Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Greetings Of The Season
Marine News
Lay-Up Listings
Ship of the Month No. 150 BENMAPLE
Modjeska et al
Memories Of Autumns Past
Late Marine News
Table of Illustrations

In the November issue, we reported that the Royal Bank of Canada had approved the sale of the six Halco tankers to a new firm known as Enerchem Transport Inc., Montreal. Since the sale was announced, the tankers' old colours have been painted out and the process of renaming the ships has begun. The rather interesting new names chosen for the various tankers are as follows: CHEMICAL TRANSPORT - ENERCHEM FUSION; DOAN TRANSPORT - ENERCHEM CATALYST; GASPE TRANSPORT - ENERCHEM AVANCE; INDUSTRIAL TRANSPORT - ENERCHEM REFINER; ISLAND TRANSPORT - ENERCHEM LAKER and JAMES TRANSPORT - ENERCHEM TRAVAILLEUR.

The Bay Shipbuilding Corp. has secured the contract to convert AMOCO INDIANA into a self-unloading barge to carry cement. The former tanker will be shortened by 45 feet and a new notched stern will be constructed for towing purposes. By late November, the steamer had been stripped and work had begun on the cutting away of her old stern. Delivery of the barge to Medusa Cement is scheduled for July 1st, 1987. When FRANK A. SHERMAN and RED WING departed Lauzon late on October 27 in tow of the tug CANADIAN VIKING, they were bound for a scrapyard at Kaohsiung, Taiwan. That they should set out on such a long tow so late in the season is unusual, and it will be interesting to see whether they make the voyage in safety. (CANADIAN VIKING had arrived at Lauzon on October 14 after sailing from Vancouver, where she had been laid up since 1985.) Then, at noon on November 24, the tug JANTAR cleared Lauzon towing WHEAT KING, which reportedly will be converted to a bunkering barge for use at Rotterdam. Meanwhile, MELDRUM BAY remains at Lauzon and presumably will winter there. As a consequence of its commitment to contract more dredging work out to private firms, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has disposed of two hopper dredges which operated in the lakes for many years. HAINS and HOFFMAN were built in 1942 at Wilmington by the Pusey & Jones Corp. as its Hulls 1082 and 1083, respectively. Of exactly similar dimensions, 204.4 x 40.4 x 15.5, 1169 Gross and 475 Net, they were each powered by two 12-cylinder G.M. diesels. They recently were taken in tow by the G-tugs OHIO and SUPERIOR, which took them down the Welland Canal during the first week of November. They left HOFFMAN at Ogdensburg, took HAINS to Quebec, and then returned to haul her sister down the Seaway. At 7:55 p.m. on November 17. both dredges passed Sept Iles, outbound in tow of the U.S. Navy salvage and rescue tug GRASP, which picked them up at Quebec. It is said that the two 44-year-old dredges will be used as naval gunnery targets.

During the morning of November 21, the Desgagnes motorship CHICAGO TRIBUNE was moved from her lay-up berth near the foot of Jarvis Street, Toronto, to the Victory Mills elevator to load a storage cargo of soya beans. She had made but one trip in 1986, that being from Thunder Bay to Toronto in May, and has since been idle as a result of the loss by Desgagnes of the contract to carry barley and malt for Canada Malting Ltd.

B.F. AFFLECK, involved in a recent incident on Lake Superior, was photographed by the Editor at Six Mile Point, St. Mary's River, on July 28, 1978.
As reported last issue, the former U.S. Steel steamer B. F. AFFLECK, built in 1927, which was awaiting scrapping by the Azcon Corp. at Duluth, has been resold to Port Colborne Marine Terminals Inc. for scrapping at Port Colborne. The AFFLECK was towed from Duluth on November 6 by the tug THUNDER CAPE, but on November 8, in heavy weather, the tug suffered engine problems whilst the tow was off the Keweenaw Peninsula. U.S.C.G. MACKINAW took the crew off AFFLECK, and THUNDER CAPE was towed back to Thunder Bay by the tanker EASTERN SHELL. The tug AVENGER IV, assisted by MACKINAW, eventually got the AFFLECK in tow and, early on November 11, she was moored on the rapids side of the wall below the Canadian Soo Lock to await the return of THUNDER CAPE. By November 30, the tow had arrived at Port Colborne. Incidentally, the tug was sold early in November by Western Engineering Service Ltd., Thunder Bay, to Great Lakes Marine Contracting Ltd., Port Dover.

