Algoma Scrapping Updates

AMERICAN VICTORY UPDATE: The tug Tim McKeil arrived in Duluth on the morning of Saturday, June 16, to tow the American Victory for scrap. The vessel, her name shortened to Victo for the scrap tow, has had her self-unloading boom and other equipment removed to be re-purposed for other vessels. Unless current plans change, the historic vessel will be towed out of the Superior entry at 06:00 on the morning of Sunday, June 17. This will be the first time the vessel has left the harbor since arriving for layup in the fall of 2008. Tim McKeil will tow her as far as Montreal, where overseas tugs will take over and tow the Victory across the Atlantic Ocean to Aliaga, Turkey, where the ship will ultimately meet her end.

Aside from the Victory, a number of other vessels formerly owned by Algoma Central Corp. are currently on their way to various scrapyards to be broken up. Algoma Olympic, under tow of the tug VB Hispania, arrived in Aliaga, Turkey earlier this week, where the ship will be beached and cut up. Her former fleetmates Algolake and Algosteel are currently under tow in the Atlantic Ocean. Both vessels will arrive at the scrapyard later this month.

Meanwhile, the retired laker Algoway was towed from Goderich, Ontario last week, bound for the scrapyard at Port Colborne, Ont. Her sister Algorail remains laid up in Goderich, but is expected to be towed for scrap within the next few weeks.

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American Victory prepares for Scrap Tow

The historic steamer American Victory, built in 1943, was moved from her layup dock in Superior on Friday to Fraser Shipyards. There, the ship’s unloading boom and other equipment will be removed to be re-purposed and used for other vessels. When that work is complete, the ship will be towed out of the Duluth harbor for the first time since 2008. She will eventually be towed overseas to a scrapyard in Greece, where the Victory will meet her end.

The ship last operated in 2008, and has been laid up in Superior ever since. She was sold to Algoma Central Corp. in December, along with fleetmates American Valor, Algoma Buffalo (formerly Buffalo), and Algoma Compass (formerly Adam E. Cornelius). Algoma announced soon after the sale that the Victory would be sent directly to the scrapyard. She will join Algoma’s Algosteel and Algolake, which are both tied in Montreal awaiting overseas scrap tows. Algoma Olympic has already departed under tow, bound for Turkey to be cut up.

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The above photos show American Victory being towed from her layup dock and into Fraser Shipyards (both photos courtesy of Duluth Harbor Cam). The ship is tentatively expected to be towed out of Duluth around the 1st of June.

Algoma Scrapping Updates

Three more self-unloaders from Algoma’s Great Lakes fleet are being prepared for overseas scrap tows. Algoma Olympic and Algolake, both laid up in Montreal, have had their stack logos painted out, and their names have been shortened to Olympic and Lake respectively. Meanwhile, Algosteel is currently on her way to Quebec to unload her final cargo, after which the classic laker will be retired. Although considered “modern” self-unloaders, the vessels are some of the oldest in Algoma’s fleet as new ships arrive from overseas. Algoma Olympic and Algolake were constructed in 1976, while Algosteel was launched ten years prior. The deep-sea tug VB Hispania is expected in Montreal next month, and it is presumed that she will tow one of the two laid-up vessels to the scrapyard in Turkey.

In addition, shortly after acquiring four vessels from the American Steamship Company in December, Algoma announced that it plans to retire and scrap the veteran laker American Victory. The 1943-built vessel served the U.S. Navy in World War II as a tanker, and was later converted to a bulk carrier for Great Lakes service. The vessel has not operated since the economic downturn in 2008. It is currently tied up at the NP Ore Dock in Superior, and Algoma has yet to announce any plans for a scrap tow for the ship.

Two of the other three former ASC vessels involved in the sale have departed their layup ports as well. Earlier this week, the former Buffalo entered service for the 2018 season as Algoma Buffalo, after spending the winter at Sarnia, Ontario. Algoma Compass, previously known as Adam E. Cornelius, departed Huron, Ohio under her own power last week, and arrived in Erie, PA, a few days later for drydocking and her five-year inspection. She will enter service as soon as the work is complete. American Valor remains tied up at Toledo, Ohio, and Algoma has yet to announce any plans (or a new name) for the vessel.

