At long last, SAVIC, (a) NOTRE DAME VICTORY (51). (b) CLIFFS VICTORY (85), has cleared the lakes. This famous lake steamer, sold for scrapping in Taiwan, was to have left the lakes with an Oriental crew during mid-October, but her departure from South Chicago was delayed by severe boiler problems and, of course, by the Welland Canal blockade and the St. Louis Bridge fiasco. She finally got under way late in December and bypassed several stops where she was to load a scrap cargo but which had to be cancelled if the vessel were to be got out of the lakes before the closure of the canals for the winter. We understand that the trip down from Lake Michigan was frought with assorted difficulties, but SAVIC finally made it to the lower lakes, and she cleared the Welland Canal shortly after noon on Christmas Day. At the time of this writing, it was not known whether SAVIC would load scrap somewhere on the St. Lawrence River or the east coast, or whether she would make the trip light ship to Taiwan. There are many observers who truly doubt SAVIC's ability to make the long ocean trip in safety, regardless of whether she is light or loaded, and it remains to be seen whether she ever gets to Taiwan.
In the December issue, we reported in detail on the November 29th altercation between the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd. salty JALA GODAVARI and the St. Louis-de-Gonzague railway and highway bridge over the Seaway near Valleyfield, Quebec. The story was still ongoing at that time, and as we went to press, it was anticipated that the Seaway would be closed until at least December 2nd. In fact, on that day, the Beauharnois Canal reopened to upbound traffic, but only two vessels cleared the bridge before high winds shut down the canal. Upbound traffic resumed at 1:30 p. m., December 3, but the fourth ship through the bridge draw threw up a wash which caused JALA GODAVARI to move, and so the canal was closed again at 5:15 p. m. On December 4th, the canal reopened, but only to daytime upbound traffic, and with the tugs SALVAGE MONARCH, HELEN M. McALLISTER and CATHY McALLISTER assisting ships through the draw and holding JALA GODAVARI in position so that she would not knock down the bridge. (A bend in the river above the bridge, and a strong river current combined to make downbound and night passages undesirable.) Finally, at 10:37 a. m. on December 5th, the tugs hauled JALA GODAVARI free of the bridge structure, and traffic began to move freely, some 95 salties still being in the lakes at that time. Over the next few weeks, traffic on the St. Lawrence was several times interrupted by labour disputes involving pilots employed by the Laurentian Pilotage Authority, but all of the salties managed to clear the lakes before freeze-up. Meanwhile, facing damage claims in excess of $15 million, JALA GODAVARI was, at the end of December, still lying at Montreal, her departure blocked by litigation arising from the accident. Numerous allegations have been made concerning the cause of the collision with the bridge, and it seems unlikely that anything short of full litigation will ever resolve the boondoggle.
After one of the most unusual seasons on record, the St. Lawrence Seaway closed prior to the end of December, despite hopes that it might remain open longer to accommodate grain shipments that were thwarted earlier by the two canal blockades. What finally brought traffic to a close was the adverse weather of early winter, which caused severe ice problems in the canals. The situation was nasty in the Welland Canal, where tugs were required to assist in moving ships and in flushing ice from the lock approaches, and where the U. S. C. G. BISCAYNE BAY was used to help vessels through heavy ice in the Port Colborne area. The St. Lawrence canals finally closed on December 29. while the Welland Canal ceased operations on December 30. The official closing of the Welland came with the downbound passage of CANADIAN OLYMPIC with a cargo of rapeseed. The last salty out of the system was FEDERAL SAGUENAY, which cleared the St. Lambert Lock at Montreal late on the evening of Christmas Day, but perhaps one should count the now-foreign-registry SAVIC (CLIFFS VICTORY) as the last salty out of the system, since the circumstances of her last trip could hardly qualify her as a laker! At last report, the U. S. canal at Sault Ste. Marie was to remain in operation until January 4, 1986.
During the autumn of 1985, there was much concern about the possibility of salt water ships being trapped in the lakes for the winter. We did not know at that time that one salty actually planned to stay on the lakes during the winter months. That ship is the KIISLA, a motortanker which is spending the winter hauling aromatic chemicals between Sarnia and Chicago, under charter to the Sun Oil Company. KIISLA is owned by Neste O/Y Espoo, registered at Naantali / Nadendal, Finland, and is rated Ice Class 1A Super. She was built in 1974 by Valmet O/Y Helsingin Telakka (Hull 279) at Helsingfors, Finland, and is 338.3 x 57.8 x 26.3, 3865 Gross and 1738 Net.
In previous issues, we commented upon the sale of the veteran sandsucking motorship NIAGARA to Marine Salvage Ltd., for scrapping at Ramey's Bend. The 1897-built ship was towed from Erie, Pennsylvania, on October 28, 1985, and has since been awaiting the wreckers' torches. We now learn that certain Erie community leaders have made efforts to acquire NIAGARA, so that she may be taken back to Erie and incorporated into a waterfront park development.
The project apparently depends on local subscription to raise the estimated $80,000 required to repurchase NIAGARA from Marine Salvage and rescue her from the clutches of the breakers. We sincerely hope that the efforts of the group succeed, for NIAGARA is certainly worthy of preservation, and Erie, her home port for so many years, would be the ideal permanent location for her.
