When TEGUCIGALPA heads southwards for the Caribbean this spring, she will have company. Imperial Oil Ltd., Toronto, has sold IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD to Fletamar S.A. of Honduras, the same firm which earlier bought IMPERIAL LONDON from Marine Salvage Ltd. It is anticipated that COLLINGWOOD's preparations for departure from the lakes will be less involved than those of her sister, for while LONDON spent several years of idleness at Ramey's Bend after her retirement by Imperial, COLLINGWOOD ran right through the 1978 season. There is no word yet on a new name for IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD.
On November 16 at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the Bay Shipbuilding Corp. launched its Hull 722, a 630-foot self-unloader built to the order of the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company. The ship, rather small by today's standards but designed to service smaller ports and wharves regularly visited by Columbia boats, will be christened FRED R. WHITE JR. in honour of the retired vice-chairman of the Oglebay Norton board. The ship is due to be commissioned in the spring.
The strike against the American Shipbuilding Company, which began back in August, continues and not only AmShip but the whole U.S. lake shipping industry is feeling its effects. For example, the Interlake Steamship Company has had to postpone the conversion to a self-unloader of its ELTON HOYT 2nd and the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company has had to put off a similar conversion for EDWARD B. GREENE. Both conversions had been scheduled for this winter at AmShip's Lorain yard. There are no prospects for an early settlement of the labour dispute.
For some five years now, the cement-carrying barge SEA CASTLE, owned by Penn Dixie Industries Inc., Petoskey, Michigan, has been lying idle at Milwaukee, her condition deteriorating rapidly. It seemed unlikely that she would ever again operate but, happily, things are looking up for the barge. SEA CASTLE has been moved to the shipyard at Sturgeon Bay and will there be refitted for her re-entry into service. SEA CASTLE was built in 1909 at Newcastle-on-Tyne as (a) KAMINISTIQUIA (16), and later sailed as (b) WESTOIL (23), (c) J. B. JOHN (I)(51), and (d) JOHN L. A. GALSTER (69). She was converted to a cement carrier in 1929 at Manitowoc and in 1969 she was cut down from a steamer to a barge.
The new United States Steel Corp. Great Lakes Fleet self-unloader EDWIN H. GOTT was hurriedly pulled from the Bay Shipbuilding yard on January 13 so that she would not be trapped for the duration of the winter by the heavy ice forming in the area. GOTT made her way through ice in excess of 18 inches in thickness while leaving Sturgeon Bay and arrived safely at Milwaukee on January 14. She will continue fitting out at Milwaukee and will not likely be placed in regular service until early February. At the time of this writing, U.S. Steel was operating its usual contingent of vessels in the winter navigation programme.
Last month, we mentioned that several tinstackers are expected to be retired from service with the advent of EDWIN H. GOTT. One of those mentioned was the beautiful WILLIAM A. IRVIN which, with her triple-deck bridge structure, her tall stack, and the cloud of dense coal smoke which habitually followed her everywhere, has been one of the most picturesque lake steamers, particularly since the retirement several years ago of her sistership, GOVERNOR MILLER. We understand that the IRVIN grounded on her last trip down to Lake Erie in December and that she did a job on her bottom which will ensure her retirement. We will miss her but will continue to hope that some other operators may purchase both IRVIN and MILLER.
The 1978 navigation season for the port of Toronto came to a close rather late, for it was not until January 9, 1979, that the last vessel arrived for lay-up. The last arrival was the Westdale Shipping Ltd. self-unloader NORDALE, (a) STADACONA (II)(69), which had been kept on the Colborne to Clarkson stone run later than normal in order to catch up on tonnage commitments.
The keel was laid at Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. on November 1, 1978 for Hull 65, the self-unloader ordered by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. as a sistership of CANADIAN TRANSPORT (II). The latter vessel is currently at the fit-out wall being readied for her spring debut.
Upper Lakes, meanwhile, has solved the question of where ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR will receive her new bow and midbody. The new hull section will be built at Port Weller as Hull 66, the work to begin in August once Hull 65 has been removed from the graving dock. The conversion is expected to be completed in time for the 1980 opening of navigation. ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR is presently operating on salt water. Her sister, ST. LAWRENCE PROSPECTOR, is in the shipyard at St. John, New Brunswick, where she also is undergoing her lengthening to full Seaway size. She will emerge later in 1979 as (c) CANADIAN PROSPECTOR. The conversion of CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER to a self-unloader should also be under way at St. John, the vessel having been towed there from her lay-up berth at Tampa, Florida.
The question of whether the new ore dock for the Republic Steel Corporation would be located in Cleveland or elsewhere has been resolved and the solution is one which seems satisfactory to all parties except the city of Cleveland itself. Due not only to the actions of Cleveland municipal officials but also to the amount of work and time needed to create at Cleveland a dock for taconite capable of handling 1,000-footers, it was decided to locate the new facility at Lorain, a city elated at the decision. A deal was worked out with the Chessie System for the use of a wharf which will be quite adequate for the purposes and which has deep-water access without costly dredging. The Lorain dock should be in operation by 1980, a considerable improvement over the projected date had Cleveland been selected.
