Friday, December 14, 2018

Atlantric Hemlock

Atlantic Towing is committed to having four tugs on station in Halifax at all times. This week when Atlantic Bear was needed in Saint John, Atlantic Hemlock traded places and is now working in Halifax.

Atlantic Hemlock in the Narrows after undocking the Radcliffe R. Latimer at National Gypsum.

Atlantic Hemlock was the third tug built at the East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE under the Irving Shipbuilding tug program that started in 1995 and ended in 2011 after building 36 tugs to a similar design. When it was delivered in 1996, Irving Hemlock was the first tug intended for long term ownership by Atlantic Towing. The first two tugs in the program, Atlantic Spruce (i) and Atlantic Fir (i) were exported. Atlantic Hemlock is a 4,000 bhp vessel with two Aquamaster ASD drives.

In order to show off the yard's ability, the tug, which was state of the art at the time, travelled across the Atlantic to various ports in England and Europe in 2000, including St.Malo, France. It was present at the International Tug and Salvage Conference.

Over the years the design was tweaked based on operational experience, and such features as fire fighting, towing winches and ice reinforcement were added or deleted as the owners required. Horsepower also increased from 4,000 bhp to 5,000 bhp.

In 2008 East Isle built three tugs for working gas tankers in Saint John. Atlantic Bear, Atlantic Beaver and Spitfire III have heavier winches and more fendering for working in the open roadstead and more power for handling the larger ships. One of those 5432 bhp tugs is usually based in Halifax, but will return to Saint John for gas tanker work.

A comparison view of Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Bear.

Also in port this week is the veteran Atlantic Elm, built in 1980 as Irving Elm. It is a 3460 bhp twin screw tug now used for towing work. It spent the summer in the north working supply barges in Rankin Inlet with fleet mate Atlantic Beech. It had been in refit at Atlantic Towing's repair yard in Saint John since returning from Hudson's Bay last month.

Little changed since it was renamed Atlantic Elm in 1996, the tug is standing by in Halifax.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ian Mac sold west

A small tug that has spent its entire working career on Lake Huron has been sold west and will be taking up duties in Aberta. Ian Mac was built in 1955 by Mathieson Boat Works in Goderich, ON and has worked in that port ever since, initially for D.B.Macadam Ltd then for MacDonald Marine Ltd. (Capt. Ian MacAdam). The two families, related by marriage, have been involved in shipping since the days of sail, and trace their ancestry to early Scottish settlers in the Huron Tract (some of whom were related to me too.)

Superbly maintained, and always in fresh water, Ian Mac has assisted its fleet mates in berthing ships at the salt pier and grain elevators. However in recent years Groupe Océan moved into the port, taking away core business, first with the converted pilot boat Côte-Nord and since last year with the small Voith-Schneider tug Escorte.

Ian Mac acquired a new wheelhouse (upper photo) in 2001, which has been removed so that the tug can be trucked to Alberta. It was also the "newest" tug in the four tug fleet, with sister tugs Debbie Lynn (1950), Donald Bert (1953) and Dover (1931). Don't let the tugs' ages deceive - fresh water is very forgiving, and these tugs have been kept up to near-yacht standards.

There has been a growing demand for small tugs in Alberta to work in dredging and settling pond maintenance, including icebreaking. Groupe Océan has built two tugs for work in Alberta as have several other companies.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

McNally back again

A tug that has been in and out of Halifax for many years is back again. Mister Joe is a jack of all trades for McNally Construction Ltd, towing their floating plant all over Atlantic Canada, including Newfoundland, and into the Great Lakes. With the award of the Halterm  expansion dredging contract to McNally the tug is back again, first with a pair of dump scows and last night with a crane barge. The two scows do not not bear any visible names, but the crane barge is Derrick No.4 and on its deck is another of McNally's tug/workboats, J.F.Whalen.

The J.F. Whalen was built in 2013 by Chantier Naval Forillon in Gaspé and is a twin screw boat of 540 bhp. It is equipped with push knees and its wheelhouse is demountable for road transport. A sister tug, D.L. Stanyer was built at the same time and is based with McNally's Ontario fleet.

The Derrick No.4 dates from 1963 when it was built by Marine Industries Ltd in Sorel, QC for Dufresne Construction Inc as C-304. They renamed it M-28 in 1966. Ownership passed to Canadian Dredge and Dock in 1972 and they renamed it Derrick No.4  It began to show up in Atlantic Canada in the mid-1990s working for Beaver Marine, which was eventually folded in to McNally. Although the various cranes have changed over the years, the barge itself looks much the same with a moderate size deckhouse and two spuds.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Horizon Enabler - split personality

Horizon Maritime's recently renamed Horizon Enabler arrived at pier 9A this afternoon, bearing the new name on the stern quarters, but still carrying its former name on the bows. As Tidewater Enabler the ship was first registered in Canada  July 17, 2018 for a one year charter to Horizon, and assigned official number 841848. The ship was then engaged in the oil removal from the wreck of Manolis L in  Newfoundland in August. The work was under the direction of Ardent Global LLC (the name for the merged Svitzer Salvage and Titan Salvage).

On November 21, 2018 the ship was re-registered in St.John's as Horizon Enabler, under 100% ownership of Horizon, and assigned official number 842166. No doubt due to inclement weather it was not possible to reach the bow to repaint the name, and block out the huge Tidewater banner on the flanks. The ship berthed today at IT Telecom where it will be loading gear for some emergency cable repair work - likely to the Magdalen Islands. The recent post-tropical cyclone (unnamed) severed the the near-shore landing of the island's fibre optic connection with the mainland.

