Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Océan Taiga and other Groupe Océan news bits - plus Addenda

The "super tug" Océan Taiga put in a surprise appearance in Halifax today. The second of two tugs of the TundRA 3600 class built at Industrie Océan for parent company Groupe Océan, it is an 8,000 bhp, 110 tonne bollard pull Lloyd's Ice Class 1A Super F.S. What that means is that it and near sister tug Océan Tundra are the most powerful conventional tugs in eastern Canada, and that they could  work in the high arctic, year round without icebreaker assistance.

The two were envisioned to serve the Baffinland Iron mine but as things turned out that project was delayed, and development plans changed, and so the tugs were not needed - at least on the original schedule.

Océan Tundra was completed in 2013 and construction of Océan Taiga was intentionally slowed down and it was not completed until 2016. Although there is some tanker escort work on the St.Lawrence where their 14 knot free running speed might be of use, there is little demand for tugs of their power and capability in the area.

Océan Taiga has a pair of small containers lashed down on deck.

That is why Océan Taiga is arriving in Halifax. It has been chartered out bareboat to undisclosed owners, who apparently need the tugs power, but not likely its arctic capabilities. The tug is flying the Jamaica flag.

Addendum #1: Océan decided to announce - after I made this post- that they had signed a ten year contract for three tugs for Kingston, Jamaica, in the New Port West section of the harbour. The contract is to start the end of June. The press release does not name the tugs. It also mentions "personnell" will also be sent, but that 40 jobs will be created locally in Jamaica. It also states that the contract is with the Port of Kingston.
Had I known all this before the tug arrived in Halifax I would have reported it.
All I had to go on was The Department of Transport web site, which says that the tug Océan Taiga is bareboat chartered out. It has certainly been reflagged to Jamaica, and therefore I stand by my previous statement that the tug(s) are chartered to an unknown Jamaican entity. According to other sources this is "Ocean J Towing Ltd".  The tug remains owned by Océan Remorquage Québec Inc.

The same* Jamaican owners of the Hercule, formerly Océan Hercule completed delivery of their tug last month. However there has been no movement on Océan Delta, believed to be bought by the same owners, and still lying in Sorel-tracy, QC.

*Addendum #2: The listed owner of the Hercule is West Indies Petroleum Ltd, as previously reported, with managers listed as "Blue Ocean Marine Ltd". Do you detect a similarity?

After acquiring the Cargill owned, Svitzer-managed Pointe Comeau, Océan has renamed it Océan Comeau. It has now left for Quebec City as its replacement has gone to work in the port of Baie-Comeau. That tug, the former Océan Cartier has been renamed l'Anse du Moulin [translated: mill cove] and ownership transferred to Cargill Limited. Océan Remorquage Baie-Comeau Inc manages the tug for Cargill.

Océan Stevns is bareboat chartered out under St.Vincent and the Grenadines flag. It spent the winter in Port Hawksbury, then sailed for St.John's, NL at the end of May. Its intentions are something of a mystery.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Lois M picks up a tow

The McKeil Marine's tug Lois M arrived in Halifax June 8 to pick up a tow, and sailed this morning.

Lois M alongside its tow at the Valéro dock in Eastern Passage.

Built in 1991 by Matsuura Iron Shipbuilding (Tekko Zosen) in Higashino the 60 tonne BP tug is powered by two Niigata engines delivering 4800 bhp to ASD drives. It started life as Lambert for Robe River Mining Co in Australia, with Westug as operators. McKeil acquired the tug in 2014 and it traveled from Singapore 16,500 miles via Mauritius and Walvis Bay to Tampico. MX, delivering a pair of dump scows Marmac 250 and Marmac 251.  It then sailed light to Mulgrave, NS where the Redwise delivery crew handed it over to McKeil. The crew had entertained themselves on the long trip by making repairs and upgrades and painting.
It was registered in St. John's as Lois M September 23, 2014.

Leaving Eastern Passage this morning.
On this trip to Halifax it picked up the 1352 grt oil spill response barge John P.Oxley for a tow to North Sydney and drydocking. The barge was built by les chantiers Verreault, Méchins for Eastern Canada Response Corp and was delivered to Halifax in December 2001 by Océan Foxtrot. The only time it has left Halifax since then was in 2011 when it went for a refit in Shelburne, NS in tow of McKeil's Salvor.

