Ever since the bankruptcy of Johnstone Shipping Ltd., Toronto, five years ago, the canaller CONDARRELL, (a) D. C. EVEREST (81), which operated for the company only one season, has been lying idle on the west wall of the Toronto turning basin. Latterly owned by Marine Salvage Ltd., which has been trying to peddle her for several years, CONDARRELL had many visitors during the summer of 1987 when a group of sea scouts did some training aboard her, painting the cabins and part of the hull and hoisting strange flags on the motorship's foremast. Now comes word that CONDARRELL will shortly be leaving Toronto, having been sold recently to McKeil Work Boats Ltd., Winona, Ontario. We understand that McKeil, whose fleet of tugs, etc., is based at Hamilton, will use her as a wrecking/lighter barge, something that has been sorely lacking on Lake Ontario since McAllister closed its Kingston office earlier this year and took MAPLEHEATH down the river. We presume that McKeil will put a derrick back on CONDARRELL's deck so as to make her more suitable for her intended trade. D. C. EVEREST (C.194457) was built in 1953 by Kingston Shipyards, Hull 45, and was the last vessel ever built there. She is 253.0 x 43.5 x 21.0, 2196 Gross and 1231 Net, and is powered by two 6-cylinder Fairbanks Morse & Company diesels. We are pleased to see that she will neither be dismantled (as had been feared) nor sent off-lakes.
Another vessel which is said to have been acquired by McKeil Work Boats Ltd. is the tanker WITTRANSPORT II, (a) NORTHCLIFFE HALL (I)(6l), (b) CAPE TRANSPORT (77). Built in 1947 as Hull 230 of Canadian Vickers Ltd., Montreal, for the Hall fleet as a steam-powered canaller, and latterly converted to a tanker, she was 253.0 x 43.8 x 20.5, 2026 Gross and 1174 Net. In 1977t she was sold, allegedly for water-carrying service in the Caribbean, and was cut down in preparation for a tow south via the New York State Barge Canal. She never made that trip, however, and although she was dropped from Canadian registry, it does not appear that she ever was officially registered anywhere as WITTRANSPORT II. She spent time lying at Sodus Point, then at Clayton, somewhat longer at Kingston, and finally at Deseronto, but by November 23rd, 1987, she was at Hamilton, facing a new future. We do not as yet know what it may be, but we might speculate that she could be employed as some sort of salvage barge in conjunction with CONDARRELL.
We earlier reported the arrival at Toronto of T. R. McLAGAN and METIS, the first two of the idle C.S.L. vessels to be moved to Toronto from their longtime lay-up berth alongside the former C.S.L. elevator at Kingston. Since that time, the remaining two vessels also have made the tow up the lake to their new home. NIPIGON BAY arrived during the early evening of November 4 in tow of GLENSIDE, GLENEVIS and GLENBROOK, and was placed on the north side of the Leslie Street slip, just off the turning basin, facing outward. The tow was extremely lucky in that it got in off the lake and through the Cherry Street bridge just before severe gale conditions struck that evening. HOCHELAGA, in tow of the same tugs, arrived safely at Toronto on November 10 and was laid up alongside NIPIGON BAY. There is no evidence that either steamer will be used for the storage of soya beans as is T. R. McLAGAN at the present time.
In recent issues, we have outlined what happened during the summer of 1987 to the USS Great Lakes Fleet Inc. self-unloader ROGERS CITY, and we now have more to add to the story. It seems that the "Steel Trust" was successful in blocking the use of ROGERS CITY by Upper Lakes Towing Inc. of Escanaba on the basis that the terms of the original sale of the ship (and apparently stipulated as applying to any later sales as well) forbade the ship's use for transportation purposes on the lakes. It seems that possession of ROGERS CITY reverted to USS Great Lakes Fleet, which then sought and received U.S. MarAd approval to sell the 64-year-old steamer to Corostel Trading Ltd. of Montreal for scrapping overseas. On November 23, AVENGER IV was en route to Menominee to collect ROGERS CITY, but it was not known whether she would be towed all the way to Quebec City this autumn, or rather taken only part way, laid up for the winter, and then moved down the river when better weather comes next spring.
