Sunday 18 November 2018

Dry Bulk Carrier ALGONORTH

Ships come and go, upbound or downbound, fully loaded or high in ballast. While no ship can sail forever, their names can be repeated time and time again. When the then 730’ straight-deck FRONTENAC entered service in 1968, four others sailed with that name. The American Steamships stern-end self unloading JOHN J. BOLAND is also the fourth to be named after the company’s founder. There’s been three SAGINAW’s to date and if you skim through the pages of your 2018 "Know Your SHIPS" you'll see a slew of others that have a repeated name at least once like the current CSL “Glen’s” CEDARGLEN, SPRUCEGLEN and OAKGLEN (three actually) and ditto that for their Trillium-class self discharging bulk carriers with the exception of the BAIE COMEAU which is the third to bear that name. In Algoma’s current fleet, "twice-namers" go to the ALGOSEA and ALGONOVA,  and soon the newly acquired 472’ tanker, RAMIRA will be the second ALGONORTH in their fleet.
My only opportunity to photograph the first ALGONORTH was on August 5, 2007 while taking in the fun activities on West Street during Port Colborne’s Canal Days festival that year. On that day the 729' 11" gearless bulk carrier approached Bridge 21 from Lake Erie sitting low in the water which probably was a load of grain for the elevators further down on the St. Lawrence River or Gulf.
Built in 1970 at Upper Clyde Shipbuilding in Govan, Scotland for Lambert Brothers Shipping of London, England, the then named TEMPLE BAR was 527’9” and had a cargo capacity of 22,157 tons. In September of 1976 TEMPLE BAR was sold to Nipigon Transport (Carryore Ltd.) of Montreal and two month later she arrived at Jurong Shipyards, in Singapore to be lengthened to one inch less of the then Seaway- max size and converted for service on the Great Lakes. Rebuilt and now with a cargo capacity of 28,750 tons in five holds and eighteen hatches, the TEMPLE BAR left Singapore in April 1977 for the Great Lakes via the Suez Canal.
A few thumbnails from my Canal Days video. Check it out below.
On May 19th she arrived at Port Colborne with a new name, LAKE NIPIGON for a final "pre-working on the Great Lakes" refit which included the installation of a hatch crane, deck winches and the removal of her deepsea strengthening steelwork. After all was completed, the LAKE NIPIGON  became busy like most gearless bulk carriers, hauling prairie wheat to St. Lawrence River grain elevators and returning to the upper lakes for more after having a cargo of Labrador iron ore unloadied at a Hamilton steel mill.
Her name was changed to LAKETON when she was chartered to Misener Transportation in 1984 but it was changed back to LAKE NIPIGON in the following year when she rejoined the Nipigon Transport fleet and that name was kept even when Algoma Central acquired the Nipigon and Carryore fleet in April 1986. However after a refit and having a coat of Algoma navy blue paint applied to her hull at Port Weller Dry Dock, the stern-end bulker re-entered service in the summer of ‘87, as the ALGONORTH. 
ALGONORTH staying far away from the "Grim Reaper" SALVAGE MONARCH tied off by the old coal dock.

For the next 25 years ALGONORTH continued in the same grain and ore trade that she had done since entering the Great Lakes 11 years earlier, but she did have more than her share of misfortunes such as groundings, making contact with a Toledo bridge in 1992 and then a dock there in 2011 than spilled 3,500 barrels of diesel fuel into the Maumee River. In August 1994 she collided with the saltie RIXTA OLDENDORF in the Beauharnois Canal, a fire broke out in a hold while wintering at the Redpath Sugar dock in Toronto in February 2005 and almost 6 months to the day a fire on Lake Superior caused an engine room blackout. Anchors dropped to prevent her from drifting, the Gravel and Lakes tug ROBERT JOHN was eventually dispatched to tow her back Thunder Bay. Due to a delay of parts, her stroke of bad luck or lack of stroke there of, forced the ALGONORTH to operate with only one engine after her starboard engine crankshaft seized up in June 2006.
Photo by Matt Carlson - July 13, 2012
The hardworking lady continued to lumber along for a few more years before her big Dutch built Werkpoor engine would be shut down for good on January 1, 2009 at the former Agricore United grain elevator slip at Thunder Bay, a place where she had been a fixture for more than 30 year carrying over 30 million tonnes of grain from that port's elevators.

Matthew Carlson, who was painting the tug, POINT VALOUR was definitely at the right place at the right time on July 13, 2012 when he captured the ALGONORTH being pulled out of the old Agricore United slip by the Sault Ste. Marie based Purvis Marine tug ANGLIAN LADY. Once beyond the dark shadow of the grain elevator exposed were the old girl's designed for deepsea trading big bulbous bow and above a long swatch of black paint spread sloppily over her name and Algoma's bear emblem. Anytime I had seen the built in 1953 in Southampton, England tug, she was pushing or pulling a company barge, but on the day, after a stern line was released to the Thunder Bay Tug Service's tug GLENADA at the entrance to the Lakehead's harbour, the 132' ANGLIAN LADY lead her nameless scrap-tow into Lake Superior.
Photo by Matt Carlson - July 13, 2012
Most everyone presumed the former bulk carrier would be taken to the new owner, Marine Recycling Corporation's ship breaking yard in Port Colborne, but they had enough work there, so instead the end of her last voyage was also her homeport, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, arriving there for the final time on July 19, 2012.
Algoma Central photo of homebound crew at Goteburg, Sweden

The hard steel of the original ore and grain carrying ALGONORTH maybe gone but her name, which referred to Algoma's railway route "NORTH" from Sault Ste. Marie, is also being re-used and now appearing on Algoma Tankers Ltd.'s seventh vessel, currently motoring at 13.2 knot in the Celtic Sea south of Ireland making her way to Canada. The "new" ALGONORTH was built in 2008 and has a 16,958 dwt liquid bulk cargo capacity, which is slightly less than fleetmate, ALGOSEA. Got to love the company's "Name The Tanker Contest" choice and we all wish her Atlantic transit crew posing in a photo I found on Facebook ship-watching group, The Prescott Anchor, a speedy but safe journey home.
Thank you Matthew Carlson for putting down that paint roller long enough to take these  great pics, and to you George Wharton for the well written backgrounder.  Here's my video of the ALGONORTH passing beneath Bridge 21 in Port Colborne during Canal Days on August 5, 2007. Enjoy!! (

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