Over the past few months, we have noted a number of Canadian vessels that are being converted this winter from coal to oil fuel. One more veteran Canadian laker has now been added to the list, with the result that next season will see PARKER EVANS sailing as an oil burner. Such conversions are also becoming common on the American side of the lakes. The hand fired, coal burning ore carrier MATTHEW ANDREWS will be converted over the winter at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, and the war built Bethlehem steamers LEHIGH and STEELTON at Manitowoc. Four more Americans will get automated boiler controls along with the conversion to oil, JOHN J. BOLAND, DETROIT EDISON and ADAM E. CORNELIUS will have the work done by. American Ship at Lorain, while WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR. will get the same treatment at Manitowoc. The sale of the latter from Pickands Mather to Cleveland Cliffs was made official on January 4th.
Other winter projects involve the application of strengthening deck strapping to five Maritime Commission type bulk carriers. The Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding yard will do the work on E.G. GRACE of the Interlake fleet while Columbia's ASHLAND will get the treatment at Fraser Shipyards, Superior, LEHIGH and STEELTON will be strapped at Manitowoc and Cliffs' CADILLAC at AmShip's Chicago yard, A similar type of job will be done on JOSEPH H. THOMPSON as she winters at Lorain. The THOMPSON is a conversion from a C4-S-B2 war built ocean bulk carrier and came to the lakes in 1952. She is generally known as the scourge of lake ship photographers.
Four installations of bow thruster units are being done at Sturgeon Bay during the winter months. The veteran tankers MERCURY and AMOCO ILLINOIS, the Corps of Engineers dredge MARKHAM, and the Cliffs bulk carrier PONTIAC will all receive thrusters, while PONTIAC will also receive a new pilothouse, presumably similar to that given her sister-ship FRONTENAC several years ago.
The May 7, 1965, collision in the Straits of Mackinac that involved the sinking of the Bradley self-unloader CEDARVILLE by the Norwegian freighter TOPDALSFJORD, has once again come to the attention of the public. There are still five outstanding suits for wrongful death of crew members as well as seven for injuries suffered by survivors, and the suits had originally claimed $2,440,918 in damages. A Cleveland District Court had previously calculated damages at $1,500,000 but even this figure has been called excessive by Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The matter will be recomputed in Cleveland. In all, ten men were killed in the sinking, and the owners of the two ships will bear equally the damage figure which will eventually be set.
Normally, this publication does not deal extensively with salt water news, but the loss of a major passenger liner merits reporting. The C.G.T. (French Line) steam turbine cruise vessel ANTILLES, built in 1952 at Brest, ran aground on January 9th, 1971, on a reef near the island of Mustique in the Caribbean. The grounding caused the rupture of oil bunkers and oil escaping into the boiler room started a fire which eventually gutted the entire vessel. Fortunately there was no loss of life.
The U.S. Coast Guard has officially revoked the license of Capt. Burris Wolters of SYLVANIA, in connection with the previously reported incident on the Detroit River on November 21st. An appeal is expected.
The first of the new C.N.R. pusher tugs arrived at Windsor on December 21st after the run from her builder's yard at Wheatley. PHYLLIS YORKE, as she is named, managed to burn out her generator on the delivery voyage and had to lay over in Windsor several days for repairs. She then went directly to Sarnia to start the Port Huron-Sarnia service, A second tug, MARGARET YORKE, will appear shortly to handle the Windsor-Detroit run and her appearance will signal the end of HURON as a steamer. The new tugs are powered by three outboard units each. PHYLLIS YORKE is anything but beautiful. She has the typical hull of a pusher, but her pilothouse is mounted atop a strange tripod tower. Her "stacks" are three exhaust pipes placed athwartship aft. For those who may wish to keep records, her official statistics are as follows: PHYLLIS YORKE, Can. 345141. 1970 Wheatley, Ont., 99.8 x 35.0 x 9.8. Gross 272, net 203. Owners: P.M. Yorke & Son Ltd., Vancouver.
