Saturday 27 April 2013

Friday 26 April 2013

The Last Tribal HMCS HAIDA (G63 & DDE215) - Revisited

Spring is in the air finally!! Yes, we are still getting the odd blast of Arctic air that has wandered over the top from Russia, but for the most part the skies are blue, the temps are warming and the tops of my asparagus have started to pop out of the ground. Life is Good. However, the warming climate was not the case last February when I snapped the last Tribal-class destroyer, HMCS HAIDA, parked along Pier 9 where she  serves as a museum ship in Hamilton, Ontario. The 377' HMCS  HAIDA was launched in 1942 in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England and served in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) from 1943-63. When commissioned, her pennant number was G63 (the 'G' was a British classification for a destroyer built after 1940) and during WWII the HAIDA sank more enemy tonnage than any other Canadian warship. She is the only surviving Tribal out of 27 ships that were constructed between 1937-45 for the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and the RCN. Like their British counterparts which bore names like AMAZON, ZULU, and GURKHA, each RCN tribal was named after a specific indigenous nation. The Canadian tribals were named IROQUOIS, ATHABASKAN, HURON, MICMAC, NOOTKA, CAYUGA and HAIDA, which is a Pacific Northwest Coast nation primarily located in Northern British Columbia and Southeast Alaska. During her active service, the HAIDA received many honours and awards for her involvement in the Arctic 1943-45, English Channel 1944, Normandy 1944, Biscay 1944 and Korea 1952-53. To check the ship's armaments or more details about her many prestige achievements, feel free to Google the HAIDA. You won't be disappointed and the stories make it easy to appreciate why she was dubbed, "The Fightingest Ship in the RCN".

Meanwhile after a modernization refit in 1952, the HAIDA was recommissioned as a destroyer escort and the pennant number was changed to DDE215. However, the wear and tear of actively participating in two wars, and the anti-submarine warfare tactics that followed during the Cold War with Russia, resulted in many more refits. Knowing her career was soon to end, 50 years ago yesterday, the HAIDA left Halifax for her last cruise, a summer tour of the Great Lakes. Below is HMCS HAIDA slowly making her way towards Lock 4 on the Welland Canal during that Great Lakes tour in 1963. I don't know who took the photo but the print has been sitting in my box of Sea Cadet memories, for years. A good a time as any to share it, I suppose.
It was during that Great Lakes tour that HAIDA Inc. was formed by a group of individuals who wished to acquire her for preservation. Instead of being sold for scrap, the proud destroyer was purchased by HAIDA Inc. for $20,000 in 1964 and was eventually towed to Toronto where she was restored and moored near the Naval Reserve base, HMCS YORK. Soon after, the Ontario government acquired the HAIDA and moved her further west to ONTARIO PLACE where she remained as a museum and a Royal Canadian Sea Cadets training facility until 2002 when she was purchased and moved to Hamilton's waterfront by Parks Canada. Once again owned by the Government of Canada, HMCS HAIDA is now a National Historic Site and open to the public from mid May until mid October.

I toured the HAIDA a few times when she was parked at Ontario Place when we lived near Toronto in the early 80's but what I really enjoyed the most about the HAIDA was when she got to perform with the Toronto Symphony concerts at Ontario Place's 'Forum' (an outdoor auditorium) and as the orchestra played Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture', the HAIDA would fire off her 4" guns to simulate the cannon fire in the piece. BOOM would go a volley, and then another, and another right on cue. WOW!! I still get goose-bumps when thinking about it. It was truly a BLAST from my past that I will never forget.  
On May 26, 2018, HMCS HAIDA was designated as the Royal Canadian Navy's flagship for sinking more surface tonnage than any other RCN warship during the Second World War, hence being known as Canada's "Fightingest Ship".

Sunday 21 April 2013

Tugboat SALVAGE MONARCH (Revisited, Again!!)

