Two groundings in the St. Lawrence Seaway marred the first weeks of the 1988 navigation season. On April 6, the Liberian salty HANDYMARINER stranded off St. Anicet in Lake St. Francis as a result of fog, whilst upbound for Cleveland with a cargo of steel coils. DANIEL McALLISTER, CATHY McALLISTER and JAMES BATTLE attended, along with the barge GENMAR 130, and the ship, which was holed forward, was lightered of about 1,000 tons of steel. The vessel was refloated about 3:15 p.m. on April 10, and was taken to Valleyfield, where her cargo was reloaded after temporary repairs were made. She was unloading at the Soo on April 23, and on the 25th was at Sturgeon Bay to go on drydock for permanent repairs. On April 5th, the C.S.L. straight-decker BLACK BAY, bound from Pointe Noire to Hamilton with 24,778 tonnes of iron ore, ran aground in the Brockville Narrows as a result of steering gear malfunction. The tugs SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER were dispatched to the scene with P.S. BARGE NO. 1, and 2,200 tons of cargo were lightered. As well, 250 tonnes were transferred from the first hold to the third. BLACK BAY was refloated on April 8 and proceeded on her way. After unloading, she was to be sent to the shipyard at Thunder Bay for repairs.
At about 18:30 hours on March 29, the C.S.L. bulker SIMCOE was lying in the Pointe-aux-Trembles anchorage in the St. Lawrence River when she was struck in the stern by the inbound container carrier CASTANO. Considerable damage was inflicted and temporary repairs to SIMCOE were effected at Montreal, with permanent repairs to be put in hand later at Thunder Bay.
It will be recalled that, late in 1987, P. & H. Shipping sold its veteran steamer BIRCHGLEN for scrapping. It had been thought that she would be broken up at the scrapyard in the outer harbour at Port Colborne, but at the last moment, the scrappers arranged for the ship to be towed to Toronto. There she was loaded with storage soya beans by Victory Mills, and the cargo was unloaded during early winter. On April 21, BIRCHGLEN finally was towed away from her berth at Toronto's Pier 35 by the tugs ATOMIC and ELMORE M. MISNER, but she did not head for Port Colborne. Instead, the tow headed eastward and, with THUNDER CAPE replacing ATOMIC, the tow cleared the Snell Lock in the Seaway on the 23rd, with an eventual destination of Halifax. It is reported that a new scrapyard has been formed there, and it obtained BIRCHGLEN on a resale from the Port Colborne breakers. At least the 6l-year-old steamer will end her days in Canadian rather than foreign waters, even if on salt water. But read on to see what happened to her on her way out of the lakes.
Vessel traffic problems were experienced on the St. Mary's River during the first week of April as a result of ice on the water and heavy fog which obstructed visibility for several days. In fact, during the night of April 5-6, seventeen ships were anchored in the lower river. A real "snag" developed on the 6th when the upbound QUEDOC (III), the former BEAVERCLIFFE HALL, tried to anchor just north of Frying Pan Island. Her anchor hooked one of the electrical supply cables running from DeTour Village to Drummond Island, and concern was expressed in respect of maintaining power supply to the island. Later the same day, the anchor chain was cut and QUEDOC resumed her trip.
QUEDOC wound up in much more serious trouble when, at 2:44 p.m. on April 23, she grounded near buoy 2A in the South Shore Canal of Lake St. Louis in the St. Lawrence, whilst upbound in ballast. Four tugs were called to the scene and QUEDOC was refloated on April 25. Inspection by divers revealed that she had sustained extremely heavy damage to some 350 feet of her bottom when she ground over the rocks. QUEDOC was upbound again on April 26 en route to the drydock at Port Weller for repairs. Perhaps the most interesting part of this unfortunate story is revealed by the Lloyds casualty report which indicates that, before the grounding, QUEDOC was struck on the port bow by the downbound BIRCHGLEN, which was in tow of THUNDER CAPE and ELMORE M. MISNER. No other details were available at the time of this writing, but we await more information about the incident, which we believe to be the first time that a laker bound out of the system for scrapping has been involved in a collision with another ship in the canals.
It was announced in early April that Paul Martin has bought out his partner in the shipping business and thus has assumed total control of CSL Group Inc. Passage Holdings, a firm controlled by CSL Group president Martin, has acquired the 50% interest formerly held by the Fednav group, and thus becomes the sole common shareholder of CSL, which in turn controls Canada Steamship Lines Inc. (In 1981, Martin and Fednav president Lawrence Pathy had joined forced to acquire C.S.L. from the Power Corporation of Canada.) As part of the current reorganization, CSL Group Inc. on March 31 sold its 20% interest in Consolidated Fastfrate Transport Group. Then, the company announced that it would create a new wholly-owned subsidiary to which all of the group's non-bulk-shipping assests [sic] would be transferred. These assets include Voyageur Enterprises Ltd. (the bus company), CSL Realty Partnership (whose real estate interests include the redevelopment of the Collingwood shipyard site), a 50% interest in Canadian Shipbuilding & Engineering Ltd., a 25% share of Atlantic Container Express Ltd. and Atlantic Searoute Ltd. (two east coast container services), and interests in Oceanic Finance Corp. Ltd. of London and Argyll Energy Corp. The Fednav group retains an option to acquire 50% of the new subsidiary. The split between Canada Steamship Lines and Fednav appears to have occurred primarily as a result of C.S.L.'s expansion into deep-sea trading, and Martin has predicted that, within ten years, C.S.L. will be generating more revenue from its ocean ventures than from its traditional lake shipping business.
