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Detroit River

Mike Nicholls

-- Canadian Olympic --

by George Wharton

The Great Lakes self-unloading bulk carrier Canadian Olympic was built at a cost of $30 million by Port Weller Dry Docks, St. Catherines, ON and was float-launched to the fit-out berth on May 24, 1976 for the Upper Lakes Group, Inc., Toronto, ON. She was named in recognition of the 1976 Olympic Games held in Montreal, PQ. The Canadian Olympic is powered by two MAN 8-cylinder 5,000 horsepower diesel engines driving a controllable pitch propeller giving her a rated service speed of 13 knots and is equipped with a 1,000 horsepower bow thruster. Her 22 hatches feed into one large hold where she can carry 26,650 tons at maximum Seaway draft of 26 feet and is capable of carrying 35,100 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 30-feet 1-inch. Her self-unloading equipment consists of a single belt gravity system with a reclaiming machine feeding a stern-mounted loop belt elevator to a 250-foot discharge boom that can be swung 100 degrees to port or starboard and unload at a rate of up to 6,096 tons/hour. This loop belt unloading system was the most efficient system developed at the time as it reduced spillage in the tunnel while unloading.

ULGI reinvested over $2 million in the Canadian Olympic during the winter lay-up of 1999/2000 when its unloading tunnel and loop were completely overhauled and renewed. Included were the replacement of all 93 hydraulically operated unloading gates and the gate hoppers. Also, the hold belt and roller frames were removed with all steelwork being sandblasted and epoxy coated; the tunnel tanktop was completely reclad with 3/8" steel; new roller frames were installed with a third of the rollers being replaced; and the loop belt housing was sandblasted and epoxy coated.

The Canadian Olympic sailed under the management of the newly created Seaway Marine Transport of St. Catherines, ON. Seaway Marine Transport was formed by the merging of the former Seaway Self-Unloaders and Seaway Bulk Carriers and remains a partnership of Algoma Central and Upper Lakes Group. Coal is one of the Canadian Olympic's main cargoes delivering to various power generating stations along the Great Lakes. Other commodities such as taconite pellets, grain products, or salt could be carried.

On February 25, 2011, a formal statement was issued announcing the sale of the privately owned Upper Lakes Shipping fleet and their associated interest in Seaway Marine Transport to Algoma Central Corporation.  Former Upper Lakes Chairman of the Board, company spokesman and owner John D. ("Jack") Leitch stated "It is with some regret and sadness that I tell you that we have decided to sell the vessels of Upper Lakes Shipping and our interest in Seaway Marine Transport to Algoma Central Corporation. A definitive agreement has been signed and the deal is anticipated to close in about a month. By the end of this season the proud logo on the funnels of Upper Lakes vessels will no longer be seen on the Great Lakes or along the St. Lawrence River."  Jack further states "For 80 years we have been a part of the Canadian landscape and of the fabric of the Canadian economy."  The Upper Lakes Shipping fleet will takes its place in modern Canadian Great Lakes history as having been a prominent player in the economic development of the regions served by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system.  On April 15, 2011, Algoma announced that the Canadian Olympic will be renamed Algoma Olympic.


Overall dimensions
 Length  730' 00"
 Beam  75' 00"
 Depth  46' 06"
 Capacity (tons)  35,100
 Diesel engines horsepower  9,000
 Self-unloading boom  250'

Ice escort, January, 2001. N. Schultheiss - from the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley.

Stuck at the lower end of the Livingston Channel.

USCG Mackinaw assists.


Stern view, Welland Canal. Capt. Alain M. Gindroz

Winter passage. Don Coles

Zug Island.  Mike Nicholls

Loading coal in Sandusky . Don Coles

Detroit River stern view. Mike Nicholls

Aerial view underway. Don Coles

Winter lay-up 1998. John Harris

Port Huron. Scott Tomlinson

Stern view. Scott Tomlinson

At Duluth with the anchor chain caught in propeller. Kent Rengo

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