The Island Commander: A Lifetime Through Paintings

by Captain Ken Higgs 2017

Island Commander

The Island Commander in Her Prime Today, with the 16–567BC GM EMD diesel, with 19–A nozzle, tri rudders, new wheelhouse, all new accommodations. Ocean classed last, CSI, to 2011. (Photo from the Ken Higgs collection.)

I own the Island Commander, the last Grimsby trawler left in the world. She was built in 1912 as the Andrew Kelly by Cochrane & Sons Ltd. at Selby, Yorkshire UK. She is 35.97m x 6.71m x 3.51m (118.0’ x 22.0’ x 11.5’) steel hulled 270.98gt 64.09rt. She has been rebuilt several times, in 1941 she was rebuilt and in 1956 she was re–built as a salvage vessel. In 1912 she has a 58hp triple expansion steam engine but has been re–engined several times. In 1941 she was converted to a tug re-engined as a 500 hp. McIntosh–Seymour diesel engine from the Boobyalla. In 1947 she was powered by an oil 6–cylinder McIntosh & Seymour engine, Auburn NY. In 1956 she was re–engined with a 1200hp 8–cylinder Union diesel engine. In 1975 she was re–powered at Seattle WA with a 1750hp. 16–cylinder EMD GM–567 diesel engine.

In 1912 she was owned by Atlin Construction Co. Ltd., Grimsby UK. In 1914 she was owned by the Canadian Fishing Company. In 1929–1933 she was owned by the Canadian Fish and Cold Storage Co. Ltd., Prince Rupert BC. In 1936 she was owned by Dominion Tug & Barge Co. Ltd. In 1939 she was owned by the Pacific Salvage Co. Ltd., North Vancouver BC. In 1940 she was owned by Vancouver Dry Dock & Salvage Co. Ltd., Vancouver BC. In 1941 she was owned by Island Tug & Barge, Victoria BC. In 1941–1944 she was chartered to the US Government in the Aleutians for the US Army Transportation Service. In 1946 she towed the Pamir out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In 1947–1970 as a tug she was owned by Island Tug & Barge Ltd., Victoria BC. In 1971–2017 she was owned by Island Sea Marine Ltd. (Ken Higgs), West Vancouver BC.

She was originally named for Andrew Kelly, a principal of the Canadian Fish & Cold Storage Co., Prince Rupert BC. In 1914 she arrived at Prince Rupert BC. In 1917 she rescued the tug Commodore and her tow the sailing ship St. David. She is said to be the last Grimsby Trawler still afloat. In 1949 she ran aground on Thrasher Rock. In 1956 she was re–built as a salvage vessel.

Among her many skippers the list includes Captain Jack Gillam (1941), Captain ‘Drydie’ Jones, Captain Fred MacFarlane, Captain Charlie Goodwin, Captain George W. Hovel, Captain G.W. Higgs; Captain George Dance.

Island Commander

A large model of the Island Commander)

In 1951 Mary Newman was a young girl living at Octopus Point in Sansum Narrows. She was one of 11 brothers and sisters who were all home schooled and all live cod boat owners/operators. She loved tugs, and regularly saw the Island Commander towing logs past their house. One of her brothers built her a large model which she shows proudly in the image.

Island Commander

A large model of the Island Commander (Photo of a Mary Newman painting from the Ken Higgs collection.)

The family built cod boats right there, with live tanks. She owned one. She also first worked for Island Tug and Barge, in Victoria, for the Elworthy family, in the Princess Mary Restaurant. That is when she started watercolour painting and portrayed all his tugs. Some of her paintings are very large. The one of the Island Commander was one of the largest, and hung in the lobby of their office. In later years it was given to me by the Victoria manager of Seaspan. Mary Newman is still living in Nanaimo BC in 2017.

Island Commander

The Island Commander Halibut dory fishing to longliner, Prince Rupert home ported, 1913 to 1929, when International Pacific Halibut Commission found all steam halibut vessels too large for the amount of halibut, Bering Sea to Cape Flattery, all areas between. Laid up, PR till 1937. Steam engine removed, installed in a Pacific Coyle Navigation tug. (Photo of a Mary Newman painting from the Ken Higgs collection.)

Island Commander

The Island Commander (Photo of a Mary Newman painting from the Ken Higgs collection.)

Dieselized in North Vancouver’s North Van Ship Repair, at the foot of Chesterfield, then commissioned by the US Army for the Second World War effort, Aleutians, utill 1945.

Island Commander

The Island Commander Towing along BC and Pacific Coast of N.A., 500 HP Seymour McIntosh, and in 1956, 1200 Union diesel, largest Union made in their Oakland Ca. shops. Turbocharged, 8 cylinder (Photo of a Mary Newman painting from the Ken Higgs collection.)

Island Commander

The Island Commander in drydock. (Photo of a Mary Newman painting from the Ken Higgs collection.)



To quote from this article please cite:

Higgs, Captain Ken (2017) The Island Commander: A Lifetime Through Paintings. Nauticapedia.ca 2017. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/Island_Commander_Higgs.php

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