Horizon Enabler is a multi-function OSV of 4769 grt, built in 2002. Its hull came from the STX  RO Offshore yard in Braila, Romania, and was completed by STX Norway at Brevik. Although launched as Enabler, it was given the Tidewater name on delivery. Equipped with a 100 tonne crane, a helo platform, FiFi1, DP2 and a range of other tools, it is propelled by engines totaling 11,700 bhp through ASD drives.

Horizon Maritime is much in the news lately on two counts. First is the recently announced deal with ten ships Nordic American Offshore (publicly traded as NYSE: NAO), which would combine the two fleets, but with Horizon in the drivers seat. Although it was reported that the deal was off, it is apparently on again and still in due diligence stage.

Horizon has also objected to the awarding of the Emergency Towing Vessel contract for British Columbia waters to Atlantic Towing Ltd. Horizon has stated that Atlantic's boats did not meet the specifications of the tender call, and that the bid was deficient in other areas, particularly in relation to First Nations participation. The matter is likely going to court and more details will be forthcoming.

Horizon currently still has Troms Sirius and Lundstrom Tide on charter from Tidewater. Both ships work out of Halifax along with Horizon Star cleaning up work on BPs now concluded drilling effort off Nova Scotia.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

No oil for BP and no gas either

The off again / on again exploration for oil, starting in the 1960s, with only a brief interlude of actual oil production, will once again come to a halt. BP and Hess (50/50 partners) did not find any commercially viable quantities of oil or gas in the Aspy D-11 well that was spudded in April.

That well, drilled by the rig  West Aquarius went to 7400 meters (in 2771 meters of water) experienced some difficulties, including the need to drill a sidetrack well, and had to extend the rig's coasting license from  October 15 to December 31.  Nevertheless the results were not positive and operations came to a halt earlier this month. The rig will now be going back to Newfoundland where it will drill for Exxon Mobil in the Flemish Pass starting next year.

Troms Sirius now idled at pier 9B in Hailfax.

Horizon Maritime dedicated three support vessels to the project, their own Horizon Star and the two chartered Tidewater boats Troms Sirius and Lundstrom Tide. The latter two will presumably be returned to Tidewater unless more work can be found for them. Both were brought under Canadian registration in the spring to work on the BP well.

Lundstom Tide will also be out of work.

Related News: 
Offshore gas has also had an equally dismal history with both installations on their last legs and now working on decommissioning. Supply vessels work in and out of Halifax to support that activity. 

Secunda / Siem has Siem Hanne, Venture Sea, Trinity Sea and Burin Sea working out of Halifax, but Burin Sea departed earlier this week for St.John's.

Trinity Sea making a sunset arrival in Halifax last week.

Atlantic Towing has Atlantic Condor working at Deep Panuke with Atlantic Tern on standby, but it has been tied up in Halifax for several days.

A "near miss" when some heavy equipment broke lose has resulted in shut down of work on one of the decommissioning operations on the rig Noble Regina Allen. The rig is contracted to plug 22 wells for Exxon Mobil.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018


The first visit of a new Loire class French navy tug is marked today with the arrival of Rhône, second in the series after the class named vessel, Loire A602.

Weather turned blustery later this afternoon and rain filtered the view of the ship as it arrived.

The French Defence Procurement Agency will take delivery of two more of the class in 2019, namely Seine A604 and Garonne A605.

Rhône is designated A603, and classed in French terminology as BSAH, "batiment de soutien et d'assistance hauturier" [meaning offshore support and assistance] indicating its multi-functional role as a deep sea towing and rescue tug. It is also equipped to deal with port work, carrying a 300m pollution barrier, supporting twelve divers and transporting weapons and ammunition. It will of course also conduct sovereignty patrols and courtesy visits as did its predecessors, and carry disaster relief aid when needed.

Its main job however is to be available to tow nuclear submarines in case of major damage, and to retrieve the towed arrays when they enter port. It was designed to tow a nuke at 5 knots in sea state 7 (9 meter seas). The Loire class are twin screw vessels with 80 tonne bollard pull, from 7200 bhp main engines. They carry equipment for dynamic positioning DP1 and firefighting FiFi-1

By the time Rhône got up into clearer conditions the tug At;antic Willow was coming alongside to assist it into its berth at HMC Dockyard.

This not the first Canadian port for the ship. It visited Esquimalt in Victoria, BC in late September.

Procurement for the French navy has taken an interesting path with the naval design office working closely with private industry to apply commercial vessel design to semi-military functions such as coast guard, police and customs.

In June Rhone replaced Tenace A669 aged 40, then the oldest ship in the French Navy and one of class of three tugs in the French navy. The last of those predecessors to call in Halifax was Malabar A664. A third tug, Centaure A674 was sold to the Turkish navy, but damaged beyond repair in a drydock accident in 2013. They were built to the same design as the German civilian tug Hamburg which was broken up in 1986 with irreparably damaged engine and gear box.

For more on that class see an older post:

Theodore Too - still smiling

Theodore Too arrived safely back in Halifax this morning - still wearing a smile.

After encountering some mechanical issues on its return from Saint John, the vessel had repairs in Meteghan and then made the long haul around the southern tip of Nova Scotia and back to Halifax, where it tied up at the Svitzer Canada dock.  This was a temporary stopover, before moving on to its winter residence at Mill Cove in Bedford Basin.