Saturday, June 3, 2017

Craig Trans - another chapter, but maybe not the last

It is time to record another chapter in the saga of the tug Craig Trans but perhaps not the last one.

To summarize the previous chapter. After appearing in Halifax in late 2012 and detained by authorities, the tug kicked around various piers until ending up in Wright's Cove (Lower Burnside) at the old Secunda Marine pier. Since its American owner abandoned the tug, and its crew, a Sheriff's sale eventually went through (for around $1,000) last year, but the tug remained there until Thursday June 1 when it was towed out of Halifax by Dominion Victory and landed yesterday morning (June 2) in the remote port of Marie Joseph on Nova Scotia's eastern shore. (About 175 km NE of Halifax, at nearly 45 degrees N).
With nothing much doing in Halifax harbour today (June 3) I made the 353 km round trip to Marie Joseph to investigate. [I have travelled farther to see a tug, but will not divulge the distance.]


The tug is now beached beside the former Canadian Coast Guard ship Tupper that has been an eyesore there since 2011. (It was also towed by the Dominion Victory).  A resident of Marie Joseph, who lives across the street (which is Nova Scotia Highway No.7), began to break up the ship, but ran into numerous legal hurdles coupled with the collapse of scrap prices. Nevertheless he acquired the Craig Trans ostensibly to scrap it, but perhaps to try to salvage something of value from it.


Local residents, mostly inshore fishermen, are quite sick of seeing the partially dismantled ex Tupper, where there has been little activity for more than a year. They told me this morning that the Craig Trans would not be broken up there in their lifetimes, so there may be another chapter in this story.

Interestingly the Canadian government announced new legislation this week to clean up derelict vessels in ports and harbours around the country (more than 600 by some accounts), but it is not clear if the laws would apply to the ex Tupper and Craig Trans which are merely unsightly.


Dominion Victory started life as the trawler Vilmont No.2 in 1965 at les chantiers maritimes de Paspebiac. It was renamed Raymond Moore in 1983 and Alcide C. Horth in 1994 and worked as a research vessel for the Quebec government and the Université de Quebec, Rimouski.
Dominion Diving acquired the vessel in 2004 and since then it has carried out a variety of chores for underwater work including operating an ROV. It has also done it share of towing work, although not strictly speaking a tug.

To summarize the CCGS Tupper's history - it was built in 1959 in Sorel, QC and retired in 1996 having worked out of Halifax (Dartmouth) and Charlottetown for most of its career. It was renamed 1998-05 and sold to an owner that had plans to convert it to an expedition yacht. It was renamed Caruso and registered in Panama, but that was as far as the conversion got. It kicked around various berths in Halifax  and Sheet Harbour, but finally caught fire in Dartmouth October 11, 2008. It was sold to the Marie Joseph scrapper and towed out June 22, 2011.

A brief recap on Craig Trans. Built in 1943 by the Tampa Marine Corp for the US Army it was named LT 648. It was laid up from about 1950 to 1965 until acquired by Foss Maritime of Seattle and rebuilt as Craig Foss. They replaced the original 1225 bhp FM engine with a pair of EMDs totaling 4,000 bhp. The tug worked the Hawaii and Alaska barge runs for Foss. It carried out other work, including a trip to the Great Lakes in 1978.
Foss finally disposed of the tug in 2011 and it became Craig Trans for shadowy owners with Haitian connections. It was involved in scrap tows to Mexico and in 2012 was headed for Beauharnois, QC to take the Kathryn Spirit in tow to scrappers in Mexico. However it was late in the season and it was doubtful if it would make it to the Seaway before winter closing as the tug was losing power. It was diverted to Halifax and detained here for numerous deficiencies by Ship Safety. The Honduran crew were eventually repatriated through charitable donations after the US based owner walked away.

By coincidence, only now is the Kathryn Spirt being demolished in situ at Beauharnois, after several years of wrangling with the scrapper, the municipality and various authorities. The ship was a similar eyesore to local residents.

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cowslip in Riverport

The sleepy port of Riverport, Nova Scota, at the mouth of the La Have River, and not far from Lunenburg, is one of the last places I would expect to find a tug (of any description). Once home to many fishing schooners and a bustling fish plant, it is now a much quieter place, with inshore lobster fishermen and a seasonal fish operation generating what little activity there is.


However the attractive wooden hulled Cowslip is parked on a trailer awaiting its next assignment. By the look of its neglected state that may be a while in coming.

I can provide no details except a suspicion that it may have been the tender for a marina or yacht club.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cavendish Sea to the breakers

A tug with a short Canadian history has gone to the breakers in India, while still retaining its Canadian name.