With its tow on a short wire, Lois M is outbound past the Shearwater Yacht Club moorings.


Monday, May 28, 2018

Theodore Too takes a trip

Ambassatours, the parent company of Murphy Sailing Tours Ltd, owners of Theodore Too, will be moving the iconic tug boat replica from The Big Harbour (a.k.a. Halifax) to Saint John, NB in June. The operators made the announcement last week.

Theodore Too spent the winter at Mill Cove in Bedford and appears to be in need of a little freshening before he moves to Saint John.

This is certainly not the first time Theodore Too has left the confines of Halifax. In fact the boat is probably more travelled than many of its full size counterparts. It has sailed all along the eastern seaboard as far south as Miami and into the Great Lakes as far as Chicago. The move to Saint John coincides with the cruise ship season and is likely brought about by the disruption along the Halifax waterfront due to construction of new piers for the Queen's Marque project.

Ambassatours is hoping to appeal to nostalgic millennials who grew up with the TV series Theodore Tugboat and now want to revisit their childhood or perhaps introduce the cute fellow to their own children. 

When the boat was built by Snyder's Shipyard in Dayspring, NS in 2000 it only carried the name Theodore but this was soon changed to Theodore Too because someone had already grabbed the Theodore name for their own vessel - a real tug at that.

That Theodore was built by Canadian Vickers, Montreal,  in 1932 as an oil-fired steam vessel of about 64 tons for Mont Louis Seignory Ltd, a subsidiary of the Hall Corporation.Named Vigilant it was used to tend pulpwood booms. It later passed into the hands of Marine Industries Ltd in Sorel and took the name Roseanne Simard. It was converted to a motor vessel in 1952 with 440 bhp engine. It passed through several other owners including Gaston Elie of Montreal, Coastlake Tankers Ltd of Montreal, and JW+J Anderson of Burnt Church, NB. In 1973 Techno-Maritime of Quebec City bought the tug and in 1976 renamed it Techno Manic. New owners Dufresne Construction Ltd renamed it simply Manic in 1989 and Les Constructions Ger-Con Ltée kept the name after they took it over. In about 1995 it passed into private ownership, and is believed to have sunk at its berth in St-Joseph-de-la-Rive, QC.


However it was salvaged and given a major upgrade including a new larger wheelhouse, and renamed Heritage 1932.

However it soon became Theodore, pre-empting the name for the full size replica. Now based in Montreal it still does sea time seasonally. Although it bears little resemblance to the TV character, it does wear the same colours as the "real" Theodore.

The cruise season usually ends about the end of October. Let's hope Theodore Too is back home by then, when it will be time to start a Movember moustache.



Friday, May 18, 2018

Return of the Osprey and other Atlantic Towing activity

The Province  of Nova Scotia's official bird is the osprey, a migratory fish hawk that usually puts in its first appearance of the year in late April or early May. Today's return of the big tug supplier Atlantic Osprey is certainly seasonally correct, but as to origin, it is coming from St.John's Newfoundland rather than more southern waters.

The 3453 grt, 16,000 bhp OSV is one of four similar ships in the ATL offshore fleet, two of which are UT 722 and two are UT 722L (L=long), all built at Halifax Shipyard under license from Ulstein. The boat was laid up for a time over last winter, and a large deck crane and other gear, such as an ROV davit have been removed.

While arriving it passed Atlantic Towing Ltd's Woodside tug base, where the usual four harbour tugs, Atlantic Oak, Atlantic Fir, Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Bear have been joined temporarily by Atlantic Larch. The latter tug will likely be towing out the barge Atlantic Sea Lion for northern supply work.

Atlantic Bear went to Saint John last week to assist with an LNG tanker, but returned to Halifax in time to put on a water demonstration for the inaugural call of the auto carrier Grande Halifax on Wednesday (see also Shipfax).


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Point Valiant away

The tug Point Valiant sailed from Sambro, NS this evening May 17 on the first leg of its trip to its new home. Sold by Svitzer Canada, as reported last month, the tug was re-registered in Vancouver on May 15 to new owners Davies Tugboat Ltd of Burnaby, BC. The tug was slipped at Sambro where the hull was cleaned and repainted red, the fourth colour scheme for the tug.

