The operation of cutting in two large steel vessels like the United States revenue cutters GRESHAM and ALGONQUIN, in order to permit of their passage through the St. Lawrence canals to the Atlantic seaboard and the announcement that a similar method of procedure will be necessary in the case of the revenue cutter ONONDAGA, building at Cleveland, which will also be taken over by the navy department on reaching the Atlantic, has again directed attention to this class of work and has emphasized the skill and care necessary for its satisfactory performance. When the steel steamers MACKINAW and KEWEENAW, built at West Bay City, Mich., were taken through the St. Lawrence in this way, a few years ago, the success of the work and the simple manner in which it was performed was surprising to some vessel men. Since that time a large number of vessels - whalebacks, light-ships tugs built for ocean service, oil barges, etc.- all of them of greater draught than is found in two or three of the canals at present, and some of them of larger dimensions than the canal locks, have been successfully moved to the seaboard. In the case of vessels of dimensions larger than the locks, it has been necessary, of course, to cut them in two, but where depth of water was all that was to be taken into consideration, the vessels have been raised on pontoons.
There are three or four concerns that are equipped for this kind of work and that undertake contracts in which they agree to deliver the vessels safely through the canals and below the shallow parts of the river. They usually act jointly with the ship builders when it is necessary to cut a vessel in two. The accompanying illustration shows the seagoing tug W.H. BROWN while being pontooned through the canals from the lakes through to the seaboard. This work was performed by the Collins Bay Rafting & Forwarding Co., Limited, of Collins Bay, Ont. The tug Brown was built by F. W. Wheeler & Co. of West Bay City. and is now one of the auxiliary nave] fleet. Another tug built at West Bay City, the Wilmot, was taken through the St. Lawrence in the same way by the Collins Bay company. This company also successfully conducted the work of cutting in two, pontooning through the canals and erecting at Montreal the steamer CAMPANA, as well as a light-ship for the government that was built on the lakes but intended for Atlantic coast service. Few vessel men perhaps realize the extent of equipment necessary to cope with the various dines of work that may be required in undertaking contracts of this kind. The Collins Bay company has wrecking tugs, steel pontoons steam pumps, divers' outfits, etc., and engages in the recovery of wrecks m submarine work, and in freighting contracts. The business of pontooning vessels through the canals has been developed in connection with other interests of this company. It could only be made successful by such a concern, as there is not enough work in this one dine lo warrant the maintenance of the necessary equipment.
The Marine Review
July 14, 1898