Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
Oscar J. Gregoire
Ship of the Month No. 101 Arabian
You Asked Us
Marine Photos For Sale
The Loss of the City of Detroit
Additional Marine News
Table of Illustrations

The first Maritime Commission wartime-built laker to fly the Canadian flag, LEHIGH, is downbound at Little Rapids in this August 15, 1957, photo by the Editor. She will now sail in Soo River Company colours.
At long last, the news has broken! For the first time, a Maritime Commission class steamer will be flying the Canadian flag. This significant development is one which many of us have anticipated for years but which has been delayed in reaching fruition to the point that it became a guessing game as to which of the wartime-built bulk carriers would be the first to cross the border and for whom she would then operate. A bet on either of Columbia Transportation's ASHLAND or THOMAS WILSON would have lost, for the ship involved is actually the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's LEHIGH (U.S.244505), 603.8 x 60.2 x 30.2, 9057 Gross and 6793 Net. The next-last of the United States Maritime Commission's wartime lakers to be launched (but the last at the particular shipyard that built her), she hit the water at the River Rouge plant of the Great Lakes Engineering Works on July 24, 1943. The yard's Hull 295. she was of the L6-S-B1 class and was originally christened MESABI. She entered service on November 1, 1943, but is not known to have operated under her original name. She was renamed (b) LEHIGH (III) in 1943 and has sailed for Bethlehem ever since. To obtain LEHIGH and her sister, STEELTON (III) (66), (a) PILOT KNOB (II)(43), (c) FRANK PURNELL (II)(74), (d) ROBERT C. NORTON (II), Bethlehem traded to the Maritime Commission its old steamers LEHIGH (II) (later JOHNSTOWN), STEELTON (II) (later CORNWALL) and SAUCON, all three of these older boats having been chartered back to Bethlehem for the duration of the war and scrapped shortly after its conclusion. There are those who feel that these superceded steamers were far too good to be scrapped.

LEHIGH has now been acquired by the Soo River Company and she will be put in service under the name (c) JOSEPH X. ROBERT, this name honouring a long-time friend of Robert S. Pierson. The vessel will spend most of 1981, along with PIERSON DAUGHTERS, on the run from Burns Harbor to Contrecoeur and from Quebec back to Burns Harbor. Plans call for the preliminary fit-out to be done at Erie, where LEHIGH wintered, but for the ship to be brought to Port Colborne for final preparations for service. As much of the ship as possible will be painted there. We welcome LEHIGH to the Canadian lake fleet and we wish her many years of service under our flag.

Now that the first of the "Maritimers" has crossed the border, we would not be surprised to see several more of the L6-S-A1 or L6-S-B1 class vessels sold to Canadian operators in the near future. Veterans of almost forty seasons of service, they have been far outclassed in size by modern upper lakers and have thus become somewhat uneconomical for operation by some of their U.S. owners. They are, however, an excellent size for Seaway service, particularly in the grain trade, and we have heard that other Canadian companies have been looking them over.

To the material which we presented last issue on lakers sold for scrapping during 1980, we would add the following to keep the records accurate:

- C.N. Santa Maria was the buyer of J. F. SCHOELLKOPF JR., ROYALTON and MARINSAL. All three have been dismantled at La Spezia, Italy. ROYALTON and MARINSAL arrived there on June 25 with HANSEAT, and the scrapping of MARINSAL began on July 2. We have no arrival date for SCHOELLKOPF, although we know that she cleared Quebec on June 27. Her dismantling began on July 29.

- The tug which took J. P. MORGAN JR. and EUGENE J. BUFFINGTON across the Atlantic was HIRTENHURM. They made an extraordinarily speedy crossing, leaving Quebec on October 4 and arriving at Bilbao, Spain, on October 22. Although, as reported, MORGAN was later towed to Aviles, BUFFINGTON did not wind up at the same port. She cleared Bilbao on November 13 behind AZNAR JOSE LUIS and arrived the following day at Gijon, Spain.

The derelict hulls of the tankers HALFUELER (M.I.L. FUELER) and GOLDEN SABLE disappeared recently from Louiseville, Quebec, where they had been resting for a number of years. We are not certain where they have been taken but we must assume that they have been dismantled.

