Monday, June 18, 2012

Canadian Saints

Following World War II, the Canadian Navy built three Saint class tugs. These were tugs with ocean going capability, fitted for towing but which could also assist in berthing large ships, such as aircraft carriers.
Powered by a single 12 cylinder Fairbanks Morse engine developing 1950 bhp, they were also fitted with a controllable pitch propellor. Initially commissioned as RCN vessels, they were soon transferred to the Canadian Naval Auxiliary fleet, and worked with civilian crews.
The three tugs were named St.Anthony, St.Charles, and St.John.

St.Anthony was built at Saint John Dry Dock and launched November 2, 1955. Its sponsor was Mrs. R.Baker, wife of Commodore Baker, head of the RCN construction staff in Ottawa. Initially sent to Halifax, it was transferred to Esquimalt in April 1957, with pennant number ATA 531.
1. St.Anthony at Esquimalt.
 It was sold in 2009 and went to the US. I saw another sale ad for it in 2011, also in the US, but have been able to track its movements since then.

St.John was built by George T. Davie & Sons at Lauzon, QC and launched May 14, 1956. It was christened by Mme Renault St-Laurent, daughter-in-law of the Prime Minister. The tug was based in Halifax and assigned the pennant number ATA 535. It was sold in 1972 to the European Navigation Co of Panama, which was associated with Eckhardt & Co of Germany. It was renamed Dolphin X.

2. Dolphin X alongside Amvourgon in Halifax.

It was put to work towing ships to scrap in Santander, Spain.
These tows included several old lakers:
Wyandotte and Huron from Montreal September 29 and arriving Santander October 20 1973.
Col. James Pickands from Quebec November 15, 1974 arriving Santander in December 1974.
In 1975 it towed the burned out cargo ship Amvourgon from Halifax May 7, arriving Santander May 29.
In 1976 it had the distinction of participating in the tow of the VLCC Tula (ex Metula) from Brunsbuttel to Santander. The ship was the first VLCC to be broken up for scrap.
On November 27, 1980 it was towing a barge off Labrador when the tug sank. The barge was recovered, but the tug was a total loss. I have few details on this incident, other than the supplier Janie B was nearby at the time and recovered the barge. I assume the tug crew was rescued at the same time.

Final tug in the class was St.Charles. Also built in Saint John, it was launched July 10, 1956 and commissioned in November 1956 with pennant number ATA 533.

After naval service, the tug was acquired in 1994 by Secunda Marine of Dartmouth and renamed Chebucto Sea. It went to work barge towing and even figured in salvage projects. Eventually Secunda bareboat chartered the tug to haul pulpwood barges. It was aground at Rimouski in August 1996 and repaired at Ile-aux-Coudres.  In October 1998 it lost power off Corner Brook and in May 1999 it broke its tail shaft on a voyage to Stephenville. It was towed back to Halifax by fleetmate Tignish Sea and laid up. A lengthy legal dispute ensued, which was not resolved until 2005. The tug had a refit in Shelburne in 2006 but remained laid up until 2009 when it was sold. The tug Keewatin towed it to Marystown Newfoundland where it was renamed Matterhorn by new owners associated with Miller Shipping/Midnight Marine. At time of sale its controllable pitch was no functioning. Since 2009 I have seen reports of it in St.John's, but do not know what the tug is doing.
3. St.Charles with a gunnery target on deck.

Handsome looking tugs of 773 gross tons, they were underpowered by civilian standards, and the controllable pitch prop was not up to the rigors of commercial service. 

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