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The Roy A Jodrey(1965 - 1974)

Roy A Jodrey

Ship Type: Self Unloader
Lifespan: Built 1965, Sunk 1974
Length: 640ft
Depths: 130 - 254
Location: Pullman Shoal St. Lawrence River
GPS N44 19.8560 W75 56.0530

Construction of the Roy A. Jodrey (Official # 318689)was as a result of a contract agreed upon by the Algoma and Hudson Bay Railway Company of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada and the Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. It was to be the first new ship built as a self-unloading bulk freighter for Algoma. At the time of completion, the Jodrey would be one of the largest motor vessels constructed on the Great Lakes. It was to be a “less-than-maximum-Seaway-sized” vessel with dimensions of 640’ in length, 72’ wide, and 38’ deep. The shipyard laid the keel for Hull #186 on February 11, 1965. The launching occurred on September 9th. Christening ceremonies took place one month later and the Roy A. Jodrey officially entered employment with the other seven ships of the Algoma fleet on November 11, 1965.

The Roy A Jodrey followed the traditional design used by most Great Lakes freighters at that time. That design consisted of having the ship divided into three major sections. The bow section comprised the first 68’ of the ships length. From this section, the ships navigation, steering and propulsion were controlled from the forward mounted pilothouse. The stern section was approximately 116’ long. In this area was housed the four main diesel engines that propelled the ship. Also, it’s electrical generators, ballast pumps, machine shop, rudder and propeller controls. It also took most of it’s commands from the bow section. The mid-body section took up the remaining 456’ of the ships length and was the reason for the ships existence. It was comprised of three sub-sections. First and foremost was the cargo hold. The floor of the hold consisted of hopper doors that allowed cargo to be funneled into the self-unloading tunnel just below. The self-unloading tunnel was the second subsection. It contained three continuous rubber belt conveyors running along the length of the ship. These belts would deposit cargo into a bucket elevator system. The elevator was encased in a steel box-type framework that would transfer the cargo to the self-unloading boom, mounted on the main deck. This boom could be swung to port or starboard and discharge the cargo at any number of storage facilities. Neither of these sections were subdivided from themselves or from each other. Should water reach either of these areas, it could be enough to potentially sink the ship. The final subsection was the ballast tanks. They were to not only to weigh the ship down when it had no cargo, they were to act as a collision bulkhead to protect the other two subsections from flooding should the outer plates of the ship be pierced. The double bottom ballast tanks protected the floor of the self-unloading tunnel and the side ballast tanks were designed to protect the tunnel and the cargo hold. It was in this design that was to become the ships Achilles heel. The bottom and side ballast tanks usually extend completely from the stern bulkhead to the bow bulkhead. With the Roy A Jodrey, this was not the case. The forward side ballast tanks stopped short of the bow bulkhead by 9’. Self-unloading conveyor machinery took up so much space that both port and starboard side tanks couldn’t connect to the bow bulkhead. Only a single ˝” steel plate keep water from filling the hold and the tunnel

On the night of Wednesday, November 20th, the Roy A Jodrey was midway through it’s 45th trip of the 1974 season. The Jodrey was upbound on the St Lawerence River near Alexandria Bay, New York. Two days before it had departed the dock of the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Sept Isles, Quebec with 20,050 tons of iron ore pellets. It’s destination was to have been the Great Lakes Steel plant in Detroit, Michigan with a planned arrival time of November 22nd. This trip was not to be completed.

The night was cool and crisp with a heavy overcast. The air temperature was 35 degrees with an easterly wind of 10-15 mph, and a visibility of 3-5 miles. At approximately 10:40 PM, as the ship approached Pullman Shoal and it’s navigation light #194, the captain felt uneasy about the ships position in the river and ordered hard left rudder. (In reality, the ship had drifted 100 feet out of the ship channel and was headed for a collision with Pullman Shoal). Before the ship could reply, the forward crew felt three quick bumps. Almost immediately, the ship settled 4 feet by the bow and acquired a 10 to 12 degree starboard list. The captain looked along the main deck and saw water spraying from the deck mounted forward ballast tank vent pipe to starboard. Proof that this tank had been breached. These occurrences happened so fast that the captain knew that his ship was in serious danger. He immediately awakened his crew and anyone within earshot as he blew the danger signal on the ships horn. With the few minutes he had to work with, the captain decided to beach his ship next to the U.S. Coast Station on Wellesley Island, and they assisted in eventually removing the crew. A report from the stern said that the unloading tunnel was filling fast with water also. The nine foot long unprotected portion of the unloading tunnel had also been ripped open. Over the next few hours it was noticeable that the ship was settling deeper in the water, which meant that the ballast pumps couldn’t keep up with the inflow. The engine room was seen to be flooding also.

At 2:55 AM on November 21, 1974, rising water in the engine room shorted out the ships emergency generators. This in turn blacked out the ships lights and killed all power to the ballast pumps. At 3:02 AM the ship slipped from its foothold on the shore and sank to the river bottom. Upon impact, a 10-15 second long tremor was heard followed by a power blackout that affected the Coast Guard station itself. The ship had severed the underwater cable supplying power to parts of the Island. Within a minute, the stations emergency generator restored limited power until permanent repairs could be made.

In February 1975, Algoma announced that the ship would not be salvaged as it would prove to be too costly and dangerous. In June 1975, the insurance underwriters for the cargo sponsored their own survey to assess salvaging of the cargo. On June 14, 1975 one of the divers experienced equipment troubles and required help from his diving partner. The rescuing diver lost his grip of the troubled diver and was lost as he sank out of sight. The body was never found. Additional salvage efforts were discontinued and on October 7, 1975, the Roy A. Jodrey was stricken from the shipping registry .

Rear of Davie
Is this the Captain's Chair

Crews Quarters
Donkey Boiler


Thanks to William Forsythe for the story

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