Monday 25 August 2014

Bulk Carrier TECUMSEH

You've got to love the name selection for Lower Lakes Towing's fleet where all ships, with the exception of one, is named after First Nations leaders, their peoples or their unique translations. Like the classic straight-deck bulk carrier MANITOBA which like the Canadian province is named after what the Ojibwa people called 'Manidoobaa' meaning "Straits of Manitou, the Great Spirit" referring to the narrow channel at the centre of Lake Manitoba. The name of Lower Lakes bulk carrier KAMINISTIQUA ( is Ojibwa for 'river with islands', or their self unloader SAGINAW means "where the 'Sauk' peoples lived" in Eastern Michigan ( Other Aboriginal named Lower Lakes ships include CUYAHOGA, MISSISSAUGI, MANISTEE, MANITOWOC and MICHIPICOTEN.
However, the ship name that I like the best is on their 641' bulk carrier TECUMSEH. Tecumseh was leader of the Shawnees and though he was born in Ohio, he became an ally of the British during the War of 1812. Tecumseh is honoured in Canada as a hero and military commander who played a major role in Canada's successful repulsion of an American invasion in the War of 1812. Chief Tecumseh was killed in the Battle of Thames near current Chatham, Ontario on October 5, 1813.

When the ship TECUMSEH was built at the Lockheed Shipbuilding yards in Seattle, Washington in 1973, her name was SUGAR ISLANDER and she was the largest American bulk carrier ever built to date. Her name was ideal because the SUGAR ISLANDER's primary task was to transport raw sugar from Hawaii to California. Later her name was changed to ISLANDER, JUDY LITRICO and then TINA LITRICO when she was purchased by Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. of Port Dover, Ontario in 2011. The gross tonnage for the TECUMSEH is 18,049 tons and she can carry a variety of dry bulk cargoes including grain, salt and iron ore. Her homeport is Nanticoke which in Delaware means "winding" creek, which incidentally is what makes Lower Lakes ships unique as they are smaller and able to maneuver shallower lake ports and winding rivers like the Cuyahoga, which in Iroquois means "crooked' river. There's a meaning for everything, eh!! c);-b      

Sunday 17 August 2014

Heavy Lift Cargo Ship HHL CONGO (Revisited)

The first time I came across the upbound 453' HHL CONGO in July 2012, she was hauling a load of wind turbine towers across Lake St. Francis near Lancaster, Ontario.
On that day I didn't have my monopod to to help keep my little brownie steady when zooming in the far distant CONGO. Though it was getting dark fast, it was a easier snapping her last Thursday night as she approached and then transited Iroquois Lock on her way to Muskegon, Michigan. Instead of towers, this time it was turbine blades that were stacked high on her deck.      

When lauched in 2011 in Wuhu, Japan her name was BELUGA FEALTY. Later that year, she was purchased by Hansa Heavy Lift of Hamburg, Germany and  flies the flag of Antigua & Barbuda. Other HHLs that have frequented the Great Lakes includes the MISSISSIPPI, NILE, AMUR and the AMAZON which I snapped motoring downbound at near Mariatown on Labour Day 2012. Check it out: 

Bulk Carrier FRITZ

Apparently the FRITZ is no longer "on the fritz", or is it? The FRITZ was built in China in 2012, and everything appeared normal for the 622' bulk carrier when she passed Gibraltar on May 29th with her 18 tonne cargo of steel rods destined for Toledo, Ohio. Again no problems were known when she entered the St. Lawrence Seaway's St. Lambert Lock on June 9th but on the next day, the FRITZ dropped anchor in the Seaway channel just west of Upper Canada Village near Morrisburg, Ontario (where I snapped these photos on Canada Day) and remained there for a month.
Initially it was reported that the reason for the FRITZ's unscheduled anchorage was due to engine problems. However as days passed it also became known that the crew's morale was also "on the fritz" as they had not been paid for over three month and the ship was running low on supplies of fresh food and drinking water. Meanwhile, residents on both sides of the border began complaining about the extended stay of the badly rusting eyesore in their front yards with its ongoing loud noises and bellowing smoke from the funnel. Finally the FRITZ got underway and arrived at Oshawa, on July 9 where financial woes continued for the ship owner, Intersee of Haren Ems, Germany, and for the striking crew who were heard pleading for equipment from with local fisherman so that they could catch Lake Ontario fish to survive. Eventually a new investor provided funds to allow the FRITZ to be moved to Hamilton to repair its still "on the fritz" engine while an Oshawa area Romanian church provided fresh food for the crew who were mostly from Russia and Romania though the ship flies the flag of Liberia.
With a repaired engine and somewhat happier crew, the FRITZ finally arrived in Toledo on August 9th, and thereby actually taking about two months to complete a journey that should have normally taken a only a few days once entering the St. Lawrence Seaway. Though her cargo was finally delivered, the FRITZ's future is still somewhat "on the fritz" as the "Made in China" rust bucket has been detained in Toledo indefinitely. "Pan-fried Lake Erie Perch, anyone??" YUMMY!! c);-b  

Wednesday 6 August 2014


"Roll On, or Roll Off, Rolling on the River". Sorry CCR for botching up your great classic rock song "Proud Mary", but when I saw these two huge grey ladies parked side-by-side along the wide Mississippi River in New Orleans last May, I first thought, "Ooo-Ooo, Navy Ships, my favourite" and knew we had to get ourselves on the paddle-wheeler NATCHEZ (shown in this top snap) to check these girls out while we were "Rolling on the River".
But as we got closer, I could see that they weren't really navy oilers as anticipated, but instead two Roll On/Roll Off vehicle carriers, the CAPE KENNEDY (T-AKR-5083) and CAPE KNOX (T-AKR-5082) which both are operated by the US Navy's Sealift Command. Just like the snap shows as we approached them downriver, they are virtually twin sisters. They are both 696' long by 106' wide with a draft of 35' and have a top speed is 16.6 knots. They were also built at the same shipyard in Japan for Nedlloyd Lijnen of the Netherlands. The CAPE KENNEDY was launched as the NEDLLOYD ROSAIRIO in 1979 while CAPE KNOX was launched as the NEDLLOYD ROUEN a year earlier. In 1995 both vessels were purchased by the US Maritime Administration and placed on the National Defence Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF) and managed by Keystone Shipping in New Orleans. Currently there are 44 ships in the Ready Reserve Fleet docked in various ports along America's coastline, and 27 of the ships are RO/RO vehicle carriers.

Both CAPE KENNEDY and CAPE KNOX have side and stern ramps (the KNOX's stern ramp is lowered to the dock in my snap to the left) which enables wheeled cargoes to be driven on or off for loading and discharging much faster than conventional ships. Each also have 155,000 square feet of deck space on three cargo decks connected with ramps to move all sorts of military vehicles and aircraft. On their open deck, they can carry 1,550 containers or oversized military cargoes. Manned with a civilian crew, RRF ships take only 5 days to be activated and provide prompt sealift support in any event that they are needed which may also include peacekeeping or humanitarian response missions like during the aftermath of Haiti earthquakes.
Meanwhile, it's lay and wait time in the "Big Easy" for the sisters CAPE KENNEDY and CAPE KNOX until a need arises and so that they too will be "Rolling on the River" and showing their worth once again. c);-b