Laid up at Ramey's Bend , January 2, 2011
The new tug's name, SALVAGE MONARCH basically said it all just as did her fleetmates SALVAGE QUEEN and SALVAGE PRINCE, as her owner, Pyke Salvage of Kingston, Ontario fully intended to "rule" in the salvage business along the newly opened St. Lawrence Seaway and when needed elsewhere on the Great Lakes. When launched in Appledore, England in 1959, SALVAGE MONARCH was state of the art, with powerful twin engines, a huge steam winch and a smaller one forward, and was built with a strengthened hull for harbour ice breaking operations.
During her grim reaper days with a scrap-tow in Port Colborne
- Summer 1974
In the early 1960's Pyke Salvage was bought out by McAllister Towing and Salvage of Montreal and as the SALVAGE MONACH became so active in leading scrap-tows to the Ramey's Bend or down the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City while working for McAllister, she became known as "The Grim Reaper" for hauling vessels down to their death. She certainly looked the part in this black & white snap I took of the tug and her catch along West Street in Port Colborne in 1974. I still recall as a kid seeing so many old canallers and American lakers laid up at their final resting place at that narrow slip that jutted in from the canal channel near where ships would turn towards Dan City, Welland and below, before the bypass was built. At one time ships were built or repaired at Ramey's Bend but I mostly saw them waiting for their turn to be dismantled by the welder's torch.
Paul Cook of Port Stanley sent me this photo taken by his dad who used to take his family to the Welland Canal years ago. Here the upbound SALVAGE MONARCH looked almost brand spanking new while exiting what looks to be Lock 3 in August 1970. Beauty snap Paul and Thanks 👍👍  
Near Maitland on St Lawrence - 1977 Photo by Pierre Desaulniers
Her powerful 1400 bhp twin engines producing a 23 ton bollard pull would have come into good use when the MONARCH was tasked to lead a barge laden with bulldozers, locomotives and other mining equipment that had been removed from the grounded freighter JEAN LYKES down the St. Lawrence River to Prescott (now Johnstown) in these 1977 snaps by Pierre Desaulniers, who worked on the SALVAGE MONARCH back then.
Arriving at Prescott (now Johnstown) - 1977 Photo by Pierre Desaulniers

In dry dock  while working for Le Groupe Ocean (date unknown)  Photo by Pierre Desaulniers

Photo by Pierre Desaulniers
She continued towing and doing harbour tug duties in Montreal, Trois-Rivieres, and Halifax while wearing the Quebec City based Le Group Ocean's colours which bought her in 1997. However at some point after being purchased in 2002 by Heritage Harbour Marine of Goderich or when chartered to Norlake Transportation of Port Colborne, her original McAllister red adorned her wheelhouse again when I first snapped her in January 2011 while laid up behind the former Toronto excursion boat, JAGUER II ( at Ramey's Bend in Port Colborne and then again the next year when she had been moved to Toronto.

Despite her age, ongoing refits and being fortunate to have operated mostly on the fresh water Great Lakes, the SALVAGE MONARCH remains useful especially throughout this past shipping season, when the tug was seen pushing fleetmate barge COASTAL TITAN loaded with a heavy lift cargo up the Welland Canal to to Toledo. On her return, she pushed other fleet barges and an Ocean dredger to Trois- Rivieres. Then soon after returning to Toronto, she became lead tug the former CCGS ALEXANDER HENRY tow to Thunder Bay, where the retired buoy tender and icebreaker will continue her life as a  museum ship at the same port she was built in 1959.

The SALVAGE MONARCH truly is a survivor and I've enjoyed snapping her many times during my visits to Toronto where she's shared mooring space with the laid up tug W.N. TWOLAN and other Toronto Drydock fleetmates like the M.R. KANE and RADIUM YELLOWKNIFE.
During my last visit to Toronto harbour in January, I was happy to see her sitting in the belly of the former pulpwood carrier turned floating dry MENIER CONSOL for repairs or maintenance which suggests the MONARCH will reign the Lakes in salvage and towing for many more years. Be flexible, accept change or be cut up for scrap metal. You don't have to tell her about that end. c);-b

