Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Arthur M. Anderson Passes Port Huron

I saw that the Arthur M. Anderson was downbound today.  It has been a few months since I've seen her and it was a couple of years since I saw her before that.  So basically I have only seen her twice.  I've wanted to rectify that this year because she is a relatively famous ship on the lakes and actually has an important place in the history of the lakes.
 I was hoping to catch her as she was passing under the Bluewater Bridge but she was too fast and I wasn't fast enough.  However, I did still manage to catch her in Port Huron.  The above picture is of the Manitou which is a tug that normally hangs around Port Huron.
 After a few minutes, the Arthur M. Anderson made her appearance.  She made her original appearance on the Lakes on February 16, 1952 at the American Shipbuilding Company in Lorain, OH.  She was christened by Mrs. Anderson in honor of her husband, Arthur Marvin Anderson who was a director of the United States Steel Company at the time.  He was also vice chairman the J.P. Morgan Company.  He has nothing to do with the Accounting Firm (that is spelled with an e instead of an o anyway).
 The Arthur Anderson is what as known as an "AAA" class ship.  She was part of a larger class of ships known as the Pittsburgh Class (there are 7 others, the surviving ships are the Philip R. Clarke and Cason J. Callaway).  When she was completed, she was 647 feet long and had a beam of 70 feet.  She could carry 21,000 tons of cargo in three holds which were serviced by 19 hatches.  She is definately a throwback to another era of shipping.
 In her first complete sailing season of 1953, she carried a record of 858,000 tons of cargo.  In August of that year, the Pittsburgh Fleet carried 4.1 million tons with the Anderson and her two sisters carrying a significant amount of that.  In 1961, she ran aground in the St. Mary's River.  In 1962, she became the first Pittsburgh Boat to transit the St. Lawerence Seaway to pick up a load of iron in Quebec.  In 1966, she was given a bow thruster.
 In the 1970's, she participated in a US government program to attempt to extend the shipping season to a full 12 months.  In the spring of 1975, 120 feet was added to her hull bringing her to her current length of 767 feet.  This increased her cargo capacity to 25,000 tons.
 On November 9th, 1975, she began her date with destiny.  At 2:39 P.M. on that day, the US Weather issues a gail alert for the area.  Her captain radios the Edmund Fitzgerald, who is sailing about 15 miles ahead of her, about this.  At 1:00 A.M. on November 10th, 1975, the Fitzgerald radios in her weather report, winds are at 52 knots and waves are at 10 feet.

At 7:00 A.M., the Fitzgerald radios that winds have died down to 35 knots and waves are at 10 feet.  At 3:15PM, Captain Cooper of the Anderson radios that the Fitzgerald is closer to Six Fathom Shore than he'd like to be.  Five minutes later, the Anderson reports that winds are now 43 knots. 
 At 3:30 P.M., Captain Cooper of the Anderson receives a transmission from Captain McSorley of the Fitzgerald that she's sustained some damage and is listing.  Captain McSorley also requests that Anderson stay close until the Fitzgerald can reach Whitefish Bay. 
 At 4:10 P.M., the Fitzgerald radios the Anderson that she's lost both her radars and requests radar plots until they reach Whitefish Bay.   Anderson complies.  At 4:39, Fitzgerald radios that she can't pick up the radio beacon at Whitefish Point.  She then radios the Coast Guard station at Grand Marais.  She finds out that the beacon was out from the satlty Avafors.  The Fitzgerald appraises the Avafors of her own sounds dire.
 This is the Imperial Oil Refinery in Sarnia.  It can refine about 121,000 barrels of crude per day.
And the story will be continued in the next post......

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