What began as one of the best grain seasons ever on the Canadian side of the lakes lasted for only a few months this spring before things went sour. Not only were many grain shipments routed via the west coast instead of the Lakehead, but as well, in anticipation of severely reduced crops due to the drought of 1988, farmers were holding onto their grain pending the new season price levels effective August 1st. As a consequence, many Canadian lake ships began to lay up. Then, low water levels in the Mississippi River (and particularly near Memphis and Greenville) caused interruptions in U.S. grain shipments via the western rivers, and the grain began to flow via Duluth. With few U.S. lakers available to handle grain, many Canadian boats were kept busy for at least part of the season in this unexpected service, hauling grain from Duluth to St. Lawrence River ports. Meanwhile, on the U.S. side, the steel business remained strong, keeping the American lake fleet very busy.
At about 6:00 a.m. on June 15, 1988, there occurred on the lower St. Lawrence River a most regrettable accident involving loss of life. In dense fog, there was a collision off Les Escoumins between the Algoma Central Marine laker ALGOWEST, which was bound from Thunder Bay to Baie Comeau with grain, and the small coaster COUDRES DE L'ILE, which was en route from Sept-Iles to Cote Ste. Catherine with scrap metal. The coaster sank almost immediately in 100 feet of water in position 48.26 N by 69.12 W, off Pointe au Boisvert. Nine of the ship's ten crew members were rescued by ALGOWEST, but the coaster's cook was missing after the sinking and was presumed to have been trapped as the ship went down. COUDRES DE L'ILE was 182.0 x 29.5 x 13.7, 56l Gross and 266 Net. She was built in 1954 by Gebr. van Diepen (Hull 930) at Waterhuizen, Netherlands, and was powered by a 6-cylinder diesel by N. V. Werkspoor, Amsterdam. She served Dutch owners as (a) HAAKSBERGEN until 1958, when she passed to a British firm, Coast Lines Ltd., for whom she sailed as (b) FERNFIELD. In 1971, she became (c) SHEVRELL for James Tyrrell Ltd., Ireland. Then, in 1972, she was purchased by her last owner, Entreprise de Navigation de l'Isle Inc., Quebec, which brought her under the Canadian flag as (d) COUDRES DE L'ILE (C.301284). After the fatal collision, ALGOWEST proceeded to Baie Comeau to unload, and then went to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs to the relatively minor bow damage which she had suffered.
The Socanav Inc. tanker EASTERN SHELL (II), (a) W. HAROLD REA (70), suffered fire damage in her hold about 11:00 a.m. on May 16. The ship was lying at the government wharf, Sarnia, and Sandrin Bros. welders were working aboard when sparks from a cutting torch ignited flammables. The work crew escaped through a hole which had been cut in the ship's side, but the vessel sustained some $100,000 in damage. Repairs were put in hand promptly, enabling EASTERN SHELL to return to service only a few weeks later.
The C.S.L. deep-sea bulk carrier FERBEC grounded at about 4:00 a.m., April 27th, off Pointe de Chasse, Ile du Havre, Quebec. She was refloated later that morning and proceeded to Havre St. Pierre. She had been holed in the forepeak tank and temporary repairs were put in hand on site. FERBEC, of course, is far too large ever to venture up the Seaway, and lake observers will only have seen her if they have been on the east coast or lower river.
It was back on 1st October, 1981, that the then-new cruise ship CANADIAN EMPRESS struck a rock in the Rideau Canal near Kingston Mills Lock on her very first Rideau voyage. Recently, the court ruled that the Canadian government must pay Rideau - St. Lawrence Cruise Ships Inc. $64,000 plus interest in damages resulting from the incident, as a consequence of having allowed the rock (upon which the EMPRESS came to grief) to lie in the navigation channel. As a result of that incident, the EMPRESS has confined her activities to the St. Lawrence ever since, even though she originally was designed to operate on the Rideau River.
