Despite the poor business conditions that have plagued lake shippers for several years, things seem to be coming up roses for Misener Transportation. Not only did the fleet take delivery of two new vessels (SELKIRK SETTLER and CANADA MARQUIS) during 1983 (and add a third sister, SASKATCHEWAN PIONEER, to the Pioneer Shipping Ltd. fleet that Misener manages), but the firm also arranged to charter OTTERCLIFFE HALL for the latter half of 1983 and the 19-84 season. She is now operating in Misener colours as (b) ROYALTON (II). Misener is also proceeding with plans to repower and lengthen the 1954-built SCOTT MISENER (III), and she arrived at Hamilton on December 15, with the repowering scheduled to be completed during the winter. It will be necessary to shorten her after cabin by some nine feet, and to relocate her stack (yes, the same one) somewhat abaft its present location, but the work should not hurt the vessel's graceful lines. It is not yet certain when or where the lengthening will be done.
Now comes the additional news that Misener will have a second vessel on charter during 1984. She is the Nipigon Transport Ltd. stemwinder LAKE NIPIGON, (a) TEMPLE BAR (77), which was built in 1971 by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd. at Govan, Scotland, and brought to the lakes by Nipigon in 1977. She will be given Misener colours and will be renamed for the duration of the charter. It is to be hoped that another of the old Mathews/Misener names will be selected for her. LAKE NIPIGON will take over cargo commitments previously allotted to JOHN 0. McKELLAR for 1984, and Misener is presently attempting to find other cargoes to keep McKELLAR and also JOHN E. F. MISENER, (a) SCOTT MISENER (II)(54), busy in the coming season.
Incidentally, all three of the newly-built Misener/Pioneer vessels are out of the lakes this winter and operating in various trades on salt water. It will be interesting to see how their unique design suits them for deep-sea service. (While on the subject, just a word to the wise; the name of CANADA MARQUIS should not be pronounced "mar-kee" as some observers are wont to do, but rather "mar-kwis", as she is named for the famous strain of Canadian wheat whose name is properly pronounced in that manner.)
We earlier reported on the several visits of the U.S.S. Great Lakes Fleet Inc. self-unloader CALCITE II to Lake Ontario during the autumn. We should also mention that the same fleet's 1929-built self-unloader MYRON C. TAYLOR paid an unexpected visit to Hamilton on December 1st with a cargo of silica sand. By mid-December, the TAYLOR was laid up at Toledo with a crack in her reduction gear, but this problem will be rectified over the winter months. And speaking of strange cargoes for tinstackers, we should mention that PHILIP R. CLARKE, during mid-December, took a cargo of oats from Duluth to The Andersons Elevators at Toledo. Getting the CLARKE up the Maumee River was no easy task, but when she got there, the steamer unloaded her own cargo into a hopper ashore.
Two unusual visitors to the St. Lawrence River during the late autumn were the small motorship HANKEY, (a) PRINDOC (III)(82), and the Mar-Bulk Shipping Ltd. self-unloader THORNHILL (II), (a) ONTARIO POWER (83). The former used to sail for N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd., while the latter was for many seasons a member of the Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. fleet. It was the first appearance for each on the big river since they were transferred out of the Canadian flag. On December 6, THORNHILL was at St. John, New Brunswick, unloading a cargo of Kentucky coal which she had brought from New Orleans. It was the first coal to arrive at St. John by ship in over thirty years. Incidentally, THORNHILL now sports a seahorse on her stack, much as did in the 1960s those Upper Lakes Shipping boats that were owned by the subsidiary Island Shipping Ltd. of Hamilton, Bermuda.
Rumour has it that the American Steamship Company is planning to make one useful vessel out of two that would probably never operate again. It is said that the stern of the diesel-powered self-unloader SAGINAW BAY would be joined to the hull of the Maritime Commission class self-unloader JOHN T. HUTCHINSON, with a new 28-foot section added at the join (the hulls are only one-tenth of a foot fifferent [sic] in beam). The work is allegedly to be commenced at Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, in the spring of 1984.
Tuesday, December 20, 1983, was not a good day for the tinstacker PHILIP R. CLARKE. She was attempting to moor at the Shell fuel dock at Corunna, Ontario, on the St. Clair River, when she apparently was caught by the current and swung against the wharf. She tore up some 80 metres of the dock and caused about $200,000 in damage to it. CLARKE was taken upbound to the elevator slip at Sarnia, where one new plate was installed on the starboard bow below the anchor pocket.
It was announced in early December that the American Shipbuilding Company, of Tampa, Florida, would immediately close its last lake shipyard, the big facility at Lorain, Ohio. Since its formation in 1899, "AmShip" has been the U.S. lake shipbuilding giant, but one by one its various yards and subsidiary companies were closed out, until only facilities at South Chicago, Toledo and Lorain were left. The South Chicago and Toledo yards were closed in recent years as well, and now Lorain follows suit. The closing out of AmShip's lake operations leaves Fraser Shipyards at Superior and Bay Shipbuilding at Sturgeon Bay as the only U.S. lake drydocks open to handle major repair or rebuilding work on large vessels.
Despite the fact that salties lingered longer in the lakes this year than officials might have wished, whilst temperatures dropped and ice formed early, all salties managed to clear the Seaway safely. The last ocean vessel to pass down the Welland Canal was the Philippine RIA LUNA on December 16, outbound with scrap from Buffalo. She was preceded by the tanker NORDIC SUN, outbound from Sarnia. The Ministry of Transport had deferred to December 17 the implementation of surcharges against lingering salties. The Welland Canal closed on December 27, amid a rash of problems caused by the formation of ice in the locks. Port Colborne has a very large lay-up fleet this year, and many of the vessels wintering there had been headed to either Hamilton or Toronto but could not get down the canal. At the time of this writing, January 1st was the scheduled closing date for the locks at the Soo.
Port Weller Dry Docks will have a full schedule of winter work this year. The big Canadian salty ARCTIC (built there in 1978) arrived at the yard in late autumn for the replacement of the plating on her bulbous bow with much heavier steel, said to be well over three inches in thickness, as protection against the Arctic ice. The Imperial Oil Ltd. tanker IMPERIAL SARNIA is also wintering at Port Weller, where she will be given extensive repairs and hull plate replacement in preparation for her quadrennial survey and inspection which is due next spring. It was not long ago that the SARNIA was thought to be on the verge of retirement, so this additional expenditure on the old girl is a welcome sign of future operation. IMPERIAL SARNIA is, of course, the last remnant of Imperial's once-large lake tanker fleet.
Lakespan Shipping Inc. sent its ro-ro motorship CARIBBEAN TRAILER out of the lakes in mid-December after the conclusion of the company's first season in the service between Windsor and Thunder Bay. The greatest problems for the company were those caused by the ship's Panamanian registry, and it would have been inordinately expensive to re-register her in Canada. It is said that the service will resume in 1984 with a Canadian-flag ship.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.