The hard luck which seems to have plagued the Halco fleet in recent years appears to be continuing without respite. Not only have there been major changes in the upper echelon of the company management but, early in the week of November 24, the recently-acquired salt water tanker COASTAL TRANSPORT (the former BIRK) ran down and sank a supply launch in the Mississippi River below New Orleans. Three of the four crew members of the launch SALEE P. were still missing at last report. COASTAL TRANSPORT was taken to New Orleans for repair and a formal investigation of the accident has commenced.
On a brighter note, we understand that Halco intends to proceed with self-unloader conversions for more of its straight-deck bulk carriers. Plans are allegedly being prepared for the conversion of OTTERCLIFFE HALL but, as yet, no contract has been signed for the actual conversion. It is to be assumed that such a contract would probably go to Port Arthur Shipyards which completed a similar conversion of FRANKCLIFFE HALL earlier in 1980.
During the late autumn, the McAsphalt tug TUSKER has been busy pushing the barge LIQUILASSIE around Lake Ontario. LIQUILASSIE has been carrying petroleum products and has not been operating to McAsphalt's account. We are informed that the local company's involvement with the operation does not extend beyond the supplying of its tug as motive power for the barge.
The arrival on the lakes during October of the U.S. Coast Guard's newest tug has permitted the U.S.C.G. to proceed with plans for the reassignment of some of its tenders. The original scheme was for NEAH BAY to be stationed at Charlevoix, for SUNDEW to move from Charlevoix to Duluth, and for MESQUITE to go from Duluth to Galveston, Texas. Recent reports, however, indicate that SUNDEW simply moved to Duluth and MESQUITE to Charlevoix, with their crews switching from one ship to the other at the Soo en route.
At long last, there has been a significant step ahead in the efforts of Norman Rogers, of Toronto's Algonquin Island, to convert the old steam tug CHRIS M. into a sailing vessel. Over the past few years, the tug has gradually been cut down to the deck and her machinery removed. She has also been given back her original name, EMPIRE SANDY. Generally, however, the hull has remained little more than an eyesore as she has lain in the old ferry slip to the east of Pier 6. During the week of November 24, EMPIRE SANDY was towed off to Whitby for drydocking at the McNamara yard. We understand that she will be returned to her Toronto berth before freeze-up.
We believe now that there is much more to the story of the eastbound venture of PETER A. B. WIDENER than appears in the news item on page 4 of this issue. Unconfirmed reports include mention of a collision with a wine tanker, problems in the sale of the grain cargo, customs difficulties, and a generator failure aboard SOUTH CAROLINA. We hope to have more information in the January issue if details become available.
As the tugs OHIO and SOUTH CAROLINA (the latter in tow of the former) returned upbound from the WIDENER tow, they apparently came across the Erie sandsucker LAKEWOOD disabled off Fairport with tailshaft problems. LAKEWOOD was towed by OHIO to the G & W Welding dock at Cleveland for partial repair, and she later made her way to Port Weller for drydocking. She entered the drydock on November 21 and was able to leave under her own power on November 23. While LAKEWOOD was out of service, she was replaced on Lake Erie by NIAGARA, which was brought down from Saginaw as a temporary substitute.
As a postscript to our lead marine news item concerning LAC DES ILES, we should report that she grounded in the Detroit River below Grassy Island on October 6th. She freed herself a few hours later, but it is entirely possible that this incident caused some of the severe bottom damage which resulted the steamer's retirement a little over a month later.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.