The Johnstone Shipping Ltd. Tanker CONGAR, grounded in Lake St. Clair on Christmas Eve and the McQueen tugs AMHERSTBURG and ATOMIC were dispatched to free her. Shortly afterward, E.B. BARBER went aground in virtually the same spot. This time, the tugs could not do the trick and they had to bring the lighter T.P.NEWMAN to remove some of the self-unloader's cargo of salt.
DELTA QUEEN, having been saved from a forced retirement by tremendous public support, entered Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans on December 28, 1970, for a $250,000 refit. The Greene Line had drawn up plans for certain renovations to be completed should the life of the ship be extended, but it appears that she will also receive a smoke and flame detector system. The riverboat will begin her 1971 season on April 16th with a trip from New Orleans to Memphis.
The United States Steel Corp had originally intended to keep eight ships running into January, but a shortage of pellets (taconite) at Two Harbors sent A. H. FERBERT into an early lay-up at Milwaukee on December 22. T.M.H.S. member John Vournakis who sails aboard ARTHUR M. ANDERSON, reported that the only difficulty on their route between Two Harbors and South Chicago up until the end of the first week in January was thickening ice in the vicinity of Lime Island in the lower St. Mary's River. The ships were transiting the river in groups, and only during daylight hours. The Neebish Rock Cut, normally used as the downbound channel around Neebish Island, was closed December 27 due to an ice bridge which had formed at the head of the cut. Traffic passed both ways through Middle Neebish thereafter. At the time of writing, the last U.S. Steel boat, PHILIP R. CLARKE, was due to go to winter quarters in Milwaukee January 27th.
In previous issues, we had stated that the old lakers HENRY R. PLATT JR., O.S. McFARLAND and G.G. POST had been sold to Royal Marine Transport Inc., New York, It now develops that the deal has fallen through and that the PLATT was actually resold to Marine Salvage. Meanwhile, POST and McFARLAND have reverted to Columbia Transportation, with the latter vessel hung up at Saginaw. She was naturally not loaded with scrap due to the uncertainty of the future and to this date she has not been given her storage load of grain as Columbia had later intended. The POST remains at Ojibway, although she did make a round trip to Detroit under tow before things collapsed. It seems that the original purchase was eventually to have included Columbia's surplus self-unloaders HURON and WYANDOTTE.
Scrapping operations continue at Hamilton. The last remains of MANCOX were cut up early in January and the torches then devoured GRAEME STEWART in short order. As of January 17, cutting was just beginning on MANZZUTTI. Meanwhile, Canadian Dredge and Dock Ltd. is doing some scrapping of its own vessels at the company's dock in Hamilton. The tugs MINNICOG and SHAWANAGA, both steam powered, have already been broken up and work is progressing on the steam dredges MONARCH and MAJOR.
Sharp-eyed visitors to the Toronto waterfront during the winter months will notice that IMPERIAL WINDSOR is laid up at her owner's dock. Although the Imperial tankers are frequent visitors to Toronto, your editor cannot remember any of the fleet's vessels wintering here since IMPERIAL REDWATER stayed over the winter of 1951-52. By the way, the WINDSOR was the last ship to tie up here this winter, arriving on January 8th.
Work has progressed rapidly on the scrapping of the JOSEPH S.SCOBELL at Humberstone. At the same yard, HENRY R. PLATT JR. is now sealed up so it appears that she will head overseas rather than face the torch in Ramey's Bend.
We have now received a confirmation that C.W.CADWELL is undergoing repairs at the Kingston facilities of Canadian Dredge and Dock. She will be returned to service by Cadwell Marine Ltd. who apparently have been considering converting her to oil fuel.
At long last, the remains of the Toronto harbour tug G.R.GEARY have been located in Hamilton's Catharine Street slip, where she was towed after being raised from the bottom of Toronto Bay in October. There have been murmurings to the effect that unidentified parties wish to put diesels in her.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.