As previously reported, the American Steamship Company's self-unloader JOHN A. KLING operated during the autumn of 1980 to the account of Westdale Shipping Ltd. as a replacement for BROOKDALE. We suspected that Westdale would attempt to purchase the KLING, and our suspicions were soon confirmed. The motorship arrived at Toronto on December 15 and went into winter quarters on the south side of the ship channel, just outside the Cherry Street Bridge. It was on the following day that we received definite word of Westdale's purchase of the boat. As yet, there has been no confirmation of a rename for KLING, but we have heard rumours to the effect that the name PINEDALE (II) is being considered.
HOCHELAGA emerged from the drydock at Thunder Bay on December 13, complete with her new 250-foot unloading boom, which is of tubular construction and thus considerably lighter than the old boom. We understand that she will once again be chartered to Westdale Shipping Ltd. in 1981, the previous charter to Westdale having been suspended early in 1980 when HOCHELAGA lost her boom over the side at Windsor and could only operate thereafter as a "straight-decker" in the grain trade.
The Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company is continuing the long-anticipated purge of outdated vessels from its fleet, a clearing-out caused by the loss of the Republic Steel Corporation ore contract. The 1916-built motorship RAYMOND H. REISS, (a) EMORY L. FORD (65), has been sold to Marine Salvage Ltd. and arrived at the Humberstone scrapyard under her own power on December 22. Interestingly enough, her crew took the time to give her a decent lay-up, something rather unusual for a vessel which has been sold, allegedly, for scrap. Cliffs' WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR. has been laid up for the winter at Ashtabula, and it is anticipated that she will be sold to Triad Salvage Inc. during February, unless another purchaser for the 1912-built steamer can be found. While the apparent retirement of these two veterans is not good news, there is a distinct possibility that both may eventually find their way into the service of other operators. We sincerely hope that this will be the case.
There appears to be considerable doubt concerning the future of MAXINE, (a) WILLIAM H. WARNER (34), (b) THE INTERNATIONAL (77), which is owned by the Wisconsin Steel Corporation. She was bareboat chartered during 1980 to the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company (which now hauls Wisconsin Steel's ore) but she did not operate at all during the year. Cliffs certainly does not need the 58-year-old ship and we understand that she will be sold to the highest bidder at a sale to be held during late winter. Certain operators have already expressed interest in obtaining MAXINE's services.
We reported previously that MARLHILL had been loaded with a storage cargo of beans by Victory Mills at Toronto. We had expected that this load would not be removed from the ship until late winter or early spring, but MARLHILL was moved from Pier 35 back to the elevator in mid-December and unloading was begun. We also understand that her Canadian registry was closed on August 20 with a notation that she had been sold to U.S. interests. Not only, therefore, do we not know why she has been unloaded so quickly, but we do not even know who owns her at the present time! No effort has been made to obliterate either the MARLHILL name nor her Q & O insignia and, apart from the removal of certain equipment, the vessel appears to be in reasonably good condition.
December 4 was not a good day for the Halco self-unloader HALLFAX. Whilst battling heavy seas off Miscou Island, New Brunswick, she suffered steering failure and called for assistance. Seven crewmembers were lifted off the boat by a Canadian Armed Forces rescue helicopter, but such efforts were abandoned because of freezing rain which had begun to fall. HALLFAX was later taken in tow by the tug IRVING BEACH and she was safely secured on December 6 at Sept-Iles, Quebec.
The trials and tribulations of the Halco fleet continue. On December 5th, MONTCLIFFE HALL was docking at the Saskatchewan Pool 7 elevator at Thunder Bay. In an effort to reduce her forward way, she dragged her anchor and managed to snag the bubbler system which had been installed to clear the slip of heavy ice and facilitate late-season navigation. To make matters worse, while moored at the elevator, MONTCLIFFE HALL later attempted to pump out ballast water but instead spewed a considerable quantity of Bunker 'C' fuel into the harbour. It took four days to clean up the resultant mess.
