Upper Lakes Shipping has recently added another vessel to its fleet, but the acquisition does not increase the size of the U.L.S. operating roster. Late in 1984, U.L.S. purchased from Halco Inc. its tanker UNGAVA TRANSPORT, (a) VARANGNES (70), (b) TOMMY WIBORG (74), and the vessel is, at present, laid up along the old Algoma Steel section of the east wharf in Port Colborne harbour. Upper Lakes had allegedly considered the cutting off of the tanker's stern for splicing onto the hull of another of the company's ships (a la CANADIAN EXPLORER, CANADIAN RANGER) but eventually thought better of the matter. It has now been decided that the hull of UNGAVA TRANSPORT will be scrapped, but that her seven-cylinder, 4,050 brake horsepower, Burmeister & Wain diesel engine, built in 1959, will be saved. This machinery will be placed in another U.L.S. vessel next winter, and it seems likely that the recipient will be the 1952-built steam self-unloader JAMES NORRIS, no matter how peculiar such a conversion might at first appear to be. UNGAVA TRANSPORT (C.345867) was constructed in 1959 as Hull 30 of Sarpsborg M/VA/S at Greaker, Norway, 375.0 x 55.3 x 28.4, 5219 Gross, 2640 Net, and originally was owned by Th. F. Fekete and Company of Kirkenes, Norway. A bulk carrier, she was converted to a tanker, 4695 Gross, 2737 Net, by A/S Rosenberg Mekanishe Verksted in 1971. Halco brought her to Canada in 1974 after acquiring her from K/S A/S Geir III, of Norway.
Last issue, we reported the strange case of the P. & H. Shipping steamer OAK-GLEN, which laid up at Toronto in early November, and subsequently was towed to Hamilton, still loaded with her storage cargo. We surmised that her cargo had originally been intended for Victory Mills, Toronto, but had been diverted to Hamilton just before the close of navigation. However, this was not the case at all. In fact, when she arrived at Toronto on November 10th, OAKGLEN was carrying a storage cargo of rapeseed which was destined for the vegetable oil plant at Hamilton. It was never intended that OAKGLEN would winter at Toronto, but as there was no wharf space available in Hamilton at the time, she was tied up at the foot of Jarvis Street, Toronto, the idea being that she would be towed around to Hamilton when dock space could be obtained. We note that two other P. & H. boats are laid up at Hamilton this winter, BIRCHGLEN and WILLOWGLEN, both of which are also carrying storage cargoes of rapeseed.
Back in 1983, the former Ford Motor Company motorship JOHN DYKSTRA (II), (a) BENSON FORD (I)(83), was purchased from the Rouge Steel Company by Sullivan Marine, a division of Lake Transportation Inc., which is partially owned by Frank Sullivan, a member of the same family that once operated the Gartland Steamship Company (known as the Sullivan fleet). On December 22, 1984, the G-tug OHIO picked up the DYKSTRA at Detroit, and, the following day, the tow arrived at Cleveland where, with the assistance of the G-tugs IOWA and KENTUCKY, she was berthed at Ontario Stone's No. 4 dock in the Old River Bed. It is understood that, if business conditions warrant, DYKSTRA will be used as a barge (her venerable diesel engine has been removed), and it is entirely possible that she may be painted up in Gartland colours and given a name reminiscent of earlier Sullivan lake steamers.
A late lay-up arrival at Hamilton was the diesel sandsucker NIAGARA II, (a) RIDEAULITE (47), (b) IMPERIAL LACHINE (I)(54), (c) NIAGARA (69), (d) W. M. EDINGTON (84), which went into winter quarters on January 15. Her owners had planned to keep the ship in service for at least four more trips with sand from the Niagara Bar, but were forced to lay her up as a result of the closure of the Burlington lift bridge for winter repairs. The bridge crosses the channel which serves as the only entrance to Hamilton harbour, and its closure prevents NIAGARA II from making her normal run. The little sandboat will, therefore, have to make up the additional trips in the spring. We are pleased to report that, so far, there has been no indication that the new owner of NIAGARA II, McKeil Work Boats Ltd., will proceed with its previously-expressed plan of converting the 55-year-old vessel to a barge, to be pushed by one of the many McKeil tugs.
