The Bethlehem Steel Corporation's 1,000-foot self-unloader LEWIS WILSON FOY has been the unfortunate victim of the most serious accident ever to befall a laker of her dimensions. On July 6th, she backed into the breakwater at Taconite Harbor, severely damaging her propeller, shaft and rudder. She also gored her bottom plating, with the result that holds number 7, 8, 9 and 10 were flooded. She was towed to Duluth and then proceeded, under her own power but assisted by tugs, to the BayShip yard at Sturgeon Bay. Repairs are expected to cost at least $2,500,000 and the FOY will be out of service for the duration of the 1982 season. STEWART J. CORT had been scheduled to go into temporary lay-up during the late summer, but she will now remain in operation as a replacement for the wounded FOY.
The Amoco Oil Company's 52-year-old steam tanker AMOCO WISCONSIN, (a) EDWARD G. SEUBERT (62), was the first vessel to dock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, during the 1982 navigation season. She arrived at the Soo in the last week of March after battling her way through heavy ice. AMOCO WISCONSIN operated right through the winter months and remained in service until May 15, when she was retired and placed in lay-up alongside AMOCO ILLINOIS in a remote slip at the Amoco terminal on the Saginaw River below Bay City, Michigan. The ILLINOIS has been lying there since she was taken out of service in 1980. With business conditions being what they are, it seems that one tanker, the 45-year-old AMOCO INDIANA (a) RED CROWN (62), has been sufficient for the company's needs.
Meanwhile, Bay Shipbuilding laid the keel on March 15 for Amoco's new 414-foot tank barge, AMOCO GREAT LAKES, which BayShip is building as its Hull 731. She will be towed by a new 115-foot tug, AMOCO MICHIGAN (II), whose keel was laid by BayShip on May 17 as its Hull 732. The tug and barge are scheduled for delivery in August, somewhat ahead of the planned completion date. We understand that AMOCO INDIANA is to remain in service until the delivery of a second tug/barge unit which Amoco has ordered. Tugs and barges may be efficient, but they certainly lack the grace and charm exuded by the classic Amoco steam tankers.
AMOCO INDIANA herself got into a spot of trouble at Sault Ste. Marie on July 7th. She struck the wall of the Canadian Lock, punching a small hole in her side and releasing several hundred gallons of gasoline into the canal. Emergency precautions were taken, but no serious problems developed and the gasoline dissipated. AMOCO INDIANA was taken to the Michigan Sault for temporary repairs, unloaded half her cargo there, and then sailed for Mackinaw City to unload the rest of her gasoline. She then proceeded to the BayShip yard at Sturgeon Bay, where full repairs were quickly put in hand. AMOCO INDIANA returned to service during the third week of July.
The former Halco tanker HUDSON TRANSPORT, which had been abandoned to the underwriters as a result of the damage suffered in her Christmas Day fire, has now been sold to Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne. She has been towed from Montreal to Sorel, but it is not yet known what will become of her.
For those planning to attend the event, we should report that there has been a change in the scheduled launch date for Hull 224 at Collingwood. The Algoma Central Railway's self-unloader is now due to hit the water on Thursday, October 7, 1982.
Seaway Towing (North American Towing Company) has added yet another tug to its fleet. From the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company of Chicago, it has purchased LANGDON C. HARDWICKE, 85.0 x 21.6 x 10.9, 99 Gross, 67 Net, which was built in 1924 and rebuilt in 1948. She is to be renamed WABASH for her new duties, and her advent means that Seaway/North American can shuffle around its tug assignments. SIOUX and DAKOTA will be reassigned from Duluth to Chicago, where they will join WABASH. CHEROKEE, SENECA and NAVAJO will move from Chicago to Duluth, while CHIPPEWA will remain at the Soo and ONEIDA at Green Bay.