Saturday 20 April 2013


Driving home along the 401 (a.k.a, the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway) can be very "BORING"!! However even the shortest of pitstops at Brockville's riverfront park, generally makes the change of venue and venture off the beaten path quite worthwhile. Just like last Sunday afternoon when I snapped the 656' bulk carrier FEDERAL RHINE kicking up quite a wake as she quickly passed by McNair Island (above) and then the river park on Blockhouse Island which is an ideal location to get a fairly close up glimpse of Great Lakes freighters or salties from all over the world as they motor by, and more often at a pretty good clip. Such was the case for the upbound FEDERAL RHINE, which was built in 1997 in Shanghai, China. She is owned by Federal Navigation (a.k.a. Fednav) of Montreal, QC but flies the flag of Barbados.
By the way, Blockhouse Island isn't really an island anymore and you can look all you want but you won't find a blockhouse either. The blockhouse was there when the Americans defeated Brockville during the War of 1812 and remained on the island until it was burnt to the ground during the Rebellions of 1837. Say what, Canadians rebelled? Yes, I know it's hard to believe but to make a long story short, the people then of Upper and Lower Canada weren't exacting pleased with the Brits who were great at imposing unnecessary taxes. I could be wrong but I believe it was the Brits who started this trend that remains popular with so many current governments worldwide. I'm sorry, (there, I said it) to say it caused a lot unrest. Whatever, it rallied Canada to become independent of Britain in 1867, (or at least on paper). Meanwhile, sometime after the blockhouse was destroyed by fire, the railway built a causeway to the island and which helped to make Brockville a thriving river port.
Sorry, (there, I said it again) but I believe I have made a short story longer that expected so let's just say where there was once a burned out blockhouse and a scuzzy-looking railway yard, a beautiful park was created. It has a canteen, 'clean' washrooms and it provides a perfect vantage point to view all kinds of boats, or with the aid of the large binoculars situated on the park's observation area, you can get a pretty good view of what our neighbours to south have just thrown on their barbeque across the river. A New York strip, perhaps?

Monday 15 April 2013


Alert the media!! I finally snapped my first 'Saltie' for this year's navigation season. Yeah, I know I should get down to the St. Lawrence more often but it is what it is, and in this case we were just about to leave Iroquois Lock during a whirl wind tour to Toronto and back, when in the distance, what looked like a 'ghost ship' was approaching from the east. Come on now, it's not everyday you see a completely 'white' ship motor along on the seaway. True there's the odd white-hulled cruise ship that'll pass you by but not this time of year. Actually, the ghost ship was 473' Oil/Chemical Tanker HELLESPONT CRUSADER making her way upbound to Nanticoke, Ontario on the north shore of Lake Erie. The CRUSADER was built in 2010 in South Korea and though she's currently German owned, she flies the flag of the Marshall Islands. Go figure!!
However, while waiting for their cruise ship, CARIBBEAN PRINCESS to let go her lines, my friend John (or perhaps his wife Carmel) from Lanark Highlands, Ontario also snapped the HELLESPONT CRUSADER (below) moored off to their ship's port side last February in Fort Lauderdale, I mean Port Everglades, or whatever, Florida. Now let me get this straight, the HELLESPONT CRUSADER motored from the warm breezes of Southern Florida to the frigid wind-chills of the 'Great White North'? Skipper must have pissed somebody off!! Or Not.
Actually I snapped my second saltie for the season this weekend too, but that's another story. Coming Soon to a Carlz Boats Near You!! I know, you can Hardly Wait!!

HELLESPONT CRUSADER was sold to Alliance Tankers of Hamilton, Bermuda in 2014
and now plies the Great Lakes as LOKHOLMEN. c):-o 

Friday 12 April 2013


Carlz Boats: Tanker PROVMAR TERMINAL II: As the song goes, 'those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end', for the LEE A. TREGURTHA (Carlz Boats Jan. ...

