William G Mather Steamship
William G Mather Steamship

William G. Mather {2}

1925-Present

Specs

Build Information

Year Built: 1925

Builder: Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, MI

Hull #250

Registry: U.S. 224850

IMO #5390577

Laid Down: February 12, 1925

Launch Date: May 23, 1925

Commissioned: July 24, 1925

Construction

The William G. Mather {2} was built in 1925 by Great Lakes Engineering Works at their River Rouge, Michigan, shipyard as a gearless bulk carrier for the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company.

The Mather was the third of four similar sister ships, the other three being the Edward J. Berwind, Joseph H. Frantz, and John A. Topping. The Mather was equipped with guest quarters as she was constructed as the flagship for the Cleveland-Cliffs Fleet.

The Mather was built with large box holds to make her an efficient carrier in the ore and coal trades.

Modifications

  • Repowered and reboilered, Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI, 1954.
  • Tank top and side tanks replaced, April 1956.
  • Bow thruster installed, American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH, 1964.
  • Boilers automated, American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH, 1964.

General Stats

Length Overall: 618′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 601′

Breadth: 62′

Depth: 32′

Loaded Draft: —

Capacity: 13,950 Tons

Vessel Type: Gearless Bulk Carrier

Number of Cargo Holds: —

Number of Hatches: —

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone Trades

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

Engineering Equipment

Original

Engine

Engine Type: Quadruple Expansion Steam Engine

Engine Manufacturer: Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, MI

Engine Model: 21 1/2”, 31”, 49 1/2”, 68” dia. x 42” stroke

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 2600 IHP

Boiler

Boiler Type: Coal-Fired Water Tube Boilers

Boiler Manufacturer: Babcock & Wilcox

Boiler Size: 8466 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 3

Repower – 1954

Engine Type: Steam Turbine

Engine Manufacturer: De Laval

Engine Model: Double Reduction Geared Cross-Compound Steam Turbine

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 5500 SHP

Reboiler – 1954

Boiler Type: Oil-fired water tube boiler

Boiler Manufacturer: Babcock & Wilcox, Akron, OH

Boiler Size: 8653 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 1

History

Lineage

William G. Mather {2} – 1925-1987

Owner: Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

William G. Mather – 1987-Present

Museum Ship

Owner: Great Lakes Historical Society, Toledo, OH

Operator: Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland, OH [As Museum ship]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

Her Story

The William G. Mather {2} was built in 1925 by Great Lakes Engineering Works at their River Rouge, Michigan, shipyard as a gearless bulk carrier for the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company. The keel for the new Mather was laid on February 12, 1925, being launched and christened on May 23, 1925. She departed Detroit on her maiden voyage on July 24, 1925, bound for Ashtabula, Ohio, to load coal for Fort William, Ontario.

In 1946, the William G. Mather became the first commercial ship on the Great Lakes to be equipped with radar as part of an experimental program.

In 1952, the Mather was relieved of her flagship to duties, passing them over the the new Edward B. Greene. In 1954, the Mather was repowered with a new De Laval cross-compound steam turbine and reboilered with a single Babcock & Wilcox boiler by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. A modern stack was also installed at this time. Her side tanks and tank top in the cargo hold were replaced in 1956.

Over the winter of 1963-1964, the Mather had a bow thruster installed as well as her boilers automated, becoming the first Great Lakes steamer to operate without a fireman.

On September 7, 1975, while downbound on the St. Marys River with a load of ore, the Mather was forced out of the shipping channel by a saltwater vessel and struck the bottom. After entering Lake Huron, it was realized that the water coming in would sink the ship, and she was turned around and beached on Frying Pan Island. She was floated off the next day and taken to Bay Shipbuilding for repairs.

The William G. Mather laid up for the final time on December 21, 1980, at the Hocking Valley slip at Toledo, Ohio. While in layup, a fire broke out in the galley, killing a homeless person seeking shelter inside who had started the fire.

After Cleveland-Cliffs shut down their marine operations in 1985, the William G. Mather was sold to the Great Lakes Historical Society in 1987 for use as a museum ship in Cleveland, Ohio. She was moved to Cleveland on October 8, 1988, being taken to the G&W shipyard for restoration. The Mather was moved to her present location on October 16, 1990, and was rechristened William G. Mather on May 23, 1991, by Mrs. Clare Schneider Kirchner, who christened the ship when she was originally constructed. The William G. Mather remains as a museum ship on Cleveland’s waterfront.

Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on September 11, 2020

Gallery

  • William G. Mather loading coal at Toledo, Ohio, 1970’s. Photo by Jim Hoffman
  • William G. Mather on the St. Marys River, 1971. Photo by Roger LeLievre
  • William G. Mather on the St. Marys River, 1971. Photo by Roger LeLievre
  • William G. Mather on the St. Marys River, August 4, 1971. Photo by Roger LeLievre
  • William G. Mather on the St. Marys River, August 1975. Photo by Roger LeLievre
  • William G. Mather on the St. Marys River, 1979. Photo by Jim Hoffman
  • William G. Mather on the St. Marys River, 1979. Photo by Roger LeLievre
  • William G. Mather laid up at the Hocking Valley Dock at Toledo, Ohio, 1980’s. Photo by Roger LeLievre
  • William G. Mather in her role as a museum ship at Cleveland, Ohio, 2007. Photo by Jim Hoffman
  • William G. Mather in her role as a museum ship at Cleveland, Ohio, June 30, 2019. Photo by Isaac Pennock

Sources

Ahoy & Farewell. Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 1970. Pp. 203-204.

Berry, Sterling P. “Mather, William G. 2” Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 8 September 2020. <https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/m/mather-william-g-2>

Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 149.

Reaume, Earl J., Jr. U.S. Freighters of the Great Lakes. Border Publishing, 2000. Pp. 139-141.

The Great Lakes Engineering Works: The Shipyard and its Vessels. Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 2008. Pp. 370-373.

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