Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Greetings of the Season
This Can't Be... It's Happened Again!
Marine News
Ship of the Month No. 142 Britamoil and Friends
Additional Marine News
Table of Illustrations

Most of the ships caught up in the Welland Canal Blockade were in the course of regular passages, but a few boats were trapped in unusual locations. The barge BUCKEYE and her tug, OLIVE L. MOORE, were stuck in Hamilton but were high on the priority list for upbound passage after the reopening. A virtual stranger in the lakes in recent years, the tanker IMPERIAL QUEBEC, was upbound en route to Collingwood for drydocking when the canal was closed, but alternate arrangements were made for her to go on the Port Weller drydock during the blockade, and she was able to head back east without having to go to the upper lakes. On the other hand, IMPERIAL SARNIA was unexpectedly trapped below the canal and she made herself busy in the St. Lawrence River service during the closure. (It has been said that the 1985 navigation season may be IMPERIAL SARNIA's last, despite the many millions of dollars that have been spent on refurbishing her in recent years, but no official confirmation of her retirement has yet been released.)

One interesting ship that was caught up in the Welland Blockade was the Desgagnes upper laker GOLDEN HIND, which had been preparing to clear Toronto on the day of the lock collapse. It would have been her first activity since she was laid up at Toronto by the old Q & 0 fleet on December 18, 1983. Nevertheless, GOLDEN HIND was scheduled to be the seventeenth ship in line for upbound passage once the canal reopened, and she finally departed Toronto in the late afternoon of November 6th. Her destination on that noteworthy trip was Midland, Ontario, where she loaded grain for delivery to a St. Lawrence River port, and she has since made a second such voyage.

Numerous idle lakers had been reactivated during the autumn to assist in the movement of export grain, but even more were placed in service once the Welland Canal reopened in an effort to move as much grain as possible before the onset of winter brings shipping to a close. As an example, the Halco fleet had in service OTTERCLIFFE HALL, FRANKCLIFFE HALL, BEAVERCLIFFE HALL, MAPLECLIFFE HALL and CARTIERCLIFFE HALL, and even MONTCLIFFE HALL and STEELCLIFFE HALL were reactivated. The only Halco hulk carrier not operating after the reopening of the Welland was LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL.

Speaking of LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL, we would be remiss if we did not mention her strange connection with the JALA GODAVARI affair. It was, you see, five years ago that the Halco bulker had her own altercation with the St. Louis Bridge near Valleyfield. It was, however, the north bridge tower that LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL struck. Repairs to the bridge on that occasion cost millions of dollars, but even at that only a fraction of what it will cost to repair the structure this time. Also, it seems to us that it was the St. Louis Bridge that did in the Canadian Coast Guard buoy tender GRENVILLE back on December 18, 1968. GRENVILLE had been lifting buoys for the winter when she was caught in the ice and pushed broadside against the fixed span of the bridge. The current dragged her over and she sank on the spot.

In the past few issues, we have commented at considerable length upon the recent sale for scrapping of the former Hanna-affiliated lakers LEON FALK JR. and MENIHEK LAKE, two of the largest lakers ever sold for dismantling. In a final report on their demise, we can confirm that they made the entire transatlantic crossing in tow of the tug CAPT. IOANNIS S'., and arrived off Vigo, Spain, on September 25th. MENIHEK LAKE was docked at Vigo on September 26, while the FALK was safely delivered to the breakers at Gijon, Spain, on September 28th. For the Atlantic tow, each steamer had a two-man crew on board to watch over them and to attend to the necessary ballasting arrangements as weather conditions warranted.

The second of the veteran Amoco Oil Company steam tankers to be sold for scrapping is now at Windsor. AMOCO ILLINOIS departed Essexville (Bay City), Michigan, on October 38. and arrived at Windsor on the morning of November 1st in tow of the tugs GLENADA and MOUNT McKAY, assisted by PATRICIA HOEY and JENNY T. AMOCO ILLINOIS was moored in the slip astern of AMOCO WISCONSIN and, at the time of the ILLINOIS' arrival, the WISCONSIN already had much of her forward end cut away by M. & M. Steels Inc. By the end of November, AMOCO WISCONSIN was three-quarters gone.

