Sunday, November 14, 2010

Superport Marine Services at work

1. Strait Rider gets away from the company dock at Pirate Harbour, opposite Point Tupper, November 12.

2. Wikit backs away from the same dock. Pirate Harbour is just east of Mulgrave.

3. Wikit storms into the Canso Lock, close on the heels of Strait Rider.

4. Strait Rider enters the Canso Lock first. She has a tow line laid out on deck to take Wikit in tow for Pictou.

5. The two boats nudging the naval research vessel Quest on one of several attempts to haul the ship out on the newly rebuilt marine railway at Aecon-Fabco in Pictou. November 13.

Superport Marine Services Ltd of Port Hawksbury operates tugs, barges, pilot boats and research vessels in the Strait of Canso area. This includes the Bras d'Or Lakes and Northumberland Strait and occasionally farther away.

On Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13 I was fortunate enough to catch two of their tug/workboats in action. These are interesting boats, both built at the legendary Russel Brothers/ Russel-Hipwell Engines Ltd yard in Owen Sound, ON.

Strait Rider was built as Hollis IV in 1962. For a time it was owned by the yard (perhaps as a means of financing) but by 1967 by Hollis IV Ltd of Chatham, ON. It was never seen in Chatham to my knowledge, but was based at the Lake Erie port of Wheatley where it supported some drilling operations and was used as a workboat.
The boat was listed for sale for a time until acquired by Superport in the early 1990s. They rebuilt the boat in 1992 and again in 2002. It was also re-engined. I assume her original engines were Cummins (Russel-Hipwell was a Cummins dealer as well as a shipyard.) Her original 456 bhp was upped to 550bhp when two Detroit Diesels were installed.

Wikit was built by Russel in 1960 as Midgell for the federal Department of Public Works. She was a twin screw tug of 300 bhp. When the DPW started to sell off its dredging fleet, Superport acquired the tug and renamed it in 1992. They carried out a rebuild in 1993-94 and probably re-engined her at that time with the current 2 x 250 bhp GMs.
Superport also operates the tug Mary Steele, another former DPW tug, which has had towing assignments as far afield as Halifax and Saint John, NB. (It will be featured in a subsequent posting)

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