Into the sunrise, into the weekend

Into the Sunrise, photo by Tom Hughes

The sun rose on Lake St. Clair at about 6:30 AMthis morning. If you were there, maybe you were lucky enough to see something like Tom’s photo of the Cuyahoga headed into the sunrise. If not, at least we can be happy that there’s folks like him willing to get up and out for incredible shots like this.

Have a great weekend everyone!

View the photo bigger and see more in Tom’s slideshow.

S.S. Aquamara: The Great Lakes’ Largest Liner

aquarama-unloading-detroit

Aquamara unloading in Detroit, courtesy Marine Historical Society of Detroit

The S.S. Aquarama was the largest passenger ship ever to operate in the Great Lakes. We’ll head to Ohio (gasp) for this article on the Aquamara from Cleveland Historical:

The Aquarama began its life in 1945 as a transoceanic troop carrier called the Marine Star: 520 feet and 12,733 tons. It made only one Atlantic Ocean trip before combat ceased. Eight years later, the ship was purchased by Detroit’s Sand Products Company and taken to Muskegon, Michigan, where it underwent an $8 million, two-year conversion, and was reborn as a nine-deck luxury-class ferry capable of carrying 2,500 passengers and 160 cars. The rechristened Aquarama also touted five bars, four restaurants, two dance floors, a movie theater, a television theater, and a playroom. Special events often were held in conjunction with day or evening cruises. For example, on June 10, 1962, passengers were treated to a style show from Lane Bryant’s Tall Girl Department. The next month, evening cruisers on the Aquarama could watch the Miss World finals. Regular shipboard entertainment included musical performances, dancing, marionette shows, games, and contests.

The cruise portion of the ship’s life actually began in 1955, with tours to various Great Lakes ports and a brief stint as a “floating amusement palace” docked along Chicago’s Navy Pier. Soon after, service began focusing solely on runs between Cleveland and Detroit: six hours “door to door” with Cleveland-based passengers embarking in the morning from (and returning in late evening to) the West 3rd Street pier. For the next six years, the Aquarama was extremely popular but never profitable. Part of the problem may have been frequent “incidents”: One summer, the Aquarama backed into a seawall. A year later, it hit a dock in Cleveland. A week after that, it banged into a Detroit dock, damaging a warehouse. Alcohol issues also were recurrent: Accusations included untaxed booze and liquor sold in Ohio waters on Sunday. Still, the ship’s most likely death knell was simply high operating costs.

The Aquarama made its last trip on September 4, 1962. It then was towed back to where it had been rebuilt–Muskegon, Michigan, ostensibly to continue as cruise vessel. Unfortunately, a prohibitively large dredging investment was needed to accommodate the harbor. The Aquarama thus sat dockside—residing (but not operating) later in Sarnia, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York, where entrepreneurs hoped in vain to convert it to a floating casino. In 2007 the Aquarama was towed to Aliağa, Turkey, where it was broken up for scrap.

This photo from Boatnerd shows the Aquarama unloading passengers from Cleveland at Detroit’s city park next to the J.W. Westcott Co. dock, 1963. Another view.  Hartland Smith, William Hoey collection. More pics at Boatnerd.com.

Read more about the Aquamara at Wikipedia.

#TBT with the Oldest Ship on the Great Lakes

Lake Michigan … barge pushing, photo by Ken Scott Photography

Here’s a shot of a familiar vessel, the St. Marys Challenger. As this article on the conversion of the Challenger says, eventually, age catches up with you:

St. Marys Challenger lived up to its name by defying that assertion longer than its counterparts. But after 107 years, the laker was taken out of service in November 2013 to be converted to a barge. Built in 1906, Challenger was the oldest operating freighter on the Great Lakes.

The decision to convert the 551-foot cement carrier followed a series of upgrades spanning several decades, including extensive hull rebuilding, installation of a self-unloading cargo system and a myriad of other structural upgrades. In the end, the owner was left with a Skinner Marine Uniflow four-cylinder reciprocating steam engine burning heavy fuel oil, outdated DC electric and an aged mechanical propulsion system that made operating the boat an ever-increasing expense.

…Port City Marine, based in Muskegon, Mich., considered its alternatives, including retrofitting Challenger with a diesel engine. Not only would that have cost about $20 million — nearly double the barge conversion project — but it would have saddled the company with ongoing expenses. And while a crew of 25 was needed to operate Challenger, the articulated tug-barge (ATB) can operate with 11.

Read on for lots more!

View Ken’s photo bigger on Facebook, follow Ken Scott Photography on Facebook and visit kenscottphotography.com to view & purchase photos!

