Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
A Farewell to the Soo River Company
Marine News
Capt. James D. Wellington
Ship of the Month No. 113 A Tale of Two Shipwrecks
Additional Marine News
Table of Illustrations

At long last, we have been able to determine the names of the three new Seaway-sized lakers being built in Scotland, two of them for Misener Transportation and one for Pioneer Shipping Ltd. The Pioneer vessel, which will be operated by Misener in the same manner as are SILVER ISLE and SENNEVILLE, is to be christened SASKATCHEWAN PIONEER. The two Misener stemwinders, Hulls 256 and 257, will be named SELKIRK SETTLER and CANADA MARQUIS, the former in honour of Scottish Canadians who moved from Nova Scotia to settle in the Selkirk area of Manitoba, and the second to commemorate a particular kind of wheat. We rather like these names, preferring them to those which might honour corporate executives'.

The Shediac Tanker Corp. has lengthened its recently-purchased tanker METRO STAR from 220 feet overall to 270 feet, the work being done at Marystown Shipyards Ltd., Marystown, Nfld. Meanwhile, reports that SEAWAY TRADER, owned by Shediac Bulk Shipping Ltd., the former (a) IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD, had been converted from steam power to diesel, have been confirmed. The repowered tanker has made several trips into the lakes this year, although her fleetmates METRO SUN and METRO STAR have not traded into these parts.

The small tug DOLPHIN I, which had been idle, without machinery, for a number of years at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, cleared her berth near the upper end of the powerhouse on August 21. In tow of BARBARA ANDRIE and WOLVERINE, she was bound for Muskegon, Michigan, and perhaps a new future.

The restoration of the sidewheel ferry G. A. BOECKLING continues now that the venerable steamer has returned to her old home port, Sandusky, Ohio. On Saturday, August 28, two new pilothouses and officers' cabins were hoisted onto the ferry's boat deck as replacements for the structures that were removed after she was taken to Sturgeon Bay thirty years ago. The new deckhouses, built to the original plans, were constructed free of charge by faculty members of the Sandusky City Schools industrial education department. Restoration will continue as materials and funds become available, until the BOECKLING looks once again as she did when operating to the Cedar Point amusement park. Although present plans must, of necessity, call for BOECKLING to remain as a static display because of the removal, many years ago, of her machinery, the search is on for a suitable inclined compound steam engine in the hope that she might some day be able to operate again.

As adverse economic conditions make themselves more and more heavily felt by lake shipowners, Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. is the Canadian fleet which has been hardest hit in terms of the number of ships laid up. The company has relied heavily in recent years upon cargoes of ore and U.S. export grain, trades which have been anything but active this year. Of its ten idle carriers, the only one reactivated so far has been the self-unloader JAMES NORRIS, which laid up at the Maple Leaf Mills elevator, Toronto, on July 27, and re-entered service on September 14. Construction of CANADIAN AMBASSADOR continues at Port Weller, with delivery expected next May, and the building of a salt-water vessel is still underway in South Korea, but orders for two other ships, apparently to have been built at Port Weller, have been deferred. Meanwhile, in order to "conserve funds", Upper Lakes has sold for dismantling its last small steamer, POINTE NOIRE, (a) SAMUEL MATHER (V). A 587-footer (600 feet overall), she was built in 1926 by the American Shipbuilding Company at Lorain, and came to U.L.S. via the Interlake Steamship Company and its former Canadian affiliate, Labrador Steamships Ltd. She spent the past two seasons in idleness at Toronto and recently was sold to the Newman Steel interests of St. Catharines. She cleared Toronto before dawn on September 20, in tow of the Hamilton tugs GLENEVIS and R. & L. NO. 1, passing up the Welland Canal the same day. She will be broken up at Port Maitland, Ontario, by Port Maitland Shipbreaking Ltd. Interestingly, the sale of POINTE NOIRE is unlikely to conserve much money for U.L.S., for we understand that her sale price was only $56,000.00, an indication of the present depressed state of the scrap market.