In the October issue, we reported that SAVIC (the former CLIFFS VICTORY), which left the lakes in late December 1985, had been resold to the Ziff (Corostel Trading/Union Pipe & Machinery) interests, and had sailed from Lanoraie Anchorage in the St. Lawrence River on September 11, bound for New York. It is now reported that SAVIC sailed from New York on October 10, allegedly destined for breakers at Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It is to be assumed that she took on a cargo of scrap in the New York area before she sailed, and we wonder whether she received the hull strengthening which reportedly had been demanded if she were to load a scrap cargo (as originally intended) at Montreal. When SAVIC arrives in the Orient late in 1986 or early in 1987. she will complete the long voyage which she began when she fitted out at South Chicago back in October of 1985, surely the most protracted final trip of any laker yet sold for overseas scrapping.

It has become a tradition for many ship fans to ride the Tobermory - South Baymouth ferry CHI-CHEEMAUN to Owen Sound each October when she has concluded her season and sails down Georgian Bay to her winter quarters. No such trip could be made this autumn, however, for CHI-CHEEMAUN was due for survey and inspection and, with Collingwood Shipyards closed, she was sent to Thunder Bay for drydocking. After taking on bunkers from trucks after her last southbound ferry crossing, CHI-CHEEMAUN sailed from Tobermory at 3:00 a.m. on October 20, and was upbound at the Soo later that day, arriving at Thunder Bay on the 21st. The shipyard work included the permanent repair of her hull which was patched after a grounding in 1985 at South Baymouth. The job finished, CHI-CHEEMAUN departed Thunder Bay at 5:00 p.m., November 15, and at 2:30 a.m. on November 17, she arrived at Owen Sound for lay-up. This trip was remarkable in that never before had CHI-CHEEMAUN ventured even as far as Sault Ste. Marie, much less into Lake Superior, since she was built for the Manitoulin Island ferry route in 1974.

The scrappers at Windsor have almost finished dismantling the venerable steam tanker AMOCO ILLINOIS, only a small portion of her stern remaining at last report. Going soon to the yard, however, will be CLARENCE B. RANDALL (II), (a) J. J. SULLIVAN (62), which was built by American Shipbuilding at Cleveland in 1907. Long a part of the Hutchinson fleet, she sailed for Inland Steel from 1962 until sold in 1980 to the North American/Seaway Towing group. She has since been lying idle at Milwaukee, and although there were plans to use her as a storage barge as (c) WANNAMINGO, these plans never materialized. It has also been said that Inland Steel's handsome steamer L. E. BLOCK, built by American Shipbuilding at Lorain in 1927 and repowered in 1953, and recently idle for several years at Milwaukee, may be going to Windsor for scrap as well, but we now hear conflicting reports in this respect.

North American/Seaway has also disposed of the former tinstacker PETER A. B. WIDENER, which it also purchased in 1980. The WIDENER was built by the Chicago Shipbuilding Company in 1906, and latterly was to be used for storage at Chicago as (c) FUGAWE. She made one ill-fated trip under tow to the St. Lawrence with grain some years back, but otherwise has been idle. After her sale for scrap this autumn, the tugs TUSKER and GLENADA took her down the Welland Canal on November 7, bound for Quebec and an eventual overseas tow.

It had been hoped that the return to service of the long-idle Misener Shipping Ltd. steamer SCOTT MISENER would be free of difficulties, but such was not to be. After completing her drydocking at Port Weller, the SCOTT ran trials on Lake Ontario on November 1st, and then sailed upbound. She cleared Thunder Bay on November 5 with her first cargo since 1983, and all went well until she got into the Seaway. At about 6:45 a.m. on November 11, when she was downbound near Cornwall, SCOTT MISENER was beset by a white-out and she struck Grassy Island, putting her bow 100 feet into the mud. She swung at such an angle that she blocked vessel traffic and the assistance of tugs was requested. It took five tugs to pull the ship free. TUSKER and GLENADA were diverted from the PETER A. B. WIDENER scrap tow, OHIO and SUPERIOR were called from Ogdensburg where they were picking up HOFFMAN, and CATHY McALLISTER was summoned from Montreal. SCOTT MISENER was refloated at 4:55 a.m. on November 12, fortunately without damage, and she soon resumed her voyage.

Last issue, we mentioned the engineroom fire suffered near Sarnia on October 27 by Interlake's JAMES R. BARKER, and her subsequent tow by WILLIAM J. DeLANCEY. The two ships were tied side-by-side for the tow and made very slow progress, for they did not arrive at Sturgeon Bay until November 2nd. BARKER will go on the BayShip dock following the docking of MESABI MINER. Damage is not as severe as earlier anticipated, but will take considerable time to repair in that the functioning of the engineroom C02 system (which efficiently extinguished the fire) caused sulphuric acid to form, and this caused damage to certain pieces of equipment.

Plans to convert the carferry CITY OF MILWAUKEE into a museum at Frankfort, Michigan, have apparently collapsed. Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources officials have rejected the proposed project site, and the local group promoting the museum has been forced to abandon its plans. The City of Frankfort owns the ferry and must now decide what to do with her.

