In our last issue, we mentioned unconfirmed reports to the effect that Johnstone Shipping Ltd. of Toronto had purchased the Columbia Transportation Division self-unloading motorship J. R. SENSIBAR. We are now pleased to report that this transaction has, indeed, taken place, and that SENSIBAR will soon be in service on the coal run between Lake Erie ports and Quebec City, operating under the new name (c) CONALLISON. The vessel was built in 1906 as Hull 14 of the Great Lakes Engineering Works shipyard at Ecorse, Michigan, as (a) FRANK C. BALL, her first owner having been G. A. Tomlinson's Globe Steamship Company of Duluth. In 1929, she was sold to the Mid-West Vessel Corporation, Cleveland, for operation by the Construction Aggregates Corporation, Chicago. Over the winter of 1929-30, she was converted from a regular straight-deck bulk carrier to a self-unloading sandsucker. The rebuild cost more than $1,000,000 (quite a handsome sum of money for those times), and included the fitting of turbine-electric drive and hydraulic sandsucking equipment. She was the world's largest hydraulic sandsucker at the time and she herself pumped most of the landfill which formed the site of the 1934-1935 Chicago World's Fair. She was chartered to Columbia in 1941 and they purchased her outright in 1943. In 1941, she was converted to a normal self-unloader for the coal and stone trades, this work being done by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. In 1960-61, the SENSIBAR was taken in hand by the American Shipbuilding Company's Chicago yard, which repowered the vessel with a 12-cylinder Nordberg diesel, lengthened her hull by 60 feet, and completely rebuilt her cabins. Nevertheless, Columbia has used her little of late because of the addition of newer tonnage to the fleet and because SENSIBAR, through years of very hard use, has come to be in something less than ideal condition. We welcome her to the Canadian flag and wish her many years of service.
After many months of uncertainty, it seems that MARLHILL will not be scrapped this year, nor will LAC DES ILES, her former running mate in the fleets of the Hindman Transportation Company Ltd. and the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. Both are to be taken to Mexico for use as grain storage barges in an effort to prevent the infestation which usually occurs when grain is unloaded at Mexican ports and must simply be piled on a pier for want of storage facilities. LAC DES ILES had earlier been acquired by Marine Salvage Ltd. which arranged the resale to the Mexican buyers, apparently with some assistance from Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. MARLHILL has actually been owned by someone named Herman, from New York City, and we must assume that Marine Salvage acted as a broker in her sale to the Mexicans. In mid-April, MARLHILL was moved to the north wall of Toronto's Leslie Street slip and LAC DES ILES to the east wall of the turning basin, where they lay stern-to-stern around the corner. Work was immediately begun on the removal of their boilers and engines, and we anticipate their early departure for the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The future of the Soo River Company's SOO RIVER TRADER, (a) SAMUEL MATHER (III)(25), (b) PATHFINDER (II)(64), (c) GODERICH (II)(80), is much in doubt as a result of boiler problems. The steamer was given an early fit-out near the Cherry Street bridge in Toronto's ship channel this spring, in anticipation of an early departure to fetch from Toledo a cargo of soya beans for Victory Mills, Toronto. During fit-out, however, a crack was found in one of her boilers. SOO RIVER TRADER's sailing was delayed, diagnostic equipment was called to the scene, and E. J. NEWBERRY was dispatched from Humberstone to pick up the TRADER's cargo at Toledo. With the boiler damage confirmed to be serious enough to prevent the operation of the 75-year-old TRADER in her present condition, she limped off to Hamilton in early April, under her own power but on only one boiler. She was immediately laid up again at Hamilton and no decision has yet been made regarding her future. We are told, however, that the TRADER's hull is in good condition, and that a method of keeping her in service is being sought, one that may involve repowering and major reconstruction.
The American Steamship Company's self-unloader NICOLET, now in her 76th year, was placed back in service this spring after the completion of extensive repairs at the Toledo yard of AmShip. It will be recalled that NICOLET suffered severe damage to her forward end, including her unloading machinery, in a fire which occurred at Toledo on December 29, 1979. The ship looks much the same now as she did before the fire, except that her handsome old pilothouse was removed and has been replaced by a small square structure which sits right over the centre of the texas cabin, a far cry from an improvement in her appearance. NICOLET cleared Toledo on April 4 on her first trip and we welcome her back to service. It is not far short of a miracle, you see, that such an elderly boat should be given such an extensive refit and, in the first few days after the 1979 fire, we had despaired of ever seeing her in operation again.
