Marine News

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
Ship of the Month No. 162 Clark Bros.
Sandusky Bay Reflections
1956-1957 Lay-Up Quiz Answers
Shipbuilding at Kingston
Lay-Up Listings - Winter 1987-1988
Back in Steam?
The End Of The Halco Fleet
The Continued Saga of Thomas Wilson and Ashland
Another Former Laker Lost During Scrap Tow
Table of Illustrations

We now have details of the departure from the St. Lawrence of several lakers sent eastward for scrapping during the latter part of the 1987 season. SAMUEL MATHER had arrived at Lauzon on September 28, 1987, in tow of W.N. TWOLAN, GLENEVIS and GLENBROOK, while A. H. FERBERT put in at the same port on October 7 with GLENSIDE and W. N. TWOLAN. On December 3, the two wartime-built steamers departed Lauzon behind the tug CAPT. IOANNIS S., arriving safely at Sydney, Nova Scotia, on December 9, from whence they later would go overseas, supposedly to Taiwan. On the 13th, CAPT. IOANNIS S. was back at Lauzon and took in tow FORT YORK, which had been brought there on November 11 by TUSKER and ROBERT H. FORT YORK and her tug arrived at Sydney on December 16. The former "Bradley" self-unloader ROGERS CITY, which arrived at Lauzon on December 7 in tow of W. N. TWOLAN and GLENBROOK, cleared on the 15th in tow of the Maltese tug PHOCEEN. The tow stopped at Sydney on December 19, and on the 23rd sailed for Brazil (probably Recife), where it was due about January 20.

ASHLAND, (a) CLARENCE B. RANDALL (I)(62), arrived at Lauzon on September 23, 1987, with THUNDER CAPE and TUSKER, and her former Columbia Transportation fleetmate THOMAS WILSON came in on October 8 with the same tugs. During the night of December 15-16, the Liberian tug REMBERTITURM moved both steamers across the St. Lawrence to Quebec City. On the 21st, another Liberian tug, OSA RAVENSTURM, departed Quebec with ASHLAND and the WILSON in tow. REMBERTITURM assisted as far as Escoumins and then set off alone to Sydney, where she later rejoined the tow. Eventually they all set off on the first leg of the long voyage to Taiwan, but encountered extremely stormy weather, during the course of which the towlines parted. REMBERTITURM was able to locate ASHLAND and get a line aboard her, but THOMAS WILSON was never found and is presumed lost at sea. The tugs continued on their way with ASHLAND and put in at Bermuda for survey of the tow's storm damage. During the night of Saturday, January 16, while ASHLAND lay in Murray's Anchorage off St. George's, Bermuda, she was caught in very bad weather which caused her to drag anchor despite the efforts of the tugs. At a reported speed of five knots, ASHLAND fetched up in Bailey's Bay, impaled on a reef known as Pigeon Rocks, some 600 feet off Crawl Point, where she was raked by the heavy, breaking seas. At last reports, surveyors and salvage experts were seeking a way to free ASHLAND, but were not expecting an easy salvage since ASHLAND went ashore during high water and had aboard no cargo or ballast which might be removed to lighten her. Considering what the coral reef will undoubtedly have done to ASHLAND's bottom, we think it extremely unlikely that she will ever resume the tow to Taiwan. And so ASHLAND and THOMAS WILSON have joined the long and ever-growing list of lakers claimed by the perils of the deep seas, far from their lake home, and their owners have learned the hard way what others have known all along; scrap tows of old lakers are always difficult, but they can be disastrous if attempted at the wrong time of year. (See also Page 16.)

In the last several issues, we traced the eastward scrap tows of the former tinstackers RALPH H. WATSON and ROBERT C. STANLEY. At our last report, WATSON was lying in the old canal below Humberstone, while STANLEY was at St. Lambert on December 9th. In fact, STANLEY was not bound for Lauzon, but rather Sorel, where she arrived on the 10th in tow of THUNDER CAPE and ELMORE M. MISNER. These tugs returned upbound and, on December 13, picked up RALPH H. WATSON, which they had tied up below Humberstone on November 22. The WATSON tow was downbound at St. Lambert on December 18, arriving at Sorel on the 19th. Both steamers are wintering at Sorel, awaiting a springtime tow to overseas breakers. It is notable that the WATSON tow was the third of the month of December, marking the first time ever that so many scrap tows have transitted the Seaway so late in the year. In fact, as far as we know, no overseas scrap tow has ever gone down the lower canals at any time during the month of December prior to 1987...

