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  • American Fortitude on hold-up at Port of Oswego

     

    Many of you may have noticed the 690' Great Lakes freighter currently docked at the Port of Oswego Authority.  Built in 1953 as a bulk cargo vessel by the American Steamship Co. in Lorain OH, American Fortitude was christeded as Ernest T. Weir.  The 690' by 70' cargo tanker was powered by a GE cross-compund 7,700 shp steam turbine engine capable of reaching speeds of 16.7 mph, or 14.5 knots, and could carry a full load of cargo weighing 22,300 tons.

     

    In the wake of the 1975 sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Ernest T. Weir, was acquired by Oglebay Norton's Columbia Transportation Division in 1978 when it was then renamed Courtney Burton.  The vessel was upgraded to a self unloading tanker in 1980 which it would sail as until June 6, 2006 when acquired by the American Steamship Co. (ASC) and renamed American Fortitude.

     

    Until now, American Fortitude had never visited Oswego, and had only traveled from Lake Erie through the Welland Canal to Lake Ontario a few times.  That said, the ASC does have a strong connection to the Oswego shipping industry through a man named H. Lee White, this museum's namesake.  H. Lee White was the CEO of ASC as well as the Marine Transport Lines in the mid to late 1960s.  At one point, Mr. White was in charge of over 100 such vessels throughout the Great Lakes, including the famed Oswego Group, and is a name synonymous with the commercial expansion of commerce in this part of the world.  Likewise, the 1973 ASC vessel named M/V H. Lee White is named in his honor.  His stories, as well as relevant subjects, are told at the Maritime Museum at Oswego.  

     

    Destined for scrapping, American Fortitude was turned around by the Canadian Government on its way through the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Turned around, Oswego became the hold-up location.  Time will tell the ultimate destination of this vessel.  The official Transport Canada statement reads:

     

    "Transport Canada's role is to ensure that the regulatory provisions of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001...and the Navigable Waters Protection Act are strictly enforced.  The American Fortitude was issued a detaining order by Transport Canada when it docked at Cote St-Catherine, since the regulatory requirements for towing were not met and winter conditions did not permit it to be moved safely.  After the last inspection on December 14, 2014, Transport Canada lifted the detaining order because the American Fortitude could now be towed safely, without harm to the environment, in accordace with marine safety regulations."

     

    For more on H. Lee White, click here...