St. Clair

St. Clair


St. Clair in layup at Toledo, Ohio, after her fire, July 15, 2019. Photo by Sam Hankinson


Build Information

Year Built: 1976

Builder: Bay Shipbuilding Corp., Sturgeon Bay, WI

Hull #714

Registry: US 571875

IMO #7403990

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.

General Stats

Length Overall: 770′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 760′

Breadth: 92′

Depth: 52′

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

Rudders: 2

Engineering Equipment



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

Her Story

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.

Additional Resources

Shipwatcher News Review of St. Clair Fire Report – See Pages 5-6 for article

#50 Freighters March-April 2020

National Transportation Safety Board Report Docket: Engine Room Fire Aboard Bulk Carrier St. Clair

NTSB Docket St. Clair fire

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. <>

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. <>

Wharton, George. “St. Clair”. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed 14 May 2020. <>