Algoma Central purchases Four Vessels from American Steamship

Algoma Central, the operator of the largest Canadian fleet of Great Lakes vessels, has announced that it has acquired four ships from the American Steamship Company. Three of those vessels – American Valor, American Victory, and Adam E. Cornelius – are currently in long-term layup, while the fourth, Buffalo, has been in active service for the company. Late last week, Buffalo arrived in Sarnia, Ontario, and is currently moored at the Government Dock with her ballast water pumped out. It is unclear whether Algoma will continue to sail her for the remainder of the 2017 shipping season or lay her up in Sarnia. Adam E. Cornelius is currently tied up in Huron, Ohio, and has sat out the last three seasons. American Victory is laid up at Elevator M in Superior, Wisconsin, and the Valor is docked in Toledo, Ohio. Neither of those vessels have seen service since 2008.

According to the company’s announcement: “The availability of these vessels presented an opportunity to expand Algoma’s vessel fleet and capacity at extremely attractive values. Both the Buffalo and Adam E. Cornelius will provide efficient capacity to serve customers in the river-class segment of Algoma’s Domestic Dry Bulk market. Both ships will complement the Company’s existing fleet to ship salt, aggregates, and other commodities. These additions enhance Algoma’s versatility in offering its customers different cargo sizes and vessel configurations to meet their specific needs.” In regard to the Victory and Valor, Algoma is keeping its options open and has not yet made a definitive plan for either ship. Because both vessels are still steamers, there is the possibility that they may be re-powered as motor vessels, or converted into articulated tug-barge units.

Algoma has not yet announced potential names for any of the vessels, and it is presumed that the three currently in layup will be towed and/or sailed to Canadian ports in the spring. I will be heading to Duluth this coming weekend, as it has been well over a year since my last visit, and I hope to be able to photograph the Victory laid up for potentially the last time. Stay tuned for updates on this sale!


Winter Updates!

First off, I apologize for not posting much as of late – there hasn’t been a whole lot to report on until just recently! But here is the latest on the shipping front.

In Sturgeon Bay, Roger Blough arrived last Thursday, December 14, becoming the second vessel to lay up there for the coming winter. Wilfred Sykes was the first, however she laid up before Thanksgiving. The Blough entered the graving dock to receive her 5-year Coast Guard inspection. Also laid up is American Courage, however she has not seen service in either of the past two seasons. So as of now, there are three vessels laid up for the winter of 2017-18, with plenty more expected in the coming weeks as the shipping season winds down.

On Monday in Duluth, Wagenborg’s Beatrix arrived to load wheat at CHS 2, becoming the last saltie to arrive for the 2017 season. With the closing of the St. Lawrence Seaway looming on New Year’s Eve, she will be quickly making her way for Montreal after she completes loading. Her fleetmate Finnborg is also in Duluth loading, and should depart by Tuesday for Montreal.

At the Uljanik d.d. shipyard over in Croatia, Algoma Central has announced that it has taken delivery of it’s newest Equinox vessel, Algoma Innovator. She is one of two vessels being built as a variation of the original Equinox design, with an overall length of 650 feet and a forward-mounted self-unloading boom. Although the Innovator is complete, she won’t depart for the Lakes until February, when conditions on the Atlantic Ocean are more favorable for the transit of a lake vessel. She is expected to arrive in time for the start of the 2018 shipping season in March. Her sister ship, Algoma Endurance, is nearing completion at the shipyard, and should be ready for service in mid-2018.


