Friday, June 14, 2019

Refits - all sizes

As spring moves into summer and warm weather arrives, it is not surprising that Halifax tug owners are joining home owners in getting out the scrapers and paint brushes.

Acquired in July 2018 from Tidewater, Horizon Enabler, the former Tidewater Enabler, continued to carry the colours of previous owners. The ship tied up at Pier 9B May 27 after returning from a large cable laying project in Greenland waters. After unloading the cable laying gear at IT International Telecom crews got busy on the starboard (sunny) side of the ship.

Starboard side new colours / Port Side old colours.

The ship's transom has been re-instated after the cable work, and will be readied for repainting.This afternoon the ship will move to The Cove in Dartmouth where it will berth to allow the workers to move to the port side.

Cable slides have been removed and the "tail gate" reinstalled.

Further along at Pier 9C the well known Gulf Spray is celebrating its sixtieth birthday with a serious shave and haircut. Built by Ferguson Industries Ltd in Pictou to its own account in 1959, the tug had
a major rebuild in about 2007. After severe damage in a storm in 2014, repairs were made, but they did not restore the tug to its previous yacht like appearance.

The tug's hull has acquired a large crop of marine growth over the winter.

Now up on the dock, the tug is being readied for another season of barge handling. The barges are used to remove waste and recyclables from cruise ships. The international garbage it is not allowed to enter the domestic "waste stream" and it thus landed ashore and transferred to a special incinerator at the international airport. 

Even at 60 years of age this tug still performs useful work, and certainly raises an admiring glance from tug aficionados when it is seen hard at work.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

New Tugs in Town

With construction of the southend container pier extension moving into the second phase, McNally International Inc has mobilized additional plant for the work.

Phase 1 dredging started in January and was completed by May 22. The crane barge Derrick No.4 conducted the dredging using the dump scows S.11 and S.12. The tug Mister Joe was on hand for the start of the work, and the smaller tugs Oshawa and J.F. Whelan carried through.

There is now the rock mattress to place, using the dump scows to transfer the material from pier 9C to pier 42.

The second phase is to build concrete caissons that will form the base of the new pier. McNally has brought in two more barges, the Idus Atwell, equipped with a crane and the semi-submersible barge Beaver Neptune as a construction platform for the caissons. There have also been numerous sectional scow components of the Argonyn class. McNally has ten of these 50 ft x 9 ft truckable units that can be linked together in various configurations to form a single floating platform.

The barge Idus Atwell had to be towed from Point Anne, ON (near Belleville) to Halifax, a ten day trip assigned to to  the veteran tug Sandra Mary. Built in 1962 as hull number 1205 by Russel Brothers in Owen Sound, ON, its original name was Flo Cooper when it was built for C.A.Pitts Construction. McNally acquired and renamed the 900 bhp tug in 2000. In 1993 its registration was transferred to Charlottetown, PE when it was working on the Confederation Bridge project.

Russel Brother's "Steelcraft" trade name appears on the original builder's plate still in place aboard Sandra Mary

It is similar in design to another McNally tug, Mister Joe built in 1964. The latter was re-assigned from Phase 1 work earlier this spring and is no longer in Halifax. In fact AIS signals say that it is in Lake Champlain. This I find hard to believe, so will await other reports.

After arriving in Halifax May 18, Sandra Mary sailed on May 25 for Point Tupper, presumably towing Oshawa and returned with the Beaver Neptune and the tug Whitby. Built in 1978 at the port of the same name by original owners McNamara Construction, it is rated at 475 bhp.

Sandra Mary and Whitby tied up at pier 9 between assignments.

All of these tugs have worked in Halifax on many projects over the years, and it is always interesting to see them again.

Idus Atwell set up just off the end of pier 42 for placement of the rock mattress.
 (McNally built the extension in 2013.)

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Océan Stevns back to Canadian flag

The Groupe Océan tug Océan Stevns may be headed back to Canada. The tug was registered in Quebec City May 21 after a period of bareboat charter to an Océan subsidiary, Ocean J Towing Ltd, in Jamaica. At time of writing the tug is still in Kingston, Jamaica and there is no ETA for Canada.


The tug was reflagged in early 2018 to St. Vincent and the the Grenadines and in July 2018 it stopped in Halifax for a few days, then sailed July15 for Kingston, Jamaica. Océan had a ten year contract for tug services in Kingston and both Océan Stevns and Océan Taiga were sent south for the contract. They were later joined by Océan Kingston Pride ex Bogaçay IX, acquired for the contract from its Turkish builder/owners. It is a RAmparts 2400 SX design with 6,298 bhp and 80 tonne bollard pull.

Business was not as brisk in Kingston as expected, and apparently three tugs were not needed. Earlier this year Oceran J faced criticism from port users when it raised its rates, less than a year into the contract.

