WILLIAM CLAY FORD
WILLIAM CLAY FORD (1), US.266029 Lake Bulk Freighter built in 1953 by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, MI as Hull #300. Her keel was laid April 10, 1952. Launched May 5, 1953 as a) WILLIAM CLAY FORD (1) for the Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, MI. 647'loa, 629’3"lbp x 70'x 36’; 11,590 GRT, 8590 NRT, 20,300 dwt. Powered by a 7,700 shp double reduction geared cross-compound steam turbine built in 1953 by Westinghouse Electric Co., Philadelphia, PA, and two oil-fired water tube boilers, with a total heating surface of 15,466 sq.ft., built in 1953 by the Foster--Wheeler Co. This ship was the last of the "Pittsburgh" or "AAA" class, similar to the ANDERSON, RESERVE, CALLAWAY and CLARKE, built (at a cost of $5.3 million) on the Great Lakes. The WILLIAM CLAY loaded her first cargo of iron ore on August 6, 1953 to be delivered to her home port at the Ford Rouge Plant south of Detroit, MI. A 800 hp Liaaen bow thruster, built by the Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, LA, was installed during the summer of 1963 by the Fraser-Nelson Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Superior, WI. During the winter of 1965-66, her boiler controls were automated at Detroit. Between the 1967-68 seasons the Ford fleet stacks were changed from buff colored with a black band to Ford Blue with the elliptical Ford logo. A self-contained sanitary system was installed on board over the winter of 1970-71 at the Ford Rouge slip. The work was accomplished by both Ford and Nicholson Terminal & Dock personnel. This was done in compliance with the Michigan Pollution Act of 1970, which became effective January 1, 1971, prohibiting the discharge of untreated sewage into the Great Lakes. A pump-out station was installed at the Rouge to service the Ford boats. The night the EDMUND FITZGERALD disappeared on November 10, 1975 during a gale-force storm the crew of the WILLIAM CLAY FORD did an extraordinary act. Because of the bravery and valor demonstrated that night by Captain Don Erickson and his crew, they were presented with many accolades including a plaque bestowed upon them by the Great Lakes Maritime Institute recognizing her role in the search for the EDMUND FITZGERALD. It read "On the night of November 10-11, 1975, these men voluntarily left a safe harbor to face the dangers of gale force winds and vicious seas, in the blackness of a storm which had already claimed as a victim the steamer EDMUND FITZGERALD, to search for possible survivors of that disaster, exemplifying the finest traditions of the maritime profession." The WILLIAM CLAY’s hull was lengthened 120 feet in 1979 by Fraser Shipyards at Superior, WI, the ninth stretching done at Fraser. New dimensions: 767'loa, 749’3"lbp x 70'x 36’; 14,630 GRT, 11,629 NRT. A stern thruster was also installed at this time. This lengthening, which increased her mid-summer carrying capacity from 21,000 to 26,500 tons, was completed in May, 1979 and she returned to service on June 2, 1979. Her ownership was transferred to the Rouge Steel Corp., Dearborn in 1984. The WILLIAM CLAY FORD (1) loaded her last cargo at Duluth, MN. December 11, 1984. She passed by Detroit and into the Rouge Basin on her final trip and lay-up December 14th. In 1985 she was renamed b) US.266029 her U.S. official number. This became necessary due to the purchase of two Cleveland-Cliffs boats, the WALTER A. STERLING which became the WILLIAM CLAY FORD (2) and the EDWARD B. GREENE, which became the BENSON FORD (3). The US.266029 departed her lay-up berth at the Rouge slip on August 20, 1986 in tow of Gaelic tugs and she was taken to Detroit Marine Terminals on the Rouge River, where her pilothouse was removed to be displayed at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Detroit’s Belle Isle. The hull was moved to Nicholson's River Rouge dock on August 27th. Then she was towed from there November 6, 1986 by tugs TUSKER and GLENADA to Port Maitland, Ont. for scrapping there in 1987. On April 3, 1991 the pilothouse was moved by barge towed by Gaelic tug's CAROLYN HOEY and placed on a specially built foundation at the Dossin Museum for display facing the Detroit River as a fully equipped pilot house.