Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
Lake Shipyard Orderbooks Full
Report on April Dinner Meeting
A Laker's Log by Skip Gillham
Ship of the Month No. 49 Alexandria
Port Huron Marine Show
Some Late Marine News
William Woodger
Table of Illustrations

The camera of Jim Kidd caught TEXACO-BRAVE outbound at Toronto's Cherry STreet bridge in tow of G. W. ROGERS and BAGOTVILLE, April 7 1975
As reported last issue, TEXACO-BRAVE was scheduled to be towed out of Toronto Harbour by G. W. ROGERS and BAGOTVILLE on April 3rd. The weatherman, however, chose that day to subject the southern Ontario area to the second worst April snowstorm on record and Canadian Dredge and Dock decided not to run the risk of losing the BRAVE on the trip across Lake Ontario which was running heavy seas in the high winds accompanying the storm. The old canaller spent four more days at her dock just inside the Cherry Street bridge and, on the morning of April 7, the tugs came for her. It was about 8:30 a. m. when the proud little tanker was taken out the Eastern Gap, leaving behind her home port of so many years, en route to the Ramey's Bend scrapyard.

It is now apparent that the Columbia takeover of the Kinsman self-unloaders PAUL THAYER and WILLIAM R. ROESCH will not come to fruition, at least not for the present. The dispute over which union would represent the ships' crews has presented such insurmountable problems that the deal has been shelved and the two motorships will remain in their old fleet. It is to be expected, however, that eventually a sale for the pair will be concluded.

Jim Kidd's photograph of TEXACO-BRAVE and BAGOTVILLE, April 7 1975
We suspected it all along, but now it is out in the open. The firm negotiating for the purchase of the vessels of the Kinsman Marine Transit Company is S & E Shipping Corporation. And you'll never guess who is now in the process of acquiring a majority interest in S & E. If you guessed George M. Steinbrenner III, then you are absolutely right, but if you didn't guess him, then you deserve ten lashes with the wet noodle for not figuring out that King George had to be behind this thing somehow. It appears that the same operating arrangements will apply as were in force during 1974 when Kinsman personnel operated A. T. LAWSON and BEN MOREELL which had earlier been sold to S & E. But as far as operations in 1975 are concerned, the picture is still clouded. PETER ROBERTSON and KINSMAN VOYAGER will be going for scrap, this much we know. It appears that HARRY L. ALLEN, C. L. AUSTIN, CHICAGO TRADER, FRANK R. DENTON, GEORGE D. GOBLE, KINSMAN ENTERPRISE, WILLIAM R. ROESCH, HENRY STEINBRENNER and PAUL THAYER will operate. It is also evident that GEORGE M. STEINBRENNER will not. But somewhat up in the air are MERLE M. McCURDY, GEORGE E. SEEDHOUSE and PAUL L. TIETJEN. The April 5, 1975 issue of Skillings' Mining Review gives appointments for this latter trio but an article appearing on April 12 in the Cleveland Plain Dealer indicates that they will remain at the wall. As usual with questions concerning this fleet, we will simply have to wait and see what happens.

On her last voyage under her old name, SILVER BAY enters the Toronto Western Gap, March 29, 1975. Photo by the Editor
When we went to press with the April issue, we were aware of the fact that the retired passenger steamer SOUTH AMERICAN had been rescued from a Camden, N.J., scrapyard and was to be brought back to the lakes, but we had not learned the identity of her purchaser. It now develops that the new owner of the ship is Mellus Flagship Associates, a firm headed by former newspaper publisher William S. Mellus of Grosse Ile, Michigan. Mr. Mellus, whose only association with boats in the past seems to be his ownership of a small cabin cruiser, plans to bring the SOUTH back to the lakes this summer, "refit" her and moor her at Mackinac Island to serve as a floating hotel and tourist centre. The sale was closed on March 16 and $200,000 changed hands, although it is estimated that a further sum of $1,500,000 will be necessary to ready the old ship for her new duties. We don't like to be a wet blanket on what is really an admirably imaginative scheme, but we'll believe this whole thing when we see the finished product and we won't be holding our breath waiting ...

According to a notice appearing in the Toronto Globe and Mail on April 3rd, the steamer JUDITH M. PIERSON (formerly SILVER BAY) is now owned by a firm calling itself the Soo River Company. The concern is privately owned and is controlled by Robert Pierson Holdings Ltd. During the 1975 season the vessel will be managed by Westdale Shipping Ltd., Port Credit.