It seems unlikely that there will be a Lake Ontario hydrofoil service in 1981. It will be recalled that Royal Hydrofoil Cruises (Canada) Ltd. ran PRINCE OF NIAGARA, QUEEN OF TORONTO and PRINCESS OF THE LAKES in the service between Toronto and Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1980. The operators ran into various problems last year and there are those observers who doubted that the hydrofoils would be back in '81. It seems that they may have been correct, for it was as late as March 13 that the federal cabinet turned down a request for continued service after a review by the Federal Investment Review Agency. No reason for the cabinet's refusal was announced, but it would seem to have something to do with the fact that the company is not owned in Canada, that the hydrofoils were operating between Canadian ports but were registered in Panama, and that they were manned by Canadian crews but with Norwegian skippers. 1981 looks like a good year for Royal's opposition, Sherwood Marine's CAYUGA II!

Toronto's sidewheel excursion steamer TRILLIUM is apparently in need of a bit of work before she can enter service this spring. A weakness has been detected in her upper deck and it will be necessary for additional strengthening members to be fitted to ensure the safety of passengers.

With TRILLIUM having to be kept available for the Centre Island ferry service on weekends this summer, it is likely that much of her Saturday night charter business will be diverted to BLUE WATER BELLE which will, as in 1980, be operated by Sherwood Marine Inc. Sherwood has bought out the interest of the Royal Bank of Canada in the steamer, but a partial interest is still owned by Capt. Al Avery, who brought her back from the east coast and originally intended to operate her at Sarnia. We do not know what has prompted the change, but BLUE WATER BELLE will be renamed (c) CALEDONIA before she enters service this summer. We do hope, however, that she will be kept busier than in the last two years.

Sherwood will also be operating SHIAWASSIE in the excursion service around Toronto this summer, we hear, presumably under charter. This is the former Parks Department ferry (!), built in 1962, which Metro Toronto wisely (but none too soon) sold off in 1977. She was latterly operated on the Niagara River by Lower Niagara Boat Tours Ltd. Quite honestly, we can think of no local vessel which would be less suitable for excursion service, with the possible exception of the carferries ONGIARA and MAPLE CITY.

The work on the refitting of D. C. EVEREST began at Toronto in mid-March, and it was not long before her two old deck cranes were removed. They will be replaced by one larger derrick, suitable for lifting steel products, before she enters service for Johnstone Shipping Ltd. as (b) CONDARRELL.

The New York buyer of MARLHILL has now been identified as a gentleman by the name of Herman. It is said that the 73-year-old steamer will be towed to the Detroit area in late spring for loading with scrap steel in anticipation of an overseas scrap tow. For a while, it had been thought that MARLHILL might serve either as a storage hull for Victory Mills at Toronto or as a transfer hull for soya beans between Toronto Elevators (Maple Leaf Mills) and Victory, there having been more beans required recently than Victory could store in its own premises. It has been found, however, that the ferrying of beans between the two houses can be accomplished more economically with the use of trucks.

We understand that the Exxon barge, which TUSKER was to bring into the lakes this spring, will not be ready in time and that TUSKER will be returning alone. Without the barge, we must assume that TUSKER will do general towing on the lakes this year instead of being assigned to any regular service. TUSKER's partner in the February collision with the Gandy Bridge at Tampa, the barge LIQUILASSIE, will not return to the lakes, although she is still owned by L. B. Tankers Inc. of Windsor. We do not know how she is to be kept busy on salt water but we assume that her owner must have some trade lined up for her, else she would not be there.

Canada Steamship Lines' idle package freighter FRENCH RIVER seems to have an active future ahead of her after all. She has been laid up for many years, and has lain at the Kingston elevator since a very brief period of reactivation several years ago. Several previous attempts to dispose of the 387.6-foot, 196l-huilt motorship have failed, but now a buyer has been found and FRENCH RIVER will soon be back in service, albeit not on the lakes. The new owner of the ship, effective April 1st, is Montreal Shipping Ltd. which will have her registered in the name of a subsidiary company. The fitting out of FRENCH RIVER began at Kingston on March 23 and was to have included the installation of a freight elevator. It is intended that FRENCH RIVER (no new name has yet been announced for her) will run to the Arctic during the summer months, and will be operating out of New Orleans to Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean ports during the rest of the year. For her new service, she is to be kept well ballasted so as to increase her draft, but it will remain to be seen how her behavior on the open seas is effected by the carferry-like hull shape with which she is blessed.

