As our readers will be aware, we have been following, with much interest, the trials and tribulations of the Taiwan-bound steamer SAVIC, (a) NOTRE DAME VICTORY (51), (b) CLIFFS VICTORY (85), which made her exit from the lakes late in December 1985. She has been lying at Montreal ever since, apparently awaiting the availability of a scrap cargo for her final trip, as well as the fitting of certain structural stiffening which, it is said, the underwriters have demanded before she may sail to the Far East. At last report in these pages, she was lying at Shed 52 East, Montreal, having been moved there late in January from the Pointe aux Trembles anchorage. Now we have a further report to the effect that, on March 14th, SAVIC was moved from Section 52 to Section 37, in order that another ship might dock at 52. It was anticipated that SAVIC would move back to Section 52 in a week or two, but the vessel's agent conceded that SAVIC might not load scrap at all, and that they were awaiting orders from New York. Strangely enough, during the regular navigation season, Section 37 is usually used to stockpile scrap metal for loading into salt water vessels, but at the time that SAVIC moved to that wharf, not a single piece of scrap was in evidence on the pier! As far as we can see, SAVIC is now no closer to her eventual departure on the voyage to her final destination in a Taiwan scrapyard, and it now seems ever more possible that the famous steamer may never make that trip at all. It must be remembered that her crew for this last trip has been aboard the steamer since early October, and yet she has completed only a small portion of the voyage.
On Friday, March 7th, the Algoma Central Railway, Marine Division, suffered a severe setback to its vessel operations when the self-unloader ALGOSOO (IE), moored on the west wall above Lock Eight in the Welland Canal at Port Colborne, was the victim of a nasty fire. The blaze appears to have started in the area near the base of the vessel's loop belt, possibly as a result of welding operations that were being carried out in that location, and the fire spread along the unloading belts, fanned by air sucked through the open tunnel gates, and the flames then swept through the aft accommodations area. The eight-hour fire was spectacular in the amount of smoke that it generated, and the pupils of a local public school were evacuated as a result of the smoke. Eight fire engines and 75 men from the fire departments of Port Colborne, Welland and Fort Erie attended the scene, and one of the problems in extinguishing the fire was that the local firefighters were not at first able to use foam to quench the blaze, as none was available until approximately one and a half hours after the rigs arrived at the site. With the fire finally out, the A.C.R. set about the task of assessing the damage to the twelve-year-old motorship. It is understood that there is severe damage to the unloading belts and many of their rollers, and intense fire, smoke and water damage throughout the accommodations. There is much water damage in the engineroom, but it is thought that the main engine and the auxiliaries, though damaged, are repairable. At last report, A.C.R. was calling for bids on the repair job, which will probably involve the cutting off of the entire aft cabin area and replacing it with prefabricated replacement sections instead of attempting to rebuild the existing structure. The work will be extensive in the extreme, and will probably keep ALGOSOO out of service for at least six months. This is an extremely unfortunate development, and we shall look forward to seeing ALGOSOO back in service as soon as possible. It is, perhaps, fortunate that the ship, which came out of Collingwood Shipyards as its Hull 206, launched on July 24, 1974, was the last large laker built with her pilothouse forward, for this positioning may have saved her navigation equipment from severe damage in the fire.
The Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd. salty JALA GODAVARI, which was involved in the infamous November 29, 1985 collision with the St. Louis-de-Gonzague Bridge over the Seaway, finally cleared Montreal on March 1st. The ship's owners were undoubtedly pleased to get her back on salt water, but in no way are they free of the problems that the collision caused, for the litigation arising out of the fiasco will likely take years to resolve.
In the March issue, we commented upon the recent sale for scrapping of the self-unloading bulk carrier RICHMOND, (a) PHOSPHORE CONVEYOR (83), (b) RICHMOND HILL (85), which had been owned by an affiliate of ULS International Inc., although operated under the Liberian flag, owned in the Republic of Vanuatu, and managed by a Hong Kong firm. We now learn that, on February 20, 1986, the motorship departed Villanueva for Nantong, China, although it is not known whether she will be broken up there or at some other location in China.
