Imperial Oil Limited has disposed of the last of its once-large fleet of lake tankers, this ship being IMPERIAL SARNIA (II), which was built at Collingwood in 1948, 380.6 x 53.0 x 26.0, 4580 Gross and 3101 Net, turbine-powered. She was taken to the east coast via the Mississippi River in 1954, and subsequently was rebuilt at Sorel with a new bow and stern and raised cabins midships and aft, her length increased to 394.5 and her tonnage to 4947 Gross and 3336 Net. She returned to the lakes in 1965 and had since been given several rather substantial refits. Now, however, she has been sold to Provmar Fuels Inc., Hamilton (a consortium of the C.S.L. and ULS groups), and she has been taken to Hamilton for use as a storage barge. There she joins the barge PROVMAR TERMINAL (the former UNGAVA TRANSPORT) and the bunkering tanker HAMILTON ENERGY. Reportedly, IMPERIAL SARNIA (which undoubtedly will be renamed) will be kept in class in case it is decided to operate her. Ceremonies to mark the retirement of IMPERIAL SARNIA were held at Sarnia on December 13, and before she left on her last trip down the St. Clair River, Capt. Nate Smith had her signal flags hoisted to spell out "Blue Zoo", the pet name by which her officers and crew knew her. By the morning of December 15, IMPERIAL SARNIA was lying at the Provmar terminal at the far east end of Hamilton harbour. Imperial Oil will retain its east and west coast tanker fleets.
The C.S.L. self-unloader ATLANTIC SUPERIOR, which spent the summer on salt water, is back in Canadian registry, having been re-enrolled at Halifax on November 10, 1986, by Fednav Ltd., Montreal. Meanwhile, another lake self-unloader has recently been "flagged out" for more economical deep-sea operation, this being the newest self--unloader in the ULS International fleet, the 1983-built CANADIAN AMBASSADOR, 24230 Gross, a product of Port Weller Dry Docks. Whilst lying at Sorel on December 16, she was placed under Vanuatu registry and a foreign crew was brought aboard for the winter. The ship was renamed (b) AMBASSADOR and apparently was transferred to the ownership of one of the salt water ULS affiliates. Present rules allow for the "flagging out" of a Canadian vessel for a period of not more than six months, with substantial import duties and other regulations imposed if the ship is brought back into Canadian registry at a later point in time.
Another "flagged out" ULS ship has come to the end of her career, namely the Mexican-owned MAZAHUA, (a) CAPE BRETON MINER (68), (b) CONVEYOR (72), (c) CAPE BRETON MINER (83). The turbine-powered self-unloader was built at Port Weller in 1964. From 1968 until 1972, she operated under charter to a Hanna Mining Company affiliate, under the Liberian flag, and she then reverted to Canadian registry, although she spent little time in the lakes. Early in 1983, she was transferred to the ULS affiliate Mar-Bulk Shipping Ltd., and was re-registered in Vanuatu, managed by Barber Steamships Ltd., Hong Kong. She ran in Mexican trades and later was sold to a Mexican firm in which ULS retained an ownership interest. The ship's condition deteriorated considerably as time passed and, on December 12, 1986, it was reported in London that MAZAHUA had been sold to U.S. interests, as is/where is at Tampico, for dismantling at Brownsville, Texas. The price quoted was $92.00 U.S. per light displacement ton, making the total sale price some $950,912.00 U.S.
At about 3:25 a.m. on December 6, the C.S.L. straight-deck bulker RIMOUSKI struck the concrete wall at the Prescott elevator whilst attempting to make the dock. The starboard shell plates forward were damaged and Lloyd's casualty report indicated that an area measuring approximately 20 feet by 17 feet required renewal, including the internals. Temporary repairs were done at Prescott, and RIMOUSKI was sent to Port Arthur Shipyards as soon as her cargo was unloaded. Permanent repairs will be done there during the winter.
The scrapping of the cement carrier ROBERT KOCH began at Contrecoeur, Quebec, about November 17. The work is being done by Gondel International but the preliminary cutting on KOCH was not done at Gondel's own yard, for the scrapping berth was occupied by the remains of FORT SEVERN. It was anticipated that the cut-down KOCH would be moved over to the scrapyard as soon as the dismantling of FORT SEVERN could be completed.