Algoma Innovator and Algoma Sault arrive in Canada

Algoma’s two newest Equinox Class vessels, Algoma Innovator and Algoma Sault, have arrived on the Great Lakes from their delivery voyages. Algoma Innovator, the first of two smaller 650-foot self-unloading vessels, arrived at Montreal from the 3 Maj shipyard in Croatia in late March. She is currently upbound in the Seaway headed for Indiana Harbor to offload a cargo of bauxite that she loaded in Greece prior to crossing the Atlantic. Algoma Sault arrived in Sept Isles, Quebec on April 3 from her builder in China. She will load her first cargo of iron ore pellets at Port Cartier in the coming days. She is the second of Algoma’s 740-foot self-unloaders, and the seventh Equinox vessel overall. A sister ship to the Innovator, Algoma Endurance, is currently under construction in Croatia, and is expected to be delivered to Algoma later this year.

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This photo, taken by Rene Beauchamp, shows Algoma Innovator docked at Montreal after she arrived from Croatia. (Courtesy of Boatnerd.com)

2018 Season Begins in Duluth

The barge Erie Trader, pushed by her tug Clyde S. VanEnkevort, made her way out of the Port Terminal slip in Duluth on Tuesday, where she has spent the last few months in winter layup. After departing, the pair encountered thick ice outside the harbor, and were forced to stop for a few hours while the tug worked to free her barge. By evening, the pair was underway for Two Harbors, where they will load their first cargo of iron ore pellets. Edwin H. Gott and Kaye E. Barker are currently set to leave the harbor on Thursday, while James R. Barker and Burns Harbor should depart on Friday. Lee A. Tregurtha is expected to get underway in the following days. The Soo Locks open for the season on Sunday, March 25, and Duluth should see its first arrival of the season early next week.

In addition, Sturgeon Bay will start to see its first departures of the season later this week. Numerous vessels are set to depart on Friday, while others will follow soon after. Paul R. Tregurtha, which is currently having exhaust gas scrubbers installed at Bay Shipbuilding, will likely remain laid up until mid-May when the installation is complete.

New Names, New Vessels for Algoma

American Steamship’s former river-class vessel Adam E. Cornelius will be renamed Algoma Compass to reflect her recent change of ownership. She, along with the Buffalo, American Valor, and American Victory, was sold to Algoma in a surprise move by ASC late last season. Although not official yet, the Buffalo‘s new name will likely be Algoma Buffalo.  The Compass is currently undergoing preliminary work at Huron, and will be drydocked before entering service for Algoma this season, while Buffalo is currently moored at Sarnia, Ontario. The company has not yet announced their plans for the two steamers. The Valor is laid up in Toledo, Ohio, while the Victory is tied in Superior. Neither vessel has seen service since 2008.

Meanwhile, two of Algoma’s new Equinox-class vessels are currently on their delivery voyages to Canada. Algoma Sault, the second of Algoma’s 740′ self-unloading vessels, is expected to transit the Panama Canal this weekend, and should arrive on the Lakes sometime in the next month. The ship was built in China, and stopped for fuel in the Philippines before making the trans-Pacific voyage. Algoma Innovator, the first of two 650′ Equinox vessels, is due to arrive in Montreal next weekend. She is carrying a cargo of bauxite that was loaded in Greece. The Innovator and her sister, Algoma Endurance, were constructed at the 3 Maj shipyard in Croatia. Aside from having a shorter overall length and a forward-mounted self-unloading boom, the vessels are similar to their larger Equinox counterparts.

The arrivals of the Sault and Innovator will bring a total of seven Equinox-class ships in service for Algoma. Algoma Equinox arrived in 2013, and was followed by Algoma Harvester and G3 Marquis in 2014. Algoma Strongfield joined in mid-2017, and Algoma Niagara arrived later in the season. Algoma Endurance is still under construction in Croatia, but should join the fleet later in 2018.

