Tuesday 31 December 2019

Last River Run - Part 1: Self Unloader ALGOMA MARINER

It’s that time of year again. It just seems like yesterday that I was standing at Loyalist Park about midway between Morrisburg and Iroquois on Lakeshore Drive waiting for the first upbound of the new shipping season, the 656’ Fednav bulk carrier FEDERAL KUMANO to motor by. While the weather conditions were almost identical with a scattering of snow on the ground and temps hovering above freezing, it was actually 9 months plus 2 days from my first to Saturday’s last run to  the St. Lawrence River.
FEDERAL ALSTER unloading at Ogdensburg, N.Y. - September 30. 2019
I’ll admit it, the ship that I wanted to get was the FEDERAL ALSTER, also a Fednav laker-type bulk carrier which I caught unloading across the river at Ogdensburg in June and was going to be the second to last saltie to make it out of the Great Lakes before the St. Lawrence section of the Seaway closed today at noon.
True, I would have liked to get the very last downbound saltie of the season but the FEARLESS was still somewhere out on Lake Erie, it was virtually empty due to a freezing problem in her lines that was discovered in Thunder Bay. There were even concerns that she maybe wintering there. She was to be passing through Iroquois Lock later Sunday afternoon which was when a major ice and winter storm was to blow through our neck of the woods, making it pretty risky for my drive from Ottawa to the River and back. As it turned out though the FEARLESS motored from the Lakehead high in ballast on schedule and the winter storm was a day late. What are you going to do 😁.
However as an added bonus, I saw that the 740' Algoma Central self unloader ALGOMA MARINER was also making her last upbound river run so it was off to Brockville to catch her first.

ALGOPORT unknowingly leaving Great Lakes for last time
- taken by Ron Beaupre - June 28, 2009
Now here’s a ship with a very interesting background which could explain for her rugged well worked look. She all came to be due to an unfortunate happening to the then often idle Algoma self unloader ALGOPORT which sank in the East China Sea off Japan on September 6, 2009 while being towed to China for a new forebody. The plan for the 680’ Nova Scotia-class ALGOPORT which was named for my old hometown, Port Colborne, was to have a new longer and wider Seaway-max forebody, (a.k.a. the cargo holds and bow section of a ship) attached to her wheelhouse and accommodation stern section. The plan worked for ALGOPORT’s sister, ALGOBAY which now plies the Great Lakes and eastern seaboard during some winter months as the RADCLIFFE R. LATIMER.
ALGOMA MARINER about unload more road salt at the Port of Johnstown - June 18, 2018. 

Wheelhouse similar to next generation Equinox-class newbuilds.
With no stern section to attach to it, the new forebody sat idle for a year until Upper Lakes Shipping Corporation decided to use it for a new self unloader to be named CANADIAN MARINER. However that name was changed to ALGOMA MARINER when Algoma Central acquired Upper Lakes Shipping's complete fleet in February 2011. With the exception of a bulbous bow which is common for ocean-going freighters, the wheelhouse and accommodations section of the new ALGOMA MARINER looks very similar to the company’s current Equinox-class gearless and self discharging bulk carriers, don't you think.

When the new vessel arrived at Port Cartier on August 2, 2011 to pick up a load iron ore pellets for a Hamilton steel mill, her port of registry was Toronto, where previous-owner's  head office was located but soon after it was changed to Port Colborne and then dedicated at a special ceremony at the Lake Erie port on August 25, 2011 in recognition of the communities long standing relationship with Algoma Central and for company’s subsidiary Fraser Ship Repairs, which has been based in Port Colborne for many years. Kudos to Algoma Central for that and the ship-like designed skateboard park at Lock 8 which is named ALGOPORT.

Downbound ALGOMA MARINER plays peekaboo between the
shoreline trees and islets east of Cornwall - June 15, 2015
After an unexpected Captain's Salute of one long and two short blasts from her horn πŸ“’ to the group of us present for her last upbound run past Blockhouse Island Park, I was able to continue to track the Coastal-class ALGOMA MARINER despite a few glitches with my Canon πŸ“·Rebel (appropriately named) as she made her way towards the Brockville Narrow until she was nearly out of sight. For the last few days she's sat anchored of Port Weller and east of the Burlington Skyway. However according to MarineTraffic she is currently underway bound for Clarkson to finally deliver her cargo. After that she probably layup for winter in Hamilton or with the Welland Canal still open until January 8th, perhaps another run to the upper lakes is in order for the 8 year old ship. we'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, coming up in Part 2 of my "Last River Run" we'll be at Iroquois Lock to meet up with the FEDERAL ALSTER during her escape from the Great White ⛄ North and in the distance, another "Red Boat". Canadian Coast Guard ship GRIFFON. I wonder what she's up to? Well you'll find out NEXT YEAR!!! Until then have a Happy New Year πŸŽ‰, thanks for reading my blog and saying so many nice things about my pics. Take care and I wish you All the Best in 2020. πŸ‘‹. 

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