Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
Ship of the Month No. 105 STEELVENDOR
Homer D. Alverson Makes The News
Toiler/Mapleheath Revisited
Additional Marine News
Table of Illustrations

In the October issue, we reported that MAXINE had been purchased at auction by Triad Salvage Inc., of Ashtabula, from the receivers of the defunct Wisconsin Steel Company, and that prospects for the future of the 58-year-old steamer did not appear bright. As matters have developed, however, MAXINE is now headed for a new career under the Canadian flag. Her reactivation should be reported under the heading of "good news/bad news", however, for the deal that means life for MAXINE also means the retirement of the oldest vessel presently operating in the Canadian lake fleet.

H. C. HEIMBECKER is seen upbound in the St. Mary's River above Six Mile Point on July 15, 1981. Photo by the Editor.
Triad has arranged to send MAXINE to the Soo River Company in a straight exchange for its 76-year-old H. C. HEIMBECKER. The latter steamer was due for drydocking during October for her quadrennial survey and inspection, but it was thought that the cost of docking her and attending to known repairs (not to mention other work that might be required once her bottom could be inspected) would be prohibitive. Accordingly, HEIMBECKER will take MAXINE's place in Triad's scrapping berth. HEIMBECKER was at Owen Sound during the last week of October, unloading her last cargo (grain from Thunder Bay), following which she proceeded slowly (due to boiler problems) under her own power to Ashtabula. At Owen Sound (the port which, coincidentally, she had officially "opened" on May 4, 1981), she was stripped of considerable equipment of a salvageable nature.

MAXINE was originally scheduled to be drydocked at South Chicago this autumn so that she could enter service immediately but, with the AmShip yard there now closed, she will remain at South Chicago until the spring of 1982, at which time she will be taken to Port Colborne for fitting out in Soo River Company colours. MAXINE is to be renamed (d) J. F. VAUGHAN for her new duties .

Meanwhile, many a shipping enthusiast will shed a tear over the retirement of H. C. HEIMBECKER. An extremely handsome ship which looked superb in Soo River livery, she was one of four near-sisterships which were originally built for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company. (She outlived the others by a wide margin as respects operating life, but WILLIAM E. COREY, (b) RIDGETOWN), still lies off Port Credit harbour as a breakwater. The other two were sold for scrap several years ago and one of these, MICHIPICOTEN, foundered in the North Atlantic.) She was in the Pittsburgh fleet, although latterly in layup, as (a) GEORGE W. PERKINS until sold in 1964 to the Reoch interests and renamed (b) WESTDALE (II). She passed to the Soo River Company in 1977 and has run as (c) H. C. HEIMBECKER ever since, mainly in the grain trade to Goderich and the Bay Ports. Her long life has proved to be a tribute to the quality of workmanship put into her by the crews of the Superior Shipbuilding Company, which built her at Superior, Wisconsin, in 1905 as the yard's Hull 512.

Photo by Wm. Rhinehart, courtesy Richard F. Palmer, shows how close inshore JEAN PARISIEN was after her October 10 grounding on Stony Crest in the American Narrows of the St. Lawrence River.
In the dawn hours of Saturday, October 10, there occurred yet another in a recent series of accidents in the American Narrows section of the upper St. Lawrence River, this one coming very close to being the undoing of one of our newer lakers. The C.S.L. self-unloader JEAN PARISIEN was downbound with a cargo of Lake Erie coal for Quebec City when, about 6:15 a.m., in a heavy fog, she struck Comfort Island, bounced off, and then went hard aground on the rocks of Stony Crest (Jewel Island), just off Alexandria Bay, New York. With considerable hull damage, the PARISIEN took on water and soon acquired a sharp list to port. With the exception of the captain and four other men, the crew was removed from the ship. With authorities fearing a result of the type suffered some years ago by the Algoma self-unloader ROY A. JODREY in the same general area, the river was closed to traffic. JEAN PARISIEN was refloated during the afternoon of October 11 by the tugs DANIEL McALLISTER, ROBINSON BAY and CHRISTINE E. and, with the ship at anchor near Clayton, N.Y., for inspection of damage and temporary repairs, vessel traffic was permitted to resume. JEAN PARISIEN was taken to the Canadian Vickers shipyard at Montreal for repairs and was still there at the time of this writing.

Interestingly enough, another of Canada Steamship Lines' self-unloaders was involved in a grounding the the upper St. Lawrence River just a few days subsequent to the JEAN PARISIEN incident. At 2:23 p.m. on October 14, while passing Dark Island, between the American Narrows and Brockville, LOUIS R. DESMARAIS managed to touch the river bottom. Apparently, damage was not especially serious and, about five hours after the accident, the DESMARAIS was able to continue her voyage to Hamilton where she unloaded her cargo of iron ore.

