Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
The Friends of the Boeckling
Toronto Harbour Winter Lay-ups, 1981-82
Ship of the Month No. 107 Brentwood
St. Lawrence Steamships Limited
Table of Illustrations

In recent years, the Hall Corporation fleet, now known as Halco Inc., has fallen victim to an alarming number of major accidents involving its boats, with the result that Halco's safety record has reached an unparalleled and unenviable low point. The following list itemizes some of Halco's major misfortunes over the last two decades:

LEECLIFFE HALL (II) - Collided with APOLLONIA, September 5, 1964, and sank 65 miles below Quebec City. Three lives lost. Ship total loss. (She was the first maximum Seaway-sized laker ever to be lost.)
LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL (II) - In first year of service, collided with SUNEK, November 16, 1965, and sank 14 miles below Quebec City. Salvaged, 1966.
STONEFAX - Collided with ARTHUR STOVE, October 14, 1966, and sank in Welland Canal north of Port Robinson. Salvaged, November 1966.
EASTCLIFFE HALL - Grounded near Crysler Shoal and sank in upper St. Lawrence River, July 14, 1970. Nine lives lost. Ship total loss.
CARTIERCLIFFE HALL - Severely damaged aft by fire, June 5, 1979, off Copper Harbor, Lake Superior. Seven lives lost. Ship repaired, but with further casualty in explosion during repairs at Collingwood Shipyards.
LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL (II) - Struck and severely damaged the St. Louis railroad bridge over the Beauharnois Canal, July 21, 1980.
COASTAL TRANSPORT - During November, 1980, ran down and sank supply tender SALEE P. in Mississippi River below New Orleans. Three lives lost.
MONTCLIFFE HALL - Severely damaged aft by fire, February 26, 1981, whilst in winter quarters at Sarnia. Ship repaired.

HUDSON TRANSPORT, victim of a Christmas Day fire in the lower St. Lawrence, is seen downbound above W.S.D. Lock 1, September 8, 1973. Photo by the Editor.
Christmas Day, 1981, brought even more bad news for Halco for, at about 3:00 a.m. on December 25, fire broke out in the crew quarters of the tanker HUDSON TRANSPORT while she was about five miles off Métis sur Mer, a town on the south shore of the lower St. Lawrence between Rimouski and Matane, about 200 miles below Quebec City. At the time, HUDSON TRANSPORT was en route from Montreal to the Magdalen Islands with a full load of Bunker 'C' and diesel fuels. The vessel was abandoned, although none of the crew had survival suits, and 14 of the crew of 21 were rescued, four of these having been picked up off rafts by the ferry CAMILLE MARCOUX. The first body was hauled from the river the same day by the Pitts Construction tug KAY COLE of Toronto. By late on December 26, HUDSON TRANSPORT had been boarded and the fire controlled, her entire aft end having been completely gutted. By December 27, with the tanker under tow and heading for Baie Comeau, the casualty count stood at four crewmembers confirmed dead and three others missing and presumed dead from drowning or exposure. One of the dead, the second mate, allegedly had been a survivor of the 1979 CARTIERCLIFFE HALL fire.

HUDSON TRANSPORT is 340.1 x 46.1 x 31.3, 4076 Gross, 2904 Net. She was built in 1962 for Hall Corporation by Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. at Lauzon, Quebec, as Hull 629. She was an important ship to the fleet, for she was the first of a series of stemwinder diesel-powered tankers to be built for Halco, and thus started the company on the modernization of its tanker operations. It is to be assumed that she will eventually be towed back to Montreal or to Lauzon for assessment of damage and possible repair. We sincerely hope that her career has not been brought to an end by this most unfortunate and untimely accident. Meanwhile, a federal enquiry will investigate the accident.

During the afternoon of December 16, the Windsor Detroit Barge Line Inc.'s 106-year-old carfloat HURON was being unloaded at Windsor's Aylmer Avenue slip. She began to take on water and listed heavily, with her bow on the bottom of the slip and her forward compartment flooded. Coast Guardsmen from BRISTOL BAY used pumps to keep the barge's other compartments from filling, while divers sealed open deck hatches. Seven railroad cars loaded with white beans fell into the river, but the major cause for concern was a car loaded with a toxic chemical, ethyl oxazoline, which could have caused severe pollution problems had it also gone into the river. Fortunately, it remained upright aboard HURON.