One of our observers spotted the former ULS International laker WHEAT KING at Rotterdam on December 15, 1987. She was anchored with a storage cargo, sup posedly iron ore, but we know nothing further of her current activities.

As noted last issue, the St. Lawrence Seaway was held open later than planned in December, not only because of the late-season grain rush, but also to allow two damaged ships to clear the lakes. One, as mentioned, was the ULS self-unloader CANADIAN PIONEER which, with fire damage to her electrical system, had to reach salt water and be flagged-out to Vanuatu registry to fulfill winter cargo commitments. She cleared the system successfully. The other disabled vessel was the Greek salty CAPETAN YIANNIS (not as spelled in the January issue), which was damaged in an accident reminiscent of E. M. FORD's Milwaukee adventures of 1979. The Greek boat was moored at Milwaukee on December 15 when, in heavy winds, she broke her lines and, in being swept up against the piers, sustained some twenty holes in her plating near the stern as well as damage to her propeller, rudder and bulbous bow. Temporary patching of the hull and blocking of screw and rudder were done, and CAPETAN YIANNIS left Milwaukee on December 19 in tow of CARL WILLIAM SELVICK, MINNIE SELVICK and JOHN PURVES. CHIPPEWA replaced PURVES in the tow at the Straits of Mackinac on the 20th and BARBARA ANN assisted in the St. Clair River. Windbound off Alpena on the 22nd, the tow reached Port Colborne on the 24th, and DUGA, SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER took over, with CATHY McALLISTER assisting in the Seaway. The tow cleared St. Lambert on December 29th, bound for the M.I.L. Davie shipyard at Lauzon, where CAPETAN YIANNIS was drydocked on January 4th.

For the record, we should note that CANADIAN PIONEER arrived at Sorel on December 18 and was re-registered in Vanuatu as (b) PIONEER. We presume that she was given the blue stacks with the gold seahorse design which her sister AMBASSADOR received a year earlier. PIONEER left Sorel on December 21, bound for Trois-Rivieres, and a few days later she cleared the St. Lawrence River en route for Savannah to begin her deep-sea trading.

Latterly, CANADIAN PIONEER was the one ULS lake self-unloader suitable for the grain trade into Quebec City. With PIONEER on salt water, a most unusual conversion is underway this winter at Hamilton to provide a replacement. CANADIAN RANGER, the 1984 product of the joining of the bow and midbody of HILDA MARJANNE to the stern of CHIMO, is being fitted with an on-board unloading leg capable of lifting grain from any hold. The grain it elevates will be conveyed forward along the deck to a bow-mounted unloading boom that will discharge into a hopper on shore. The unloading gear will not be suitable for any cargo other than grain, and its addition will make the already-peculiar CANADIAN RANGER into one of the strangest rigs ever to operate on the lakes.

The long-awaited sale of LE CEDRE NO. 1, (a) ARTHUR SIMARD (82) by Socanav Inc. did indeed take place late in the autumn. She was at Halifax Shipyard on December 17, sailing on the 23rd under Canadian registry and with a Canadian crew. On January 11, 1988, she was at Antwerp, sporting the name (c) CAM ETINDE (the spelling is confirmed) and flying the Cameroun flag. She sailed on January 16 for a U.K. port. It would, therefore, appear that the proposed sale to Mexican interests did not take place, but we do not know the identity of the parties who actually did acquire her.

Last issue, we reported that the former Imperial Oil Ltd. tanker IMPERIAL QUEBEC had been renamed (b) SYBIL W. since having been sold during the autumn to Coastal Shipping Ltd., operated by Woodward Marine of Goose Bay, Labrador. It now seems that the name actually is SIBYL W. (an unusual spelling to say the least), and under that name the motortanker was upbound in the Seaway unexpectedly on December 2nd, bound for Oshawa.