A report in the Toronto press on March 7, 1986, indicated that Toronto Harbour will shortly be losing one of its landmarks. The grain elevator and malt plant operated by Canada Malting Corp. at the foot of Bathurst Street, just inside the Western Gap, will soon be just a memory. The elevator has been a familiar sight on the waterfront ever since the entire harbour area was reconstructed in the 1920s, but the company sold the property to the Harbor-front Corp. a number of years ago when the federal government began to take over much of the western harbour area for parkland. In the intervening years, the original idea of a waterfront park appears to have been replaced with a more commercial aspect of land and water use, the area now being filled with condominium buildings, hotels, shops, marinas, etc., in short just about anything but commercial shipping. Canada Malting has continued to lease the elevator and plant back from Harborfront, but it has now been announced that the firm will not apply for a renewal of the lease which expires in November of 1987. The "news" seems to have Harborfront officials somewhat perturbed, in that not only will there be no income from the property once the malting company leaves, but Harborfront Corp. will also be faced with the cost of demolishing the elevator, something that should have been considered at the time that the property was acquired. The Canada Malting Corp. also uses elevator and plant facilities at the foot of Parliament Street, adjacent to Victory Mills, but the closure of the Bathurst Street plant casts considerable doubt on the future of the three small Groupe Desgagnes bulkers, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, FRANQUELIN and NEW YORK NEWS, which owe most of the credit for their continued existence to the requirements of the Bathurst Street elevator of Canada Malting, which is unable to handle larger vessels on a regular basis.
On March 13 and 14, the Sarnia tug GLENADA was at Wallaceburg, on the Sydenham River, breaking ice in order to alleviate conditions that might have led to flooding. The presence of the tug in the river was arranged by the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority. Meanwhile, the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority had arranged for the Windsor-Detroit Barge Line's tug PRESCOTONT to be available to break ice in the Thames, and for Gaelic's WILLIAM A. WHITNEY to assist if necessary. Fearing flooding in the Tilbury North area, the Ice Management Committee of the L.T.V.C.A. called for PRESCOTONT to be on station at Lighthouse Cove on March 14, but the tug never arrived. Fortunately, the flood danger passed safely, but at last report the L.T.V. C.A. was still trying to find out why the tug did not show and why it was unable to contact the owner of the tug.
Work has been underway since last autumn to rectify problems which have been causing damage to the hull of RIDGETOWN, which serves as a breakwater off the entrance to the harbour at Port Credit, a few miles west of Toronto. RIDGETOWN, (a) WILLIAM E. COREY (63), was retired by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. in 1969, and in May of 1970 she was sold to the Canadian Dredge and Dock Company Ltd. for use as a temporary breakwater (along with KINSMAN VENTURE and LACKAWANNA) at Nanticoke on Lake Erie. That job finished, she was raised in 1973 and was towed to Toronto. During 1974. she was loaded with stone and was sunk off Port Credit as a permanent breakwater. It is said that there may have been defects in the stone bed onto which RIDGETOWN was placed but, whatever the reason, the 81-year-old former steamer's hull had recently cracked, and it was feared that she might break up if repairs were not made. Tugs from McKeil Work Boats Ltd., using the Hamilton crane barge CARGO MASTER, have been working on the bed beneath RIDGETOWN, and efforts to repair the ship's hull have apparently been put in hand as well.
It was announced on March 8, 1986, that the Algoma Central Railway, Marine Division, had purchased all outstanding shares of Nipigon Transport Ltd. from the M. A. Hanna Company. The future of the Nipigon/Carryore Ltd. fleet had been in considerable question since the Cargill Grain interests ended their association with Hanna during 1985, leaving Hanna to carry on alone in the operation of the fleet in the interim. Nipigon/Carryore disposed of MENIHEK LAKE and LAKE WINNIPEG to overseas breakers during 1985, and thus was left with the 1960-built steamer CAROL LAKE, which did not operate during 1985, as well as the 1968-built motorship LAKE MANITOBA, the 1971-built converted salty LAKETON (II), (a) TEMPLE BAR (77), (b) LAKE NIPIGON (84), which came off a two-year charter to Misener at the close of the 1985 season, and the fleet's 1981-built flagship LAKE WABUSH, which is a close sistership to Algoma's ALGOWEST. The LAKE WABUSH is obviously the plum in the deal for Algoma, and there is no doubt that she will be a valuable addition to the A.C.R. fleet, and that LAKE MANITOBA and LAKETON will also be welcomed by their new owner. No new names for the vessels have yet been announced. The future of CAROL LAKE, however, remains in some considerable doubt, and it will be interesting to see how she may figure in the transaction and whether she makes her way to other operators or to shipbreakers.