Built as Ouro Preto in 1978 by Mitsui Engineering + Shipbuilding, Fujinagata Works, Osaka, Japan, it  was a small (40m x 13m) anchor handler of 877 grt, powered by a pair of 8 cylinder Pielsticks (built by IHI-Aioi) giving 8,000 bhp. At the time this was considered to be extremely powerful, particularly for its size. It had twin fixed pitch props and a bow thruster.
 In 1981 it was transferred from its first owners Brasil Offshore to Petroleo Brasiliero (Petrobras)
and renamed Boreal.
The tug was one of a pair picked up by Secunda Marine Services in 1993 and renamed Cavendish Sea. Sister tug  Bonace ex Ouro Fino was acquired in the same deal and became Tignish Sea named for resort areas on Prince Edward Island.



This was the second pair of tugs acquired by Secunda in the 1990s in South America. (Ryan Leet and Magdalen Sea were the others.)

Tignish Sea towed Cavendish Sea into Halifax May 9, 1993 from Brazil.


May 9, 1993, Tignish Sea (centre) arrives in Halifax with Cavendish Sea (left) on the hip.
Breton Sea (ex Orion Expeditor) assisted the pair into the Dartmouth Marine Slips Long Wharf.


Fully refitted and painted in Secunda colours, Cavendish Sea makes a cautious approach to pier 9.  dredging its anchor.

 Backing alongside.

Unlike the pair of big tugs however, there was not a lot of work around for the small Cavendish Sea and in 1994 its Canadian registry was closed and it was sent abroad to work. I know it worked in the North Sea for a time, but I lost track of it after that.
The tug wound up back in South America registry flying Panamanian, Brazilian and Chilean flags until arriving at the breakers in Aliaga, Turkey, May 13, 2017.


End Note 1:
This not the only tug to be broken up recently - see these pages in the following days.

End Note 2
Sister tug Tignish Sea remains in Canadian registry and has had a very different history. Paired up with a self-unloading Great Lakes bulk carrier Sarah Spencer that had been converted to a barge, the tug was fitted with hydraulic ram couplers.  Renamed Jane Ann IV it sailed for a few years as an articulated tug/barge unit. However it has been laid up in various US ports for the past several years and is unlikely to sail again.
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Sunday, April 23, 2017

More Spitfire III

The substitute tug Spitfire III (see previous post) has been getting its share of escort duties. As the most powerful tug in Halifax, it is the usual choice when two tugs are required to escort a ship to Fairview Cove.

Today it got a good workout with the 8-,274 dwt ship Mary as it transited the Narrows. Fleet mate Atlantic Oak was the second tug, and it took up position on the port bow, and does not appear in the photos.


Tucked in astern of the Mary, Spitfire III is ready to work.

Leaning into the line, the tug lists to the point of getting its deck wet.

The tug can exert 100 tonnes or so of braking and turning force to swing the ship's stern.

After straightening up a bit, the tug once more leans into the line as it rounds the pier 9 knuckle.

Spitfire III is lining up the ship to pass under the MacKay bridge.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spitfire III subs for Atlantic Fir

With the tug Atlantic Fir off to Minas Basin to assist with the tidal turbine project, ATL brought in one of its big terminal tugs to fill in. Spitfire III is one of three 5,432 bhp, 70 tonne BP tugs built to service the LNG terminal near Saint John, NB. With little work at the terminal these  days, the tug is freed up for harbour duties.

Atlantic Willow has its line up near the bow, and Spitfire III is tucked in astern for tethered escort as Dalian Express transits the Narrows. The tug is about to go into a hard move to the ships starboard side and exert about 90 tonnes of pull to swing the stern.


The Cape Sharp Tidal Power project, developed jointly by Open Hydro Ltd and Emera Inc was positioned in the Minas Basin last year, but now needs adjustment and is to be raised off the seabed and barged to Saint John on its own specially built Scotia Barge assisted by the tugs Atlantic Hemlock, Atlantic Bear and  Atlantic Fir. There is about a one week window of favourable tides to do the work, so Atlantic Fir may be away from Halifax for some time.


Pull completed, the tug swings back in line with the ship. Note the escort winch is covered to protect it from winter conditions.

In the meantime the more than capable Spitfire III will perform ship docking and escort services in Halifax. Today it assisted the 1000,006 dwt tonne Dalian Express transit the Narrows in a stiff breeze, then turn the ship when it reached Bedford Basin.


Spitfire III leans into the line as it assists in turning the ship in Bedford Basin.

