Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Thor 1

 A former Canadian anchor handling tug supplier is making a return to Canadian waters, but this time as a towing vessel.

Thor I arrived in Montreal October 11 and prepared to take the retired bulker Salarium to Turkey for scrap. They expected to depart Montreal October 15. However Ship Safety inspectors denied permission to sail until certain repairs were made to the ship (renamed Sal for the tow).

Built in 1986 by Orskovs Christensens, Frderikshaven, Denmark, the 2886 gt vessel was originally named Challenger III for a short time before becoming OIL Challenger . In 1991 it was renamed Maersk Challenger and operated under Canadian flag out St.John's, NL from 2002. 


However it was in and out of Halifax from time to time.


In 2014 it was sold and Tugfax among others, thought it would be going to scrap. However that was not to be. New owners renamed the vessel Blue Aries, a name it carried until 2019. It was then renamed Thor I.

Finally clearance was received to sail from Montreal, and the tow got underway October 27, with the Trois-Rivieres-based tug Ocean Charlie as tethered stern escort. Ocean Charlie will assist with keeping the tow in the channel until they reach the Escoumins pilot station. No ETA has been given for Aliaga, Turkey, but these tows usually take three weeks to a month depending on weather.

For more on the ship Sal ex Salarium see


Monday, September 28, 2020

Venture Sea heads north

 The Halifax based anchor handling tug/supplier Venture Sea set out from Halifax September 27 for the far north waters of Davis Strait between Greenland and Canada.

 The trip is in response to a call for an assistance from the bulk carrier Golden Opal. A 41,725gt, 74,232dwt ship, built in 2017 by Reliance Defence in Indonesia, it has a cargo of iron ore from Milne Inlet, Baffin Island, destined for Immingham, England. Satellite AIS date shows a very erratic track suggesting a possible steering problem, typical of a ship with ice damage to its rudder.

Venture Sea was built in 1998 by Halter Marine, Pascagoula and has an output of about 12,000 bhp and a bollard pull of 132.5 tonnes.


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Welcome back Mister Joe and Oshawa

 McNally Construction's tug Mister Joe arrived this evening towing the crane barge Canadian Argosy with the small tug Oshawa. These vessels are regulars in Halifax to support heavy marine construction projects. They work out of McNally's eastern base in Point Tupper, NS.

Mister Joe is a twin screw product of Russel  Brothers in Owen Sound, ON, built in 1964

Built as Churchill River for the Hudson's Bay Co it worked in the north until the 1990s when it went to Newfoundland,. It then worked at Bull Arm until 1997 when it passed to Beaver Marine. McNally acquired Beaver in 2001 and it became Mister Joe. It has since been re-engined, and had a new wheelhouse built to the original pattern but with better windows.

Companion on many construction projects is the Oshawa built in 1969 in Whitby, ON by original owners, McNamara Construction. It is also a twin screw vessel.

McNally Construction won the contract to dismantle and rebuild the Svitzer Canada (former Foundation Maritime) piers on the Halifax waterfront. The wooden pile structures in very poor condition, and will be demolished. New structures will be built to accommodate a marina, but they will not be of the size of the current piers which date back to the glory days of Foundation Maritime and before.

Steam up on Foundation Francis on the south side of the dock. On the north side is the newly delivered Point VictorFoundation Josephine II sits at the salvage pier. Also readily identifiable is the Banscot with portholes outlined in white. A couple of Glen class tugs and the Banstar or Bansun line the pier. 1956 or 1957 photo.

The photographer just managed to catch the chimney painted like a Foundation Maritime funnel in the foreground.


Thursday, August 13, 2020

East is East and West is West

The twain did meet in Halifax today with Atlantic Kingfisher and Pacific Constructor at pier 9C.

As previously posted Pacific Constructor with ROV was likely here for some well capping work off Sable Island.

Owners are Swires, one of the old established European / Hong Kong companies, with many business interests in the far east.

Atlantic Towing on the other hand is part of the J.D.Irving companies based in Saint John, NB.

Atlantic Kingfisher was built in 2002 by Halifax Shipyard, another J.D.Irving company. It is normally based in Newfoundland, and was also here in connection with the same well decommissioning project.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Articulate tug

The articulated tug / barge combination Leo A. McArthur / John J.Carrick arrived with another load of asphalt for McAsphalt Industries in Eastern Passage. Although the tug is equipped to tow if necessary, it rarely separates from the barge, even in rough seas.

The pair usually call a couple of times at least each paving season. The tug was built in 1908 as Victorious and was renamed in 2017.  Its fleet mates tug / barge Everlast / Norman McLeod do not venture this far east anymore, but seem to be confined to the Great Lakes. 

They are the only articulated tug/ tanker barges in regular service in eastern Canada. When competitor Irving Oil needs to transport asphalt they use the US flag tug Coho / barge Penn No.92 under a coasting license.


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Rig Move

Offshore drilling oil rigs are becoming a rare sight these days as there are no active offshore oil  or gas fields and no plans for drilling any new ones. Therefore today's arrival may be the last for a while. Noble Regina Allen has completed its work plugging five gas wells in the Deep Panuke field off Sable  Island and arrived in port this morning.

The jack-up rig and was towed in by Atlantic Kingfisher and Siem Commander assisted in the harbour by Atlantic Fir, Atlantic Oak, and Atlantic Willow.

Atlantic Kingfisher cast off first and headed for Pier 9C.

Siem Commander followed later after the rig was alongside the IEL dock.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Firebird's new home

The former HMC Dockyard fireboat Firebird has found a new home on the west coast of Newfoundland. I recently received some pictures showing it doing pilot transfer and ship assist work in Lower Cove for the US flag self-unloading bulk carrier Donald M. James as it took on a load of limestone for Jacksonville, FL.

Built in 1978, the Firebird was declared surplus in 2014 a few years ago and acquired by Sealand Shipping Services of Baie Verte, NL. The vessel remained in Halifax until July when it sailed for Stephenville, NL. That area of the west coast had been without a regular tug since September 23, 2019 when Omni St-Laurent sank at its dock in Stephenville. Sealand's R.J.Ballott has also been reported in Stephenville and it may have been providing some tug service.

Firebird was most recently alongside The COVE (former CG base) in Dartmouth until July 23 when it sailed for Stephenville.

Firebird still has all its fire fighting pumps and gear, but is now classed as a tug with two 455 bhp main engines driving two Z-drives.

For more on the Firebird's naval history see: firebird farewell