Maurice Desgagnes


The Maurice Desgagnes is seen in this photograph while underway in the St. Lawrence Seaway during December of 1977
Photograph by Marc Piche - Willem VanMaanen's collection

Welland Canal Classics - Maurice Desgagnes
By contributing Editor Skip Gillham

MAURICE DESGAGNES spent eight years in the Desgagnes fleet and operated on the Great Lakes as well as saltwater routes. This general cargo carrier was built at Terneuzen, Netherlands, in 1963 and originally sailed as VAASA PROVIDER. The 90.22 metre (296 foot) long by 13.41 metre (44 foot) wide vessel was registered at 2,474 gross tons and carried in the range of 3,340 tons deadweight. She joined A/B Rauanhelmo O/Y in 1966 and operated under Finnish registry as LAURI-RAGNAR prior to becoming FINNRUNNER for O/Y R. Nordstrom & Co. in 1971. Desgagnes Navigation purchased the ship to replace their VOYAGEUR D. in 1972. She was renamed MAURICE DESGAGNES and became the flagship of the fleet.

MAURICE DESGAGNES initially operated between Montreal and Sept Iles, Quebec but made one trip to Brazil in 1973. A fire at Montreal on February 26, 1974, required six weeks worth of repairs. The ship usually travelled north on the Arctic resupply run in the summer months but also saw some St. Lawrence and Great Lakes trading. She put in to Providence, Rhode Island in February 1975 for generator repairs while in 1978 trips included such destinations as Bahamas, Guatemala and Egypt. She unloaded housing components at the last destination. Return cargoes were more difficult to obtain but she brought European steel to Contracoeur, PQ in 1979. In 1980 she had been as far south as Venezuela prior to being lost heading home to Canada.

MAURICE DESGAGNES, was en route from New Orleans, Louisiana to Sept Iles, Quebec with a load of oak railway ties when the cargo shifted in a late winter storm on March 11, 1980. The hull was damaged and began taking water some 120 Km (75 miles) East South East of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Helicopters from H.M.C.S. HURON took off the 21 member crew in close to 100 Km/h winds and 6 metre (20 foot) waves. The vessel plunged to the bottom on March 12 about a half hour after the final sailor was safely removed.


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Posted: June 29, 2000       Last Revised: April 9, 2001
Photo by: Marc Piche - (Willem VanMaanen) collection - Copyright © - 1977, 2000

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