Monday, December 1, 2014

Temporary tug change for Halifax

The tugs in Halifax are all so similar in appearance, it is somtimes hard to tell which is which. This past weekend there was a change that might not have been noticeable to the casual observer.

Easiest to identify is Atlantic Larch because it has no firefighting gear:
Built in 2000 it is a 4,000 bhp ASD tug. It is fitted with a towing winch and is sometimes sent away from Halifax for various chores where a winch is needed. However it does look very similar to the Atlantic Hemlock which sometimes comes to Halifax.

Atlantic Willow is a firefighting tug, with prominent water cannons:
It dates from 1998 and is also a 4,000 bhp ASD, and has no towing winch. However it has open bulwarks at the bits fore and aft, and a strongback on the stern rail to protect the line if it is using its towing hook.

Atlantic Oak is a firefighting tug with less prominent water cannons:
It also has the open rails, but is fitted with stainless steel shields over the air intakes on the funnel casings and has a side door on the wheelhouse. It was built in 2004 and is a 5,050 bhp tug, and as the most powerful tug in Halifax it is the one used most often for tethered escort work.

However Atlantic Oak has a sister tug named Atlantic Fir, based in Saint John:
Aside from different shields on its water cannons it was virtually indistinguishable from its sister. It was built in 2005 and is also rated at 5050 bhp. Since it travels about a great deal, it does show up in Halifax from time to time. Unless one was really alert, it was hard to tell which tug it was - until now.

This weekend Atlantic Willow was sent off to Liverpool to berth the ship Thorco Dolphin with wind turbine components and Atlantic Oak was sent to Shelburne for refit. When Atlantic Fir arrived to fill in I noted that something new had been added:
 Two satellite domes have been appeared. A small one on the mast and larger one on its own pole. These certainly make the tug stand out from the rest! They may have been added for navigation purposes likely for the tow out of the Gravity Base in Newfoundland, where precise location was required. It is not clear if these have been tied into the tug's autopilot to provide dynamic positioning. They are for communication only.

Up close then, there is now little doubt that one is seeing Atlantic Fir. but from a distance it still requires some experience to pick it out.
Atlantic Larch on the left, and Atlantic Fir, at Atlantic Oak's normal berth at the IEL dock in Woodside. From a distance the sat domes are barely visible.


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