Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
G. A. Tomlinson Souvenirs
6. Ship of the Month No. 92 JOHN S. THOM
The Shipbuilders
Additional Marine News
Table of Illustrations

Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. has announced that it will build a tanker for its Branch Lines Division, the vessel to be delivered in August 1981. Considerably larger than any of the tankers now operated by Branch Lines, the new boat will be of approximately 11,000 Gross Tons and will carry about 91,000 barrels of gasoline. She will cost $21,000,000 and will be strengthened for ice service. The announcement contained no mention of the name to be chosen for the tanker, but we might hope for a return to the "Branch" series of names which, for so many years, graced the fleet's ships.

The Huron Cement steamer E. M. FORD was raised from the bottom of Milwaukee harbour during the latter part of January and, during early March, was towed by JOHN M. SELVICK and LAUREN CASTLE to Sturgeon Bay where she is to be repaired by the Bay Shipbuilding Corporation. The 1898-built vessel sustained severe bow damage in the accident but it was found that her cement cargo was not as difficult to remove as had been anticipated and that, contrary to early fears, it was not necessary to cut her spar deck completely open to get at the cement. It is expected that E. M. FORD will be returned to service later this year.

It is now definite that U.S. Steel's idle self-unloader IRVIN L. CLYMER will not be joining the fleet of Huron Cement/General Dynamics. The "Steel Trust" has decided against selling CLYMER to any U.S.-flag operator but has left the door open for a possible sale to a Canadian fleet.

The U.S. Steel Great Lakes Fleet will operate seventeen bulk carriers during 1980 together with five of the "Bradley" self-unloaders. This would appear to indicate that, at least at the beginning of the season, only the following will be in service: ARTHUR M. ANDERSON, SEWELL AVERY, ROGER BLOUGH, CASON J. CALLAWAY, PHILIP R. CLARKE, BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS, A. H. FERBERT, LEON FRASER, EDWIN H. GOTT, JOHN HULST, THOMAS W. LAMONT, IRVING S. OLDS, EUGENE W. PARGNY, ROBERT C. STANLEY, EUGENE P. THOMAS, ENDERS M. VOORHEES and RALPH H. WATSON, plus CALCITE II, JOHN G. MUNSON, ROGERS CITY, GEORGE A. SLOAN and MYRON C. TAYLOR. Notable amongst those missing from the list are B. F. AFFLECK, WILLIAM A. IRVIN, HORACE JOHNSON, HOMER D. WILLIAMS and T. W. ROBINSON.

The Interlake Steamship Company has ceased its negotiations to purchase PIONEER from the Medusa Cement Company. As mentioned earlier, Interlake has been hoping to bring from salt water an ocean-going vessel of the affiliated Moore-McCormack Lines for conversion into a pilothouse-forward self-unloader. These plans had been stalled by litigation involving another operator who used such a vessel, built for international service, in coasting trades. The legal action has now been concluded and it seems that P-M will be permitted to go ahead with the conversion, probably during the winter of 1981-82. The conversion of a salty, however, eliminates the need for the services of PIONEER to assist with Interlake's cargo commitments.

Despite earlier rumours to the contrary, the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company will operate WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR. in 1980, the veteran steamer having passed her survey and inspection during the winter at Sturgeon Bay. It appears , however, that MAXINE will not fit out at all and, for the first time in many years, will not be trading for the Wisconsin Steel Company. Wisconsin Steel and its owner, Envirodyne Inc., are themselves in trouble at present due to financial reverses and labour problems experienced by International Harvester, Wisconsin's largest customer and former owner. It is anticipated that Cliffs will operate the rest of its fleet in 1980, even CHAMPLAIN which allegedly is suffering from the same complaints in her engine as those that have troubled certain other Maritime Class steamers such as E.G. GRACE.

The new 1,000-foot self-unloading stemwinder BURNS HARBOR, presently nearing completion at Sturgeon Bay for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, is to be christened on May 24, 1980. The ceremonies will be held at the Bay Shipbuilding Corporation's yard.

The Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company, has confirmed that neither ASHLAND nor THOMAS WILSON will operate in 1980. Columbia would be willing to sell both steamers but the asking price has proven to be too steep to interest other fleets. Meanwhile, a few troublesome difficulties having been worked out, Columbia has decided to proceed with the construction of Hull 726 at Bay Shipbuilding, a 1,000-foot self-unloader. Her keel was laid at Sturgeon Bay on March 3rd. Columbia does, however, seem to be back-pedalling on its other plans for fleet updating; so far, no contracts whatever have been signed for the flock of self-unloader conversions which the company had planned for upcoming winters.

The cement carrier LOC BAY, recently purchased by the Medusa Cement Company, is to be renamed (e) BADGER STATE. She will be placed in service carrying finished cement from Charlevoix, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Earlier reports had mentioned that she would be operated between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie ports, but this does not now appear to be the case.