Quebec Tugs Ltd., a Canada Steamship Lines subsidiary, was sold on January 1, 1988, to Groupe Ocean Ltee. The fleet included the tugs CAPT. IOANNIS S., LEONARD W., JERRY G. and DONALD P., plus the bunkers barge SILLERY.\
The Upper Lakes Shipping self-unloader CANADIAN TRANSPORT suffered a mechanical failure, strayed from the channel, and grounded near Buoy 30 in the upper St. Mary's River about 9:15 a.m. on August 9th. Her bow holed, CANADIAN TRANSPORT unloaded part of her cargo into CANADIAN ENTERPRISE. She was floated free on August 10, about 11:00 a.m., with the assistance of ANGLIAN LADY, AVENGER IV, WILFRED M. COHEN and JOHN McLEAN.
Further to our report in the May issue, we have additional detail concerning the fleet of Purvis Marine Ltd., of the Canadian Soo. Its new tug ANGLIAN LADY (for which no rename is presently planned) was built in 1953 at Southampton as (a) HAMTUN. She was sold Belgian in 1972 as (b) NATHALIE LETZER, and was completely rebuilt in 1975 at Hemixem by St. Peter Shipyard. She was back in U.K. registry in 1987 as (c) ANGLIAN LADY, and Purvis purchased her from Klyne Tugs Ltd. She is a most distinctive tug with her two prominent stacks and her very high bow. Meanwhile, the Purvis barge D.D.S. SALVAGER currently retains her own name, the rename to P.M.L. SALVAGER not having been finalized at last report. And idle at the government wharf at the Canadian Soo since late spring has been the barge SCURRY, (a) HUDSON TRANSPORT (87), which the Purvis tug AVENGER IV was towing earlier in the year between River Rouge and Sarnia. The U.S. government apparently received complaints about this barge trading into U.S. waters, and so the service was curtailed, at least for the present.
On May 6, while the salty PONTOKRATIS was being towed down the Calumet River at Chicago, she came into contact with the B & O bascule railway bridge (now owned by the CSX Corp.) and the bridge span collapsed across the ship's pilothouse and after cabin.. Crews immediately began to cut away the wrecked bridge, and the ship was pulled free on May 16, with sections of the span still resting atop her cabin. Eventually PONTOKRATIS, which has been coming into the lakes since she was built in 1981, continued on her voyage, with permanent repairs to be made off-lakes. Meanwhile, the matter has become a welter of litigation involving the railroad, the ship, and also, we understand, the Great Lakes Towing Company, which was towing PONTOKRATIS on the narrow river when the accident occurred.
During the spring of 1988, the Bob-Lo Island amusement park and the boats that service it were sold by the Auto Club of Michigan to the International Broadcasting Corp., of Minneapolis, the deal being worth somewhere in the area of $25 million. The Auto Club had acquired the park and boats in 1983 for $6.5 million and had spent $14.6 million to return it to profitable operation. It is said (and where have we heard this before?) that the new owners will make no changes in the running of the venerable steamers COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE, but only time will tell. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard responded to a call from COLUMBIA late on May 30, when a fight broke out as the steamer prepared to dock at Detroit, causing panic amongst 2,200 Memorial Day passengers. Earlier in the day, sporadic fighting, apparently aggravated by the very hot weather, had broken out on Bob-Lo Island, where an abnormally large crowd was visiting the amusement park. Several people were reported injured in the melee aboard COLUMBIA.
Meanwhile, at Detroit, the restaurant aboard the venerable carferry LANSDOWNE was closed on July 17 by its owner, Specialty Restaurants Corp., of Anaheim, California. It was said that new owners were negotiating to purchase the operation and that the deal would be closed during August, after which LANSDOWNE would reopen. LANSDOWNE first opened as a restaurant/lounge operation in November of 1983.
Once again this summer, there have been warships "showing the flag" in the lakes. The Canadian destroyer H.M.C.S. OTTAWA entered the Seaway upbound on June 27, while U.S.S. ANTRIM, a fast frigate, passed up the canals on June 24. Both are visiting numerous U.S. and Canadian ports during their stay on fresh water. It is interesting to note that ANTRIM is the fourth of the "Perry Class" to come to the lakes in consecutive years, STARK, GLOVER and OLIVER HAZARD PERRY herself having preceded her. Also in the lakes has been the West German warship DEUTSCHLAND, which arrived at Toronto on August 18.
