Friday 18 January 2019

Veteran Tug SEAHOUND

Though I was at Toronto's Port Lands between Christmas and New Years, I just didn't have enough time to get any close up snaps of the MCKEIL SPIRIT which is a unique vessel that was built as a gearless bulk carrier and then converted into a self unloading cement carrier. Now there's an interesting story to tell about her and I'll get into it in an upcoming blogpost but on a very cold last Sunday  morning while trying to get a full length pic of her from a high berm that was covered in scrubs along Unwin Avenue and beyond mountains of road salt and concrete rumble, I was especially surprised to see tied off to the SPIRIT was the cute little toot, the 65' veteran tug SEAHOUND.

Most other times when I snapped the SEAHOUND, she'd also be laying in wait but more often tied off above the pilot master's shack and boat J.W. COOPER along West Street in Port Colborne like in these shots on November 19, 2015.

I saw on MarineTraffic that the 1000 hp twin screw SEAHOUND was active last winter  working with other McKeil tugs and barges on the wind turbine project on Amherst Island across from Bath on Lake Ontario, but any other winter when I was in Port Colborne to visit my mother, I would see her, (the tug that is)  at the same spot and ready to conduct icebreaking duties when required.

Built at Equitable Equipment in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1941, the then named MAJOR WM. E. WARNER was one of 600  ST's (Small Tugs) that were built at shipyards all over America including the Great Lakes to support the U.S.Army's  transportation services. While I could not find out where the MAJOR WM. E. WARNER was based, some ST's were involved or destroyed in WWII battle theatres like Normandy, and during the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts. She became flagged Canadian and started a new lease on life on the Great Lakes working in marine construction and dredging when she was sold to McNamara Construction Equipment of Whitby in 1957 while named "SEA HOUND" and then as CAROLYN JO when she was acquired by Pitt Engineering Construction of Toronto in 1980. Her name was returned to SEAHOUND a year after she was sold to Nadro Marine of Port Dover, Ontario, a subsidiary of McKeil Marine in 1999.
In her proud Canadian red with white trim Nadro colours and company logo displayed on her black stack with a white and red banner, the twin screw, 1000 horsepower SEAHOUND has been captured by more than just my camera lens during her work and rest breaks on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Seaway, and Welland Canal.
Michel Gosselin of St. Catharines caught the SEAHOUND assisting fleetmate LAC MANITOBA on the Welland Canal while delivering the former RCN Oberon-class submarine HMCS OJIBWA to her final home and duty as a museum at Port Burwell on Lake Erie. - November 18, 2012   
After a work project went terribly wrong in a swift hydro canal in Cornwall, Ontario, SEAHOUND was also there to bring the LAC MANITOBA home along with the McKeil tug SHARON M 1 as caught in this sad photo taken by Prescott's Helen Mott at Iroquois Lock on October 6, 2015.      
Joanne Crack, the administrator for the Facebook group, The Prescott Anchor, snapped the SEAHOUND on October 2, 2015 when moored in Prescott for supplies.
Lots of action in this photo taken December 31, 2017 by Michel Gosselin as the SEAHOUND clears a path through an unusually ice covered basin above Lock 1 in preparation for the arrival of Lower Lakes self unloader CUYAHOGA which would winter at Port Weller Dry Dock for an inspection and repairs    

Like in Michel's photo, all that remained of the Nadro Marine identity was their initials on her stack, that's barely visible  above the scrap tow, AMERICAN VICTORY's rudder as the SEAHOUND wedged herself beneath the stern and the lower Beauharnois lock wall in this pic to the right on June 27, 2018.

Regardless of her new McKeil Marine strips and colour scheme, her unique size and ten tonne bollard pull were the qualities that were needed most when tasked to assist this other former World War Two veteran,  the 730' AMERICAN VICTORY to Montreal during her last voyage out of the Great Lakes  early last summer. Such is true for any job the SEAHOUND has done in her 78 years in service and proof positive that just because you're getting old it doesn't mean you don't have what it takes to get the job done. Rest when you can and give it your all when called upon. If it can work for this little pooch, it can work for us all too.
Oh YAAA!! c):-D

Sunday 6 January 2019

Classic Self Unloader KAYE E. BARKER

While the locks along the St. Lawrence and Welland Canal sections of the Seaway closed for transiting on December 31st, the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan remains open so American and Canadian lakers are rushing this way and that way to get another load of iron ore and grain from Lake Superior ports before the 1,200 foot lock closes for winter repairs at midnight on January 15th.
The ship activity now is much like what we experienced during our visit along the St. Clair River in 2016 when while standing on the dock at the Bluewater Resort in St. Clair, Michigan on September 20th, no sooner had the 1000 foot articulated tug & barge (ATB) PRESQUE ISLE motored by upbound, from the distance downbound on her way to Detroit was the 767' classic straight-deck self unloader, KAYE E. BARKER minutes later. What a great venue the Bluewater Resort is.  
When she went into service in 1952 her name was EDWARD B. GREENE and was one of eight AAA KOREA-class bulk carriers especially built due to the domestic demand of ore and coal after WWII and during the Korean conflict. Like the other triple A's, the EDWARD B. GREENE was 647 feet long and built for the Cleveland Cliff Steamship Company at American Shipbuilding of Toledo, Ohio to haul iron ore from Marquette, Michigan on Lake Superior to Cleveland, Ohio on Lake Erie. However unlike the other, she had a distinctive triple deck forward house which provided large guest accommodations for her corporate passengers.
In 1976 she was lengthen to her current 767' at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin to increase her cargo capacity to 26,750 tons. In 1981 the GREENE returned to her original builder, in Toledo when she was converted into a self unloader with a 250' boom mounted onto her stern section which slightly reduced her cargo capacity to 25,900 tons but her turn around time to pick up another load of ore in Marquette was greatly reduced.
In 1985, her name was changed to BENSON FORD when sold to Rouge River Steel a division of Ford Corporation and began hauling ore from Marquette to Detroit. Her name was changed to KAYE E. BARKER after the wife of the Chairman of the Board and President of Interlakes Steamships, James R. Barker, when the Ford fleet was sold to the company started an exclusive contract to continue to haul Marquette ore to Ford's Rouge plant in 1989.

Riding high in ballast and pushing a white wake passed the Algoma tanker ALGOSOO and the oil refineries in Sarnia, I snapped the KAYE again upriver at Port Huron on the next day while she was motoring back to Marquette and obviously getting good use of her 8,160 horsepower diesel engines which replaced her original steam turbines in 2012.

Skimming along Michigan's upper peninsula is where I found the feisty KAYE E. BARKER this afternoon making one more run to Marquette and then back to the Rouge River  before laying up for winter. She's not the only boat out there as you can see from the MarineTraffic map. Battling strong gusts from the northeast on Lake Superior, is FAYE's husband, so to speak, the "footer" JAMES R. BARKER was well on her way to Whitefish Bay with a load of ore from Two Harbors for Nanticoke, Ontario on Lake Erie.
Until the Soo lock closes, every minute and cargo counts. But the good news is, it'll be business as usual before we know it in two and a half months. Meanwhile the rest will do us all good, don't you think? c):-D