In anticipation of the winter refit of the Coast Guard icebreaker JOHN A. MacDONALD, union and management at Port Weller Dry Docks called a truce in their labour dispute which concerned a management demand that barriers separating the various shipyard trades be dropped and that workers be skilled in several trades rather than just one. The lockout at the yard ended just before Christmas with an agreement on a new two-year contract, which includes wage increases that will be rolled back to lower levels if, at the end of the MacDONALD contract, the workers refuse to continue the "job flexibility" plan. Meanwhile, the big icebreaker was upbound at Les Escoumins on December 15, bound for Port Weller and her $8 million refit, the plans for which had been abeyanced pending resolution of the yard's labour problems.
The salt-water tanker KIISLA is once again in the lakes this winter, operated under charter to Sunoco, and with Sarnia as her base. KIISLA was upbound at Lock One in the Welland Canal at about 6:00 p.m. on December 12. Her return to the lakes this winter, despite rather substantial charter fees, serves as a confirmation that her operation on the lakes last winter were a success. We shall see what the lake winter throws at the icebreaking tanker this year...
Criminal charges have been laid against the first and second officers and the boatswain of the tanker CHIPPEWA as a result of a December 16 accident which occurred as the ship lay at the Sunoco dock at Sarnia. An Italian seaman died when overcome by fumes whilst cleaning a hold, and it is alleged that safety precautions were not followed. In the hold at the time was a mixture of water, toluene, and urea ammonium nitrate fertilizer*. CHIPPEWA is owned by Hope Crown Shipping Corp. and chartered to Sun Transport.
Upbound in the Seaway on November 5 was the tug W. N. TWOLAN, which was built in 1962 at Lauzon for the National Harbours Board (now called Ports Canada). The 95.3-foot tug was used at Churchill, Manitoba, but she recently was purchased by McKeil Work Boats Ltd. of Winona, Ontario. The TWOLAN is wintering at the mouth of the Thames River on Lake St. Clair, her services retained by the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority to break ice in the river in an effort to avoid spring flooding. (The St. Clair River Conservation Authority has hired the Sandrin tug GLENADA to provide the same service in the Sydenham River.)
The scrapping of the last remains of the steamer SPRUCEGLEN was completed at Thunder Bay on November 22. Thus disappeared the last of the hulls that were left behind when Shearmet Recycling went out of business at the close of the 1985 season. SPRUCEGLEN was better known in earlier years as (a) WILLIAM K. FIELD (34), (b) REISS BROTHERS (70), (c) GEORGE D. GOBLE (80), (d) ROBERT S. PIERSON (82). She was the last coal-fired steamer to operate on the lakes under the Canadian flag and, retired at the end of the 1982 season, subsequently served for two years as a storage barge at Goderich before being sold for scrapping.
During the night of December 12, the Algoma Central self-unloader ALGOSOO suffered the second accident of her 1986 season. Earlier, she had been severely damaged by fire and she spent most of the navigation season undergoing repairs. She had not long been back in service when she lost power while attempting to enter the piers at Port Weller, upbound. She grounded near the east pier and took on water. The McKeil tugs GLENEVIS and STORMONT refloated ALGOSOO on the morning of December 13 and she was taken to the north end of the wall below Lock One for assessment of the damage. She then moved to Port Weller Dry Docks for the necessary repairs.
The Muskegon County Board of Commissioners has balked at the cost of rebuilding the former Ann Arbor carferry VIKING for the proposed Muskegon -Milwaukee passenger and auto ferry service. Faced with shipyard costs in the $6.25 - $7.5 million range, the county is now studying options available "to close the financing gap". In other words, the county commissioners are scrambling for money to keep their pet project alive. Meanwhile, however, there is no hope that the service could begin in 1987.
One of the Halco bulk carriers reactivated this autumn for the grain rush was CARTIERCLIFFE HALL, (a) RUHR ORE (76), built in West Germany in 1960 and rebuilt at Lauzon for lake trade in 1977. On June 5, 1979, her aft end was severely damaged by a fire which occurred when she was downbound in Lake Superior off the Keweenaw Peninsula, and the lives of seven crewmen were lost. The ship was subsequently rebuilt with an entirely new (but less than beautiful) after cabin. On the afternoon of December 11, 1986, while CARTIERCLIFFE HALL was downbound out of Lock Seven in the Welland Canal, the fuel line to her main diesel generator ruptured, causing a fire in the generator room. The ship was put on the west tie-up wall between Locks Six and Seven, and shore-based firemen were taken aboard to help extinguish the smoky fire. A portable generator was placed on CARTIERCLIFFE HALL's deck and she proceeded on her way on December 13, bound for Montreal with grain. We earlier reported the autumn collision of FRANKCLIFFE HALL with a salty in the Seaway, but it seems that there have been two other incidents involving Halco bulkers late in 1986. In November, BEAVERCLIFFE HALL spent six days at Thunder Bay's Keefer Terminal, undergoing repairs to fire damage (of which we have no details), and on December 8th, MAPLECLIFFE HALL gashed her hull when she collided with a tie-up wall at Beauharnois whilst downbound with grain.
