J. Burton Ayers

J. Burton Ayers – Cuyahoga

1943-Present

Cuyahoga preparing to unload at Muskegon, Michigan, August 15, 2019. Photo by Sam Hankinson

Specs

Build Information

Year Built: 1943

Builder: American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH

Hull #828

Registry: US 243772 [1943-1995] CAN 815560 [1995-Present]

IMO #5166392

Laid Down: November 20, 1942

Launch Date: May 15, 1943

Commissioned: August 19, 1943

Construction

The J. Burton Ayers was constructed as a L6-S-A1 gearless bulk freighter by the American Shipbuilding Company at their Lorain, Ohio shipyard for the United States Maritime Commission during World War II. She was traded to Great Lakes Steamship Company in early 1943 for older vessels, which were leased back until the end of the war.

The Ayers was the tenth of 16 Maritime class freighters ordered by the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II. Of the 16 vessels, there were two subclasses, the L6-S-A1 subclass and the L6-S-B1. The A1’s were constructed by the American Shipbuilding Company, and their design included a modern cruiser type stern, shorter stack, aft mast mounted behind the stack, a Lentz-Poppet double compound steam engines and a rounded pilothouse. The B1’s were built by Great Lakes Engineering Works, and their design included a traditional counter stern, tall stack, aft mast stepped forward of the stack, a triple expansion steam engine, and a square pilothouse. Of the 16 Maritime class ships constructed, 6 were of the L6-S-A1 designation and the remaining 10 were of L6-S-B1 designation.

The J. Burton Ayers was one of two of Maritime Class ships traded to Great Lakes Steamship Company, the other being the L6-S-B1 vessel J. H. Hillman Jr.

The J. Burton Ayers was originally constructed as a gearless bulk carrier, with box holds designed to be efficient in hauling ore, coal, stone, and grain. She was converted to a self-unloader in 1974, and her self-unloading equipment consists of a single hold belt leading to a forward bucket elevator system to a 250′ deck-mounted boom.

Modifications

  • Deck strapping added, 1943.
  • Converted to self-unloader, American Shipbuilding Co., Toledo, OH, 1974.
  • Bridge Wings enclosed, 1975.
  • Boilers converted to oil-fired, G & W Welding, Cleveland, OH, 1975.
  • “Canadianized”, 1995.
  • Repowered, 2000.

General Stats

As Constructed

Length Overall: 620′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 605′

Breadth: 60′

Depth: 35′

Loaded Draft: 25′

Capacity: 16,300 Tons

Vessel Type: Gearless Bulk Carrier

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

Number of Hatches: 18 [Dimensions: 38’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone Trades

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After Conversion to Self-Unloader, 1974

Length Overall: 620′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 605′

Breadth: 60′

Depth: 35′

Loaded Draft: 25’05”

Capacity: 15,675 Tons

Vessel Type: Bucket-Elevator Self-Unloader

Self-Unloading Boom Length: Forward-Mounted; 250′

Number of Cargo Holds: 4 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 2-5-5-4]

Number of Hatches: 16 [Dimensions: #1 – 44’06”x14′; #2-16 – 38’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone, Grain, Salt Trades

Propellers: 1 Controllable Pitch Propeller

Rudders: 1


Engineering Equipment

Original

Engine

Engine Type: Double Compound Reciprocating Steam Engine

Engine Manufacturer: Lentz Standard Marine Engine, manufactured by American Shipbuilding Co., Engine Department, Lorain, OH

Engine Model: 4-Cylinder; 22 5/8”-50”-22 5/8”x50” dia. x 48” stroke

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 2500 IHP


Boiler

Boiler Type: Coal-Fired Water Tube

Boiler Manufacturer: Combustion Engineering Co., New York, NY

Boiler Size: 9346 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 2


Repower – 2000

Engine Type: Diesel Engine

Engine Manufacturer: Caterpillar, Deerfield, IL

Engine Model: 3608; 8-Cylinder, four stroke cycle, inline

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 3,084 BHP


History

Lineage

J. Burton Ayers – 1943-1957

Owner: Great Lakes Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Great Lakes Steamship Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Oswego, NY


J. Burton Ayers – 1957-1966

Owner: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Milwaukee, WI

Operator: Wilson Marine Transit Co., Cleveland, OH [charterer]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Milwaukee, WI


J. Burton Ayers – 1966-1968

Owner: Wilson Marine Transit Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Wilson Marine Transit Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


J. Burton Ayers – 1968-1972

Owner: Litton Systems, Inc., Baltimore, MD

Operator: Wilson Marine Transit Co., Cleveland, OH [Litton Systems]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


