One of the worst accidents of the 1980 navigation season, at least from the point of view of vessel damage, occurred on December 22, when the American Steamship Company's 25-year-old self-unloader DETROIT EDISON (II) ran on Grays Reef and very nearly gored herself to death on the rocky bottom. The EDISON was upbound in Lake Michigan at the time and, rather than taking the recommended course, longer but less dangerous, to the west and north of the Beaver Island Group via Lansing Shoal Light, she was put on a course through Manitou Passage and up the easterly channel between Beaver Island and the tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. As the EDISON was attempting to negotiate the narrow channel off the eastern tip of Grays Reef, visibility deteriorated and she strayed from the channel and struck the rocks of the reef. The ship was freed without assistance some three hours after her stranding, and she was taken to Charlevoix for temporary repairs. Divers descended to look at the damage and returned with the news that bottom damage was very extensive and that five of her tanks had been ripped open. It was originally hoped to take the ship to South Chicago where she could be repaired by AmShip, but the damage was so severe that doubts were expressed as to whether the EDISON would remain afloat long enough to reach her destination. Instead, it was arranged that repairs be completed by Bay Shipbuilding. A volunteer crew made the trip aboard as she was towed across the lake and, in due course, she was safely berthed at Sturgeon Bay. Repairs, which will be very costly indeed, will be put in hand during the winter months.
D. G. KERR, the former tinstacker which broke away from her moorings at Sydney, Nova Scotia, in a storm on November 19, was freed from her perch on the beach by the tug FEDERAL 6 on November 21. The same tug set out across the Atlantic with KERR sometime shortly thereafter, but the 64-year-old steamer never made it across the ocean. She foundered near the Azores on December 12, thus becoming the twelfth laker to be lost during the course of an Atlantic scrap tow since such tows were begun in 1960. She was the first "Steel Trust" boat to be lost in this manner. The KERR was known for setting records, however, and she carried record cargoes several times in 1917 and 1918. Her greatest claim to fame arose out of the events of September 7, 1921, at which time she was loaded with 12,508 gross tons of iron ore at Two Harbors during the remarkably short time of 16 1/2 minutes. It was always rumoured that this feat had subjected her hull to undue stress and that she was structurally weakened in the process. If so, this may have hastened her demise out on the stormy North Atlantic.
Strangely enough, one of the deep-sea tugs often used to tow old lakers to European scrapyards has, herself, foundered at sea. DOLPHIN X, built at Lauzon, Quebec, in 1956, sailed until 1972 as H.M.C.S. ST. JOHN. She was lost off the coast of Labrador on November 27 whilst, towing a barge to Norway.
Westdale Shipping Ltd. has been thwarted in its plan to give the name PINEDALE (II) to its newly-acquired self-unloader, JOHN A. KLING. Despite the fact that she is currently being broken up in Hamilton, PINEDALE (I)(C.199-403) is still enrolled in Canadian registry and, until her documents are surrendered, the name cannot be used by Westdale or, for that matter, by anybody else either. As a result, KLING will become LEADALE (II) before she enters service this spring.
In the Mid-Summer issue, we mentioned that Halco's 1967-built tanker JAMES TRANSPORT would be lengthened by about 40 feet and given a complete refit, but it was not known at that time which shipyard would get the contract for the work. In fact, JAMES TRANSPORT entered the Halifax shipyard of Halifax Industries Ltd. late in January (her arrival delayed by ice problems in the St. Lawrence River), and it is expected that she will be ready to re-enter service during March. Compared with the other Halco tankers, JAMES TRANSPORT is a relative stranger to the lakes, as she spends most of her time on the St. Lawrence River and on the east coast.
Another tanker which will be rebuilt this winter is NORTHERN SHELL (II), (a) OLAU SYD (72), (b) AXEL HEIBERG (74), (c) FROBISHER TRANSPORT (77), which is operated by Shell Canada Ltd., primarily in coastal service and on the St. Lawrence. NORTHERN SHELL will be lengthened 87 feet by Canadian Vickers Ltd. at Montreal, and should be ready to return to service during the spring. The work has been delayed by labour problems at the yard.
The new name which will be given to D. C. EVEREST by her new owner, Johnstone Shipping Ltd., is not spelled CONDARELL (as previously reported), but rather CONDARRELL. Her two small derricks will be removed and she is to be fitted with a travelling crane for the handling of steel products. It is our understanding that she will be carrying such materials from the Stelco plant at Hamilton, but that she will also be available to carry wood-pulp out of Marathon for American Can of Canada Ltd., her former owner.
Despite the fact that she was not much in evidence in the Toronto area during 1980 subsequent to her commissioning in June, Johnstone Shipping's CONGAR (III) apparently enjoyed a successful year. The only fly in the ointment came late in the year when, on a trip down the St. Lawrence, she managed to get salt water into her boiler feed, a problem which necessitated having her towed back up the Seaway to her winter berth at Toronto.
We can now confirm that PETER A. B. WIDENER never got as far as Sorel on her ill-starred trip down the Seaway with grain during the autumn of 1980. She was moored at Montreal's Shed 4 immediately after clearing the Seaway downbound, and has not moved since. It was while the tugs were manoeuvring WIDENER in Montreal harbour on November 7 that she brushed the Swiss wine tanker RHONE.
