The Soo River Company has decided on the name ROBERT S. PIERSON for its newly-acquired steamer GEORGE D. GOBLE, (a) WILLIAM K. FIELD (34), (b) REISS BROTHERS (70). The vessel, wintering at Hamilton, has had her after accommodations upgraded and much other work has been done, including the conversion to oil fuel of her auxiliary boiler. Her main boilers, however, will continue to be coal-fired and we understand that Soo River has made arrangements for the old R & P bunkers dock at Port Colborne to be reactivated to serve her needs. The ship's own bunkers are sufficiently capacious to allow her to carry enough coal to get her down the Seaway and back, but she will not operate below Quebec City as her condensers are unable to cope with the task of handling seawater.
PIERSON INDEPENDENT was sold for scrap by the Soo River Company shortly before the end of January and, although the buyer has not yet been identified, we presume that it will be Strathearn Terminals and that the steamer will be dismantled at Hamilton. Her condition would tend to suggest that it would be unwise to attempt to tow her overseas for scrap. In any event, she has been stripped of every possible piece of equipment, even her lifeboat davits, and her name and that of her owner have been painted out.
MARINSAL, awaiting a scrap tow overseas during 1980, is spending the winter at the Wentworth Street docks in Hamilton, complete with her appendages fore and aft as mementoes of her service as Welland Canal shunter test vessel. MARINSAL now looks somewhat forlorn, however, all the more so in that her hull was scorched at the bow and down the port side in that autumn fire at Port Weller Dry Docks after her collision with the lower east wall at Lock Two. Strangely enough, her red hull paint has burned away in one spot so cleanly that part of the "Republic Steel Corporation" name which used to appear on her side is once again visible.
The rebuilding of C. W. CADWELL seems to be almost complete at Hamilton. Much to the surprise of all, the reconstruction has not butchered the little vessel but has made a rather classy freighter out of her, somewhat along the lines of the old-fashioned "rabbits" which were once so common on the lakes. CADWELL has, of course, lost her sandsucking equipment and also her old forward cabins. The after cabin has remained virtually the same, except that the stack has been moved further aft and the forward doghouse removed from the boatdeck. A new but traditionally designed pilothouse has sprouted forward of the stack. CADWELL's hull is black, the stack black with the white letter 'M' (for McKeil) on it, and the cabins and forecastle rail white with assorted trim in shades of blue, grey and yellow. All in all, CADWELL looks very good and we welcome her return to service on Lake Ontario. We hope that she will visit the port of Toronto regularly.
The Pittston Stevedoring Corporation and two as-yet-unidentified Canadian shipping firms are continuing their efforts to initiate cross-lake freight services between the Rochester and Toronto areas. The plans have not, however, found favour with the Rochester city fathers who closed the port in 1976 and have since directed their efforts to converting the harbour area into a tourist centre.
On the other hand, plans are proceeding for the opening of the hydrofoil service across Lake Ontario in the spring of 1980. The three boats, described previously in these pages, are wintering in the harbour at Port Dalhousie. It has, however, been decided that their southern terminus is to be Niagara-on-the-Lake rather than Youngstown, New York. As the hydrofoils are all registered in Panama, their operator has had to petition for special dispensation to allow them to trade between Canadian ports whilst under foreign registry. This has been granted, but not without the attachment of several "strings". To carry U.S.-bound passengers across the Niagara River to Youngstown, the former Toronto Island ferry SHIAWASSIE, now operating on the Niagara with a second deck added, will be pressed into service. We understand that the hydrofoils will begin operation with Norwegian masters and Canadian operators, the intention being that Canadians will take command of the boats once they become familiar with their operation.
Last vessel to pass through the Soo Locks before they closed at midnight on January 15 was the U.S. Steel steamer ENDERS M. VOORHEES which followed A. H. FERBERT down the canal, EDWIN H. GOTT having passed downbound earlier in the day. With the unusually mild weather conditions experienced in the lakes area this winter, it seems strange that, after eight straight seasons of winter navigation through abominable weather and ice conditions, there are no vessels operating through the St. Mary's River in the one year when such navigation might reasonably be accomplished with a minimum of icebreaking assistance from the Coast Guard.
The U.S. Coast Guard, as a result of a hearing, has zapped Wayne Zimmerman, owner of Poirier Marine Inc. and the St. Mary's River ferry SUGAR ISLANDER, with fines totalling $2,000 as a result of an altercation between Zimmerman and the ferry's master on the evening of September 20. In mid-river on a trip to Sugar Island from Mission Point, Zimmerman fired the master who then returned the ferry to her mainland dock. Allegedly to return to the island and locate another skipper, Zimmerman, who is not a licenced operator, took the ferry across the river himself and it is from this action that the charges resulted. In addition to operating without a licenced officer aboard, he was cited for running without prescribed navigation lights and for the negligent operation of a vessel. Charges of gross negligence were dropped before the hearing. Meanwhile, officials of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority hoped to obtain the necessary state funds to complete the purchase of SUGAR ISLAND from Zimmerman before the end of February.
On Monday, January 14, a Canadian federal enquiry began hearing evidence concerning safety measures and features aboard CARTIERCLIFFE HALL, the enquiry being the result of the disastrous fire which swept her after accommodations on Lake Superior on June 5. Put very briefly, the evidence seems to indicate that CARTIERCLIFFE HALL's accommodations were not as well protected from fire as they might have been, that there were no smoke detecting devices, and that a storage room near the crew quarters was used for the storing of paint. There is some suggestion that the fire may have started in or near this paint locker, but as yet the enquiry has rendered no formal decision on the cause of the fire or the reasons why so many crew members lost their lives.
In the February issue, we mentioned that the Hall Corporation was arranging to purchase a second salt water tanker, the Norwegian LONN, a sister of the recently-purchased BIRK. We should actually have reported that Halco had completed the purchase and that the vessel, after the appropriate refit, would be commissioned as (b) CANSO TRANSPORT. Meanwhile, BIRK, which will sail for Halco as COASTAL TRANSPORT, entered drydock at Rotterdam on December 31 for her refit prior to joining the service of her new owner.
Work is progressing on the job of getting the Ann Arbor carferry ARTHUR K. ATKINSON ready for service on Lake Michigan after more than six years of idleness. The motorship's port engine, whose fractured crankshaft caused the withdrawal of the ATKINSON from service in 1973, was removed on December 21, 1979, with the assistance of two cranes, and was taken to Mount Vernon, Ohio, for repair. As other work is put in hand to repair the starboard engine and to generally refurbish the whole boat, the Railroad hopes that she will be ready for service by May, much-needed relief for the overworked CITY OF MILWAUKEE and VIKING.
ARTHUR K. ATKINSON, meanwhile, after her many years of inactivity, recently decided to go on a little sightseeing trip around Betsie Harbor at Frankfort. During a mid-January windstorm, her stern mooring lines parted and, held in place only by her bow anchors, she swung around and ended up on a mudbank. VIKING and a local tug attempted to move her back to her normal resting place but, when their efforts proved unsuccessful, the tug JOHN M. SELVICK was summoned from Sturgeon Bay. She moved ATKINSON back to her moorings on January 18.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.