Shipping Season: The Saginaw at Mission Point

Saginaw at Mission Point, photo by Krystal Kauffman

Capistrano has their swallows, but a sure sign of Spring in Michigan is when the freighters return to the Great Lakes. One of the best places for shipwatching is right where Krystal took this photo: Mission Point at the mouth of the North Channel near the Soo Locks.

View the photo bigger and follow My Michigan by Krystal on Facebook for more.

The USS Michigan

USS Michigan, photo by US Navy/Steven F LeBlanc

We move from a Coast Guard photo yesterday to a Navy photo today. While this photo showing a starboard bow view of the nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine USS Michigan (SSBN-727) was taken sometime before June of 1982 in the north Pacific, I’m going to allow it. mLive reports that the USS Michigan nuclear submarine is now operating in Korean waters:

The USS Michigan is more than 560 feet long and weighs more than 18,000 tons when submerged and is regularly deployed throughout the Western Pacific from its home port of Bremerton, Wash.

It was first launched in 1980 and commissioned two years later. It was built to carry the Navy’s third generation submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Trident C-4. The Michigan carried out its primary mission of deterrence for nearly two decades in over 60 missions.

At the end of the Cold War, it was spared from decommission and converted with two other ships to the Ohio-class sea frame. In 2007, it followed the USS Ohio, Florida and Georgia as a guided missile submarine.

The vessel is capable of hitting speeds of over 20 knots while submerged and can drop over 800 feet below sea level. It also contains 22 tubes that carry seven Tomahawks each.

…The Michigan is the third ship to bear the name in the U.S. Navy’s history. The original Michigan was the first iron warship in the U.S. Navy and likely the first iron or steel warship of its size in the world, according to a biography on the Navy’s website.

Read on more more at mLive and also see the Navy’s page on the USS Michigan.

View the photo bigger and see more pictures at the USS Michigan photo archive from the Navy.

USS Edson at the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum

uss-edson-frozen-in-the-saginaw-river

USS Edson frozen in the Saginaw river, photo by Tom Clark

The USS Edson is located at the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum in Bay City. The say (in part):

The keel for the Forrest Sherman class destroyer USS EDSON (DD-946) was laid at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, on 3 December 1956. EDSON is one of the relatively few ships of the U.S. Navy named for a United States Marine, in this case Major General Merritt Austin Edson.

Edson was launched on 4 January 1958 by General Edson’s widow, Ethel Robbins Edson, who broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the ship’s bow. EDSON’S final fitting out and sea trials occupied the next ten months, and on 7 November 1958, EDSON was commissioned under the command of CDR Thomas J. Moriarty, USN. She then sailed in early 1959 to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal to reach her original homeport of Long Beach, California, on 2 March 1959.

For the next two decades, EDSON served as a valuable member of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, earning a reputation as a Top Gun ship and the nickname, “The Destroyer.” Her ship’s crest included a skull copied from the shoulder patch worn by then Colonel Edson’s First Marine Raider Battalion.

Note that the Museum itself is closed for the winter until March!

View Tom’s photo bigger and see more in his Ships & Boats slideshow.

More ships & boats on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Failure of Poe Lock at the Soo Locks would be devastating

charles m. beeghly, poe lock, sault ste. marie, michigan

charles m. beeghly, poe lock, sault ste. marie, michigan, photo by twurdemann

via today’s Five Things you need to know about Michigan on Absolute Michigan comes a Detroit Free Press report on  the potentially dire consequences for the US & Michigan if the Soo Locks fail:

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security report indicates a 6-month shutdown of the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, if one occurred, would plunge the nation into recession, closing factories and mines, halting auto and appliance production in the U.S. for most of a year and result in the loss of some 11 million jobs across the nation.

The report, obtained by the Free Press through the Freedom of Information Act, paints a grim picture of the outcome of any long-term shutdown of the Poe, the only one of the so-called Soo Locks able to handle the 1,000-foot-long vessels that each year move millions of tons of iron ore from mines in Minnesota and northern Michigan to steel mills dotting the lower Great Lakes and beyond.

….But what is also clear from the Homeland Security report is that while a longer-term shutdown would be catastrophic, even a shorter one could have a much wider impact than previously thought: If such a closure occurred at the Poe during the March 25-Jan. 15 shipping season, for instance, as much as 75% of the nation’s steel output could be halted within two to six weeks.

Read on for more, including a video of a ship going into the locks.

View twurdemann’s photo from Engineer’s Day (every June) bigger and see more in his Great Lakes Shipping slideshow.

More Soo Locks on Michigan in Pictures!