Johnstone Shipping Ltd. of Toronto has expanded its fleet from one vessel (CONGAR) to two with the purchase during early December of the diesel-powered canaller D. C. EVEREST from American Can of Canada Ltd. As soon as CONGAR's crew had finished laying up their boat at Toronto for the winter (she had to be towed up the Seaway to Toronto on her last trip due to mechanical difficulties), the crew went to Thunder Bay, where EVEREST had been lying idle, and began to fit her out. EVEREST loaded a storage cargo of wheat and set off down the lakes, arriving at Toronto shortly before Christmas. She is now laid up in the Polson Street slip near Atlas, the heavy-lift crane. We have no idea what Johnstone will do with D. E. EVEREST, but we wish her a long career in the company's service. EVEREST is one of the last true canallers still operating on the lakes, and was built in 1953 at Kingston. She will be renamed (b) CONDARELL by her new owner.
The tandem scrap tow of HELEN EVANS and THORNHILL encountered difficulties which delayed the departure of the two 1906-built steamers from Canadian waters. EVANS was towed from Hamilton on August 30 and THORNHILL on September 4, and both left Quebec City behind CAPT. IOANNIS S. on September 17. Bound for a Colombian scrapyard, the tow was twice forced by mechanical problems to return to the safety of Halifax harbour. The tow was reported at Halifax on October 8, and it was not until November 13 that the tug and her two venerable charges were able to set off southwards. We presume that their destination was Cartagena, but we would not have expected the trip down the east coast to have been attempted at such a late time of the season.
The final exit of D. G. KERR from the Great Lakes has proven to be anything but uneventful and the luck of the tinstacker seems to be holding, all bad! KERR was one of five U.S. Steel vessels which were sold, during 1980, for scrapping by overseas breakers. The other four were taken to Montreal or Quebec in preparation for the Atlantic tow, but TUSKER took D. G. KERR all the way to Sydney, Nova Scotia, where she lay awaiting her tow across the ocean. On November 19, however, Sydney received the "benefits" of its first major winter storm; KERR was torn from her moorings and was cast ashore, a news photo taken after the stranding indicating that she was driven so far up the beach as to be almost out of the water. We have no word as yet as to whether KERR has been released.
In the December issue, we mentioned that Halco had plans for the conversion to a self-unloader of its 1969-built straight-deck bulk carrier OTTERCLIFFE HALL. As far as we are aware, a firm date for the actual conversion has not yet been set. Nevertheless, OTTERCLIFFE HALL is spending the current winter at Toronto, and some of the preparatory work for the eventual conversion is being done by Ship Repairs and Supplies Ltd. while the ship lies in the Leslie Street slip.
The appearance of the Soo River Company steamer E.J. NEWBERRY, (a) WILLIAM C. ATWATER (36), (b) E. J. KULAS (II)(53), (c) BEN MOREELL (I)(55), (d) THOMAS E. MILLSOP (II)(76), was changed somewhat late in 1980. Upbound from Toronto to load a winter storage cargo for Humberstone, NEWBERRY stopped at Hamilton on December 15 to pick up the old "doghouse" from the scrapped steamer MARINSAL. The doghouse was placed at the after end of NEWBERRY's boat deck and will be fully outfitted during the winter months in order to provide additional accommodation for the crew. The cabin was removed from MARINSAL before she went overseas for scrapping earlier in 1980.
It has been decided that Hull 909, the next self-unloader being built at Lorain by AmShip for the Interlake Steamship Company, will be christened WILLIAM J. DE LANCEY in honour of the chief executive officer of the Republic Steel Corporation. With a length of 1,013 feet, and similar in design to JAMES R. BARKER and MESABI MINER, she is due to be commissioned in 1981.
E. S. Fox Ltd. has abandoned plans to construct a shipyard on the disused section of the Welland Canal above Port Robinson. The project had received the support of local municipal officials who were impressed with the effects such a facility would have had on the local economy and employment situation. However, residents voiced complaints about the ecological effects of building the yard and this opposition was strong enough to force the reconsideration of the project.
The Sainte Marie Yard and Marine Company has been doing very well recently. The firm obtained the contract to complete repairs to the bow of the carferry CHIEF WAWATAM, and this work was done right at the CHIEF's St. Ignace dock, thus saving the State of Michigan the cost of taking her to drydock and reducing the total repair bill from an estimated $87,500 to something in the area of $35,000. Then, during November, the company announced that it had been awarded a contract to construct two barges, each 180 x 54 x 12, for delivery during the summer of 1981 to Offshore Barge Rentals of Houston, Texas. Sainte Marie Yard and Marine hopes to obtain other similar contracts in the future. A permanent launch system will be installed at the old Carbide Dock, which the yard leases from the City of Sault Ste. Marie, and a lease will be taken on space in the second floor of the Edison Sault hydro plant for truss fabrication facilities.
