Remembering the Sinking of the M/V MONTROSE 

July 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm

It was one of those things that comes along every fifty years: the anniversary of the loss of the motor vessel Montrose at 9:20 pm on July 30, 1962.  This relatively new British vessel entered the St. Lawrence Seaway System and arrived at the dock in Detroit, Michigan to unload some general cargo. The captain decided that they needed to continue their journey and with a Canadian pilot on board, the vessel was set on a course to cut diagonally across the Detroit River.  The Montrose went ahead at full speed and all of a sudden a tug and barge appeared down bound under the Ambassador Bridge.

The tug blew five short blasts, put the vessel in reverse, and put a spotlight on the vessel that was fast approaching.  With a swift current behind it, the tug and barge could not avoid slicing into the side of the salty and the damage was done. Some 40 feet of the vessel’s hull lay open and the water rushed in. The bow of the Montrose went down and the stern rose bringing the propeller out of the water. She eventually settled in some 40 feet of water and the cry of abandon ship could be heard. The Detroit fireboat John Kendall and the mail boat J. W. Westcott II were called to rescue duty helping the crew members who had little more than the clothes on their backs and a life jacket to their name.

Fifty years after the accident members of the International Shipmasters, Detroit Lodge Number 7 and the Great Lakes Maritime Institute paid homage to those vessels and crew who survived the accident. A small group boarded the J. W. Westcott II and motored just under the Ambassador Bridge to remember the event of five decades ago when a proud vessel  was lost. Since the J. W. Westcott II was involved in the original rescue, it was only fitting that the memorial take place on her deck on the site of the accident. Flowers were set adrift in the dark waters to remember an incident in the history of the Detroit River by the members of the ISMA and GLMI.

Arriving back at the dock, Westcott dispatcher Paul Jagenow resurrected some black and white photos from the J. W. Westcott archives. These period 8 x 10 photos showed some of the thirty eight crew members on shore in front of the Westcott building, and near the Detroit fireboat. With their life jackets on the picnic table, and smoking cigarettes, the crew members were interviewed as a helmeted Detroit police officer stood by.

Remembering the loss of the motor vessel Montrose fifty years ago was one of the events that reminds all of use that accidents can happen anytime and anywhere.  Thanks  goes to the crew of the J. W. Westcott, Paul Jagenow, Malcolm & Carol McAdam, Kathy McGraw, and John Polacsek for assisting in remembering the night that the Montrose went down.

Click on photos to enlarge

July 30, 1962.  Some of the 38 crew members of the
stand in front of the Westcott office after being removed from the sinking vessel by the Detroit fireboat
John Kendall
and the mailboat J. W. Westcott II.  One of
the crew members has a watch on and it reads 10:00pm, as shown in the photo to the right. 

10:00 PM July 30, 1962

July 30, 1962.  Montrose crew members milling around the dock in front of the John Kendall, with helmeted Detroit Police
officer standing by.
July 30, 1962
One of the crew members with a small
case in his hand & no pants on

August, 1962.  Salvage operations begin.
The vessel was righted using some very large cranes under the Ambassador Bridge. This view upriver is similar to the dock shot fifty years later (shown below. left);
the skyline of Detroit has changed.


Salvage operations underway. 

Probably September 1962.  

50 years later: July 30, 2012

Dock shot looking up river with the group preparing to go out on the river aboard the J. W. Westcott II.

From Left to Right:  Dan Dunne, Torri Dunne, John Polacsek, Carol McAdam,
Kathy McGraw, Mac McAdam
July 30, 2012

The GLMI/ISMA group on the bow of the J. W. Westcott II under the Ambassador Bridge and a full moon

July 30, 2012

Standing in the Westcott Office, Malcolm
'Mac" McAdam examines some of the
50-year old photos.  

  WDIV Channel 4 News Report on 50th Anniversary of Montrose incident         Historical Pictures from the Detroit News          More pictures


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