As we write these words, two more former USS Great Lakes Fleet Inc. steamers are making their last trips down the lakes, but it seems unlikely that they will be sent overseas until next summer. We reported in our issue of December 1986 that the 1937-built RALPH H. WATSON and the 1943-built "Maritimer" ROBERT C. STANLEY had been sold to the Globaltrade and Transworld Group Inc., Calgary, Alberta, supposedly for resale to Taiwan breakers. (WATSON had last operated in 1980 and STANLEY in 1981.) The ships seem to have passed through other hands in the interim, for on November 20, 1987, "The Journal of Commerce" reported that U.S. MarAd had received an application from Frederick F. Dontle of Cold Spring, Minnesota, to sell RALPH H. WATSON to Gordon Low of Calgary for scrapping. Someday we may learn who all of the players in this series of deals actually were! In any event, AVENGER IV towed the WATSON from Duluth to the Soo, where a Misner tug picked her up, and she was at Port Colborne by November 23. On the same date, the STANLEY was lying below the lock at the Canadian Soo; she had been brought by AVENGER IV from Superior and was awaiting another tug for the rest of the downbound tow.
We were quite correct in speculating that FORT YORK would be moved from the berth at Point Edward where she earlier had suffered fire damage. The ship, down by the stern with water from the firefighting efforts, had to be moved before there was any chance that winter ice would wedge beneath her bow and carry away her moorings. In fact, FORT YORK was collected by the Sandrin tugs TUSKER and GLENADA on the afternoon of October 26, but a towline parted and FORT YORK drifted out in the river before she could be anchored. The tugs finally got her back to the C.N.R., wharf and the next day was spent in making repairs to TUSKER, which had been damaged in the affair. The tow set out again on the morning of October 28, but when off St. Clair, Michigan, TUSKER turned to avoid a small boat full of oblivious duck hunters, the towline parted, TUSKER went aground, and GLENADA put FORT YORK to anchor. GLENADA tried to free TUSKER and, in the process, wrapped a line around her propeller. The tow got underway again early on October 29, but a Lloyd's casualty report indicates that FORT YORK grounded near Buoy 50 in Lake St. Clair at 1600 hours that afternoon. Somehow, the tow managed to clear the Detroit River early on October 30, transitted the Welland Canal without untoward incident, and was on Lake Ontario by November 2nd. However, a further Lloyd's report indicates that, on November 10, whilst passing Trois-Rivieres with TUSKER and FORT YORK, en route to Quebec City, GLENADA suffered engine problems. She was towed into Trois-Rivieres for inspection and it was found that there was severe damage to her no. 2, 4 and 9 cylinders, and she had to be towed to Montreal for repairs. At this time, therefore, we are not certain when FORT YORK finally made it to Quebec, or what tugs got her there. Unfortunately, this is just another example of the troubles which TUSKER and GLENADA encountered in their attempts to handle scrap tows during the 1987 season...
Last issue, we reported several autumn groundings. In fact, the incident involving SAM LAUD near the Conners Creek Edison plant occurred on October 12 not the 14th. She was released on October 13 after part of her coal cargo was put off into AMERICAN REPUBLIC. The grounding of GEORGE A. SLOAN in the Amherstburg Channel took place on the 19th of October, and she was lightered by CALCITE II. The SLOAN was freed the same day by SHANNON, SUSAN HOEY and CAROLYN HOEY and, by the 20th, SLOAN was on the drydock at Toledo for the repair of extensive damage. When WILLOWGLEN stranded on Ogden Island in the St. Lawrence on the evening of October 10, the lighter P.S. BARGE NO 1 took 850 long tons of grain off the ship. The tugs involved in the efforts to free WILLOWGLEN were THUNDER CAPE, TUSKER, SALVAGE MONARCH, SINMAC, HELEN M. McALLISTER and GLENSIDE. WILLOWGLEN was refloated on October 13, unloaded her cargo at Trois-Rivieres and, having holed her no. 8 ballast tank in the accident, she was at Port Weller by October 17 for the necessary repairs. WILLOWGLEN was involved in yet another incident on November 26 when, during a seiche on wind-swept Lake Erie, she grounded off Port Colborne. It was hoped that the vessel would float free when the winds abated, but she was still stuck late on the 27th.
Another autumn stranding occurred on October 29, when the American Steamship Company's ROGER M. KYES, bound from Sandusky for Detroit with coal, struck Gull Island Shoal, some three miles north of Kelleys Island. KYES holed her forepeak and first starboard ballast tank, and was taking on water rapidly. During the night, some 3,000 tons of coal were off-loaded into AMERICAN REPUBLIC, and the KYES was refloated fourteen hours after her grounding. She was taken to Detroit to discharge the rest of her cargo, and then made her way to the shipyard at Sturgeon Bay for inspection and repairs.
