Thursday 31 July 2014

Self Unloading Crane Ship YANKCANUCK (Final Chapter)

Today my Dad would have turned 88 and like so many good people, he died too young almost 23 years ago. He was a farm boy who became a sailor, and then while working on the Welland Canal, he operated bridges, and locks, and when he retired, he was a lockmaster for Lock 8 which along with making certain ships transited the longest lock on the Seaway without issue, he got to operate a really neat motorized cart which allowed him immediate access of the complete length of the lock, as well as a fun ride with Grandpa during a visit home to Port Colborne. What was really neat while growing up was that my Dad seemed to have first hand knowledge of when a special boat was coming through like the tall ship CHRISTIAN RADICH, or a navy ship like the Canadian destroyer with a Sea King helicopter on board, HMCS FRASER,, or the ship that we found by accident during our visit to the Soo last September, the self unloading crane ship YANKCANUCK.  
Though she looked pretty rough tied off to the Purvis Marine dock in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, I recall a much different appearance when seeing her for the first time as a kid tied up to the Algoma furnace plant wall with her bold black and white hull, a massive crane amidships and her yellow stack with two crossed flags: America's "Stars and Stripes" and Canada's flag then, the "Red Ensign". I even recall my Dad telling me that the reason why she had this unusual name was because the shipowner, (Captain John Manzzutti) was a Canadian and his wife, (Eleanor Cox) was an American, hence naming of his shipping company and this cargo ship with a crane the  "YANKCANUCK".
When launched in 1963 at Collingwood Shipyards, the 324' YANKCANUCK was the most modern vessel in company fleet which consisted of two small canallers, the MANZZUTTI and MANCOX. Like her smaller sisters, the YANKCANUCK was also equipped with a crane and was designed specifically to haul finished steel products between the Algoma Steel plant in Sault Ste. Marie and the Windsor/Detroit market. She was also known to move product throughout the upper lakes and frequented Port Colborne where Algoma also had a mill there. Since she had an ice-strengthen bow, the YANKCANUCK opened a new sailing season at the Soo on March 19, 1964. That was the earliest date ever then, though it's a regular occurrence these day with perhaps the exception being 'this" year thanks to that nasty @#%&! 'Polar Vortex' c):-o. Though she was sold to the Algoma Steel Corporation in 1970, it was business as usual for the versatile  YANKCANUCK as shipments were also sent up the St. Lawrence to Montreal and Port Cartier and then returning home with iron ore from Sept Iles, Quebec. Her powerful and movable crane came in handy more than once to lighten grounded ships and then reload them in deeper water. It was also used to transfer steel to salties in deep water anchorage in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and when owned by Purvis Marine, it was used to load and discharge cargo in the Arctic and outports along the Newfoundland and Labrador coastline.
She returned to the Soo in 2008 and has been laid up at the Purvis Marine and Salvage dock ever since. However, despite her grim and tattered appearance, her presence suggests that her potential value to be used once again to move cargo is far greater than having her cut up as scrap. Regardless of her state, I enjoyed seeing her again and I know my father would have too. Happy Birthday Dad, we miss you c);-))

Update - November 20, 2016:

I couldn't believe my eye. I thought she was gone years ago and there while driving along the harbour front at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario on September 17, 2013 was a familiar object, the old ore carrier, YANKCANUCK. As the sun was setting I quickly got this shot of her on my iPhone. It's definitely not my best pic but it was my first of her, a ship that in the past was only a visual memory. 
However from now on it will be my photos in this post that will be my memory as the grand lady YANKCANUCK took her final voyage behind the line of fleetmate tug W.I. SCOTT PURVIS for dismantling just up the St. Mary's to the Purvis scrapping facilities last Friday on November 18, 2016. Like so many other "Great" lakers, she too will soon be gone, but also not forgotten.  

1 comment:

  1. My mother worked 10 years on the "Yank", I'm sorry to hear that the ship has been scrapped.