In the Mid-Summer issue, we commented on the purchase by North American Towing, an affiliate of Seaway Towing Inc., of three east coast tugs, TRITON, TROJAN and MARY L. McALLISTER, all of which entered the lakes during July. We are now able to report a complete series of name changes which is being made throughout the Seaway Towing/North American Towing fleet, and observers might wish to watch for the following changes:
All of these tug developments seem to be pointed in the direction of attempting to grab a large portion of the harbour towing business away from the Great Lakes Towing Company, a firm whose curtailment of tug services (at the ports of Duluth and Superior, for instance) has recently drawn the ire of many vessel operators who were caught in the position of having to pay extremely handsome prices for less than convenient tug services.
A recent advertisement in Boats and Harbors magazine invited the submission by August 14 of bids for the sale of a 135-foot, Honduras-registered diesel tug, recently "refloated", and lying at Port Everglades, Florida. Although the ad did not identify the boat, she is the former lake tug JOHN ROEN V, which sank early in 1981 after her unfortunate trip southwards. We understand that her cabins were completely demolished in the accident.
On September 16th, the McAsphalt Industries Ltd. tug TUSKER cleared Thunder Bay for Port Colborne with the barge D.D.S. SALVAGER in tow. The barge is presently owned by the St. Lawrence Cement Company Ltd. and she will be taken in hand at Port Colborne by E. G. Marsh Ltd. for conversion to a cement carrier. We presume that, when completed, the barge will be placed in service hauling cement out of St. Lawrence Cement's plant at Clarkson, Ontario, possibly as a replacement for the small motorship ROBERT KOCH which is presently used on the route. (Please see subsequent note in this issue.)
In the Mid-Summer issue, we mentioned that HOMER D. WILLIAMS and EUGENE P. THOMAS had been taken out of service by U.S. Steel and laid up at Duluth. We now have more information on the circumstances of the withdrawal of the THOMAS, enough to convince us that it is unlikely that she will ever again see service for the Steel Trust. Some nine miles north of Bark Point on Lake Superior on July 23, the THOMAS suffered a crack in one of the pistons of her diesel engine. CASON J. CALLAWAY took the THOMAS in tow and arrived with her at Duluth that night. EUGENE P. THOMAS was then placed in ordinary. Meanwhile, early in September, THOMAS W. LAMONT and SEWELL AVERY were also sent into lay-up, with ROBERT C. STANLEY to follow. It seems that business for U.S. Steel is not as brisk as it was earlier in 1981 and that, accordingly, the company decided to reduce the number of boats in service and, at the same time, to send CASON J. CALLAWAY and PHILIP R. CLARKE to Superior for an early start on their self-unloader conversions. Both vessels were upbound at the Soo on August 26 on what were reported to be their last trips prior to going to Fraser Shipyards.
Two ships of the fleet of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. have been active in unusual trades during 1981. ONTARIO POWER, a virtual stranger to the lakes in recent years, has made several trips to the Lakehead for grain, something that she has only rarely done at any time during her career. Meanwhile, CAPE BRETON MINER has been placed in service on the Gulf of Mexico, hauling grain from Houston and New Orleans to Tampico, from whence it is then trucked to Mexico City. Upper Lakes apparently hopes that this will be a long-term employment for the MINER.
On September 13, tentative settlement was reached in the Thunder Bay grain handlers' strike which had interrupted grain shipments from the Lakehead for some twelve days. The strike had threatened to idle the majority of the vessels in the Canadian lake fleet had it continued, and it would certainly have disrupted what many shippers have felt might be an extremely active autumn grain shipping season.
Johnstone Shipping's newly-acquired self-unloader CONALLISON, as yet only partially painted in her new owner's colours, arrived at Toronto on August 21 and laid up alongside the Commissioners Street wall of the turning basin. On her first trip down the Seaway with coal, it allegedly took 8 1/2 days to unload her as a result of equipment problems. Her stay at Toronto was to be for the purpose of repairing her unloading machinery, but little work seems to have been done to date. The work to be done is reportedly so extensive that some observers have considered her future to be in jeopardy.
Vessel traffic to Wallaceburg, Ontario, has been more frequent this year than perhaps had been anticipated by observers. TROISDOC made two trips for corn early in the year, but Paterson laid her up at Cardinal fairly early in the summer. Numerous trips have been made up the Snye by the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. motorships FRANQUELIN and NEW YORK NEWS, and something of a recent record was made on July 20 when both of these vessels were in the river on the same day, NEW YORK NEWS outbound and FRANQUELIN inbound. As well, the Sarnia excursion boat DUC D'ORLEANS called at Wallaceburg on Tuesday and Wednesday each week during the summer, usually carrying senior citizens from Pontiac, Michigan.