A major grounding occurred in the St. Lawrence River on Thursday, October 22, when at about 2:30 p.m., the Yugoslav salty DANILOVGRAD suffered steering failure and ran onto the west side of Ogden Island just above Buoy 99, with her stern protruding into the navigation channel. At the time, DANILOVGRAD was downbound with a cargo of 16,400 tons of soya beans. Inspectors from the Seaway Authority and the U.S. Coast Guard verified that the ship was in no immediate danger and DANILOVGRAD then lay for a week while her master argued over salvage arrangements. Finally, on October 29, SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER arrived with P.S. BARGE NO. 1, and lightering of the salty began. Just over 2,500 tons of beans were taken out of her no. 1 and 4 holds, and she floated free on Saturday, October 31, with the assistance of LEONARD W., DUGA, SALVAGE MONARCH, CATHY McALLISTER and HELEN M. McALLISTER. She was taken upriver to just below the Iroquois Lock, where she was turned, and then proceeded down to the Wilson Hill Anchorage, where her cargo was put back in her before she proceeded on her way.
The U.S. Coast Guard mounted an unusual search on Lake Michigan in the area between Ludington and South Fox Island on October 21. They were looking for the master of the salty SIRIUS, who disappeared from the ship sometime after 2:00 a.m. that day, during relatively calm weather, but they did not locate him. The ship, owned in Georgetown, Cayman Islands, and registered in St. Vincent, British West Indies, was bound for Duluth to load grain for Italy. She was detained at the Soo from 4:00 p.m. October 22 until 6:00 a.m. on the 23rd while the F.B.I. and federal prosecutors from Grand Rapids investigated the disappearance. It was apparent that foul play was suspected, but the vessel was allowed to load and then to leave the lakes.
On October 19, the big dredge CANADIAN ARGOSY (which we believe is still owned by Pitts Engineering Corporation of Toronto) suffered a serious fire whilst anchored in the Upper St. Mary's River near the new site of the A. B. McLean Ltd. facilities. Firemen from the Canadian Soo were taken to the scene by a U.S. Coast Guard 4l-footer, and they extinguished the flames with the assistance of the pilotboat SOO RIVER BELLE and tug AVENGER IV. At last report, the cause of the fire in the dredge's machinery area was not known.
Last issue, we presented detail, provided by Capt W. B. Church, principal of Viking Overseas Towing Ltd., concerning the last voyage of FRANK A. SHERMAN and RED WING in tow of the firm's tug CANADIAN VIKING. Now we learn that CANADIAN VIKING has been lying at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, ever since her arrival in April. There apparently have been difficulties involving payment of wages to the crew, who are still aboard and who have sought the assistance of the Canadian government in resolving their predicament. Ottawa, however, has encountered problems because of its lack of consular facilities in Taiwan.
The Port Colborne shipbreakers have been active this autumn. The east pier scrapyard pulled the last section of the hull of ARTHUR B. HOMER from the water during the week of October 11. The big steamer's forward cabin has remained intact ashore and it would appear that it will be added to the interesting collection of pilothouses which the yard has been amassing. Then, on October 17, THUNDER CAPE and MICHAEL D. MISNER went down into the old canal below Humberstone and pulled out the long-idle tinstacker B. F. AFFLECK, placing her ahead of WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR. in the scrapyard. It would thus appear that the breakers' dispute over the cost of rescuing the AFFLECK from her troubles on Lake Superior in 1986 has been settled, and that AFFLECK is to follow SNYDER JR. under the International Marine Salvage torches.
Canadian lake vessel operators are steaming over problems which have dogged the grain rush this autumn. On September 8, the Wheat Board notified the railways of heavy grain movements expected from October 1 through the end of navigation, and estimated that a minimum of 6,500 railcars would be required at Thunder Bay each week. Despite this, the most grain cars to arrive at the Lakehead elevators any week since October 1 has been just over 4,000 with the result that it has taken an average of at least five days to load each vessel. Not only have the delays cost vessel operators a great deal of money, but the Wheat Board has also lost a number of grain sales as a result of the problems. Grain that has not been moved down the lakes by ship before the close of navigation will have to be moved east by rail during the winter months, and the failure of the railroads to deliver sufficient grain during the shipping season has prompted the Canadian fleets to call for a public enquiry into the situation. Such an enquiry would appear to be quite in order considering that this was to be one of the busiest autumns in recent years for the movement of grain..
In the November issue, we reported that the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority intended to close its canals on December 17 so that extensive winter repair work in the Welland Canal could begin early. Since the announcement of the early closing, Canadian carriers, ports and shippers have appealed, via the Great Lakes Waterways Development Association, for an extension to the navigation season. The most pressing reason for an extension is the need to keep grain moving down the lakes, especially in view of the delays caused by the railroads' failure to get the grain to Thunder Bay in timely fashion. There was no immediate reply by the Seaway Authority to the appeal. Meanwhile, shippers on both sides of the border have petitioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep the American Soo canal open beyond its scheduled January 15th closing date.
