Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
Lakers on Videotape
Winter Lay-Ups Thirty-One Years Ago
Birchglen Unloaded
Ship of the Month No. 160 Bruce
Ship of the Month No. 161 Paul Manion
Algerian Revisited
St. Clair River Shipwrecks
Table of Illustrations

Socanav Inc. has finally sold its tanker NORTHERN SHELL (II), (a) OLAU SYD (72), (b) AXEL HEIBERG (74), (c) FROBISHER TRANSPORT (77), which had been lying idle on the north wall of the turning basin at Toronto ever since Socanav took over the operation of the Shell Canadian Tankers Ltd. fleet at the start of the 1987 season. One of the larger tankers in the Socanav fleet and rated Ice Glass 1, the ship apparently was not required by the new operators, who spent 1987 seeking a buyer for her. At long last, she began to fit out in early December, and was renamed (e) LEON, the new name and port of registry (Andros) being painted on her stern in Greek. LEON cleared Toronto on December 10, and on the 12th was downbound in the Seaway at Beauharnois, arriving later that same day at Sorel for repairs. The new owners have not as yet been identified. The vessel, C.343193. 426.5 x 59.1 x 30.5, 5650 Gross and 3019 Net, was built in 1970 at Helsingor, Denmark, by Helsingor Skibs & Maskinbyggeri A/S, and is powered by two 7-cylinder Burmeister & Wain diesels. She was lengthened by 87 feet in 1981, her new tonnage being 7286 Gross.

Recently sunk in the Pacific is the former Straits of Mackinac ferry VACATIONLAND, seen here in an August 26, 1953 photo by J. H. Bascom.
Back in October and November, we reported the sale for scrapping in the Far East of the 5010-ton, 1952-built ferry SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN, (a) VACATIONLAND (60), (b) JACK DALTON (62), (c) PERE NOUVEL (67), and unofficially (e) GULF KANAYAK and (f) CANARCTIC EXPLORER. A federal court held that 301073 B.C. Ltd., Vancouver, was in contempt of an August 13 court order to move the ship from her Vancouver berth by September 1, and in the midst of an argument over ownership, the ferry was moved to Nanaimo on September 7 and to Seattle on November 8. (Douglas Sapp of Omak, Washington, Steven Johnson and James Detro, also of Washington, and Barry Ferguson of Vancouver were all implicated in the ownership squabble. Despite the efforts of parties who wished to save her from Shanghai breakers, SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN set out across the Pacific in tow of a Japanese tug. In company with "another derelict ship", she encountered foul weather and, when about 290 miles off the coast, the tow turned back and headed for port. The rest of the tow made it back safely, but the big ferry sank about 100 miles offshore on December 3rd in 38-foot seas, and she now lies in 8,400 feet of water. This seems a fitting demise for the ship that, as Hull 296, was built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, Michigan, for the State of Michigan (State Highway Dept.) for the service across the Straits of Mackinac, a route that was terminated by the opening of the Mackinac Bridge in 1957. She was 344.7 x 73.7 x 20.6, 3844 Gross, 26l4 Net, and was powered by four 8-cylinder Nordberg diesels of 9,460 h.p.

Idle since late in 1985, the Kinsman Lines steamer MERLE M. McCURDY finally has been sold to Triad Salvage Inc. for scrapping. 580.0 x 58.2 x 33.2, 7869 Gross and 6271 Net, she was built in 1910 at Ecorse as Hull 75 of the Great Lakes Engineering Works. As (a) WILLIAM B. DICKSON, she served the Pittsburgh Steamship Company and its successors until in 1969, after many years of inactivity, she was sold to the Kinsman Marine Transit Company and renamed. Of all of the ships acquired during Kinsman's expansionary period in the 60s and early 70s, she lasted the longest, surviving many corporate changes and remaining a coal-burner throughout. At 6:00 p.m. on December 11, the G-tug OHIO hauled McCURDY out of Buffalo and up Lake Erie. From shortly after midnight on the 12th until early on the l4th, the tow was anchored windbound off Presque Isle Point, and the McCURDY's anchor chain had to be cut and dropped in order to get under way again. McCURDY arrived off Ashtabula at 9:00 a.m. on December 14 and, as a result of low water conditions in the river, it took six hours for the tugs MINNESOTA and IOWA to take the old steamer stern-first up to the scrapyard, with two docks and some pilings damaged en route.

The 1982-built tug MICHIGAN and tanker-barge GREAT LAKES (formerly AMOCO MICHIGAN and AMOCO GREAT LAKES, respectively) spent considerable time running off-lakes during the 1987 season. A Lloyd's casualty report dated November 25th indicated that, on November 15, the pair had been damaged whilst preparing to land at Island Park on Long Island, New York, inbound loaded from Linden, New Jersey. In the grounding, the tug sustained damage to her rudder and propellers.