It is now headed for Narragansett Bay, RI where it will be lifted aboard the heavy lift vessel believed to be Spliethoff's Fortunagracht. It will then get a luxury ride to British Columbia, possibly with some high priced yachts loaded in Newport, RI.

Built by Industrie Océan for Groupe Océan and to be named Océan Jupiter, it was sold while fitting out to Eastern Canada Towing in 1998 and named Point Valiant, the second tug in the fleet to carry that name. Fourteen tugs and workboats in the predecessor Foundation Maritime and in the ECTUG fleet had names beginning with the letter "V", starting in 1948 with Foundation Vera. This was the last tug to follow that tradition.

When Cory Towage Ltd, parent of Eastern Canada Towing Ltd, was taken over by Wijsmuller, the tug was repainted, but that did not last long.

The paint was barely dry when Svitzer took over the expanded Wijsmuller, and the tug was repainted again.

In 2010 the tug was transferred from Halifax along with three other Svitzer tugs to Point Tupper.   The tug was particulary useful in some of the tight pier spaces in Halifax. What it lacked in weight it made up for in agility. Last year when Svitzer Montreal arrived in Point Tupper, Point Valiant became redundant, as the lowest powered tug in the Svitzer Canada fleet. Most work there involves docking tankers and bulk cariers at open docks where power is the main requirement.

Its new owners will presumably find the tug an excellent worker.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ryan Leet - the yacht

The magnificent tug Ryan Leet has been temporarily relegated to yacht classification. Word has reached me that the current owner has made this change to allow for a trip to the Dominican Republic for a refit sufficient to have its certificates renewed.

I hear that work is currently underway on a gear box that will allow the "yacht" to sail in a couple of weeks from its layup berth in Point Edward (Sydney Harbour).

One can only hope that the vessel will return to tug status and continue to work, despite a couple of years laid up. Its Canadian registration was closed December 15, 2016 and it moved from Mulgrave to Point Edward, in Syndey harbour. Its last significant work was in the summer of 2015 when it did some survey work for the fibre optic cable to Hibernia.

I have covered the history of this tug before, the former Abeille Provence,built in 1978 by Beliard-Murdoch, Ostend, Belgium. It was built in response to the need for large salvage and rescue tugs off the French coast. As ships continued to grow, more power was needed and it and sister Abeille Normandie were sold to Venezuela. Secunda Marine Services picked up the pair in 1990 and they were refitted at Pictou, the Salvor Commander ex Abeille Provence becoming Ryan Leet and Salvor General becoming Magdalen Sea.
Secunda did another refit on Ryan Leet in 1995 installing a pair of V-20 GM EMDs to replace the original SACMs. They also installed a 550 bhp azimuthing thruster up forward. It already had controllable pitch props in nozzles and triple rudders.

In 2004 Secunda sold the Magdalen Sea to Greek owners and it sailed from Halifax as Zouros Hellas. In 2007 it became Tsavliris Hellas. It was in service until last year, but is now laid up in Greece.

Magdalen Sea had a flume stabilization tank forward of the bridge.

Secunda hung on the Ryan Leet even when the company was sold to McDermott, but its days were numbered when a management buyout and eventual sale to Siem lead to a leaner fleet.

Working for Secunda the Ryan Leet did numerous rig tows, several important salvage jobs and worked both in Canada and the North Sea. In its last years it was used for rescue / standby, idling around off offshore gas installations with only its azimuthing thruster to keep station. Although this was very economical operation, it certainly did not take advantage of the tug's towing potential.

It will be a sad when when it finally sails - especially as a yacht - but there is hope that it will return to service as a tug again.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bulletion # 2 Groupe Océan makes another move and other news [updated]

Word has reached me that Groupe Océan has made a change to improve service at Baie-Comeau, QC.
In 2017 Océan took over management of the tug Pointe-Comeau, owned by Cargill Ltd. Svitzer Canada, as successors to Eastern Canada Towing (ECTUG), MIL Tug and Foundation Maritime had been the tug operators in Baie-Comeau since the port was developed in the 1950s.(The Foundation Company built the piers and were involved in several of the plants that the port serves.)