Marine Fueling Division, Reiss Oil Terminal Corporation, has discontinued its marine bunkering service at Cleveland, and its Cleveland-based tankers MARINE FUEL OIL, (a) L. G. LaDUCA (66) of 1960, WM. H. BENNETT of 1950, and MARINE FUEL II, (a) SUNOCO JR. (33), (b) POLING BROS. NO. 4 (54), (c) CEMICO FUEL (65) of 1926, are all laid up together. No doubt efforts will be made to dispose of them if buyers can be found. The only tanker remaining active in the Marine Fueling fleet is the 1978-built REISS MARINE, which operates out of Duluth - Superior, also in the bunkering trade.
How the mighty has fallen! A few years ago, all seemed rosy for the future of the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company, but Cliffs has since fallen victim to a complete reversal of fortune, particularly with the loss of the Republic Steel ore contract to the Interlake Steamship Company. So poor are things for Cliffs right now that it is planning to operate only three ships at the beginning of the 1981 season, namely WALTER A. STERLING, EDWARD B. GREENE and CLIFFS VICTORY, although that list may be reconsidered if there should be any improvement as the season progresses. Of the fourteen boats that were in the Cliffs fleet at the opening of the 1980 season, the chartered MAXINE has never operated for Cliffs and is for sale, the charters on TOM M. GIRDLER, THOMAS F. PATTON and CHARLES M. WHITE were dropped and the ships scrapped, RAYMOND H. REISS was sold for scrap as 1980 drew to a close, WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR. was "retired" and faces an uncertain future, and WILLIS B. BOYER, CADILLAC, CHAMPLAIN, WILLIAM G. MATHER and PONTIAC are presently lying idle.
The scrapping of RAYMOND H. REISS at Ramey's Bend continues quickly and, by mid-April, the cutting had progressed well down her deck, with the entire forward end gone. It seems that Marine Salvage is still hoping to sell the REISS' Nordberg diesel for further use, but we understand that there has been no great rush of prospective buyers.
THOMAS F. PATTON and CHARLES M. WHITE which, as previously reported, left Quebec on September 8, 1980, in tow of the tug FAIRPLAY IX, are now known to have arrived safely at Karachi, Pakistan, prior to December 23rd. As yet, we have no information regarding the arrival of TOM M. GIRDLER in eastern waters. Ever since the first announcement of the scrap sale of this trio of steamers last summer, it has been suggested (perhaps wishfully) that their eastern buyers might have bought the "tomatoes" for operation there, rather than for dismantling. The chances of that would now seem to be minimal.
The Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company, seems to have a very good year planned for 1981, something of a surprise during these years of indifferent financial conditions. Although a few Columbia boats will not start this spring, the 75-year-old W. W. HOLLOWAY will operate, and some of the ships may even help out with the Quebec coal trade this year. The new COLUMBIA STAR and the converted COURTNEY BURTON are due to be delivered by Bay Shipbuilding by mid-May.
AMERICAN REPUBLIC, the newest vessel of the American Steamship Company, and built specifically for the ore shuttle between Lorain and the Republic Steel plant up the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland, was commissioned in mid-April and made her maiden voyage from Sturgeon Bay to Escanaba and then on to Cleveland with ore.
The newest Interlake Steamship Company 1,000-foot self-unloader, WILLIAM J. DELANCEY, recently completed by AmShip at Lorain, was christened at that port on April 25, and should be in service before this report appears in print. DELANCEY is, of course, similar in appearance to JAMES R. BARKER and MESABI MINER, but is somewhat more advanced in internal design.
Ice conditions on eastern Lake Erie during late March and early April were rather bothersome, particularly considering that the warm weather of late winter had disposed of most of the ice elsewhere in the lower lakes. Helping ships through the heavy ice off Port Colborne harbour entrance were the U.S.C.G. NEAH BAY and the big C.C.G.S. PIERRE RADISSON. A 296-foot motorship, the RADISSON is 5910 Gross Tons and was built in 1978 at North Vancouver, B. C. The Lake Erie icefield, some 12 to 15 miles wide, was particularly troublesome for some of the lower-powered lakers and, amongst others, the RADISSON spent considerable time shepherding NEW YORK NEWS, FRANQUELIN, OUTARDE and SILVERDALE to open water.