In the May issue, we reported the departure from the lakes of BIRCHGLEN, which P & H Shipping had sold for scrapping by International Marine Salvage at Port Colborne, and which was resold for scrapping off-lakes. We also mentioned the scrap tow's altercation with QUEDOC in the Seaway on April 23rd. In tow of THUNDER CAPE and ELMORE M. MISNER, BIRCHGLEN arrived in the Riviere Maheux anchorage off Ile d'Orleans on April 24. The tug ORION EXPEDITOR arrived at Quebec the same day, and on April 26 she cleared with BIRCHGLEN in tow, apparently bound for Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Yet another veteran steamer has been sold out of the P & H Shipping fleet. Quite unexpected by observers was the sale of OAKGLEN, (a) WILLIAM H. WARNER (34), (b) THE INTERNATIONAL (77), (c) MAXINE (81), (d) J. F. VAUGHAN (82), which passed survey and inspection on drydock as recently as last year. The 65-year-old steamer passed down the Welland Canal on May 29, and down the Seaway on the 31st, with her last cargo, grain for Quebec City. After discharging her cargo, she sailed for Sorel, and arrived there to pay off in the Richelieu River. Although at last report OAKGLEN remained at Sorel, it was said that she likely would be towed to Brazil for scrapping.
Active for P & H Shipping during the summer months was T. R. McLAGAN, under charter from Canada Steamship Lines. As previously reported, she was towed from Toronto on May 7 by GLENEVIS, bound for the drydock at Port Weller. Her survey and inspection completed, T. R. McLAGAN cleared Port Weller on May 19 to enter service. She has been operating primarily in the grain trade, although she also has carried several cargoes of cement from Clarkson to Duluth. At least for the present, McLAGAN remains entirely in C.S.L. colours.
A strange visitor to the lakes this summer was HON. PAUL MARTIN, the self-unloader built for Canada Steamship Lines in 1985 at Collingwood. She has operated entirely on salt water since 1986, but on June 20th passed upbound in the Seaway en route to Cote Ste. Catherine. She then went to Port Weller where she tied up at the shipyard, and it was said that she would be returned to Canadian registry during her stay at Port Weller. Whilst at the shipyard, the MARTIN suffered a small ballast tank fire on July 13th.
ISLAND EXPRESS, a larger sister to the 1987-built MACKINAC EXPRESS, has been built for the Arnold Transit Company by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding at Somerset, Maine. The new catamaran will carry 30 more passengers than her earlier sister. ISLAND EXPRESS was upbound in the Detroit River on May 15 and entered service between Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island on May 25. On July 14, ISLAND EXPRESS went to the Twin City Drydock at the Michigan Soo for replacement of both propellers as a result of cavitation problems that had developed with the original screws.
Scrapping began at Hamilton during the spring on the long-idle, former C.S.L. package freighter FORT HENRY and, by July, much of her stern had been cut away in the Strathearne Avenue scrapbed. It had earlier been hoped that FORT HENRY might be saved for posterity, but plans to display her at Welland did not materialize and FORT CHAMBLY was chosen over FORT HENRY for display at the old Collingwood Shipyard site. Part of FORT HENRY will live, however. Her entire forecastle head was cut away and, complete with texas and pilothouse, it was placed aboard a barge. In tow of STORMONT and PAUL E. NO. 1, the barge arrived at Lock Three in the Welland Canal on June 29. There, FORT HENRY's cabins were placed ashore to form part of the visitors' centre redevelopment. The FORT HENRY display will be open to public viewing and also, we understand, will serve as a ticket office for the excursion boat that will be running on the canal between Locks Two and Three.