Last autumn, we reported that the Bultema Dock and Dredge Company's tug JOHN ROEN V would tow Bultema's barge MAITLAND NO. 1 to the Caribbean for service there, but that ROEN V would return to the lakes. This report was in error, for neither vessel will return. MAITLAND NO. 1, originally a carferry, and long a pulpwood barge for the Roen Steamship Company, loaded scrap at Holland, Michigan, and cleared that port behind ROEN V in mid-November. The tow, whose destination was Progresso, Mexico, was due to put in briefly at Port Everglades during January. Now registered in Honduras, ROEN V has been renamed (c) TRIO BRAVO, while MAITLAND NO. 1 is rechristened (b) TRIO TRADO.
Huron Grain Leasing of Parkhill, Ontario, is considering the construction of a grain shipping facility on the St. Clair River north of the Lambton hydro generating plant. The terminal would specialize in the shipping of locally-grown grains and, if built, would almost certainly eliminate any possibility of government dredging of the Sydenham River and Chenal Ecarte to maintain Wallaceburg as an active commercial port.
In the January issue, we mentioned that Soquem Inc. was said to be in the act of obtaining a lake self-unloader for use on its Magdalen Islands salt run. It has since become known that the boat involved is the Algoma Central Railway's self-unloader ALGOSEA, (a) BROOKNES (75), which has not been sold to Soquem but rather chartered for a period of fifteen years. ALGOSEA was built at Port Glasgow in 1969 for salt water trades and it was not until the A.C.R. acquired her in 1975 that she was lengthened, brought to the lakes, and converted to a self-unloader at Port Colborne. It would seem likely that the charter will carry ALGOSEA through to that time at which Algoma might normally be expected to dispose of the vessel.
Rumour has had it that the U.S. Steel Corporation might be considering the imminent conversion to self-unloaders of its lengthened steamers ARTHUR M. ANDERSON, CASON J. CALLAWAY and PHILIP R. CLARKE. While such alterations to the three sisterships will, almost certainly, be considered in the future, we have it on the best of authority that no such contracts are to be let in the near future.
The future of the Misener Transportation steamer GEORGE M. CARL (II), frequently in doubt over the past few years, seems to be relatively secure for the present. Considerable engine work is being done this winter and, later in 1981, she will visit Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. for the renewal of much of her rivetting.
Depressed steel markets have prompted the Hanna Mining Company to close its Groveland iron mine, located near Randville, Michigan. In addition, the affiliated Iron Ore Company of Canada will, by May 15, close its pellet plant at Sept-Iles, Quebec, which will force 500 persons out of work, and will also lay off 150 workers at its mines at Schefferville, P.Q. This closures will have a noticeable effect on Canadian lake shipping in 1981, but the plants will reopen should the steel market improve.
It has previously been reported that OTTERCLIFFE HALL might be considered for a self-unloader conversion, such as was given to FRANKCLIFFE HALL. We have learned more recently that Halco does not intend at the present time to proceed with such a conversion. The work being done on OTTERCLIFFE HALL at Toronto this winter by Ship Repairs and Supplies Ltd. is limited to the renewal of her tanktops and sidetanks, and the replacement of considerable plating on her starboard side.
The Great Lakes' oldest licensed shipmaster, Capt. Thomas A. Small of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, died at Cheboygan on Christmas Day at the age of 107. Capt. Small, who sailed for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company for many years, was master of the whaleback COLGATE HOYT when she carried the first ore cargo through the then-new Poe Lock in October, 1896. As a result, U.S. Steel named him honourary master of PHILIP R. CLARKE when she made the first passage of the rebuilt Poe Lock in June, 1969.
Last issue, we mentioned that Jourdain Navigation Ltd. of Montreal had acquired a vessel named HUDSON VENTURE to replace the lost EDGAR JOURDAIN. Clarification of this report is necessary. Jourdain had arranged a tentative purchase of BALTIC VENTURE from the United Baltic fleet last spring, and the name HUDSON VENTURE was chosen for her. The sale was never consummated, however, and Jourdain instead acquired SILVA, (a) GONDUL (71), from Frans E. Karlsson P/R. Built at Stockholm in 1964, she is 307.9 x 45.3 x 19.7, 2479 Gross. She arrived at Montreal on July 19 and sailed for Rimouski and the Arctic on July 31. Her Canadian registry was opened August 6 as (c) HUDSON VENTURE. (She is a sistership of BILL CROSBIE, which sank at St. John's earlier in the year and was raised and intentionally sunk at sea November 1.)
Work on the reboilering of LAC STE. ANNE is proceeding at Humberstone. Her stack has been removed and the after cabin cut open to allow the removal of her old boilers and the installation of those taken from BROOKDALE.
Most of the exterior work has been done in connection with the self-unloader conversion of JAMES NORRIS at Port Weller. Her forward-mounted A-frame is in place and her boom has been placed on deck. In addition, bridge wings (of the enclosed variety) have been built on the sides of her pilothouse.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.