The cement barge MEL WILLIAM SELVICK and her tug JOHN PURVES made an unexpected call at Toronto on April 12. The SELVICK, of course, normally hauls cement out of Clarkson to Lake Erie, but was prevented from docking at Clarkson's open-lake pier by strong easterly winds and heavy seas. The tug and barge sought shelter in Toronto Bay and anchored there until conditions improved. The Bultema Dock and Dredge Company's JOHN PURVES was built for the U.S. government in 1919 and served previously as (a) L.T. 145, and (b) BUTTERFIELD (57). She is probably best known for her many years of service with the Newaygo Tug Line and the Roen Steamship Company. The Selvick Marine Towing Corporation's barge MEL WILLIAM SELVICK is a real veteran, her hull dating back to 1892. She was known until 1973 as (a) SAMUEL MITCHELL, but she has not operated under her own power since 1963, at which time she was still owned by Huron Cement, the company for which she laboured for most of her life.
Back on January 21, 1978, the Kinsman steamer HARRY L. ALLEN, (a) JOHN B. COWLE (II)(69), a veteran dating from 1910, was destroyed by fire when the burning Capital No. 4 elevator at Duluth, alongside which she was moored, fell on her. Well beyond the possibility of repair, the remains of ALLEN were sold to the Hyman-Michaels Company which dismantled her at Duluth. We understand that the underwriters paid out some $635,000 to Kinsman for the loss of the ship, and that the underwriters are now taking subrogation (recovery) proceedings against the International Multifoods Corporation, the owner of the aged elevator, alleging legal liability for damage to the ALLEN through the "negligence" which caused the fire.
There would appear to have been a reorganization of the Kinsman fleet but we do not yet know how these changes may be manifest in the operation of the six steamers presently belonging to the fleet. As we understand the situation, the ownership of ALASTAIR GUTHRIE, KINSMAN INDEPENDENT and WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE remains with S & E Shipping Corporation, while C. L. AUSTIN, FRANK R. DENTON and MERLE M. McCURDY are now owned by Kinsman Lines Inc., the concern that has operated the S & E fleet in the several years since the last Kinsman reorganization. We also are told that Kinsman Lines Inc. is closely related at present to a consortium consisting of General Mills, the Peavey Grain interests, and International Multifoods. It is interesting to note that the three oldest boats of the fleet are those involved in the present ownership change. The entire fleet will be operated in 1981, with the exception of ALASTAIR GUTHRIE which, for the time being, will remain idle at Buffalo.
With business conditions being what they have been of late, it has been several years since any vessels of the U.S. Steel Great Lakes Fleet have ventured down the Seaway. Indeed, with the shrinking of the tinstack fleet, we rather doubted that any would sail eastward again. So far this spring, however, ENDERS M. VOORHEES, LEON FRASER and IRVING S. OLDS have all passed down through the canals with grain for Baie Comeau.
The refitting of LAC STE. ANNE, with the boilers from the scrapped BROOKDALE (II), has been accomplished at the Law stone dock at Humberstone. By mid-April, LAC STE. ANNE's big stack had been placed back in position and the finishing touches were being put to the job. There is no external change in the steamer's appearance but no doubt she will perform much better mechanically with her newer, albeit second-hand, boilers.
Meanwhile, the scrapping of BROOKDALE herself is well underway at Port Maitland. Her replacement in the fleet of Westdale Shipping Ltd., LEADALE (II), (a) JOHN A. KLING (81), is now in service in her new owner's livery. LEADALE's hull has not yet been repainted in its entirety, and she still has her name in black on the full white forecastle in the same manner as does SILVERDALE. Thus the Westdale fleet is now evenly divided in this respect, for NORDALE and ERINDALE are painted more traditionally, with black forecastles and white rails.
The appearance of FRANKCLIFFE HALL is somewhat altered this season, apparently as a result of problems encountered after her 1980 conversion to a self-unloader. The placing of her extremely large unloader "box" immediately forward of the stack seems to have caused a downdraft problem and her funnel has now been increased in height by about half its original height, now looking much like the stack carried by CARTIERCLIFFE HALL. Her strange appearance results not only from the increased height of the stack but also from the fact that, although the white 'H' was raised proportionately higher up on the stack, the white "wishbone" was left in its old position.