As was predicted, the Panamax bulker ATLANTIC HURON, which has been converted to a self-unloader by the Verolme do Brasil shipyard at Angra dos Reis (south of Rio de Janeiro), was rechristened (c) CSL INNOVATOR during April. At the ceremonies, Paul Martin announced that, in addition to the deep-sea self-unloader which is being constructed for C.S.L. by Verolme as part of the original $53 million (U.S.) contract, C.S.L. has awarded to Verolme an additional $160 million (U.S.) contract for the construction of four more vessels. Two of these ships will be owned by C.S.L., while the other two will be owned by a U.S. firm, Vulica Shipping Company, for whom they will be operated by C.S.L. No details have yet been released concerning any of the additional new-buildings.
In late March, the Bay Shipbuilding Corp. announced that it was closing its ship construction facilities at Sturgeon Bay, a move that had been expected ever since the last of the Sea-Land containerships was completed late last year. With no new construction contracts in the offing, the yard (understandably, for it has no alternative) will restrict its activities to repair and conversion work as it becomes available. Needless to say, this has meant a drastic reduction in the yard's labour force and, as yet, there has been no word as to whether the company will dispose of the property occupied at present by its large graving dock.
With AVENGER IV currently occupied in pushing the tank barge SCURRY (the former HUDSON TRANSPORT) between Sarnia and the River Rouge, J.W. Purvis Marine Ltd. has acquired another British tug for its fleet. She is ANGLIAN LADY, purchased from Kline Tugs Ltd., which left Lowestoft on April 13. bound for Quebec in charge of an English delivery crew, and which arrived at the Soo on May 3rd. Built in 1973 and powered by two 12-cylinder diesels, with two Kort nozzles, she is 142.2 x 33.3 x 14.3, 398.42 Gross. A rename will follow a refit to be given the tug, and eventually she will take over the job of pushing SCURRY. Meanwhile, we understand that Purvis Marine has renamed its barge D.D.S. SALVAGER, her new name being P.M.L. SALVAGER.
When she came out new last year, we were somewhat critical of the design of the Port Dover-built Toronto excursion vessel ORIOLE, which was modelled roughly after the old Muskoka steamer of the same name. One of the problems lay in the "birdcage" (octagonal) pilothouse which simply was not realistic in that the edges of the dome were flush with the cabin sides. Over the winter, the house was rebuilt with proper beading and angle supports, and an oriole was placed atop the finial. resulting in a considerable improvement in the vessel's appearance.
Several U.S. lakers which did not run in 1987 have returned to service this year as a result of an improvement in the steel business. Last issue, we reported the reactivation of Inland Steel's EDWARD L. RYERSON. Now we can confirm the return to service of Columbia Transportation's self-unloading motorship JOSEPH H. FRANTZ, built in 1925 and dieselized in 1965, which last ran in 1986. Also reactivated is the U.S. Steel self-unloading steamer IRVIN L. CLYMER, (a) CARL D. BRADLEY (I)(27), (b) JOHN G. MUNSON (I)(51), built in 1917. The CLYMER had not operated since 1985, but on April 28 she cleared Duluth with iron ore pellets for Lorain.
It is reported that the American Steamship Company, Buffalo, has disposed of three idle vessels. In March, the firm sought U.S. MarAd approval for the sale of CONSUMERS POWER and JOHN T. HUTCHINSON to Corostel Trading Ltd., Montreal, for scrapping overseas. The "Maritimer" HUTCHINSON, built in 1943 by American Shipbuilding at Cleveland, was acquired by American Steamship in 1963, converted to a self-unloader the next winter, and last operated in 1981. On April 20, the HUTCHINSON, along with tugs W. N. TWOLAN and GLENSIDE, was lying at the R. & P. coal dock, Port Colborne, awaiting weather for the canal tow, and the trio cleared the Snell Lock in the Seaway on April 25, en route to Quebec. COUNSUMERS [sic] POWER, (a) GEORGE M. HUMPHREY (I)(45), (b) CAPTAIN JOHN ROEN (48), (c) ADAM E. CORNELIUS (II)(58), came from AmShip at Lorain in 1927. Sunk by collision in the Straits of Mackinac on June 15, 1943, and the subject of one of the most spectacular salvage operations ever seen on the lakes, the steamer passed to American Steamship in 1947. She became a self-unloader that winter and was repowered (steam turbine) in 1955. Latterly chartered to the Erie Sand Steamship Company, she last ran in December 1985 and since has been laid up at Erie. She went to the breakers for the incredible price of $114 U.S. per light ton, and was in the Welland Canal during the night of May 3-4 in tow of the TWOLAN and GLENSIDE. The third ship said to be sold is McKEE SONS, (a) MARINE ANGEL (53), which was built in 1945 and lengthened and converted to a self-unloader in 1953 when she came to the lakes. Owned by the Amersand Steamship Company, a partnership of American Steamship and the Sand Products Corp., McKEE SONS last ran in 1979 and has been idle ever since at Toledo. It is said that she may be dismantled at Port Colborne.