The Dundee Cement Company of Dundee, Michigan, has recently acquired facilities for a cement distribution terminal at the Pinney Dock in Ashtabula, Ohio. Dundee intends to bring cement to the terminal by boat from Clarkson, Ontario, in much the same way as ROBERT KOCH hauls it from Clarkson to Buffalo for the St. Lawrence Cement Company. Anticipating approval of its plans by the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority, Dundee hopes to operate the service with the chartered barge MEL WILLIAM SELVICK and eventually to notch the stern of the barge to facilitate her handling by a tug in the Welland Canal. MEL WILLIAM SELVICK, of course, is the name given to the remains of the venerable steamer SAMUEL MITCHELL of 1892, which now is owned by the Selvick Marine Towing Corporation of Sturgeon Bay.

The harbour at Marblehead, Ohio, is being prepared to accommodate the Erie Sand Steamship Company's self-unloader CONSUMERS POWER, considerable dredging being necessary. In actuality, CONSUMERS POWER has not been purchased by Erie, but rather will be operated under a long-term charter from the American Steamship Company. She is the replacement for the 73-year-old J. F. SCHOELLKOPF JR. which was retired by Erie at the close of the 1979 navigation season as a result of her condition as determined in an autumn drydocking at Port Weller. The SCHOELLKOPF, as earlier reported, has been sold to Marine Salvage Ltd. for dismantling.

It is evident that Boland and Cornelius will be proceeding with the repair of the fire-damaged NICOLET, but we do not know as yet where or how the reconstruction will be performed. It has been said that she might be taken to the American Lakehead for the installation of the forward cabins from the Cliffs steamer FRONTENAC, but we would tend to discount the chances of such an eventuality. As a matter of interest, there is no word yet on the disposition of the rest of FRONTENAC either. The steamer's sorry remains were purchased from Cliffs by Fraser Shipyards in the hope of a resale, particularly as regards FRONTENAC's relatively new power plant.

MAURICE DESGAGNES, recently lost in the North Atlantic, is seen upbound at Port Colborne in this October 29, 1977 photo by J. H. Bascom.
Yet another Canadian coastal vessel has been lost, this time one that had been a frequent visitor to the Great Lakes. On March 11, bound for Sept-Iles, P.Q., with a load of railroad ties from New Orleans, the 279-foot MAURICE DESGAGNES encountered heavy weather. The following morning, in a position some 75 nautical miles southeast of Halifax, the ship's cargo shifted and she began to take water. Distress calls were sent and the destroyers H.M.C.S. HURON and MARGAREE attended at the scene. The DESGAGNES' crew was removed by helicopter and, less than a half hour after the last man was lifted clear, the ship rolled onto her starboard side and sank. Built in 1963 at Terneuzen, Holland, MAURICE DESGAGNES had sailed under the name FINNRUNNER before her purchase by Groupe Desgagnes. At the time of her loss, she was owned by Les Armateurs du St-Laurent Inc., Pointe-au-Pic, P.Q. She had traded regularly into the lakes since 1977.

Despite the usual rumours to the contrary which circulate each spring (and which sometimes prove to be true), the S & E Shipping Corporation, Kinsman Lines, will operate its entire fleet during 1980. All six steamers are expected to be in service by mid-April. There had previously been some concern about the future of FRANK R. DENTON in view of the fact that she spent the winter laid up light in the Frog Pond at Toledo, the notorious resting place of vessels which have reached the end of their active lives. It is interesting to note that, with only six vessels left in the fleet despite the amazing growth of the company in the interim (but in line with its subsequent retrenchment of services), the Kinsman roster is smaller now than it has been at any time since 1964.

The Great Lakes Pilots' Association appears to have purchased two more tugs, GREEN BAY from the C. Reiss Coal Company of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and DOLOMITE from the U.S. Steel Corporation which operated her at Rogers City. GREEN BAY, built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1960, is 74 feet in length and will be retained in service at Green Bay for at least five years. She is still in her old colours except that the 'R' has been removed from her stack. DOLOMITE is a 95-foot steam tug built in 1927, and it is not yet evident what will be done with her. It is to be assumed that she will be repowered for further use, but we would rather hope that she would retain her steam machinery, such hopes being based on pure nostalgia rather than on any consideration of economic principles.