By the time the new dock is in use, the Republic ore shipping contract will have been taken over from Cleveland Cliffs by the Interlake Steamship Company. While the Cleveland dock site was under consideration, it was suggested by certain observers that the so-called "Red Tomatoes" of the Cliffs fleet, TOM M. GIRDLER, CHARLES M. WHITE and THOMAS F. PATTON, all C-4 conversions, might be cut down to barges and used to haul pellets from a lake-front unloading dock up the Cuyahoga River to the Republic mills. In view of the selection of Lorain as the dock site, it seems likely that the C-4s will remain with Cliffs in their present shape and that a new vessel will be built for the Lorain - Cleveland shuttle; probably a ship of fairly light construction (her open lake exposure will be minimal), with open hatches a la ROBERT S. McNAMARA, she will almost certainly be self-propelled rather than a tug-barge combination.
While Republic goes ahead with its Lorain project, we understand that Hanna Mining Company and Conrail are considering the building of an ore-receiving facility at Cleveland on Whiskey Island. To be capable of handling 1,000-footers, the dock might be located near what is now the C & P dock. It will be interesting to see what may develop in this regard.
The Ford Motor Company's WILLIAM CLAY FORD arrived at Fraser Shipyards, Superior, on January 9 and will reportedly be lengthened by approximately 120 feet during her visit. The 629-foot steamer was built in 1953 at River Rouge, Michigan, and although we have been hearing rumours of such a lengthening for several years, Ford has maintained silence concerning the project.
The December 22 accident involving the Interlake Steamship Company bulk carrier CHARLES M. BEEGHLY was much more serious than early reports indicated. BEEGHLY was outbound at the Duluth harbour entrance when she somehow managed to run foul of an underwater section of the inner pier. An eyewitness reported that she hit the obstruction with such force that she stopped dead in the water! The steamer was backed out of the entrance and into the harbour where she settled, was pumped out, and settled a second time. It is hoped that repairs can be completed by Fraser Shipyards, but its drydock is already overloaded with work, a situation due in part to the AmShip strike.
The new name GASPE TRANSPORT was painted on the former ARSENE SIMARD during late December upon completion of the transfer to Hall Corporation from Branch Lines Ltd. GASPE TRANSPORT is presently sporting Halco's new stack design; the lower portion of the stack below the wishbone is now a bluish colour instead of the red that had been anticipated and which was tried on one tanker. The new design will appear on all Halco boats during 1979.
Speaking of stack colours, it seems likely that Misener Transportation Ltd. will repaint RALPH MISENER with the traditional black-and-silver-bands design which has been carried by Mathews and Misener vessels for so many years. Gone will be the blue stack with the modernistic logo which has adorned the ship since her building and which surely has represented an all-time low in the history of "corporate graphics".
Groupe Desgagnes of Pointe-au-Pic, Quebec, allegedly will build a series of eight vessels of approximately 8,000 tons each. The company would have liked to let the contract to a local shipyard but budgetary considerations have dictated that the orders go to Korean builders. Desgagnes has operated coasters for many years and some of them have traded into the lakes.
While controversy rages in response to the "renaming" of the Algoma Central Marine bulk carrier V. W. SCULLY in December for the filming of certain scenes for the proposed film "November Gale", the real EDMUND FITZGERALD has again been in the news. An outfit going by the name of Canadian Submersibles of Halifax has purchased a sophisticated submersible from Deep Diving Systems of Thunder Bay and is presently testing it on the east coast. The company claims to have had discussions with Oglebay Norton with reference to using the machine to explore closely the wreck of the "FITZ" in the hope of locating further clues to the reason for the loss of the ship.
Contrary to earlier reports, the former Westdale Shipping Ltd. self-unloader LEADALE did not leave North American waters last autumn for scrapping in Colombia. She got only as far as Quebec City and is now wintering there at a berth in the St. Charles River. We understand that her owner is one L. Richardson, but we are none the wiser for having said so. We have no idea who this L. Richardson may be nor what he or she may be going to do with the steamer. If LEADALE is to head south after all, it may well be that the new owner considered the spring to be a safer time than late fall to take LEADALE on her final voyage at the end of a towline.
Canada Steamship Lines' self-unloader STADACONA (III), (a) THUNDER BAY (II) (69), suffered fire damage on December 1st while sheltering behind Keweenaw Point. Two of the ship's crew suffered smoke inhalation while fighting the blaze and were removed by helicopter to Houghton, Michigan. STADACONA suffered damage in the crew's quarters and repairs will be put in hand by the shipyard at Thunder Bay during the winter.
