Wednesday 17 February 2016

Ocean-class self unloader ALGOMA INTEGRITY

Picked the right day on Monday to venture down to the Port of Montreal to checkout the winter layups. True it was quite cold in the wind which repeatly shut down my camera until I was able to shield in a pocket until I was ready to snap one off. Google Map directed me to Parc-du-harve near the roadway to the old EXPO '67 site from Kanata in 2 hours and 17 minutes nonstop. Though the concession stand and washrooms were closed, the park's shoreline outlooks offered a spectacular view of Montreal's downtown skyline, and most of all, a wonderful upfront array of boats snug and motionless at various piers and docks waiting for a new shipping season to begin but meanwhile easy prey for the my lens' taking. With so many laker's positioning systems shut off for the season, I wasn't completely certain what I was going to find, or how accessible were they going to be to photograph. I lucked big time because there in front of me was a girl I thought I'd never see again, the ALGOMA NAVIGATOR, ( bow outwards and looking pretty normal in a tattered and weathered kind of way with her name clearly on display and not painted over as expected. Perhaps her last voyage to the Turkish shipbreakers has been delayed for another season, or two? That would be nice.
Looking west I also captured a couple girls that I posted about a while ago, the Algoma bulker, TIM S. DOOL ( and CSL Trillium-class self unloader, BAIE ST. PAUL both bellied alongside each other. Further west along the Bickerdike basin wall were a few of new views for me, first two Desgagnés RO/RO carriers ANNA, and CAMILLA DESGAGNÉS and then the huge Seaway gate lifter VM/S HERCULES. Oh, when am I going to have the time to writes about these newbies, I thought.
To the east I recognised two of the three red hulled bulkers as CSL WELLAND and CSL ST. LAURENT followed by in the distance, the tanker THALASSA DESGAGNÉS and another gearless bulker, ALGOMA DISCOVERY.
The second surprise of the day came when I realized that the other red hulled vessel that was parked by the Molson beer distillery, was not a CSL but rather the recent Algoma acquisition and another that I had never seen before, the 646.5' ALGOMA INTEGRITY.

When the Panamax ocean-class self unloader was built in 2009 at the EISA shipyards in Rio de Janeiro her name was GYPSUM INTEGRITY and designed specifically to haul gypsum which is used to manufacture wallboard, from Hantsport or Little Narrow, in Nova Scotia to plants in the United States. During the U.S. recession, demand for gypsum declined so the INTEGRITY was reassigned to ocean trade duties primarily hauling iron ore from Sierra Leone. Though smaller in length to most of her fleetmates, ALGOMA INTEGRITY is 105' wide and therefore will never been seen in the Great Lakes due to the Seaway's maximum width requirement of 80'. Not a problem because since this wide body biggy was purchased by Alogoma Central Marine in 2015, she has only being used to haul iron ore from Port Cartier to the ArcelorMittel steel plant at Contrecouer, Quebec. Having ALGOMA INTEGRITY focus on this main run has freed ups other Algoma fleetmates to work other trades on the Great Lakes. Also, along with being wider than what we are used to seeing down here in this neck of the Seaway, ALGOMA INTEGRITY is also equipped with a 40 to 72 metre telescopic boom, which allows her to discharge up to 3,000 tonnes of cargo in an hour. Pretty impressive ship and capture. She's got what it takes and like her owner, she has INTEGRITY.  c):-D

Sunday 14 February 2016

Former TANAC Tug M.R. KANE

I can't tell you how many times I have visited Toronto Harbour to see and an almost lifeless waterfront with its usual cluster of short and longterm layups. True, sometimes I'll luck out and see a Canfornav "duck" boat like the MOTTLER or SHOVELER offloading her cargo of sugar at Redpath's but for the most part with the odd exception of a wind-starved sail excursion boat being motored passed the Harbourcastle, the only motion visible along this once vibrant Great Lakes port, would the half hour crossovers of the Toronto Island ferries.
However, the outcome during my last visit to the big smoke on September 24th was quite different, when while walking Tanner along the west end of the Cherry Beach dog park, there suddenly appeared the veteran tug M.R. KANE making good speed while pushing a low in the water sludge scow into the outer harbour where it would be dumped along the always extended shoreline of Toronto's man-made Lesley Spit. True, it's not a pretty job for the hardworking 60.5' KANE hauling silt from the mouth of the Don River but she was being useful and that's all that counts for the 70 year old former Canadian navy tug.

When launched in 1945 at the Central Bridge Company of Trenton, Ontario, she was known as the TANAC V-276. Don't quote me on this but I've read that the word TANAC was an acronym that combined the letter "T" for tug with the start of "Canada" spelled backwards to identify the 265 Canadian tugs that were built during World War II for the British Ministry of War who foresaw a need for several small harbour tugs worldwide. If you ask me, a simple "CT" for "Canadian Tug" could have worked just as easily too along with the real meaning of the letter "V" which some say it was "V for Victory" while others say it was for the tug's "Vivian" diesel engines that were built in Vancouver. No one seems to know but for certain, the dimensions for the single screw tugs were 60.5' x 16.5' x 7', they could accommodate a crew of 6 and each had firefighting capability.

