched under the name AMASONE, she was built in 1967 at Haverton-Hill-on-Tees by the Furness Shipbuilding Company Ltd. She measures 700.0 x 96.2 x 53.4 and her tonnage is 29,248 Gross, 18,732 Net. The motorship is far too beamy ever to come up the Seaway and Leitch will use her on the east coast, probably in the coal trade. Purchased at a cost of approximately $13.5-million, THORSDRAKE is to be renamed CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER for her new duties.
It is very seldom these days that we hear of large ships being stolen from their owners and being chased by the authorities. About the closest we have come was last year when the British tanker HALCYON THE GREAT was sneaked away from Canadian waters to avoid seizure over an unpaid bunkers bill, the cause of the whole escapade being the bankruptcy of her owners, the Court Line. And yet, just as we are going to press with this issue, the R.C.M.P. is trying to catch and stop a stolen 2000-ton motorship which is making its way out the Gulf of St. Lawrence towards international waters.
The story started a few years ago when a Montreal native by the name of Brian Erb refloated the 1964-built Danish freighter CLARA CLAUSEN which had been stranded near Les Escoumins on the St. Lawrence. He purchased the vessel and renamed her ATLANTEAN NO. 1. He converted her to a salvage ship and nothing much was heard about her until the winter of 1973-74. On December 26, 1973, the Liberian bulk carrier ADELFOI grounded in the St. Lawrence near Ile d'Orleans (below Quebec City) while outward bound from a late Seaway voyage. She remained aground during the winter months and in February 1974 Erb decided, without authorization from anybody, to try to salvage the ship with the assistance of a pick-up crew. He was not on the scene long, however, when the operation was stopped by federal authorities not only for attempting salvage without permission but also for working the salvage crew in unsafe conditions. Erb was tried and found guilty and meantime ATLANTEAN NO. 1 was seized for non-payment of debts totalling more than $600,000. The creditors took him to court and it was ordered that the ship be sold at auction. The vessel was sold for the sum of $28,500 to Paul-Emile Caron of Louiseville, Quebec, and was lying at dock in Quebec City under the care of security guards. Somehow Erb managed to round up a crew, sneak them past the guards, load 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and get the ship ready to sail. She left port on Sunday, February 23, and began her dash down the St. Lawrence to the freedom of international waters. Caron complained to the Federal Court of Canada which ordered the Coast Guard and the R.C.M.P, to intercept the vessel, by now renamed ANSWER, but neither authority has displayed much interest in becoming involved, although the R.C.M.P. has been following the ship by air and the Coast Guard finally dispatched the icebreaker SIR JOHN A. MacDONALD. If the ship manages to get safely through the gulf ice and if she does not run short of fuel, Erb is expected to try to make the port of Boston en route to Freeport, but it would seem more likely that he would choose to shelter at the French islands of St. Pierre-Miquelon. At the time of this writing, it appears that ANSWER may just make it to the safety of international waters but we shall have to wait to see what happens then. Tune in to this station same time next month to hear the conclusion of the story .....
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.