We earlier reported on the sale of the Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. self-unloader CAPE BRETON MINER to interests in the Republic of Vanuatu (the New Hebrides Islands), and her renaming as (d) MAZAHUA (which, according to U.L.S. is the correct spelling of the name). We now learn that, despite the sale, the vessel is still part of the Upper Lakes fleet, for the new owner, Mar-Bulk Shipping, is actually an offshore associate of Upper Lakes. Last issue, we also mentioned that ONTARIO POWER had been renamed (b) THORNHILL (II), and it has since been discovered that this vessel was transferred on August 16 to the Liberian flag and that she, also, is now owned by the same offshore associate of Upper Lakes Shipping. We understand that the Upper Lakes - Mar-Bulk group intends to rechristen its PHOSPHORE CONVEYOR, the name chosen for her being RICHMOND HILL. It is not yet known whether the new NELVANA (II), which was built for the group in the Far East earlier in the year, may also be given a "Hill" name. (These names are reminiscent of those given to the old Canadian-owned ocean steamers which were operated in the 1950s and 1960s by Counties Ship Management Ltd.) The reason behind the transfer of the Upper Lakes deep-sea boats to foreign ownership lies in the taxation situation involving the earnings of Canadian-owned ocean ships. Other fleets, such as Federal Commerce, Canadian Pacific, and the Papachristidis interests have also had to resort to such tactics in order to avoid a condition which appears to prevent the development of a Canadian-flag deep-sea fleet.
Another much older U.S. Steel steamer is still awaiting the torch at Duluth. WILLIAM B. SCHILLER (1910) was sold some years ago for breaking up, but the wreckers had not touched her until this summer, and she has been lying somewhat forlornly as a reminder of the past glories of the "Steel Trust" fleet. During the autumn, however, the SCHILLER has been stripped out and any salvageable equipment removed. The Duluth scrapyard is presently engaged in the dismantling of old ore cars, but we understand that the breaking up of WILLIAM B. SCHILLER will be accomplished during the coming winter.
One of the fleets that has, in the past, purchased old U.S. Steel steamers for further operation, is the Kinsman organization, a company which itself has gone through several corporate restructurings during the past two decades. Of the present six-vessel fleet of the S. & E. Shipping Corporation (Kinsman Lines Inc.), three steamers formerly sailed for the "Steel Trust". Despite the steel giant's avowed disinclination to sell any more of its vessels for use by other operators, we understand that Kinsman is attempting to instigate further transfers, and notably those of several of the wartime-built "Supers". It is also said that George M. Steinbrenner III has once again taken control of the Kinsman fleet on an active basis in an effort to bring about such purchases and the revival of the once-vigourous Kinsman organization.
Whilst on the subject of the Kinsman boats, we should mention that ALASTAIR GUTHRIE, (a) JAMES MacNAUGHTON (55), (b) BEN MOREELL (II)(77), ran into a spot of trouble this autumn. She apparently loaded a cargo of grain at Duluth for delivery at Buffalo but, on arrival at the latter port, the cargo was refused by the consignees. The GUTHRIE returned back up the lakes to Duluth, where the cargo was unloaded at one of the Hallett docks. The grain was subsequently trucked around to an elevator, and was then loaded back on board the GUTHRIE. The cargo was finally accepted at Buffalo on the ship's next trip.
The old E. B. Magee Ltd. drydock, which is located on the west side of the Ramey's Bend slip on the Welland Canal below Port Colborne, is once again in operation, although now under new management. The refurbished drydock (the one in which BELVOIR (II) was built, a number of old Misener canallers scrapped, and the ferry TRILLIUM rebuilt) is now being operated as a joint venture of Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. and Marsh Engineering Ltd., and is intended to service those smaller vessels that cannot economically be accommodated in a full-sized drydock, such as the one at Port Weller. The first vessel to use the refurbished facility was the Lake Erie ferry PELEE ISLANDER, which entered the dock on September 19th for inspection and repairs. (The 334-ton PELEE ISLANDER, which was built in 1960 at Erieau, is owned by Pelee Island Transportation Services, and has previously been taken to Port Weller whenever she required drydocking.)