A formal announcement was made on October 15 to the effect that the Canadian Lock at Sault Ste. Marie will remain closed during 1988. No decision has yet been made on whether to repair the lock, which has been closed ever since its south wall bulged outward suddenly on the evening of July 22. Meanwhile, on October 30, the emergency dam was swung into place above the upper gates, and it is believed that this is the first time the dam has been used since the famous lock accident of June 1909. With the Canadian Lock out of service again next summer, it is to be assumed that the American canal will operate three locks during the high season.
At about 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 21, fire broke out in the hold of the former Yugoslav passenger vessel JADRAN, which for many years has served as Captain John's Harbour Boat Restaurant at the foot of Yonge Street, Toronto. The fire, confined aft and below decks, was caused by welders doing renovations. Seven firetrucks attended the smoky fire and the fireboat WM. LYON MACKENZIE sprayed water on JADRAN's stern plating to prevent structural damage. The fire actually caused very little damage, and the restaurant areas of the ship were not involved. Firemen were careful not to pump any substantial amount of water into JADRAN to ensure that they did not sink her in the slip, the authorities desiring to avoid a repetition of the 1981 fiasco involving the sinking of "Captain" John Letnik's previous restaurant boat, NORMAC.
Late in October, a ten-member team of experts studying possible improvements to the Village of Port Stanley, as part of the Community Assist for an Urban Study Effort (CAUSE) project, made certain recommendations for the area, none of which included placing AQUARAMA there as a tourist/convention facility. Indicating that the village is not ready for a project such as AQUARAMA, the team commented that the scheme "is possibly a nifty idea whose time hasn't yet come for Port Stanley", where there is "not enough infrastructure to handle this". Nothing more has been heard about the AQUARAMA plans since they were announced, except that U.S. MarAd has approved the sale of the ship, and there has been a suggestion that the tow from Muskegon might take place in late December.
FEDERAL LAKES, the former AVON FOREST, was delivered to the U.S. Navy on November 5th at Norfolk for inclusion in the ready-reserve fleet which is being assembled. Delivery was made by Piute Energy and Transportation Company of Denver, Colorado, the Fednav affiliate from which both FEDERAL LAKES and FEDERAL SEAWAY had been bareboat-chartered to Fednav (U.S.A.) Inc. FEDERAL LAKES is being renamed CAPE LAMBERT by the Navy, and when FEDERAL SEAWAY is turned over to the Navy early in 1988, she will become (e) CAPE LOBOS. Like her sistership, she also was built at Port Weller, her original name having been LAURENTIAN FOREST.
Another Fednav affiliate, ASL, Atlantic Searoute Ltd., Halifax, took delivery in October at Emden of the German ro/ro motorship ONNO, which in 1986 was used as part of Exercise Brave Lion to move Canadian military vehicles from Quebec to Norway and back, and latterly was operating for Atlantic Container Line. ONNO is being registered in Canada as ASL SANDERLING for ASL's Halifax to St. John's route. Meanwhile, CAVALLO, which she will replace, is being sold to Atlantic Container Express Line Inc., Montreal, and she will join her sistership CICERO on the run between Montreal and St. John's.
It has been reported that the former Clarke auto and passenger ferry SAGUENAY, built at Lauzon in 1958, and which had been idle at Kingston whilst owned by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications, has been sold to Wayward Princess Cruise Ship, Windsor. She allegedly will be renamed FERRY PRINCESS, and will join WAYWARD PRINCESS, the former CAYUGA II, in the excursion trade. She certainly will make an unusual excursion boat...
With the completion of the container ship SEA-LAND KODIAK, which ran trials October 28-31 and was sent off on her delivery voyage to the west coast in November, the Bay Shipbuilding Corporation announced that it had suspended shipbuilding activities at its Sturgeon Bay yard. BayShip was the last U.S. lake yard to build a major commercial vessel and, with no further orders on hand or expected in the foreseeable future, the yard closed its engineering department and laid off many employees, the facility itself remaining open only for repair work. It would be interesting to see whether BayShip would reopen its building berths if an improvement in the economy led to the availability of new construction contracts.
It would seem that something is going on with the Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation Company's idle carferries BADGER and SPARTAN, both of which were laid up at Ludington. On October 10, MINNIE SELVICK and WILLIAM C. SELVICK took BADGER to Sturgeon Bay, and on the 16th, a Coast Guard boat moved SPARTAN into the Ludington dock which BADGER had occupied. Meanwhile, the local press quoted the company superintendent as stating that the cannibalized SPARTAN would be put back in operating condition, but no indication was given as to what will happen to either BADGER or SPARTAN. With the future of the cross-lake ferry service in great doubt, only CITY OF MIDLAND 41 remains in service, the crew of the 46-year-old steamer reduced from 38 to 28 persons for the winter with union agreement.
