The United States Coast Guard, plagued by an austerity program as a result of government spending cuts, has taken its big icebreaker MACKINAW out of service. The 38-year-old breaker, now stationed at Cheboygan, Michigan, will not be sold or scrapped, but is simply decommissioned pending a decision on her future. The withdrawal of the famous MACKINAW has sparked an angry reaction from lake shipping officials, who are trying to avoid the retirement of the ship in view of her capabilities as an icebreaker and in search and rescue service in inclement weather. U.S.C.G. MACKINAW has been a lake fixture for so long that it is difficult to imagine that the Coast Guard could provide reasonable facilities without her.
During early February, heavy ice conditions in the Straits of Mackinac led to the calling to the scene of four of the five new U.S.C.G. icebreaker-tugs. Summoned were KATMAI BAY from the Soo, BRISTOL BAY from Detroit, BISCAYNE BAY from St. Ignace, and MOBILE BAY from Sturgeon Bay. They were there to assist two Hannah Marine Corporation tug/tank-barge combinations as well as the steam tanker AMOCO WISCONSIN, all of which had encountered difficulties in a heavy icefield running from Lansing Shoals through Round Island Passage. Of course, had the budget cut-backs not been in effect, U.S.C.G. MACKINAW would have been on the scene and the flotilla of tugs would not have been required.
As readers will be aware, the veteran steam tankers of the Amoco Oil Company have been living on borrowed time. Observers have realized that it would not be long before the handsome tankers with the tall stacks and the deep steam whistles would be replaced by more modern boats. The 1918-built AMOCO ILLINOIS, (a) WILLIAM P. COWAN (62), was retired at the close of the 1980 season and is now laid up at Bay City, with a sale for scrapping expected shortly. Still operating in 1981 were AMOCO WISCONSIN, (a) EDWARD G. SEUBERT (62), and AMOCO INDIANA, (a) RED CROWN (62), which were built in 1930 and 1937 respectively. However, during 1981, Amoco let a contract to the Bay Shipbuilding Corporation for the construction at Sturgeon Bay of a tug and tanker barge for lake service, and it seems evident that this combination will replace either one or both of Amoco's last steam tankers. The new barge, Bay Ship's Hull 731, will be christened AMOCO GREAT LAKES, while the tug, Hull 732, will be named AMOCO MICHIGAN (II).
The canaller CONDARRELL, (a) D. C. EVEREST (81), will operate in 1982 under charter to the Algoma Steel Corporation Ltd., much as she did in 1981. She was owned last year by Johnstone Shipping Ltd., Toronto, but a reorganization of the shipping affiliations of Ship Repairs and Supplies Ltd., Toronto, will probably mean that CONDARRELL will operate in 1982 under the ownership of a different "paper company". Meanwhile, the prospects for the further operation of CONGAR (III) and CONALLISON are not good.
Last issue, we reported the retirement from service of the Ford Motor Company's 58-year-old motorship BENSON FORD. Now comes word that Ford intends to have a BENSON FORD (II) in its fleet in 1982, and that this will be accomplished by renaming the 29-year-old steamer JOHN DYKSTRA, (a) RICHARD M. MARSHALL (57), (b) JOSEPH S. WOOD (II)(66). The DYKSTRA was acquired by Ford in 1966. Meanwhile, we have heard numerous rumours concerning the future of the retired motorship BENSON FORD (I), but nothing concrete, except that the Ford folk would be willing to sell her "as is". We sincerely hope that another operator will purchase her and return her to service.
The tanker TEXACO BRAVE (II) ran into a spot of trouble on the St. Lawrence River at Quebec City on February 10th. At about noon that day, she was preparing to pass under the Quebec Bridge when she was pushed off course by the river ice. The motorship struck the bridge, apparently with her radar gear and mast. There was no damage to the bridge, and auto traffic was not delayed. TEXACO BRAVE was allowed to proceed downstream and was docked safely at Quebec for inspection and repairs.
Last issue, we mentioned that the small lake bunkering tankers MARINE FUEL II and WM. H. BENNETT had been sold and taken to the east coast for further service. MARINE FUEL II, however, appeared in an advertisement in the Third January issue, 1982, of "Boats and Harbors", which indicated that she is now located at Norfolk, Virginia. She has allegedly been refurbished and Ireland Marine Inc., Chesapeake, Virginia, is asking $150,000 for her. We have no word on the present whereabouts of the BENNETT.
The former passenger steamer CANADIANA has been a somewhat less than welcome resident of the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland, intermittently, for the better part of twenty years. She has been owned since 1968 by restaurateur James Vinci, who planned to make her into a floating restaurant, but never did so. She has gradually fallen into a very sorry state of decrepitude. On February 17, 1982, she broke her moorings in the Cuyahoga and sank. She is resting on an almost even keel, but only her pilothouse and upper deck are completely clear of the water. We have no explanation for the sinking, but Vinci now claims to have given up on the boat and says that she will be sold for scrapping. CANADIANA, 209.7 x 45.0 x 15.8, Gross 974, Net 427, was built in 1910 at Buffalo. Originally operating with her sister, AMERICANA, she served for many years as a ferry between Buffalo and the amusement park at Crystal Beach, Ontario. She ran unhappily at Toledo in 1958 and 1959, and has not operated since. She has, however, gone through many ownership changes, each decreasing her chances of returning to service. It will be interesting to see what happens to her now, although a scrap sale is likely.
