Sunday 6 April 2014


Whether the vessel is a maximum width chemical/oil tanker like the SLOMAN HERMES  ( or a hard working tug like the WILFRED M. COHEN, they all look pretty small when entering an empty Lock 3 along the Welland Canal in St. Catharines, Ontario.
 However, once the lock is filled and it's time to move on to the next lock, everything is put back into perspective like these snaps of the WILFRED M. COHEN and her barge taken by my friend Shaun Judge of Kanata when he visited the Welland Canal last June.
When built in 1948 at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia, the name for the 102.5' train barge tug for Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad was A.T. LOWMASTER. Shortly after being rebuilt in 1974 the LOWMASTER was sold to A.B. McLean Ltd. of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and continued her trade on the Great Lakes while being renamed WILFRED M. COHEN.  
The COHEN. was acquired by Purvis Marine Ltd also of Sault Ste. Marie in 1994 and seven years later she had a raised wheelhouse added for improved vision when pushing a high in the water barge like she was pushing while making her upbound departure out of Lock 3 in Shaun's snap above.
Sometimes though added features and all of your experience means nothing when Mother Nature has other plans, like after delivering a load of steel coils to Detroit, Michigan, her barge, the 338' PML IRONMASTER became stuck in the ice-jammed St. Mary's River on her return trip to the Soo last January. Despite every effort by the veteran tugs WILFRED M. COHEN and PML fleetmate, ANGLIAN LADY (above, snapped in Port Colborne in 2012) to free her, the IRONMASTER had to be abandoned and to this day remains locked in the ice in the river.
Meanwhile, the PML tugs WILFRED M. COHEN and ANGLIAN LADY have remained tied-off at the Purvis dock in the Soo and waiting for the coast guard to open a path in the ice so the that the IRONMASTER can be retrieved and returned to her home base. When the barge became mired in the ice on January 27, the duration of the returned journey to date had already taken over 28 days. Patience has been the virtue this winter. It ain't over till it's over this year for sure. c);-b

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