The former salty SAMARU, now owned by John P. McGoff and destined to become a boutique and marine museum at Beaver Island on Lake Michigan, has continued to lie idle at Port Lambton. Efforts to take her over to her new home under her own power have been discouraged due to the danger involved, for the ship is in anything but good condition, and her owner is attempting to make arrangements to have her towed to Lake Michigan.
Reported recently was the scrapping of the steam tanker ELBA, (a) BRITAMOIL (59), (b) ISLAND TRANSPORT (I)(63), which was sold by Francesco Lombardi of Italy to an Italian shipbreaker identified as DE.CO.MAR., who began to break up the veteran canaller at La Spezia, Italy, on January 27, 1981. This boat had a brief career in the colours of the Hall Corporation, complete with a cut-down stack, in the early 1960s, but spent most of this period in idleness. She finally fitted out at Port Weller in 1963 for what was to be almost two decades of service on salt water. She was best known in these parts, however, for the 28 years that she spent in the service of the British American Oil Company Ltd. and Gayport Shipping Ltd., along with her equally tall-funfiled sistership BRITAMOLENE and her near-sisters BRITAMLUBE and BRITAMOCO.
Great Lakes Marine Contracting Ltd. of Port Dover, Ontario, has continued with its plans to begin tug and barge trailer ferry service across Lake Erie between Port Stanley and Cleveland during the autumn. The route would be operated by the tug E. N. MISNER, for the time being, with at least one barge and perhaps two. If all goes well, three barges, 260 x 56, would eventually be used along with a 92-foot tug, all four valued at a total of approximately $4,000,000. It is thought that several Canadian manufacturing companies with plants in the London/St. Thomas area of southwestern Ontario would generate sufficient export trade to warrant the new ferry service.
Meanwhile, traffic has been extremely light on the Oshawa-Oswego service operated by LAKESPAN ONTARIO. Only four trailers appeared for the maiden voyage and, as of late August, the two-trip-daily service was down to three trips per week. Unless traffic improves for the Lakespan Marine Inc. ferry, it seems unlikely that Sherwood Marine Inc. would take a flyer on a similar service via the Toronto to Wilson, New York, route through its affiliate Ro-Ro Ontario Inc.
Incidentally, we have been able to secure additional information regarding LAKESPAN ONTARIO. Registered at London, England, prior to her re-registry at Toronto, she passed up the Seaway inbound to the lakes on July 22. She was built in 1972 at Floro as (a) ANU (73). and subsequently sailed as (b) MOR-CLIFF (74), (c) ANU (80), (d) LUNE BRIDE (81) and (e) LADY CATHERINE (8l) before coming to the lakes. She was apparently owned by Latila Shipping Ltd. when she sailed as LUNE BRIDE and LADY CATHERINE, although the owner from whom she was purchased earlier this year by Lakespan Marine Inc. was previously identified as the Golden West Shipping Company of Oslo, Norway.
Much has already been said about the return to service this spring of the U.S. Steel self-unloader IRVIN L. CLYMER. It is, however, interesting to note that she was fitted with the bowthruster which had been removed from the remains of Cleveland-Cliffs' FRONTENAC. The latter ship is still lying at Superior, Wisconsin, in damaged condition, awaiting an appointment with the scrapping torches.
One of our spies noted the former Halco self-unloader HALLFAX lying at Sorel, P.Q., during the summer, with all of her former owner's insignia painted out. The motorship, now bearing the name COALER I, sports a blue diamond on her black stack and carries on her stern the registry port of Panama, R.P. She cleared Sorel on August 19, 1981, en route to New Orleans on her delivery voyage. As yet, we have no identification of her new owners, but it seems fairly certain that, as previously reported, she will be used in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Shediac Bulk Shipping Ltd. of Moncton, New Brunswick, the owner of SEAWAY TRADER, (a) IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD (79), has purchased another tanker. The addition to the fleet is METRO STAR, (a) HAMBLE (79), (b) SHELL REFINER (8l), which was acquired in England. Renamed before leaving Whitegate, England, on June 23, she arrived at Montreal on July 15, and is now registered at Sarnia. She has been repainted in the same green livery that SEAWAY TRADER sports, and we suppose that we may expect to see her in the lower lakes area from time to time.