In the January issue, we mentioned that, on December 30, the idle Desgagnes upper lakers MELDRUM BAY and GOLDEN HIND, while berthed at the foot of Sherbourne Street, Toronto, were each given a partial storage load by the C.S.L. self-unloading stemwinder JEAN PARISIEN. We indicated that we thought the cargo to be soya beans destined for Victory Mills, but we have since learned that it was barley, brought from Thunder Bay for Canada Malting Ltd.
Speaking of Canada Malting Ltd., which supplies malt for Canada's major breweries, the firm's Toronto plants will receive a very unusual cargo in the spring. Groupe Desgagnes Inc., which has the contract for delivering barley and malt to the firm's plants at the foot of Parliament Street, and also Bathurst Street, Toronto, sought an active upper laker that could make an early trip in the spring. No Canadian vessel was immediately available, and Desgagnes wound up booking the Interlake Steamship Company's J. L. MAUTHE, which went to Thunder Bay and was partially loaded at the Canada Malting elevator before the close of navigation. The rest of the cargo will go into the MAUTHE during March, and she will sail for Toronto as soon as possible. This is a strange situation in many ways; it means that a U.S.-flag steamer will carry grain between two Canadian ports, something that has not happened on the lakes for many years, and which requires Canadian government approval. It is also the first time in recent memory that a major U.S. ship has wintered at Thunder Bay, and it will be the first time in over two decades that a U.S. laker has brought grain into the port of Toronto. We do not know how Desgagnes managed to secure official approval for the trip, but we will be watching the unloading of J. L. MAUTHE at Toronto (her first ever visit to this port) with great interest. It is almost a certainty that her entire cargo will be unloaded at the Parliament Street elevator, for the Bathurst slip is both shallow and short, and it would seem unlikely that the MAUTHE could fit under the unloading leg there.
Last issue, we carried a somewhat belated report concerning the arrival of the former Kinsman steamer FRANK R. DENTON, (a) THOMAS WALTERS (53), at Ashtabula on November 14th, the vessel having been brought from Buffalo for dismantling by Triad Salvage. While it is true that the G-tug OHIO took DENTON into Ashtabula on that date, she was not able to get the old ship into the scrap berth at that time, and it was not until November 21 that the G-tugs DELAWARE and IDAHO could move DENTON into the Triad yard. A mid-January report from Ashtabula indicated that the DENTON's near-sistership, C. L. AUSTIN, was about three-quarters gone (only her bow remaining) at the Triad yard, and that work had not yet begun on the DENTON.
An unusual visitor to the shipyard at Thunder Bay this winter is the Canarctic Shipping Company Ltd. (Port Weller-built) salty ARCTIC, which is being converted to an O.B.O. (oil-bulk-ore) carrier. It is our understanding that, next winter, ARCTIC is likely to be fitted with a new bow and lengthened to full Seaway dimensions. If that work is indeed done, it would seem unlikely that she would see any further service into Arctic waters, the service for which she was originally built.
We earlier reported that the Shell Canadian Tankers Ltd. bunkering "barge" BAYSHELL (II) had arrived at Toronto on November 11, 1984, in tow of the tug DANIEL McALLISTER. We mentioned that BAYSHELL had come from Montreal, via Kingston. Recent reports indicate that the vessel was brought to Toronto only because she had been laid up at the Montreal shipyard of Versatile Vickers Ltd., and the yard required the space that she was occupying. Once at Toronto, she was tucked away at the Shell dock in the northwestern corner of the turning basin where she would be out of the way for the time being. In view of the lack of vessel traffic into Toronto (and even Hamilton) these days, Shell has no intention of trying to operate BAYSHELL in the bunkering trade in these parts. The outboard-powered tanker will be held in reserve, either until her owner develops some trade for her, or until hope is abandoned and she is sold for dismantling. BAYSHELL's place at Montreal has been taken by RIVERSHELL (III), (a) TYEE SHELL (69), (b) ARCTIC TRADER (83).