The Quebec government has had to bail Marine Industries Ltd. (and its parent firm) out of the financial difficulties which beset the firm after the failure of M. A. Karageorgis to accept delivery of six "Marindus"-type vessels built at the Sorel shipyard. A new company will be formed to operate the ships (presumably under Canadian registry) but, as they are too large for coastal service, it is likely that they will run to the Mediterranean.
A brief news item dated December 27 indicated that a large section of the hull of a wooden vessel had washed up on the Lake Michigan shore near Leland the previous day. We have received no further reports either on the identity of the vessel or the reason why the wreckage has suddenly come ashore.
The Canadian Transport Minister, Otto Lang, has announced that there will be an enquiry into the November 14th accident in which the tug POINTE MARGUERITE was sunk at Sept-Iles, Quebec. The tug sank when crushed between the Algoma Central Marine self-unloader ALGOBAY and the salt water bulk carrier CIELO BIANCO.
The early part of the winter navigation season went quite smoothly this year but, by mid-January, a spell of extremely cold weather caused a sudden turn for the worse. Problems were encountered in the St. Mary's River and Saginaw Bay but the worst difficulties occurred in the Detroit River. BENSON FORD was stuck in the Livingstone Channel from January 9 until the 13th and even the powerful ROGER BLOUGH became trapped when she grounded on the slush ice which Coast Guard officials believed was piled all the way to the floor of the channel. BLOUGH was used by the U.S.C.G. to try to open a path through the Livingstone but, even with the assistance of tugs, she was unable to do so and and came very near to being pushed ashore stern-first. The blockage was finally eased and the trapped boats freed on January 13 when the icebreaker WESTWIND, brought from the Straits of Mackinac for the job, succeeded in breaking through. BENSON FORD was immediately taken out of service (no wonder after all that) and was laid up at Dearborn.
C.S.L. is attempting to maintain service throughout the winter between Marquette, Michigan, and the Algoma Steel plant at the Canadian Sault. What is surprising is that the ship being used for this ore run is not LOUIS R. DESMARAIS which was built with a bow designed to facilitate movement in ice, but which did not prove to be very successful during the winter of 1977-78. Instead, C.S.L. has placed JEAN PARISIEN on the route. PARISIEN has a rounded bow but, during early January while the ship was at the Algoma plant, workmen from Purvis Marine Ltd. placed a series of fins on her bow. These devices run from the 13-foot draught mark to the 26-foot mark at a 45-degree angle. Designers of the fins believe they will cut a path through the ice somewhat wider than the ship's hull itself would normally make, thus reducing pressure on the hull and allowing PARISIEN to turn more easily in the ice. It will be interesting to see whether this system is effective in actual service conditions.
More is now known concerning the schedule for replacing the old U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes tugs with boats more suitable to the needs of winter navigation. KATMAI BAY, of course, is already on the lakes and on duty at Sault Ste. Marie. The second new tug, BRISTOL BAY, is due to arrive on the lakes in April and will be stationed at Detroit. The third, MOBILE BAY, should be ready for duty during the summer and she will be based at Sturgeon Bay. The fourth tug, only recently christened BISCAYNE BAY, should come from the Tacoma, Washington, shipyard during the autumn of 1979 and will operate out of St. Ignace. The fifth tug (and apparently a sixth, as well) will probably be in the lakes sometime during 1980. The old tugs will not yet be scrapped but will be relegated to less strenuous duties where they will not be in constant danger in the ice. NAUGATUCK will remain on duty with KATMAI BAY at the Soo during the winter and will then be sent to the east coast. KAW and OJIBWA will follow suit when their replacements arrive. RARITAN, however, will be reassigned to Cleveland and ARUNDEL to Buffalo.
In an effort to capture part of the lucrative trade of dispensing bunkers to lake vessels, the Windsor Harbour Commission has joined forces with Sterling Fuels Ltd. to improve docking facilities at the latter's property on the Detroit River and to provide adequate pumping equipment so that even 1,000-footers can be fueled there. The Sterling dock is presently used only for the discharging of furnace oil, etc., for local use.
The Stag Line salty PHOTINIA, stranded early in 1978 near Milwaukee and subsequently salvaged by the Selvick interests, was towed during December from Sturgeon Bay to Chicago for scrapping. Selvick had originally hoped to sell PHOTINIA for service but she was too badly damaged in the grounding.
The former C.N.R. river carferry LANSDOWNE may yet be rescued from a future that would, almost certainly, have meant the scrappers' torches. LANSDOWNE, which has fallen into a sorry state of disrepair in recent years, was last used by the Windsor Detroit Barge Company in river service, hut three Detroit-area men intend to purchase the former paddler and convert her into a restaurant to he moored on the Detroit riverfront. The scheme, which will include restoration of much of LANSDOWNE's cut away and/or fallen down superstructure, her paddlewheels, and one of her engines, will cost about $800,000 and work is to begin shortly. Many Detroiters are upset over the federal government's allotment of a $175,000 Urban Development Action Grant for the project which is, basically a private enterprise.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.