Despite the assorted comments of her owner, John Letnik, as reported in the press and elsewhere, the restaurant vessel NORMAC is still lying on the bottom of the Yonge Street slip at Toronto, her resting place since she sank on June 16, exactly two weeks to the day after being struck by the sidewheel ferry and excursion steamer TRILLIUM. The sunken boat's "superstructure" has suffered much damage during the summer and it seems unlikely that she will ever be returned to her former service as "Captain John's Harbour Boat Restaurant" . NORMAC's owner seems to feel that the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, owner of TRILLIUM, should pay to have NORMAC raised, but the matter is much more complicated than that and the litigation arising from the accident and subsequent sinking will likely take years to sort out. Letnik's lawyers had threatened to have TRILLIUM seized if a $2,400,000. bail bond were not posted, but Metro seems to have avoided this unpleasant prospect. In any event, the threat was a bit hollow in that TRILLIUM won't be going anywhere for quite some time to come anyway, as her season ended on September 25 and she is now in winter quarters.
Bay Shipbuilding's Hull 729, a salt-water barge, was duly christened ENERGY FREEDOM at Sturgeon Bay on July 29, with guests at the ceremonies being taken on a cruise aboard the Ann Arbor carferry VIKING after the christening. ENERGY FREEDOM, in tow of the big tug GULF MAJESTY, passed down the Welland Canal on August 19. Meanwhile, word now has it that BayShip's Hull 730, yet another ocean-going barge, will be named OCEANPORT.
The BoCo self-unloader AMERICAN REPUBLIC made her first trip to Lake Superior during the first week of September, upbound for taconite pellets. Delivered by Bay Shipbuilding earlier in 1981, AMERICAN REPUBLIC was designed for the pellet shuttle between Lorain and the Republic Steel plant up the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland and was, therefore, built mainly for river service. For this reason, few observers ever expected to see her used for operation into the upper lakes.
The stern section of RAYMOND H. REISS remains intact at Ramey's Bend, with its owner, Marine Salvage Ltd., hoping eventually to sell it for further use. The entire forward section of the motorship was dismantled earlier in the year, but the whole stern, including the last hold, has been kept untouched, complete with all of its equipment.
During early August, Canada Steamship Lines, in conjunction with Thyssen Inc. of New York, wrote a new record for the single-ship movement of U.S. export coal. Six C.S.L. maximum-sized self-unloaders discharged 160,000 short tons of Ohio coal into the 170,000 d.w.t. motorvessel YEMANJA at Sept-Iles, Quebec, for delivery to the Nippon Steel Corporation in Japan. Joint movements by C.S.L. and Thyssen Inc. have also sent large cargoes of U.S. export coal to European ports.
Visitors at Toronto from August 19 through August 24 were the warships U.S.S. WILLIAM C. LAWE and H.M.C.S. OTTAWA, as well as the sailing vessel PRIDE OF BALTIMORE, all three having moored at the York Quay area of Harbourfront Park. Comparisons between the 1956-built OTTAWA and the 1946-built LAWE, which were docked stern-to-stern, were inevitable, the most startling to Ye Ed. being the fact that, aboard OTTAWA, he found not one single cabin or passageway in which he could stand without hunching over, whilst there was plenty of headroom everywhere aboard the LAWE. Does this say anything about the lot of the modern Canadian sailor?
The acquisition of C.S.L. Group Inc. from the Power Corporation of Canada by Paul Martin (C.S.L. president) and Federal Commerce and Navigation Ltd. will apparently produce no major changes in C.S.L.'s lake operations. The deal makes Federal Commerce the largest shipping organization in Canada. Heretofore, FedCom has operated mainly salt water vessels, the majority of which have flown foreign flags.
The Ford Motor Company's steamer JOHN DYKSTRA, (a) RICHARD M. MARSHALL (57), (b) JOSEPH S. WOOD (66), made a surprise visit to the Welland Canal on August 26, downbound with coal for Quebec City and scheduled to return with a load of ore from the Gulf. The trip was, apparently, a one-shot deal, although it was suggested that ERNEST R. BREECH might follow at a later date. Meanwhile, U.S. Steel began, during September, to send its "supers" (the FAIRLESS, FRASER, etc., class) down the Seaway with grain for St. Lawrence River ports.