In the December issue, we reported the new names that Enerchem Transport Inc. of Montreal is giving to the former Halco tankers which it has acquired. (It should be noted that the spelling of the new names was correct as we reported them, although other spellings have appeared in various publications.) Meanwhile, the tankers have been operating with assorted variations of painted-over Halco colours. We are given to understand that the new Enerchem stack design will be dark blue with a black smokeband, a lighter blue band and an ochre-yellow band, with an Old English style 'E' superimposed on the bands. ENERCHEM REFINER (INDUSTRIAL TRANSPORT) has already been seen sporting a partial version of these colours, and also carrying the word "Enerchem" in large letters down each side of her hull.
At long last, the end has come for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's large straight-deck bulk carrier ARTHUR B. HOMER (U.S.280946). Powered by a steam turbine, the HOMER was built in 1960 as Hull 303 of the Great Lakes Engineering Works at River Rouge, Michigan, 711.2 x 75.1 x 33.4, 13390 Gross and 8442 Net. As such, she was a near-sistership to the ill-fated EDMUND FITZGERALD, which was Hull 301 out of the same shipyard. In 1975. Bethlehem had the HOMER lengthened to 807.O feet, increasing her tonnage to 15200 Gross, 10225 Net. Unfortunately, Bethlehem did the lengthening with a notable lack of foresight; had they converted the ship to a self-unloader at the same time, she would still be active in lake trade and probably would remain so for many years. Instead, she was left as a straight-decker, and the cost of self-unloader conversion has become prohibitive in the interim. Without unloading gear, a vessel of the HOMER's size is today virtually useless, and so Bethlehem Steel recently sought and received U.S. Mar Ad approval to sell the HOMER to Port Colborne Marine Terminals Inc. for scrapping. The steamer had been lying idle at Erie, Pennsylvania, for many years, but the tugs THUNDER CAPE, ELMORE M. MISNER and ATOMIC collected her this autumn, and on December 7th she was off Port Colborne piers. High winds forced the tow to remain on the open lake and it was not until the morning of December 9 that the HOMER was brought through the piers and safely moored in Port Colborne harbour. She undoubtedly will be cut up during the winter months, and she thus becomes the largest lake vessel ever to be sold for scrapping.
The Misener Shipping Ltd. fleet once again has its ocean-lakers active on salt water this winter. Of the company's ships wintering on the lakes, JOHN A. FRANCE has a most unusual storage cargo. On December 14, she was at the St. Lawrence Cement plant at Clarkson, taking on a storage load of cement for Duluth. Meanwhile, the FRANCE'S sistership, J.N. McWATTERS, is wintering at Port Weller, where she will be drydocked for the installation of a device for the channelling of propellor wash which, it is hoped, will significantly reduce fuel consumption. SCOTT MISENER is wintering at Sorel.
The two steamers sold recently out of the Rouge Steel Company fleet have now been moved into Canadian waters. NO. 265808, (a) RICHARD M. MARSHALL (57), (b) JOSEPH S. WOOD (II)(66), (c) JOHN DYKSTRA (I)(82), (d) BENSON FORD (II) (85), was towed out of Ecorse, Michigan, on November 28 by the tugs TUSKER and GLENADA. The tugs pulled the ship stern-first through Lock 8 and arrived in Ramey's Bend on November 30. With the placing of NO. 2658O8 in the scrapyard, JOHN DYKSTRA (I) - BENSON FORD (II) was lying next to BENSON FORD (I) - JOHN DYKSTRA (II)! Although Marine Salvage Ltd. still hoped to sell NO. 2658O8 for further operation (most unlikely, we would think), in late December, THUNDER CAPE and GLENBROOK towed her down to the coal dock at Thorold and it is said that she may be used to collect the detritus during the Welland Canal reconstruction project. Meanwhile, on December 8, TUSKER and GLENADA arrived at Port Maitland after a stormy and difficult passage, towing NO. 266029, (a) WILLIAM CLAY FORD (I)(85). It was thought that Marine Salvage would break up this ship at Ramey's Bend, but there was no convenient mooring space for her at Humberstone and so she will winter at Port Maitland. The possibility exists that Port Maitland Shipbreaking might purchase the ship, in which case she never will see Ramey's Bend...