Meanwhile, ambitious plans have been formulated for the rebuilding of the former Ann Arbor carferry VIKING to haul passengers and autos between Muskegon and Milwaukee. The work, to cost some $7.5 million, will include making two car decks out of the old main deck railroad car space, to accommodate 146 autos. Milwaukee dock space has been obtained, and negotiations are underway to secure one of several possible Muskegon sites. The service is to be operated for the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners by HMH Inc. (the operator of the Muskegon Harbor Hilton Hotel), and Canonie Inc. will provide technical assistance. The contract for VIKING's conversion has not been let, pending the arranging of additional financing.

Concerning the tug PETITE FORTE, which Wakeham & Sons Ltd. will use to haul the St. Lawrence Cement barge CLARKSON CARRIER, she is 112.0 x 31.0 x 15.5. 368 Gross Tons, and powered by two eight-cylinder Ruston & Hornsby diesels. She was built in 1969 by Cochrane & Sons Ltd., Selby, as its Hull 1520. Before becoming PETITE FORTE, she operated as (a) E. BRONSON INGRAM (72), (b) JARAMAC 42 (73). (c) SCOTSMAN (81), and (d) AL BATTAL (86). She latterly was owned by Arabian Bulk Trade Ltd., registered at Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and used for anchor handling. PETITE FORTE and CLARKSON CARRIER made their first trip from Clarkson to Oswego during the week of November 24th.

The scrapping of the barge GENERAL KARRIER (formerly CEMENTKARRIER) was completed by Gondel International at Contrecoeur late in October. The yard then began the dismantling of FORT SEVERN, but as yet no work has begun on the scrapping of the salvaged ROBERT KOCH.

It is reported that the Windsor Detroit Barge Line Inc. tug PRESCOTONT recently sustained extensive damage in a fire. We have little detail, but it seems likely that the incident will spell the end of the career of this 56-year-old tug, built originally to handle the railway transfer barge OGDENSBURG on the C.P.R. ferry service between Prescott and Ogdensburg.

The scrapping of JOHN DYKSTRA (II), (a) BENSON FORD (I)(82), has begun at last at Ramey's Bend. By mid-November, Marine Salvage crews had cut away part of the bow of the veteran motorship.

We earlier reported that the former Rouge Steel Company steamers NO. 265808 (BENSON FORD) and NO. 266029 (WILLIAM CLAY FORD) were resold by the Erwin Robinson Company, Detroit, to Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne, apparently for scrapping. A November 6 "Journal of Commerce" report indicated that U.S. MarAd had given approval for both ships to operate under Canadian or British registry. We believe that Marine Salvage had contemplated selling the boats for further service but has since given up on WILLIAM CLAY FORD in view of her large size, low cubic capacity, and the recent removal of her pilothouse for display at the Dossin Museum; to refit and shorten the ship would be prohibitively expensive. It is said, however, that Marine Salvage still hopes to sell BENSON FORD for operation. Both vessels are to winter at Port Colborne, NO. 266029 in Ramey's Bend for dismantling, and NO. 2658O8 in the old canal below Humberstone.

Since 1982, a tug and barge constructed by the now-bankrupt Upper Peninsula Shipbuilding Company have been lying idle at the Ontonagon, Michigan, shipyard which now is operated by Wedtech-Ontonagon. During October, two prospective purchasers visited the site to consider acquisition of the two units. One, the Exxon Shipping Co., is considering buying the pair and converting the barge into a tanker. The other visitors represented McAllister Shipping of New York, the Scott Paper Company, and the Chicago Tribune. Some of McAllister's tugs tow barges for Scott, one of whose contracts is to supply newsprint to the Tribune from Newfoundland. The results of the meetings are not yet known.

Work on removing the barge, which is wrapped around one of the piers of the Peace Bridge at Buffalo, is underway. In mid-November, HELEN M. McALLISTER took the barge McALLISTER 252 to Buffalo, apparently to serve as the anchor barge for the project. Late in the month, the deep-sea tug EL GATO GRANDE brought up the large derrick barge N.R.P. 251, which will attempt to lift the wrecked scow clear of the bridge.

As if the 1986 season has not held enough grief for lake shippers, it was announced in November that pilots in District One (St. Lambert to Quebec) planned to strike on December 1st, and there seemed little likelihood that the action could be avoided. Such a strike would not only make it difficult for salties leaving the lakes, but also would interfere with the grain rush.

The St. Lawrence canals of the Seaway system will close for the season on December 17, and the Seaway has indicated that the Welland Canal will likely close on December 22, although extensions of these dates are possible if weather conditions permit. Meanwhile, on November 28, the federal government announced that it will spend $175 million over the next seven years to restore and stabilize the lock walls in the Welland Canal.

