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Saginaw River

Todd Shorkey

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Algorail (2)

By George Wharton

Christened April 1, 1968 as the Algorail (2), this medium sized Great Lakes self-unloading bulk carrier was built by Collingwood Shipyards, Collingwood, ON for Algoma Central Corp., Sault Ste. Marie, ON. She is powered by 4 Fairbanks-Morse 10-38D8-1/8 10-cylinder diesel engines producing a total installed 6,664 horsepower, a 600 horsepower bow thruster, and a 1000 horsepower stern thruster. The Algorail has 17 hatches feeding into 4 holds where she can carry 19,975 tons at maximum Seaway draft of 26 feet and is capable of carrying 23,750 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 29 feet 2 inches. Her bow-mounted self-unloading equipment consists of a three belt gravity system with two cleated steel chord belt elevators feeding a 250 foot discharge boom that can be swung 105 degrees to port or starboard discharging at a rate of up to 3,810 tonnes per hour.

The Algorail name has been associated with the Algoma fleet since 1936. The name is derived from the parent company name (Algo) and the company's now former related railway operations (rail). The Algorail (2)'s predecessor was launched as the William S. Mack on Sept.21, 1901. This traditional styled steel bulk freighter was built by American Shipbuilding Co. of Lorain, OH for the Lake Erie Transportation Company. Her dimensions were 366' (loa) x 48' x 28', 3720 GRT and her power derived from a coal fired triple expansion steam engine. The William S. Mack was acquired by the Algoma Central and Hudson Bay Railway Co., Sault Ste. Marie, ON late in 1917. She was renamed Home Smith in 1918 when she was painted the Algoma colors. After a rebuild, the vessel was renamed Algorail (1) in 1936. The Algorail (1) remained a part of the Algoma fleet until she was retired at the close of the 1962 season. She was scrapped in Toronto, ON in 1963.

Of note; on Oct. 6,1972; the Algorail(2), being heavy with a load of salt from Goderich, ON, was driven by rough seas into the pier at Holland, MI opening a 12 foot gash in her bow. After settling on the bottom, she was patched, refloated, and put back into service in quick order. The Algorail ran aground on April 20, 1999 in the Fox River Turning Basin, Green Bay, WI. She was not damaged but the prop wash from the tugs attempting to free her damaged two City of Green Bay docks.

The Algorail currently sails under the management of Seaway Marine Transport (partnership of Algoma Central and Upper Lakes Group). Her cargo could consist of coal/coke, aggregates, slag, iron ore/oxides, salt, fertilizers, grain products, gypsum, quartzite, or sand. Her smaller size allows her to visit ports that may not be considered accessible to larger carriers.

The versatility of this vessel can best be illustrated by a partial listing of the locations visited by the Algorail during a typical navigation season. These include the Michigan ports of Calcite, Detroit, Ferrysburg, Gladstone, Ludington, Manistee, Marine City, Marysville, Muskegon, Saginaw, & Stoneport; Ohio ports of Lorain, Marblehead, Sandusky, & Toledo, Wisconsin ports of Green Bay, & Milwaukee; Ontario ports of Badgley Island, Goderich, Kingsville, Meldrum Bay, Midland, Parry Sound, Sarnia, Sault Ste, Marie, Sombra, Thessalon, & Windsor; as well as Buffalo, NY and Chicago, IL.

Overall dimensions
Length 640'05"
Beam 72'03"
Depth 40'00"
Capacity (tons) 23,750

Cleveland. TZ

Close up.

Saginaw River. Todd Shorkey

Saginaw River. Todd Shorkey

passing the Cleveland Breakwall Light. TZ

Stern view Detroit River.
Mike Nicholls

Welland Canal. Alex Howard

Boom breaks. Ron Konkol

Close up

Detroit River.
Mike Nicholls

Lock 7, Welland Canal. Alex Howard

Detroit River.
Mike Nicholls

Soo Locks. Scott Tomlinson

Escorted through the Port Huron to Mackinaw Sail boat race. Clayton Sharrard

Unloading in Milwaukee. Andy LaBorde

Rock Cut, 2003. N. Schultheiss

Tug assisting in Detroit.
Mike Nicholls

Winter passage. Stephen Hause

Unloading. Don Geske

Port Huron. Bill Hoey

Detroit River. Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

Inbound Saginaw. Todd Shorkey

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