The first laker to leave winter quarters at Toronto this spring was the Lake Ontario Cement Company's STEPHEN B. ROMAN, which sailed late in the week of March 17th. The ROMAN officially opened the 1986 navigation season for Toronto Harbour when she arrived back in port on March 25th with a cargo of cement from Picton.
The first U.S.-flag laker to come out of winter quarters this spring was the National Gypsum Company's J. A. W. IGLEHART, which was away from her winter berth at Cleveland and in operation before mid-March. AMERICAN REPUBLIC was gone from her Cleveland dock on March 17, heading to Lorain for a load of ore for Cleveland. ARTHUR M. ANDERSON left Milwaukee on March 23 for Escanaba to load pellets for lower Lake Michigan. EDWIN H. GOTT was to clear Duluth on April 1 with pellets, and BELLE RIVER was to leave Superior the same day with coal, and it was anticipated that these two would be the first ships of the season downbound at the Soo, where they were expected on April 3rd.
In the March issue, we reported that the Canada Steamship Lines self-unloader ATLANTIC SUPERIOR had arrived at the Versatile-Davie Shipyard at Lauzon, Quebec, on January 31st, and that she had gone on the drydock there during mid-February . It had been thought that ATLANTIC SUPERIOR would be on the dock through most of the month of March, but her refit apparently was completed in a timely fashion, for the motorship departed Lauzon on March 11th for Halifax, and she since has gone back into service on the east coast.
A late-March press report indicates that the Versatile-Davie Shipyard at Lauzon has been awarded a $130 million contract to construct a second CARIBOU-class ferry for the CN Marine service between Cape Breton and Newfoundland. CARIBOU, the first of the two ferries, is presently being completed at Lauzon. Davie workers had been putting considerable pressure on the Canadian government to award the contract for the second ferry to the same yard rather than seeing the work go to a low-bidding foreign shipbuilder.
Reports from Duluth indicate that the Kinsman Lines Inc. steamer WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE, which has been wintering there, has been renamed (b) HENRY STEINBRENNER (IV). The 1916-vintage McGONAGLE was acquired by Kinsman from the U.S. Steel fleet late in 1978, and it had earlier been suggested that she would be given the STEINBRENNER name, but for various reasons the change was not made and the steamer continued to serve under her original name. It now seems to have been considered appropriate that the change be made to commemorate a most famous name in Great Lakes shipping history. We are also pleased to see the name change in that it tends to suggest that the McGONAGLE/ STEINBRENNER will be operating for some time to come, as an owner does not normally incur the expense of re-registering a vessel unless it plans to keep the ship in service.
We continue to receive additional reports concerning the many lake vessels that were dispatched to overseas scrapyards during the 1985 season. One of the 'last voyages' made during that season was that of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's steamer JOHNSTOWN (II), which made the transatlantic tow in tandem with the former Cliffs steamer PONTIAC (II), arriving safely at San Esteban de Pravia, Spain, on June 24th behind the Polish tug KORAL. A recent report from the World Ship Society indicates that the purchaser of JOHNSTOWN was Vige S.A., and that the breakers began to dismantle the ship on September 20th, 1985.
It appears that plans to convert the long-idle USS Great Lakes Fleet Inc. straight-deck bulk carrier WILLIAM A. IRVIN to a museum at Duluth may finally succeed. A firm of consultants has recommended to Duluth's Arena and Convention Centre Board that the IRVIN should be acquired and used as a museum and convention facility, moored near Duluth's new convention centre. The anticipated purchase price of the steamer would be approximately $110,000 and it is expected that the entire cost of instituting the plan would be about $3,000,000. The consultants have suggested that considerable income would accrue to the city and the convention centre by having the IRVIN placed in the recommended location and opened to the public. We truly hope that this latest plan to save the handsome IRVIN does come to fruition.