Océan in Canada may also be a bit stretched as the summer comes on and two tugs are needed for the Baffinland work. When the Océan Stevns left Halifax I also speculated that it was underpowered for today's large ships and predicted that it would be back in Canada in less than five years. See: http://tugfaxblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2018/07/groupe-ocean-goes-north-and-south.html


Océan Stevns was built in 2003 as Stevns Ocean by Industries Océan in Ile-aux-Coudres for Stevns Multi Ships of Denmark. It is powered by two MaK main engines totaling 5,000 bhp, driving two Aquamaster stern drives.

In 2013 it came back to Canada on charter with option to buy, along with sister tug Stevns Arctic. Those options were exercised and the tugs were renamed Océan Stevns and Océan Arctique. Initially used at Sept-Iles, QC, the tugs have also worked in Quebec City.

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Horizon Star - back to work

The big offshore services vessel Horizon Star sailed this afternoon for St.John's. Aside from some harbour trials last month, the ship had been idle at The Cove in Dartmouth since returning from the Yantian Express salvage job in January. (Ironically that ship is due in Halifax tomorrow).

 Horizon Star glides through the Narrows for a brief stop at pier 9 before heading to sea.


With Horizon Star returning to sea, all three of Horizon Maritime's big boats are now at work. Horizon Enabler has been off Greenland installing subsea cables since February.

Their third large support vessel has just entered service in Norway. Horizon Arctic was acquired recently from Bourbon Offshore Norway. The former Bourbon Arctic, built in 2106 by Vard (hull in Romania, fit out in Norway) is a 8143 gt, 307 tonne bollard pull ice class OSV with accommodation for up to 60 persons to support offshore work such as ROV operation.

The ship has apparently resumed a North Sea contract with Lundin Petroleum carried over from Bourbon. Entry into service of the Bourbon Arctic also marks the opening of a new Norway office for Halifax and St.John's based Horizon.

Relatively young companies, like Horizon, with low debt levels are expected to thrive in the current market. Older, larger companies are often crippled with debt and over burdened with excess vessels that are now overvalued. Several have gone to Chapter 11, downsized or forced to merge with others in order to survive. Horizon has also chosen to operate in harsh environments and establish themselves in a specialized niche. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Salvage Monarch - unexpected visit

High winds off the our coast for several days resulted in a surprise visit to Halifax for the tug Salvage Monarch and its tow, the converted tall ship Caledonia. Neither vessel is a stranger to Halifax - for more on Caledonia see Shipfax . The tow is headed from Toronto for Boston, and the Gulf of Maine is notorious for stormy conditions. While tug and tow passed Halifax Sunday May 12 it was decided to duck in for shelter. Tall ships, with their great windage and awkward bowsprits are notorious to tow, and so it was prudent to avoid rough weather.
Unfortunately they are tied up at pier 27, an impossible place to photograph anymore.

While the tall ship Caledonia is a bit of a classic, built in 1947, the tug itself can lay claim to classic status too. Dating from 1959, it has been rejuvenated a couple of times, most recently by Toronto Dry Dock Ltd, its present owner. It is now fully compliant to operate in US waters.

Original owners,  Pyke Salvage and Navigation of Kingston, ON (then part of Fednav) foresaw the need for a capable salvage tug with the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway in 1959. The company's co-operation with McAllister Towing of Montreal eventually led to McAllister taking over ownership of Pyke's assets.

At the time various owners were having tugs built in the UK and P.K.Harris of Appledore, North Devon went on to produce several notable tugs for Canada with the patented Hydroconic hull form. This hard chine design was much more economical to build than fully moulded hulls and has proven to be quite functional - given good rudder design.

I have featured the tug here before, see:  http://tugfaxblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2011/11/salvage-monarch-is-refitting.html

McAllister used the tug for salvage work and some long tows, including one from Sorel to Halifax in 1971 with the ferry Napoleon L. In those days Salvage Monarch acquired the sobriquet "The Grim Reaper" for the number of old Great Lakes ships it towed to ship breaking yards. This was useful work as the number casualties in the Seaway system diminished over time with improved navaids.

By the time McAllister sold its Montreal towing and salvage operation, Salvage Monarch had become more of a conventional harbour tug than a salvage vessel, but it still carried a towing winch when most tugs had towing hooks only.


When Groupe Ocean acquired the Montreal tug operations, they made a number of their tugs available for charter work, including bareboat charter. Salvage Monarch made one of its infrequent returns to salt water in 2000-2001 as a standby and chase boat for cable work.


It was then sold to a fledgling towing company in Goderich, ON, which was followed by several years in layup.


Toronto Dry Dock apparently saw the potential in the tug and have over the past few years given it a lot of TLC and brought it back to a high standard.

This is the tug's first long distance tow under those new owners, and it is an ideal job for it. Great power is not required to tow Caledonia, and a skilled crew can certainly deal with the normal issues. Although I cannot confirm it, it is likely that there is a riding crew on the Caledonia too, another reason to be safely tied up in port during windy weather.

