|By Skip Gillham - from his book - Branch Lines and Socanav Tankers of the Great Lakes|
The launching of the J. EDOUARD SIMARD in 1961 marked a change in company policy. It was intended to name this tanker OAKBRANCH but this was changed to honour one of the company founders. The vessel sailed from the Marine Industries shipyard on August 15, 1961 and loaded at Montreal for Hall Beach and Foxe Basin in the Canadian Arctic. The ship returned north in following summers to places such as Broughton Island, Clyde River and as far north as Eureka.
In 1967 the name was shortened to EDOUARD SIMARD. A decision was made to replace the badly corroded tanks in 1978-79 and the work was done at Sorel by M.I.L. and cost a reported $4 million. The hull was lengthened at this time from 125.75 meters (412’7”) to 131.06 meters (430’) and the tonnage was changed to 5,065 gross. The gessel continued to be powered by a 4,000 horsepower Burnmeister & Wain diesel engine.
EDOAURD SIMARD entered Port Weller Drydocks in May 1971 to have ice damage repaired. On December 7, 1979 she grounded off Amherstburg, Ontario in the Detroit River while carrying calcium chloride and on February 2, 1981 she was involved in a collisiion with JAMES TRANSPORT on the St. Lawrence above Port Neuf, Quebec.
When the fleet changed hands, the name became LE CHENE No. 1 at Sorel, Quebec on April 13, 1982. She served Socanav until their demise in 1997 and then joined Enerchem Transports Ltd. The hull was repainted in their colours at Sarnia and the ship returned to work in June 1997 as ENERCHEM TRADER. Service on their behalf ended when this tanker tied up at Montreal on December 25, 1998. During the winter the remaining Enerchem ships were sold to Algoma Tankers Ltd. but ENERCHEM TRADER remained inactive.
Early in the Spring of 2000 she was resold and reflagged Panamanian. The name was changed to SILVERHEAD on April 18, 2000 and she left for Dubai, United Arab Emirates on May 3. The departure marked the last of the former Branch Lines fleet to leave Canadian registry.