Last issue, we mentioned the arrival at the Marine Salvage scrapyard at Ramey's Bend of ISLE ROYALE, (a) SOUTHCLIFFE HALL (6l), (b) OREFAX (73), but we did not have the date of her arrival. In fact, ISLE ROYALE arrived in the Bend in tow of THUNDER CAPE and ELMORE M. MISNER on April 29th, having been towed up from Whitby. Over the summer months, much cutting has been done on ISLE ROYALE by Marine Salvage crews.
We earlier mentioned the sale for scrapping of the American Steamship Company self-unloaders CONSUMERS POWER and JOHN T. HUTCHINSON, and we now have further details. The HUTCHINSON was downbound in the Welland Canal on April 22 with GLENSIDE and W.N. TWOLAN. She was in the Seaway on the 24th and arrived at Lauzon on the 27th. CONSUMERS POWER cleared Erie on May 2nd behind W. N. TWOLAN and arrived off Port Colborne the next day, assisted by VAC and MICHAEL D. MISNER. She was downbound in the Welland on May 4 with TWOLAN and GLENSIDE, locked down at St. Lambert on the 8th, and arrived at Lauzon on May 9. On June 14, HUTCHINSON and CONSUMERS POWER cleared Lauzon in tow of the Panamanian tug/supply ship OMEGA 809, bound for Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It will be interesting to see whether the tow survives the long voyage.
Meanwhile, during April, American Steamship's self-unloader ADAM E. CORNELIUS was moved from the Frog Pond at Toledo and was placed on the drydock at that port. She spent two days in the shipyard and then was sent back to lay-up, it having been decided that the ship's condition did not warrant the cost of putting her in class and fitting her out. It would thus appear that the career of the 29-year-old steamer is at an end, but no scrap sale has yet been announced. As well, nothing further has been heard concerning rumours that McKEE SONS would be sold for scrapping after many years of layup at Toledo.
The last two "Supers" in the U.S. Steel fleet, BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS and IRVING S. OLDS, were sold this spring, with U.S. MarAd approval, to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping overseas. Both were built at Lorain; FAIRLESS (Hull 824) was launched April 25, 1942, while OLDS (Hull 825) was put in the water by AmShip on May 22, 1942. Both had been idle for some time, the OLDS having last run in 1981 and FAIRLESS in 1982. SALVAGE MONARCH towed the OLDS from Duluth on June 4, assisted by NEW JERSEY, took her down the Soo on the 7th with help from JOHN McLEAN, and was in the Huron Cut on the 9th, assisted by SHANNON. The tow was eastbound on Lake Ontario on June 13 with HELEN M. McALLISTER and CATHY McALLISTER (SALVAGE MONARCH having returned up the lakes) and the OLDS arrived at Montreal on May 14. BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS was down the Welland Canal on June 23 in tow of HELEN M. McALLISTER and SALVAGE MONARCH, the latter tug having pulled her out of Duluth on June 17. HELEN M. and CATHY McALLISTER took the tow down the Seaway and arrived at Quebec with the FAIRLESS on June 28. The OLDS was then towed from Montreal to Quebec by SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER on July 2nd. Meanwhile, the Liberian tug/supply ship OSA RAVENSTURM had arrived at Quebec on June 23rd to wait for OLDS and FAIRLESS, and the tow set out for the deep-sea section of the voyage to the breakers on July 9. At the time of this report, we were not aware of the intended destination of the tow.
A somewhat belated report dated July 27, 1988, in "The Journal of Commerce" indicated that U.S. MarAd had been petitioned by Aaron Ferer & Sons Co., of Omaha, Nebraska, for permission to sell the former USS Great Lakes Fleet vessels ENDERS M. VOORHEES and THOMAS W. LAMONT to Birlik Demi Celik of Istanbul, Turkey, and Constantinos G. Macrydakis of Greece, for scrapping in Turkey. The report is rather amusing in view of the loss of the VOORHEES on Kithnos Island in the Cyclades on January 24 whilst en route to Aliaga. As well, the Turkish buyer of the vessels had earlier been identified as Kalkavan Tocaret Sudan Kalkavan, of Istanbul.
