1995 Great Lakes Shipping Year in Review

By Rod Burdick

1995 on the Great Lakes was eventful. Vessels sported new names and colors. Others went for scrap.

The season started in early March with vessels sailing to replenish taconite supplies. American Steamship Company's (ASC) Buffalo was the first to leave lay-up on March 14. The Soo Locks opened on March 25. James R. Barker was first upbound. Philip R. Clarke followed downbound. The Seaway and Welland Canal opened March 24 and 25, respectively.
Canadian Olympic opened the vital link from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.

On the American side, Oglebay Norton vessels drew attention in the spring with new stack markings. The familiar 5-pointed star with a "c" was replaced with a 4-pointed star with an "on". New bow markings were unveiled last season. Also, Paul Thayer was renamed Earl W. Oglebay and William R. Roesch, David Z. Norton.

Inland Lakes S.T. Crapo was repowered to burn oil instead of coal. Inland Lakes announced that they are building a tug/barge at Sturgeon Bay. Their venerable E.M. Ford saw some service in 1995.

United States Steel's (USX) Edwin H. Gott carried her last cargoes with a "shuttle" boom. She will have a conventional boom installed at Sturgeon Bay during the 1995-96 lay-up.

Adam E. Cornelius remained on charter to Inland Steel from ASC.

Straight-Deckers J.L. Mauthe, John Sherwin, and Edward L. Ryerson remained inactive. They were the only American vessels not to see service in 1995.

On the Canadian side, Algostream, Canadian Hunter, Canadian Pathfinder, and Canadian Harvest went for scrap. The latter two vessels never sailed with their new names after transfer from Canada Steamship Lines (CSL).

CSL chartered the barge Sea Barge One with tug Atlantic Hickory from Halifax Grain Elevator Ltd. She was the former Adam E. Coenelius (3) of ASC. She carried mainly grain and stone throughout the lakes in 1995.

Former Columbia Transportation vessels, Crispin Oglebay and J. Burton Ayers, found new services. The Oglebay was purchased by Upper Lakes Shipping (ULS) and converted at Port Weller to a dockside unloader for service at the ore docks in Hamilton as Hamilton Transfer.
J. Burton Ayers purchased by Lower Lakes Towing and renamed Cuyahoga. Her new grey hull fits her normal stone trades. She is now the oldest Canadian laker. ULS also refit CSL's former Black Bay. She sailed in their colors as Canadian Voyager.

Algoma started the converstion of Capt. Henry Jackman to a self-unloader at Port Weller.

Finally, Imperial Oil chartered the tanker Wellington Kent for petroleum service around the lakes. The only Canadian lakers not to see service in 1995 were Saguenay, Vandoc, and Quedoc.

Major mishaps included St. Clair's grounding at Taconite Harbor on April 29 and James Norris' sinking on November 12 at the Colborne stone dock on Lake Ontario during heavy weather. The Norris will be repaired and repowered with a diesel engine during lay-up at Port Weller.

1995 ended with heavy ice clogging the St. Marys and St. Clair Rivers. Many vessels needed Coast Guard and local tug assistance. The Soo Locks closed on January 15 with the downbound passage of Philip R. Clarke. Ore shipping continued at Escanaba.

Overall, 1995 was a good year for Great Lakes shippers. Demand for ore, coal, stone, and cement was high on the American side. American's grain fleet, Kinsman Independent and Kinsman Enterprise, sailed most of the season. Canadian grain shipping was strong during the spring and fall. Backhauls of ore from the Seaway were plentiful. Self-unloaders moved many tons of aggregates.


completed on January 26, 1996 by Rod Burdick