The repairs done to CHIEF WAWATAM are not the only commitment that Michigan legislators have been forced to make recently concerning the aging carferry. During late autumn, the Department of Transportation was required to consider an extension of the operating subsidy for the CHIEF and a sum of $2.2 million was eventually budgeted for this item. Support for the continuation of the Straits carferry service has been growing of late and local officials seem committed to the maintenance of this important rail link between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. It is expected that a task force will eventually be called to study the future of the service and to decide whether CHIEF WAWATAM is the best vessel available for the route.
In an attempt to compensate for the discontinuance of the Milwaukee carferry route by the Chessie System and for other Lake Michigan ferry lines whose futures are in doubt, the Michigan Department of Transportation is proposing that a new ferry route be created. The new service, primarily intended for passengers and autos rather than for railroad cars, would run to Milwaukee and Chicago from a Michigan port yet to be designated, although Muskegon, Grand Haven and Ludington are all being considered. The state would purchase the necessary boats and would then contract the ferry operation to a private operator. The May 1 through October 1 service would be subsidized to a proposed figure of $500,000 per year. This project seems all well and good on paper, but we would wonder where the state is going to come up with the necessary money, particularly when it does not seem to have the funds to live up to commitments already made to the Ann Arbor Railroad.
Although the autumn of 1980 was not blessed with particularly pleasant weather, temperatures remained warm enough that the St. Lawrence Seaway was able to close without any threat of salties being stuck in the system for the winter. Operations went smoothly in the lakes as well until early December, at which time high winds and very cold temperatures began to beset the upper lakes areas. Icebreakers had their hands full in the St. Mary's River and, as a result of delays encountered in heavy ice, a few lakers found that they had problems in reaching the lay-up ports to which they had been assigned. As if that was not bad enough, record cold weather struck Southern Ontario during Christmas week and played havoc with shipping in the Welland Canal. Ice plugged the canal so badly that some boats took as much as three days for a transit. Several tugs assisted at locks and U.S.C.G. NEAH BAY was brought over to help traffic at Port Colborne and down the canal as far as Port Robinson.
A new tanker service will appear on the lakes during 1981, when Suncor Inc. of Toronto takes delivery of SUNCO CHIPPEWA, a 20,000 dwt. parcel tanker to be built at Hayashikane yards in Japan. Flying the Liberian flag (in honour of our great Canadian deep-sea fleet, no doubt), she will operate between Sarnia and European ports, carrying chemicals and assorted refined petroleum products. A second ship for the service will be supplied by Suncor's parent firm in the U.S., this boat also to be registered in Liberia.
Speaking of the Canadian deep-sea fleet (or lack of same), we would be remiss if we did not mention that the fleet of Federal Commerce and Navigation Ltd., Montreal, has been expanded to include 20 ships, of which only four are or will be flying the Canadian flag. We lack the space to list all of the company's ships, but suffice it to say that the lake-trading part of the fleet has been enlarged with the addition of two 730-footers built in Belgium, FEDERAL OTTAWA and FEDERAL DANUBE. Flying the Maple Leaf in 1981 will be FEDERAL NOVA, FEDERAL PIONEER (the recently purchased CARL G0RTH0N of 5,595 Gross Tons), TUNDRALAND and CABALLO (another new acquisition, yet to be renamed). These four will be in coastal service.
Residents of the area are still attempting to bring a sidewheel steamer back to Sandusky Bay, but the cost of building a replica of the old G. A. BOECKLING has prompted the group to consider the purchase of the actual remains of the original BOECKLING which, engineless, is still used for storage purposes by Peterson Builders Inc. at Sturgeon Bay. Peterson has offered BOECKLING to the group for $45,000 and the fund-raising continues.
EMPIRE SANDY, the former tug CHRIS M., returned to Toronto from drydock at Whitby during mid-December. She is now moored in the York Street slip alongside the old Pier 6 shed. We understand that the Harbour Commission forbade Norman Rogers, her owner, from mooring the hull on the east side of the shed where she has lain for several years. This edict resulted from complaints received from residents of the Harbourside development who, quite naturally, objected to having this eyesore at their doorsteps.
The Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. self-unloader CAPE BRETON MINER is at Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. this winter for an extensive refit. She already was in the drydock for much of the summer for assorted repairs, but she is in need of considerable refurbishing. Much of her sideplating will be replaced, as will her ballast tanks, and some of her steam auxiliaries will be supplanted by diesel machinery. When she emerges from the shipyard in the spring, the MINER will return to the east coast trade which she shares with ONTARIO POWER and CANADIAN HIGHLANDER.
In the December issue, we mentioned the loss in the Arctic of EDGAR JOURDAIN. To replace her, Jourdain Navigation Ltd. of Montreal has purchased, from the U.K.'s United Baltic fleet, the ice-classed freighter HUDSON VENTURE. We have no further information concerning this vessel as yet.
At long last, James Gillon's Illinois Steamship Company and Great Lakes Transit Company have been able to free their passenger steamer MILWAUKEE CLIPPER from the clutches of the Bay Shipbuilding Corp. which had instituted proceedings for the sale of the ship in order to satisfy outstanding accounts. Had the court allowed this, it is almost certain that the 76-year old boat would have been sold for scrap. However, BayShip's request was denied and Gillon and his companies were declared the legal custodians of the vessel. She was taken in tow and arrived on November 26 at Chicago, where she will become a floating restaurant and museum at Navy Pier. MILWAUKEE CLIPPER (unofficially renamed CLIPPER when Gillon first purchased her) encountered problems during the tow from Sturgeon Bay and began to take water. She arrived at Chicago with twelve degrees of starboard list and the fire department was called to pump out the water after she was docked.
Bay Shipbuilding Corp. will build two large barges for use on salt water. The first, to be delivered during the autumn of 1981, will be a 550-footer for the coal trade. The second, a self-unloader, 610 feet in length, will be designed to carry phosphates and will be ready for service in the spring of 1982. Meanwhile, BayShip's Hull 727, the latest barge built for the Hannah Marine Corporation, was launched on November 20 and christened HANNAH 6301. This barge is 407 feet in length.
Word has it that Soquem Inc. has purchased a self-unloader from a Canadian lake fleet for use on its Magdalen Islands salt run. The contract for the transportation of this salt has been awarded to Navigation Sonamar Inc. and will, presumably, be handled by vessels of the soon-to-be-merged Desgagnes and Logistec fleets.
Deep Diving Systems Ltd. of Thunder Bay has sold its 341-foot salvage barge D.D.S. SALVAGER, (a) BALSAMBRANCH, (b) M.I.L. BALSAM, (c) TECHNO-BALSAM, to the St. Lawrence Cement Company Ltd. She will be converted to carry cement in bulk from Duluth to Thunder Bay.
The venerable, although much-rebuilt, tug ABURG, long operated by the McQueen interests of Amherstburg, was sold on October 19, 1980, by William E. Smith, who used her as a yacht, to Sub Services Ltd. of Penetanguishene. Her new owner intends to use the 90-year-old tug in the Georgian Bay charter service, fitting her out to carry groups of divers who might wish to visit wrecks in the area. It is anticipated that ABURG will be able to carry 25 persons per trip, and she is already well booked for her first season. She was moved from Amherstburg to a berth at Penetanguishene, but a setback to her owner's plans occurred in mid-December when, as a result of a frozen pipe, the tug took on water and sank at her dock.
A recent report indicates that the famous KEEWATIN, the beautiful 1907-built Canadian Pacific Railway passenger and package freight steamer, has been moved about a quarter of a mile to a new berth in the Kalamazoo River at Douglas (Saugatuck), Michigan. KEEWATIN is owned by entrepreneur R. Peterson and is used as a museum, albeit a rather sad one. KEEWATIN floats so high out of the water now that she looks completely unnatural, and the sight is not helped by the fact that she sports the U.S. flag on her stern, something very much out of keeping with her 58 years of service. We are pleased that KEEWATIN was preserved and escaped the fate of ASSINIBOIA, but we have always resented the fact that not a single Canadian stepped forward at the time of her retirement, 15 years ago, to preserve her in waters to which she was more accustomed.
Canada Steamship Lines expended considerable funds to repair NIPIGON BAY after her autumn encounter with Whaleback Shoal in the St. Lawrence River. Now the steamer, built at Collingwood in 1951 as the tanker (a) IMPERIAL LEDUC (55), is back at Port Arthur Shipyards for the installation of a new deck. Over the winter months, she will be given a five-foot-high hatch trunk similar to that fitted on her sister, GOLDEN HIND, several years ago.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.