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Steamer KEY WEST

Willis Metcalfe notes (Canvas and Steam, p146), that Wesley Thomas, the lighthouse keeper on Main Duck, told him that on 10 May 1955, when the steamer Key West ran hard aground "a heavy mist hung over the lake at the time..."

The Oswego Times : Oswego, May 11.


Cargo of Coal Unloaded Onto Barges to Lighten Craft - Rough Sea Hampers Operatlons - Hull Not Badly Damaged.

Crews of three United States coast guard boats, a salvage scow and a lighter today worked against a strong west wind that kicked up a slightly rough sea in their efforts to free the Canadian steamer Key West from shoals that trapped the craft yesterday morning off Main Duck island in Lake Ontario.

In spite of the handicap, however, the coast guard cutters Forward, out of Oswego, and the Eagle, out of Rochester, only such craft on the lake, wirelessed a report to District Commander Charles Walker at Buffalo that "it looks good for releasing ship today."

The Forward, the Eagle, and a 30-foot motor-powered lifeboat out of Oswego, had been at the scene for more than 20 hours at 10 a. m. today. The crews of all the boats sought to lighten the craft, which was carrying coal, enough to permit her to float free.

Watertown Daily Times : Kingston, Ont., May 11.


Unexpected difficulties confronted salvage crews today as they struggled to relase the steamer, Key West aground off Duck island, seven miles west of here. The Salvage Prince and tug Hilda, attempting to free the steamer, were joined early today by the Salvage Queen. Investigation of the Key West's posltlon showed her hard aground on shoals of the island, between the lighthouse and warning bell in the treacherous channel. Salvage operators said it might take two days to get her free, but reported the steamer did not appear seriously damaged.

The Key Wes was bound for Montreal, Que. with coal. The cargo is being removed and will be held on barges until the ship is freed and then reloaded. The Key West is expected to continue under her own power to Montreal.

The Oswego Times : Oswego, May 13, 1955. (Special to The Times)


Steamer, En Route to Montreal from Ohio, Runs Aground on Shoal at Head of Main Duck Island - Ship Apparently Undamaged.

The Key West, steamer of the Keystone Transports Corporation, Ltd., was in the St. Lawrence' river en route to Montreal with a hold full of coal today after a harrowing experience on the rocks at the head of Main Duck island from Friday until Sunday morning.

The craft, after 300 tons of coal was unloaded, was hauled off the reef by a group of powerful boats. The Salvage Prince and the Salvage Queen of the Pyke Towing company fleet [Pyke Wrecking and Salvage Co. Kingston. Ed.]; the powerful coast guard cutter, Forward, of Oswego; the motor lifeboat of the coast guard fleet and the stranded ship's own power finally slid the endangered craft into deeper water.

Apparently the Key West was undamaged. No water was leaking inlo her hold, it was said and after re-loading, she was able to continue her voyage.

The Key West went aground about 6 Friday morning. A heavy fog hung OVer the foot of the lake. As the ship neared Main Duck island, Capt. Willemstyne said, he picked up the sound of the fog siren at the Canadian lighthouse at the head of the island. Later, he said, he failed to hear the horn and believed that he had passed the island. Without warning the ship began to scrape bottom.

The engines were quickly put into reverse and the ship came to a sudden stop fast on the smooth rock of the island shoal.

The Key West was drawing 12 feet of water, but when she stopped the gauge indicated only 11 feet. Efforts to back the ship off with its own power were useless. The ship went aground only 1,200 yards south of the Main Ducks 1ight. When the fog 11fted a 11feboat was lowered and members of the crew went to the lighthouse. A wireless message telling of the grounding of the Key West was sent to Kingston from the lighthouse.

Although the Key West was of Canadian registry and grounded in Canadlan waters, the coast guard units were ordered to "stand by" because of the perilous position of the steamer and the absence of any Canadian coast guard units. The coast guard officers kept in touch with their commanders. ,

The Key West was canying 2,200 tons of bituminous coal which it loaded at Ashtabula, Ohio. The cargo valued at $15,500, was consigned to a coal company in Montreal. The ship it was said, is insured for $100,000.



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