The relatively mild weather of late winter enabled the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority to plan an early opening of the St. Lawrence and Welland canals. March 25 was the date selected and many of the boats wintering on Lake Ontario began to fit out well in advance of that date in order to be ready for service as soon as possible. Amongst the first vessels in Toronto Harbour to raise steam this spring were those of the Soo River and Q & O fleets.

The ferry from Kingston to Wolfe Island encountered considerable difficulty with ice during the colder parts of this winter, and the Canadian Dredge and Dock Company Ltd. tug TRAVELLER was frequently called upon to assist WOLFE ISLANDER III on her route. The older ferry WOLFE ISLANDER, built in 1946 and retired after the construction of the new boat in 1975, was reactivated late in the winter to fill in on the ferry service from Kingston to Amherst Island. The operation of the older boat was necessary because the regular ferry, AMHERST ISLANDER, was idled by engine troubles.

The Island of Bob-Lo Company, which was operated since 1979 by Cambridge Properties Inc., a consortium of seven Detroit businessmen, has recently been sold to new owners. Included in the sale are the famous amusement park, dock properties, and the veteran steamboats COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE. The sale is said to have been prompted by adverse financial results during 1980 caused by poor weather conditions and the state of the local economy. The new owners have not yet been identified, but it is anticipated that the park will open, as scheduled, on May 29, and that there will be no change in the operations of COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE, both of which are designated as historic sites.

We have not yet learned what her eventual disposition will be, but we understand that Marine Salvage Ltd. may have acquired LAC DES ILES, the 76-year-old steamer which was retired last November by the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. We assume that she will be sent overseas for scrapping, although the condition of her bottom, the reason for her retirement, may well prevent such a long tow.

The future of MAXINE, (a) WILLIAM H. WARNER (34), (b) THE INTERNATIONAL (77), is still very much in doubt. The steamer was to be sold during the winter as part of the disposal of the assets of the financially troubled Wisconsin Steel Corporation, but none of the bids received for the boat were of the magnitude considered necessary for a sale to be concluded. Another attempt at disposal is to be made shortly, but we understand that only scrap dealers have so far expressed any great interest in the handsome vessel. MAXINE was bareboat chartered by Wisconsin to Cleveland-Cliffs in 1980, but she was never operated by Cliffs. MAXINE was built in 1923 by AmShip at Lorain and so is not an exceptionally old vessel. It is said that she is in very good mechanical condition, this no doubt being due to the care lavished on her during her years as a part of the two-ship International Harvester fleet.

The fire damage sustained by MONTCLIFFE HALL at Sarnia on February 26 has proven to be every bit as severe as early reports indicated. The elevated bridge structure was virtually destroyed, including the pilothouse, and repair costs will run well in excess of $1,000,000. Welders from Sandrin Bros. Ltd., Sarnia, were working in the bridge structure at the time and, strangely enough, the fire alarm system aboard the ship had been tested only minutes before the alarm was sounded for the actual fire. This can only be considered to be an unfortunate sequel to the CARTIERCLIFFE HALL fire of 1979, although the most recent episode was not accompanied by loss of life. We surmise that it will not be long before STEELCLIFFE HALL is also sporting a reconstructed after cabin. Meanwhile, the damaged parts of MONTCLIFFE's bridge were cut away early in March and reconstruction has begun. It does not appear that she will receive as extensive a rebuild as did CARTIERCLIFFE after her fire.

Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. is expanding its deep-sea fleet and, in March, 1983, will take delivery of a 71,000-metric-ton deadweight self-unloader of maximum Panama Canal dimensions. A contract for the construction of the vessel was recently let to Hyundai Heavy Industries Ltd. of South Korea. The ship, which will be able to unload at a rate of some 5,000 tons per hour, will be used on the east coast. She will, of course, be far too large to enter the Great Lakes.