In the March issue, we mentioned the apparent discovery of the wreck of the Graham and Morton Transportation Company steamer CHICORA, which was lost on Lake Michigan on January 21, 1895, whilst en route from Milwaukee to St. Joseph. Now comes word that the diver who claimed to have discovered the wreck has been charged with embezzlement, while his employer, Breakwater Marine Salvage Company, Kalamazoo, has given up plans to salvage materials from the famous wreck. Makes one wonder whether CHICORA was found or not...
The steam sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM will in 1988 operate public cruises on Toronto Bay instead of being confined to charters and occasional holiday runs to Centre Island. Despite opposition from private operators who claimed that TRILLIUM would provide "unfair competition" (!) , Metro Council recently approved TRILLIUM's new service. Unfortunately, 1988 will also see TRILLIUM running with a diesel generator replacing her old steam-powered generator. The change was made with regret, but was necessary because the old generator simply could not provide enough power for the ship's present requirements. Meanwhile, other Toronto Island ferries underwent alterations during the winter months. SAM McBRIDE (1939) got an extensive refit at the city ferry docks. WILLIAM INGLIS (1935), which received new windows and end doors in her main cabin at Ramey's Bend during a drydocking last fall, has also undergone internal cabin changes. New metal stairways to the promenade deck have been fitted, and the space beneath them (where the lower stairs to the steering flats were located) has been cleared to provide much-needed racks to alleviate bicycle congestion in the cabin.
Last issue, we mentioned that the restoration of the Sandusky ferry steamer G. A. BOECKLING would now proceed, with the vessel scheduled to go on the drydock at Toledo this spring. The Gaelic tug WM. A. WHITNEY collected the BOECKLING at her Sandusky wharf on the morning of April 13 and arrived safely with her at Toledo after a voyage of some 5 1/2 hours. The reconstruction and restoration work will be done by Merce Industries, and it is estimated that the job will take about two years to complete.
In April, we reported the charter of T. R. McLAGAN from C.S.L. to P. & H. Shipping. It has been confirmed that the charter will be for two years, following which an outright sale is to occur. The ship probably will be renamed after the first year of the charter. For survey and inspection, McLAGAN had to go on drydock at Port Weller and, delayed by other drydock bookings, she finally cleared Toronto on the morning of May 7, assisted by GLENEVIS.
It was announced in late March that the Star Line Company of Mount Clemens, Michigan, operator of dinner/cruise services, had acquired the Toledo River Cruise Lines Inc., Toledo, and would assume operation of the Maumee River excursion service with ARAWANNA QUEEN, ARAWANNA II, NAUTICA PRINCESS, and ''The Moorings", a floating dock and restaurant. A dinner/cruise operation in Cleveland is also said to figure in the company's plans.
The Misener ocean-laker SELKIRK SETTLER, registered at Douglas, Isle of Man, and registered to the affiliated Colonial Shipping, was upbound in the Seaway on April 28 on her first visit to the lakes since her reflagging. Bound for the Lakehead to load grain for delivery overseas, she was met in the Welland Canal on April 29 by a demonstration staged by the S.I.U. to protest the ship's foreign registry. Colonial Shipping's houseflag is similar to Misener Shipping's, with a gold 'C' alongside the three crowns on the blue field.
Yet another Canadian vessel has been flagged-out, and the ship involved is the Paterson motorship KINGDOC (II), built at Lauzon in 1963. She made several early-season Bayport trips and then loaded grain for delivery to Sorel. KINGDOC was downbound in the St. Clair River on the evening of April 23 and arrived at Sorel on the 28th. Other Paterson boats have been sold for deep-sea service in previous years, but we understand that KINGDOC will operate in the Caribbean without being sold, but as (b) NORSTAR under the Bahamas flag and with a Yugoslav crew. Meanwhile, KINGDOC's crew returned up the lakes to fit out LABRADOC for service.
A late April arrival at the Ramey's Bend scrapyard of Marine Salvage Ltd. was the ISLE ROYALE, (a) SOUTHCLIFEE HALL (6l), (b) OREFAX (73), which latterly was owned by the McNamara Corp. Ltd., Montreal, and which has been lying idle at Whitby for many years. The vessel dates to 1947, when she was built as Hull 231 of Canadian Vickers Ltd. Her sale for scrapping coincides with the closing this summer of the McNamara shipyard at Whitby, and the cleaning up of the company's marine "boneyard" there.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.