Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Algoma Discovery

 News reports from Port Colborne, ON indicate that a fire in the engine room of the Algoma Discovery on Monday February 27 was extinguished before it spread to the rest of the ship. So far there has been little information on the amount of damage caused by the fire that generated copious quantities of smoke.

Normally a Great Lakes bulk carrier would not warrant much coverage here however this ship does have a Halifax and Shipfax connection. Delivered in 1987 by 3 Maj. Brodogradiliste in Rijeka, Croatia, the ship was built to then Seaway maximum size of 729 ' x 75'-9". It measured 23,306 gt, 35,542 dwt and as Malinska traded to the Great Lakes in season and internationally in winter. The now defunct Misener Transportation Ltd chartered the ship in 1988 and in 1997 it was sold to Viken Shipping AS of Norway. Renamed Daviken it continued its usual trade patterns and was a regular user of the St.Lawrence Seaway on charter to Fednav.

In 2008 the Algoma Central Corp of St.Catharines, ON bought the ship and renamed it Algoma Discovery. Unusually however it remained in internatonal trade until 2010 when it arrived in Halifax October 7 and was registered in St.Catharines the next day.

Algoma Discovery arriving Halifax, October 7, 2010.

By the time it joined Algoma's Canadian fleet its four cargo cranes had been removed and the ship had become a "straight deck" bulk carrier in Great Lakes parlance (in other words, not a self-unloader). It also confined its activities to the St. Lawrence River and Gulf and the Great Lakes in the grain and iron ore trades.

The ship has been involved in numerous groundings, some allisions and at least two previous fires - one in Hamilton in 2012 and one in Sorel in 2016. Nevertheless it soldiers on.

The ship has been the subject of two Shipfax posts:  February 9, 2010  and  October 7, 2010 and resulted in some adverse (and unflattering) commentary from readers when I suggested the ship and its two sisters, also acquired by Algoma, were well past their prime. I also suggested that they were stop gap interim acquisitions until new ships were delivered, and had been acquired for little more than scrap value (they were then 23 years old a the time).

Having now thoroughly digested that crow, I am prepared to admit that Algoma got a bargain. Sister ship Algoma Guardian (ex Goviken, ex Omisalj) is also still running and Algoma Spirit (ex Sandviken, ex Petka) was sold for scrap in 2021. I now suggest that this is at least in part due to the reliable Sulzer main engnes, but also to the TLC administered to the ships (as predicted in Shipfax.) The fact that they were nearing 25 years in salt water trade was partially offset by them becoming seasonal and now largely fresh water ships and that has indeed added to their life spans.

The fire on Algoma Discovery was quelled by local firefighters and the on board fire suppression system. Identified by one press report as a carbon monoxide system (surely carbon dioxode!) it was used to smother the fire, displacing oxygen. The space must be vented out after the fire is extinguished before it is safe for people to enter the space again. Firefighters set up to draft water from the Welland Canal, but that was not needed. Pumping water into a ship is always a last resort!


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