The Toronto Harbour excursion steamer CALEDONIA, (a) LAVIOLETTE, (b) BLUE WATER BELLE, was moved on December 11 from her berth at the foot of Sherbourne Street to a winter mooring at the inner end of the Polson Street slip alongside terminal 35. This is a much more suitable winter berth for the former St. Lawrence River ferry than were her past lay-up quarters in the turning basin. It is to be noted, however, that she was not moved to the York Street slip where other Sherwood Marine Inc. boats were moored, possibly because of the financial problems which currently face Sherwood. The Niagara bank that holds liens on NIAGARA and SHIAWASSIE, meanwhile, succeeded in having them returned from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Sherwood had brought them to Toronto for the winter on November 14, perhaps in an effort to keep them from being attached (as was CAYUGA II), but they sailed back to Niagara by December 19, a most unlikely time of the year for them to be out on the open lake. Sherwood Marine has since been placed in receivership and the receiver has asked for bids on CAYUGA II, with a deadline of January 27 for tenders. We question what 1982 will hold in store for Sherwood; we do not much care what happens to the other boats but we would not like to see CALEDONIA fall victim to her part-owner's financial difficulties.

As previously reported, some observers have felt that Collingwood Shipyards' Hull 222 might eventually be named for Paul Martin, one of the new owners of Canada Steamship Lines. However, another recent report indicates that she may be christened ATLANTIC SUPERIOR in the spring.

Once Hull 222 was launched, Collingwood began work on Hull 226. This will be a straight-decker for Algoma Central, with a tentative date of April 22 set for her launch. It is thought that she will be named ALGOWEST. As regards her hull number, it should be remembered that hulls are not coming from Collingwood in strict numerical sequence. Hull numbers are assigned when contracts are let, and if there should be a shuffling of the order to get a particular ship off the ways earlier, the numbers are not changed.

McKeil Work Boats Ltd. of Winona, Ontario, has bought two more tugs to add to its growing fleet. As of 1981, the fleet already comprised the workboats BURLINGTON BERTIE, FLO-MAC and WILLMAC, the tugs GLENBROOK, GLENEVIS, GLENSIDE, JOHNNY B., LAC COMO, LAC ERIE, LAC MANITOBA, LAC VANCOUVER, ARGUE MARTIN and STORMONT, together with C. W. CADWELL, the barges BLACK CARRIER, HANDY BOY and CARGO MASTER, plus assorted scows. In early December, GLENEVIS arrived at Toronto with the newly-acquired CANADIAN FRANKO, the former GLENLIVET II, a sistership of the company's other "Glen" tugs and, likewise, a former east coast government tug. Much rebuilt and recently used as a yacht, she was "drydocked" by Atlas, Toronto's heavy-lift sheerlegs crane, during December and then was taken back to Hamilton by GLENEVIS. The second new addition is BAYPORT (II), (a) BANSWIFT (60), which, after 13 years of service for C.S.L. at the Bayports, was acquired in 1973 by Meridan Marine Ltd., Scarborough. Ever since, she has laid idle in the Leslie Street slip of the Toronto turning basin, lately disfigured by the addition of the grossly oversized pilothouse which was removed from CAPE TRANSPORT when she was cut down to a barge. BAYPORT has degenerated into a sorry state of decrepitude and, despite her lifting by Atlas during December for hull blasting, etc., we question what use she could be to McKeil without very extensive refitting. BAYPORT, placed on the deck of BLACK CARRIER, cleared Toronto for Hamilton in tow of GLENEVIS on December 23, after once having turned back because of inclement weather.

Toronto Islanders, commuting daily to the city by ferry and thus able to watch the outboard (port) side of the sunken NORMAC (Captain John's Restaurant) in the Yonge Street slip, noticed much breaking-up of the boat's aluminum-sheathed wooden upper cabin during the autumn. On the bottom since June, and with no immediate prospects of removal, NORMAC now looks very bad indeed, and we suppose that there will be little left of her superstructure once the winter ice has finished with her.

Although it had earlier been announced that the Welland Canal would remain open until December 31, a paucity of vessel traffic allowed the Seaway Authority to close the canal at midnight on December 27. The last downbound boat was Upper Lakes Shipping's CANADIAN MARINER, while the final upbound passage was made by the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker GRIFFON.

Quick work has been made of the dismantling of the tanker PANOIL at the Nicholson yard at Ecorse, Michigan. After 29 years of idleness at Ecorse, PANOIL was moved to her final resting place on September 10 and, by mid-November, only the lower hull of the 62-year-old steamer remained intact.