While unloading at Victory Soya Mills, SILVERBAY became JUDITH M. PIERSON as seen in this photo by Jim Kidd. April 1st, 1975.
One of the best news items to come our way in many a moon concerns the veteran Huron Cement steamer E. M. FORD. This bulk cement carrier had seemingly been living on borrowed time for the last few years as she has been in and out of lay-up, never operating continuously for very long. In addition, the FORD was a hand-fired coal-burner and she had to be kept on Lake Michigan most of the time because her appearance on the lower lakes always managed to arouse the ire of local smoke-abatement officials, Her age and size (only 406 feet) also appeared to doom her to imminent retirement. It is therefore with great pleasure that we can report that during the winter the FORD was taken in hand by work crews at Nicholson's Dock, Ecorse, and given automated oil burners. No doubt the considerable expenditure required for a conversion of this nature will guarantee the future of E. M. FORD for quite a few years to come and it may well mean that we shall see more of her on the lower lakes, a development which would prove most pleasing to photographers who have long considered her to be a particularly elusive creature. Not only is the FORD notable because of her age (she was built at Cleveland in 1898 as PRESQUE ISLE and is now the second-oldest active self-propelled laker) but in addition she is the last operating lake steamer powered by a quadruple-expansion engine.

Last issue we reported the cessation of Canadian National Railways' carferry service across the Detroit River, the last trip being made by LANSDOWNE in tow of MARGARET YORKE on March 14th. We commented that the future did not look bright for either LANSDOWNE or her centenarian running mate HURON but are now pleased to learn that both have been purchased by the Detroit-Windsor Barge Company and will be used to haul containers across the river. As such, they will join the former C.P.R. tug PRESCOTONT and carfloat OGDENSBURG in this service.

For the first time since 1968, the Great Lakes are being served in 1975 by American salt-water cargo liners. The move to operate a lake service has been made by Lykes Bros. Steamship Company, New Orleans, whose subsidiary Lykes Great Lakes Line will operate a route between various lake ports and the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The line will provide monthly sailings by three company-owned vessels, the first to call in the lakes being MARJORIE LYKES, a combination container and break-bulk carrier which made her first trip up the Welland Canal on April 23rd. The second ship to come to our area will be MAYO LYKES, while the third ship has not yet been identified. Lykes' service will be subject to financial assistance through a Maritime Administration operating subsidy.

The steam ferry LAVIOLETTE has in fact been sold to Albert Russell Avery of Mooretown, Ontario, and on March 3rd was reregistered at Toronto. The former St. Lawrence River ferry, measuring 168 x 66 x 14 (887 Gross, 399 Net), was built in 1947 at Sorel for the Trois-Rivieres service. It will be recalled that the last report we had on the ferry was that she was lying at Norfolk, Virginia, and despite Capt. Avery's plans to use her as an excursion vessel out of Sarnia, it looked as if she would instead be sold to operators on the Gulf of Mexico. It now appears that Capt. Avery's efforts have met with success and we assume that we will shortly see the steamer brought up to her new home.

Texaco Canada Limited's newest acquisition, TEXACO WARRIOR (II), was brought into Canadian registry on March 3 and was enrolled at Toronto, being given official number 337356. Formerly (a) THUNTANK 6 and (b) ANTERIORITY, this is the motorship that will replace TEXACO-BRAVE.

It is quite evident that the "battle of the carferries" is on again and the preliminary skirmishes indicate that the fighting will get hot and heavy as the year progresses. All four companies presently operating open-water railroad carferry services in the Lake Michigan area have filed for abandonment and if the petitions are approved, the Ann Arbor, Chesapeake and Ohio, Grand Trunk, and Mackinac Transportation Company lines will vanish. There is, however, considerable opposition to the planned abandonments, particularly in connection with the intended cessation of the CHIEF WAWATAM's service across the Straits of Mackinac for this latter withdrawal would mean the end of railroad service in Michigan's upper peninsula.

This is DEMETERTON, now named ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR, as she looked passing Vercheres on November 23, 1974. P{hoto by Rene Beauchamp.
According to a report which appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail on April 10, the British bulk carriers CARLTON and DEMETERTON have not actually been purchased by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. but rather have been obtained by Upper Lakes subsidiary Leitch Transports Ltd. on a long-term charter basis. CARLTON has been renamed ST. LAWRENCE PROSPECTOR and will be used principally on the titanium run between Havre St. Pierre and Sorel, although she will trade into the lakes occasionally. DEMETERTON is now named ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR and is registered at Toronto. She entered Port Weller Dry Docks on April 23 and after a complete refit will be placed in regular lake service.

