Sunday, July 29, 2012

Foundation tugs of 1962

In the early 1960s the Foundation Company of Canada through its subsidiaries decided to build a series of tugs to the same design for interchangeable use all over Foundation’s “empire”. The tugs could and would be tasked with ship berthing and harbour work, barge handling and coastal towing. Foundation’s fleet of floating cranes and scows for marine construction needed to be towed to ports all over Eastern Canada, and there was a need for more and better tugs than the mixed bag left over from wartime construction.

The company had already built three larger tugs between 1956 and 1961, but they were dedicated to work in Baie-Comeau and Sept-Iles, QC.
And so it was that Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon, QC received the order for six 1,000 bhp single screw tugs for delivery in 1962, followed by a twin screw, slightly larger variant in 1963.
When Foundation decided to get out of the tug operating business in 1970 the fleet was split up and the tugs went in different directions. All six initially to MILTug under a management agreement with Marine Industries Ltd of Sorel, QC. In 1973 they were all sold, with three continuing to work in Halifax for the newly formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (Ectug) as the backbone of the Halifax harbour tug fleet.

1. Point Viking (on the bow) and Point Vim and Point Vigour work the British passenger liner turned cruise ship, Oriana away from the dock in 1979.

ECTUG transferred Viking to Port Hawksbury and sold it, and when they acquired more powerful tugs in Halifax, Vim and Vigour became backups until sold in 2006.

2. Point Vim and Point Vigour live up to their names.

I don’t suppose anyone imagined that seven of those ten tugs built between 1956 and 1963 would still be operating in Canada in 2012.
Of the 1962 batch of six, three are very much in operation in Canada and are reported to be in excellent condition by their present owners, all still running on their original Fairbanks-Morse engines.
The first four tugs were completed and launched as a batch, with the last two following soon after.
Davie Hull numbers 631, 632, 633 and 634:

Hull 631: Foundation Viscount

3.  Foundation Viscount working in Halifax harbour in the 1960s.

In 1973 the tug was purchased MIL's Richelieu Dredging Ltd and renamed C.O.Paradis. However in 1976 in a deal that involved dredges and tugs, it was sold to John S. Latsis of Greece and renamed Ikositria
[meaning "23"] It has been laid up since about 2005, and may well have been scrapped by now.

Hull 632: Foundation Vim
4. Point Vim returns to the Ectug dock in Halifax.

In 1973 the tug was sold to the newly formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd and renamed Point Vim. It was based in Halifax and Port Hawksbury for a time. It was also modified at Georgetown Shipyard with the addition of a fixed Kort nozzle, and its engine uprated.

5. It's February and Point Vim has a heavy coat of frozen spray while waiting for a ship at pier 36.

McKeil purchased the tug in 2006, but it was resold to Davis Shipping of Wesleyville, NF and  has been upgraded by the new owners. It is in the best condition of the remaining tugs and is used in general towing work in Newfoundland and Labrador and harbour berthing.

Hull No.633: Foundation Vigour
6. Point Vigour heads out for a job in Halifax.

Eastern Canada towing acquired the tug in 1973 and renamed it Point Vigour. It was based in Halifax until 2006. It received the same upgrades as its sister Vim - a Kort nozzle and uprated engine.

7. The tugs were built with a patent quick-release towing hook and a small capstan for recovering towing lines.

In 2006 McKeil bought the tug and renamed it Molly M 1. It has travelled far and wide under McKeil ownership, and is now operated by the associated company Nadro Marine.

Hull No.634: Foundation Viking 
8. Point Viking off pier 31 in Halifax.

Also acquired by Eastern Canada Towing Ltd in 1973, the tug was renamed Point Viking and based in Halifax.

9. At pier 25-26 in Halifax, Point Viking has just assisted in berthing the Klavenes bulker Balao.

It did not get the upgrading treatment that Vim and Vigour received. After time stationed in Port Hawksbury it was sold to interests in Stephenville, NF where it was used in harbour berthing work in the Stephenville and Corner Brook areas. In the mid 2000s Construction Polaris Inc of Quebec bought the tug. Although based in Quebec City it spends most of its time assisting construction work on the Lower North Shore.

Hull No. 635: Foundation Viceroy

10. Foundation Viceroy nudges up on the Helga Dan at pier 9C in Halifax.

In 1973 the tug was sold to the Minister of Public Work, Canada, and assigned to the St.Lawrence River dredging fleet. Renamed Feuille d'Erable, it worked with the dredge DPW No.130 and mud scows up and down the St.Lawrence River and into the Gulf, from its base in Rimouski.

11. Feuille d'Erable tending to a mud scow off Ile-aux-Coudres, QC.

When the DPW got out of harbour dredging in 1996 the tug was renamed T.4 and laid up in Quebec City for sale. McKeil bought the tug and renamed it Florence McKeil  in 2000. After working on the Great Lakes for a time it was then sold to Davis Shipping Ltd of Wesleyville, NF. They sold the tug in 2006 to new owners in the Ivory Coast, however the tug was delivered to Ghana. There it was renamed Manhye and placed under the Honduran flag. The tug is believed to still be working in Africa.

Hull No.636: Foundation Vanguard

12. Foundation Vanguard assisting the CCGS Labradror into the graving dock at Halifax Shiyard.

In 1973 MIL bought this tug outright and renamed it A.Moir it continued working for Richelieu Dredging until 1976 when it was also part of the deal with John S. Latis and went to Greece. It was renamed  Ikosido [meaning "22"]. After several ownership changes within the Latsis organisation it was sold in 1998 to Saudi Arabia where it took the name Sete 10. The tug was laid up during 2009, and has not been working since.

  13. Point Vim and Point Vigour were familiar sights on the Halifax waterfront, and their charming names won them many fans. It was a sad day when they sailed away in 2006, but fortunately that was not the end.

14. and 15. Molly M 1 (former Vigour) pictured on the Welland Canal July 24, 2012. Now fitted with a towing winch, she was about to leave towing a barge with crane components to Iqaluit. This the longest single tow ever for the tug, but she is up to the job even at age 50. [John Vanderdoe photos used with thanks and permission.]

Point Vim looks as good or better. For more on her see this blog from last October:


  1. Great story about the tugs.

    Thank you Mac.

    John Vanderdoe

  2. Thanks for this!

    Janet Davis
    Davis Shipping Limited (owners of Point Vim)