In the Mid-Summer issue, we reported the sale to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping, of the venerable sandsucker NIAGARA., which had long been operated by the Erie Sand Steamship Company. In latter years, NIAGARA., which had been built in 1897 by F. W. Wheeler and Company at West Bay City, Michigan, was the scourge of commuters on Highway I-75 as a result of her frequent trips through the Zilwaukee Bridge over the Saginaw River. NIAGARA was towed out of Erie, Pennsylvania, on October 28th by the McKeil tug GLENSIDE, and she was tucked away in the Marine Salvage scrapyard at Ramey's Bend. We understand that the little NIAGARA will be broken up there rather than being towed overseas as have so many other retired lakers during 1985. It is doubtful that there would be enough scrap metal in NIAGARA to make a long overseas scrap tow into an economically viable proposition.

The Fednav Lakes Services Inc. operation between Detroit, Toledo, Bremerhaven and Rotterdam/Antwerp, using the U.S.-registered FEDERAL LAKES, (a) AVON FOREST (85), proved to be such a success in 1985 that the company plans to add a second Ro/Ro vessel to the route in 1986. Not surprisingly, the ship chosen is FEDERAL LAKES' sistership, LAURENTIAN FOREST, which also was built at Port Weller in the early 1970s. LAURENTIAN FOREST is presently under British registry, owned by the Blackwall Shipping Corp., but Fedlakes is in the process of purchasing her, and she will be transferred to U.S. registry as (b) FEDERAL SEAWAY (II). Together, FEDERAL LAKES and FEDERAL SEAWAY will be able to provide two sailings per month between the Great Lakes and the ports of Western Europe.

One of the Misener Shipping Ltd. vessels which did not operate during the spring or summer of 1985 was JOHN A. FRANCE, which had been idle since she laid up at Port McNicoll on December 21, 1984. The FRANCE was out of class and the depressed economic conditions of 1985 led to serious doubts concerning her future. However, the FRANCE was fitted out at last, and on November 15, 1985, she left Port McNicoll under her own power. She arrived at Thunder Bay on November 18, and then went on drydock for survey and inspection. It was originally thought that the FRANCE would probably not go into service during 1985 but would be ready for operation in 1986. Instead, she was out of drydock in good time and on November 29th she was loading grain at Thunder Bay, the cargo consigned to a St. Lawrence River port.

Throughout the 1985 season, observers had worried about the future of the Canada Steamship Lines self-unloading steamer STADACONA. It was said on several occasions that she was heading for lay-up, but she kept operating until she eventually tied up at Windsor during October. She later was fitted out again, but on November 22nd she severely damaged her stern in a grounding at Stoneport, Michigan. On November 24th, she was upbound at the Soo in tow of TUG MALCOLM and W. J. IVAN PURVIS, bound for Thunder Bay, but STADACONA had steam up and her crew was still aboard. The steamer went on the drydock at Thunder Bay immediately after JOHN A. FRANCE cleared the dock. The fact that C.S.L. would consider repairing STADACONA appears to indicate that the vessel does have a future as part of the company's fleet.

We previously reported that the Inland Steel Company steamer PHILIP D. BLOCK had been sold to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping.. The 60-year-old vessel had been scheduled to be towed from her lay-up berth at Indiana Harbor to Port Colborne during early November, but her arrival date coincided with the rush of traffic in the Welland Canal after its reopening on November 7, and accordingly the BLOCK was temporarily taken to Buffalo. On November 14th, she finally arrived at Ramey's Bend in tow of the tugs OHIO, GLENSIDE and LAC MANITOBA, and there she now reposes along with HUDSON TRANSPORT and NIAGARA. Present indications are that PHILIP D. BLOCK will be resold for scrapping overseas, and that during 1986 she will be towed across the Atlantic in company with the former Columbia Transportation self-unloader W. W. HOLLOWAY, which also is owned by Marine Salvage, and which is currently lying in the Frog Pond at Toledo.

Readers will recall that, in mid-August, the steamer OUTARDE was towed from Toronto to the ULS scrapyard at the end of the east pier in Port Colborne harbour, and that the dismantling of the former Q & 0 and Groupe Desgagnes bulk carrier was begun shortly after her arrival. OUTARDE was quickly cut up into large pieces which were moved ashore for final dismantling there, and by mid-November the vessel was all out of the water. Immediately thereafter, LAC STE. ANNE was moved up from the old canal below Humberstone and was moored at the scrapyard. By the end of November, much of the stern of LAC STE-ANNE had already been cut away . The last of the Desgagnes ships sold to ULS International for scrapping at Port Colborne, MELDRUM BAY, is still lying at Toronto, but she likely will be moved to Port Colborne either late this season or early next spring.