We previously mentioned that SALVAGE PRINCE had been moved to the inner Ward's Island pier of the Toronto Eastern Gap. We now learn that she is for sale and that a buyer is actively being sought. Various parties have taken a look at her where she lies, one of these being a group led by the senior captain of the ferry WOLFE ISLANDER III. SALVAGE PRINCE has no engine in her at present, but perhaps we will see her someday back in her old home port, Kingston, running winter icebreaking service for the Wolfe Island ferry...

The Seaway Towing Inc. tug CHIPPEWA, a diesel conversion from the former U. S. Steel Corp. steam tug DOLOMITE, was formally christened at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, on November 19. The tug, bought by Seaway Towing in 1980, was brought to the Soo, laid up in the old Carbide slip, and spent most of the 1981 season at the local shipyard. During early autumn, with CHIPPEWA not yet in service and with SIOUX and DAKOTA (the former STE. MARIE I and II) having been transferred to Duluth, the handling of salties through the Soo Locks was the duty of the venerable COMANCHE, the former SEAWAY NO. 1. She was assisted, when necessary, by tugs from the Canadian Soo.

Recent reports indicate that Davie Shipbuilding may be about to dispose of its Branch Lines tankers to another, as-yet-unidentified, Canadian operator. As a result, the renames for the tankers, which we announced in the December issue, may be abeyanced pending the disposal of the vessels.

An interesting winter lay-up this year is SAMUEL MATHER, which the Interlake Steamship Company has put into winter quarters at the disused DeTour Coal Dock on the St. Mary's River. We cannot recall any other boat wintering at that location in recent years, but Interlake's HARRY COULBY did spend some time in ordinary there during the summer slowdown of 1980.

There now seems to be yet another twist to the suggestion that the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company will use WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR., WILLIS B. BOYER, CHAMPLAIN and CADILLAC on a container service between lake ports and Quebec. It is now said that Cliffs, under the name of Seaway Lines Inc., will operate the four ships in the coal and container trades down the Seaway from Lake Erie ports. This would mean the securing by Cliffs of a very large coal contract indeed, and it will be interesting to see if any such development actually occurs. Meanwhile, SNYDER JR., which was hauled out of the scrapyard at Ashtabula in early November to make way for the arrival of H. C. HEIMBECKER, was to be towed to Toledo on December 10, but this move was rescheduled at the last minute due to poor weather conditions.

After a year of uncertain business conditions, such as those of 1981, it is not surprising that rumours abound concerning vessels that might not operate again. Several boats of the American Steamship Company, including SAGINAW BAY, have been so mentioned. Likewise, it is said that the Columbia Transportation Division's 76-year-old self-unloader W. W. HOLLOWAY has reached the end of her service in Oglebay Norton colours. We have heard, however, that the HOLLOWAY may find employment elsewhere.

The Toronto Island ferry THOMAS RENNIE, built in 1951 and operated since 1962 by the Metro Toronto Parks Dept., is having her entire electrical system replaced this winter. She is the last of the three major Island ferries to undergo this operation, for WILLIAM INGLIS and SAM McBRIDE received similar treatment several years ago.

In the December issue, we reported that J. F. VAUGHAN, the former MAXINE, which was recently purchased by the Soo River Company, was towed from South Chicago to Hamilton via Toledo by the Malcolm tug BARBARA ANN. By way of correction, we should state that the tow was actually handled by TUG MALCOLM, with an assist part-way by BARBARA. ANN and help in the Welland from two McKeil tugs. VAUGHAN was still in her "Envirodyne" colours when she passed down the canal, except that her new name had been painted in black on her forecastle. We can just imagine how much better she will look in the spring, when she enters service in the full Soo River Company livery.

It was whilst on her way to South Chicago to collect the VAUGHAN that TUG MALCOLM collected the Medusa Cement steamer PIONEER, which she delivered at Sturgeon Bay for her conversion to a cement handler. After the necessary conversion, PIONEER will be taken to the Lake Calumet area of Chicago, where she will serve as a cement storage and transfer facility.

