On the final page of our February issue, we recounted the recent woes of the motorship THOROLD (IV), (a) GOSFORTH (72), which has fallen victim to more than her fair share of misfortune since her acquisition, early in 1984, by Groupe Desgagnes Inc. How the ship managed to find her way onto Red Islet on January 14, we do not know. As reported, however, she was refloated successfully, although she was not immediately able to resume her service in the salt trade from the Magdalen Islands to Montreal. THOROLD, which suffered considerable damage to her bow and bottom, was put on the Davie drydock at Lauzon for repairs, and there she is expected to remain until mid-March. When she emerges from the shipyard, it will be under the name (c) CATHERINE DESGAGNES. We cannot fault the Groupe Desgagnes for renaming the vessel (even if it does mean the loss of a famous name used for many years by the old Q & 0 fleet), for if we owned a ship that had been involved in as many scrapes as was THOROLD during the past year, we suppose that we might try almost anything to change her luck! We wish her improved fortunes under her new name.
Several times during the past year, we have commented upon the continuing idleness of all of the upper lakers which joined Groupe Desgagnes Inc. when it bought out the Q & 0 fleet in 1984. It now seems that Desgagnes has given up on most of those upper lakers, for it has sold three of them for scrap. Now sold out of the fleet, without ever having operated in its colours, are OUTARDE (III), (a) ROBERT HOBSON (75); LAC STE-ANNE, (a) EDWARD J. BERWIND (63), (b) MATTHEW ANDREWS (III)(74), (c) BLANCHE HINDMAN (III)(79), and MELDRUM BAY, (a) COVERDALE (73), (b) GEORGE HINDMAN (IV)(79). Perhaps the most interesting part of this sad development is the fact that the purchaser of the vessels is Upper Lakes Shipping, which intends to dismantle the three steamers at Port Colborne. We will be watching carefully to see whether such plans come to fruition, or whether the ships are resold. Meanwhile, there is no word on what will happen to the last remaining Desgagnes upper laker, the GOLDEN HIND, (a) IMPERIAL WOODBEND (54), which remains laid up at Toronto, and for which Desgagnes seems to have no plans for reactivation.
The Desgagnes organization is certainly much in the news these days. The company recently acquired another coaster for its fleet, this being FEDERAL PIONEER, (a) CARL GORTHON, which is 364.7 x 54.8 x 34.5, 5595 Gross and 358) Net, which was built in 1971 in Sweden. We understand that this vessel has been renamed (c) CECILIA DESGAGNES for her new service.
We previously reported that the hull of UNGAVA TRANSPORT would be scrapped by Upper Lakes Shipping once the tanker's engine is removed for fitting in another vessel (probably the self-unloader JAMES NORRIS). Now, however, there appears to be some doubt that UNGAVA TRANSPORT will actually be scrapped. It is said that Upper Lakes Shipping and Canada Steamship Lines have formed a consortium for the purpose of providing a bunkering service for the ships of both fleets. Reliable reports indicate that the unpowered hull of the UNGAVA TRANSPORT will be used by the consortium as a bunkers barge, possibly at Nanticoke. The group also requires another tanker for use at another as-yet-unidentified port (Montreal, perhaps?), and it is said that METRO SUN is to be brought from the east coast for the purpose. We understand that the bunker oil will be brought from the coast in a larger Canadian tanker (we suspect that it might be COASTAL CANADA) and then unloaded into the smaller ships.
The three Misener-operated ocean-lakers, SELKIRK SETTLER, CANADA MARQUIS and SASKATCHEWAN PIONEER (the latter owned by Pioneer Shipping Ltd.), are all on salt water again this winter. SASKATCHEWAN PIONEER has not been busy, and has been laid up on the east coast, but the SETTLER and MARQUIS have been trading overseas. In fact, the SETTLER was at Leningrad, U.S.S.R., when, on January 17th, she was struck by the Russian vessel KOMSOMOLETS LATVII, and received damage to her shell plating on the port side between frames 183 and 191. She was surveyed upon her arrival at Hamburg on January 24, but we understand that final repairs will not be undertaken until SELKIRK SETTLER is back on the lakes, for the damage is not particularly severe. Meanwhile, she and CANADA MARQUIS continue in the grain trade between Hamburg and Leningrad.