When TUSKER and GLENADA were at Port Colborne after delivering NO. 2658O8, they moved the hull of HUDSON TRANSPORT back from the Law stone dock (where it had spent the summer) to the scrapyard at Ramey's Bend on December 1st. The return of HUDSON TRANSPORT to the scrapyard may well indicate that Marine Salvage has given up on its efforts to sell the hull of the fire-damaged tanker for operation as a barge.
In the December issue, we commented upon the wild ride which the former tinstacker B. F. AFFLECK had out on Lake Superior whilst en route from Duluth to Port Colborne for scrapping and in tow of the tug THUNDER CAPE. The AFFLECK finally departed the Canadian Soo on November 21 behind the repaired THUNDER CAPE and assisted by W. J. IVAN PURVIS. THUNDER CAPE towed AFFLECK down the Huron Cut on November 23, assisted by ELMORE M. MISNER, and THUNDER CAPE, AFFLECK and the tug GLENADA finally arrived at Port Colborne on November 25. The freighter was tucked away bow first in the old canal below Humberstone pending her final move to the east pier scrapyard.
The saga of SAVIC (the former CLIFFS VICTORY) continues. Our last report had SAVIC departing New York on or about October 10, 1986, approximately a year after the beginning of her fateful last voyage at South Chicago. It is now reported that SAVIC arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 14, having passed through the Panama Canal. On arrival at Honolulu, she was carrying a considerable deckload of containers, so it would appear that what she loaded at New York was not scrap metal but rather general cargo. SAVIC apparently was due in Korea on December 7, so by now she probably will have arrived at the Far Eastern scrapyard to which she was destined. Perhaps in the near future we will have for you the final chapter in this incredibly prolonged story.
We earlier have recorded the departure from the lakes of the former BoCo self-unloaders SHARON and DETROIT EDISON, bound for a scrapyard at Brownsville, Texas. We now learn that, on November 20, apparently as a result of vandalism, DETROIT EDISON sank at her dock at Brownsville, coming to rest with a considerable list away from the dock and blocking the shipping channel. As yet, we have no details of the raising of the doomed steamer. At the time of the incident, the scrapping of DETROIT EDISON had not yet begun although more than half of SHARON had already been dismantled.
Last issue, we reported that PETER A. B. WIDENER passed down the Welland Canal on November 7, bound for Quebec City in tow of TUSKER and GLENADA. In fact, the Welland passage was made on November 8th. The tugs towed the old tinstacker down the St. Lambert Lock in the Seaway on November 17 and arrived at Lauzon on November 18th. The delay, of course, was the result of the tugs being diverted to render assistance at the scene of the November 11th SCOTT MISENER grounding in the Seaway near Cornwall.
At about 1:00 p.m. on December 8, the 564-foot, 1973-built, Polish Steamship Company motorvessel ZIEMIA OLSZTYNSKA was downbound in the upper St. Lawrence River with a cargo of 18,000 tonnes of grain, loaded at Duluth, and bound for Trois-Rivieres for topping off her holds. Visibility was bad due to heavy haze over the water, and the ship grounded on Hinckley Flats Shoal between Wolfe Island and Carleton Island, some five kilometres east of Cape Vincent. The tugs DANIEL McALLISTER and CATHY McALLISTER, along with the lighter MAPLEHEATH, were summoned from Montreal (McAllister closed out its Kingston operations earlier this past autumn) and ZIEMIA OLSZTYNSKA was finally refloated on December 12. The vessel sustained some damage to her bow, but the damage was not thought to be severe.
The barge which was wrapped around the centre pier of the Peace Bridge was finally removed just before Christmas, having obstructed the flow of the upper Niagara River since the August 7 accident that sank its tug and put the barge broadside to the bridge and over on its side. Removal of the barge took much longer than expected, as a succession of broken cables and excesses of weather delayed the work. The most serious incident during the salvage work came on December 2 when the lifting derrick itself could not maintain position and drifted down against the bridge. The big crane was hauled away from the bridge the next day and its position stabilized, but considerable repair work had to be done on the span and the structure was closed to traffic for 25 hours. Large crowds of spectators gathered on both sides of the river to watch as the operation progressed and the wrecked barge was finally dislodged from the pier and hauled away to Buffalo for scrapping.