We earlier reported the sale to Marine Salvage Ltd. of the lakers GEORGE M. CARL (II), (a) FRED G. HARTWELL (II)(51), (b) MATTHEW ANDREWS (II)(63), and CONALLISON, (a) FRANK C. BALL (30), (b) J. R. SENSIBAR (81). The vessels were resold to European breakers and they cleared Quebec City on August 25. 1984, in tandem tow behind the ocean tug KORAL, bound for a Spanish port. A World Ship Society report has now confirmed that both GEORGE M. CARL and CONALLISON arrived safely at Aviles, Spain, on September 17, 1984. For those who may be wondering, the port of Aviles is located inland from the north (Bay of Biscay) shore of Spain, on the Rio de Aviles. It is just west of the major port of Gijon, and some 110 miles west of Santander, the port to which most Spanish-scrapped lakers have been towed.
In the January issue, we commented upon the fact that the American Steamship Company's steam self-unloader JOHN J. BOLAND (III) would be spending the winter at Fraser Shipyards, Superior, Wisconsin, for the renewal of much of her plating in the cargo hold. This work seemed to ensure the future of the recently reactivated BOLAND, but a snag has subsequently developed. Back about
1982, American transferred the actual ownership of the BOLAND to Clemens Ships Inc., a firm which is owned by the Reiss interests of Sheboygan (whose Reiss Steamship Company was merged into American Steamship in 1969), although operation of the steamer remained in American's hands. We now understand that the Reiss interests have balked over the cost of the BOLAND's refurbishing, and that American itself is not anxious to expend large sums of money to keep a marginal vessel in service. If the BOLAND does not get the necessary repair work on her insides, she will not pass her five-year survey and inspection, and her future will look bleak indeed. Meanwhile, the work that the Fraser Shipyard had begun on the BOLAND has been halted.
1983, returned to the lakes and were refurbished for service in their old home waters. Then, late in the autumn of 1984, Great Lakes Towing resumed its long-abandoned service at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, by stationing its tugs MAINE and MICHIGAN there. We knew the MAINE, but many of you may have been as perplexed as were we as to the identity of this MICHIGAN, for there has not been a G-tug by that name on the lakes since 1978. In fact, when they returned to the lakes, HILLSBORO took back her old name MAINE, the PASCO again became MARYLAND, PINELLAS resumed her original name FLORIDA, but POLK, which originally was named MISSOURI, was not given back that name. Instead, she became MICHIGAN, and we suspect that this name was specially chosen for her in view of the new duties that were planned for the tug.
Two tankers that usually operate well into the winter months, either on the lakes or on the St. Lawrence River, are LAKESHELL (III) and EASTERN SHELL (II) both of which are on the upper lakes this winter. EASTERN SHELL, in particular, has been doing some strange wandering. On New Year's Eve, in a blizzard, she arrived at Milwaukee, a very unusual port for her indeed. We cannot say for sure, but we suspect that this was her very first visit to the Lake Michigan port. At last report, EASTERN SHELL was stuck fast in Lake Michigan ice, trying to make her way from Chicago to her proposed winter lay-up berth at Sarnia. Meanwhile, in mid-January, LAKESHELL sailed from Sarnia to Collingwood, where she was put on the drydock for her four-year survey and inspection. If weather conditions permit, LAKESHELL is to try to get back to Sarnia for lay-up once she is off the dock at Collingwood, but we suspect that the rapidly thickening ice of Georgian Bay will have LAKESHELL trapped at the shipyard for the duration of the winter. As far as the future is concerned, look for both LAKESHELL and EASTERN SHELL to spend much of their time in the St. Lawrence River trade, for the demand for Canadian tanker tonnage on the upper lakes has decreased considerably in recent years, particularly with the dismantling of the tank farms at many of the small Canadian ports which were served by the Shell tankers as well as other lines.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.