Year Built: 1976
Builder: Bay Shipbuilding Corp., Sturgeon Bay, WI
Registry: US 571875
Laid Down: —
Launch Date: July 24, 1975
Commissioned: May 4, 1976
The St. Clair was constructed as the fifth of ten vessels constructed for the American Steamship Company under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 at a cost of $24.3 Million.
The St. Clair was to be the first of two sister ships, but the other hull was reassigned as the 1,000-Footer Belle River.
Her self-unloading equipment consists of a dual hold belt leading to an aft incline-belt system to a 250′ deck-mounted boom.
Length Overall: 770′
Length Between Perpendiculars: 760′
Loaded Draft: 30’01”
Capacity: 44,800 Tons
Vessel Type: Incline-Belt Self-Unloader
Self-Unloading Boom Length: Aft-Mounted; 250′
Number of Cargo Holds: 5 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 5-5-6-5-5]
Number of Hatches: 26 [Dimensions: 52’x11′]
Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone Trades
Propellers: 1 Controllable Pitch Propeller
Engine Type: Diesel Engine
Engine Manufacturer: General Motors Electro-Motive Division, Chicago, IL
Engine Model: 20-645-E7
Number of Engines: 3
Rated HP: 10,500 BHP
St. Clair – 1976-2021
Owner: Bell Steamship Co., Buffalo, NY [American Steamship Co., GATX Corp.]
Operator: American Steamship Co., Buffalo, NY
Flag: United States
Home Port: Wilmington, DE
The St. Clair was constructed as a self-unloading bulk carrier for American Steamship Company’s subsidiary Bell Steamship Company. She was built under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970, and designed to haul coal from Superior, Wisconsin to Detroit Edison’s power plants at St. Clair and Monroe, Michigan.
She was launched on July 24, 1975, becoming the largest vessel to ever be side-launched on the Great Lakes. She entered service on May 4, 1976 leaving Sturgeon Bay for Escanaba, Michigan, to load iron ore. She soon settled into her coal run from Superior to the Detroit Edison plants, but was soon removed form this run after being replaced in this role by her new 1,000-Footer fleetmate Belle River in 1977.
The St. Clair would see frequent layups throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s due to her awkward size. She was too big for the River class trades, but too small to be competitive in the bulk ore and coal trades against the 1,000-Footers.
The St. Clair suffered a severe fire on February 16, 2019, while in winter layup at Toledo, Ohio. The fire burned for two days and burned through her unloading conveyor tunnels, engine room, and aft accommodations block. She was declared a total constructive loss and now awaits her fate at the TORCO Dock in Toledo where she burned.
St. Clair was sold for scrapping in November 2021, and towed out of Toledo, OH, on December 7, 2021, by the tug Molly M I, arriving at the International Marine Salvage scrapyard in Port Colborne, ON, on December 9, 2021. She is the widest vessel on the Great Lakes to be scrapped. Scrapping was completed in mid-2022.
Shipwatcher News Review of St. Clair Fire Report – See Pages 5-6 for article
National Transportation Safety Board Report Docket: Engine Room Fire Aboard Bulk Carrier St. Clair
Compiled By Brendan Falkowski
Updated on April 8, 2022
Ahoy & Farewell II. Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 1996. Pp. 32.
Berry, Sterling P. “St. Clair 3”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 14 May 2020. <https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/s/st-clair>
Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 189.
Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 4.16.
“M/V St. Clair”. American Steamship Company, N.d. Accessed 14 May 2020. <http://americansteamship.com/fleet/mv-st-clair.php>
Wharton, George. “St. Clair”. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed 14 May 2020. <http://boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/StClair.htm>