Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Tug News Round Up

Several important events have taken place since last I posted.

1. LEKKO for the last time

Sadly the International Tug Enthusiasts Society has decided to wind up its affairs and discontinue publication of the respected journal LEKKO. Declining numbers of subscribers, coupled with overwork for the volunteer editors and contributors - none of us are getting any younger - resulted in this difficult decision. Whether a web site or blog or Facebook group will take over remains to be seen. LEKKO was always respected for its accuracy and professionalism - something alternatives have struggled with.

2. Groupe Océan goes west

Following the advice of Hoarce Greely to "Go West Young Man" the management of Groupe Océan has announced a major move westward. On the strength of a contract for tug services with Cargill Grain, Océan has taken delivery of two new Damen tugs, built in Vietnam, and transferred one tug from Jamaica.
Stationed in Vancouver harbour, the tugs will also try to pick up other work in the port.

Ocean Granville and Ocean Kitsilano are the new tugs, apparently Damen 2813 type, which were shown on this site October 23, 2019:

They are now joined by Ocean Stevns which had been working Jamaica until new tugs arrived there. It was re-registered in Canada February 25, having sailed from Kingston to Vancouver via the Panama Canal. It has been working in Jamaica since July 2018.

Ocean BC Towing Inc has been established to run the Vancouver operation.

At the same time Océan announced a major marine construction project in the port of Prince Rupert, BC. The work involves dredging and road building to connect various terminals in the port.

Recently the tug/worboats Ocean Nigiq and Blizzard Polaire were transported by truck from Quebec to BC. Groupe Océan has been active in Alberta with a number of small craft and scows working in the various ponds created by the oil industry, but this is the first work on the Pacific coast.

3. Atlantic Shuffle

Atlantic Towing Ltd moves its various tugs around to different ports as needed. When Saint John needs the large tugs because of large tanker arrivals, a tug from Halifax is sent over, and a smaller one one from Saint John comes back to cover. That is apparently what has happened recently as Spitfire III was sent to Saint John for a spell. Its place in Halifax was taken by Atlantic Cedar, a tug that is seldom seen in Halifax.

Atlantic Cedar outboard of Atlantic Oak at The Cove (former CCG base).
Both are rated at 5,000 bhp. 

Apparently a Saint John crew brought Spitfire III back to Halifax yesterday, and sailed for home this afternoon on Atlantic Cedar. The other tugs currently in Halifax are Atlamtic Willow, Atlantic Larch, Atlantic Fir and  Atlantic Oak. The latter tug is tied up ast The Cove, and is apparently undergoing some maintenance, since it does not appear to be working in the harbour.

Similarly ATL's offshore vessels move where needed, although most work in Newfoundland.

Currently Atlantic Osprey is working out of Halifax supporting the Noble Regina Allen.

I note fleet mate Atlantic Kestrel coming out of refit at Damen, Amsterdam.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Thebaud Sea to the scrappers

The former Secunda Marine supplier Thebaud Sea has been sent for scrap. Last reported in the United Arab Emirates it was sold to breakers in December.

Thebaud Sea in Halifax soon after delivery in October 1999.

As I remember it, Secunda had an urgent need for a supplier to fulfill a contract, but most world shipyards were booked up solid and could not deliver in time. Halter Marine's Moss Point yard in Escatawpa (part of Pascagoula), Mississippi could meet the date and they completed the vessel in the fall of 1999. They did have to temporarily remove the wheelhouse to float it down river under a low bridge (since replaced), but it arrived intact in Halifax October 13, 1999.

A 2594 gt, 3406 dwt supplier, it was also fitted out for dive support, with a moon pool, and had a 100 tonne capacity crane. Powered by six Caterpillar engines at 1825 (some say 1901) kW each, its total output was about 15,000 bhp driving two azimuthing thrusters through electric drives. It was also fitted for DP and had a pair of 2500 bhp thrusters too.

There was a fire on board Februay 3, 2001 in the starboard engine room 70 miles off Halifax while the ship was en route to the Sable gas fields. The fire was extinguished by crew and a fire team from HMCS St.John's assisted. CCGS Sambro and Venture Sea escorted the Thebaud Sea back to port, but there was extensive damage in the engine room.

The crane was removed at one point but re-instated in August 2001.

The ship was included in the 14 ship fleet when Secunda International Ltd was sold to a J. Ray McDermott subsidiary in 2007. However when the newly formed Secunda Canada LP was formed and brought back ten boats back to Secunda ownership in 2012, Thebaud Sea was not included. It remained with McDermott Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. Fleet mate tug/supplier Venture Sea (Halter Marine 1998) was included in the buy back and is currently in Halifax.

Curiously Venture Sea has always carried "M.V. Venture Sea"  on its bows.

Thebaud Sea had flown the Barbados flag on and off since 2005, but somehow was still carried on Canadian registry books until suspended in 2013.