There seems to be no end to the troubles which have plagued Halco Inc. for so many years. Just when observers might think that nothing else could possibly happen, something does. STEELCLIFFE HALL is wintering at Prescott this year, and we have heard that she was not properly laid up, and that there has been considerable freezing damage to the piping in her accommodations and engineroom. Another Halco boat in trouble recently was the tanker JAMES TRANSPORT, which was lengthened during 1981. On February 5, she went aground in the St. Lawrence near Batiscan, P.Q., and was refloated ten hours later. We have heard that the incident resulted in cargo spillage into the river, but we have no confirmation of this report.
Meanwhile, the enquiry continues into the Christmas Day fire aboard HUDSON TRANSPORT, which claimed the lives of seven crewmen who abandoned ship and perished in the cold waters. Although the tanker's accommodations were totally gutted, there was little damage to her machinery, and her engine has been operated since she was towed back to Montreal. It would thus appear that the damage is not as severe as we earlier feared, although HUDSON TRANSPORT'S after cabin would have to be totally rebuilt if she were to return to service.
The State of Michigan has agreed to begin negotiations with officials of Muskegon County in an attempt to make the Lake Michigan carferry VIKING available for a summer passenger ferry service between Muskegon and Milwaukee. No such service has been available since the retirement of MILWAUKEE CLIPPER at the close of the 1970 season. VIKING is one of three boats used by the Ann Arbor Railroad for its railroad ferry service out of Frankfort. Although the state and county will at least discuss the proposed service, there is no guarantee that VIKING will be made available, or that the county would be able to afford the price of chartering her.
Interestingly enough, the Clipper Foundation is seeking, via memberships, support for the preservation at Chicago of CLIPPER, (a) JUNIATA (04), (b) MILWAUKEE CLIPPER. The steamer is moored at Navy Pier and is open to the public as a museum with dining facilities. The Foundation is hoping for an even better year in 1982, and is going so far as to offer staterooms aboard the boat for private use at $5,000 per season. The group has stated that one of its aims is to get CLIPPER back in operation, the target being to raise enough money to have CLIPPER running Chicago lakefront excursions by 1985. We wish the project every possible success.
It has been many years since the city of Hamilton has had it own excursion boat of any size, although certain of the Toronto charter boats have made the odd trip to Hamilton on specific occasions. Now comes word, however, that Hamilton interests will have built a new excursion boat, which will be approximately 85 x 25. To be ready for service in 1983. she will be named MACASSA. (III), a most appropriate name for a Hamilton-based passenger boat. We will await more detail on the identity of her owner and builder.
For reasons as yet unknown, the launch of ALGOWEST, Hull 226 of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., has been set back a week. Originally scheduled to hit the water of Collingwood Harbour on April 22, the Algoma Central Marine straight-decker will instead be launched on April 29. She will be a virtual sistership to the Nipigon Transport Ltd. straight-decker LAKE WABUSH.
With reference to the item in our January issue concerning plans to return the former steam sidewheel ferry G. A. BOECKLING from Sturgeon Bay to her original home at Sandusky, Ohio, we can report satisfactory progress. The surveyor's report concerning his inspection of the hull on November 23, indicates that, with but a few minor repairs, the hull is sound enough to be taken to drydock for full inspection and such hull work as may then be found necessary. The Ohio Naval Militia has offered to provide, free of charge, a riding crew of experienced personnel for the tow to drydock at Ecorse, and to supply all equipment necessary for the tow. The Militia has also volunteered to clear her Sandusky slip of any obstructions, and to help to locate any items of equipment needed to restore the steamer for display purposes.
In the November issue, we recorded the retirement of the last Canadian Pacific passenger vessel, the 1949-built Alaska cruise steamer PRINCESS PATRICIA. Ever since the beautiful "Pat" laid up at Vancouver during October, we have wondered whether there could be any chance of her escaping the scrapyard. Although the chance of finding further operation for her would appear to be remote, we just might see PRINCESS PATRICIA in the Great Lakes, albeit not in active service. We understand that certain parties have expressed an interest in purchasing the boat and bringing her to Brockville for use as a museum and hotel facility. Those involved are allegedly exploring the availability of federal and/or provincial assistance to offset the cost of purchasing the steamer, bringing her around from the west coast, and fixing her up at Brockville. Much as we would like to see PRINCESS PATRICIA preserved, we sincerely question whether a plan of this type could succeed, and we will await further developments with great interest.
The former Misener Transportation steamer ROYALTON, resold by Marine Salvage Ltd. to C.N. Santa Maria, cleared Quebec on May 31, 1980, with MARINSAL, in tow of HANSEAT. They arrived at La Spezia, Italy, on June 25, 1980, and the dismantling of MARINSAL began on July 2, 1980. Now comes word that the cutting-up of ROYALTON was commenced on September 3, 1981, and a photo indicates that the work began with the dismantling of her after cabin, beginning at the fantail. When the cutting of MARINSAL began so soon after her arrival at La Spezia, one wonders why it took so long for the scrappers to attack ROYALTON. Did her owners have other thoughts in mind?