Ever since Westdale Shipping Ltd. retired from negotiations to purchase the self-unloaders HOCHELAGA and SAGINAW BAY this spring, observers have expressed certain doubts concerning the financial viability of the fleet. Only LEADALE and SILVERDALE have operated this year, with ERINDALE and NORDALE remaining idle at Toronto. ERINDALE has been held as spare boat, with her bow damage unrepaired, and NORDALE is now stripped out and awaiting a sale for scrapping. SILVERDALE herself was apparently "plastered" with a seizure order at Cleveland during August, but she managed to escape without actually being arrested. The press had reported during August that, in addition to the Soo River Company, yet another Canadian vessel operator was likely to go out of business this year, and it was generally assumed that either Westdale or else Johnstone Shipping Ltd. (which has been trying to sell its three boats) was the company involved. At the present time, Parrish and Heimbecker Ltd. is operating the former Soo River fleet out of the Westdale office at Port Credit, Ontario, but P. & H. has not actually assumed the operation of the Dale Transports Ltd. boats. The situation bears watching...

It has come to our attention that we committed as error when, in the Mid-Summer issue, we referred to the new Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, being constructed at Port Weller, as the "DESGROSEILLERS". In fact, her name is correctly spelled DES GROSSEILLIERS. The handsome vessel, which seems to resemble a passenger liner more than an icebreaker, ran her trials in Lake Ontario off Port Weller early in the month of September.

When ALGOSEA passed down the lakes in late July after repairs to her bow at Thunder Bay, she was not carrying grain but rather a cargo of 18,000 metric tonnes of potash bound for Baltimore, Maryland. Since the completion of that trip, she has been delivered to her charterers for the St. Lawrence River salt trade, given a new yellow stack design, renamed (c) SAUNIERE, and reregistered at Quebec. Strangely enough, she did venture back into the lakes in late September and was then seen to be flying the Algoma houseflag.

The Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company's GOLDEN HIND has not enjoyed the smoothest of passages through the Soo Canal this summer. On July 18, upbound in the MacArthur Lock, she accidentally released a quantity of bunker fuel into the river. She was allowed to clear the lock, although she was detained on her next downbound trip, and the oil, which was contained in the lock, was eventually cleaned up although the lock had to be taken out of service until the mopping-up was finished. Then on August 10, whilst downbound with grain on the Bayfield Turn above Mission Point, GOLDEN HIND lost power, ran over both forward anchors as well as a navigation buoy, and grounded on the Canadian side of the river. She was released by tugs the next day.

Things have not improved much for U.S. lake shipping during late summer. A few more vessels have gone to the wall, while others have been temporarily reactivated. EDWARD B. GREENE, the only Cleveland-Cliffs boat running early in 1982, was joined during mid-August by WALTER A. STERLING. The U.S. Steel fleet brought out the "Super" BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS for the red ore and grain trades. It has been almost impossible to keep track of all the rumours that have circulated as to which U.S.S. boats would be running when, although one interesting report suggested that FAIRLESS and the 1,000-foot EDWIN H. GOTT (a strange pair, to say the least) might be used this winter to haul ore between Escanaba and Gary as a result of the Corporation having acquired an interest in the Empire Mine. Selvick Marine Towing has apparently installed a bubbler system aboard its JOHN M. SELVICK so that she could assist in this winter service.

In the Mid-Summer issue, we reported that Halco had laid up its straightdeck bulk carriers LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL, MAPLECLIFFE HALL and BEAVERCLIFFE HALL in the North Slip at Point Edward with storage grain. Though it had been said that all three ships would be laying up, only the first two actually did so. As far as we know, BEAVERCLIFFE HALL has remained in regular service.

One of the problems plaguing Canadian lakers this summer has been the long delays encountered in unloading grain at St. Lawrence ports. The elevators there have been full, with few overseas shipments being made, and some lake boats have had to wait for several weeks before being able to unload. It is to be hoped that this situation will clear before shipments of the record 1982 wheat crop begin.