Just the other day I watched in amazement at a time-lapsed video of a cruise ships being put together in sections, meanwhile the made of steel Tanacs were also prefabricated and assembled by a group of established or makeshift shipbuilders along the Great Lakes. During the war years, 69 Tanacs were built at Canada Bridge in Walkerville (currently Windsor), 156 were assembled at Trenton's Central Bridge and according to Steve Briggs who manages the website, 13 were assembled by Russell Brothers Limited's Steelcraft Products in Owen Sound. Of the 35 wooden versions of the tug, 25 were built in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and the other ten were built at nearby Mahone Bay.  Once completed the Trenton built tugs were motored across Lake Ontario to Oswego, New York and then they continued their journey via the Erie Canal and Hudson River to New York City where they were loaded onto freighters and shipped to destination all over the world. The upper lakes' built Tanacs were loaded and shipped out from New Orleans after making their way south down the Mississippi River via Chicago.

I wasn't able to find anything that suggested exactly where the Tanacs were shipped to, but I did read that the Royal Navy had 38 and were said to have been used during the D-Day invasion. After the war, of the 50 that were still under construction in Canada, 12 were shipped to China, the Royal Canadian Navy kept 9 and were used on both coasts for yard duty, firefighting and also towed target vessels for anti-submarine warfare training.
The remaining Tanacs were sold off for commercial use and at some point McKeil Marine of Hamilton had four including the LAC MANITOBA which many of us living along or near the St. Lawrence, know of this little workhouse which sank after a collision while trying in ernest to maneouvre a crane barge in an extremely swift current at Cornwall, Ontario last summer.
TANAC V-276 was sold off for civilian use in 1947 and became known as M.R. KANE. Though I've not been able to find any background information about what she's done since her navy days or even who her namesake was, I'm happy to say the little lady, M.R. KANE is still operational in Toronto and doing what she was built to do along with many TANAC that remain in use in Australia, Malta and the United States. Meanwhile, please let me know if there are other TANAC tugs near you? I'd be interested sharing their stories. Meanwhile, for a more comprehensive overview and archive photos of other TANAC tugs, check out this link:

Sunday 7 February 2016


There’s just no stopping this girl this year. I bearly made it to Iroquois Lock in time last April to get these snaps of the 730' ALGOMA TRANSPORT as she made her way downbound heading to Port Cartier, Quebec. And then look at yesterday, while all other of Algoma Central's self discharging and gearless bulk carriers were laid up at variety of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ports, the  TRANSPORT was still underway motoring downbound on Lake Huron making her way to Sarnia after dropping another load of road salt at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While tracking her last night on MarineTraffic, it looked like she was simply heading down to the Esso dock to top up her tanks in preparation for another salt run but at around 12:15 this morning I saw that with the assistance of the harbour tug, PRIDE, the hardworking ALGOMA TRANSPORT's extended shipping season was coming to an end as she backed-in to Sarnia's Government dock.

Like her self discharging fleetmates, the TRANSPORT remained busy throughout this year's shipping season transferring another bumper crop of prairie wheat to St. Lawrence River grain elevators for deepsea bulk carrier passage to European markets, then hauling Labrador ore back up to Great Lakes steel mills. However the trade that got her season going and ending was hauling road salt like what she was about to do when fellow boat watcher, Bonnie Fera snapped this shot of her loading salt at the Sifto Canada facilities in Goderich, "Canada's Prettiest Town" by the way according to Bonnie on April 17th. It's what ALGOMA TRANSPORT was hauling when she motored by me at Iroquois just days later. Meanwhile, in the past few weeks since the Seaway closed for winter, the 35,000 ton capacity TRANSPORT also delivered the mined under Lake Huron ice and snow melting product to Detroit, Chicago and at least one earlier visit to Milwaukee.

When launched in 1979 at Port Weller Dry Docks for Toronto's Upper Lakes Group, her name was CANADIAN TRANSPORT which was the name that she bore when I first captured her (above) during winter layup in Port Colborne on January 2, 2011. Little did I know when I snapped this picture that the TRANSPORT and her Upper Lakes fleetmates would all lose their unique "CANADIAN" suffix to their name and have it replaced with "ALGOMA" when Algoma Central acquired the shipping company outright just a few weeks later on February 25th, 2011.

