Sunday, February 1, 2015

Flashback George M. McKee / Metridia

An interesting tug was built in 1928 by Davie Shipbuilding + Repair in Lauzon, QC. It was built for Anticosti Shipping Co, and as the owner's name would imply it was for service at Anticosti Island. That huge island dividing the St.Lawrence River as it empties into the Gulf of St.Lawrence was rich in timber.
The Anticosti Corp had a major operation on the island, which.involved cutting timer in the winter, floating down rivers to bays, booming and bundling it, then towing it out to the ship Port Alfred. The ship then carried the wood to the Saguenay River port of the same name where Anticosti had built a pulp mill.

Named George M. McKee, the tug was heavily built to work in ice and had a cutaway bow like an icebreaker. Also rare for a tug at that time it had a diesel engine. Its large 5 cylinder Fairbanks Morse was rated at 700 bhp. It carried a crew of fourteen, including a large engine room crew (housed below deck aft).

The tug as originally designed by Milne Gilmore and German.

It served the Anticosti Corp until 1933 when it was acquired by Manseau Shipyard, the shipbuilding arm of the Simard family at Sorel, QC. The shipyard was to become Marine Industries Ltd, and they remained owners of the tug until 1970.

I don't know what the tug during the World War II years, but following the war it made many trips to Halifax, Sydney and Shelburne, NS to to tow decommissioned warships to Sorel for scrap.It also made trips to the United Stares east coast, to such places as Camden, NJ - probably towing surplus naval vessels.

 Metridia at Ile-aux-Coudres, QC awaiting a much needed refit in the spring of 1972.

In 1970 the tug was sold to a diving company based in Montreal and renamed Metridia. In 1976 owners in Rimouski bought the tug, but it was beached at Bic, and eventually dismantled and scuttled off nearby Ile St-Barnabé.
Metridia beached at Bic, QC in 1978.

By the time I saw it first in 1972 it had been much modified with a steel wheelhouse and raised bulwark forward, but in other respects looked much the same as when it was built.


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