Manzzuttti May Be First
Expect Official Opening of Sault Lock on April 12.
April 12 has been selected as the tentative date for opening the Sault Locks to commercial traffic.
Although the icebreaker Alexander Henry and freighter Manzzutti locked through the Canadian Ship Canal during the last nine days, their passage does not count as official as far as the marine contest sponsored locally is concerned by virtue of one vessel bing government operated and the other based at the Sault during the winter months.
However the Yankcanuck line vessel Manzzutti could possibly open the navigation season through the locks on April 12, the date selected for the return of the ship from the Detroit Windsor area.
At the same time Columbia Transportation officials say the W.C. Richardson should reach the Sault by April 12.
Th two freighters are the only commercial vessels scheduled to arrive in the Sault harbor area this weekend although there is a possibility that some Canada Steamship Line freighters could head for the Sault either the lower lakes or the Lakehead.
CSL Shore Captain A. J. Galloway told The Star from Toronto that crews are joining the fleet today in preparation for the start of shipping although there definitely will be no attempt tohead for the Sault before Tuesday night.
He said that conditions at the Lakehead and in Whitefish Bay ice fields are controlling the date for starting complete shipping schedules from the Lakehead to the lower lakes.
The Alexander Henry is working in the harbor surrounding Port Arthur in an effort to push the 45 mile long ice field into Lake Superior.
There are no indications concerning an attempt by the United States Coast Guard ice breaker Mackinac to open Whitefish Bay. The Mackinac still has to break through the Straits of Mackinac before any attempt can be made in the St. Mary's River. The icebreaker is presently working in the Buffalo area.
The United States Corp of Engineers which operates the Michigan Sault lock system is prepared for the first vessel Officials said the Sabin Lock was flooded Friday while the Mac Arthur lock has been flooded since March 29. If traffic warranted the Davis Lock could be flooded on short notice. Crews are not manning the locks yet and will not officially staff the locks until ships are expected.
Another vessel, the Corp of Engineers tug San Louis is expected to arrive in he Sault Tuesday, but again can not qualify for opening the marine season because it is operated by the government
Although the lock opening is in not scheduled until Thursday the Sault harbor was officially opened Saturday when the tanker Imperial London pulled into the Imperial dock between the two hospitals.
Captain Russell Knight in accepting the traditional sild top hat said that the trip to the Sault was the fifth voyage for the tanker this season.
He also said that Lake Huron ice was the worst in years although the St. Mary 's River ice was not as bad as anticipated. The Captain made an aerial check of the lower river ice two days before the trip to the Sault.
The only trouble experienced was the necessity to widen the channel on turns which were too short for the tanker. Both the Alexander Henry and the Coast Guard tug Naugatuck are shorter than the Imperial London and made a closer turn around the bends in the river.
The 1200 horsepower Imperial London led the two tanker fleet up the river to the Sault with the London carrying almost 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline and the Imperial Simcoe loaded with 19,000 barrels of fuel oil for household heating
Both vessels left the harbor Sunday and have cleared DeTour in the lower river today.
Captain Knight said that he improved the channel in the lower river and assisted the freighter Manzzutti. The two ships met in Lake Munuscong.
Normally the trip from Sarnia to the Sault docks takes between 28 to30 hours but last weekend the voyage required 34 hours of sailing time.
The vessel had to slow down in lake Huron approaching the lower river entrance because of drifting ice and the danger of a huge ice flow damaging the tanker's skin
Once in the St. Mary's River however the danger decreased, and the Coast Guard ice breaking tug Naugatuck smashed a channel through the broken ice ahead of the Imperial London.
The Imperial London also share additional distinction this year by being the first vessel to complete five years without a lost time accident in the Imperial fleet. There are tow other tankers which have completed four years without a lost time accident but fall to second place behind the Imperial London
Ice in the upper river is till considered to be worse than previous years. The United States Coast Guard reports 100 per cent ice coverage in Whitefish Bay although the ice is starting to deteriorate.
A marine or aerial check will be made during the early part of this week to determine the extent of ice thickness and deterioration in the upper river.