Entrepreneurs seem incapable of abandoning the idea of returning the old Chicago, Duluth and Georgian Bay Transit Company passenger steamer SOUTH AMERICAN to the lakes. The boat last operated in October, 1967, and now lies at Camden, New Jersey, in extremely sorry condition due to the effects of time and vandalism on her wooden cabin interiors. But, every once in a while, someone comes along with a plan to bring the old girl back and moor her at Mackinac Island as a tourist facility. The latest such scheme is allegedly the work of John Carr, a former Michigan Congressman, who is said to have paid $20,000 for the boat. None of these plans ever amount to anything and, considering her condition, we almost wish that the SOUTH could be put out of her misery. We would find it most painful to see her brought back to the lakes now, particularly if plans were to fall through and leave her languishing here in her debilitated condition.

The Ford Motor Company continued the unusual dispatch of its ships, which was caused by the uncertain business conditions of 1981, with the sending of JOHN DYKSTRA and ERNEST R. BREECH down the Seaway during late autumn. Both vessels headed eastward with grain from Toledo for Baie Comeau, and returned with taconite from Port Cartier for the Rouge Ford plant. Other unusual autumnal visitors to the Welland Canal were Columbia's J. BURTON AYERS, which brought coal to Hamilton, and BoCo's NICOLET, which took coal to Oshawa.

Chessie System Inc. is actively seeking a buyer for its idle ferry SPARTAN, and is asking $1,900,000 for her. With CITY OF MIDLAND 41 and BADGER capable of handling whatever Lake Michigan ferry trade Chessie now has left, SPARTAN is no longer needed by Chessie. The State of Michigan had made option payments ($25,000 per month) from October, 1980, to March, 1981, to keep her available for the Milwaukee passenger/auto route which operated experimentally in 1981, but the State (which cannot afford to purchase SPARTAN anyway) will apparently leave that route to private operators. SPARTAN is 393.7 x 59.7 x 20.3, 4244 Gross, 2033 Net, and was built in 1952 as Hull 369 of the Christy Corporation at Sturgeon Bay. She is coal-fired and powered by two four-cylinder steeple-compound Skinner Unaflows.

The small ocean motorship SAMARU, which has been lying at Port Lambton, Ontario, will not be going to Beaver Island on Lake Michigan as expected. Instead, she was towed from Port Lambton on November 29 by the tug NANCY (assisted on Lake Erie by JOHN D.) en route to the Harry Gamble shipyard at Port Dover. She is allegedly to be refitted for Caribbean service, but we will watch with interest to see whether she ever does leave the lakes...

It has been reported that the Duluth-based Corps of Engineers tug MARQUETTE and the steam dredge COL. D. D. GAILLARD were to be retired at the end of 1981. The retirement of the 65-year-old GAILLARD would be sad indeed, for it is not often, these days, that one has an opportunity of seeing a steam dredge at work, particularly one as large as COL. D. D. GAILLARD.

To clarify the situation involving the St. Lawrence River and east coast services of Newfoundland Steamships Ltd., we present a brief description of recent events. (The interinvolvements of Chimos, Clarkes, Crosbies, etc., can be most confusing!) Newfoundland Steamships (the original company dates from 1947) was established as an independent operating entity on January 1, 1981, combining previous services of Crosbie Enterprises Ltd. (Chimo Shipping) and Northmont Holdings Ltd. (Clarke Transport), the fleet then comprising CHIMO, A. C. CROSBIE, CABOT and LADY M. A. CROSBIE. The line's first sailing was made by CABOT on January 2, 1981. In May, opposition services appeared, operated by Atlantic Freight Lines Ltd. and by C. A. Crosbie Shipping Ltd. (both companies being run by former Chimo personnel). On July 22, A. C. CROSBIE and LADY M. A. CROSBIE were arrested by Versatile Vickers Ltd. (the new name of Canadian Vickers Ltd. now that it is owned by Versatile Corp., Vancouver, and allied with Burrard Dry Docks) for Chimo's unpaid accounts relating to work done on the boats in 1980. N.S.L. secured the release of LADY M. A. CROSBIE, as Chimo no longer owned her, and renounced the charter of A. C. CROSBIE. Chimo Shipping Ltd. went into receivership on August 6 as a result of an action by Imperial Oil Ltd. over unpaid bunkering bills, and A. C. CROSBIE went up for sale. (She is now believed sold to Swedish interests.) By October, the container capacity of CABOT and CHIMO had been increased. The same month, The Newfoundland Capital Corp. Ltd., owner of Eastern Provincial Airways, bought all the shares of Northmont Holdings Ltd., this acquiring 50% ownership of N.S.L, and full ownership of Clarke Transport Canada Inc. In the interim, the opposition interests have moved to consolidate and reinforce their services.


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