The Johnstone Shipping Ltd. self-unloader CONALLISON, (a) FRANK C. BALL (30), (b) J. R. SENSIBAR (81), arrived at Toronto on August 21 for what observers had expected to be repairs to her recalcitrant unloading equipment. (She had taken 8 1/2 days to unload her last coal cargo at Quebec.) Little work was done, however, and, with the ship up for sale, her lay-up had every sign of becoming a long-term proposition. Nevertheless, CONALLISON did clear Toronto on October 17. bound for Port Colborne to load stone for Cleveland. She was chartered for the remainder of the season to Westdale Shipping Ltd. as a replacement for Dale's steamer ERINDALE which sustained rather extensive bow damage in an encounter on October 6 with the east abutment of the Allanburg Bridge as a result of a steering failure which occurred while she was downbound with corn for Cardinal. ERINDALE arrived at Pier 27, Toronto, on October 12 and promptly went into a premature winter lay-up; it is not yet known whether repairs will be put in hand during the winter or whether ERINDALE will be retired. CONALLISON, as a temporary replacement, has proved to be less than adequate due to the hopeless condition of her unloading gear. At the time of this writing, she was still operating but it was expected that her charter would soon be cancelled and the ship returned to lay-up at Toronto. CONALLISON is still for sale and her future can best be described as uncertain. Meanwhile, to maintain its cargo commitments, Westdale has renewed its charter of C.S.L.'s HOCHELAGA and this steamer has been reactivated from her mothballed condition at Thunder Bay and sent off with a cargo of corn for Cardinal.

Johnstone's CONDARRELL, the former D. C. EVEREST (81), has been kept busy under a charter to Algoma Steel, and her prospects for the future seem very good indeed. To the contrary, however, Johnstone's CONGAR (III), (a) IMPERIAL LONDON (77), (b) TEGUCIGALPA (80), laid up at Toronto during August and remains cold, moored in her usual winter lay-up spot along the west wall of the turning basin. She is for sale and, although she has been looked over by several parties, including Shediac Bulk Shipping Ltd. which operates her sistership SEAWAY TRADER, the former IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD (79), there have been no takers as yet.

Just for the record, we should note that Shediac's other tanker, the recently acquired METRO STAR, will not likely appear in the lakes during the foreseeable future. She is not fitted with the necessary gear (Port Colborne fairleads, etc.,) to enable her to run on the lakes, and she is presently operating on the St. Lawrence River and the east coast under charter to Gulf Canada Ltd.

The newest addition to the fleet of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., the self-unloader CANADIAN PIONEER, was christened at Port Weller on September 12 by Mrs. Alfred Powis, the wife of the president of Noranda Mines Ltd. The ship is rather different in appearance from the previous self-unloading stemwinders built for the fleet by Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd., and is designed in such a manner that she can be used in coastal and deep-sea service as well as on the lakes.

With no prospect of her early removal to the Caribbean as originally planned, WITTRANSPORT II is still languishing alongside the LaSalle Causeway at Kingston. She has recently been freshly painted, but we doubt that this minor improvement will persuade Kingston residents to adopt her as a permanent feature of their waterfront scenery.

In recent years, the Port Colborne area has seen the closing of a number of its major industrial facilities, with the result that the local economy has taken a definite nosedive. The town received good news on August 28, however, when Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. announced that it had purchased, from the Algoma Steel Corporation Ltd., the 13 acres of land on which has sat for many years the Algoma Steel plant which was closed four years ago. The plant lies at the outer end of the east wall of Port Colborne harbour. Also acquired by Upper Lakes is the lease on 120 further acres which are owned by the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority. Demolition of the rusting steel plant will begin this autumn and Upper Lakes will use the area for repairing its own vessels. It is hoped that some of the space can be rented out for storage and warehousing purposes, but Upper Lakes has refused to divulge its plans for the majority of the land. It has long been known that the company would like to participate in the development of a Canadian shipyard that would be capable of building and repairing ships of larger dimensions than can be handled by the Welland Canal, and it just could be that the steel plant lands might eventually be used for such a purpose.

Work commenced this summer on the enlargement of the drydock at Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. The existing drydock is being altered from its previous 518 by 56 foot configuration to 645 by 70 in order to accommodate larger vessels and thus expand the yard's repair capabilities. As a result, the drydock was closed during the summer so that the work could be finished in time for the scheduled autumn docking of the Manitoulin Island ferry CHI-CHEEMAUN for her regular inspection. Strangely enough, the closing of the dock meant that CHI-CHEEMAUN had to be sent to Sturgeon Bay for repairs during July after her grounding at South Baymouth.

