For quite some time, it was known that the Algoma Central Railway, Marine Division, intended to rename two of its three "people-named" vessels, and would also rename the four ships which passed into its operation with the 1986 acquisition of the shares of Nipigon Transport Ltd. and Carryore Limited (these two wholly-owned firms still retaining ownership of the boats) . It was announced during March that A. S. GLOSSBRENNER and V. W. SCULLY would become ALGOGULF and ALGOSOUND, respectively. Of the acquired vessels, CAROL LAKE is now ALGOCAPE, LAKE NIPIGON becomes ALGONORTH, LAKE MANITOBA is renamed ALGOMARINE and, in a rather unusual manner of honouring either the A.C.R. board chairman (who is not a Captain) or his namesake grandfather (who was), LAKE WABUSH is rechristened CAPTAIN HENRY JACKMAN. The ships may not be painted up in full Algoma livery until they come due for normal repainting.
Shell Canadian Tankers Ltd. has reached agreement with Soconav Inc. for the latter to assume the operation of Shell's long-haul tankers under a long-term charter (believed to be for a ten-year period). The charter, effective with the opening of the 1987 navigation season, includes LAKESHELL (III), EASTERN SHELL (II), (a) W. HAROLD REA (70), and NORTHERN SHELL (II), (a) OLAU SYD (72), (b) AXEL HEIBERG (74), (c) FROBISHER TRANSPORT (77). Not included in the deal are the Shell marketing department's bunkering vessels BAYSHELL (II) and RIVERSHELL (III), (a) TYEE SHELL (69), (b) ARCTIC TRADER (83). The Shell tankers follow the Gulf and Texaco fleets into charter agreements with Soconav, and this leaves Imperial Oil Ltd. as the only major Canadian petroleum refiner still operating its own vessels on the lakes and St. Lawrence River system. Incidentally, it should perhaps be noted here that Imperial Oil is at present in the course of moving its marine department from Toronto to Halifax so as to be closer to the centre of its fleet's operations.
Despite suggestions that she might be renamed PROVMAR TERMINAL #2, or some variation of that name, IMPERIAL SARNIA is still registered under her old name and carries it on her bows. The tanker, sold late last fall to Provmar Terminals Inc., spent the winter at Hamilton, and the only changes in her appearance are the removal of certain pieces of navigation equipment and the repainting of the centre band on her stack from blue to white. It is said that Provmar (a consortium of C.S.L. and ULS) may tow the now-loaded IMPERIAL SARNIA to Nanticoke this spring, to use her in bunker service there (possibly assisted by a self-propelled bunkers delivery ship - such as BAYSHELL?). Undoubtedly, the new owners will not retain the name IMPERIAL SARNIA for long, and an early rename is likely for the 39-year-old steamer.
Work continues at Sturgeon Bay on the conversion of the tanker AMOCO INDIANA into a cement-carrying barge for Medusa Cement, and it is intended that the vessel be renamed (c) MEDUSA CONQUEST. She will go on the drydock in about a month for the cutting of a towing notch in her new stern, and meanwhile her owners are searching the Gulf of Mexico area for a tug suitable to push her.
In previous issues, we have commented on the transfer by ULS International of the self-unloader CANADIAN AMBASSADOR to its salt-water affiliate Mar-Bulk Shipping Ltd., and her temporary re-registry under the flag of Vanuatu as (b) AMBASSADOR. Now comes the extraordinary word that the motorship was fixed in March for a cargo of 35,000 tonnes of barley from Ghent, Belgium, to Dammam, Saudi Arabia, on the Persian Gulf. Considering what has happened recently to many of the vessels trading into the Persian Gulf, we shall await with interest word on whether AMBASSADOR completes her voyage in safety...
In March, the Water Transport Commission gave permission for a firm known as Lake Shuttle Express to operate a foreign-flag vessel in liner service from Thunder Bay to Midland during the 1987 season. The ship involved is the Ro/ Ro containership KALMARSUND, owned by Kihlinvest A.B., of Sweden. The ice-strengthened motorship, with stern door and ramp, and all cabins and machinery aft, is 345.6 (overall) x 51.2 x 16.3, 32000 dwt., and was built in 1975 at Kiel, West Germany. We shall be most interested to see how long a ship of this type can be kept busy running from the Lakehead into Georgian Bay...