Despite efforts to get the Lake Ontario ferry service back in business after the earlier cancellation of Ontario government support and the subsequent withdrawal of LAKESPAN ONTARIO, the entire project seems quite dead at this time. LAKESPAN ONTARIO has been sold to other operators and cleared Oshawa for Montreal on July 27 in preparation for her handing over to her new owners. It is to be assumed that she will return to salt water.
Amid a welter of opposing accusations flying back and forth between the Michigan Transportation Department and the Upper Peninsula Shipbuilding Company regarding the terms of a contract for the construction of tug-and-barge railferry combinations for Lake Michigan service, the shipyard at Ontonagon, Michigan, was closed on July 2. None of the planned barges or the tug are yet completed and there is now considerable doubt as to what will happen to them if the State and U.P.S.Co. cannot resolve their differences. (Some devotees of traditional carferries rather wish that the whole project had never been begun.)
Meanwhile, BADGER remains the only railroad carferry operating on Lake Michigan, and it is anticipated by the Chessie System that she will be retired at the end of March, 1983. The Ann Arbor ferries have not been running since service was disrupted this spring during a dispute over who would operate the railroad and its Lake Michigan ferries.
The Straits of Mackinac steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM is still lying along the face of the old Carbide Dock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and no progress appears to have been made in efforts to return her to service. Despite her rather scruffy external appearance, the CHIEF is in excellent condition and the shipyard, Ste. Marie Yard and Marine, which was to have done the ferry's survey and inspection, has watchmen standing guard aboard her. Meanwhile, there is no rail service across the Straits at all, and the Michigan politicians seem unable to come up with a solution to the financing problems which have beset not only the operation of the 71-year-old CHIEF WAWATAM, but also the essential rail line from Petoskey to Mackinaw City which connects with the ferry. A court order has, however, prevented the taking up of the tracks on that rail line until the problems can be solved. In the meantime, the CHIEF WAWATAM can do nothing but wait.
Readers will recall that boiler problems very nearly proved to be the undoing of the Soo River Company's veteran steamer SOO RIVER TRADER in the spring of 1981. She was, however, taken to Humberstone and repaired, although the work was intended only to keep the TRADER running rather than to provide a long-term solution to her troubles. The TRADER experienced further problems during 1982 but now seems to be in better health as a result of the tender loving care lavished upon her machinery by her crew. Overdue for her quadrennial survey and inspection, the TRADER has received two certificate extensions, first into June and then into September. It is not thought that SOO RIVER TRADER will be drydocked, and hence the career of the 76-year-old steamer would seem to be rapidly nearing its end. No doubt, this is the reason that the black shamrocks painted on her bridge have had printed on them in white the notation "1906 to 1982". The TRADER is, of course, the oldest non-specialty straight-deck bulk carrier operating on the Great Lakes. We hope that this handsome vessel, resplendent in her "full" Soo River colours, will be given a reprieve.
Despite all this, the TRADER did manage to get her name into the list of records this spring. It became her honour to deliver the first cargo of bulk cement to the St. Lawrence Cement Company's new dock at Duluth. She took on the cargo at Clarkson and unloaded it at Duluth on May 1st. The depressed economy, however, has stifled construction most everywhere and much less cement has been delivered to Duluth than earlier scheduled. The transfer barge D.D.S. SALVAGER, which was to have ferried cement from Duluth to Thunder Bay, has remained idle and has not made even one trip this year.
After a bit of a delay, J. F. VAUGHAN, (a) WILLIAM H. WARNER (34), (b) THE INTERNATIONAL (77), (c) MAXINE (81), has been given more proper Soo River Company colours. Although she does not yet sport the company's name or white stripe down her sides, she at least has been given the full stack design and work has been progressing on the painting of her superstructure, which was a bit scruffy-looking after two years of idleness. The steamer was always kept in absolutely immaculate condition during her years of service under the International Harvester houseflag and we know that she will look even better in the Soo River livery.