An unusual visitor to Toronto in late autumn was the package freighter WOODLAND, (a) FRENCH RIVER (81), (b) JENSEN STAR (86). She arrived on December 12 and loaded containers at Pier 51, placing them on deck forward. She then moved under the heavy-lift crane on Pier 35 at the Polson Street slip, where she took on a 155-foot, 135-ton self-unloading unit, which was built by John T. Hepburn Ltd. at Malton and then trucked to the wharf. It was placed on WOODLAND'S deck between her crane and the pilothouse, and will be taken by the motorship all the way to Brazil. There it will be used by Canada Steamship Lines, although we are not certain whether it will go into the Panamax bulker ATLANTIC HURON, which is to be converted this winter, or whether it is for the 68,000-d.w.t. self-unloader which will be built in Brazil for the fleet. While WOODLAND was loading this gear on the north side of the Polson Street slip, her former near-sister ENGLISH RIVER was unloading cement at the Canada Cement Lafarge plant on the south side of the same slip. This marked the first time since their C.S.L. package freight days that the two motorships have been seen side-to-side.

The Misener ocean-laker CANADA MARQUIS received collision damage in an incident which occurred on November 26 while she was in the Trois-Rivieres anchorage, upbound from Quebec for Indiana Harbor with ore. The MARQUIS had anchored off Pointe des Ormes because of river conditions, when the upbound Yugoslav salty SPLIT (on only her first trip to Canada since being acquired from Singapore owners) struck the port bow of the MARQUIS with her starboard bow. The Lloyd's casualty report carried a lengthy list of the damages sustained by CANADA MARQUIS.

In an earlier issue, we commented upon the fact that three Yugoslav salties, the big OMISALJ, PETKA and MALINSKA, were operating into the lakes during 1987, and that they were virtual sisterships to the Misener ocean-lakers, except for their deck gear. We learned some time ago, and may now confirm, that Misener will take a time-charter on both PETKA and MALINSKA beginning in late January when their current charter to Fednav expires. The two Yugoslav boats will operate in various trades, but because they are only time-chartered, there seems little likelihood that they will be given Misener colours. It is to be assumed that OMISALJ, the only one of the three to run regularly into Toronto this past season, will continue to operate into the lakes during 1988 under her previous management.

Fednav Lakes Services, a division of Fednav (U.S.A.) Inc., formally announced on November 11 that it had suspended its U.S.-flag ro-ro service between Europe and the Great Lakes, although it was prepared "to provide management or other assistance to any alternative Great Lakes U.S.-flag service that may be developed", and would continue to operate from its Detroit offices, overseeing ship agencies in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Duluth. Fednav had only recently sold its two U.S.-registered ships, FEDERAL LAKES and FEDERAL SEAWAY, and stated that it was "unable to find suitable (replacement) vessels which meet the needed criteria of type, size, cost and availability for the 1988 lakes season".

In an earlier issue, we mentioned the retirement and impending sale of the Imperial Oil Limited 1957-built motortanker IMPERIAL QUEBEC, which had made a rare appearance in the lakes this past spring. It is now confirmed that, during the autumn, IMPERIAL QUEBEC was sold to Coastal Shipping Ltd., operated by Woodward Marine of Goose Bay, Labrador, and was renamed (b) SYBIL W. She made her first call at Montreal under her new ownership and name on November 30. Coastal Shipping also operates the small British-flag tanker JENNIE W. in east coast service.

Lake Erie port officials and Canadian shippers were up in arms late this fall as a result of a proposal by the State of Ohio to impose, effective December 15. franchise taxes on foreign ships using state ports, and, even worse, to make the tax retroactive for the last fifteen years'. The tax would severely affect Canadian vessels which handle many grain shipments through Toledo, as well as other commodities there and at other Ohio ports, such as the large quantities of coal moved out to Nanticoke and Hamilton.

In response to the pleas of shippers, the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority agreed to extend its season from the announced closing date of December 17th. The lower canals were then to close on December 24 and the Welland on the 28th, but we understand that all the locks stayed open until the 29th. The extension was necessary for ULS International to have its self-unloader CANADIAN PIONEER towed down from the Welland Dock, where Port Weller Dry Docks crews had been working to repair damage to the ship's electrical system suffered in a major engineroom fire which occurred on November 38 at Nanticoke. CANADIAN PIONEER had been booked for deep-sea service this winter and was to be "flagged out" to Vanuatu registry in January (and, most likely, renamed PIONEER), so it was necessary to get her out of the lakes whether repairs were complete or not. As well, the locks were held open to permit the escape of the salty CAPTAIN YANNIS, damaged in a docking accident at Milwaukee.