The Westdale Shipping Ltd. self-unloader LEADALE (II) suffered a grounding in the South Shore Canal on Lac St-Louis on August 1st. A lighter had to be called to the scene to remove part of her cargo of salt and, with the aid of five tugs, she was finally freed on August 4. The stranding caused damage to the vessel's bottom plates as well as to her bowthruster and main propeller.
Observers have been waiting with a fair amount of trepidation to see what would happen the first time a 1,000-foot laker might be involved in a serious accident. This state of events almost came to pass on the afternoon of September 15 but, fortunately, the accident proved to be much less damaging than it might have been. On that afternoon, Bethlehem Steel's LEWIS WILSON FOY was downbound in the upper St. Mary's River, making her approach to the Poe Lock. The Algoma Central self-unloader E. B. BARBER was upbound out of the Poe and the two ships came into contact. Happily, damage to the BARBER was reported to be fairly minor, although three small holes were punched into the FOY's hull. Her damage, however, was not deemed by the authorities to be sufficiently severe for the vessel to be prevented from continuing her voyage.
An increase in vessel traffic during the summer months prompted the U.S. Corps of Engineers to increase the number of locks available at Sault Ste. Marie. Up until the end of July, the MacArthur and Poe Locks were in regular use, with the third lock (Davis) being operated during daylight hours on weekdays only. With the third lock obviously required on a regular basis, it was opened full-time at the beginning of August, lock crews being assembled for it by discontinuing linehandling services on the upper and lower piers of the MacArthur Lock. How long the third lock was to remain in full service was not then known. Incidentally, in case any readers might have wondered why the fourth (Sabin) lock has not been operated in recent years except in emergency service, it is because inbound vessels from either direction must secure against or be "walked" along the north pier, but must be secured on the south wall while actually inside the lock. This arrangement necessitates the bothersome switching of lines from one side of a ship to the other, a most troublesome procedure, especially for salties. No such changing over of mooring lines is necessary when a vessel enters the third lock, and so it is the facility used for overflow traffic, particularly lakers which are upbound light. It does seem likely that the third and fourth locks will eventually be replaced by one lock large enough to handle the 1,000-footers which now can use only the Poe Lock.
An interesting salt-water vessel, a long-time visitor to the lakes, has been scrapped in the far east. LIU PAN SHAN, the former THORSHOPE (78), which was built in 1958 and traded into the lakes under the Norwegian flag for C.C.A.L. from the opening of the Seaway until her sale, has now been sold by the China Ocean Shipping Company of the People's Republic of China to Pakistan breakers. She cleared Singapore after June 8, 1980, and arrived at Gadani Beach for scrapping prior to December 29, 1980.
The Gateway Clipper Inc. excursion fleet of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will not be adding to its fleet the former Streckfus steamer ADMIRAL, the 4,000-passenger, silver-coloured, streamlined giant which was rebuilt 44 years ago from the river railroad ferry ALBATROSS. Now powered by outboard units mounted in her paddleboxes, ADMIRAL had been lying at Avondale Shipyards, New Orleans, while Streckfus tried to raise the money to refurbish her condemned hull. As it turned out, the damage (together with other injuries more recently inflicted) proved to be severe enough for Gateway to back out of the purchase deal which it had arranged. Accordingly, ADMIRAL will now remain at her long-time home port of St. Louis as a static entertainment centre, apparently operated by the City of St. Louis. Meanwhile, however, Gateway Clipper has acquired the former CITY OF WYANDOTTE, which ran Bob-Lo Island service from Wyandotte, Michigan, during the period 1974-78. After a series of sales and renamings in her travels down the east coast, she has now come up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and serves Pittsburgh as the SPIRIT OF PITTSBURGH, operating out of the Monongahela Wharf which is located just below the Smithfield Bridge.
Late-received information allows us to elaborate on the news item, which appears on Page 3 of this issue, concerning the barge D.D.S. SALVAGER. The St. Lawrence Cement Company Ltd. has confirmed that the barge, recently towed to Port Colborne from Thunder Bay, will be rebuilt as a cement carrier by E. G. Marsh Ltd. It is expected that the work will be completed by about the end of October, at which time the vessel (which is to be renamed) will be towed to Duluth. The company's plans are to ship cement from Clarkson to Duluth in bulk carriers, with the cement being placed in storage facilities at Duluth. From there, it will be shuttled to Thunder Bay by D.D.S. SALVAGER. It would, therefore, appear that the barge will not be operating out of Clarkson, nor will her appearance in the cement trade endanger the future of the diminutive motorvessel ROBERT KOCH, which presently runs cement from Clarkson to Lake Erie.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.