Unique among Atlantic Towing tugs, Spitfire III and its sisters (Atlantic Bear and Atlantic Beaver) are not named for trees. However it is indirectly. During World War II, one of the J.D.Irving businesses made specialty aircraft plywood, used to build Mosquito and Spitfire aircraft among others. K.C.Irving, himself was a World War I member of the Royal Flying Corps and was a keen pilot in peacetime, once landing his own float plane on Halifax harbour.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

New name for McAsphalt tug

Making its way from the Great Lakes to Halifax for the first time this year, an articulated tug/barge arrived at the McAsphalt jetty in Eastern Passage this afternoon. As of January this year the tug is now named Leo A McArthur in honour of one of the McAsphalt founders. It is paired with the barge John J Carrick, named for the McAsphalt co-founder.

Leo A McArthur has rounded Ives Knoll and is passing Indian Point on its way up Eastern Passage.

The pair were built by Penglai Bohai Shipyard Co Ltd in Shandong, China in 2007 and are connected by the Articouple system that allows the tug to pitch independently, but remains connected except in the most extreme weather conditions. It is equipped to tow the barge if necessary.


 Taking the way off, the combo begins to turn in the small basin off the McAsphalt dock.

As built, the 5,000 bhp tug was named Victorious, after a famous Great Lakes bulker, once operated by the Upper Lakes Shipping Co Ltd. Upper Lakes managed the McAsphalt fleet, until 2011 when the company sold its ships and was wound up. McAsphalt Marine Transportation Ltd now manages the McAsphalt fleet which also includes the articulated tug/barge combo Everlast / Norman McLeod.
Both units normally operate on the Great Lakes and St.Lawrence River, but the McArthur / Carrick combo usually makes a few coastal trips each year.

Using a bow thruster on the barge and its own twin screws, the Leo A McArthur powers a turn to allow it to back into the dock.

 The tug's stern is heavily fendered and there is a large strong back on the fan tail for towing. The wheelhouse also has excellent visibility aft. 

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Monday, April 10, 2017

US tugs (yes plural) on the move


US Tug 1

What was expected to be a short stay in Halifax for the tug Genesis Victory (see previous post) turned into a bit of a marathon as weather systems kept wandering through the region making conditions unfavourable, particularly in the Cabot Strait and eastern Gulf of St.Lawrence.
There was also ice in the Sydney Bight (enough to trap the big Marine Atlantic ferry Highlanders for a time) but the northern side of the Strait was blown quite clear.
It was not until Sunday April 9 that calm conditions prevailed and Genesis Victory ex Huron Service got under way for sea, towing its barge GM6506 directly from the Bedford Basin anchorage.




Genesis Victory underway in the Basin early Sunday morning heading for sea. It was very calm, and the barge tracks well, so it was not necessary to push it from the notch while leaving harbour.

 The tug and barge remained at anchor from March 26 until April 1 when they went in to pier 9c for the day - likely for supplies, such as water. It went back to anchor that evening then put in a pilot order for Saturday April 8, but that was cancelled after the pilot was aboard due to late received weather forecast with high winds over night. By Sunday however it was good to go and they headed for the Great Lakes - finally.


Tow line bar taught, the tug glides through the Narrows in near dead calm conditions. Her twin EMDs were purring nicely as she made the bend at Tuft's Cove.

US Tug 2 

It was a much briefer stay for the  traditional US style tug Thomas. It arrived this morning with the barge J.G.Burke and was underway again this evening back to New York.




Built in 1976 as Ocean Voyager by McDermott Shipyards Inc in New Iberia, LA the tug was acquired by Weeks Marine Inc in 1986 and renamed. Powered by a pair of GM EMDs totaling 4,000 bhp it has a tiny bird's nest type conning post atop a spindly mast. it is also fitted with a substantial towing winch and is obviously used for barge work with (count 'em) 27 aircraft type tire fenders, and big bow and stern fenders.  On its last visit to Halifax in October 2008, it had the barge Weeks 246 in tow, and loaded steel bridge fabrications at the Cherubini Metal Works pier in Eisner's Cove. 



There will be more on its tow, the barge J.G.Burke in future posts. The barge was built specifically as a building platform for concrete pier cribs. The cribs will be slipformed in place on the barge, which will then submerge to float them off. Weeks is the parent company of McNally, who will build the six 45m x 20m cribs for the new navy jetty for Arctic Offshore Patrol ships (AOPS). Work on the jetty began last year, but shut down from January until the last week of March.
As a US flag vessel, the Burke has been granted a coasting license, good from March 1 to August 31 of this year to build the cribs (also known as caissons).

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