We have heard some rather interesting rumours concerning vessels that may be used during 1981 to haul coal from Lake Erie ports to Quebec. The Canadian self-unloader fleet, as it presently exists, would apparently have difficulties fulfilling the contracts in view of previous cargo commitments and other tonnage might have to be found. Names which have figured prominently in the speculations of observers have been those of the idle 1906-built Columbia self-unloaders J. R. SENSIBAR, (a) FRANK C. BALL (30), and SYLVANIA, (a) SYLVANIA (14), (b) D. M. PHILBIN (29). We will watch this situation with considerable interest, for it would be pleasant indeed to see either or both of these veterans (especially SYLVANIA) returned to service.

BALTIC VENTURE, the ship that was originally to have been purchased by Jourdain Navigation Ltd., Montreal, during 1980 (but for which HUDSON VENTURE was eventually substituted), herself came into Canadian service not long afterward. Chartered by Chimo Shipping and reregistered at St. John's, Newfoundland, she was renamed MELVILLE VENTURE.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers steam dredge KEWAUNEE has been stripped of her cabins at Duluth and will be sent during 1981 to Rock Island, Illinois, where she will be made over by the Corps into a crane barge for use in that district on the Mississippi River. KEWAUNEE, 109.4 feet in length, and built in 1913 at Milwaukee, has recently been lying idle at Duluth, where she served as a source of spare parts needed to keep another Corps steam dredge, COL. D. D. GAILLARD, in service. The GAILLARD, 116.0 feet in length, was built in 1916 at Green Bay, Wisconsin, and is one of the last vessels of her type in use anywhere in North America. A dipper dredge, she is most frequently seen in the American Lakehead area but she did travel as far afield as the Detroit River during the summer of 1980, and the writer observed her at Detroit during March, 1981. We hope that the Engineers have enough parts available to keep COL. D. D. GAILLARD is service for many years to come.

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker WOLFE arrived at Sorel on November 25. 1980, in tow of the tug POINT VALIANT. WOLFE had sustained extensive engine and boiler room damage in a fire at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on January 9. 1980. Considerable concern was felt for the safety of WOLFE when she began to take on water during the tow, but she made Sorel in good order. Repairs to WOLFE will run to some $2,300,000. She was built in 1959 at Montreal and was extensively rebuilt in 1974 at Port Weller.

When AVALON VOYAGER II was wrecked on the shore of Lake Huron on October 30, 1980, Hank Buitendyk of Owen Sound lost the vessel that he had intended to use as a restaurant there. To replace her, he has now purchased a vessel very similar to AVALON VOYAGER, this being CLARENVILLE, another 124-foot wooden-Hulled Newfoundland "schooner", 334 Gross, 171 Net, which was built at Clarenville, Nfld., in 1944. She has recently been owned by Bonaventures Ltd. of Glovertown, Bonavista Bay, Nfld. Buitendyk will have CLARENVILLE fitted out with all of the necessary restaurant fixtures while she is still on the coast, and he will then bring her to Owen Sound, all ready to open to such admiring public as may be found for her there.

The small salty SAMARU, which has lain in the mouth of the Chenal Ecarte at Port Lambton, Ontario, since the summer of 1979, will shortly be taking her leave, undoubtedly much to the pleasure of local residents. Her owner, John P. McGoff (for whom another small salty, subsequently lost, was named and operated in the lakes in 1972) plans to sail SAMARU under her own power this spring to Beaver Island on Lake Michigan. There, she is allegedly to be turned into a combination marine museum and floating boutique! Just how successful that operation might be will remain to be seen, but we will not hold our breath waiting. McGoff also owns a 90-foot Norwegian-built former research vessel, ANNANDALE, which also spent the last winter at Port Lambton.

The salty SARONIC SEA, the victim of a 1979 grounding near Port Weller and of far more extensive damage in the autumn of 1980 as a result of the hostilities between Iraq and Iran, is a total loss. Her midship accommodations have been destroyed and her shell plating has been holed in some JO locations by shots fired from shore-mounted artillery.