In the Mid-Summer issue, we mentioned that the former Great Lakes Towing Company's wrecking tug FAVORITE (III) had been sold by Le Sault de Sainte Marie Historical Sites Inc. to John Southward of Muskegon, Michigan, for scrapping, and that the old steamer had been towed from Sault Ste. Marie to DeTour on July 29th by the Seaway Towing Inc. tug CHIPPEWA. By mid-August, much of the superstructure had been removed from FAVORITE at the old DeTour coal dock. Once the tug has been cut right down to the deck, her new owner will decide whether the condition of the hull is sufficiently good to consider rebuilding the boat as a research vessel.
After many months of arguing by Michigan officials, it would appear that the venerable Straits of Mackinac steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM will indeed receive the drydocking necessary to enable her to resume service between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. The Boat Company's 72-year-old coal-fired steamer lay idle during the summer of 1982 at Sault Ste. Marie, operated last winter for several months on an extension of her permit granted by the U.S. Coast Guard, and then spent the summer of 1983 idle at Mackinaw City. It now seems that an agreement has been worked out to permit towing and drydocking costs to be paid by the State of Michigan out of a $300,000 grant approved by the legislature for that purpose. Any additional repair work, however, must be stayed until a private source of funds is located. Once the drydocking is completed, the Michigan Department of Transportation will consider proposals for a company to operate the ferry under (considerably reduced) state subsidy. The CHIEF was, at last report, scheduled to go on the Bay Shipbuilding Corporation's drydock at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, on October 10th, and was to be towed around from Mackinaw City sometime in advance of that date.
The 88-year-old motorvessel TUXPANCLIFFE, better known on the lakes as the former (c) BLACK RIVER (79), (a) SIR ISAAC LOTHIAN BELL (37), (b) BLANCHE H. (49), of the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd., has not enjoyed much good fortune during 1983. The vessel was taken to the Gulf of Mexico in the autumn of 1979, following her retirement by Q. & 0., and operated successfully for several seasons. But, on March 24, 1983, she was seized by the U.S. Marshal at Houston, Texas, where the vessel and her crew had been abandoned by the owner. To satisfy arrears in crew wages and dockage fees, the ship was ordered sold at auction. Recently, however, the winning bid ($2,200) was overturned by the courts as a result of its ridiculously low amount, and the bidder has now filed suit against the U.S. government, claiming damages as a result of his inability to take possession of TUXPANCLIFFE.
Plans by Seaway Lines Inc. to use four former Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company vessels in container service have at last, it seems, been laid to rest, thus ending any hope that the four steamers might see any further service in the near future. In preparation for the proposed service, CADILLAC (III) had been transferred on December 31st, 1982, to Craig Maritime Inc., while CHAMPLAIN, WILLIS B. BOYER and WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR. had been transferred to American Bulk Shipping Inc. All four vessels had their Cliffs insignia obliterated, and all are presently laid up at Toledo. The cancellation of the proposed new service comes as no surprise to observers, most of whom had looked upon the proposals with considerable scepticism.
Another longtime resident of Toledo's Frog Pond will have departed her layup berth there by the time these words appear in print. Columbia Transportation's 78-year-old steam self-unloader SYLVANIA, (a) SYLVANIA (15), (b) D.M. PHILBIN (29), has, after several years of idleness, been sold to Triad Salvage for dismantling, and tugs were due to tow her from Toledo to Ashtabula on either October 25 or 26. Parts of SYLVANIA will be retained for posterity, however, for her turret forward cabin, her triple-expansion engine, and her beautiful, panelled officers' dining saloon will be removed during the scrapping operations. These portions of SYLVANIA will be returned to Toledo for incorporation into a marine museum which is to be established in the vicinity of the port's Cherry Street Bridge.