The labour problems which had earlier closed the Lorain yard of the American Shipbuilding Company (some had thought permanently), were resolved during September by means of contract changes accepted by the Boilermakers' Union. The changes mean that workers who formerly had performed only one type of work, in accordance with their contract, will now be able to handle jobs of various natures, and this will allow the yard to function more economically than had earlier been expected. As a result, the yard, which had closed after the completion of the Interlake Steamship Company's self-unloader WILLIAM J. DeLANCEY this spring, began calling back workers and looking for shipbuilding and repairing contracts. The Lorain yard is one of only two on the lakes which are capable of building 1,000 foot vessels.

Meanwhile, the South Chicago drydock operated by AmShip has been closed permanently after the completion of the recent work done on the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company's CLIFFS VICTORY. Presumably, AmShip feels that it can accommodate available repair work at its Lorain and Toledo shipyards. Incidentally, the work on CLIFFS VICTORY guarantees the continued operation of that unusual boat, something that had been rumoured to be in doubt.

Strangely enough, Cleveland-Cliffs has formulated some rather unusual plans for four of its older vessels, plans which have not exactly impressed observers with the likelihood of their success. It seems that Cliffs has approached several U.S. shipyards to ask for tenders on the conversion of the steamers WILLIS B. BOYER (1911), WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR. (1912), CADILLAC (1943) and CHAMPLAIN (1943) to container carriers for use on a proposed service between Chicago, Detroit and Quebec City. Understandably, the shipyards have expressed certain misgivings about the plans and, apparently, have declined to bid on the conversions. We rather wonder, in this day of much more economical container movements via rail, where Cliffs could find enough container traffic to keep even one boat busy. At least the scheme has one good side effect; the fact that the SNYDER is mentioned serves as confirmation that, indeed, the veteran steamer, laid up last winter at Ashtabula and languishing there ever since, has not yet been sold for scrapping.

October 5th was a most unhappy day for shipwatchers around the world, for that day marked the death of a marine dynasty. Since well back into the nineteenth century, the Canadian Pacific organization has been known for its beautiful passenger vessels and the gracious lifestyle which could be enjoyed aboard them. Canadian Pacific steamers served the Atlantic, the Pacific, the east and west coasts of North America, the Great Lakes, and the inland waters of western Canada but, one by one, the company's great ships have been retired from service and their routes closed as C.P. has systematically withdrawn from the business of transporting passengers. In 1981, there remained but one Canadian Pacific passenger boat in service, this being the beautiful PRINCESS PATRICIA which, for almost two decades, has run the Alaska cruise service after having been converted from her original role as a ferry. But all good things seem destined to come to an end and, on October 5, this 32-year-old steamer, which was built by the same Fairfield yard at Govan, Scotland, (Hull 730), that built KEEWATIN and ASSINIBOIA, left Vancouver on her last Alaska trip. With C.P. making public its "reasons" for "rationalizing" the famous PAT out of service, observers began speculating as to whether the ship herself has any hope of seeing service for another operator. Such a possibility seems pleasant, but rather unlikely.

Meanwhile, another passenger vessel has just embarked upon her career, although under less than auspicious circumstances. The aluminum-hulled CANADIAN EMPRESS, built at Gananoque for Rideau-St. Lawrence Cruise Ships Inc. of Kingston for service on the St. Lawrence and Rideau Rivers, was completed this autumn, albeit somewhat behind schedule. The delays encountered in finishing the impressive antique-style interior of the EMPRESS caused her owner to cancel her September cruises but, on October 1st, she set out from Kingston on her maiden voyage up the Rideau River bound for Ottawa, a trip that has not been made by a commercial passenger boat in more than a half century. At about 9:30 a.m., only 1 1/2 miles above Kingston, CANADIAN EMPRESS struck a rock in the channel whilst approaching the lock at Kingston Mills. The vessel began to make water but was moored safely on the tie-up wall below the lock, where passengers disembarked and divers could examine the hull for damage. The EMPRESS was drydocked in the lock for repair and then returned to Kingston the following day. Her four remaining trips of 1981 were rerouted to the St. Lawrence, for her owner feared further damage from uncharted obstructions if the boat ventured into the Rideau again. Parks Canada, which operates the Rideau canals, will investigate to ensure that the river is safe for CANADIAN EMPRESS, and it is hoped that her interesting adventures on this generally forgotten waterway will be resumed in the spring of 1982.