With reference to our earlier report concerning the vandal-induced fires which gutted the idle carferry steamer MADISON at Muskegon on October 12, we now understand that, at the time of the blaze, MADISON was also owned by Randy Postma, president of the Grand Isle Marina at Grand Haven. The same owner had acquired GRAND RAPIDS only shortly before she was burned out on April 15. Both boats had earlier been owned by Canonie Constructors, and had been idle at Muskegon since the early 1970s when the Grand Trunk carferry service across Lake Michigan was abandoned. We have no idea what Postma was going to do with the ferries, or whether the fires have changed the plans.
In the Mid-Summer issue, we mentioned the many warships which visited our lakes in the summer of 1987, one of which was the British destroyer H.M.S. FIFE. It had been reported that FIFE paid off on her return to Portsmouth on June 25, and that subsequently she was sold to the Pakistani navy. FIFE was retired and sold, but she did not go to Pakistan. Rather, it has been confirmed that she is now a unit of the Chilean navy.
We recently reported the departure from Toronto of its long-time denizen, the former steam salvage tug SALVAGE PRINCE. We have since learned that SALVAGE PRINCE is now owned by Paul Gauthier, the proprietor of the Brighton Marina located at Brighton, Ontario, on Lake Ontario's north shore. The tug will be refurbished to serve at the marina office. At present, SALVAGE PRINCE is moored at the government wharf at Presque Isle Point, because the water level is too low to allow her to move into the marina. (We should note that Mr. Gauthier is cognizant of the history of SALVAGE PRINCE, and recently has joined T.M.H.S.)
Last issue, we noted that the ferry BLOCK ISLAND, which will run the Buffalo to Crystal Beach route in 1988, passed up the Welland Canal on October 14 en route from her old home waters on the east coast. BLOCK ISLAND arrived at Buffalo on October 15 but was not long in her new home before she was sent off for drydocking at Port Weller. She was back upbound again in the Welland on November 14. The ferry has been acquired by the Lake Erie Boat Cruise Company, which has been formed by Buffalo entrepreneur Ramsi Tick. There will be a public contest to select a new name for BLOCK ISLAND.
It is said that the Misener Shipping steamer SCOTT MISENER, which was active this spring, laid up during the summer, and went back into service this fall, suffered damage to her high-pressure turbine recently. Efforts were made to locate a replacement and eyes seem to have turned in the direction of Brownsville, Texas, where the BoCo turbine-powered steamer DETROIT EDISON was cut up during 1986. By mid-November, SCOTT MISENER was at Port Weller Drydocks, apparently for the installation of a replacement high-pressure turbine.
Through November, the Toronto Island ferry WILLIAM INGLIS remained at the Marsh drydock in Ramey's Bend at Port Colborne, undergoing survey and inspection. As well, it was decided to replace the wooden window frames in her main deck cabin, and workers were busy fitting an aluminum strip down each side of the cabin, into which new windows have been cut. In the past, the INGLIS' main deck windows have often suffered damage when she has tried to pull out of the Ward's Island dock in a stiff westerly breeze, which has forced her over against the vertical rubber tubing which lines the high side of the slip as well as the dolphins on the east side. Meanwhile, TRILLIUM sailed back from Whitby under her own steam on November 10 after drydocking. During her shipyard visit, the two centre windows in each pilothouse were combined into one large, wood-framed window, the glass of which is slanted outward. The effect is not pretty, but apparently was necessary to reduce the window reflection (and thus increase visibility) when the steamer operates at night in the waters of Toronto Bay where small boats, operated by inexperienced and often incapable persons, abound. Plans call for wood frames to be fitted on all of TRILLIUM's pilothouse windows to improve appearance and reduce the leakage which has occurred during inclement weather. It should be noted that this probably was TRILLIUM's last visit to the McNamara shipyard at Whitby, for present plans call for that yard to be closed during the summer of 1989.
The tug operations of a familiar shipping and baseball entrepreneur made the news recently when "The Journal of Commerce" reported that George M. Steinbrenner's St. Philip Towing Company of Tampa, Florida, had acquired two 93-foot tugs for its fleet. Apparently on order now, they will be delivered in 1988, and will be equipped with twin screws on a revolving head near the bow (rather than the stern) to allow for greater manoeuvrability.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.