Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Algoport, Titan of the Great Lakes

There was a time long ago when the very life, soul and heartbeat of our town sat at the foot of Hurontario Street on the shores of Georgian Bay, our storied shipyard's.  It was the bread and butter for many in our town, and in fact my grandfather and great-grandfather worked there oh so long ago.  Throughout the years, the blood, sweat and tears of many of our townspeople tired and toiled away in building many Great Lakes and seafaring vessels.  Two of these ships were the "Algobay", and her sister, the "Algoport."  

It is the Algoport that is the focus of my post here today, and it came to mind after I received some wonderful photos from fellow Collingwood resident, Donald Ayres.  He sent me some wonderful scans of our shipyards, the harbour, and included were some great photos of the Algoport along with an interesting link detailing her demise.  This peaked both my interest and my creativity, and I  decided that I had to do some artwork to memorialize her.  Commissioned by the Algoma Central railway, the Algoport was officially listed as "Hull #217", and her keel was laid on September 27th, 1978.  The plans were impressive in size, encompassing a length of 658" with a 75" beam, and a depth of 46.6" feet.  Powered by a diesel engine packing 10,700 b.h.p, she was destined to be a titan of the Great Lakes.  The hull was completed in May of 1978, and she was launched on May 7th, 1978.  My grandma and I attended the launch, and I remember the day well.  Launches were always a cause for excitement and concern, for there was always the worry of injuries or death related to a side launch.  

She completed sea trials in August of 1979, and officially entered service on August 27th of that year.  Throughout her lifetime, she was the carrier for many kinds of cargo, including coal and salt.  Not only was she self-loading, her four generous sized hatches were capable of loading up to 32,000 tons into the holds of her cavernous belly.  Throughout the years, she suffered several small calamities.  She ran aground in 2001, and several years later in 2007 sustained a small hole which laid her up for repairs in Hamilton.  She also saw several modifications and improvements in her lifetime, and eventually she and the Algobay were scheduled to receive new forebodes at a shipyard in China.  In order to facilitate this work and the necessary towing through the Panama Canal, she  and her sister  were fitted with wider bridge wings for improved visibility.

The Algobay was towed to China in 2008, and the Algoport followed in 2009.  While under the tow of the tug "Atlantic Hickory", the Algoport was caught in the throes of tropical storm Dujan.  Under the relentless pounding of waves, the Algoport "broke her back" and split in half.  Her bow slipped under the waves first, and her stern followed soon thereafter sinking some 16,500 feet to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.  

There was no loss of life, nor any environmental damage as a result of her sinking.  It is somewhat sobering to think that something that once graced the foot of our storied Main Street now sits lost forever at the bottom of the ocean.

The Algoport in Georgian Bay, Watercolour on paper - 2016


  1. Very well told story of a once great ship. I too was at her launching in May 1979, remember it well, I was 8 years old at the time. We were guests of Algoma Central and that event began my lifelong interest in ships. My brother and I wrote a short book about the Algoport, and more about our family association with great employees of her owner, Algoma Central. Link to the book:


    1. Thank you very much Andy, I'm happy you enjoyed my post. Sorry for the delay in responding. My mother-in-law passed away and we were out of the country for a month for her funeral, etc. Thank you for the link, and the read. I enjoyed it very much!

      Please take care, and thanks again!

  2. Hi There -

    My father was the Captain of the Algoport for many, many years. He was on the Algoport in 1979 on the day I was born actually and retired in 2009. We as a family have fond memories of several summers spend on "The Port", and had the absolute privilege of going through The Seaway with Dad. It was a great and wonderful way of being able to see Canada (and parts of the US) from a whole other point of view. I don't remember if Dad had it installed or it just came with the ship, but there was a swinging chair on the back deck where we would sit and watch the world go by.

    When The Port was lost at sea, a piece of my Dad was lost too. He was extreemly upset that she had gone down in the pacific, and felt that had they taken her a safer way, she would have been still with us.

    Even though it's several years later, I am still sad The Port is gone. Dad passed away in August of 2016 and all that remains are the memories of those summers. Sometimes when I'm down by St.John's Harbour, and the wind blows the righ way with a mix of the ship disel engins, the sea, etc... I am immediatly taken back to the deck of the ship and Dad doing his thing.

    Just though I'd share from a passenger's point of view ;)

    Thanks so much,

    Sabrina Kranenburg
    Daugher of Captain Gerard Kranenburg- MV Algoport