(1919) 1946                                  Makaweli                                             1967

Steel St. Lawrence River canal size tanker

Built at Ashtabula OH by Great Lakes Engineering Works, Hull 503
Launched Feb 1, 1919
Built as bulk freighter Cowee for U. S. Shipping Board for off-Lakes service during World War I, cabins and machinery aft, and left the Great Lakes upon completion. 

Original enrollment: 
253.4 x 43.6 x 25.1, 2507 GT, 1495 NT, US 217844.  Renamed Makaweli 1922. 

Converted to tanker 1937 at San Francisco CA by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co. 

Damaged in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec 7, 1941.  Repaired at San Pedro CA and returned to service.

261’ LOA, 253’6” LBP, 43’6” beam, 27’6” depth
1 deck, coal-fired boilers, triple expansion engine, 1350 IHP (converted to oil firing before her return to the Great Lakes)

Sold 1946 to Lakeland Tankers Ltd., Toronto ON, a subsidiary of Cleveland Tankers Inc., Cleveland OH and returned to the Great Lakes.  Rebuilt for Great Lakes service at St. Catharines ON by Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd.

Enrolled Canadian at 253.5 x 43.6 x 25.1, 2665 GT, 1551 NT     Can 177814     (home port Toronto ON)

Entered Great Lakes service Dec 3, 1946

Sold for scrap 1967 to Italian shipbreakers.  Towed with str. Mohawk Deer by Yugoslavian tug Junak for Italy.  Mohawk Deer broke loose from the tow on the morning of Nov 5, 1967 in the Gulf of Genoa, stranded off  the island of Portofina and broke in two.  Tow with Makaweli arrived at La Spezia Italy later that day (Mohawk Deer recovered and towed to La Spezia in December).

She was the last World War I “Laker” to operate on the Great Lakes.

See history in Scanner May 1971 (#15)
Also in Great Lakes Ships We Remember II p. 200




2 thoughts on “Makaweli

  1. In the early 1940’s, a group of deer hunters in the St. Catharines area of Ontario, purchased a life boat from a laker, which I assume was to be scrapped. The life boat was steel , double ended, and quite large. It was converted into a boat to be used to transport deer hunters to there desired destinations in the Georgian bay area of Ontario. I am not sure where the life boat was purchased, but it may have been at the Port weller drydocks. The name on the side of the craft itself is ‘ S S Makaweli’. There are two more lines of printing under the name which are not possible to read, but the last few letters on the second line are ‘…….person,s’. The last line is obscured as well, but the last few letters seem to read ‘…..CU. FT” .

    I have no clue who will read this, if anyone, but would sure be interested in a response.

    • First of all, I have a problem with your early 1940s date. The Makaweli didn’t come to the Lakes under that name until well after the end of World War II. It could have been that this lifeboat was replaced by one more suited to Lakes service when she was refit when she came back or replaced some time later.

      At any rate, if she was in any kind of commercial service it might well be that the maximum number of persons and/or the maximum cubic feet of cargo which could be be carried was stenciled inside the boat.

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