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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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Court Sale - ex Panuke Sea

The well known OSV, formerly Panuke Sea, has been ordered sold by the Federal Court. An ad appeared in local newspapers today giving creditors 30 days to file liens. The ship has been laid up in Sydport, Sydney harbour and is not being maintained. According to court filings on behalf of Heddle Marine, operators of the facility, the vessel is taking up needed space, and its resale value is diminishing.

Panuke Sea on trials after its second rebuild.

The ship is one of four former USSR suppliers acquired by Secunda Marine Services and rebuilt. Originally Neftegaz 14, it was built in 1984 by Komuny Paryskiej in Gydnia, Poland, powered by a pair of Sulzer engines (built under license by Zagoda) giving 7200 bhp. The USSR Ministry of Gas Industry built a large fleet of similar vessels with excellent ice class hulls, but with privatization of the Russian petroleum industry many were laid up.

Secunda acquired the tug / supplier in 2001 and it arrived in Halifax under its own power with a Russian crew on October 15. It was registered in Halifax as Panuke Sea on October 22.

I have covered the subsequent rebuilding of the vessel previously. To summarize it was rebuilt alongside in Halifax over that winter, then went to St.John's for drydocking and returned to Halifax for trials in July 2002. However the ship did not meet standards for visibility of the afterdeck, and another rebuild began which was not completed until March 2003.

See: http://tugfaxblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2016/11/panuke-sea-up-for-sale.html

Panuke Sea was named for the area off Sable Island where oil and gas fields were developed,
and it is likely it served some of that activity as well as other Secunda contracts. Secunda changed ownership several times, through J.Ray McDermott, and back to Secunda Canada LP, but in 2006 when the company was again being sold the ship was put up for sale asking $600,000.

New owners, identified as Servimax Servicos Lda, acquired the ship and closed Canadian registration September 19, 2017. They renamed it Kydy Sea and hoisted the flag of Togo. It has remained in Sydney Harbour ever since.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tow Work

As spring arrives we can expect to see a bit more towing going on around Halifax, although there has been regular tug activity since January with the Halterm dredging project. With the larger tug Mister Joe off to Shelburne, the smaller tug J.F.WHalen must now herd the dump scows from the dredge all the way to Fairview Cove where the spoil is deposited.



With a bit of a head wind today J.F.Whalen was really leaning in on its scow as it worked northward, but was making good time nevertheless.

The versatile small tug, with 540 bhp is small enough to be carried around on the deck of the dredge when they move from port to port. Its aluminum wheelhouse is also detachable and the house and hull can then be moved by truck if needed. That is how it was delivered to Halifax first in 2014 from the builders, Chantier Naval Forillon in Gaspé. The boat is twin screw with flanking rudders and removable push knees. A sister tug D.J.Stanyar works for McNally Marine in Onrtario.



While J.F.WHalen was readying another scow, the Canadian navy tug Glenevis was picking its way out to sea towing  HMCS Moncton.

 
Glenevis ATA 642 is one of  three Glen class tugs based in HMC Dockyard, Halifax and operated by the Queen's Harbour Master with a civilian crew. The 1750 bhp VS tractor tug was built in 1976, and although there has been talk of replacements for many years, there does not appear to be anything on the horizon. But as it is election year I expect something will be said before October.


Glenevis is well suited to harbour berthing duties within tight confines, but also for coastal towing with light displacement vessels such as Moncton. It is one of six Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels based in Halifax (Six more are based in Esquimalt, BC). One or two of them are in refit in various shipyards around the region at any given time, and one of the Glens usually tows them to and from..
Voyages extend from Shelburne to Pictou, Sydney or even St.John's.

In view of ice conditions to the east, I expect this tow to be headed for Shelburne. [to be updated].

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Toisa Pegasus sold and renamed

A big offshore construction vessel that spent some time in Nova Scotia has been sold and renamed.

Toisa Pegasus, 9494 gt, 7800 dwt, was built in 2009 by De Merwede in Hardinxveld, Netherlands for Toisa Ltd of Piraeus, Greece. Through a complex chain of intertwined companies, it was managed by Sealion Shipping  of London. Toisa was a largish company with something like 24 bulkers and tankers (some under construction) and an equal number of offshore support vessels.
The falling oil prices and reduction in offshore activity in 2016 hit the company particularly hard and in an effort to survive it laid up many of its ships, but kept them in operational condition.

One such ship was the Toisa Pegasus, which arrived in Shelburne, NS March 29, 2016. Its huge 400 tonne capacity crane loomed over the government wharf, where it was originally intended to remain for up to a year. The ship was equipped with twin bell 18 person saturation diving system and had accommodation for 199 people in order to support offshore projects. It had all the other  "bells and whistles" required for a state of the art ship, including DP3.

The ship did not stay in Shelburne for the whole year, sailing, I believe, sometime in July 2016.
Attempts to save the company through chapter 11 re-organization and re-financing did not work out and all the assets were sold off over the past several months.

Toisa Pegasus was sold to Subsea 7 for reported fire sale price of $38,950,000 and renamed Seven Pegasus. It has now left its last layup port of Perama, Greece for Rijeka, Croatia, where it will have a refit. It is expected to go to work in the North Sea in the 2Q 2019. (The second quarter of this year.)


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