We understand that the Canada Steamship Lines self-unloader ATLANTIC SUPERIOR, which presently is operating under Bahamas registry, will now remain "flagged out" on a permanent basis to enable her to operate more economically in the deep-sea trades C.S.L. has found for her. Meanwhile, it is said that HON. PAUL MARTIN will also be placed under foreign registry, and that NANTICOKE may be converted to "Caribbean Class" for deep-sea trading.

In a previous report concerning the redevelopment of the former site of Collingwood Shipyards, we mentioned that it was hoped to include the preservation of a lake vessel as part of the project, and we stated that the idle FORT HENRY had been mentioned in this respect. We now learn that it is FORT CHAMBLY that apparently is being considered for placing on the site. She has been idle at Windsor since the cessation of C.S.L. package freight services and is a motorship which was built at the Collingwood yard in 1961.

Last issue, we recounted the woeful details of the final voyage down the lakes of the fire-damaged FORT YORK under the not-so-efficient ministrations of the tugs TUSKER and GLENADA. We now have confirmation that, after the latter tug broke down whilst the tow was in the vicinity of Trois-Rivieres, she was replaced by ROBERT H. The tow then completed the last ninety miles of its trip and arrived at Lauzon on November 11th.

Further to earlier reports, we might mention that the scrap tow of A. H. FERBERT, with GLENSIDE and W. N. TWOLAN, arrived at Lauzon on October 7. TUSKER and THUNDER CAPE arrived at the same port with THOMAS WILSON on October 8.

More on the scrap tows of ROBERT C. STANLEY and RALPH H. WATSON. The same Cold Spring, Minnesota, person (only this time the name was spelled Frederick F. Drontle) was granted U.S. MarAd approval to sell the STANLEY to Gordon Low of Calgary. AVENGER IV and THUNDER CAPE brought WATSON down the Soo Canal on the evening of November 12 and put her on the wall below the Canadian Lock. ELMORE M. MISNER and THUNDER CAPE departed with her on the 14th, anchored off Ecorse November 17-20, and by the 23rd had tucked the WATSON into the old canal below Humberstone. AVENGER IV, meanwhile, went back up Lake Superior and, on November 19, was downbound at the Soo with STANLEY, assisted by CHIPPEWA and W. J. IVAN PURVIS. They put her on the Canadian Lock lower wall, and THUNDER CAPE and PURVIS departed downbound with her on November 29. The tow was at Port Colborne on December 4, ELMORE M. MISNER having replaced the PURVIS, and was downbound at St. Lambert on the 9th, bound for Lauzon.

AVENGER IV departed the Canadian Soo on the afternoon of November 23, bound to Menominee to collect the former "tinstack" self-unloader ROGERS CITY. Sold via Corostel Trading Ltd., Montreal, for dismantling overseas, ROGERS CITY was downbound in the Welland Canal on December 2, assisted by GLENEVIS. The tugs W. N. TWOLAN and GLENBROOK took over the tow on Lake Ontario, were down at St. Lambert on the 6th, and arrived at Lauzon on December 7.

The former Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company steamer WILLIAM G. MATHER was presented to the Great Lakes Historical Society on December 10 for use as a museum in the North Coast Harbor redevelopment. She may be open to the public at the East 9th Street pier next September. We hope that the Society has dropped its "butcher knife" plans for the MATHER...

Much attention has been given in recent years to the proliferation of excursion boats on Toronto Bay, and the fact that many of the smaller vessels engaged in such trade were running as "charter yachts", thus avoiding government safety inspection. That situation, plus problems with the uncontrolled serving of liquor on the boats led to concern by the authorities involved. In June 1985, Empire Sandy Inc., an enterprise of Norman Rogers, was charged with operating EMPIRE SANDY (the former steam tug CHRIS M.) without the safety and inspection certificates required by the regulations of the Canada Shipping Act. When the 136-foot EMPIRE SANDY was converted to an excursion vessel, her steam engine was removed, she was given three tall masts to carry sail, and she was equipped with a 340 h.p. diesel engine. This machinery is used for docking and undocking and, as any observer can vouch, for propelling EMPIRE SANDY (even though she may have her sails set) under anything but the very most favourable wind conditions. The Act requires certification of all "steamships", defined as "any ship propelled by machinery, and not coming within the definition of sailing ship", the latter defined as "a ship propelled wholly by sails". The charges against EMPIRE SANDY had earlier been dismissed by a provincial court judge, whose decision was upheld by the Ontario Supreme Court, but on December 2nd those judgments were overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal, which convicted the owner and levied a fine, albeit insignificant. In a laudable bit of common sense, Mr. Justice Arthur Martin of the appelate court stated that "it is not unreasonable for Parliament to require that a passenger-carrying ship, equipped with mechanical means of propulsion when wind conditions require it, to be subject to the inspection requirements for a steamship". All the more so considering the great number of passengers that are packed aboard some of EMPIRE SANDY's excursions... What price safety?

