Friday 12 April 2013

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!!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I've taken pictures of her last trip through the Welland canal. Vigilant I was toeing with the help from Lac Manitoba

  3. Sorry for not seeing you comments sooner. They use to come directly to me via my google mail address but not this one. If you want to share your photos with me, I’ll add them to my post. I’ll credit you of course. Best send it to Thanks.