Sunday, October 14, 2012

USSR Rescue Tugs

From the 1960s to the late 1980s the USSR and other Warsaw pact countries had a huge fishing operation in Atlantic Canadian waters. There were hundreds of trawlers, and support ships, including factory ships, mother ships, water tankers and rescue tugs.
The USSR in particular had fishing fleets based in Tallin, Kaliningrad and Murmansk working in the area, and each fleet had at least one rescue tug to assist with repairs, diving and towing. Engine breakdowns and nets caught in propellors, collisions between trawlers and medical emergencies were common, and the tugs responded , often towing the effected ships into Halifax wheere they could be repaired.
In this period there were three classes of tugs, but the ones I liked best were the late 1950s/early 1960s Orel [eagle] class. There were two types within this class, the first had 5 cyl MAN engines with the foremast stepped ahead of the bridge. The second had 7 cylinder MAN engines with foremast stepped  on the wheelhouse. All were built by Valmet in Turku, Finland (one in Helsinki) between 1957 and 1963. The tugs were reinforced for ice, and had cut away icebreaking bows below the waterline. They also had a large derrick, rescue type lifeboats, towing winch and heavy stongbacks on the after deck.
Here is a look at some of the tugs that called in Halifax:
1. A typical scene of the tug Slavniy [Glorious]with a small trawler it has towed in and a water tanker, at pier 23. In the 1960s, the tugs had a grey hull, the same as all ships in the fishing fleet.
Built 1959, call sign UBMG, Broken up 1981 after damage by grounding 1979.

2.Slavnij at pier 24 with another small trawler and a typical factory freezer trawler in the background.
3.Steregushchiy [Watchful] at pier 24. Note the bow fender and large rescue lifeboat. 
Built 1960, call sign UHKQ, not reported since 1999.

4. Stoykiy [Steadfast]in the revised paint scheme of black hull and orange superstructure. With the word Spastatel (Rescue) on the side.
Built 1959, call sign UBMF, broken up 1988.
5. Stoykiy has put her boat in the water and it is under the bow, attending to some repairs on the trawler alongside.

6. Stremitelniyy [Speedy]has just towed this factory trawler into pier 34. It remained alongside the ship for several days carrying out repairs. 
Built 1957, call sign UTWR, broken up 1999.
7. Other tugs in the class had the foremast stepped further aft on the wheelhouse, such as the Gordiy 
Built 1962, call sign UWFM, broken up 1993.

8. The colourful tugs, such as Besstrashniy later received covered lifeboats, which could also be used for rescue work.
Built 1963, call sign UIZE, fate unknown.
9. Kapitan Nokhrin was a frequent caller in Halifax for many years.
Built 1961, call sign UYBB, fate unknown.
10. Halifax was not the only port these tugs used. Steregushchiyy is tied up in St.John's, Newfoundland. Note the heavy fender on the stern., and the large strongbacks.
11. Back in Halifax, the same tug has loaded two used Lada automobiles to take back to the USSR. Crews often purchased items not readily  available at home, and sold them for a profit.

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