Algoma Innovator, with her name not yet painted on the hull, is shown here underway in Croatia. (Courtesy of ShipSpotting)


Another photo of Algoma Innovator. (Courtesy of VesselFinder)


This photo shows her sister ship, Algoma Endurance, under construction at the shipyard. (Courtesy of ShipSpotting)


Shown here at her builder’s yard in China is Algoma Niagara, which arrived on the Lakes earlier this fall and promptly entered service as the newest member of Algoma’s Equinox class. (Courtesy of World Maritime News)


Algoma Niagara is the fifth vessel in the Equinox class, and is the first to have a self-unloading boom. The other four vessels in the class thus far, Algoma Equinox, Algoma Harvester, G3 Marquis, and Algoma Strongfield, are all straight deck bulk carriers. Aside from the two 650-foot vessels being built in Croatia, at least one more sister to the Niagara is confirmed to be under construction, with the possibility of more in the future. (Photo courtesy of ShipSpotting)

Fire causes Extensive Damage at Midwest Energy in Superior

Early Saturday morning, the Midwest Energy coal terminal in Superior, Wisconsin suffered a fire in its coal transportation belt system. The following article was posted to regarding the incident:

“An early morning fire at Midwest Energy in Superior Saturday caused extensive damage. The Superior Fire Department responded to reports of a fire at 2400 Winter Street around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, according to a press release from Battalion Chief Scott Gordon.

Firefighters located the fire in the belt system that transports coal 100 feet in the air, and the fire had traveled down that system to approximately 50 feet below ground where it was extinguished by 7:30 a.m., the report noted. The belt was not in operation when the fire was reported.

Gold Cross Ambulance also responded to the scene, but no injuries were reported.

According to the Superior Fire Department, the cause of the fire is under investigation and estimated damages are between $500,000 and $1 million. Gordon reported that Midwest employees estimate it will take at least one week to repair the system to allow trains to enter the facility and drop off coal. As of now, all incoming trains have been diverted to alternate locations, but Gordon stressed that Midwest Energy is still operational in loading ships with coal, since that system was not affected by the fire.”

Paul H. Townsend to be scrapped

The cement carrier Paul H. Townsend, owned by Inland Lakes Management, was towed out of Muskegon, MI today by the tug Barbara Andrie en route to Port Colborne, Ontario, where she will be scrapped. The vessel has not sailed since 2005, and has been used as a cement storage vessel in recent years.

The Townsend was built in 1945 as Coastal Delegate for service in World War II, and was originally built with her accommodations and pilothouse at the stern. She only operated on the ocean for a few years, and was sold and brought onto the lakes in 1951. She sat out most of the 1952 season while being converted to a self-unloading cement carrier, and was given her current name upon completion of the conversion in early 1953. During the winter of 1957/58, the Townsend was lengthened to 447 feet and rebuilt, which included the addition of a new forward-mounted pilothouse. She has operated on the lakes with a mostly uneventful career, and laid up for the final time on December 15, 2005. The vessel has been used as for cement storage on multiple occasions, however none of them recently.

Besides Paul H. Townsend, Inland Lakes Management owns three other vessels, two of which are in long-term layup. The classic steamer Alpena, a favorite among boatwatchers, is still in active service. J.A.W. Iglehart is laid up in Duluth, and is used as a storage and transfer vessel, and S.T. Crapo sits idle in Green Bay, Wisconsin, at a remote dock on the Fox River. Neither of these vessels are likely to see active service in the future, and will most likely be sent for the boneyard in the coming years.


This photo shows the Townsend‘s christening ceremony in 1953, just after her conversion to a cement carrier.


Here, the vessel loads in Detroit in 2005, in what would prove to be her last season of operation.


This has been the Townsend‘s layup dock in Muskegon since 2005 – the photo was taken in 2009. (All photos above courtesy of

Engineer’s Day 2017, Part II

Today will be my final post from my Engineer’s Weekend trip. In yesterday’s post, I left off with the tug W. I. Scott Purvis at Essar Steel.


Our next stop after the Essar Steel plant was the Essar export dock, where the saltie Federal Columbia was moored.


The ship’s four deck cranes, which have a lifting capacity of 35 tons apiece, were actively loading the vessel as we maneuvered around her – here, you can see one crane lifting a large container into her cargo hold.


Federal Columbia is one of FedNav’s newer vessels – she was just constructed last year, and visited the Lakes late in the 2016 season before the closing of the Seaway.


Here, you can see her unique bow, which is designed to increase the vessel’s efficiency.


