Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Old but indestructible, or When I'm sixty-four

 This blog has contained too many notices of old tugs going to the scrappers recently. Tug companies may be cleaning house as they have been carrying worn out vessels on their rosters for too long. However a few durable tugs are still soldiering on at relatively unheard of ages. One of those is the R.J.Ballot, which has apparently answered the Beatles question "Will you still need me....when I'm sixty-four."

R.J.Ballott at the former Coast Guard base, now the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) in Dartmouth.

Foundation Maritime, that legendary Halifax based towing company, built up a rag tag fleet during World War II. Some of those tugs were replaced by war emergency tugs in the late 1940s, but by the mid 1950s they still had several underpowered and steam driven boats. 

When the newly developing Labrador iron ore mines came into production, new port facilities were built at Sept-Iles, QC that could handle the largest of a new breed of bulk carriers. Along with nearby Baie Comeau, the ports required tugs with power and heft. Foundation went to Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon (now part of Lévis), QC for what eventually turned out to be nine new tugs. Delivered in the years between 1956 and 1963, and all powered by Fairbanks Morse engines (and all but one, single screw driven) they have provided remarkable service for a variety of owners. 

It is notable that of those nine tugs, three were sold foreign and likely scrapped, and all but one of the rest remain in daily service in Canada. * - see below

The first of what were big ship berthing tugs at the time, is in Halifax now, having transitioned to long distance towing work. R.J.Ballott arrived from Makkovik, Labrador, via St. Barbe with the barge Kaligak loaded with construction equipment.

It is the same barge that R.J.Ballott towed out of Halifax on October 3, 2019


The tug, built in 1956 as Foundation Victor has had a long career with several owners as Point Victor, Kay Cole and Jerry Newberry and is still going strong at 64 years of age. It has been noted in this blog many times. Enter the name in the search box, or for a complete record see: R.J.Ballott

This Tim Randall photo shows Foundation Victor in its orginal colour scheme.

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* Foundation Valiant, later named Point Valiant (i) and André-H. was broken up in recent months at Quebec City. See this recent post

Point Vigour ex Foundation Vigour  is still at work as McKeil's Molly M 1.

Point Viking ex Foundation Viking  works for Construction Polaris Inc of Sept-Iles, QC.

Point Vim ex Foundation Vim works for Les Barges de Matane Inc of Matane, QC.

Point Valour ex Foundation Valour works for Thunder Bay Tug Services at Thunder Bay, ON.

 *


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Roxane D. - retired

 Another elderly tug from the Groupe Océan fleet has been sold off. This time it is a World War II standard tug - one of the last TANAC types still in existance. 


Built in 1945 as TANAC-V-220 by Standard Bridge in Trenton, ON it was one of hundreds built for civilian use overseas. Tugs completed after war's end carried the letter "V" in their names. A few of the tugs remained in Canada, and found work for government or were sold. This tug kept its name for many years but was renamed Peetee by McNamara Construction in the 1970s, and Bonnie JB when it joined Pitts Construction, which was later taken over by Bannister Continental. It was then sold to Arcade Dredging in Notre-Dame-de-Pierreville, QC where it was renamed Roxane D.

 Roxane D. refitting in Notre-Dame-de-Pierreville. In the background is the Marie-Lou the former National Sea Products steam trawler Cape Brier converted to a bottom dumping spoils carrier along with sister vessel Cape Sambro which became Marie Sol.

Groupe Océan eventually took over the dredging companies in the Trois-Rivières area and kept the tug in the fleet without change of name. 

Roxane D. towing a dredge scow in the Trois-Rivières area of the St.Lawrence River.


The tug has now been sold privately as a  live aboard in the Sorel-Tracy area.

 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

R.F.Grant - a gift - (REVISED)

 Another elderly tug has been removed from service to become a static display. Built by Canadian Vickers Ltd in Montreal in 1934 R.F.Grant has carried the same name for its entire career.


The tug was built for the Shawinigan Paper and Power Comapny, then moved to the St.Maurice Boom and Driving Co Ltd . It was used on the St-Maurice River timber drives. When that work was discontinued it was acquired by Three Rivers Boatmen (Les Remorqueurs de Trois-Rivières). They installed the new superstructure and a new engine. 

Groupe Océan acquired the Trois-Rivières business and incorporated the tug into their fleet, moving it to Quebec City. A sister tug, Weymontichingue had a similar history, but was renamed Service Boat No.2 by Three Rivers Boatmen. 

Groupe Océan has now given the R.F.Grant to Parc Maritime St-Laurent for use in a display at St-Laurent, Ile-d'Orleans where the tug often wintered over. It will be placed on the restored haulage ways at the old shipyard site as an example of the wintering vessels from past years.