Tanker PROVMAR TERMINAL II (Revisited)

Solid ice cover prevents any escape for the former IMPERIAL SARNIA. - Port Colborne Feb 10, 2013. 
The Mary Hopkin's song lyrics, "those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...",  may work well for the classic Great Lakes iron ore carrier LEE A. TREGURTHA ( which while still sailing after over 70 year, it seems her life and usefullness may go on "forever and a day". 
Photo by Jeff Cameron
However such was not the case for the former tanker PROVMAR TERMINAL II which I snapped in February 10, 2013 as she sat tied off to the former self unloader, MAUMEE and waiting to be broken up as scrap metal at International Marine Salvage (IMS) or now officially knownMarine Recycling Corporation (MRC) salvage yard in Port Colborne, the last ongoing ship graveyard on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. Established in 1983, MRC (and predecessor IMS) has recycled in excess of 1 million tons of metal wastes and by-products to date. According to their website, a typical 600 to 700 foot laker will yield some 5,000 tons of steel. Also, not only does recycling of metal save the environment and conserve natural resources, but apparently there's also an average energy savings of 85% when metal is manufactured from scrap rather than manufacturing new metals from ore. I did not know that! Metal is indefinitely recyclable.
From the end of West Street on my next visit to Port Colborne on May 24, 2013, dismantling of the former Imperial Oil tanker was well on its way, while the former RCN tug and last named TECHNO ST. LAURENT and the old Canadian Coast Guard small buoy tender VERENDRYE wait for their end....
...meanwhile on the next day, May 25, 2013, it's clear to see the tanker's stern accommodations and engine section are gone as well as much of her pilothouse in Jeff Cameron's close-up from his boat. Nice One!!
IMPERIAL SARNIA on Welland Canal taken be John Coulter on October 30,
1982. (John Coulter Collection courtesy Fred Miller, Port Huron, MI)
Though the end may be near, PROVMAR TERMINAL II has served her owners well for over  64 years. When built at the Collingwood Shipyards in 1948, her name was IMPERIAL SARNIA and the 390' tanker was primarily used to carry fuel supplies from Sarnia to Fort William (currently Thunder Bay) but later was used to bring western Canadian crude from Superior, WI (where the pipeline ended), to Imperial Oil's refinery in Sarnia, ON. No longer needed after the pipeline was extend to Sarnia in the early 50's, the IMPERIAL SARNIA sailed to shipyards in Sorel, QC via the Mississippi River because the locks along the then St. Lawrence river canals could not accommodate her larger upper lakes size dimensions. At Sorel she was lengthened to just less than 409' and was given a seagoing ice re-enforced bow to allow her to operate more effeciently along the Maritimes, Eastern Seaboard, Arctic and across the Atlantic to Europe. In the mid 60's, the IMPERIAL SARNIA returned to service in the Great Lakes where she continued to motor until she was purchased in 1986 by Provmar Fuels of Hamilton, ON to be used to store fuel oil. Renamed PROVMAR TERMINAL II, there she sat as a king-size floating 'oil-drum' in Hamilton harbour until she was towed to Port Colborne last October for scrapping.

Unlike so many of man's creations that are daily being buried as landfill, at least end of life classics like the JAMES NORRIS, MAUMEE, PROVMAR TERMINAL II and so many more will continued to be reused over and over again. You may want to look at a steel 'I' beam or rebar differently from now on, eh?

BTW, to view thousands of Great Lakes ship photos both modern and vintage, be sure to checkout or for photos of ships from elsewhere around the world. You'll be Glad You Did!!

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Carlz Boats: Pure Car & Truck Carrier TOSCANA

Carlz Boats: Pure Car Truck Carrier TOSCANA: The calendar says April 3 but today's harsh wind from the north makes it feel more like mid February here in Ottawa. Yes, it's ni...