Pointe-Comeau delivered to Halifax from the shipyard.
Pointe-Comeau, delivered by Marystown Shipyard in 1979, is a 3600 bhp, 48 tonne bollard pull V-S tug built specifically for operation in Baie-Comeau. Unlike its predecessors, it was owned by Cargill Grain Corp.  It took over from Point Vibert (ex Foundation Vibert) a 1700 bhp twin screw tug built by in 1961 by P.K.Harris + Sons Ltd, Appledore, UK , also for service in Baie-Comeau, but under direct ownership of Foundation Company of Canada subsidiary A.D.Ross + Co Ltd. Prior to that Foundation Maritime provided tugs seasonally from Sept-Iles or other locations.

 Pointe-Comeau in Svitzer colours at Baie-Comeau.

The latest development is that Groupe Océan has taken ownership of Pointe-Comeau and have sold Océan-Cartier to Cargill and will manage it on their behalf.

Océan Cartier in Quebec last summer after refitting.

Océan-Cartier was built as Hai Gang 107 in 2007 by Sam Lin Shipyard for the Port of Shanghai. It is a  56 tonne bollard pull, 5,149 bhp V-S tug and therefore can provide the power needed for the larger ships now using the port. In May 2014 the tug, and two others of its class, were acquired by Svitzer, originally for use in Newcastle, NSW, Australia and was renamed Svitzer Wombi. However by December of that year it was in Singapore to be ice strengthened. Then Svitzer Wombi was re-assigned to Svitzer Canada and arrived in Halifax March 30, 2015. (It had been transported across the Pacific by heavy lift ship, but sailed on its own hull from Panama.)

 As Svitzer Wombi arriving in Halifax for the first time.

After fitting out to Canadian compliance it was renamed Svitzer Cartier and sent to Port Cartier, QC to assist the two V-S tugs based there and owned and operated by ArcelorMittal. That arrangement did not last however and the tug was reassigned to Svitzer's short-lived Montreal operation.When Svitzer closed that operation in 2017 it sold most of its tugs to Océan, and Svitzer Cartier became Océan Cartier. Not long after, Océan took over the Port-Cartier tug service and at about the same time management of the Baie-Comeau tug. Svitzer Cartier has spent the past year in Quebec City, refitting for Groupe Océan service. It is expected to receive a new name in mid-May.

Pointe-Comeau, (which will also likely to be renamed) will be transferred to Sorel-Tracy, but it would not surprise me if it eventually went to Ontario where older V-S tugs are very useful. They do not have to deal with very large ships, their agility is needed in tight quarters, and working in fresh water will extend their lives almost indefinitely.

In other Océan news, the former Océan Hercule put in to Halifax Sunday, April 29. Sold last year to West Indies Petroleum Ltd and flying the Jamaican flag as Hercule, the veteran tug spent the winter in its old home port of Sorel-Tracy before heading south.

Built in 1976 by A.M.Liaaen in Aalesund, Norway as Stril Pilot the 4400 bhp tug carried the names Spirit Sky from 1981, Ierland from 1985, Ierlandia from 1989 until acquired in 1995 by Remorquage et Sauvetage McAllister of Montreal. Renamed Charles-Antoine it was taken up by Océan in 1997 when they acquired the McAllister assets and renamed it Océan Hercule. An ice strengthened tug with 63 tonne bollard pull it has twin screws in nozzles and is powered by two turbocharged V-12 Alcos downrated to 4400 bhp and a 200 bhp bow thruster.

 On  the slip at Industrie Océan, Ile-aux-Coudres, Océan Hercule shows off its finely moulded deep hull and twin controllable pitch screws.

 A tired looking Hercule slowly made its way into Halifax this afternoon.

The tug's hastily painted-over former name has already been partly washed away.

The crew was able to minimize the amount of new paint used to modify its previous port of registry from Montreal to Montego Bay. Note the heavy reinforcing on the stern for anchor handling.

 Charles-Antoine, as it was then, arrived in Halifax for the first time July 25, 1995 on one engine. After repairs it sailed again July 26, towing the barge Marmac 15 with lifting frames to raise the barge Irving Whale. (The lift operation was cancelled that year and the Irving Whale was raised in 1996 - it is currently tied up in Halifax as Atlantic Sea Lion.) 

After a couple of days in port taking stores (including lube oil I suspect) and making some unseen adjustments, Hercule sailed May 3 giving Freeport, Bahamas as the next port of call.