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St. Marys River

Jim Hoffman

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin

By Skip Gillham


This ship was built at Collingwood, Ont., and launched on July 12, 1973 as the H.M. GRIFFITH. It left in late October to load iron ore at Thunder Bay for the Steel Company of Canada plant at Hamilton.

The 730 foot long by 75 foot wide freighter was registered at 22,722 gross tons. Although ore and coal have been the predominant cargoes over the years, the H.M. GRIFFITH set a record for corn of l,073,000 bushels from Chicago to Montreal in November 1973 and a corn record of 1,045,000 out of Toledo on December 4, l984.

There have been several "firsts" over the years including Welland Canal openings for each of 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980 and 1994. This was the first to refuel at the Champion Fuel Terminal (since closed) at Port Weller in 1980 and the first to unload into a hopper at the Robin Hood Elevator, Port Colborne, Ont., in August 1987.

On December 24, 1999 the H.M. Griffith entered Port Weller Dry Docks for conversion. She was the second of three new buildings in Canada Steamship Lines' $100-million hull-replacement program. In the conversion the vessel received a new bow and cargo section, with new dimensions of 740 feet long by 78 feet at the beam. She was rechristened on March 29, 2000 and renamed Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin.

The building the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin required more than 6,000 tons of steel. In this unique shipbuilding project, an entirely new hull was constructed, and joined to the engine-room portion of the H.M. Griffith. The M.V. Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin is only the second ship to be built to the St. Lawrence Seaway's new maximum-size allowances, and features the most up-to-date self-unloading system available.

The vessel's self-unloading equipment is a twin-belt gravity system with a loop-belt elevator. It will unload at a rate of 6,000 short tons per hour. The principal dimensions of the Rt. Hon. Paul J Martin are: Overall length 740-feet, Beam 78-feet, Depth molded 48-feet, Draught 9 29.6-feet, Deadweight 35,560 tonnes, Horse power 9,000 BHP, Cargo capacity 40,207 cubic meters, Unloading capacity 6,000 short tons per hour.

The Rt. Hon. Paul J Martin carries a compliment of 24, consisting of 18 crew and 6 officers.

She is owned and operated by Canada Steamship Lines Inc., Montreal. With the addition of the Rt. Hon. Paul J Martin, the number of self-unloading vessels in the CSL domestic fleet is maintained at 11. With a number of ocean-going vessels in addition to its domestic fleet, CSL is the largest self-unloader fleet in the world.

Overall dimensions
Length 739'07"
Beam 78'00"
Depth 48'04"
Capacity 37,696 tons

Detroit River. Mike Nicholls

Underway in the Welland Canal. J. Luke

Welland Canal. N.S.

Winter lay-up. Alex Howard.

Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin moved from the drydock March 26, 2000. Jeff Cameron

Under construction at Port Weller Dry Docks. Jeff Cameron.

As the H.M. Griffith on the Welland Canal. Rod Burdick


If you enjoyed this feature Click here for more by Skip Gillham.

Close up. Clayton Charrad

Stern view
downbound St. Clair River. John Meyland

Aerial view underway. Don Coles

St. Marys River. Jim Hoffman

Docked in the Welland Canal.
Brian Wroblewski

Detroit River. Mike Nicholls

St. Marys River. Roger LeLievre

Welland Canal. Alex Howard

Bow close to the Lock Sill. N. Schultheiss

St. Lawrence River. Marc Piché

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