In the March issue, we commented upon the dwindling marine activity in the port of Kingston, and mentioned that the Canadian Dredge and Dock Company Ltd. would soon be suspending its operations there. In fact, the C.D. & D. yard will close once it finishes its winter project of refurbishing the sail training ship ST. LAWRENCE II. It is, however, confirmed that McAllister Towing and Salvage Ltd. has no immediate plans to move its tug and lightering operation away from Kingston, as had earlier been suggested. The McAllister firm has indicated that, about a year ago, it had investigated the possibility of removing its facilities to Cardinal, but decided against the move. For the time being, it appears that McAllister will be maintaining a service at Kingston, but it still seems possible that the facility could be closed if the company should eventually locate a "better site".
The reactivated Toledo Shipyard is said to have secured a contract for the construction of a 600-passenger ferry, 100 feet in length and 32 feet in the beam. The vessel, which is to cost in excess of $1,000,000, is to be ready by July 1, 1986, and will operate to the Bob-Lo Island amusement park, in the Detroit River, from Gibraltar, Michigan. The addition of this vessel to the Bob-Lo Island fleet will in no way endanger the future of the veteran steamers COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE, which operate to the island from downtown Detroit.
Meanwhile, certain parties in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, are proposing to build a 500-passenger excursion boat, with a length of about 115 feet, for dinner cruise operations out of that city. Spokespersons for the group indicate that, as well as operating during the traditional summer tourist months, the ship would be open for dining through the winter, although secured to a downtown wharf. The prospective owners seem to think that they could have such a vessel built for $1,000,000 but we would have to think that this is a very conservative estimate for such a project.
Pelee Island Transportation Services has been seeking to replace the smaller of its two carferries, the 1949-built UPPER CANADA, (a) ROMEO AND ANNETTE (66), but so far has been unsuccessful in its efforts. The ferry service is looking for an end-loading ship, with capacity for 350 passengers and 50 vehicles, including trucks. The only two available Canadian vessels meeting those requirements, one in Quebec and one in Newfoundland, are both considered to be unsuitable for various reasons. The Ontario government has budgeted $6,000,000 for a "new" carferry for the route, but it has been estimated that to build a new ferry suitable for the service would cost at least $20,000,0001
We have received a report to the effect that the barge GENERAL KARRIER, which is wintering at Sorel, Quebec, has been acquired by shipbreakers, and possibly by Marine Salvage Ltd., but we have no confirmation of the details. GENERAL KARRIER was, of course, better known under her original name of CEMENTKARRIER. Built in 1930 as Hull 175 of the Furness Shipbuilding Company Ltd., Haverton Hill-on-Tees, she served Canada Cement Transport Ltd. for many years. She was replaced on the Canada Cement Lafarge service into Toronto in the mid-1970s by the converted C.S.L. package freighter ENGLISH RIVER, and during the summer of 1978, CEMENTKARRIER was cut down to a barge whilst lying along the west wall of the Toronto turning basin. Subsequent to her conversion and her departure for service on the St. Lawrence River, GENERAL KARRIER has never been back to Toronto.
Back in the March issue, we mentioned the purchase by' an affiliate of ULS International Inc. of the large deep-sea tanker COLUMBIA LIBERTY, which has now been renamed (b) CANADIAN LIBERTY. The ship is apparently still operating under the Liberian flag, but as yet we have no information as to the nature of the trade for which the ship has been acquired. We have a report that the "direct owner" of the motorvessel is Norse Management, of London, England, but no other details have yet become available to us.
It has been reported that two Groupe Desgagnes vessels were damaged when they collided on the St. Lawrence River during the winter, although we have not received details of the circumstances of the mishap. Involved were CATHERINE DESGAGNES, (a) GOSFORTH (72), (b) THOROLD (IV)(85), and CECILIA DESGAGNES, (a) CARL GORTHON (81), (b) FEDERAL PIONEER (85). The CATHERINE DESGAGNES apparently received damage to her stern, and as of March 2nd she was still undergoing repairs at Quebec City.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.