Charles L. Hutchinson {2}

Charles L. Hutchinson {2} – Ernest R. Breech – Kinsman Independent {2} – Voyageur Independent – Ojibway

1952-2022

Ojibway on the St. Marys River, September 13, 2016. Photo by Roger LeLievre

Specs

Build Information

Year Built: 1952

Builder: DeFoe Shipbuilding, Bay City, MI

Hull #422

Registry: US 264317 [1952-2005] CAN 827118

IMO #5105831

Laid Down: —

Launch Date: February 6, 1952

Commissioned: September 24, 1952

Construction

The Charles L. Hutchinson was constructed in 1952 by DeFoe Shipbuilding as a gearless bulk carrier for the Pioneer Steamship Company, to be managed by Hutchinson & Co.

The plans for the Hutchinson were largely based on that of U. S. Steel’s AA Class “Supers” of 1942. The vessel was 642’03’’ long, 67’ wide, and 35’ from keel to spar deck and could carry up to 20,668 tons at her mid-summer draft. Her spacious cargo holds had a large cubic capacity, allowing for the efficient carriage of low-density cargoes such as coal and grain. Her power plant was originally constructed by Bethlehem Steel in 1941, being installed on the saltwater ship Alcoa Prospector. The large cross-compound steam turbine was salvaged after the Prospector was sunk in enemy action during WWII. The Hutchinson featured a high countered stern, with enclosed after cabins and a poop-deckhouse, topped with a small streamlined stack with her mast mounted on top. Her forward cabins featured four guest rooms, complimented with a lounge, small galley, and dining rooms.

The Hutchinson was one of two near sister ships, the other being the Richard M. Marshall [Joseph S. Wood, 1957; John Dykstra, 1966; Benson Ford {2}, 1983;]. The Marshall was of a slightly modified design.

Modifications

  • Bow thruster installed.
  • Self-contained sanitary system installed, Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co., Detroit, MI, 1971.
  • Repowered, McKeil Marine, 2005.
  • Unloading system installed, 2010.

General Stats

Length Overall: 642’03”

Length Between Perpendiculars: 624’03”

Breadth: 67′

Depth: 35′

Loaded Draft: 26’01”

Capacity: 20,668 Tons

Vessel Type: Gearless Bulk Carrier

Number of Cargo Holds: 4 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 4-5-5-5]

Number of Hatches: 19 [Dimensions: 43’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Grain Trades

Propellers: 1 Controllable Pitch Propeller

Rudders: 1


Engineering Equipment

Original

Engine

Engine Type: Steam Turbine

Engine Manufacturer: Bethlehem Shipbuilding, Sparrows Point, MD, 1941

Engine Model: Cross-Compound Steam Turbine

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 2200 SHP


Boiler

Boiler Type: Oil-Fired Water Tube Boilers

Boiler Manufacturer: –, 1941

Boiler Size: 7086 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 2


Repower – 2005

Engine Type: Diesel Engine

Engine Manufacturer: General Electric Co., Boston, MA

Engine Model: 7FDM EFI

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 4100 BHP


History

Lineage

Charles L. Hutchinson {2} – 1952-1962

Owner: Pioneer Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH [Hutchinson & Co.]

Operator: Hutchinson & Co., Cleveland, OH

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Ernest R. Breech – 1962-1981

Owner: Ford Motor Co., Marine Division, Dearborn, MI

Operator: Ford Motor Co., Marine Division

Flag: United States

Home Port: Dearborn, MI


Ernest R. Breech – 1981-1988

Owner: Rouge Steel Co., Dearborn, MI [Subsidiary of Ford Motor Co.]

Operator: Rouge Steel Co., Marine Division

Flag: United States

Home Port: Dearborn, MI


Kinsman Independent {2} – 1988-2004

Owner: Minch Transit Co., Cleveland, OH [Kinsman Lines]

Operator: Great Lakes Associates, Rocky River, OH [Kinsman Lines]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Kinsman Independent {2} – 2004-2005

Owner: McKeil Marine LTD., Burlington, ON

Operator: —

Flag: United States

Home Port: Hamilton, ON


Voyageur Independent – 2005-2008

Owner: Voyageur Marine Transports, Ridgeville, ON [McKeil Marine]

Operator: Voyageur Marine Transports

Flag: Canada

Home Port: Hamilton, ON


Ojibway – 2008-2022

Owner: Lower Lakes Towing LTD., Port Dover, ON [Rand Logistics]

Operator: Lower Lakes Towing LTD.