Two steamers of the Soo River fleet have taken a bit of a summer "rest", both going to the wall during mid-July. JUDITH M. PIERSON was laid up at Owen Sound, but is expected to be back in operation later in the season. The Maritime Commission class steamer JOSEPH X. ROBERT laid up at Toronto, near the foot of Jarvis Street, but her inactivity is due less to poor business conditions than to her need for mechanical repairs. She has encountered a number of difficulties so far in 1982, and the necessary work will be attended to whilst she is laid up. (PLEASE SEE LATE NEWS REPORT ON PAGE 14.)
It was reported on August 3rd that Branch Lines (1981) Inc. has been sold by Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. (which in turn is a subsidiary of Dome Petroleum Ltd.) to a pair of Montreal companies. The sale price was $43,000,000. The new owner of two-thirds of Branch Lines is Sofati Ltd., a construction firm, while the remaining interest is now held by Soconav Ltd., a company owned by Louis Rochette, who until now has been board chairman of Davie Shipbuilding. It is not yet clear how this sale may influence the operation of the fleet's six tankers.
During July, the Halco bulker CARTIERCLIFFE HALL made an unexpected visit to the Fraser shipyard at Superior, Wisconsin. She required repairs to her controllable-pitch propeller and could not go on the dock at Thunder Bay as a result of the occupation of that drydock by the bow-damaged ALGOSEA.
Speaking of Halco, we should mention that it was forced to send three of its maximum-sized bulkers into lay-up during July. LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL, MAPLECLIFFE HALL and BEAVERCLIFFE HALL were all laid up in the North Slip at Point Edward (Sarnia) with storage grain, but it is anticipated that all three will re-enter service during the autumn months.
Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. has been extremely hard hit by the 1982 economic conditions. POINTE NOIRE, GORDON C. LEITCH, R. BRUCE ANGUS, FRANK A. SHERMAN, SEAWAY QUEEN and WHEAT KING did not fit out this spring and have remained idle at Toronto. Joining them have been JAMES NORRIS, which arrived at Toronto on July 27 and laid up (strangely enough) alongside Maple Leaf Mills with a partial load of stone, and RED WING, which tied up on July 31 in the Ship Channel with storage grain. Meanwhile, NORTHERN VENTURE and HILDA MARJANNE have laid up at Hamilton.
If things look bad on the Canadian side of the lakes this year, they look even worse on the U.S. side. While Canadian boats will become more active when the new grain crop begins to move eastward, prospects are not at all promising for the American fleets. We do not have space to list the ships laid up by each U.S. company, but it may suffice to look at how conditions have hit two particular fleets.
In early summer, the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company had not one mine in production and, as a result, the eight-boat fleet of the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company had but one vessel, EDWARD B. GREENE, in service. The 31-ship U.S.S. Great Lakes Fleet Inc. (the United States Steel Corporation) started only a handful of boats in service in the spring but, by mid-July, was running only six vessels, EDWIN H. GOTT and PHILIP R. CLARKE, plus the "Bradley" self-unloaders MYRON C. TAYLOR, JOHN G. MUNSON, CALCITE II and IRVIN L. CLYMER. The newly-converted self-unloaders CASON J. CALLAWAY and ARTHUR M. ANDERSON had gone to the wall, as had the 1,000-footer EDGAR B. SPEER and the "super" BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS, the latter having made several trips in the grain trade. As we go to press, the CLARKE is scheduled for imminent lay-up, with GEORGE A. SLOAN coming back into service to replace the CLYMER. It seems likely that the FAIRLESS may reappear during the autumn to re-enter the grain trade. As an indication of how poor are the prospects for the fleet, the 833-foot ROGER BLOUGH, which is idle this year, is not expected to be back in service before 1984, and the "Steel Trust's" supply boat at the Soo, OJIBWAY, is operating on weekdays only, this despite the fact that OJIBWAY now serves the needs of many U.S.-flag lakers passing the Soo rather than just the vessels of the tinstack fleet.