Meanwhile, the scrapping of the former tinstacker EUGENE W. PARGNY has been progressing at Duluth and most of her was gone by summer. The last U.S. Steel boat in the scrap line at Duluth, JOSHUA A. HATFIELD, was moved into the Azcon scrapping slip on June 4th, and work has since begun on her.
Late in 1987, the former Kinsman steamer MERLE M. McCURDY was sold for scrap and was towed from Buffalo to Ashtabula. Before the dismantling of the vene-rable ship could begin, however, U.S. federal authorities barred the dismantling as a result of the amount of asbestos (pipe lagging, etc.) contained in the steamer. Accordingly, the Columbia Iron & Metal Company, Cleveland, applied for and received U.S. MarAd approval to sell the McCURDY to International Marine Salvage, Port Colborne, for scrapping at the latter port. The McCURDY departed Ashtabula about 7:30 a.m. on June 10, with the tugs MICHAEL D. MISNER and GLENEVIS, and arrived off Port Colborne about midnight the same day. She then took her place in the scrap line behind the remains of B. F. AFFLECK, and the dismantling of the McCURDY began during the summer.
It has been determined that the buyers of the former Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company "Maritime Class" steamers CADILLAC and CHAMPLAIN, which were sent out of the lakes during 1987 for scrapping in Turkey, were Cukurova Celik Endustrisi A.S. It is also reported that the former Interlake "Maritimer" SAMUEL MATHER and U.S. Steel "Super" A. H. FERBERT, which had been bought by Marine Salvage Ltd., were resold to Dalmeijer Trading B.V., Netherlands, which received U.S. MarAd approval to resell them via Equipment Parts Export Inc., New York City, to Turkish breakers. As far as we can determine, this pair of wartime-built steamers is still lying at Sydney, Nova Scotia, where they were towed after leaving the waters of the lakes during 1987. (It is, perhaps, interesting to note that only three "Maritimers" were running in 1988, those being GEORGE A. SLOAN, RICHARD REISS and the Canadian WILLOWGLEN.)
A change may come soon for the ships that make up what remains of the once-large fleet operated, since the turn of the century, by U.S. Steel and/or its various subsidiaries and affiliates. Latterly, all of the fleet's lakers have been operated by USS Great Lakes Fleet Inc. On June 20, 1988, USX Corp. signed a letter of intent to sell all of its transportation-related companies, including railroads, lake ore and coal docks, and lake and river shipping interests, for a consideration of more than $500 million. The new owning company would have an interest of more than 50% held by Blackstone Capital Partners LP., a New York-based venture capital group. About 40% interest would be held by USX Corp., while a very small interest would be held by the senior management of the companies included in the sale. In addition to the lake fleet, the deal involves some 2,000 miles of railroad, 20,000 rail cars, 380 locomotives, 380 river barges and 27 towboats. It seems likely that the lake fleet will see a livery change as a result of the sale, but no details are available as yet.
For a decade and a half since she left the lakes in 1973, the cranebarge MARQUIS ROEN (II), (a) ROBERT W. E. BUNSEN (54), had been serving as a loading and unloading facility on the Mississippi River below Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Some of the cabins had been removed from the 1900-built vessel, as well as her self-unloading boom, but her cranes continued to be used. Now comes word that MARQUIS ROEN has been chartered for a period of three years by Navios Ship Agencies Inc., part of the Fednav Group, for use as a floating derrick at the USX Fairless Works in Pennsylvania. Two hoppers were placed over the railway tracks ashore to allow the cranes to transfer cargo direct from unloading vessels to railcars. MARQUIS ROEN handled her first job at her new location on May 13th. The actual owner of MARQUIS ROEN remains the T. Cooper Smith Stevedoring Company, New Orleans.
On several occasions, we have reported sightings of the former Upper Lakes Shipping motorship WHEAT KING, which was being used as a storage hull at Rotterdam. We now learn that it was cattle feed that was being stored in her. However, her usefulness apparently has come to an end, and a July report from London indicated that WHEAT KING had been resold for scrapping on the "west coast of India".
