Reports seem to agree that the self-unloading bulk carrier Atlantic Superior is on her last trip.She made her way down the Lakes to Belledune, NB with a load of coal and has come on to Halifax for gypsum, arriving very on a very foggy Saturday May 25. When she unloads that cargo in Montreal she is to go into long term layup pending sale for scrap.
The ship has had a long term relationship with Halifax, going back to her first year in service.
A product of Collingwood Shipbuilding, in Collingwood, ON, she took to the water for the first time in phases. The stern was launched on November 9, 1981 and the bow in May 1982. The sections were then towed to Thunder Bay where they were joined together by Portship, a sister yard in what was then Canadian Shipbuilding + Marine Engineering Ltd. By June 25, 1982 the ship was ready for service with Canada Steamship Lines (then the parent company of CSB+E). She loaded grain and sailed for Halifax on her maiden voyage.
CSL had decided to expand its scope, and this was their first ship to be suitable for unrestricted ocean trading. CSL had developed the self-unloader technology to a high degree and could see a demand off Lakes. The ship's name, which became the first in a series, connected the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.
In her first season she brought grain to Halifax then backhauled gypsum and iron ore for the rest of the summer. Come winter she headed south and loaded salt in Baltimore for Longview, WA, returning with potash.
In 1985 she was sent to Europe with a load of iron ore from Sept-Iles, then went to work carrying coal from England and the Netherlands to a new power plant in Sines, Portugal. She was re-flagged to the Bahamas for this overseas work, but returned to Canadian flag briefly and was registered in Halifax on November 10, 1986. She was back to Bahamas flag March 30, 1987 for more overseas work, which in 1988 included carrying stone for the Chunnel project.
3. Her first port of registry of Collingwood was outlined with weld bead, but was painted out when she went to the Bahamas. When she came back to Canada a more modest Halifax appeared.
She ranged far and wide over the next few years, working in the Pacific between Mexico and British Columbia carrying gypsum, stone, fertilizer and coal.
4. Returning to Halifax on March 21, 1997 for renaming.
5. Her name had already been painted out on the stern in preparation for her new name, and Nassau remained as port of registry.
On March 22, 1997 she was renamed M.H.Baker III in Halifax for contracting to National Gypsum, running out of Dartmouth to ports from Newington, NH to Tampa, FL.
6. Ballasted down by the bow for repairs to her steering nozzle, M.H.Baker III was bunkering from fellow Collingwood-built Imperial Dartmouth.
She had a winter layup in Halifax January-February 2004, then continued in the gypsum, coal and ore trades in Canadian and US waters.
In January 2006 she arrived in Halifax, having suffered an engine failure. She transferred her cargo to fleet mate Atlantic Erie and drydocked. In February she was reflagged to the Bahamas again, until 2010. In May 2007 she delivered a cargo of coal to pier 9 for the Lafarge Cement plant in Brookfield.
On May 3, 2010 she returned to Canadian flag and was registered in Montreal. By then she had adopted CSL's traditional red hull colour.(Self-unloaders had been black due to their usual cargoes of coal, and CSL International's ships were always black). In 2011 she spent most of her time shuttling iron ore from Pointe-Noire, QC out to larger bulk carriers anchored in Sept-Iles Bay.
7. The ship's last drydocking was in Halifax in January-February 2012.
8. The ship looked pretty good when she resumed service in the spring of 2012.
She returned On December 29 and spent the winter at pier 25-26 where her unloading boom was reconditioned, but she received very little other attention as far as could be seen from the outside. She returned to service March 19, and has been running the Sept-Iles./Great Lakes.
9. A brief blast of weak sun greeted the ship as it passed up the Narrows this afternoon with the tug Atlantic Willow alongside.
With brand new self-unloaders on their way to Canada from China, CSL seems to have enough ships to handle present work without Atlantic Superior. The first new Chinese built self-unloader Baie St-Paul was delivered last fall, Whitefish Bay sailed form China May 17 and Thunder Bay was registered in Montreal May 16, and started sea trials in China.
Atlantic Superior certainly earned her keep over her 31 years, and it is probably time to go.