Despite poor conditions, the S. & E. Shipping Corporation (Kinsman Lines) has managed to keep three of its six veteran steamers in service, with a fourth seeing intermittent operation. Running all year, so far, have been the coal-burners MERLE M. McCURDY (1910), WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE (1916) and KINSMAN INDEPENDENT (1923). Operating early in the year, then laying up, and reappearing during mid-July, was FRANK R. DENTON (1911). Idle all season, so far, have been C. L. AUSTIN (1911) and ALASTAIR GUTHRIE (1922). It is said that Kinsman may give all of its boats a short "rest" during the late summer.
Earlier reports in these pages have mentioned the spin-off by the Ford Motor Company, to the Rouge Steel Company, of its steel-making and lake vessel divisions. Now comes word that the Mitsubishi group of Japan has acquired an 80% controlling share of Rouge Steel. We understand, however, that the lake fleet is not included in the Mitsubishi acquisition. Thus, at least for the present, the fleet seems to be back under direct control of Ford, although it seems likely that another operator may soon assume the operation of the boats. This year, WILLIAM CLAY FORD and HENRY FORD II are busy in traditional Ford service, whilst ERNEST R. BREECH and JOHN DYKSTRA are running in the grain trade on a contract secured via Cleveland-Cliffs. BENSON FORD is, of course, idle and awaiting a sale out of the fleet.
Last issue, we reported that the Hudson's Bay Company had returned to the shipping business with the purchase of HUDSON VENTURE. We mentioned that she would be renamed (d) CANGUK for her new duties, but in the process of rechristening the boat, the H.B.Co. changed the spelling of the name to KANGUK, and that is how it was painted on her. KANGUK was on the Canadian Vickers drydock at Montreal for inspection at the beginning of June.
Yet another former canaller has come to an unfortunate end, something that has occurred with alarming regularity in the years since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, when these small vessels began to be sold off the lakes for other service. The latest to meet her fate is ROLAND DESGAGNES, better known as (a) FRANKCLIFFE HALL (I) and (b) NORTHCLIFFE HALL (II), and her end is all the more sad considering the circumstances of the accident that claimed her in her own home waters of the St. Lawrence River. ROLAND DESGAGNES was owned by the Quebec Rail and Water Terminal Company, which is part of the Groupe Desgagnes. Upbound from Pugwash, Nova Scotia, with a cargo of salt for Montreal, the motorship stopped at Pointe-au-Pic, Quebec, during the evening of May 26, "to give her crew a few hours ashore". Perhaps the crew relaxed with a bit too much vigour for, at about 11:40 p.m., ROLAND DESGAGNES managed somehow to go hard aground. Capt. Gerald Naud waited for high tide to float his ship free and, in due course, this is exactly what happened. But, when the refloated DESGAGNES moved out into the river, she began to fill rapidly and soon sank in 330 feet of water, some l 1/2 miles from shore. Her entire crew was rescued safely by the Canadian Coast Guard, which had arrived alongside at about 1:00 a.m. on May 27, shortly before the ship foundered. Salvage seems very unlikely, for the DESGAGNES' bottom must have been badly gored in the original grounding, and she is lying in such deep water that the cost of raising her would be prohibitive. The vessel was well known on the lakes for many years while she served in the fleet of the Hall Corporation. In fact, she was the very first of the diesel canallers which were built for Halco in the 1950s. FRANKCLIFFE HALL was completed by Canadian Vickers Ltd. at Montreal in 1952. After her acquisition by Desgagnes, the ship, which had served briefly on salt water, was brought back to Canada. She was not thereafter a common sight on the lakes, although she had made several trips up the Seaway each year.
Another old canaller, however, is still enjoying an active life on salt water. A report received via the World Ship Society indicates that SOVEREIGN OPAL, (a) FRANQUELIN (I) (64), (b) PRINCE UNGAVA (67), (c) JEAN TALON (74), was sold in 1976 by Balboa Navigation S.A. to the Rose Bay Shipping Company Ltd., both of Panama. The sale resulted in a change of name to (e) FALCON III. This is a late report of the sale and change of name, but we have had no report of the demise of the motorship and assume that she is still in service .