J. Burton Ayers – 1972-1974

Owner: Kinsman Marine Transit Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Wilson Marine Transit Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


J. Burton Ayers – 1974-1995

Owner: Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Columbia Transportation Division

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Cuyahoga – 1995-Present

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

Operator: Lower Lakes Towing

Flag: Canada

Home Port: Port Dover, ON


Her Story

The J. Burton Ayers was constructed in 1943 as a L6-S-A1 gearless bulk freighter by the American Shipbuilding Company at their Lorain, Ohio shipyard for the United States Maritime Commission during World War II. She was traded to Great Lakes Steamship Company in early 1943 for older vessels, which were leased back to Great Lakes Steamship until the end of the war. The Ayers was one of 16 “Maritime” Class ships constructed in 1943, and one of six of her subclass. The J. Burton Ayers was one of two of “Maritime” Class ships traded to Great Lakes Steamship Company, the other being the L6-S-B1 vessel J. H. Hillman Jr.

The keel for the Ayers was laid on November 20, 1942, being launched on May 15, 1943. She sailed on her maiden voyage on August 19, 1943, bound for Duluth, Minnesota, to load iron ore.

The J. Burton Ayers was purchased, along with her fleetmates J. H. Hillman Jr. and Richard M. Marshall, by the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1957 after Great Lakes Steamship Company went out of business. The vessels were then chartered to Wilson Marine Transit of Cleveland, Ohio, for operation. The Ayers only sailed for Wilson for the 1957 and 1958 seasons before laying up. She was eventually sold to Wilson in 1966, but by then Wilson was struggling to get cargo contracts to keep their ships running. Wilson Marine Transit was sold to Litton Systems through their subsidiary Ingalls Shipbuilding in 1967. Ownership of the Wilson vessels was transferred directly to Litton in 1968, with Wilson remaining as a management organization. In 1972, Thomas Wilson‘s hull was reinforced and strengthened by Erie Marine at Erie, Pennsylvania.

Litton decided to end the Wilson Marine operations in 1972 and the fleet was sold to American Shipbuilding Company of Lorain, Ohio. The fleet was managed by Kinsman Marine Transit, owned by American Shipbuilding. The Wilson was sold again to Oglebay Norton’s Columbia Transportation Division in early 1974.

In early 1974, Columbia had the J. Burton Ayers converted into a self-unloader by American Shipbuilding Company at their Toledo, Ohio yard. She returned to service during the 1974 season as a self-unloader. Now she was much more versatile, being able to carry a wider variety of cargoes to different ports across the Great Lakes. The conversion helped extend the life of the vessel well into the future.

The J. Burton Ayers ran aground at Stoneport, Michigan, on September 10, 1980, resulting in damage to her hull plating. She was laid up for the 1987, 1988, and part of the 1989 seasons, returning to service partway through the 1989 season only to run aground near Bois Blanc Island on September 23, 1989.

The Ayers laid up at Toledo, Ohio, on December 22, 1989. She was transitioned into long-term layup status in August of 1991, being retired by Columbia Transportation. On August 1, 1995, the Ayers was sold to the newly-formed Lower Lakes Towing, LTD., of Port Dover, Ontario. She was moved into drydock at Toledo later that month for a hull survey and painting below the waterline. She was towed out of Toledo on August 23, 1995, bound for Sarnia, Ontario, for the remainder of her refit, being painted in Lower Lakes grey and white over the next month. She was rechristened Cuyahoga on October 7, 1995, being officially registered Canadian on November 7, 1995.

She sailed on her maiden voyage under the name Cuyahoga on November 12, 1995, heading to Meldrum Bay, Ontario, to load stone for Cleveland. She was repowered over the winter of 1999/2000 with a new Caterpillar diesel engine.

The Cuyahoga delivered the first load of grain via self-unloader to the General Mills elevator at Buffalo, New York, on August 30, 2002. This ended the transport of grain by gearless bulk carrier to the port of Buffalo.

The Cuyahoga remains an active member of the Lower Lakes Towing fleet, hauling stone, salt, grain, ore, and coal to ports across the Great Lakes.


Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on June 16, 2020


Gallery


Sources

Berry, Sterling P. “Ayers, J. Burton”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 16 June 2020. <https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/a/ayers-j-burton>

Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 166.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 4.10.

“M/V Cuyahoga”. Rand Logistics, N.d. Accessed 16 June 2020. <https://www.randlog.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Rand-Vessel-Profile-CUY-8-2019.pdf>

Wharton, George. “Cuyahoga”. Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed 16 June 2020. <http://boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/cuyahoga.htm>