Saginaw - Nanticoke, Ontario


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The self unloading bulk carrier Saginaw is seen in this photograph while she was transiting upbound in the Welland Canal during the afternoon hours of April 8th, 2001. At the time it was taken she was sailing southbound in the canal at mile 17 in Welland destined for wharf 12 in Port Colborne to load stone for Cleveland.

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Welland Canal Classics - Saginaw
By contributing Editor George Wharton

The Great Lakes self-unloading bulk carrier SAGINAW was built as hull #417 by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI for the American Steamship Co. She was launched May 9, 1953 as the JOHN J. BOLAND (3). Her dimensions are as follows: 194.84m (639'03") loa x 21.95m (72'00") beam x 10.97m (36'00") depth. Burning heavy fuel oil, the vessel is powered by a DeLaval 7,700 horsepower cross compound steam turbine engine with two Foster-Wheeler water tube boilers giving her a maximum service speed of 16.1 m.p.h. She is equipped with a bow thruster. Her 30 hatches feed into 6 compartments where she can carry 19,950 tons at maximum Seaway draft of 7.92m (26 feet) and is capable of carrying 20,200 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 7.98m (26'02"). This vessel was one of the last to be built with telescoping hatch covers. A double bucket type self-unloading system feeds a forward mounted 76.2m (250 foot) discharge boom that can be swung 120 degrees to port or starboard.

This vessel was the third lake boat to carry the John J. Boland name. Mr. John James Boland was born in Buffalo, NY September 20, 1875. He had developed a vessel brokerage business and in 1904, formed a partnership with Mr. Adam E. Cornelius with the resulting firm of Boland & Cornelius which further resulted in the formation of the American Steamship Company in 1907. Mr. Boland died October 3, 1956. JOHN J. BOLAND's first cargo was on September 25, 1953 at Port Inland, Michigan when she loaded limestone for a lower lakes port. Her cargoes remained focused in the stone and coal trades throughout her tenure with the American Steamship Co. Of note, on December 16, 1973; her discharge boom fell onto the dock at the Pulliam Power Plant, Green Bay, WI and was completely destroyed. The cause of the incident was reported to have been broken support cables. The boom was replaced by Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, WI in March of 1974. The JOHN J. BOLAND continued sailing through until the mid-eighties when she was laid up with an uncertain future.

In the early 1990's; American Steamship Co. refit JOHN J. BOLAND including upgrading her instruments and remodeling her cabins. She was returned to service on her usual trade routes until she was laid up again at Superior, WI's Fraser Shipyards on December 27, 1998. Her more modern and efficient fleet mate, the ADAM E. CORNELIUS was returned to American Steamship Co. after coming off a long term lease with Central Marine Logistics. The Boland's trade routes were to be taken over by the much newer Cornelius with the resulting announcement that the JOHN J. BOLAND would not sail the 1999 navigation season.

On October 22, 1999; after 46 years of service to her original owners, Lower Lakes Towing Ltd., Port Dover, ON announced the purchase of the JOHN J. BOLAND from American Steamship Co. The vessel was then towed from the Fraser Shipyards to the Government Dock, Sarnia, ON where she received a refit, upgrades and a coat of Lower Lakes grey for her hull. The vessel was christened SAGINAW in December of 1999 in honour of Michigan's Saginaw River; an artery leading to many of her new owner's key customers. Now registered Canadian, the SAGINAW departed Sarnia on her maiden voyage on December 4, 1999 light for the Lafarge Construction Materials quarry at Meldrum Bay, ON where she loaded stone destined for Marysville, MI. For her new owners, the SAGINAW's cargoes could include stone, aggregates, coal, grain or salt. Her trade routes are now concentrated primarily on the lower lakes and often transits the Welland Canal. She does, however, return to Lake Superior occasionally with spot loads for her new owners.

Of note; during the winter lay up in early 2000, the modern American Steamship motor vessel CHARLES E. WILSON was renamed JOHN J. BOLAND (4) to continue the name in the fleet co-founded by Mr. Boland nearly a century ago.


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Posted: April 16, 2001       Last Revised: May 16, 2001
Photo by: Jeff Cameron - Copyright © - 2001

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