Another report from the World Ship Society concerns the tanker CHEMICAL MAR, (a) BIRK (80), (b) COASTAL TRANSPORT (82), which operated for a time on salt water for the Halco organization. Latterly owned by Chemical Mar Shipping Ltd., Liberia, she was unloading at Curacao on March 21, 1982, when part of her cargo of sulphuric acid leaked into her pump room and caused considerable damage. Additional damage was caused when flooding occurred a few days later. It is reported that the tanker is now considered to be a constructive total loss. A vessel of 9217 Gross Tons, she had been built in 1966.
After the completion of her refit and re-engining at St. John, New Brunswick, ALGOSEA was sent up into the lakes for a grain cargo. The Algoma Central Railway, no doubt, wishes that ALGOSEA had never made that trip. About 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 6, in a heavy fog, ALGOSEA ran into the east pierhead at the entrance to Port Weller harbour. The vessel was travelling at a good clip at the time, with the result that the impact bent her bow around to starboard and gashed her plating back for a distance of some 35 feet. Despite the severity of the damage, ALGOSEA was allowed to proceed on her way, and she went straight to the shipyard at Thunder Bay for repairs. Preliminary estimates placed the damage in the area of $500,000. ALGOSEA was back in service during mid-July.
The old U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender WOODBINE, which has lain idle at Cleveland for several years, has been sold to the FTC Fish Company of Seattle for service in the Alaskan fishing fleet. We believe that WOODBINE has already left the lakes en route to her new duties in west coast waters.
C.T.C. NO. 1, the former PIONEER (III), which is owned by the Medusa Cement Company, cleared the shipyard at Sturgeon Bay on April 27 in tow of MINNIE SELVICK and JOHN M. SELVICK. She was bound for her new home, South Chicago, where she is to be used by Medusa as a self-unloading bulk cement terminal. She is the first of the Maritime Commission class lake steamers to be used for non-transportation purposes, although it is possible that she may eventually be employed in a more active manner.
With the acquisition of the tugs JENNIFER GEORGE and PROPELLER (see report in our May-June issue), the Gaelic Tug Boat Company, Detroit, has disposed of two older and smaller tugs. G. F. BECKER and GALWAY, which date from 1932 and 1905, respectively, were sold to the Selvick Marine Towing Corporation, Sturgeon Bay, and were delivered there under tow during June. Meanwhile, the complete rebuilding of JENNIFER GEORGE and PROPELLER continues at Detroit, although no renames for the tugs have yet been announced.
Moore-McCormack Lines' salt water vessel MORMACLYNX made an early entry into the lakes this spring after the opening of the lower canals. She went to the Lorain yard of the American Shipbuilding Company, where she was taken in hand for a major rebuilding and lengthening. By mid-May, she had been cut in two in preparation for the insertion of a new midbody. Although it had earlier been planned to do part of the work at AmShip's Toledo yard, all of the work is now to be done at Lorain, which is the only AmShip yard presently operating. The company closed its South Chicago yard in the fall of 1981, and the Toledo yard was virtually closed this spring.
Perhaps as a concrete indication of the revitalization of the Bob-Lo Island ferry service and the continued operation of the historic steamers COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE, their season of service from downtown Detroit to Bob-Lo Island park began earlier than usual this year, and the boats have been given new funnel colours. The stacks are now green and blue, with a black top. As well, a race between the two steamers was held, with proceeds going to the Detroit Police Athletic League. The race was held on May 29 and covered a fifteen-mile course from the Ambassador Bridge to Lake St. Clair and back. STE. CLAIRE was declared the winner.
Readers will, no doubt, have observed a change in the appearance of the U.S. Steel lake vessels this year. Those few tinstackers that are running no longer carry the familiar U.S.S. logo on the bow, although it still appears in the company's stack design. Instead, each vessel now carries on her bow the legend 'USS Great Lakes Fleet'. The change results from the "Steel Trust's" most recent corporate reorganization, which has seen the name of the lake shipping operation changed from United States Steel Corporation Great Lakes Fleet to U.S.S. Great Lakes Fleet Inc. and U.S.S. Great Lakes Fleet Services Inc. The latter concern operates the supply services and the Soo tender OJIBWAY.