Algoma Central Marine's motorship ALGOMARINE, (a) LAKE MANITOBA (87), was upbound at the Soo on the morning of July 21st, and the following day, she was at Thunder Bay, loading a most unusual cargo of tree bark for Detroit. After delivering that cargo, ALGOMARINE headed for Port Weller Dry Docks, where she was lying at last report. It has now been confirmed that, during the autumn, ALGOMARINE will be converted to a self-unloader, with a bow-mounted boom. This conversion will make ALGOMARINE more suited to the various trades operated by her owners, and there have been suggestions that more conversions of Algoma straight-deckers may be considered.
The Algoma Central steamer ALGOCAPE, (a) CAROL LAKE (87), grounded hard in the South Shore Canal of Lake St. Louis near St. Nicholas Island during the morning of May 21, whilst downbound with a cargo of grain from Thunder Bay for Baie Comeau. The steamer was lightered by P.S. BARGE NO. 1 and, assisted by McAllister tugs and DUGA, she was refloated on May 23. ALGOCAPE was reloaded at Montreal and resumed her voyage on May 25. During June, ALGOCAPE was laid up at Port McNicoll as a result of deterioration in the grain trade.
The Canadian Soo Lock has remained closed during the 1988 season as a result of damage sustained in July 1987 when the outer lock wall bulged inward. Studies have been made to determine what alternatives may be available in connection with any further use of the lock, but as yet no decisions have been made and there seems to be no prospect of government action this year. Meanwhile, in order to handle the great number of excursion boats and yachts seeking to transit the Soo Locks, the U.S. Corps of Engineers has had to activate the fourth (Sabin) American lock, which had not seen service for several years. Thus, the U.S. canal has been running three locks, but the Sabin has been restricted to the "ice cream trade", while commercial shipping has been forced to wait for either the MacArthur or Poe Lock.
In the May issue, we commented upon the departure from the lakes of KINGDOC (II). Prior to her sailing from Sorel en route to Genoa, Italy, under the Bahamas flag and with a Yugoslav crew, she was renamed (b) NORSTAR. Her owner is Polaris Navigation Ltd., a Paterson subsidiary, and there have been no changes in colours or houseflag. It has been suggested that we may even see NORSTAR in the lakes occasionally. Meanwhile, the World Ship Society recently reported that THARROS, (a) HAMILDOC (II)(77), had been sold in December of 1987 by Tharros Navigation Ltd., Panama, to breakers in the Dominican Republic. It was further stated that THARROS had been laid up at Santo Domingo since December 10, 1982. The sistership of KINGDOC, HAMILDOC had been built by the Davie shipyard (Hull 642) at Lauzon in 1963.
The Star Line added another vessel to its Mackinac Island service this year. RADISSON was christened at Mackinaw City on May 28 and was immediately placed in service. The 83-foot, 350-passenger boat has four diesels driving two propellers and two waterjets, and is capable of doing 32 m.p.h. Unfortunately, on only her second trip, she fractured a propeller shaft and began to take water, but made her dock at Mackinaw City, where the local fire department was able to pump her out.
The Sandusky double-ended, sidewheel, steam ferry G. A. BOECKLING, whose restoration we have been tracking in these pages, was drydocked on May 16 by Merce Industries at Toledo. Her hull plating was blasted clean, inspected, and coated with primer, and on the 23rd, the ship was refloated and moved to the shipyards wet dock. There she awaits the next step in the restoration process and the fundraising efforts of Friends of the Boeckling Inc.
The 1988 season has, indeed, seen the reactivation of passenger service between Buffalo and the amusement park at Crystal Beach, Ontario. The vessel involved is, of course, AMERICANA (II), the former BLOCK ISLAND, which was brought to the lakes from the American east coast late in 1987. We understand that AMERICANA is making five trips a day from the foot of Main Street, Buffalo. Meanwhile, on Saturday, July 23rd, the hull of CANADIANA was towed from Buffalo to Port Colborne, and eventually was put to rest in Ramey's Bend, where she will be drydocked for the hull work necessary for the restoration of the former Buffalo - Crystal Beach steamer. The decayed superstructure had been stripped away from CANADIANA prior to the tow. The restoration, estimated to cost at least $4 million, is being undertaken by Friends of the Canadiana Inc. The group had planned to have CANADIANA make her first trip under steam on June 15. 1989. but such a date would appear to us to be somewhat premature, considering the amount of work to be done and the funds that must be raised. ..
