Back in the December 1985 issue, we featured, as our Ship of the Month No. 142, the British American Oil Company Ltd. steam-powered canal tankers BRITAMOIL, BRITAMOLENE, BRITAMOCO and BRITAMLUBE. As usual, this article stirred up considerable interest amongst our members, and it has resulted in the development of much additional information. We revisited these four tankers in the January issue, and now we are at it again.
Member Skip Gillham, of Vineland, Ontario, has determined that BRITAMLUBE was the first vessel of the season to transit the Welland Canal in both 195? and 1952, while BRITAMOIL opened the Welland in the 1949 and 1954 seasons. The fact that the tankers were operating so early in the season is indicative of how busy these four steamers were for most of their years in B-A service.
There is also an indication that BRITAMLUBE (59), (b) BAY TRANSPORT (I)(64), (c) CAPRAIA, narrowly avoided being involved in a serious fire during the late 1940s. It seems that she was lying at dock at Sillery, Quebec, when her crew became alerted to gasoline which was leaking from a tank near the wharf. The steamer's lines were immediately cut and she was backed out into the river, thus saving her from possible destruction. We have no further details of this occurrence, and would be pleased to hear from any member who might have more information.
Skip also notes that it was reported that, on August 13, 1974, CAPRAIA lost her propeller in the Mediterranean Sea off Giglio Island, which is located off the west coast of Italy and some two hundred miles southeast of Livorno. The helpless tanker was towed into Livorno on August 14th by CONSTANTE NERI. A short while after CAPRAIA suffered her accident, the propeller was removed from the canal tanker CARDINAL, which was then being scrapped at Hamilton, and it was shipped overseas. Although we have no definite confirmation, it would seem highly likely that the two events were related, and that CARDINAL'S screw was placed on CAPRAIA.
Of course, CARDINAL was (a) WINDSOLITE (47), (b) IMPERIAL WINDSOR (73). and was similar to CAPRAIA. She had been built for the Imperial Oil fleet at Haverton Hill-on-Tees in 1927. and was sold in 1973 to the Algonquin Corporation Ltd., a subsidiary of the Hall Corporation. She was transferred in 1974 to another Hall affiliate, Tara Corporation Ltd. Her active career came to an end on May 23, 1974, when, in a dense fog on Lake Erie, she was rammed by the bulk carrier HENRY STEINBRENNER (III) . CARDINAL, having sustained severe damage on her port side forward of the bridge, made her way to Toronto under her own power. She laid up in the turning basin and, later in 1974, was taken to the Strathearne Avenue scrapyard at Hamilton, where she was soon dismantled. It is good to know that at least a part of her, if only her propeller, survived and went to yet another canaller after CARDINAL'S demise, even if that other canaller (CAPRAIA) had left the lakes ten years before and was operating so very far away from her old home waters.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.