We understand that, if NIAGARA goes back to Erie, Marine Salvage will take to Ramey's Bend for scrapping its idle canaller CONDARRELL, (a) D. C. EVEREST (8l), which has been lying at Toronto ever since the failure of Johnstone Shipping Ltd. in 1982. Marine Salvage purchased the 1952-built motorship when Johnstone was wound up, and has been unsuccessfully seeking a buyer for her ever since.
In several past issues, we have commented upon the purchase by J. W. Purvis Marine Ltd., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, of the 110-foot British tug AVENGER IV. The tug's delivery trip, with a Canadian crew aboard, began at Gravesend, England, on October 30, 1985. The tug had to make a circuitous southern passage of the Atlantic in order to find acceptable weather conditions, but even so the crossing was a most difficult one, with several weather delays. After many problems, AVENGER IV was finally upbound in the Welland Canal on Christmas Day, and she arrived at the Soo on the morning of December 29, having encountered extremely heavy weather conditions on Lake Huron.
Launched at Collingwood on Friday (a most unusual day for a launch), Decem-5, 1985. was the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker SIR WILFRED LAURIER, the yard's Hull 230. Designed as a Type 1100 "Navaids Tender-Light Icebreaker", the $50 million LAURIER is 257.5 (272.3 overall) x 58. 2 x 18.9, with a displacement of 4,662 tonnes in salt water, and a cruising range of 6, 500 nautical miles. The ship was launched from the far end of the ways, and despite the recent dredging of the area, there was worry over the dangers involved in the launch. The LAURIER went into the water without her upper cabins and deck gear, and with no heavy restraint chains on her hull, but the launch was carried off in fine order, much to the relief of all present. The LAURIER's launch, however, signalled the last new construction contracted through the Collingwood yard, and the shipbuilder has been forced to institute massive lay-offs in its work force pending any new contracts.
After many years of doubt as to its future, the end of the line is at hand for the Canada Steamship Lines grain elevator on Little Cataraqui Bay at Kingston. It was announced during November that the elevator and surrounding property had been sold to unidentified developers, who would convert the elevator into a condominium (should be an interesting building - Ed.), and would also build a hotel, marina and restaurant on the site. Present plans are for C. S. L. to empty the elevator and vacate the premises by May, 1986.
We are sorry to see the elevator sold, for even though it has only been used for storage purposes since the opening of the Seaway eliminated trans-shipment, its loss represents one more turning of the back of the city of Kingston to the commercial shipping that once made the city a centre of commerce, Nothing has been said concerning the fate of the idle C. S. L. vessels that have been laid up beside the elevator, but no doubt they will be removed before the elevator is turned over to its new owners.
Yet another lake tug found herself in financial difficulties as the 1985 navigation season drew to a close. MOUNT McKAY, formerly owned by Purvis Marine, of the Canadian Soo, was involved in the scrap tows of AMOCO WISCONSIN and AMOCO ILLINOIS from Essexville to Windsor. By mid-November, however, she was idle, with two arrest warrants on her pilothouse. The first "plaster", issued November 13. was by Purvis Marine against Peter J. Columbus her new owner?) in respect of a mortgage for almost $51,000 and the second, issued November 15, was in favour of Sandrin Brothers Ltd. and Millen Marine and Mill Supply Ltd.
It would appear that the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company's venerable bulk carrier WILLIS B. BOYER, (a) COL. JAMES M. SCHOONMAKER (69), will be preserved as a marine museum at Toledo, as part of the International Park development. Toledo officials had earlier hoped to obtain CLIFFS VICTORY, but the BOYER is actually far more suitable. We understand the purchase price of the ship to be about $105,000 with private contributions helping to offset the municipal expenditure. One report which we have received indicates that the vessel will be returned to her original photogenic Shenango Furnace Company colours, and that she will be given back her old name.
Last issue, we mentioned that all of the Halco bulk carriers, except LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL, had been in operation following the reopening of the Welland Canal in November. No sooner was our December issue out in the mails, than we learned that LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL, which had been lying idle at Thunder Bay, had fitted out during December and was loading grain for delivery to a St. Lawrence River port. She did actually sail, and thus it can be said that all of the Halco bulkers operated in 1985. a situation that had appeared, earlier in the season, to be extremely unlikely.
Also in the December issue, we mentioned the grounding, off Duluth on November 19th, of the salty SOCRATES. The ship, which had been anchored and waiting for a grain cargo, was blown close inshore by the storm, and it took no Less than six days for eight local tugs to get her floating again. SOCRATES lid manage to escape from the lakes before freeze-up, and she was downbound in the St. Lawrence canals on December 11th.
For the past two years, the British sailing vessel CIUDAD DE INCA has been a prisoner on Lake Ontario, unable to enter U. S. waters in the Seaway without being arrested in connection with litigation arising out of the loss of MARQUES, which was owned by the same British interests. The 128-year-old CIUDAD DE INCA has been running excursions on Lake Ontario pending a resolution of the litigation, and she spent the winter of 1984-85 at Kingston. She returned to Kingston this autumn and was laid up there for the winter but, in stormy weather on December 27th, she sank at her dock at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. The owners of CIUDAD DE INCA have every intention of repairing the wooden-hulled ship and returning her to service, and although an effort to raise the ship on December 31 failed, it was anticipated that she would be refloated shortly.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.