Just like her almost identical former ULS sisters, ENTERPRISE and OLYMPIC (, ALGOMA  TRANSPORT remains useful despite their age while wearing the Algoma colours and names. While kicking up the lock waters astern and then turning towards Mariatown, ALGOMA TRANSPORT looked pretty eager to get to her next destination last April.  Meanwhile though, it's time for a much deserved break for all concerned as a new shipping season is fast approaching. I know I can hardly wait. How about you? c);-b

Wednesday 3 February 2016


She's called the river that never sleeps and what better way is there to see all that Mississippi River boat action than on the authentic steam-powered paddlewheeler NATCHEZ like my wife and I did back in May 2014. The view is quite incredible as the 40 year old steam-powered replica  NATCHEZ sauntered along at an anticipated "Big Easy" pace passing sleepy neighbourhoods behind the high man-made levy on either side of the river, the lay in waiting barges and tow boats tied off to the shoreline waiting for dock space or a wide body Panamax bulk carrier to motor up from the Gulf and take on their loads of coal, grain and various aggregates. Then there's the in your face action of underway tow boats & barges, container and cruise ships, tankers, coast guard launches or speedy harbour tugs like the LOUISIANA (up top) looking pretty impressive in her tan and red Crescent Towing colours pushing water all the way to her home base after completed another call of duty. c):-))

Just like what any of their tugs may be tasked to push or pull on any given day, Crescent Towing's headquarters is located on a huge and long barge. How apropo is that? Established in 1942 by the Smith Family of New Orleans and after 37 years of providing premier service of ship escorts, dock or undocking from Baton Rouge to the mouth of the Mississippi River, Crescent expanded their operations to Mobile, Alabama in 1979 and Savannah, Georgia in 1983. Crescent Towing & Salvage has a fleet of 28 tugs of which 18 are based in New Orleans. However, when the NATCHEZ paddled by their floating HQ, five of the veteran tugs sat idle but like any harbour tug, ready and waiting for their next task.
The first tug we came across while heading back up river towards Algiers Point was 94' PORT ALLEN. She was originally built for the U.S. Navy at Consolidated Shipbuilding in Morrison Heights, New York, and designated YTB-541 (OCETTE). Soon after launching in 1945, the yard tugboat was assigned to the 1st Naval District in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1970, OCETTE was decommissioned from the navy and named DIRIGO, and after 45 years of working the waters around Boston for other government agencies, the single screw harbour tug as acquired by Crescent Towing & Salvage Inc. in 1980 and renamed PORT ALLEN.
Sitting just above the PORT ALLEN were another pair of beauties, the twin screw  LOUISIANA and the single screw PORT HUDSON. The 98.4' LOUISIANA was built in 1959 by Dravco Corporation of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and after launching she worked as a railway tug for Pennsylvania Railroad Company of Philadelphia while named HARRISBURG. Her name was changed to ELIZABETH SMITH when Crescent Towing purchased her in 1985. The hard working girl got repowered and quite the facelift with a new wheelhouse, stacks and window to improve visibility in 2004 during a life extension rebuild in 2004. ELIZABETH SMITH became known as LOUISIANA in 2008.
Meanwhile, the 93.1' PORT HUDSON was built in 1943 at Canulette Shipbuilding of Slidell, Louisiana, for the United States Maritime Commission. In 1945 she was transferred to the U.S. Navy and designated YTB-724 (WABAQUASSET) until she was acquired by Crescent Towing in 1946 and renamed PORT HUDSON.

In her early years, the 98.4' MARGARET F. COOPER  also worked as a railroad tug for Pennsylvania Railroad while named CINCINNATI. Like the LOUISIANA, she was also built at Dravco Corporation of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1959. Her names was changed to REBECCA SMITH when the tug was purchased by Crescent Towing and transferred to New Orleans in 1978. Soon after she was repowered and given a life extension rebuild, her name was changed to MARGARET F. COOPER in 2008. Yupe, that's her sitting high and dry just across the river in Bollinger Shipyard's floating drydock, MISS DARBY. Check out her huge twin screws, eh!! Oh YAA c):-D
 ...and last but not least during our NATCHEZ paddle-by was the 95.4' MIRIAM WALMSLEY COOPER who started her life as the New York City Fireboat HARVEY H. ARCHER M.D.. She was built in 1958 at John H. Mathis Shipyards of Camden, New Jersey and when bought be Crescent Towing in 1995, she was converted into a towing vessel and renamed MIRIAM WALMSLEY COOPER.
Sometimes tugs and their crews have must go above and beyond their regular call of duty to save lives or keep a community going. Like while Hurricane Katrina lashed her wrath on the people of New Orleans and along the Gulf coast just almost ten and a half years ago, the crews and tugs of Crescent Towing served as first responders on the Mississippi River, working around the clock to catch break-away ships, hold-in large vessels to various docks, dock and moor ships delivering military personnel and crucial supplies needed to support rescue operations as well as fight many large fires that engulfed several wharves. For your gallant efforts during New Orleans and Louisiana's greatest time of need, I say thank you and my hat c) goes off to you all.  :-))