After taking on a partial load here, Federal Columbia would depart and head for Duluth to top off her holds with wheat.


We spent plenty of time maneuvering around the vessel, giving everyone aboard the Le Voyageur plenty of photo opportunities.


We then headed a little further upriver for wider shots, and to meet the next vessel in the river.


HHL Amur was slowly making her way down the river and towards the locks.


The 2007-built vessel is a frequent visitor on the Lakes, and has made several trips to Lake Superior in the past few years.


Here’s a close-up of her bow – notice how her name is written at an angle to convey an image of speed.


The ship’s owners, Hansa Heavy Lift, are from Germany, although the ship is flagged in St. Johns, Antigua.


There isn’t really much to say about HHL Amur – her career thus far has been basically the same.


Here’s a wide shot showing Federal Colombia at the Essar export dock while HHL Amur passes on her way to the locks.


We then picked up speed, and caught up to HHL Amur, all while the skies became more and more threatening.


It hadn’t yet started raining, although the threatening clouds made an excellent backdrop.


The ship was traveling rather slowly at this point, presumably waiting for the lock to be made ready for her transit. After grabbing our last shots, we increased speed and headed back down the river via the Poe Lock. We then sped downriver at 13 knots to meet the next vessel heading upbound.


Just above Six Mile Point, we met the CSL Niagara steaming up the river.


We were treated to a salute from the Niagara‘s captain, and her crew seemed to enjoy the attention from our cameras!


CSL Niagara was built in 1972 as J.W. McGiffin.


Over the winter of 1998-99, the ship was given a new forebody that was slightly larger than the previous one. She was also given a new self-unloading system. These upgrades increased her cargo capacity, and probably extended her career as well.


She was given her current name in early 1999, after the conversion was complete.


As we followed the vessel upriver, the setting sun glinted off her hull.


As CSL Niagara headed off into the sunset, our cruise came to an end, and we headed back to the dock. After not seeing any vessels during the day, the traffic during the cruise more than made up for it.

That will conclude my photos from Engineer’s Weekend 2017. I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit the St. Clair River area, as well as return to Sault Ste. Marie, and I hope you enjoyed reading this saga!


Engineer’s Day 2017, Part I

I concluded yesterday’s post with the last of my photos from Port Huron. We spent the day Thursday driving up to Sault Ste. Marie, and arrived late in the evening.


There were no vessels in the locks, however Algocanada was moored across the river in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, unloading.


This year’s Engineer’s Day had almost no vessels passing through the locks during the day. Joseph L. Block locked up early in the morning, but we didn’t arrive in time to see her. The next vessel to pass through the locks, Spruceglen, didn’t arrive until after the open house portion of the day had ended.


I was down near Mission Point to catch the vessel heading downbound.


Spruceglen was built in Scotland in 1983 for Misener Transportation of Canada as Selkirk Settler. She carried various cargoes on both the Great Lakes and to destinations across the Atlantic Ocean.


She was sold to a divison of Fednav Inc. in 1991, and renamed Federal St. Louis. Her name was changed the following year to Federal Fraser. She changed owners numerous times, all while remaining under charter to Fednav. Her name was shortened to Fraser in 2001.


In October of 2002, Canada Steamship Lines acquired the vessel from Fednav, and she was given her current name. She has operated for them since.


So anyway, Spruceglen headed away and down the St. Marys River.


Shortly after Spruceglen passed, we boarded the Soo Locks tour boat Le Voyageur for the annual Boatnerd cruise. Our first stop was on the Canadian side of the river, where the cruise ship Victory I was docked.


Victory I was most recently known as Saint Laurent, and was operated by Haimark Cruise Lines.


Many remember Saint Laurent‘s June 2015 collision with the Eisenhower Lock in the St. Lawrence Seaway, which caused significant damage to the vessel and forced her operators to file for bankruptcy. Her current owners purchased her in early 2016, when she was given the name Victory I.


The ship cruises the Great Lakes for most of the summer season, before heading south into the ocean for the winter.


As we approached the Canadian Lock to make our upbound passage, we passed the moored Canadian Coast Guard vessel Constable Carriére.


