Thursday, June 6, 2013

Another laker for Aliaga

1. A classic - wheelhouse forward, Great Lakes bulker.

The annual parade of old lakes ships to the scrappers in Turkey is beginning again. Although it doesn't actually happen every year - it depends on scrap prices and whether shipowners actually retire any ships -it does happen with distressing regularity.
This year's lead-off ship is one with a distinguished history and its departure starts a very short countdown list.
The ship was built by Collingwood Shipbuilding in 1963 as Murray Bay for Canada Steamship Lines. Their "Bay" class of ships, built to the then maximum permissible St.Lawrence Seaway dimensions, were gearless bulk carriers, and this one was the last steam turbine powered ship built for CSL. Its John Inglis 9,000 shaft horsepower plant gave the ship a speed of 17.3 mph. (Great Lakes ships measure speed in miles per hour rather than knots).
In 1994 CSL opted to dispose of its gearless ships ("straight backs" in Lakes parlance) and sold it to Upper Lakes Shipping where it became their Canadian Provider. It sailed happily for them until 2011 when the surprise announcement came that UL Group was selling out.
Algoma Central Marine picked up the entire fleet and so the ship became Algoma Provider and has the distinction of having sailed for the three major Great Lakes operators. It worked up until the end of last season when it was laid up in Montreal.
With the delivery of new and newer ships Algoma has several other ships to turn to - ones that use less fuel and that require less maintenance.
In this day and age 50 year old ships are a rarity, even on the Great Lakes, and steamships even more so. There now remain only two steamers in  the Canadian lakes fleet, Algoma Montréalais and Algoma Québecois It is questionable if either will survive this season, so the countdown to the last steamer has begun. It may be over soon.
(There still are about a dozen steamers on the US side of the Lakes, including one last coal burner, the car ferry Badger, so the days of steam are not entirely over with.)
The ship's register was closed May 29 and its name modified to "OVI" (with Sierra Leone registry-ouch) for the trip to the scrappers. The tug VB Artico is in now Montreal and the tow out will June 8.
2. Goodbye


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