Sunday 14 June 2015

Bulk Carrier CEDARGLEN (Revisited)

Times are changing for Canada's Great Lakes fleet. Even though it still costs less to transport cargoes by ship than by train or truck, the new build boom by Canada Steamship Lines and Algoma Central focuses on ships that are more efficient and environmentally friendly. Whether the name of the ship-class is called Trillium for CSL or Equinox for Algoma, these new boats cut costs because they are more automated, requiring less crews and more fuel efficient with their latest technology in pollution reduction. 
While recent news of Ohio-based Interlake Steamship Company's decision to convert their last steamer, the 56 year old self unloading ore carrier HERBERT L. JACKSON to diesel received glowing reviews (, the next generation Canadian flagged "newbies" that have been or are soon to be built will use heavy marine fuel and are equipped with integrated exhaust scrubbers which will remove 97% of sulphur oxides from exhaust systems. Due to the larger size, unique hull and bow configuration, these speedy "new kids on the block" boats are expected to be 45% more efficient per cargo tonne than others in their fleets. It's being dubbed the largest rebuild of the Canadian fleet since the 1960's and early 70's. Unfortunately though, since all Canadian Great Lakes shipyards have been closed and our other shipyards have been allocated for ongoing refits and new builds for Canada's Navy and Coast Guard for many years to come, the "first in show" neophytes are all being built overseas in China and Croatia. So much for our constantly being encouraged to "Buy Canadian" and keeping our investments at home. c):-l
Like any boat watcher, we all get a charge when we focus in on new "up & comer" like when I snapped CSL's first Trillium-class, self discharging bulk carrier, the 740' BAIE ST. PAUL exiting Lock 8 in Port Colborne in May 2013 (above, right). Meanwhile, just a few months later, two of CSL's "salty-laker" bulk carriers,  the 730' RICHELIEU and SAGUENAY left Montreal under their own power and destined to Turkey for scrapping. H'uh? c):-o When I snapped the just 31 year old SAGUENAY being walked through Iroquois Lock on December 26, 2012 (, little did I know that it was not only an end of season passage, but her last transit on the Great Lakes for good. Other older and less efficient Algoma boats have already been or are in the process of being scrapped to make way for the Equinox-class vessels, like former Upper Lakes classics QUEBECOIS, MONTREALAIS, TRANSFER and PROGRESS. Which ones will be next?  c):-(      

When I snapped the 730' CSL bulk carrier CEDARGLEN (below) exiting Iroquois Lock in November 2012, she was motoring upbound to Thunder Bay to pick up a load of grain. On this trip she was empty of iron ore, a cargo she was especially built to carry when launched in 1959 in Hamburg, Germany. Her name then was EMS ORE, and along with her eight sisters, the 546' bulk carrier with her sleek deep-sea bow and pilothouse amidships, hauled Venezuelan ore to Europe for about 27 years. In 1976, EMS ORE along sisters RHRINE ORE and RUHR ORE, were purchased by Montreal's Hall Corporation to carry Labrador ore to Hamilton's steel mills and then prairie grain downbound to St. Lawrence River elevators. When entering service in 1979, the newly named MONTCLIFFE HALL sported a new fore body which lengthened her to 730', the midship pilothouse and cabins were modified and moved to the stern. While her original diesel engine remained, MONTCLIFFE HALL also had a bow thruster installed along with a controllable pitch propeller.  
When Hallco went out of business in 1988, the MONTCLIFFE HALL and twin sister STEELCLIFFE HALL were acquired by N.M. Paterson & Sons Ltd. of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Soon after her name was changed to CARTIERDOC while the STEELCLIFFE became the WINDOC. The other sister was purchased by Algoma Central and was named ALGONTARIO. Named for the French explorer Jacques Cartier who discovered the St. Lawrence River Valley in 1534, with the added suffix "DOC" for Dominion Of Canada, CARTIERDOC continued the trade route she was designed for with Paterson & Sons and then Canada Steamship Lines when she was purchased in 2002 and became known as CEDARGLEN.
Currently the 56 year old CEDARGLEN is the oldest gearless bulk carrier in the CSL fleet. Despite her impressive 29,515 ton maximum carrying capacity, the "newbies" which are close to ten feet longer and almost three feet wider, can carry almost nine thousand tons of cargo more than the versatile CEDARGLEN.
Today, instead of plying our inland seas and channels, the tall and proud CEDAR sits high in the water and laid up in Goderich, Ontario's harbour until the fall due to "lack of work". Though ore shipments may have dropped off, such an excuse is pretty hard to believe on a day like so many this spring when two bulk carriers lay in anchor off Thunder Bay waiting for grain elevator dock space and two other bulkers according to MarineTraffic AIS appears to be motoring at a good speed towards Canada's largest grain port on the Great Lakes. Perhaps the real reason is it'll take until the fall for space to be available at Port Colborne's IMS scrapyard, which is currently busy cutting up to other classic lakers, the ALGOMA PROGRESS and AMERICAN FORTITUDE. After all, it's where Goderich's last long term layup, the ALGOMA TRANSFER end up. For the CEDARGLEN and her paid off crewman, let's hope it doesn't become a trend......

Updated March 7, 2019
 Waiting to enter the Beauharnois Locks on June 27, 2018

....well the trend of using Goderich as an IMS ship boneyard staging area may have been the case for long term layups ALGOMA TRANSFER, ALGOWAY and ALGORAIL, but my next series of photos is proof positive that the former salty built in 1959 and turned into a  laker in 1979, did not leave "Ontario's Prettiest Town" as a scrap-tow but actually the CEDARGLEN left Goderich under her own power in November 2015 and has been busy ever since.  

While celebrating our 44th Wedding Anniversary at Dewar's Inn on the River, I caught the aging CEDARGLEN again laden with cargo for a lower St. Lawrence port as she effortlessly glided by our cabin and then soon after met one of those "more automated and fuel efficient newbuilds" the 740' ALGOMA NIAGARA making lots of white water on her speedy upriver passage to the Great Lakes.
It is what it is but meanwhile, this winter the CEDARGLEN is laid up at Ironhead Shipyard in Toledo and once her repairs have been completed, she will be starting her 60th year of moving iron ore and grain on the deep and inland seas. Truly she's done yet. c):-))