The Unimetco scrapyard at Sydney, N.S., is presently dismantling the Kent Line Ltd. (Irving Oil) canal-sized motortanker IRVINGWOOD (C.194854). Built in 1952, Hull 54 of G. T. Davie & Sons Ltd., Lauzon, she was 253.0 x 43.9 x 22.0, 2353 Gross, 1817 Net. A bulker and pulpwood-carrier, she had a peculiar arched bridge structure, designed to allow deck cranes to pass beneath, and she traded into the lakes until converted to a tanker in 1957, 2491 Gross, 1640 Net. Originally registered at St. John, New Brunswick, her home port latterly was Hamilton, Bermuda.

With C.S.L., ULS and Misener committed to deep-sea operations, another lake fleet has displayed interest in sending some of its self-unloaders into off-lakes service. Algoma Central Marine has its 1978-built ALGOBAY at Port Weller Dry Docks this winter, where she is being given the stiffening necessary to make her "Caribbean Class". As well, Algoma apparently has allocated funds for the fitting of the necessary navigation equipment to make the 1979-built ALGOPORT suitable for deep-sea trade. ALGOPORT is somewhat smaller than ALGOBAY, and does not need hull alterations before heading into salt water.

In December, we reported the sale of the passenger and auto ferry SAGUENAY, which had been idle at Kingston, to Wayward Princess Cruise Ship, Windsor, an enterprise of Jacques Beauchamp, restaurateur. SAGUENAY is wintering at Sarnia, where her hull will form the base for the construction of a three-deck floating apartment "building" which supposedly will contain 31 one- and two-bedroom units. Beauchamp plans to moor the completed "whatzis" near his floating restaurant, "The Brock Street Barge" (which he hauled down from Sarnia some time ago). The project has aroused concern amongst officials of the City of Windsor and the local Harbour Commission.

On December 14, Collingwood town council formally approved a $102 million redevelopment for the former site of Collingwood Shipyards. The project, whose construction will begin late in 1988 and take two years, will include residential, commercial and retail space, with a marina, hotel, marine museum, restaurants and boutiques. Canada Steamship Lines is a major participant in the project (a consequence of the closing of the shipyard it operated for so many years) and this would tend to confirm speculation that FORT CHAMBLY, a C.S.L. package freighter retired in 1981, will be displayed at the site.

The purchaser of the former Straits of Mackinac passenger and auto ferry VACATIONLAND (60), (b) JACK DALTON (62), (c) PERE NOUVEL (67), (d) SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN, and unofficially (e) GULF KANAYAK and (f) CANARCTIC EXPLORER, was Chenco Inc., an import-export firm founded in Puyallup, Washington, in 1984 by one Jimmie Chen. The ferry was acquired on behalf of the government of China, and was bound for Shanghai in tow of a Japanese tug, reportedly in tandem with "an old Liberty ship", when she broke tow in heavy seas and sank on December 3rd. It is said that the ferry succumbed when her large car-deck doors were broken in by the seas.

It has been confirmed, albeit belatedly, that T. W. ROBINSON and NO. 2658O8 (the former BENSON FORD), which were sold by Marine Salvage to Siderurgica Aconorte S.A., and which cleared Quebec on August 11 in tow of the Polish tug JANTAR, arrived safely at Recife, Brazil, on September 22, 1987. Reports concerning the overseas arrivals of the 1987 lakes "scrap fleet" have been slow in coming to us, no doubt because the rush of scrap tows from the lakes did not begin until relatively late in the season.

Although we still have no idea what McKeil Work Boats Ltd. will do with its newly-acquired tank barge WITTRANSPORT II, the former CAPE TRANSPORT, we now have details of her trip up Lake Ontario. The barge had lain at Deseronto since arriving there from Kingston on May 10, 1984. The tug STORMONT collected her at Deseronto on November 11, 1987, and arrived safely at Hamilton on the 15th. The steamer earlier was stripped of all superstructure (in anticipation of the aborted trip down the New York State Barge Canal), and presumably most of her equipment was taken off at the same time. Anything not removed will surely have deteriorated considerably in the more than a decade since CAPE TRANSPORT last operated, and we cannot imagine that she would now be suitable for any use...

