As many know, there are quite a few fleet changes occurring around the Lakes as the 2019 season progresses. Two of Algoma Central’s original, Canadian-built vessels are currently headed for the Turkish scrapyard that will ultimately recycle their hulls. The former Algowood‘s scrap tow has now passed through the Strait of Gibraltar en route to Aliaga, and her fleetmate Capt. Henry Jackman also departed Montreal under tow about a week ago, headed for the same destination. Both vessels had relatively short careers, having been launched six months apart in 1980/81, however they proved to be excellent workhorses for Algoma.
The above photo shows Capt. Henry Jackman, her name shortened to Enry for the scrap tow, departing Montreal for the final time. As with her sister Algowood, her hull is in poor condition since Algoma basically stopped caring for it over the last few years (courtesy of Rene Beauchamp, Facebook).
A third scrap tow this season that has yet to occur will involve the unique and historic Cedarglen of Canada Steamship Lines. After wintering at Toledo, the vessel never entered service when the 2019 season began, instead sailing under her own power one final time for the journey to Montreal, where she is now tied up and awaiting her Atlantic crossing.
Launched in Germany in 1959, Cedarglen is the last remaining vessel of the original three sisters of her design. One of those two, Windoc, is known for its 2001 collision with the Welland Canal bridge #11 that sheared off the pilothouse, started a blaze, and caused the drifting hull to run aground. She was never repaired, and was eventually scrapped, along with sister #3, Algontario. These two shots show Cedarglen on her final downbound trip from Toledo to Montreal on May 16, 2019 (both photos above courtesy of Jeff Cameron, Facebook).
Lower Lakes Towing will also see some significant fleet changes this season. Although nothing official has been released, the inactive Manistee is another upcoming candidate for the scrapyard. The vessel hasn’t operated since January of 2016, and has spent the last few years tied up in Toledo, as seen above at the Hocking Valley Dock. Rumor states that she will be towed to the Marine Recycling Corp. yard in Port Colborne as soon as there is room for her (currently, that yard is working on Algoway, Algorail, English River, and Paul H. Townsend), and that could happen as soon as this year. Some reports also indicate that she is being gutted where she is, likely to salvage some still-useful parts from her (photo above courtesy of Fred Miller II, Facebook).
A lesser-known LLT vessel, C.T.C. No. 1, is also slated to be scrapped this season. Built in 1942 as the Frank Purnell for Interlake Steamship, she served various owners as an ore carrier before her career as a sailing vessel ended and she was converted into a cement storage and transfer barge at Bay Shipbuilding in 1982. Once the conversion was complete, the “barge” was towed to South Chicago, IL, where she served in her new capacity until 2009 when she was sold to LLT (photo above courtesy of Mike Nicholls, Boatnerd.com).
Since the sale, the vessel has not been used once, and has simply sat rusting away at her berth. Reports indicate that she will finally be scrapped this summer, however it is also rumored that a third Lower Lakes vessel, in addition to the two previously mentioned, will be cut up in the coming year. Only time will tell if any of these reports are true, or what the future holds for Lower Lakes and its aging fleet (photo above courtesy of Tom Kort, Boatnerd.com).
The classic AAA-class American Valor is yet another rumored candidate for the scrapper’s torch. The 1952-built vessel hasn’t seen service since 2008, and since her sale to Algoma in late 2017, little activity has occurred aboard her other than the shortening of her name to Valo. Her name was never changed on the hull, only on paper, however it is yet another common practice for vessels destined for the scrapyard (photo above courtesy of Scott Taipale, Facebook).
The 767-foot vessel is too long to navigate the Welland Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway by 27 feet, which is the main reason behind her lack of service since nearly all of Algoma’s cargo contracts require vessels to pass through those waterways. This will also mean that American Valor must be scrapped on the Lakes since she can’t be towed overseas as Algoma has done with other vessels, however her final destination is still a mystery (photo above courtesy of Fred Miller II, Facebook).
Now for some happier news! One of McKeil Marine’s newest acquisitions, the former saltwater vessel Gagliarda, transited the Welland Canal upbound on May 28 as seen above. The ship, which has already been painted in McKeil colors, is carrying a load of salt from Europe that she will discharge at Monroe, Michigan, before returning to Hamilton to be reflagged Canadian and given a new name.
Gagliarda is a sister to McKeil Spirit and Evans Spirit, both of which have now operated for McKeil for a few years. All three vessels were previously owned by Setramar S.p.A. of Italy (both photos above courtesy of Jeff Cameron, Facebook).
McKeil’s two other recent purchases were a step in an entirely new direction for the company. McKeil, which has previously operated only tugs and barges and just recently began operating dry bulk cargo vessels, acquired two former saltwater tankers for Great Lakes and Seaway service earlier in the year.
The 2008/09-built sister ships were originally named Topaz-T and Turquoise-T, and are typical oil and chemical product tankers not so different from those that visit the Great Lakes from saltwater regularly. Although the vessels have now operated for McKeil for at least a few months, the Topaz I (shown above unloading at Clarkson, Ontario) has now been given a new name: Hinch Spirit. McKeil has yet to announce new names for Gagliarda or Turquoise I, however those will likely be coming in the next few weeks.
Also of note is that the tug Nathan S. will bring a spud barge to Duluth in the coming weeks, and will depart with a special cargo: the self-unloading boom of the former steamer American Victory, which has resided on the dock at Fraser Shipyards since the Victory departed for scrap. The boom will be brought to Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, where it will be refurbished and ultimately placed on the deck of the new River-class vessel being constructed for Interlake Steamship. The reuse of booms on various vessels is actually a rather common practice on the Lakes – for example, the LLT barge Ashtabula now uses a boom that once belonged to the Joseph H. Frantz.
It will likely be a while before we get any official word from LLT of their future fleet plans, or when American Valor‘s or Cedarglen‘s scrap tows will take place. To say the least, it will be interesting to see how the summer plays out with all the rumored fleet changes!