Another vessel which has been on the "shelf" at Port Weller Dry Docks recently is CONISCLIFFE HALL which is now undergoing her long-awaited conversion for use as a gas-drilling rig. She is now painted blue and white as are other units of the fleet of Underwater Gas Developers Ltd. and it is believed that she will be renamed (b) PELESIS for her new role.

The city of Owen Sound has decided that it does not wish to have the retired Manitoulin Island ferry steamer NORISLE for use as a combination restaurant and museum as was originally planned. The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, owner of the vessel and successor to the Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd., had offered the ship to the city fathers for the sum of one dollar and the refusal of the municipality to proceed with the scheme leaves the future of the 29-year-old hand-fired coal-burner in considerable doubt. It is unlikely that any other operator would be interested in purchasing the steamer.

A firm known as Societe Havre Champlain, an affiliate of Misener Enterprises Ltd., St. Catharines, has submitted to the Quebec government proposals for the development of a new deepwater port at Gros Cacouna, a spot on the south shore of the St. Lawrence about 110 miles downstream from Quebec City. The plan has received the support of the government of Premier Robert Bourassa, no doubt because the company would bear the full cost of developing the facility.

A driving snowstorm with wind gusts up to 55 m.p.h. drove the Canada. Steamship Lines self-unloading stemwinder J. W. McGIFFIN aground on the east bank of the Welland Canal south of Bridge 10 at Thorold shortly after noon on April 3rd. The ship's crew put lines ashore after the grounding as it was found that the vessel was taking on water and developing a nasty list to starboard. Two of her tanks had been holed but the McGIFFIN was pumped out sufficiently to allow her to move down to the dock behind the Beaver Wood Fibre Company where she was examined by divers. Early on the afternoon of the 4th, the ship left Thorold and proceeded to Hamilton where her coal cargo was unloaded. She then was taken back to Port Weller where she was placed on drydock. It has since been found that the ship damaged some 600 feet of her bottom on the starboard side and repairs are thus very costly. As far as we can ascertain, the McGIFFIN was the only major casualty of the wind and snowstorm which swept the lower lakes from April 2nd through the 4th.

The newest addition to the fleet of N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd., Thunder Bay, was christened ONTADOC in ceremonies at Collingwood on April 15. The vessel, generally similar to LABRADOC and PRINDOC, is expected to enter service shortly.

Several months ago we reported that RIVER TRANSPORT was no longer registered in Canada and we surmised that she had been sold to foreign owners. While we still do not know who the purchasers are, it appears that they are based in South America.

The U.S. Steel bulk carrier CASON J. CALLAWAY was a casualty of early spring navigation. In convoy with JOHN G. MUNSON, the ship was caught in heavy ice near Lansing Shoal in upper Lake Michigan on March 21 and was unable to extricate herself before the pressure of the ice forced her onto the shoal. En route to South Chicago with taconite from Lake Superior, the CALLAWAY holed herself on the starboard side but was in no particular danger although an aerial photo of the grounded ship showed her to be lying directly alongside the shoal's lighthouse. The ship (was freed without much delay and continued on her trip. Once unloaded, she was taken to Fraser Shipyards at Superior for permanent repairs.

The big steam tug CHRIS M. which has been lying at the scrapping berth of Strathearne Terminals in Hamilton since early 1974 arrived in Toronto on April 10 in tow of ARGUE MARTIN and was put on the south side of the Lake Ontario Cement pier. Observers were hard pressed to find out why she had been brought here, particularly since she had long ago been stripped of most of her fittings. However, some diggings by one of our harbour spies has unearthed the fact that CHRIS M. has been purchased for $30,000 by one Norman F. Rogers, a resident of Toronto's Algonquin Island. Rogers is the operator of several small boats which he uses sporadically as water taxis. To describe the operation as reliable would be stretching a point and it is further interesting to note that Rogers has previously been in trouble not only with municipal officials for trying to run a ferry service in competition with the Parks Department but also with the federal authorities for failing to carry sufficient lifesaving apparatus on his boats. We can't imagine what he plans for CHRIS M. and we can hardly but think that she would be better off if she were still in the scrapyard.

The deal involving the sale of the Canada Steamship Lines package freighter FRENCH RIVER to the Compagnie de Gestion de Matane may well be reversed if the new owners have their way. The ship was to have been used in a service across the St. Lawrence River from Matane but it appears that the cost of conversion for her new duties would be prohibitive. In addition, we suspect that certain political pressures may be at work. This appears to be a case of "caveat emptor" and we hope that C.S.L. got their money before the purchasers decided to back out.