Pure Car & Truck Carrier TOSCANA

The calendar says April 3 but today's harsh wind from the north makes it feel more like mid February here in Ottawa. Yes, it's nice to have the sunny skies but the wind alone is making it feel like -15C. Brrr!! Meanwhile, the wind didn't appear to be an issue when my friend John (or maybe his wife Carmel) of Lanark County ON, caught the above sleek looking Lauritzen Bulker as it motored by their cruise ship, the CARIBBEAN PRINCESS in February on a near motionless flat sea. Though the sea appears a little choppy, the wind probably helped the big hippo-looking 'Pure Car and Truck Carrier', TOSCANA, as she pushed by their cruise ship a couple of days earlier. Like the TAIKO, (Carlz Boats-Nov. 19) the TOSCANA is owned by Norway's Wallenius Wilhelmsen though she flies the flag of Britain. The 656' TOSCANA, looks like and is the same length as Eukor's, MORNING CONDUCTOR (Carlz Boats-Feb. 2). The TOSCANA was built in 2009 at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagaski, Japan and can carry up to 6,542 cars on 12 deck, 4 of which are hoist-able. At least I believe it's the TOSCANA. It was a hard to make out the name at the bow and near her stern, so she could be the TORONTO, or TOMBORRA, or TOPEKA,  or any of her 10 identical PCTC sister-ships with city names that all start with the letter 'T' like this monster ship. Great photos kids, but can you also pack a pair binocs of your next Caribbean cruise? Or not.

Monday 1 April 2013

Carlz Boats: Self Unloader BAIE ST. PAUL

Carlz Boats: Self Unloader BAIE ST. PAUL: When the sailing vessel ANN & JANE entered the then new Welland Canal on November 27, 1829, many onlookers in tall 'Top Hats&#3...

Self Discharging Bulk Carrier BAIE ST. PAUL (Revisited)

When the sailing vessel ANN & JANE entered the then new Welland Canal on November 27, 1829, many onlookers in tall 'Top Hats' were there to greet her. It was a big event. The celebration of presenting a 'Top Hat' to the Captain of the first arriving upbound ship and thereby welcoming the start of a new navigation season was re-enacted in St. Catharines ON in 1947 and has carried on every year since. About 10 years later, a 'Top Hat' ceremony began in Port Colborne ON for the first downbound vessel to enter the Welland Canal, and though the skipper no longer gets to keep the 'Top Hat' like the 150 years old hat that's presented in Port Colborne, he does gets to wear it during the photo op which if you Google 'Top Hat Ceremony' you'll see it has remained a pretty big event down that neck of the woods and everyone in the world gets to see how goofy you look in a Top Hat, or not.
For Port Colborne's "first downbound" of the 2013 season ceremony, the skipper of the United States Coast Guard Cutter THUNDER BAY (WTGB 108), which was returning to her home port of Rockland, Maine after a two month hard working tour of duty battling massive icefields on Lake Erie and above, received 'Top Hat' honour at Lock 8 on March 22. The 140' Bay-class THUNDER BAY is a sister to the USCGC KATMAI BAY (WTGB 101) which I snapped above at the Soo in September 2013.

Meanwhile, the skipper of the upbound 620’ self unloader CUYAHOGA, got to try on the Top Hat at the ceremony at Lock 3 in St. Catharines. The CUYAHOGA (shown here leaving Lock 8 in this snap taken by my buddy Nathan Attard of Port Colborne) is owned by Lower Lakes Towing of Port Dover just like fleetmate self unloader SAGINAW which I snapped at Port Colborne's Canal Days 2012 (

Though there does not appear to be a 'Top Hat Ceremony' at either end of the St. Lawrence section of the Seaway, a ship that did receive a lot of media hype when she became the first upbound to enter St. Lambert Lock (also on March 22), was the new CSL Trillium Class self unloader BAIE ST. PAUL which I snapped above while she was laid up for winter beneath Montreal's Jacques-Cartier Bridge up top and leaving Lock * later in the spring.
The 740' BAIE ST. PAUL was built last year in Jiangyin, China and is the first of series of new vessels being constructed specifically for use in the St. Lawrence Seaway. Also it's 15% more fuel efficient than any other CSL class of ships and will save approximately 750 tonnes of fuel per year, amounting to a yearly carbon emission reduction of 2,400 tonnes. Not much of a footprint left there. And that's no 'April Fools', really!!