It looks as if 1987 may rival 1986 in respect of the number of scrap tows leaving the lakes. A few of the vessels involved may be Canadian, but the majority of the ships making their last trips will be from the U.S. fleets. For example, USS Great Lakes Fleet Inc. has applied to the U.S. MarAd for permission to sell its steamers A. H. FERBERT and T. W. ROBINSON to Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne, for scrapping. The "Super" FERBERT was built in 1942 by the Great Lakes Engineering Works at River Rouge, while the "Bradley" self-unloader came from the American Shipbuilding yard at Lorain back in 1925. It is possible that both may be resold for scrapping overseas.
The Navican organization reportedly will be operating all seven of the Halco straight-deckers in 1987, at least as long as the grain rush continues. Included in the active fleet will be LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL, which was out of class and did not run in 1986. She was on the dock at M.I.L. Vickers, Montreal, from March 4 until the 18th for survey and inspection, and was then replaced on the dock by BEAVERCLIFFE HALL.
During May, the tinstack Maritime-class steamer SEWELL AVERY, recently acquired by A. B. McLean Ltd. of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, will be towed from Superior to the new McLean dock site above the Canadian Soo Lock. She will be cut down to the spar deck and sunk for use as a dock facing. Part of her may survive in a more recognizable form, however, for McLean has offered to donate the ship's forward cabins to Lake Superior State College for preservation on its Soo, Michigan, campus. Details of customs arrangements for the transfer are not yet complete, nor is it known how the structure will be hauled through the streets and up the steep hill atop which L.S.S.C. is situated.
Faced with the collapse of plans to make a museum of the former Lake Michigan carferry steamer CITY OF MILWAUKEE, the Frankfort city council voted in early March to give supporters of the project one last four-month chance to prove the viability of the museum. One of council's requirements in approving the stay of execution for the ferry was that her backers must place $50,000 in privately-subscribed funds into a trust account as evidence of support.
Meanwhile, Muskegon County voters on March 3 turned down a 0.5 mill property tax increase proposal intended to provide funds for the operation of the ferry VIKING on a route between Muskegon and Milwaukee. The defeated proposal was a last-ditch effort by ferry supporters who so far have failed in their efforts to generate sufficient private funds to rebuild the carferry and place her in service.
It would appear that the Michigan Transportation Department will recommend this spring that state funds be committed for the construction of a new $1.5 million passenger and auto ferry to run between DeTour Village and Drummond Island. Like other St. Mary's River ferries, the new boat would be operated by the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority.
In the spring of 1986, when Groupe Desgagnes Inc. renamed NEW YORK NEWS as (c) STELLA DESGAGNES, it was said that FRANQUELIN would also be rechristened, and the name proposed for her was GENEVIEVE DESGAGNES. As it developed, FRANQUELIN ran through 1986 with her old name, but during fit-out at Toronto this spring, she has been renamed (c) EVA DESGAGNES. There still is no rename for CHICAGO TRIBUNE and it seems likely that she will be sold for scrapping during 1987.
By the time these words appear in print, the canals will all be open for the new season and the vessels will be off for what appears (at least as far as the Canadian grain trade is concerned) to be one of the most promising starts in recent memory. The Poe Lock at the American Soo opened for daylight-only traffic on March 22 (the first passage being GEORGE A. STINSON, upbound), with 24-hour service beginning March 29 and the MacArthur Lock being opened when traffic warrants. The St. Lawrence section of the Seaway opened March 31, and the Welland Canal on April 1st. The first vessel upbound in the Seaway was SASKATCHEWAN PIONEER which was on the wall below St. Lambert since March 16, inbound with ore for Chicago.
For the fourth year in a row, the motorship STEPHEN B. ROMAN opened the navigation season at the port of Toronto when she arrived with a cargo of cement on March 20, once again under the command of Capt. Gordon Chambers. The vessel was extensively repainted before entering service, but there is no sign of an anticipated renaming despite the sale of Lake Ontario Cement to French interests late in 1986.
