Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Gate Lifter VM/S HERCULES


It's not everyday that you're able to capture a legend. Though my recent visit to Montreal was primarily to check out the winter layups, and perhaps snap the aging ALGOMA NAVIGATOR one more time before being hauled away for scrap overseas, I also hoped  that I'd be able to see for the first time the Seaway gate lifter, VM/S HERCULES. I knew she was there because like all the other times I looked on MarineTraffic for a boat transiting St. Lambert Lock, before leaving home I saw her blue diamond icon indicating that the HERCULES was tied off as usual along the old harbour's south wall. While honing in for the perfect shot of this engineering marvel partially hidden behind a cluster of randomly grown trees, I could not help but thinking that she looked a lot like the lonely "Maytag Repairman", sitting patiently day-in and day-out waiting for the next big job to come along. c):-() Being locked in the solid sheet of ice didn't help her cause a single bit when I snapped these shots of her on February 15th.
VM/S (or Voie Marine/Seaway) HERCULES was built in 1962 at Marine Industries of Sorel, Quebec, and the self propelled 200' floating heavy lift crane barge is the only St. Lawrence Seaway owned heavy lift crane specifically designed to lift their lock's large 500 tonne gates. How often she was called upon to complete such a task is unknown with the exception of June 2014, when I read the iron-lady replaced gate number 4 at Cote Set. Catherine Lock. Got Stuff!! c):-))


VM/S HERCULES has been used for other major operations too...

...like when the Welland Canal's Bridge 12 at Port Robinson collapsed into the channel below after being struck by the 620.5' Bethlehem Steel owned ore carrier STEELTON on August 25, 1974 (http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2012/06/ore-carrier-steelton.html), VM/S HERCULES was motored up from Montreal to clear up the wreckage and help get the Welland Canal operational again in just 15 days. I recall my dad, who worked on the canal back then telling me about the accident and then motoring from Leamington with my wife-to-be Janice to catch a glance of the debris. Seeing the former tall towers that were used to haul the counterweights up and down, strewn along bank and channel along with the span was unbelievable as shown in this snap above taken by Janice. It was like something out of a war movie. If you want to see more of wreckage and clean up activity, click on to:  http://www.wellandcanal.ca/shiparc/br12/br12.htm for more great photos courtesy of Dave Whitaker. Nice ones Dave & Thanks for being there! c):-D





Though I have to admit she makes a great prop for harbour front photos, it was also nice to read that VM/S HERCULES was used last June to unload a ship in Montreal harbour with two large transformers destined to a northern Quebec sub station. The two transformers weighed in excess of 170 tons each and they were loaded on to specialized 12 axle depressed rail cars on route to their final destination. WOW!! 54 years old and still going strong. I guess just like the theme song that cartoon show that I watched as a kid and was also created in 1962, she's truly, "The MIGHTY HERCULES"!!   https://youtu.be/laoBvt9CcQo c);-b


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