We have now learned more about the troubles afflicting the tug TUSKER, which in 1985 was purchased by Charpat Transportation Inc. to tow the barge FORT YORK. The barge, of course, was seized during October, and has since been lying idle at Point Edward. TUSKER, herself, arrived at Sarnia on October 14th and was moored at the Government Wharf. The crew was told that they would receive their pay and separation papers on October 15. but no payment was forwarded, and an arrest warrant for the tug was issued by the Federal Court on October 24 at the request of the crew. A. court order to release the tug permitted her to sail from Sarnia on November 14th, and she cleared for Port Stanley. It is understood that crew wages and fuel for the voyage were paid by the tug's first mortgagee, McAsphalt Industries Ltd., the former owner of the tug and the firm from which Charpat purchased her. It is not yet known whether TUSKER will be sold to pay the crew's back wages, or whether she will wind up back in the McAsphalt fleet.

Back in the Mid-Summer issue, we reported that Canada Steamship Lines had let to Collingwood Shipyards a contract for the conversion to a self-unloader of its 1984-built straight-deck hulk carrier PRAIRIE HARVEST, and that the work would he put in hand during the winter of 1985-86. We now understand that the order has been cancelled, or at least postponed, and that PRAIRIE HARVEST will continue to operate as a straight-decker. No explanation for the change in plans has been put forward, but we must assume that it relates to the recent resurgence of the export grain trade, a service for which PRAIRIE HARVEST was specifically designed and constructed.

For several years now, concerted efforts have been underway to begin a new Lake Michigan ferry service linking Muskegon, Michigan, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It had been suggested that the vessel to be used on the proposed service would be the west coast ferry SECHELT QUEEN, which was to be renamed MUSKEGON CLIPPER. Things appear to have taken a slightly different tack in recent months, however. The Muskegon County Commissioners advanced payment of $50,000 to the Canonie Transportation Company during September to cover preliminary work. In October, consultants in New York recommended that the former Ann Arbor carferry VIKING, now owned by Peterson Builders, would be the most suitable ship for the new ferry route. This recommendation was accepted and the Commissioners took a $600,000 option on VIKING and then applied to the Michigan Department of Transportation for a sizeable loan, with the intention that the ferry service would begin in 1986. If the Muskegon-Milwaukee service does get going, we would hope that VIKING would be the ship used, for she would be far more suitable for the cross-lake trade than would a salt-water ferry.

Over the last several issues, we have commented on the sale to the Hai International Corp., of Monrovia, Liberia, of CLIFFS VICTORY, (a) NOTRE DAME VICTORY (51), for scrapping in Taiwan. This noteworthy steamer, renamed (c) SAVIC for her final trip to the Far East under her own power, was scheduled to depart South Chicago in mid-October, but her sailing was delayed by the Welland Canal Blockade and also by mechanical difficulties. As yet, we have no report of her departure, and it seems possible that it may have been rescheduled for the spring of 1986, when weather conditions would be more favourable for the long deep-sea passage. In the meantime, we have also received unconfirmed reports of the sale to the same firm of two other former Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company vessels, namely the "Maritimers" CADILLAC, (a) LAKE ANGELINE (43), and CHAMPLAIN, (a) BELLE ISLE (43). At the present time, of course, it is not clear whether these ships would also be scrapped in Taiwan, or whether they might be resold to other breakers. Both steamers are presently lying idle at Toledo.

On September 9, 1985. the first cargo of crude oil from the Arctic arrived at Montreal. The shipment of 100,000 barrels of light-grade crude was loaded aboard ARCTIC by Panarctic Oil Ltd. at its Bent Horn Station on Cameron Island. ARCTIC carried the cargo southward for a distance of only some 100 km., and then transferred it to the Imperial Oil Ltd. tanker IMPERIAL BEDFORD for the 5,400 km. trip to the Petrocan refinery at Montreal East. It is expected that there will be a similar 100,000-barrel shipment in 1986 and another in 1987. Long-term plans call for the construction of a Class 10 icebreaker (ARCTIC is only rated Class 4) capable of shipping approximately 1,000,000 barrels of oil out of the Far North on each of twelve trips per year, with the shipping season extended to a year-round basis.