The unique vessel is a member of the Hero Class of patrol vessels built for the Canadian Coast Guard between 2012 and 2014. Constable Carriére was launched in 2013 by her builders in Nova Scotia, and measures 140 feet long and 23 feet wide.


Earlier in the day, during the U.S. Coast Guard station’s open house, the vessel was open for tours, and I was able to climb aboard her and see how she operated.


After locking upbound, we explored the docks of the Algoma Essar Steel plant. This is Purvis Marine’s barge PML 9000, which was docked loading steel coils.


Docked near the barge was the tug W. I. Scott Purvis. The historic tug was built in 1938 in Sorel, Quebec.


Since the tug’s duties include moving barges around, I assume the tug was waiting for PML 9000 to finish loading.

And that’s where I’ll end – for now. I have one more post to finish this saga tomorrow, so stay tuned!



A Few New Ships

I left off yesterday in Sarnia, Ontario, where I saw the laid-up Lower Lakes vessel Ojibway. After enjoying lunch in downtown Sarnia, I headed back across the Blue Water Bridge, only to find that Algoma Equinox was passing beneath it! As soon as I got back into the U.S., I rushed downriver to hopefully catch the vessel. I stopped at the Boatnerd headquarters, where I found an even bigger surprise: CSL’s Baie Comeau was also there, on her way upbound!


I didn’t arrive in time for any bow shots of Algoma Equinox, unfortunately, but here she is.


Both vessels are still fairly new – Baie Comeau arrived on the Lakes from her builders in China in the summer of 2013, and Algoma Equinox entered service in December 2013.


Both vessels also have nearly the same dimensions – they measure 740 feet long and 78 feet wide, and both can carry nearly 40,000 tons of cargo.


Baie Comeau is a member of CSL’s Trillium Class, which consists of sister ships Baie St. Paul, Thunder Bay, and Whitefish Bay, as well as the gearless bulk carriers CSL St-Laurent and CSL Welland.


Just as quickly as she arrived, Baie Comeau rounded the corner and disappeared. But not for long…


As Algoma Equinox headed downriver, she approached the Algoma tanker Algoscotia that was docked in Sarnia.


Here’s a close up of the tanker, which was built in 2004 and measures 488 feet in length.


After the pass was completed, I headed back up to the Blue Water Bridge to catch Baie Comeau heading into Lake Huron. Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive in time for bow shots, but the angles were much better from this vantage point.


The ship has a total of 25 hatches on her deck, which open into 5 cargo holds below.


The ship’s unloading system consists of a gravity-fed two-belt system that feeds onto her discharge boom, which can unload cargo at a rate of up to 5,450 tons per hour.


The ship quickly picked up speed as she entered the open waters of Lake Huron.


I forget where she was headed on this trip – most likely Duluth, Two Harbors, or Thunder Bay to load.


But as Baie Comeau headed off into the distance, I noticed another vessel approaching.


The barge GM 6506, pushed by the tug Genesis Victory, made a little bit of a splash as she hit the waves produced by the much larger Baie Comeau.


The two vessels passed quickly, and Baie Comeau headed on her way.


The pair are owned and operated by Genesis Energy, and are registered in Houston, Texas.


The barge was built in 2007 in Louisiana, and measures 345 feet long.


Although the pair are from Texas, they spend most of the summer trading on the Great Lakes, and head back into the ocean late in the season.


Here’s a close up of the bow of GM 6506.


The tug Genesis Victory measures 104 feet long, and was purchased by Genesis Energy and paired with her barge upon its construction in 2007.


I don’t know where the barge was headed on this voyage, however my guess is it was bound for a destination on the St. Lawrence Seaway.


GM 6506 then passed under the international bridge and began her journey down the St. Clair River.

That concluded my time in Port Huron. We did stop in Detroit, however we were unable to visit the docks and get any good shots of the vessels docked along the river. Tomorrow, I’ll start with my photos from Sault Ste. Marie, which I’ll also break up into two shorter posts.