Flag: Canada

Home Port: Port Dover, ON


Her Story

On February 6, 1952, DeFoe Shipbuilding in Bay City launched their Hull #422 into the icy waters of the Saginaw River. This new ship would prove to be one of the last active U.S.-flag “straight-deckers” by the end of the century. The new vessel, named Charles L. Hutchinson, combined both classic and modern Great Lakes freighter design into a single unique ship. The plans for the Hutchinson were largely based on that of U. S. Steel’s AA Class “Supers” of 1942. The vessel was 642’03’’ long, 67’ wide, and 35’ from keel to spar deck and could carry up to 20,668 tons at her mid-summer draft. Her spacious cargo holds had a large cubic capacity, allowing for the efficient carriage of low-density cargoes such as coal and grain. Her power plant was originally constructed by Bethlehem Steel in 1941, being installed on the saltwater ship Alcoa Prospector. The large cross-compound steam turbine was salvaged after the Prospector was sunk in enemy action during WWII. The Hutchinson featured a high countered stern, with enclosed after cabins and a poop-deckhouse, topped with a small streamlined stack with her mast mounted on top. Her forward cabins featured four guest rooms, complimented with a lounge, small galley, and dining rooms.

The Charles L. Hutchinson was constructed for the Pioneer Steamship Company, a subsidiary of Hutchinson & Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, entering service on September 24, 1952. Sailing for Pioneer, the Hutchinson often loaded iron ore from Duluth, Minnesota, for steel mills on the lower lakes, with occasional cargoes of coal. At the end of the 1961 season, Hutchinson decided to cease the Pioneer Steamship operations, putting the entire fleet up for sale. Ford Motor Company purchased the Hutchinson and her fleetmate W. H. McGean (Later Robert S. McNamara) in early 1962. The Hutchinson was then drydocked at Toledo for a hull survey and painting into Ford’s fleet colors. She was rechristened Ernest R. Breech in a ceremony at Cobo Hall in Detroit on April 10, 1962. She soon settled into her usual route, hauling ore from Duluth, Marquette, or Escanaba to Ford’s steel complex on the Rouge River in Dearborn. With the economic crash of 1982, the Breech was used in the grain trade, typically loading at the Cargill elevator in Duluth bound for Buffalo, New York.

By 1985, the Ernest R. Breech became excess tonnage in the Ford Fleet, and was sold in early 1988 to Great Lakes Associates of Rocky River, Ohio (Kinsman Lines). She was repainted in bright red and renamed Kinsman Independent, sailing on her maiden voyage for Kinsman on June 24, 1988. On November 24, 1990, the Kinsman Independent wound up 25 miles off course, and grounded on the rocks near the entrance of Siskiwit Bay on Isle Royale. She was bound for Thunder Bay, Ontario, to load grain. The Independent was severely damaged, but was freed from the rocks and escorted to Thunder Bay where she received nearly $2 Million in repairs at the Port Arthur Shipbuilding yard. She returned to service in the spring of 1991.

The Kinsman Independent continued the Buffalo grain run throughout the 1990’s with an uncertain future. When an unloading hopper was installed at the General mills Frontier Grain elevator in Buffalo in 2002, it spelled the end for her as a U.S. flagged straight-decker. She laid up at Buffalo on December 16, 2002.

 During the summer of 2004, McKeil Work Boats of Hamilton, Ontario, purchased the Independent, towing her out of Buffalo on September 1, 2004, bound for Hamilton, Ontario. While in Hamilton, she was repowered with a new General Electric 7FDM EFI diesel engine, rated at 4100 BHP. As part of the project, a new propeller shaft was installed with a new controllable pitch propeller, along with two new Caterpillar generator sets. She was repainted bright royal blue and renamed Voyageur Independent. She returned to service for Voyageur Marine Transports of Ridgeville, Ontario, on November 14, 2005, sailing in the Seaway grain trade.

On August 28, 2007, Rand Logistics announced that their Canadian subsidiary, Lower Lakes Towing, purchased the Voyageur Independent and her fleetmate Voyageur Pioneer for $25 Million. She would continue to serve her usual Seaway grain trade routes. She was registered under the name Ojibway on February 29, 2008, and entered service for Lower Lakes on March 27, 2008. In 2009, Lower Lakes explored converting the Ojibway into a self-unloader, but has opted to keep her as a gearless freighter for the time being. The Ojibway continues to be an active carrier in the Lower Lakes Towing fleet, fitting out season after season.

It was announced in April 2022 that Ojibway was to be retired and sold for scrapping. She departed winter layup at Sorel, QC, on April 3, 2022, bound for the Marine Recycling Corp. scrapyard in Port Colborne, ON, where she arrived for retirement on April 5.

Her Story article written by Brendan Falkowski, from #52 Freighters July-August 2020


Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on April 8, 2022


Gallery


Sources

Aho, Jody L. “Ojibway”. Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed 31 August 2020. http://boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/ojibway.htm

Aho, Jody L., LeLievre, Roger. Know Your Ships 2003. Marine Publishing Co., 2003. Pp. 4-8.

Berry, Sterling P. “Hutchinson, Charles L. 3”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 22 June 2020. <https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/h/hutchinson-charles-l-3>

Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 172.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 3.4.

“M/V Ojibway”. Rand Logistics. N.d. Accessed 31 August 2020. https://www.randlog.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Rand-Vessel-Profile-OJI-8-2019.pdf