Navigation Sonamar Inc. (a partnership of Logistec Navigation Inc., Groupe Desgagnes Inc., the Quebec Department of Transport, and several Quebec coastal operators who are all members of the St. Lawrence Shipowners' Association Inc.) is investigating the possibility of hauling salt to Montreal from the SOQUEM salt mine on the Magdalen Islands. Such shipments would replace the salt which presently travels to Montreal from Goderich. The company allegedly would like to acquire a number of self-unloaders for the service. Be this as it may, bids for the actual contract will be solicited from ten Great Lakes/St. Lawrence shippers, five of them being Quebec-based firms and five with head offices in Ontario. Where this will leave Navigation Sonamar, which presently has no self-unloaders, we cannot imagine, but the company was formed specifically for the purpose of giving local shippers a chance to compete in St. Lawrence trades with the larger lake-based fleets.

The St. Lawrence Seaway got off to its earliest opening ever when it began business for 1980 on March 24. The Welland Canal opened on the same day as did the MacArthur Lock at the Soo. (The Poe Lock will be opened as of April 1 and the third lock will be opened when traffic warrants.) The first boat to enter the Welland as it opened was H. M. GRIFFITH, upbound from Hamilton for coal. Although there is not much iron ore to move immediately, Canadian shippers specifically requested the early opening in order that they might begin moving their cargo commitments as soon as possible, there being a heavy backlog of Canadian grain waiting to move down the lakes.

The Bob-Lo Company's venerable steam excursion vessels COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE seem to be assured of a good future as long as they remain in sound mechanical and structural condition. Both steamers have been accepted by the Heritage, Conservation and Recreation Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior and have been placed in the National Register of Historic Places, thus matching the feat successfully managed some years ago by the river steamboat DELTA QUEEN. As far as is known, these three are the only operating vessels so designated. Bob-Lo officials state that they did not seek the designation but are happy with it. Plaques will be presented to the boats in spring ceremonies.

D'Arcy Foods Inc. has been investigating the possibility of constructing a grain elevator at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The $1,700,000 elevator would be used for locally-grown specialty crops such as buckwheat, peas, millet and soya beans, the idea being to encourage area farmers to grow such items and sell them to D'Arcy. The problem is that the only existing dock at the Soo which would be suitable for the purpose is the old Carbide Dock, east of the Edison Sault generating plant, a dock now leased to the Sainte Marie Yard and Marine Company for its growing marine repair business. The two companies are looking into the possibility of sharing the space. Vessel agent for the grain shipping firm, if it does acquire facilities at the Soo, will be Capt. Frank Manzzutti of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

The Hannah Inland Waterways Corporation is building two 400-foot barges for lake service, one coming from Bay Shipbuilding at Sturgeon Bay (Hull 727) and one from an off-lakes shipyard. Observers had been wondering what Hannah would do with these big barges, which should be ready for service in 1981, and only recently has the answer become evident. It appears that the Amoco Oil Company's Northern Division Transportation Department has been experiencing difficulties in manning its three beautiful steam-powered tankers and that these problems have become sufficiently severe that Amoco has decided to withdraw from the business of owning tankers. Accordingly, barring unforeseen developments, the 62-year-old AMOCO ILLINOIS, 50-year-old AMOCO WISCONSIN and 43-year-old AMOCO INDIANA probably have but one more year of navigation ahead of them. We shall regret the passing of these handsome steamers and shall miss the sound of their deep steam whistles.

The renewal of a portion of the west wall of Lock One was not the only major project along the Welland Canal begun during the winter by the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority. Work was also started on the widening of the upper level from Port Robinson to Allanburg, the abutments of old Bridge 12 having been removed at "Steelton Gap". The first stage of the work is to be resumed as soon as the ground becomes more stable this spring, and the summer months will see the widening of the channel for a further 3,600 feet northwards. The third stage, encompassing a similar distance to be widened, will be commenced during 1981.

The Canada Steamship Lines package freighter ESKIMO may soon change her colours for those of the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. Q & O would like to acquire ESKIMO but no firm decision on such a purchase will be made until after the vessel is drydocked for inspection.

When the wounded salty ARCHANGELOS was towed back up to Port Weller last December after coming to grief in the St. Lawrence River, it was generally assumed that repairs would be undertaken by Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. This has proven not to be the case, however, as the shipyard has had its hands full with other work and could not manage to fit ARCHANGELOS into its schedule. The hapless salty was arrested at her berth on March 19, the action being instigated by the owner of her undelivered steel cargo. She was released on March 21 and, on March 24, was towed stern-first away from the wall below Lock One by the tugs PRINCESS NO. 1 and R & L NO. 1. Repairs to ARCHANGELOS will probably be undertaken at a St. Lawrence River shipyard.

The name of the City of Toronto will once again be borne by a deep-sea vessel in the near future. C.P. Bermuda (Canadian Pacific) has ordered four tankers from the Sanoyasu Dockyard Company of Japan and these will be delivered in 1980 and 1981. The four 31.500 dwt. tankers will be named FORT ASSINIBOINE, FORT GARRY, FORT ROUGE and FORT TORONTO.


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