On April 22, Bay Shipbuilding launched its Hull 728, a 610-foot self-unloading phosphate barge under construction for the Beker Shipping Company of Greenwich, Connecticut. She was christened EROL BEKER, and was joined at Sturgeon Bay on April 23 by the tug APRIL T. BEKER, which was built by the Marinette Marine Corp. The tug and barge are to be used on salt water.
There have been several developments involving Toronto-area excursion boats since our last report. Just a few days after we prepared the item on CAYUGA II which appeared in our last issue, the motorship was renamed (b) WAYWARD PRINCESS by her new owner, the Coastal Corp., an enterprise of Norman Rogers. She did not go into service until mid-June, thus losing much of the early part of the excursion season, and has operated only intermittently since. The official rechristening of the boat took place on June 16. Meanwhile, an auction was held at Toronto on June 17 to dispose of the idle steamer CALEDONIA, which was yet another victim of the failure of Sherwood Marine Inc. Several interested parties attended the auction, but there were only two bids. The highest, $58,750., came from Norman Rogers, but the status of his bid is still not public knowledge, for neither bid came anywhere near the reserve. CALEDONIA has thus lain idle all summer and it is not yet clear what will become of her, although we do hope that she will remain in the Toronto area as a steamboat. SHIAWASSIE, the former Toronto Island ferry, Niagara River excursion boat, and (in 1981) Toronto party boat, was also a victim of the Sherwood bankruptcy. Now owned by a new Toronto operator, she makes her home at the York Quay of Harbourfront Park, where MARIPOSA BELLE and WAYWARD PRINCESS also live. SHIAWASSIE has been operating during 1982 under the new name (b) TORONTONIAN.
Federal Commerce and Navigation Company Ltd., Montreal, has acquired a 50% interest in the Navios Corporation, which is the salt-water shipping affiliate of the United States Steel Corporation. FedCom, of course, is part of Canada's largest shipping organization, of which Canada Steamship Lines is now also a member. The purchase of an interest in Navios will have no effect upon the U.S.S. Great Lakes Fleet, for the lake shipping interests are an entirely separate operation of the United States Steel Corporation.
A new loading dock for corn and grain has opened in Wallaceburg, Ontario, encouraging local residents to hope that their port's future may be brighter than had been expected. The new facility, 1 1/2 km. further upstream than the St. Clair Grain and Feed dock, does not employ a traditional elevator; the grain is dumped by trucks directly through grates and onto a conveyor belt. The Q & O motorship FRANQUELIN loaded corn there in mid-June, while NEW YORK NEWS did likewise early in July.
The dismantling of the Republic Steel Corporation's steamer CHARLES M. WHITE began at Bombay, India, in January. Enquiries have yet to yield details of how the WHITE got to Bombay from the Pakistani shipbreakers to whom she was delivered after leaving the lakes in 1980. We have no idea what has become of the WHITE's two sisterships, THOMAS F. PATTON and TOM M. GIRDLER.
The 56-year old sternwheel riverboat DELTA QUEEN seldom makes the news for any reason other than publicity surrounding the activities of the preserved steamboat. She gets into her share of scrapes, which is only natural in view of the somewhat peculiar state of navigation on the western rivers, but considerable care is taken to make sure that neither her passengers nor the historic boat herself are placed in any great peril. She encountered a problem on May 15, however. Upbound from St. Louis for Hannibal, Missouri, she ran foul of Lock and Dam 22 at Saverton, Mo., and high winds prevented her release until the following week. Her passengers were safely removed and taken by bus to St. Louis. D.Q. was finally pulled free by two towboats, her damage limited to a four-foot gash above the waterline. The cause of the accident has not been revealed, but may have something to do with silting problems at the lower approaches to Lock 22.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.