Yet another firm which has felt the financial pinch in 1982 is the Bob-Lo Island Amusement Company, the owner of Bob-Lo Island Park in the Detroit River and the veteran passenger steamers COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE. The company was refinanced during 1981 and enjoyed a very successful season in 1982, but one of its sources of short-term loan assistance, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (yes, the same bank that pulled the rug out from under the Soo River Company) has refused to extend its loan of $2,000,000 past October 15. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the park's present owners will be able to secure refinancing in view of the veteran park's recent improved attendance.

Last issue, we recorded the self-unloader conversions of the Columbia Transportation steamers MIDDLETOWN and ARMCO. We mentioned the pleasing aesthetics of the MIDDLETOWN conversion, her rig being almost as unobtrusive as that put aboard COURTNEY BURTON in 1981. ARMCO, however, is a different story. She has been given a high rig that towers over her stack, with her boom drooping downward from atop a raised hatch placed forward of her after cabin. It is unfortunate that this rig has so spoiled her looks, even if the economics of her operation have been improved considerably by the conversion.

Back in July, 1980, the old U.S. Corps of Engineers steam dredge COL. D. D. GAILLARD was towed from Duluth to Detroit, where she was used briefly before being retired from service, apparently permanently. It came as a considerable surprise, therefore, when the GAILLARD was towed back up the St. Mary's River by the tug LAKE SUPERIOR on the evening of July 15, 1982, on her way hack to Duluth for a dredging project there. As it developed, however, her reactivation was short-lived for, with her job at Duluth finished, she was taken out of service late in the evening of September 4 and was laid up. There are no plans for any further operation of the interesting steam dredge, although it is hoped that it may be possible to preserve her as a museum exhibit at Duluth.

The newest Branch Lines tanker, L'ERABLE NO. 1, was commissioned during August after her completion by Davie Shipbuilding. She was given the name that was originally intended for the former MAPLEBRANCH (II) which, instead, was retired and sold to Mexican operators. The older tanker has, in the meantime, been renamed TLATOANI by her new owners.

The Erie Sand Steamship Company's 85-year-old diesel sandsucker NIAGARA, for 23 years a denizen of the Saginaw River, was taken out of service after her last trip to Saginaw on August 31 and laid up at Erie on September 1st. Her main chore was digging sand for use in the auto industry, a trade that has not flourished in recent times. What the future holds in store for the elderly canaller is not known.

The Lake Winnipeg cruise boat LORD SELKIRK II has again encountered financial difficulties, a situation which has plagued the motorship ever since her construction in 1969. Her present owner (her third), Sub-Arctic Expeditions Ltd., has taken the boat out of service and put her up for sale. Discussions have been held with the Manitoba government regarding her future, but no decision has yet been reached on how LORD SELKIRK II might be kept in service. She was built as a replacement for the eminently successful little steamer/motorship KEENORA.[sic] which had served Lake Winnipeg for many years but which was retired in 1965 as a result of new marine fire regulations.

Last issue, we mentioned the riverboat DELTA QUEEN's May 15 accident at Upper Mississippi River Lock and Dam 22, Saverton, Missouri, but details we then had were sketchy and our report has proven to be less than correct. DELTA QUEEN was actually downbound for St. Louis from Hannibal and was attempting to enter Lock 22 during a spell of unusually high water. The high river stage, with much water going over the dam, caught D.Q. in an outdraft above the lock and she struck the outside wall, swinging over broadside to the dam and held tight against the dam piers. The passengers were taken off onto the wall and bussed to St. Louis, while the pursers packed up the passengers' belongings. With great difficulty, towboats finally pulled the 56-year-old sternwheeler away from the dam, the job complicated by the high current, adverse winds, and fears for what results the strain of the tow might have on the boat's hull. She was released safely, however, and re-entered service after repairs to some minor hull damage.


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