In the December issue, we reported that the Polish tug JANTAR hauled WHEAT KING away from Lauzon on November 24, bound for Rotterdam, where the former laker allegedly will be rebuilt as a bunkering barge. Further reports indicate that JANTAR and WHEAT KING were forced to interrupt the tow as a result of damage sustained by WHEAT KING as she left the shipyard at Lauzon. The tow arrived at the Pointe Noire anchorage in Sept-Iles Bay on November 26 and stayed there until the 29th. It is also reported that the tow arrived at Halifax on 2nd December. It will be interesting to see whether a tow setting out so late in the season will make the North Atlantic crossing in safety.
The tanker L. ROCHETTE, (a) GULF MACKENZIE (85), operated by Sofati/Soconav on long-term charter from Gulf Canada Ltd., suffered a failure of her main engine on November 38 whilst at sea en route from Pointe Noire to Halifax in ballast. She was taken in tow by the tug POINT VALIANT, which managed to get the tanker safely into Halifax for the necessary repairs. Meanwhile, the two Texaco Canada tankers which were put on long-term charter to Sofati/Soconav as of September 1st, are now running officially under their new names. On November 4, TEXACO CHIEF, which had been at the Lauzon shipyard for the better part of a month, was recommissioned as (b) A. G. FARQUHARSON. TEXACO BRAVE was also at Lauzon from October 29 to November 11, and then went back into service as (b) LE BRAVE. It will be recalled that LE BRAVE had briefly borne her new name in early September but reverted to the old name pending the official re-registering of the ships. We must admit that we are not partial to either of the new names...
In the last issue, we reported that the tanker COASTAL CANADA had been struck by the S.I.U. at Sarnia. In fact, the strike occurred on November 27 (not the 29th) and concerned numerous alleged grievances. The tanker was tied in the north slip at Point Edward while the few S.I.U. crewmembers (not the whole crew) picketed nearby. The strike was settled on December 6 with the signing of a three-year contract, the union's first on this ship. During the heat of the dispute, unidentified persons painted some extremely nasty words on the side of COASTAL CANADA, but the graffiti disappeared before the big steam tanker was recommissioned.
Her maiden voyage delayed by mechanical problems which required rectification before she could sail, C.C.G.S. SIR WILFRID LAURIER finally cleared Collingwood on November 25, bound for her station at Quebec. She was downbound at St. Lambert early on November 29. Of course, SIR WILFRID LAURIER will always be known as the last vessel built by the famous Collingwood Shipyards.
In the near future, yet another famous old lighthouse will be converted to automatic operation. Early in December, the two keepers left the light at Main Duck Island, in eastern Lake Ontario, as they usually do at that time of year, but this time the supply boat also carried their belongings and furnishings, as the decision to automate the light is expected before next spring. There is considerable local opposition to the light automation, most concerns centring on the fact that if a malfunction should occur, repairmen would have to be sent up from Prescott, and marine casualties could occur should the lighthouse be inoperative for any extended period of time.
At long last, during the summer of 1986, the wreck of the Canada Steamship Lines package freighter REGINA was located, the announcement of the find being made in late autumn. REGINA, built in Scotland in 1907, was lost on Lake Huron in the Great Storm of November 1913, and it has always been thought that she and CHARLES S. PRICE spent their last few moments in close proximity . The wreck of the PRICE lies not far above the Huron Cut at the bottom of the lake, but REGINA has been found off the shore of Sanilac County, up the west shore of the lake towards the Michigan "Thumb". Divers who have seen the wreck say that there are indications that REGINA may have been anchored at the time of her loss. Was she caught on the lee shore in a wind shift, and was there a collision between REGINA and the PRICE? Further exploration of the wreck may yield the answers...
In December, we reported that the former Desgagnes coaster MONT ST. MARTIN had been renamed SCAVENGER by her new Haitian owner. We now understand that the new name of the ship is really JANITOR, and the owner is Francois Shipping Inc. of Miami, a firm owned by a Haitian resident.
Operating in the excursion trade between Sandusky, Kelleys Island and Putin-Bay in 1987 will be the 110-foot, 350-passenger CITY OF SANDUSKY. The vessel is the former DIXIE SOUTHERN, which was acquired in New Iberia, Louisiana, by Dennis Wieber and a group of Sandusky investors. During the winter, she is being refitted for her new duties, and she'll enter the lakes in the spring of 1987.
The Paterson motorship CANADOC has a storage cargo this winter for the Robin Hood elevator at Humberstone. It is said that, during lay-up, CANADOC will have one of her four original Fairbanks Morse diesel engines replaced. We do not know where the "new" engine will come from, but we wonder whether it might be one of the two Fairbanks Morse diesels from HUDSON TRANSPORT which, like CANADOC, was built by Davie, only one year later.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.