Speaking of the fleet of Imperial Oil Ltd., we would be remiss if we did not mention that the company's tankers are now sporting new stack markings. The red portions of the stack have now become blue, and the word 'ESSO' is now prominently displayed.

One of the ULS International ships that did not run during 1985 is CANADIAN HUNTER, which laid up light at Toronto last fall and has been facing an uncertain future. On November 12, she was moved from her usual berth on the north side of the turning basin's Leslie Street slip to the same spot on the north wall of the channel where SEAWAY QUEEN, FRANK A, SHERMAN, CABADIAN [sic] MARINER and CANADIAN TRANSPORT were earlier loaded with soya beans delivered by truck. Since then, the HUNTER has also been loading beans via a conveyor, and it is to be assumed that the cargo will be held as storage for unloading at Victory Mills during the winter months.

Yet another vessel has been sold out of the fleet of Kinsman Lines Inc. The barge (and former steamer) ALASTAIR GUTHRIE, (a) JAMES MacNAUGHTON {55), (b) BEN MOREELL (II)(77), did not operate at all during 1985, and she has now appeared at the scrapyard at Port Maitland, Ontario, apparently to be dismantled there. GUTHRIE was towed from her Buffalo lay-up berth by the McKeil tugs GLENSIDE and LAC MANITOBA, and arrived at Port Maitland on November 15. The sale of GUTHRIE leaves the once-large Kinsman fleet with only three vessels, namely KINSMAN INDEPENDENT (II), MERLE M. McCURDY and WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE, all of which were active during the 1985 navigation season.

In the November issue, we mentioned that the former tinstackers B. F. AFFLECK and AUGUST ZIESING had been moved into scrapping position at the Azcon/ Hyman-Michaels yard at Duluth. In fact, that report was already out of date when it appeared, for the ZIESING was actually resold by Azcon to Shearmet Recycling, and she arrived at the latter firm's Mission River scrapyard at Thunder Bay on October 5th in tow of the tugs THUNDER CAPE and PENINSULA.

Also in the last issue, we noted that the mainmast and stack of the former Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company steamer FRONTENAC had been removed as the ship lay at Fraser Shipyards at Superior, Wisconsin. It has now been confirmed that the shipyard, which has owned the vessel since 1980, is finally going ahead with her dismantling. FRONTENAC was retired immediately after her stranding at Silver Bay, Minnesota, on November 22, 1979.

It is with great interest that we have been following the trials and tribulations of the Lake Michigan carferry CITY OF MILWAUKEE and the efforts of the city of Frankfort, Michigan, to preserve this, the last extant example of an unrebuilt Logan-designed carferry. At times, it appeared that the preservation attempts might come to nought, but it now looks as if the city has succeeded in its efforts. At last report, CITY OF MILWAUKEE was to be moved to her permanent display location during late November, and her opening to the public was planned for July 4, 1986. It seems that Frankfort wants to show, as nearly as nearly as possible, what a carferry looked like when at work, for the city has also acquired fourteen old boxcars and a caboose for display with CITY OF MILWAUKEE. We presume that the rail cars will be placed on the ferry's car deck. CITY OF MILWAUKEE was constructed in 1931 by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, and for most of her career she operated for the Grand Trunk. In the last few years of her active life, she served the Ann Arbor Railroad System.

Last issue, we commented upon the fact that Canada Steamship Lines Inc. had contracted for the building by Nippon Kokan, Japan, of two deep-sea self-unloaders, one to be delivered in December 1986 and one in March 1987. We have since learned that the ships will be 670 x 105 x 50, 28,000 Gross and 50,000 D.W.T. The two vessels, which obviously will be too wide to transit the Seaway, will be used primarily in the east coast coal and gypsum trades.

We earlier reported the sinking of the A. B. McLean Ltd. tug ROD McLEAN in the lower harbour at Sault Ste. Marie on October 14th, the tug having been run over by her barge, G.L.B. NO. 2. The accident occurred just off the Government Wharf, and all of the tug's crew escaped with their lives. On October 18, ROD McLEAN was raised through the combined efforts of the McLean firm and Purvis Marine, and she was then taken to the McLean dock for the necessary repairs. It was thought that the damage to the tug would amount to something in the area of $50,000.


Previous    Next

Return to Home Port or Toronto Marine Historical Society's Scanner

Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.