REVISION: I finally got around to scanning a photo from my collection that gives a better view of this good looking small tug:

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Sunday, November 15, 2020

Atlantic Teak - RIP

 A long serving member of the Atlantic Towing Ltd fleet has been scrapped during the past year. Atlantic Teak was acquired in 1979 in Singapore, where it had been built in 1976 as Essar. A twin screw vessel of 2300 bhp and 28 tonne bollard pull it was equipped with a huge towing winch.


The winch was put to good use when it towed a barge from Singapore to Saint John where the tug was renamed Irving Teak. It was put to work towing Irving Oil barges and traveled throughout the Atlantic region delivering fuel.

Tied up at the old Irving Oil depot in Woodside, with the barge Irving Seal
(Very far off in the background is Irving Maple towing Irving Sealion.)


It became Atlantic Teak in 1995 when the entire fleet was renamed. The tug traveled widely towing cargo barges and sometimes did ship berthing work in Saint John, NB, most recently in Belledune, NB. It also worked summers ferrying supplies to Rankin Inlet from ships anchored in Hudson Bay or from Churchill.

I often wonder what the engineer was taking a picture of - maybe me?

As Canadian tug fleets are disposing of older craft, they must be in the market for replacement vessels. With only one Canadian shipbuilder interested in building tugs (Groupe Océan's Industrie Ocean yard) it seems likely that competitors will be making acquisitions abroad. 

At least two companies have already done so - Dominion Diving and Picton Terminals. Watch this blog over the coming weeks when their tugs are delivered.

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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Panuke Sea - off into the sunset

 The former Secunda Marine Services supplier Panuke Sea sailed from Sydney, Nova Scotia today November 14 as KYDY Sea under Panamanian flag. Giving a destination of Calderas, Dominican Republic, it is unclear if the vessel will see further service or if it is destined for scrap. In view of its age and years out of service, the latter seems more likely.


Rebuilt from the 1984 era Neftegaz 14, it has been covered in this blog several times. Most recently:

http://tugfaxblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2016/11/panuke-sea-up-for-sale.html

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The last Norton

 The history of ship preservation in this country and many others is unfortunately a tale of woe, as enthusiasm often could not be backed up with money. Good intentions have all to often "run aground" and the wrecks are many and the stories sad.

The number of suitable candidates for preservation diminish as the years go by, and so the opportunities to save significant vessels will be fewer and fewer. Smaller vessels may be preserved (Russel Brothers logging tugs come to mind), but the larger vessels require much more money, expertise, and professional management than many enthusiasts can muster.

Time has just run out for one significant class of Canadian built naval tugs, as the last of Norton class tugs in Canada is now gone. Not only was it the prototype of the class, it was in full commercial service and well maintained, in fresh water, until very recently. If there was ever a tug that could have been preserved this was it. It has just been scrapped since there were no funds to preserve it.

During World War II the demand for tugs was considerable. The huge increase in transatlantic shipping and the growth of the Royal Canadian Navy meant that all available civilian tugs were pressed into service, and new tugs were needed desperately. Several classes of tugs were designed for the RCN, both small "Pups" (the Ville class) and dockyard berthing tugs (Glen class) and they were churned out in large numbers. However the RCN needed bigger ice class tugs for target towing, coastal towing and salvage and thus the Norton class came into being. Despite much war time construction being "for the duration" and not particularly durable, these tugs were built to high spec British Corporation standard and were intended to serve for many years in peacetime - and they did. 

                                                              HMCS Riverton in St.John's.

 There were eight tugs in the class, fitted with 1,000 bhp Sulzer engines, built under license by Dominion Steel Co (DOSCO). They carried a 1.5 ton capacity derrick, a towing winch, and were armed with a Lewis gun. War time compliment was 26 including gun crew.

 CNAV Riverton in Halifax.

All eight tugs were completed in 1944 and commissioned into the RCN. See attachment for some of  Norton's wartime explots. Note its skipper was Capt Wally Myalls, RCNVR, one of the people who figured in Farley Mowat's book Grey Seas Under.

http://www.forposterityssake.ca/Navy/TUG-NORTON_W31.htm 

At war's end four of the Norton class tugs were transferred to the Canadian Naval Auxiliary Service. They were crewed by civilians and continued to serve the RCN under the direction of the Queen's (or King's) harbour master. Four were transferred to the War Assets Corporation for disposal.

 CNAV Riverton underway

Interestingly Norton was one of the latter, but was not sold immediately. It was laid up in Sydney, NS and in December 1945 it was renamed W.A.C.1 and chartered to Foundation Maritime's managing arm Maritime Towing + Salvage Ltd. It was used to tow surplus naval craft for disposal or scuttling at sea and assisted in some salvage work until March 1946.

In 1946 Marathon Paper Mills Ltd bought the tug, and transferred it to Lake Superior where it was refitted in Fort William with upgraded civilian accommodation. It was renamed Peninsula and put to work towing log rafts of 8,000 cords from booming grounds to storage ponds. From time to time it towed gigantic log booms of up to 25,000 cords from Port Arthur to Marathon - a 12 to 14 day operation.