There has recently been clarification of the intentions of the Rouge Steel Company in respect of the activities of its fleet in 1985, and particularly of the steamers WALTER A. STERLING and EDWARD B. GREENE, which Rouge purchased late in 1984 from the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company. It seems apparent that STERLING will be renamed (e) WILLIAM CLAY FORD (II), while the GREENE will sail as BENSON FORD (III). Rouge also plans to operate HENRY FORD II, but the only straight-decker that will fit out in 1985 will be ERNEST R. BREECH. The former BENSON FORD (II) and WILLIAM CLAY FORD (I) will not operate, and their names have been painted out so that they may be used on the newly-acquired self-unloaders. The old BENSON and WILLIAM CLAY are laid up at Dearborn, and it is not yet known what new names may be given to them, or what their eventual disposition will be.
The two remaining vessels of the fleet of Texaco Canada Inc., TEXACO BRAVE (II) and TEXACO CHIEF (II), took on slightly different stack colours during the 1984 season, although not many of our readers would have noticed, for neither ship spent much time in the lakes. The new emblem, appearing on a black stack, rather resembles the revised star design that is now appearing on signs at Texaco service stations, and which was recently featured in a series of television commercials. TEXACO CHIEF received her new stack colours whilst visiting Collingwood Shipyards during July of 1984, while TEXACO BRAVE got hers in October after being drydocked by Vickers at Montreal.
A new lakes-ocean service will be launched in 1985 by Fednav Lakes Services Inc., Detroit, a member of the Federal Commerce and Navigation group of Canada. The U.S. firm will operate a monthly Ro/Ro service from Detroit and Toledo to Bremerhaven and Antwerp, using FEDERAL LAKES, (a) AVON FOREST (85), which is being transferred from the Canadian portion of Fednav, and which will be placed under U.S. registry and operated by an American crew. AVON FOREST, of course, was built in 1973 at Port Weller, 623.0 x 75.0 x 58.0, 16382 Gross and 9918 Net, and as far as we know, she will be the largest U.S.-flag salty ever to trade regularly into the lakes. On westbound trips from Europe to the lakes, FEDERAL LAKES will handle assorted Ro/Ro freight, including farm equipment, for Federal Atlantic Lakes Line.
No doubt, we are not the only observers who have been awaiting word of the arrival of the former Canada Steamship Lines motorship ST. LAWRENCE in the Far East. We have recently received a report that ST. LAWRENCE arrived safely at Luda (Dalian), China, on January 5th, 1985, and it is presumed that it will be at that port that she will eventually be dismantled.
In previous issues, we mentioned the arrival at Toronto on November 11th, 1984, of the Shell bunkering barge BAYSHELL (II), which is now being held in reserve at the company's dock on the north wall of the Toronto turning basin, with little hope of future employment. We mentioned that she had previously been laid up at the Versatile Vickers yard at Montreal since June 9, 1983, but had to be moved to free the wharf there, and was taken first to Kingston. Her stay at Kingston must have been short indeed, for it was only on November 8, 1984, that BAYSHELL was taken from Montreal by the McAllister tug SINMAC. After a short rest at Kingston, the tow was taken over by DANIEL McALLISTER for the rest of the trip to Toronto.
The Upper Lakes Shipping self-unloader has been spending the current winter in salt water service, rather than in lay-up on the lakes with most of her fleetmates. The PIONEER has been running grain from the U.S. Gulf Ports to Mexico.
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club's 1912-built passenger ferry KWASIND has been undergoing a very major reconstruction this winter on the north side of Toronto's Pier 35. The vessel's wooden superstructure was removed, and the hull has been enclosed in a large wooden shelter while the work progresses. We presume that a new superstructure will be built to restore KWASIND to something resembling her original condition. HIAWATHA, her older running-mate, was given a similar extensive rebuild several years ago.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.