Thebaud Sea was one of the few offshore suppliers ever to visit the port of Montreal. In 2008 it went there to load a cargo of Deepflex pipe for Nigeria. The pipe had arrived in Montreal in early April 2008 from Manitowoc, WI on the Ryba barge OB 185 with tugs Manitou and Vigilant 1 via the St.Lawrence Seaway. Thebaud Sea had stopped in Halifax in mid-March en route from Galveston to Montreal.

Secunda is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Siem Offshore of Norway, and has slowly abandoned the "Sea" naming system that Secunda carried from its very start. Although maintaining the blue hull with red and white stripes on most of its fleet, the most recent acquisition Siem Commander has not yet been repainted.

As a footnote, Burin Sea arrived in Aliaga Turkey two weeks ago towing Trinity Sea. Demolition began almost at once.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Dominion Bearcat - icing on the cake

The tug/ workboat/ diving tender Dominion Bearcat is back in the water after a thorough refit at its base in Dartmouth Cove. Owners Dominion Diving Ltd do all their own maintenance and refit work and have also done extensive rebuilds "in house".

Late in December I noted Dominion Bearcat hauled out at its Dartmouth Cove base.

Dominion Bercat was built in 1987 by Georgetown Shipyards Inc in Prince Edward Island to their own account as a tug/ workboat named G.S.I. No.1. In 1992 it was sold to the Mersey Paper Co in Brookyln (Liverpool), NS as a ship docking tug / lineboat, named Mersey Pride. When Mersey Paper shut down it newsprint mill and export dock, the boat was acquired by Dominion Diving and renamed in 2014.
It has since been fitted with an A-frame and other gear and primarily supports diving operations in Halifax.

Dominion Bearcat returns to base this morning with a bit of snow clinging to its fenders, like icing on a cake.
(Atlantic Larch and the former RCN fireboat Firebird in the background, are similarly decorated.)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Home for the Holidays

A pair of tugs not seen in Halifax for some time are tied up at Atlantic Towing Ltd's dock in Woodside.

Atlantic Larch arrived yesterday from Saint John and Atlantic Willow arrived recently too.

The Spitfire III remains in Halifax but sister tug Atlantic Bear sailed for Saint John today. Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Fir (background) are still here, so the port of Halifax is well covered with five ASD tugs.

Addendum: The Spitfire III also sailed for Saint John this afternoon.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Big Tugs, Big Move

This morning the big tugs Siem Commander and Atlantic Osprey arrived towing the jack-up drill rig Noble Regina Allen.

The two boats were pulling pretty hard judging by the smoke, but they weren't making much speed.

Arriving at the same time was the massive Maersk Mobiliser.

It did not appear to be part of the rig move, and tied up briefly at pier 31.

Harbour tugs were not to be left out with the bigger tugs Atlantic Bear and Spitfire III working the rig arrival.

 The other harbour tugs Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Fir  were assigned to move the autocarrier Torino from pier 31 to Autoport.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Which Way Did He Go

"Which way did he go?" would have been a good question today after tugs could be seen going frontwards and backwards in Halifax harbour.

McKeil Marine's Lois M arrived this morning towing the barge Atlantic Swordfish and after dropping the tow line, took the barge "on the hip". However the berth at the IEL dock in Woodside was blocked and the pair had to wait until another barge was moved out of the way.

Lois M and Atlantic Swordfish moving northbound (left to right) and Roseway heading southbound (right to left).

The small tug Roseway was called in to  move the other barge, but that operation had to wait until Roseway completed working the headlines for the arriving tanker East Coast.

In the meantime Lois M did a 360 degree turn and began backing against a stiff wind from the north until the berth was finally clear and available.

Meanwhile HMCS Moncton was underway on a cold move from Bedford Basin to HMC Dockyard.

Wearing commemorative camouflage Glace Bay is southbound (from right to left in the photo) with the Voith-Schneider tractor tug Glenevis providing the power (while going astern). Not visible is the pup tug Listerville pushing on Glace Bay's flat stern.

It is a common sight for Dockyard tugs to work astern since their V-S systems are omni-directional. I am sure the operators will miss this feature when the new ASD tugs are delivered.


Friday, December 6, 2019


This afternoon the the Anchor Handling Tug Supplier Atlantic Osprey returned to the port where it was built. The 3453 gt vessel was delivered by Halifax Shipyards in 2003 and has worked from ATL's St.John's base. It was built to the Ulstein UT 722-L design, and has carried a variety of cranes and other gear over the years. However it now has a clear working deck.

It is also fitted with one conventional thwartships thruster and an azimuthing thruster forward. There are also two thrusters aft. Its four Bergen main engines geared to two controllable pitch props, deliver approximately 16,000 bhp with a design bollard pull in excess of 100 tonnes. It also carries the usual fire fighting gear and dynamic positioning.