On November 19, the McKeil tug W. N. TWOLAN was in the Lanoraie anchorage towing EDWARD, the former steam-powered, 1949-built C.C.G.S. EDWARD CORNWALLIS, which was replaced by a new ship of the same name in 1986. With the assistance of STORMONT, the tow departed the anchorage on November 22, was upbound at St. Lambert on the 23rd, and arrived at Cobourg, Ontario, on the 25th. EDWARD had been laid up at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, since her retirement, and allegedly will be used in some private capacity at Cobourg. We shall be pleased to learn more...

During mid-November, the Canadian Coast Guard called for tenders to repair the government wharf at the foot of Pirn Street, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The concrete cap on the west end of the wharf was damaged on September 5th when it was struck by the Socanav Inc. tanker LE FRENE NO. 1, (a) JOS. SIMARD (82). Repairs have been estimated to cost some $100,000. There was no damage to the ship in the incident.

In an earlier issue, we commented on proposals to build a new passenger and auto ferry for the St. Mary's River crossing between DeTour Village and Drummond Island. On November 18, the Michigan Transportation Commission agreed to commit $2,000,000 for the design and construction of the new ferry which had been requested by the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority, which presently runs the 1947-built DRUMMOND ISLANDER and the 196l-built DRUMMOND ISLANDER II on the route. It had been hoped that a new ferry might be in service late in 1988, but 1989 now seems a more reasonable date.

Sunday, December 6, was not a good day for the Canadian fishtug LAST TIME at Sault Ste. Marie. That morning, U.S. authorities caught the tug illegally raising gillnets about ten miles off Whitefish Point in U.S. waters. The fishtug made a run for Canadian waters, with U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Natural Resources boats in pursuit, and was finally stopped when lines strung behind the U.S.C.G. 41-footer snagged LAST TIME'S screws. Her four crewmen were arrested on a variety of charges, and the fishtug was seized and taken to the Soo, Michigan, Coast Guard Base.

Visitors to the Michigan Soo will be familiar with the old Soo Line Railway station which long has stood vacant on the south side of Portage Avenue, west of the head of the MacArthur Lock. The Traverse Bay Woolen Mills Company gave the property in 1983 to Lake Superior State University, but no development has been found for it. Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun steps to acquire the site for use as a "support area" for the locks operation. The old station would be demolished and the land used either for parking for the locks or for equipment, etc., required in the event of any major work being done on the canal (such, no doubt, as the long-planned construction of a new lock...)

Last issue, we briefly mentioned a late-season grounding involving the USS Great Lakes Fleet Inc. self-unloader EDWIN H. GOTT. Around 6:30 p.m. on November 19, the GOTT was downbound, entering the Neebish Rock Cut, when her starboard bow scraped rock on the edge of the channel. The 1,000-footer began to take water in the forepeak tank and the void space abaft the tank, but was not in danger. Assisted by the tug CHIPPEWA, she moved down to Lake Munuscong where she anchored for inspection. With a further stop at DeTour to decrease her draft, she was allowed to proceed to Gary, Indiana, to unload her cargo of pellets, and then went to Sturgeon Bay for drydocking.

The Enerchem Transport Inc. tanker ENERCHEM CATALYST, formerly Halco's DOAN TRANSPORT, suffered a grounding in the Detroit River just after midnight on December 10. Two Gaelic tugs were sent to the scene and the motorship was reported refloated by about 4:30 a.m., allegedly without damage...

In November, we noted that the new owner of the former Halco tanker HUDSON TRANSPORT is M. Donofrio of Toronto, who intends to run her as a barge under the name of Bocadon Marine Transportation Inc. She was taken from the Marine Salvage yard in Ramey's Bend across the slip to the Marsh Engineering drydock where a towing arrangement was added to the burned-out stern section of the ship. Renamed (b) SCURRY, the barge was towed to Port Weller by R & L NO. 1 for a full drydocking (the whole hull would not fit in the Ramey's Bend drydock) and GLENEVIS took SCURRY back up the canal on December 2nd-3rd. It is said that McKeil tugs made one trip pushing SCURRY on a trial basis, but we have no idea what trade is planned for the barge in 1988.

Two issues back, we remarked that a Lloyd's casualty report indicated that the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company (now Great Lakes International Inc.) tug WILLIAM C. GAYNOR was at the firm's South Chicago yard, having been purchased from the underwriters, and would be cannibalized for parts. It has now been suggested that the 1956-built GAYNOR sank at her dock this past summer, and has now been sold to Don Hayes of Muskegon. More details, please...


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