In 1967 Western Engineering Service of Thunder Bay acquired the tug for ship berthing in the port of Thunder Bay. With the name unchanged, it operated through Gravel and Lake Services until it was retired in 2015. Its certificate of operation expired in late 2017.

It was then that the Marathon and District Historical Society arranged to take over the tug and to preserve it on dry land. Peninsula sailed under its own power, and beached itself at Marathon in July 2018. 

There the tug has languished, settling over on one side, raising concerns about its future. In June of this year the town of Marathon applied to have the vessel demolished, and by August had taken over ownership. On November 12 demolition work was well under way and nothing but shreds remains now.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/marathon-peninsula-tug-dismantled-1.5728432

The Nortons  

(built by Montreal Drydock, a subsidiary of Canadian Vickers, unless noted)

Alberton W48 1948: sold to Cia Navegaçao, Portugal, renamed Aveiro, broken up 1990s.

Beaverton August 27, 1946, sank in collision with Empire McAlpine off Cap-aux-Oies, QC.

Birchton W35. 1946: sold to Marine Industries Ltd, Sorel, QC, renamed Capitaine Simard. 1978: Sceptre Dredging, laid up, 1981: Techno-Maritime Ltée - stripped for parts. Broken up 1982.

 Sisters, ex Birchton (left) and Riverton at Quebec City.

Clifton (built by Canadian Bridge, Walkerville, ON). 1946: Canadian Naval Auxiliary Vessel, ATA 529, based Esquimalt. 1968: North Arm Transportation, 1981: Horton Maine Explorations, then various owners, in Florida then broken up in Progreso, Mexico.

Heatherton 1946: CNAV ATA 527, based Esquimalt. 1975: Minister of Public Works, 1977: Three Rivers Boatmen, Trois-Rivières, QC, renamed Robert-H. 2001: sold Inlogmar, renamed Kellan Pacific Ecuador flag. 2019: sold to Sorepor SA, renamed Rio Amazonas, Ecuador flag.

Maxwellton (built by Canadian Bridge, Walkerville, ON) 1946: Price Navigation, renamed Hugh Jones. Dismantled by MIL and rebuilt on Lac St-Jean for log raft towing. 1973: bought by Three Rivers Boatmen Ltd, dismantled, trucked to Chicoutimi, reassembled. November 23, 1973 sank off St-Irenée, QC on delivery trip to Trois-Rivières.

Norton 1945: War Assets Corp. Renamed W.A.C.1 (Maritime Towing + Salvage, managers). 1946: sold to Marathon Paper Mills Ltd, renamed Peninsula. 1967: sold to Western Engineering Service Ltd., Thunder Bay, ON. 2017: sold to Marathon and District Historical Society, beached Peninsula Harbour, Marathon, ON. 2020: acquired by Town of Marathon and scrapped.

Riverton W47 (built by Chantier Maritime du St-Laurent under sub-contract to Canadian Bridge Co) 1946: Canadian Naval Auxiliary Service ATA 528, based Halifax. 1979: sold to Techno-Maritime Ltée, Quebec City, renamed Techno-St-Laurent. 2001: sold to McKeil Workboats, Hamilton, ON, unofficial rename Kirstin. 2014: broken up Port Colborne, ON.

 Techno-St-Laurent ex Riverton hauled out at Ile-aux-Coudres, QC.
 
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Thursday, November 5, 2020

André-H and Jerry G - off the books

Quebec City based Groupe Oçéan appears to be largely finished scrapping two veteran tugs at their Quebec City base.


The older of the two was the Jerry G. built in 1960 by Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon. A classic single screw tug, originally owned by Davie's own tug company, it spent most of its working life in Quebec City.


After Groupe Oçéan got the tug when it acquired Quebec Tugs it did work a bit farther afield, perhaps as far as Montreal. Although beautifully maintained, single screw tugs of 960 bhp nominal horsepower and sixty years old are woefully obsolete for most harbour work.

The second tug, although three years newer, has a more complex and wider ranging history. André- H, also Davie-built, but in 1963, started life as Foundation Valiant, a twin screw coastal / salvage tug of 1650 bhp. With Foundation it ranged from the Great Lakes to the Caribbean.

 

It was modified over the years with the addition of a towing winch when it became Point Valiant for Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (ECTUG) in 1973. Not as famous as some earlier Foundation tugs, it did everything ECTUG ever asked it to do, and was the flagship of the fleet.

 

 


 


It was a sad day when they sold the tug in 1995 to les Remorqueurs de Trois-Rivières (Three Rivers Boatmen) where it was renamed André-H

 

Groupe Oçéan acquired the Trois Rivières company, but did not rename the tug. It was put into general use with towing and ship berthing work, but it eventually had seen its day and was laid up in Quebec City and joined by Jerry G.


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