The Canadian Coast Guard has retired yet another steam-powered vessel. The latest to be decommissioned is the 1957-built (Lauzon), 208-foot MONTCALM, which laid up at Sorel on June 23rd with engine problems. The damage was determined to be too severe to warrant the cost of repair, and she was officially retired at the end of July 1987. She since has been given the new "name" 1102 (the derivation of which is unknown to us), and she is wintering at Sorel.

Despite wintry conditions, USX kept some of its boats running late in the Lake Michigan ore trade. ROGER BLOUGH, CASON J. CALLAWAY and ARTHUR M. ANDERSON ran from Escanaba to Gary for much of January, although icebreaker assistance was required at Escanaba as a result of extremely cold weather experienced early in the month. EDWIN H. GOTT and EDGAR B. SPEER operated to Lake Superior, with icebreaking assistance in the St. Mary's River, but finished in mid-January, and SPEER closed the U.S. Soo Locks on the 15th.

In recent winters, the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority has stationed a tug at Lighthouse Cove, where the Thames empties into Lake St. Clair, in order to break up ice jams that might develop, and thus alleviate the potential for flooding along the river. Last year, the LTVCA chartered McKeil's W.N. TWOLAN, but she lay idle the entire winter and was never required to break ice. This winter, the Authority has chartered McKeil's smaller tug GLENSIDE, and she is wintering at Lighthouse Cove. Meanwhile, any icebreaking required on the Sydenham River will be handled by Waterways Transportation Ltd., Windsor, with its tugs PRINCESS NO. 1 and JENNY T. II. Last year, Sandrin Brothers of Sarnia had the Sydenham River contract.

In December, the Michigan Transportation Commission voted to give interested parties until April 1988 to come up with viable plans for the preservation of the 1911-built steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM, which was taken out of service in 1984. Everybody wants to retain the CHIEF, or at least artifacts from her, but no one seems quite sure how to do so, and neither Mackinaw City nor St. Ignace has funding available for the project. Unless something concrete is forthcoming from the towns or any other party by the end of April, the State of Michigan will begin steps to dispose of the CHIEF, probably for scrapping. Meanwhile, the ferry lies idle at her old Mackinaw City dock.

Last issue, we noted the drydocking at Port Weller of the Bocadon Marine Transportation Inc. barge SCURRY, the former Halco tanker HUDSON TRANSPORT. We remarked that she had made one trip with McKeil tugs, and we have since learned that SCURRY, along with GLENEVIS and STORMONT, was at the Shell Oil dock at Corunna on December 6. She then returned to Port Colborne, where the finishing touches will be put to her conversion as she spends the winter at the West Street wharf.

No longer will two competing towing firms operate from opposite sides of the old Carbide slip at the Michigan Soo. Since the Great Lakes Towing Company returned to the Soo several years ago, it has moored its tugs on the west side of the slip, while the east side was home to the tugs of the Seaway Towing Company and its successor, Wellington Towing Company. Both firms became disenchanted with lease arrangements offered by the city, and things finally came to a head when Great Lakes found it would not have exclusive rights to the west side of the slip. The G-tugs moved during the last week of December to the long-disused and much-deteriorated company-owned pier on Water Street near the Coast Guard base, from which Great Lakes operated many years ago. The dock will be repaired, and some preliminary piling work was done before WISCONSIN and VERMONT moved to their new home. For the present, Wellington's CHIPPEWA and IROQUOIS will remain in the Carbide slip, but eventually they may be moved to another site.

The 34-year-old Misener Shipping steamer SCOTT MISENER (III) is wintering at Sorel so that Marine Industries may rectify problems which she suffered with her high-pressure turbine during 1987. (She limped through the autumn grain rush using only her low-pressure turbine.) A replacement turbine was sought for installation this winter, and we understand that one was located in Brownsville, Texas (almost certainly the one from DETROIT EDISON). The installation cannot help but prolong the life of SCOTT MISENER, which only two years ago seemed destined for an imminent appointment with the breakers.

On December 23, ROBERT KOCH was shifted to Dock No. 2 at Contrecoeur, P.Q., and the scrapping of the diminutive cement carrier was resumed immediately. By the end of December, almost all of her superstructure had been cut away.


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