When the three Republic Steel Corporation "red tomatoes", THOMAS F. PATTON, TOM M. GIRDLER and CHARLES M. WHITE, were sold for overseas scrapping in 1980, there were those who suspected or, perhaps, simply hoped, that these steamers would be spared and put to some other active use. All three arrived at Karachi by the end of 1980 and we supposed that they had long since been broken up. However, the skipper of a lake tanker happened to be in the Karachi area during the autumn of 1981, and he reports that PATTON, GIRDLER and WHITE were then still lying at Karachi, none of them having fallen victim to the cutting torches as yet.
YANKCANUCK, wintering at the government wharf at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is having a new sewage system installed. She was built in 1963 at Collingwood and operated many years under the ownership of Yankcanuck Steamships Ltd. (Capt. Frank Manzzutti), before she was taken over by the Algoma Steel Corporation Ltd., for whom she has carried cargoes since she was built.
Present indications are that the Westdale Shipping Ltd. fleet may be expanded during 1982. The company now operates four self-unloaders, SILVERDALE, NORDALE, ERINDALE and LEADALE (II), but we understand that Dale Transports Ltd. has been negotiating to acquire the self-unloaders HOCHELAGA and SAGINAW BAY, the former from Canada Steamship Lines and the latter from the American Steamship Company. HOCHELAGA was built for C.S.L. in 1949 at Collingwood and was converted to a self-unloader in 1964. She has frequently been chartered to Westdale in recent years, and was fitted out late in 1981 to run for Westdale as a temporary replacement for the damaged ERINDALE. Powered by a four-cylinder Unaflow engine, HOCHELAGA is 623.2 x 67.2 x 30.4, 12616 Gross, 8718 Net. SAGINAW BAY, (a) FRANK H. GOODYEAR (II)(39), (b) DIAMOND ALKALI (II)(76), (c) BUFFALO (I) (78), was built in 1917 by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, and became a self-unloader in 1939. She was repowered in 1964 with a 16-cylinder Nordberg diesel. Built for Capt. John Mitchell's Buffalo Steamship Company, Cleveland, she was absorbed into the Boland and Cornelius fleet in 1922. SAGINAW BAY is 580.0 x 60.1 x 27.9. 8409 Gross, 666l Net. She did not operate in 1981.
Prospects for Seaway shipping in 1982 have been dimmed because of sizeable increases in canal tolls implemented by Canadian authorities. The virtual doubling of tolls has upset most shippers, who stand to lose contracts to railroads and other forms of transportation as a result of the increase in freight rates necessary to cover the tolls. Smaller boats, which have still been able to turn a profit in recent years, may now become uneconomical to operate with the increased tolls, and may be retired. The toll increase appears to be yet another indication of the degree to which the Canadian government is out of touch with the wishes of the people of the country.
The shipping business on the U.S. side of the lakes looks as if it will be even worse in 1982 than in 1981, with even fewer vessels in service. Latest indications are that U.S. Steel will run only five boats (apart from the Bradley self-unloaders), namely GOTT, SPEER, ANDERSON, CALLAWAY and CLARKE. Note that even ROGER BLOUGH is excluded from this list. Interlake will not run JOHN SHERWIN, Cleveland-Cliffs will not fit out CLIFFS VICTORY, and Columbia will run only eight boats, not including RESERVE. 1982 promises to be a poor year for shipwatching if such major boats are idled, for many older and smaller vessels will remain in lay-up as well.
Newfoundland Capital Corp. Ltd. has bought out Crosbie Enterprises' 50% share of Newfoundland Steamships Ltd. (via Northmont Holdings Ltd.) and the line will soon go all-container. N.S.L. has obtained, on a six-year bareboat charter with purchase option, SUNHERMINE, (a) and (c) INISHOWEN HEAD, (b) CAST BEAVER, from Boreal Navigation Inc. Once a lake trader, she is to be renamed (e) CATALINA, and will replace CABOT and CHIMO on the Newfoundland route, there joining LADY M. A. CROSBIE. CABOT will make at least two Arctic trips in 1982. Meanwhile, Chimo Shipping's A. C. CROSBIE has been sold to Ahlmark & Co. of Karlstad, Sweden, as a result of her troubles in 1981. As BARKEN, she left St. John's on February 5 to be converted to a paper carrier. Canada Steamship Lines has acquired a large interest in Atlantic Freight Lines Ltd., N.S.L.'s closest competitor on the east coast. Although containers are now the "in" thing on the Newfoundland route, it does seem possible that some of C.S.L.'s idle lake package freighters might well wind up in coastal service for A.F.L.L. (Thanks to Kevin Griffin of Newfoundland Steamships, many members will find an interesting N.S.L. advertisement enclosed with their "Scanner". PLEASE NOTE, however, that these are not current, and are enclosed for historical interest only.)
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.