The refitting of CONCRETIA seems to be progressing at Kingston, and her new owner is hoping to have her ready and available shortly for a local cruise service. The 63-year-old hull, which was originally built as a government lighthouse tender but subsequently languished, unused, for many years, in Kingston harbour, has been renamed (b) ONAYGORAH for her new duties as a sailing vessel.
Still lying at Kingston this spring is WITTRANSPORT II, the apparently derelict hull of the old Halco steam tanker CAPE TRANSPORT. Still supposedly en route to the Caribbean for use as a water tanker, the hull has simply made Kingston its latest resting place in its travels around Lake Ontario. She was originally to be taken to the east coast via the New York State Barge Canal in the late autumn of 1977 after having been stripped of her superstructure at Toronto.
A substantial portion of the U.S.-flag lake fleet was idled just before Easter as a result of a strike by engineers and deck officers. Only tankers, grain carriers, and railroad carferries were exempt from the strike and, of the major vessel operators, only Kinsman Lines, Cleveland Tankers, Amoco, Hanna and Ford were able to keep their ships in service, the latter two companies because their crews belong to a different union. At the time this report was written, the strike was still in progress, but there seemed reason to expect a settlement prior to the end of the month of April.
We recently reported on the loss of the container barge CONSOLIDATOR in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Jean in November, 1980. This barge was of interest to lake historians because she had been cut down from the former Chesapeake and Ohio railway carferry PERE MARQUETTE 21, a Lake Michigan veteran. Member Rene Beauchamp has been able to clear up some confusion concerning the renaming of this vessel subsequent to her departure from lake waters. When removed from the lakes in 1976, she was taken to Sorel and it was there that the barge was renamed ESGRAN and placed under Panamanian registry. Then, before leaving Sorel, the hull reverted to the name PERE MARQUETTE 21, with Chicago as its port of registry. We do not, at present, pretend to know the reasons for these various changes, but we do know that CONSOLIDATOR was owned by Co-ordinated Caribbean Transport of Miami, Florida, when she was lost.
It was back on February 26th that MONTCLIFFE HALL suffered severe fire damage to her bridge structure whilst lying in winter quarters at Sarnia, Ontario. In the interim, the centre section of the elevated bridge has been cut away and, strangely enough, the pilothouse and accompanying cabins have now been rebuilt almost exactly as they were, so that there is very little difference externally between "then" and "now" photos of the ship. Most observers had expected MONTCLIFFE HALL to be the recipient of a rebuild similar to that given CARTIERCLIFFE HALL after her tragic 1979 fire.
We are now in a position to elaborate on the new ownership of JENSEN STAR, (a) FRENCH RIVER (81), which was fitted out at Kingston this spring for salt water service. Her actual purchaser is Jensen Shipping Ltd., Montreal, which is an affiliate of Mount Royal Marine Repairs Ltd. and W. F. Walsh Inc., both of Montreal.
As of late April, D. C. EVEREST, not yet renamed, was lying in the Leslie Street slip off Toronto's turning basin, where she was being readied for the installation of her new deck crane. She will be operating during 1981 as (b) CONDARRELL for Johnstone Shipping Ltd. Meanwhile, Johnstone's CONGAR (III) fitted out rather quickly during April and was placed back in the tanker service which she established during 1980.
We now have additional information on the formation (or perhaps, we should call it the "re-formation") of Newfoundland Steamships Ltd., the St. Lawrence River and east coast co-operative shipping venture of Clarke Transport Canada Inc. and Chimo Shipping Ltd. The company's vessels will carry stack colours which are a mixture of the old Clarke and Chimo designs, a blue funnel with white band and diamond, and a red top, with Chimo's "sheaf" symbol on the diamond in red. Hulls will probably be Chimo red rather than Clarke orange. Newfoundland Steamships will operate four boats on a regular basis; CHIMO has been purchased outright from Clarke, CABOT is on a ten-year bareboat charter from Clarke, A. C. CROSBIE is on a ten-year bareboat charter from Chimo, and LADY M. A. CROSBIE is on a three-year sub-bareboat charter from Chimo (her real owner being the United Baltic Corporation Ltd. of London, England). Meanwhile, Chimo has sold its PERCY A. CROSBIE to 103058 Canada Ltd. of Ste-Foy, Quebec, which is an affiliate of Boreal Navigation Inc., and she has been renamed BAIE JAMES.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.