The wooden tour boat OLYMPIA III owned by the Kingston and Thousand Islands Boat Line Ltd. sank in the Gananoque River at Gananoque on March 20, apparently the victim of a spring freshet. At last report the hull had not been raised and it is doubtful that she will ever see any further service. The elderly vessel made her debut in the Kingston area last year and had a relatively successful season but her owners had planned to replace her with a new ship. OLYMPIA III was built in 1943 at Toronto as a fairmile designed for wartime use on the east coast. She is best known for the years she spent as an excursion boat operating out of Midland under the names PENETAND EIGHTY-EIGHT and MIDLAND-PENETANG EIGHTY-EIGHT.

There is more bad news for lovers of deep-sea passenger vessels. The long-rumoured mass retirement of Italian liners is now a reality and in three years' time fifteen ships will have been cut from the operating roster of the government-run Italian Line and associated companies. First to go is the 46,000-ton MICHELANGELO, a ten year veteran of the North Atlantic service, which is to be removed from service in April. Her sistership RAFFAELLO will run through until July when she too will be retired. It is understood that only five government-operated passenger vessels will survive the purge.

Citing increased operating costs and the age of its sole vessel, Canadian National Steamship Company Ltd. has served notice that its Alaska cruise service will be terminated at the close of the 1975 season. This abandonment means the retirement of PRINCE GEORGE, the 350-foot steamer built for C.N. in 1948 by Yarrows Ltd. at Esquimalt, B.C. Unfortunately, there would seem to be little future for PRINCE GEORGE under Canadian registry unless the British Columbia Ferry System (the provincial government) should decide to operate the Alaska route.

Staying on the west coast but moving on to a much happier news item, it is with much pleasure that we can report that the British Columbia government has taken over from Canadian Pacific the Victoria-Seattle ferry service which C.P. discontinued last autumn. But the best news of all is that the government acquisition not only includes property on the Victoria, waterfront but also the steam turbine ferry PRINCESS MARGUERITE, the entire cost of the purchase being $2.5 million. PRINCESS MARGUERITE is a 356-foot, 5911-ton vessel built in 1949 by the Fairfield Company Ltd. at Glasgow and whereas the previously-mentioned PRINCE GEORGE is a relatively modern vessel in appearance, the MARGUERITE is very much the traditonal C. P. west coast steamer. She is a very handsome vessel and should look stunning in the B.C. ferry system colours of blue and white.

Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. now has two McGIFFIN-GRIFFITHS type self-unloaders on order. One of the 31,000-ton vessels has been ordered from Collingwood Shipyards and is to be delivered in 1977 after the completion of a similar vessel for the Algoma Central Railway. The other is to come from the yard of Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. at Lauzon, Quebec, and is scheduled for delivery in 1976. It is interesting to note that the new carriers will cost $30 million and $32.5 million respectively, this being a most remarkable increase over the 1972 cost of $12.8 million for J. W. McGIFFIN.

It appears that three small tankers which spent last winter at Toronto will not be fitting out for the 1975 navigation season. CAPE TRANSPORT and COVE TRANSPORT, formerly NORTHCLIFFE HALL (I) and LEECLIFFE HALL (I) respectively, are 1947-vintage veterans of the Hall Corporation fleet. The steamers were converted to tankers in 1957 and this no doubt prolonged their lives. Now, however, they are nearing the end of their economic viability (their canal size does not help matters) and over the past few years have operated irregularly. They are presently laid up in the northwest corner of Toronto's turning basin. The third idle tanker is the diminutive motorship RIVERSHELL owned by Johnstone Shipping Ltd., Toronto. She operated last year under charter to Shell for a bunkering service on the St. Clair River but this trade was somewhat less than successful and it is unlikely that the ship will operate again unless some service such as her successful Lake Ontario bunkering business of a few years ago (she ran as GULF SENTINEL) can be found for her. She is currently laid up alongside the two Hall tankers.

The overseas scrap tows for 1975 have begun. On April 22 the McAllister tugs SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER brought KINSMAN VOYAGER into Port Colborne from Toledo and moored her below Lock 8 at the Law stone dock. They then moved down the canal and picked up JAMES E. FERRIS which had lain in the old canal above Dain City, heading for Quebec City with her. Once the FERRIS is delivered to Quebec, the tugs will return to Toledo where they will pick up HENNEPIN. She will be brought to Port Colborne and will be nosed into Ramey's Bend for dismantling there. Then the tugs will cross the canal and pick up KINSMAN VOYAGER, heading for Quebec. It is to be assumed that JAMES E. FERRIS and KINSMAN VOYAGER will cross the Atlantic in tandem tow.


Previous    Next

Return to Home Port or Toronto Marine Historical Society's Scanner

Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.