Tom Monaghan, owner of the Domino's Pizza chain and the Detroit Tigers baseball club, is proceeding with plans to bring VICTORY CHIMES back to the lakes, rename her DOMINO EFFECT, and use her in conjunction with his Domino's Lodge on Drummond Island. In order to get the boat near the lodge, it would be necessary to dredge Maxton Bay on the north side of the island, and Monaghan allegedly obtained the small Lake Erie sandsucker JAMES B. LYONS for this purpose. She was given a new pilothouse, was painted red with grey trim, and was to be renamed EMMETT J. CAREY, although as far as we are aware, the rename has not occurred. The dredging project has been delayed by protests to the Michigan D.N.R. and the Corps of Engineers by Drummond Island residents who fear the results of dredging on fishing and the tourist industry which is vital to the area.
With the upturn in the steel business in the United States, yet another idle American laker was due to return to service this summer. The Interlake Steamship Company's long-idle straight-decker JOHN SHERWIN began to fit out during July at the American Lakehead, and it was expected that she would be in service sometime late in August if conditions remained favourable. The protracted nature of the fit-out was due not only to the fact that SHERWIN was out of class and required drydocking, but also that she had, over the years, been cannibalized for parts for the other Interlake ships, and much equipment had to be replaced. We may yet see JOHN SHERWIN back in service.
The Woodlands Marine Inc. package freighter WOODLAND, (a) FRENCH RIVER (81), (b) JENSEN STAR (86), is once more in the lakes this summer after returning from her winter travels to Brazil. During July, she was given new stack markings to replace the drab, all-black stack which she previously carried. The stack is now white, with a green band and a green top, and a green, stylized letter 'W' with its sides in the shape of evergreen trees. There has been no change in WOODLAND'S hull colours.
Western Engineering Services Ltd., a firm owned by the Paterson interests, has sold its two tugs to Gravel and Lake Services Ltd., which will now handle all towing at Thunder Bay. Involved in the sale are the 71-foot, 1914-built DONALD MAC and the 104-foot, 1944-built PENINSULA. Gravel & Lake has itself been operating the 82-foot tugs GEORGE N. CARLETON and ROBERT JOHN.
A July ruling by the U.S. federal court cleared the owners and crew of the Yugoslav salty JABLANICA from civil liability in connection with the Lake Michigan collision on August 20, 1986, in which the fishtug RAZAL BROS. was sunk and her three crewmen were lost. This decision would appear to end the litigation resulting from the unusual accident.
For the first time in many years, a major excursion vessel is operating on the lower Niagara River. The 72-foot SENATOR, built at a cost of $900,000 for The Niagara Riverboat Company by Duratug Shipyard and Fabricating Ltd., Port Dover, is furnished in "Edwardian elegant" style. She runs tours, dinner cruises and charters out of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Duratug is the same firm that built ORIOLE for Toronto Harbour excursion service.
Unfortunately, problems in the Seaway system have become more frequent as the St. Lawrence and Welland Canals age. Before the opening of the 1988 navigation season, there was a collapse of the tie-up wall above Lock One, but makeshift repairs were made before the canal opened. Then, after less than a month of the 1988 season, part of the wall above Lock Three collapsed into the canal. The damage could not be rectified until the closure of the canal for the winter, and so a barge was moored in place of the lost wall section as a temporary stop-gap. The collapse has been blamed on instability of the canal bank in the area, which is the exact spot where the Third Welland Canal crossed the site of the present canal. We are not sure what relationship there might be between this fact and the wall collapse, for the wall at this point is not flush with the bank...