Although work had not begun on the new city-side ferry slip for the Toronto steam sidewheeler TRILLIUM at the time of this writing in late October, preparations for the work were being made by Canadian Dredge and Dock Ltd. In order to get her out of the way during the work, TRILLIUM herself was taken across the bay and was laid up in the ferry slip at Centre Island, a dock which is not otherwise used from mid-October until mid-April, while the winter Island ferry schedule is in effect. TRILLIUM will not remain at Centre Island for the entire winter, however, but will go over to the Polson Street slip in early December for the installation of the internal portions of her new bowthruster system. The steamer will be taken to Whitby during the spring of 1984 for drydocking so that the remainder of the job can be completed. Meanwhile, the 48-year-old diesel ferry WILLIAM INGLIS was taken to Whitby during late September for her regular drydocking and for necessary repairs, including the renewal of parts of her hull plating. The INGLIS was brought back to Toronto under her own power on October 27th.
D. BLOCK (1925) and L. E. BLOCK (1927) to be excess tonnage, and has offered the two vessels for sale. We understand that certain other operators have expressed interest in at least one of the ships, but that no firm purchase offers have yet been forthcoming. If these two boats are sold, the Inland Steel fleet will consist only of the self-unloaders WILFRED SYKES (1949) and JOSEPH L. BLOCK (1976), and the straight-deckers EDWARD L. RYERSON (1960) and
E. J. BLOCK (1908). The latter motorvessel, which earlier sailed as (a) W.R. WOODFORD (12), and (b) N. F. LEOPOLD (43), is the smallest ship in the Inland Steel fleet, and is used primarily as a shuttle transfer boat for cargo brought down Lake Michigan by the company's other vessels. Her continued operation seems necessary (provided that her condition remains good) in order that ore may be moved from the unloading dock used by the fleet's larger boats to the company's steel mills in the Chicago area, a transfer that requires the use of a vessel that is small enough to make the river trip up through narrow bridge draws. E. J. BLOCK fills that requirement admirably, and also makes the occasional trip up Lake Michigan for a cargo of her own.
Each autumn, there is a rush of salt water vessels to Toronto with cargoes of sugar for the Redpath Sugar plant which is located at the foot of Jarvis Street. This autumn, however, the plant has hosted not only the usual flock of salties, but also two lakers. MANTADOC arrived at Redpath's on October 5th, and SENATOR OF CANADA docked there on October 26th, each vessel carrying sugar which had been trans-shipped out of large salties at Contrecoeur, Quebec. It is only very infrequently over the years that any sugar has arrived at Toronto in a lake bottom, and it would be our hope that we might see more lakers in this trade in the future.
The National Steel Corporation's 1,000-foot laker GEORGE A. STINSON, which has operated through the summer of 1983 as a "straight-decker" as a result of the springtime accident in which she lost her unloading boom, arrived at the Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, yard of the Bay Shipbuilding Corporation on September 28th for her five-year inspection and survey. It was anticipated that, whilst the vessel was in the shipyard, her new unloading boom would be fitted, thus returning the STINSON to the state of cargo-handling efficiency that she enjoyed prior to the loss of her original boom.
Observers continue to have their doubts concerning the operational viability of CANADIAN EXPLORER, the vessel which has been constructed using the stripped hull of the Upper Lakes Shipping laker NORTHERN VENTURE and the stern section, including machinery, of the east coast container ship CABOT. CANADIAN EXPLORER was originally to be ready for service during August, and then during October, but christening ceremonies for the ship were not held until October 29th at Port Weller Dry Docks. It continues to be said that Upper Lakes is not happy over the much-delayed and considerably over-budget conversion, but the company apparently intends to go ahead with the similar rebuilding of HILDA MARJANNE using the stern of CABOT's sistership CHIMO. The new vessel that results from that conversion will be christened CANADIAN RANGER.
Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. is presently involved in litigation with the St. John Shipbuilding and Drydock Company Ltd. U.L.S. has filed a $1,750,000 suit against the shipbuilding firm, alleging incompetence was displayed in a refit of the self-unloader CAPE BRETON MINER shortly before she was placed under foreign ownership. The shipyard is counterclaiming for approximately $4,000,000 and alleging that U.L.S. was seven months late in delivering the MINER to the yard, thus resulting in construction delays, increased costs, etc.
The newest member of the fleet of Pioneer Shipping Ltd. (which is managed by Misener Transportation), the motorvessel SASKATCHEWAN PIONEER, arrived on the lakes during September and is presently in service. The ship was registered at Thunder Bay on July 25th as C.395510, and has the same dimensions as her earlier sistership, CANADA MARQUIS, which is owned by Misener as is the first of the sisters, SELKIRK SETTLER. The SASKATCHEWAN PIONEER is 719 (between perpendiculars) x 76 x 43, and her tonnage is registered as 21543 Gross and 16052 Net. Nevertheless, whereas the SETTLER and MARQUIS are painted in the normal blue-and-white livery of the Misener fleet, the PIONEER "sports" the yellow-and-orange colours which are presently used by the Pioneer organization for its ships as well as for its grain elevators.
Business conditions on both sides of the Great Lakes seem to be improving considerably as the 1983 navigation season nears its end, after a summer that was one of the most bleak in recent memory for lake shippers. On the U.S. side, vessel traffic has picked up markedly and many more cargoes of pellets for the steel industry are presently moving. In Canada, the eastward movement of the new harvest of Canadian export grain has caused a flurry of business for the various lake fleets, many of which had only a small percentage of their available tonnage operating earlier. In short, a number of idle vessels on both sides of the lakes have been reactivated, and several more seem likely to see service before the season finally ends.
Anyone who visited the Toronto waterfront during the summer of 1983 will not have failed to notice that Norman Rogers' excursion boat WAYWARD PRINCESS, (a) CAYUGA II (82), has hardly been busy. Whereas TRILLIUM and MARIPOSA. BELLE and even the small TORONTONIAN and VULCAN II had full schedules of charters and excursions on the bay and the outer harbour during the summer, and Rogers' other boat, the sailing vessel EMPIRE SANDY (formerly the tug CHRIS M.) was also kept quite busy, WAYWARD PRINCESS remained at her Jarvis Street dock during most of the high season and rarely went out on a trip. Observers did mention the possibility that the vessel might be sold, and it now appears as if this is exactly what has happened. During late October, it was said that WAYWARD PRINCESS had been sold to certain as-yet-unidentified parties, possibly in the Southwestern Ontario area. If this is the case, then perhaps WAYWARD PRINCESS will not remain on Toronto Bay.
Whilst we are on the subject of Norman Rogers' boats, we should mention that EMPIRE SANDY was, indeed, sent to salt water for service during the winter months. In early October, she was sent eastward under her own power, but she did not even manage to make it off Lake Ontario before she got into trouble. It seems that she had her sails up while going down the lake and, although the wind was not particularly strong, part of her rigging carried away. EMPIRE SANDY put into Kingston for the necessary repairs and the obtaining of replacement parts and, at last report, was still there, although she will probably have cleared for points east and south by the time this issue reaches our members.
For the last twenty-one years, the old wooden-hulled United States navy minesweeper RHEA has been a feature of the harbour at Port Stanley, Ontario. The vessel was used as a training ship but, in 1981, was retired from service by the Courageous Sailing Club Inc. of London, Ontario. She subsequently lay idle and was damaged in acts of vandalism. We now learn that she has recently been purchased by two Oshawa residents for the sum of $15,000. She is to be towed to Oshawa this autumn, but nothing will be done with her until next spring. It is not known what the new owners will do with RHEA, but it seems possible that she may be scrapped. RHEA's main claim to fame lies in the fact that she cleared Tokyo Bay of mines in 1945 so that General MacArthur could go in to accept the Japanese surrender. After retirement from the U.S. Navy, RHEA lay for several years at Burlington, Ontario, as part of the Hill fleet of idle vessels, all of which were sold off after their owner died.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.