Thalassa Desgagnés
IMO 7382988

Taking Lock 2 on the fly, April 3, 2011.
(Bill Bird)

On April 23, 1976, the shipbuilding firm of Ankerlokken Verft Glommen A/S of Fredrikstad, Norway, delivered their Hull 189 to Lars Rej Johansenn & Knut A. Knutsen. The 441’ 5" long by 56’ 5" wide by 32’ 10", double-hulled tanker was christened Joasla.

The Norwegian-registered vessel was listed at 5,895 gross tons. There were eight cargo tanks, each served with heating coils and able to maintain a temperature of 170 degrees Celsius through the use of two oil-fired boilers. The ship was powered by a model SK 42 EF Burmeister & Wain-designed diesel engine that was built by Hitachi Zosen in Innoshima, Japan. It developed 5,250 brake horsepower giving a service speed of 12.5 knots. Electrical power as supplied by three 500 kilowatt diesel-driven generators.

Joasla was designed to carry 9,748 metric tonnes or 67,259 barrels at a mid-summer draft of 25’ 11". The ship consumed 14.8 tons of heavy fuel and 1.8 tons of diesel oil per day under normal full load conditions.

In 1979, the ship was sold to M.T. Orinoco and registered in Sweden as Orinoco. The vessel was resold to the Horizon Development Corporation in 1982 enrolled in the Cayman Islands as Rio Orinoco. The ship usually loaded at Amuay Bay, Venezuela, or Tampico, Mexico, for U.S. Gulf Coast ports. It was under this name that the ship first came through the St. Lawrence Seaway on July 5, 1984.

On October 16, 1990, while inbound in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with a cargo of asphalt from St. Anna Bay, Curacao, to Montreal, Rio Orinoco ran aground off Anticosti Island southeast of Port Menier. The hull was being pounded by the heavy seas and many feared the ship would break up. The crew was airlifted to safety but, while badly holed, Rio Orinoco held together. The Canadian Coast Guard seized the vessel and a three-man crew spent the winter on board maintaining the pumps to keep the ship from sinking.

Due to the low temperature of the water, the cargo of asphalt solidified and a massive oil spill was averted. Initial attempts to free the stranded tanker failed and it was not until August 9, 1991, that Groupe Desgagnés, working on a "no cure, no pay" contract, was able to release the vessel. They reheated the cargo, pumped it into the refitted Jacques Desgagnés and pulled the hull free.

The ship was acquired by the Desgagnés organization and taken to MIL Davie Ltd., in Lauzon, QC, and rebuilt. The refurbished tanker, then listed at 5,999 gross tons and 3,864 net tons, underwent trials on December 18-20, 1993, and then resumed trading as Thalasssa Desgagnés in 1994.

The ship first went on a six-month charter to carry asphalt from Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela, to ports along the Atlantic coast and was the first unit in the Desgagnés subsidiary Petro-Nav Inc.

Thalassa Desgagnés made its first appearance in the Welland Canal on October 25, 1996, en route to Cleveland, Ohio, was a frequent visitor to the Great Lakes, often stopping at Oswego, New York. It was certified for worldwide trading and often ventured down the east coast to Providence, RI. She was classed Lloyd’s 100A1, ESP, Ice Class 1A, LMC UMS.

Thalassa Desgagnés’ career for the Desgagnés fleet came to an end in 2016, when she was laid up at Montreal, QC, and offered for sale. In February 2017, she was sold and renamed Asphalt Princess with at new registry of Palau. She departed Montreal for overseas on March 13, 2017.

Adapted with permission from "The Desgagnes Fleet" by Buck Longhurst, Mac Mackay, Skip Gillham.

Ship Particulars
Length 441' 05" (134.55m)
Beam 56' 05" (17.2m)
Depth 32' 10" (10.01m)
Midsummer Draft 26' 00" (7.92m)
Capacity 7,500 tons
Engine Power 5,000 bhp diesel
Previous Names
Asphalt Princess 2017 - Today
Thalassa Desgagnés 1993 - 2017
Rio Orinoco 1982 - 1993
Orinoco 1979 - 1982
Joasla 1976 - 1979


Upbound at Iroquois Lock, May 16, 1997.
(Ron Beaupre)

Stern view.
(Ron Beaupre)

Downbound passed the Thousand Islands Bridge, Oct. 1, 2004.
(Viktor Kazckowski)

Stern view.
(Viktor Kazckowski)

Downbound at Grassy Island, May 6, 2005.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view.
(Mike Nicholls)

Departing Lock 7 upbound, Nov. 26, 2009.
(John McCreery)

Laid up in Montreal for the winter, Feb. 14, 2010.
(Adrian Platts)

Approaching Homer Bridge on the Welland Canal, July 25, 2010.
(Bill Bird)

Stern view going under the Garden City Skyway.
(Bill Bird)

Passing St. Clair, April 13, 2013.
(Matt Miner)

Stern view.
(Matt Miner)

Anchored off Sorel, Nov. 15, 2014.
(Rene Beauchamp)



More pictures
from our archives


Return to Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping    Great Lakes Fleet Photo Gallery
Copyright © All Rights Reserved.