Although the Collingwood shipyard was closed during September, a ship reconstruction project is presently underway at the port. The former Canadian Coast Guard buoy tender VERENDRYE, which was replaced at the Soo by CARIBOU ISLE, was moved to Parry Sound on retirement, pending disposal. Purchased by parties who wish to use her as (yet another) excursion boat on Toronto Bay, she is now moored under the shearlegs at Collingwood while a small crew does the work of converting VERENDRYE for her new duties.

Meanwhile, the small charter-boat operations at Toronto have come under very close scrutiny at a coroner's inquest into the death of the master of the cruiser SOUTHERN STAR II, who drowned during the summer after leaping into the water in an attempt to rescue a drunken passenger who had fallen over the side. Concern about the recent proliferation of excursion boats on the bay has been growing, particularly as many of the small vessels run only charter service, are not licensed or inspected as passenger ships, and apparently are virtually immune to liquor control regulations. There seems little doubt that the situation will now receive official attention and that, in the interests of public safety, the rules governing such operations will be tightened.

During the night of November 19. whilst she was waiting on the lower tie-up wall at St. Lambert Lock in the Seaway, the Halco self-unloader FRANKCLIFFE HALL was struck on the starboard bow by the dowbound [sic] Yugoslavian salty SOLTA . The accident closed the canal for some six hours and resulted in damage to the laker. We are not aware of the extent of damage to the salty. Meanwhile, we understand that criminal charges against the master of another Yugoslav salty, JABLANICA, have been dropped. The charges had been laid after an August 20 accident in which the fishtug RAZAL BROS. sank on Lake Michigan.

The USS Great Lakes Fleet has petitioned U.S. MarAd for permission to sell its 1937-built RALPH H. WATSON and the 1943-built "Maritimer" ROBERT C.STANLEY to the Globaltrade and Transworld Group Inc. of Calgary, Alberta. The firm with the rather pretentious name apparently intends to resell the two vessels (idle since 1980 and 1981, respectively) for dismantling in Taiwan.

In the early morning of October 27, fire destroyed the Con-Agra Corp. grain elevator on the waterfront at Superior, Wisconsin. Despite the efforts of firefighters, the elevator could not be saved, nor could the approximately 140,000 bushels of grain which were stored in it.

The C. Reiss Coal Company of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which long has been associated with the shipment of coal on the lakes, and which once operated a large fleet of lake steamers, was bought out during October by Koch Carbon Inc. of Wichita, Kansas. Koch is a major producer of coal and coke.

The former Canadian Coast Guard tender SKUA was retired from service some years ago and since 1980 she had been lying idle at Sorel, having been acquired by Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping. She has now been resold to Paul-Emile Caron of Louiseville, Quebec. On October 7, the tug QUAIL towed SKUA from Sorel en route to Louiseville, where SKUA will be dismantled.

On October 18, the C.S.L. self-unloader MANITOULIN suffered her second major accident of 1986 when she grounded on Lake St. Louis in the Seaway, after suffering engine failure. The tug LEONARD W. and lighter P.S. BARGE NO. 1 were sent to assist and, on October 20, MANITOULIN was refloated. After anchoring for inspection, she sailed for Montreal under her own power. It is to be recalled that MANITOULIN was involved in a grounding on July 15 near Cedar Point on Sandusky Bay, also as a result of a power failure.

On October 25, two C.S.L. self-unloaders were involved in an unusual topping-off of a salt-water collier carrying coal to the Kawasaki Steel Corp. of Japan. On Sept Iles Bay, the salty, already loaded with 65,000 tonnes of coal from Hampton Roads, Virginia, received 25,000 tonnes of steam coal brought from Nova Scotia by HON. PAUL MARTIN, and 25,000 tonnes of coking coal carried from Conneaut by J. W. McGIFFIN. It was the first time that such a top-ping-off has involved the blending of these two different types of coal.

The purchaser of the former Desgagnes coaster MONT. ST. MARTIN has been identified as Francois Nav., a Haitian firm which has put the ship into Honduran registry and renamed her SCAVENGER. She sailed from St. Joseph de la Rive, Quebec, on September 9th, bound for the Caribbean via Halifax.

Back on November 29, 1985, the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd. salty JALAGODAVARI struck the St. Louis de Gonzague railway and highway bridge on the Beauharnois Canal below Valleyfield. It was not until December 5 that the ship was pulled free of the bridge and vessel traffic again began to move through the Seaway. It was thus with some trepidation that observers noted the upbound passage of JALAGODAVARI at St. Lambert on November 9th, 1986, bound for Milwaukee to load grain. It was hoped that a late-season blockade was not included in the plans for the ship on this trip!


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