Toronto Drydock Ltd have built up their business from modest beginnings, now with a fleet of three tugs - all classics in their own right - owing their longevity to many years in fresh water, but also to "in house" maintenance and upgrades. They are involved in ship repair, marine construction and of course commercial diving and salvage.

For more on Toronto Drydock Ltd, see their web site: https://www.torontodrydock.com/

Weather conditions improved considerably by Thursday May 16 and the tug and tow were able leave port. Hugging the coast they will make a shortest possible dash across the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, aiming for the Maine coast.

Regrettably I still don't have a photo of the tug in its black hull / red superstructure paint scheme and its tiny elevated bird's nest conning station.


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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Atlantic Larch and tow

Atlantic Towing is gearing up for another season of northern supply work with the repositioning of tugs from their winter duties and preparing the barges for their work.

For the past several years ATL has been ferrying cargo in Chesterfield Inlet to Baker Lake on the west coast of Hudson Bay, using two tugs and two barges. Last year the tugs were Atlantic Elm and Atlantic Beech. For several years one of the barges has been Atlantic Sea Lion.

Atlantic Larch, ATL's "outside" tug, has a towing winch and additional satellite communication.


It seems certain that the Atlantic Sea Lion will be one of the barges again this year. After laying over in Halifax for the winter, it was picked up today by Atlantic Larch and headed off to Saint John. NB to be readied for work.

The barge has a long history since it was built by Saint John Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Co Ltd in 1966. Originally a tanker barge for carrying heavy fuel or asphalt, it was named Irving Whale.  From September 7, 1970 until late July 1996 it sat on the bottom of the Gulf of St.Lawrence in a perfect state of preservation after sinking in a storm.  When leaking from its cargo became a serious threat to fisheries, it was raised at great expense and handed back to J.D.Irving Ltd.

 After twenty-six years on the bottom and five years laid up, the barge was pretty raw looking when it left Halifax for a refit in Shelburne in tow of Atlantic Elm.


After five years laid up in Halifax it was renamed ATL 2701 and rebuilt as a deck cargo barge in 2001.  It was used to carry wood chips for a time and even made a lengthy trip to the Great Lakes in 2007 with a cargo of specialized gas piping racks.

 As seen today underway in tow, Atlantic Sea Lion reveals little of its past.


In 2009 it was renamed Atlantic Sea Lion and has seen regular service in the north. The barge and its tug initially go up the St.Lawrence to Becancouer QC and load cargo for the north. After the long tow to Hudson Bay they operate a shuttle service from deep draft ships, transferring cargo into Baker Lake. The first ships usually arrive in late July and the operation goes on until October.


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Monday, April 29, 2019

RCN announces Glen replacements - Updated

Today (April 29) the Canadian government announced a $105 mn contract for four new tugs has been awarded to Industrie Océan shipyard in Ile-aux-Coudres, QC. The program, expected to take 42 months, will add 25 to 30 new jobs for the shipyard which employs up to 110 people, and will occupy about 40% of the yard's capacity.



Despite its small footprint the shipyard has a large covered building hall where it could build two tugs at once. It also has repair slips that can accommodate several ships at one. Parent company Groupe Océan also operates a fabrication facility in Quebec City which builds components up to the size of  deckhouses and can do fit out.


The five Glen class tugs, built in 1976-77 have only 1750 bhp, but due to Voith-Schneider propulsors are ideally suited for dockyard work,

Long in the planning stage, the new tugs will replace five Glen class tugs, three based in Halifax and two in Esquimalt. The tugs will be operated as naval auxiliary vessels, using civilian crews, and will work within the naval dockyard for ship berthing and firefighting, but will also undertake coastal towing.

The original mandate of the program was to use "proven design" but there was been no revelation yet on propulsion systems, power or name of designer.

 Océan Serge Genois returns to base in Quebec City. It is likely to be the model for the new tugs.it has an enlarged wheelhouse compared to earlier versions.

Industrie Océan has built a flotilla of tugs of different sizes for parent company Groupe Océan. 
Several have been of essentially the same Robert Allen compact tug design and have worked successfully in Montreal and along the St.Lawrence River. They are rated at 4200 bhp with azimuthing stern drives. Five, built between 1999 and 2010 currently serve the current Océan fleet. Another was built for export and another, formerly with Svitzer, now works on the west coast.

Updated:
News has reached me that the design for the tugs is not currently in use in Canada. With one of the world's foremost tug designers based in Canada, with tugs built and operating around the world, one hopes that Robert Allan Ltd will be the designers.

However Industrie Océan has also worked with the Dutch company Damen, (the largest, by volume, builders of tugs). to build a dredge and some smaller work boats. Since Damen has recently built three hybrid tugs for the Dutch navy and two ice class tugs for the Swedish navy, perhaps the design and construction assistance may be coming from the Netherlands.

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