The Bob-Lo Island steamer line enjoyed a successful season in 1981, much more so than in 1980, and it would now appear that the future of the veteran passenger steamboats COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE is secure. The operators of the boats have undergone significant corporate changes in the past few years and suffered a notably poor year in 1980, partly due to local economic problems but more particularly as a result of poor relations with certain segments of the population of Detroit and its environs.

October 6th was an unusually rough day out on Lake Ontario, with strong winds whipping up suddenly in the afternoon. A barge belonging to Lakeshore Construction of Muskegon, Michigan, was caught on the lake where it was assisting in laying intake pipe for a power station near Olcott, New York. The barge was blown out of position and, eventually, it wound up off Niagara-on-the-Lake, where an attempt at rescuing the eleven-man crew was made by the tug ELMORE M. MISNER. The seas proved too high for the tug to come alongside the barge and the men were finally lifted to safety on the morning of October 7th by a Canadian Forces helicopter from the Trenton, Ontario, rescue centre.

One of the longest permanent lay-ups in Great Lakes history has recently come to an end. In 1952, after many years of service for the Great Lakes Transport Corporation, the canal-sized tanker PANOIL was laid to rest at the inner end of the main slip at the Nicholson yard in River Rouge, Michigan. There, the steamer, a sistership of MEXOIL which operated into the early 1950s under charter to the British American Oil Company Ltd., was used as a storage hull for bunker fuel. She remained there until September 10, 1981, at which time the Gaelic tugs KINSALE and DONEGAL took her in tow and moved PANOIL to Nicholson's south slip for scrapping. Although not much altered during her lay-up, PANOIL had fallen victim to gradual deterioration over the passage of her 29 years of idleness, and her cabins and hull had fallen into a very sorry state of disrepair.

On October 23, the tugs GLENEVIS and GLENBROOK towed the old steam GATELIFTER NO. 1 from her berth at Port Weller en route to Port Maitland, Ontario, where she will be cut up for scrap by Newman Steel Ltd. The old gatelifter has not been used in recent years, with the Seaway Authority instead relying on its newer gatelifter HERCULES, which normally is stationed in the St. Lawrence canals. The retirement of the Welland Canal's own gatelifter, of course, means that there is no such vessel immediately available should urgent problems be encountered at one of the Welland locks.

The 1981 season has not been of the best for the Dundee Cement Company's barge MEL WILLIAM SELVICK, the former SAMUEL MITCHELL. We have already commented upon her May 9 collision with J.N. McWATTERS in the Welland Canal. Now comes word of a potentially serious accident which occurred on October 15 in the Huron Cut. Upbound loaded from Detroit for Holland, Michigan, the SELVICK broke away from the tug JOHN PURVES in the current near the Blue Water Bridge at about 12:45 a.m. She veered to the Port Huron side of the St. Clair River and her bow struck the remains of the old Peerless Cement wharf, holing her bow and punching the dock back in a V-shaped indentation about two feet deep. The barge then swung around and again struck the wharf, this time with her stern, into which a second hole was punched. The two holes in the SELVICK caused her to take on water, but she was soon moored alongside the dock and the prompt action of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Port Huron Fire Department in getting additional pumps aboard the barge kept her afloat.

By mid-October, all of the Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. vessels, which had spent part of the summer laid up at Toronto, had returned to service. All, that is, except POINTE NOIRE which has not fitted out at all during 1981. Returning to service after lay-ups of various lengths were, in order, JAMES NORRIS, FRANK A. SHERMAN, RED WING, GORDON C. LEITCH, CANADIAN OLYMPIC and WHEAT KING. (Contrary to some reports, HILDA MARJANNE was never at Toronto this summer, but rather was laid up at Hamilton.)

In the last issue, we mentioned the tug TUSKER and her September accident at Port Colborne. We stand corrected, however, in that the Algoma Central boat involved was ALGOCEN and not A. S. GLOSSBRENNER. We also understand that the damage to TUSKER was rather more severe than earlier reported, and required a protracted sojourn in the Canadian Dredge and Dock Company's drydock at Kingston.

The former C.S.L. package freighter JENSEN STAR, (a) FRENCH RIVER (8l), which was purchased earlier this year by Montreal interests, and which operated into the Arctic during the summer of 1981, seems unlikely to be seen again in Great Lakes waters. Her new owners are now refitting her for deep-sea service. To be perfectly frank, we know of few ships whose hull forms make them less suited for deep-sea trade than the C.S.L. River class package freighters, and we wonder how JENSEN STAR will make out with her new duties abroad.


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