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The above two photos show Algoma Innovator and Algoma Sault, respectively, at their builders’ yards prior to departure. (Both photos courtesy Algoma Central Corp.)

When Ice is Actually Useful

This past weekend, I made my annual trip up to Sturgeon Bay to photograph the winter layup fleet. A total of ten vessels are laid up at the shipyard, in addition to the American Courage and tug Invincible, which are in long-term layup.

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We started out by walking onto the ice (which seemed to be well over a foot thick) at the Sunset Park boat launch. Stewart J. Cort was in the graving dock, while the “Footers’ Row” was comprised of Paul R. Tregurtha and Mesabi Miner. To the right of the Miner‘s bow are Roger Blough and Cason J. Callaway.

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All three of the 1,000 foot vessels at the shipyard belong to the Interlake Steamship Co. The only one missing is James R. Barker, which is wintering in Duluth.

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The Tregurtha and Miner both appear to have received new coats of paint down to the waterline in the past few weeks. In addition, the Paul R. is in the process of having exhaust gas scrubbers installed, as was done with the Miner last winter.

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The 105′ wide Roger Blough seems to dwarf the Callaway in this photo.

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I was surprised at the thickness of the ice around the laid-up vessels, as it is normally kept broken up. However, it allowed for some excellent photos, and going this close to the “Queen of the Lakes” reminded me just how large she really is.

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This shot gives an idea of just how massive the Tregurtha is – her bow thruster tunnel, which appears to be rather small, measures over six feet across.

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The bow of Stewart J. Cort looms over the graving dock gate, which seemed to be the only place where open water could be found. Much of the Cort‘s hull was covered in tarps as the vessel was given a fresh coat of paint.

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Getting decent shots from the shipyard side of the harbor is especially difficult, however a towering snow pile located in a parking lot allowed me to shoot the Joseph L. Block, Wilfred Sykes, and American Courage on the south side of the yard.

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It seems that there isn’t a winter when the Block and Sykes cannot be found at Bay Shipbuilding – last winter, both vessels were in the exact same spots as well.

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American Courage, meanwhile, has not left her layup dock in well over two years. A lack of demand has forced her to remain sidelined since the 2015 shipping season.

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To the right of the Courage and tucked in behind the main building was the nearly-completed hull of a tug being constructed by the shipyard. She will be mated with a yet uncompleted barge that was docked elsewhere in the yard.

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Our final stop was Bullhead’s Point, which sits directly across from the shipyard. A few minutes’ walk across the frozen harbor gives angles that cannot be beat, and usually aren’t accessible during the rest of the year. But of course, by the time we made it there, a snowstorm had started up, drastically reducing visibility.

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Notice in this photo and the previous one that the Miner‘s accommodation block is surrounded by a framework of some sort that is covered in plastic, which leads me to assume that it is being painted or having some sort of work done.

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The next vessel over from the Miner is the John G. Munson, which has also spent the last two winters laid up in Sturgeon Bay.

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Moored to the right of the Munson sits the incomplete hull of a barge, which I assume will be paired with the tug that I photographed earlier.

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Further to the right is a group of Lower Lakes Towing vessels. Robert S. Pierson is first from the left, with the tug Victory moored facing her. The barge James L. Kuber is rafted outside of both vessels. Visible to the right of the barge’s notch is the tug Invincible, which has been in long-term layup at the yard since 2014.

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This view shows Roger Blough and Cason J. Callaway moored perpendicular to the slips. American Courage, Joseph L. Block, and Wilfred Sykes are all blocked in behind the two vessels.

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Although it’s difficult to tell, the Blough was given a fresh coat of paint as well as her five-year inspection earlier in the winter.

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The accommodation block of American Courage is visible in the middle of the two vessels, just over their decks.

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And here’s one last close-up shot of the bows of the two classic lakers.

That was all for my weekend in Sturgeon Bay. I certainly got much better shots than last year, mostly due to the ice being thick enough to walk out on. I still hope to make it up to Duluth this winter to photograph the vessels there, so stay tuned!