Two Yugoslav salties, both familiar visitors to the lakes, suffered serious accidents in 1980. BIOKOVO, (a) MANCHESTER PORT (71), owned by Jadranska Splobodna Plovidba (Jadroplov), sustained extensive fire damage to her accommodations whilst unloading at Civitavecchia, Italy, on August 28. She was on a voyage from Toronto to Rijeka at the time. Abandoned to the insurers, she was sold to the Halcoussis Shipping Corp. Ltd. of Piraeus, Greece, and cleared for that port on October 28 in tow of MATSAS SALVOR. She has since been renamed HYDRA. The other vessel was DUNAV, owned by Jugoslavenska Linijska Plovidba (Jugolinija), which was lost while on voyage from Hamilton via Los Angeles to Tsingtao, Mainland China. DUNAV cleared L.A. on December 9 and reported engine problems on the 26th. On the 28th, she reported that she was taking on water in heavy seas and she was ordered to put in at Yokohama, 630 nautical miles distant, for repairs. Despite air and sea searches, she was never seen again and is presumed to have foundered.

The Lake Erie coal run out of Toledo started on March 1st this year, with RICHARD J. REISS and HENRY FORD II opening the service. BUFFALO joined the others by mid-March. The REISS also managed to be the first arrival of the new season at Cleveland, entering port there on March 19th.

The idle Chessie System carferry SPARTAN, laid up at Ludington since 1979, seems to be earning more money for her owner now than she would have made if she were in service. While the State of Michigan tries to work out arrangements for operating a summer-only passenger and auto ferry service to Milwaukee to replace the discontinued Chessie ferry line, it has been paying an option price of $25,000 per month to Chessie to keep the railroad from disposing of SPARTAN. For the sake of the Michigan taxpayers, we sincerely hope that these payments will be taken off the eventual purchase price in the event that the state should decide to buy the ferry!

Those who have been following the trials and tribulations of the idle deep-sea passenger liner UNITED STATES, which last ran in 1969, will be pleased to hear that United States Cruises Inc., Seattle, has made the final payment of $2 million against the ship's $5 million purchase price. We presume that the company will now go ahead with its plans to refurbish the ship for the cruise service to Hawaii out of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

With the possibility of a Lake Ontario ferry service coming ever closer to reality, it has been suggested that a passenger and freight ferry be considered for a route between Cleveland and Port Stanley, across Lake Erie. No detailed studies have yet been conducted, but there seems to be widespread approval for the idea and many industries in the St. Thomas area have said that they would support the ferry and use it to ship their products.

A long-idle Canadian cruise vessel will be back in service during 1981 and we are pleased indeed to note her Phoenix-like reactivation. The ship is the 350-foot (overall) steamer PRINCE GEORGE, which was built by Yarrows at Esquimalt in 1948 for Canadian National Steamships and ran for the crown corporation through the 1974 season, at which time she was sold to the British Columbia government. In 1975, however, due to a change in provincial governments, it was decided to retire her from her B.C. coast cruises and she was subsequently damaged (although not extensively) by fire. She was sold in 1976 to a Nanaimo concern for use as a restaurant, but these plans fell through and she then passed to owners in Portland, Oregon. PRINCE GEORGE was acquired late in 1980 by Canadian Cruise Lines Ltd. of Victoria and, completely refurbished, is due to run 7-day Alaska cruises from Vancouver from May 11 through October 5. She now carries new colours but has retained her famous name, and we welcome her back to service.

Another Canadian west coast steamboat will be enjoying an unexpected return to service in 1981. Last season, the 1948-built steam ferry PRINCESS MARGUERITE, now owned by the British Columbia government but long operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway, remained idle because the provincial authorities, misquoting an inspection report on the condition of the popular vessel, tried to make brownie points with the public by declaring her un-seaworthy and replacing her on the Victoria - Seattle route. The public, understandably annoyed, stayed away in droves and her replacement suffered a disastrous year. The B.C. government has now realized the error of its ways and has spent considerable money on the refitting of the beautiful, two-funnelled PRINCESS MARGUERITE. She is scheduled to make her first 1981 trip on her old route on May 8th.

While on the subject of west coast passenger boats, we should mention the retirement of Canadian Pacific's former passenger vessel PRINCESS OF VANCOUVER. The 1955-built motorship, a feature of the Vancouver Island ferry service for her entire life, was withdrawn from passenger service last October but has continued to run the route with railcar and trucks. Now, the C.P.R. has announced that she will be retired completely on May 30 and sold as soon as possible thereafter, her place being taken by chartered tonnage and by an extra daily sailing of TRAILER PRINCESS.


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