During the spring, it was reported that Kurt Iron & Metals, of Gloucester, New Jersey, planned to refloat the former passenger steamer SOUTH AMERICAN on May 11th. In fact, the sunken ship was refloated and her hull patched, and on July 16 she was towed to Baltimore, Maryland. There, she allegedly will be rebuilt for Detroit owners who had been hoping to return her to the lakes. It will be interesting to see whether anything more ever comes of this project than of the myriad plans for SOUTH AMERICAN which had been advanced in previous years. The Georgian Bay Line ship, the last overnight passenger vessel trading regularly on the lakes, was retired in October of 1987. She left the lakes to become a training ship for the S.I.U. on the east coast, but soon became derelict in the Camden, N.J., area, and has been a blot on the local harbour scene ever since.
The Star Line Company, operator of excursion/dinner cruise boats at several U.S. ports, this spring bought out the existing excursion vessel business at Toledo. As a result, ARAWANNA II is renamed ARAWANNA STAR, and NAUTICA PRINCESS (the former ARAWANNA PRINCESS) is now STAR OF TOLEDO. The ARAWANNA QUEEN is now renamed STAR OF NAUTICA, but her base of operation has been moved to Cleveland. Meanwhile, STAR OF CHARLEVOIX, the long-awaited sternwheel excursion boat which was built for service at Charlevoix, Michigan, and which originally had been expected in the lakes in 1987. passed up the Welland Canal under her own power on May 23rd, 22 days into her delivery trip from her builders in South Carolina. STAR OF CHARLEVOIX has since entered service and apparently is running successfully. As time passes, the Star Line is adding more and more ports to the areas which its boats serve.
Over the past few years, we have observed the ship scrapping which has been carried on along the east side of the outer harbour at Port Colborne by International Marine Salvage. Up until now, all of the scrap metal taken from the numerous lakers that have been broken up there has been removed by land, having been sold to major steel producers. On June 17th, however, the Yugoslav salty SOLTA was loading scrap at the yard, and when she cleared downbound in the Welland Canal on June 21, she was carrying the first scrap ever shipped by water from International Marine Salvage.
We earlier had reported the possibility that the big icebreaker U.S.C.G. MACKINAW would be retired as a result of budgetary considerations. With the approval of supplementary funding for the Coast Guard, however, the immediate future of MACKINAW seems assured. She will be out of service during the early part of the winter, undergoing engine repairs estimated to cost some $150,000 but she will available for icebreaking service at spring break-up time if necessary.
It is said that several groups have recently expressed interest in purchasing the idle shipyard at Ontonagon, Michigan, which had originally been operated by the now-defunct Upper Peninsula Shipbuilding Company. After U.P.S. Co. went into bankruptcy in 1982, the yard had been owned by Wedtech Inc., and since early in 1987 it had been leased to R. J. Rotundo Inc. The shipyard, originally established to build tug-and-barge carferry combinations for the now-discontinued Lake Michigan carferry routes, proved to be an incredible sinkhole for state subsidy funds, and accordingly the state must give approval to any sale of the yard. Prospective purchasers have been identified as the Milwaukee-based Oldenburg Group, and the local Ontonagon Enterprises Inc., but it would seem that the likely purchaser will be Lake Shore Inc., of Iron Mountain, Michigan, which has offered approximately $600,000 for the facility.
On December 6, 1987, U.S. authorities seized the Canadian fishtug THE LAST TIME for alleged fishing violations in U.S. waters off Whitefish Point, although the vessel was apprehended in Canadian waters. Since then, the tug had been lying at various locations at the Michigan Soo, until early August when she was sent under her own power to Cheboygan for "security" purposes. Interestingly, it was while the tug was en route to Cheboygan that a judge ruled against condemnation of the boat by the State of Michigan. Accordingly, the boat is to be returned to its owner, Ferroclad Fisheries Ltd., of Batchawana, Ontario, and any equipment removed from the ship during her detainment is also to be returned. The fish catch aboard the boat at the time of the seizure, and which was sold immediately thereafter on the commercial market, was awarded to the D.N.R. as part of the ruling. At the time of the report of the ruling, it was not known whether the state would appeal the District Court judge's decision.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.