The latter half of March was most interesting for observers along the St. Clair River, as a fleet of icebreakers fought to keep the ice moving and to prevent a recurrence of the April 1984 blockade. Active in the river have been the big U.S.C.G. MACKINAW and the tugs U.S.C.G. NEAH BAY, MOBILE BAY, KATMAI BAY and BRISTOL BAY, as well as U.S.C.G. MARIPOSA and C.C.G.S. GRIFFON. At times, the ice prevented the operation of the Sombra - Marine City and Algonac - Walpole Island ferries, and caused shoreline flooding. Interestingly, however, there were no ice jams in either the Thames or Sydenham Rivers and accordingly the icebreaking services of the tugs W. N. TWOLAN and GLENADA were not required.
The newly-formed Wellington Towing Inc. has, indeed, purchased a second tug to assist its CHIPPEWA at Sault Ste. Marie. The 74-foot, 1912-built ONEIDA has been acquired from Republic Tugs Inc. and will be moved from Duluth to the Soo, rechristened IROQUOIS. Wellington Towing Inc. is the successor to Seaway Towing Inc., while Republic Tugs bought out North American Towing Company, both changes following the break-up of the towing combine which was controlled by the Upper Great Lakes Pilots Association and the International Longshoremen's Union of Duluth.
When we earlier reported that the last vessel owned by the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company, the steamer WILLIAM G. MATHER, might become a museum ship at Cleveland, we were anticipating that the whole vessel would be preserved. Little did we know what was in the works'. It is hoped that the MATHER will become the central exhibit in the new Inner Harbor Lakefront Development, but some wise persons have suggested that the steamer would "overpower the site". (Aw, come on guys, ships really are big!) Now, Cleveland-Cliffs, North Coast Development and the Great Lakes Historical Society have devised a plan for an "Instant Marine Museum". They would chop off the forward 196 feet of the steamer's hull, and then slice it off along the mid-summer load line. The severed upper bow section would then be skidded onto a dock for display to the public. Quick, someone call for the men with the butterfly nets and the rubber truck! Never before have we heard such a revolting plan for ship "preservation", for what would be displayed would not be worth saving, and we certainly would never travel to Cleveland to view such a travesty...
We have heard several unconfirmed reports to the effect that the former ULS steamer RED WING was lost somewhere in the area of Hawaii whilst en route to the Far East in tandem tow with FRANK A. SHERMAN behind the tug CANADIAN VIKING. The two lakers were, of course, bound for a Taiwan scrapyard, and we shall look forward to receiving more details, especially if one or both of the steamers failed to complete the journey.
One of the joys of the 1987 grain rush is that it has prompted P & H Shipping to fit out its entire fleet of vessels this spring. At the time of this writing, the veteran OAKGLEN was fitting out at Toronto (she is due for drydocking later in the season), and even BIRCHGLEN was raising steam at Hamilton, resurrected from the grain storage role to which she had been relegated during 1986.
One of the familiar red-hulled Fednav salties which has been trading into the lakes ever since her construction in 1978, has been renamed. On February 26 at Montreal, PRESIDENT QUEZON, (a) FEDERAL CLYDE (81), was rechristened (c) FEDERAL ST. CLAIR (II), and her registry was changed from the Philippines to Liberia. Interestingly, the original FEDERAL ST. CLAIR (81), built in 1971, is still running into the lakes under the name (b) TRANSOCEAN PEARL.
Last issue, we commented on a World Ship Society report concerning an alleged recent sale of the former canal tanker RIO DAULE, (a) BRITAMOLENE (59), (b) WAVE TRANSPORT (63), (c) FLORENCE B. (66), (d) CAPTAIN THEO (73), wondering whether the report might be in error. Indeed, we have reason to believe that the old BRITAMOLENE was actually scrapped in Ecuador in 1982, and that the recent report was intended to refer to a reefer ship named BOLIVAR, which was purchased by Cia. Naviera Agmaresa S.A., Ecuador, and renamed RIO DAULE. Thus, the same firm has owned two ships of the same name and, for some unknown reason, the first (the old canaller) has never been dropped from registry, even though she presumably is long since scrapped.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.