Thursday, January 8, 2015

Baie-Comeau - error notification

In my recent posting about tugs at Baie-Comeau, QC, I made a number of serious errors, which I hereby correct:

    The tug Svitzer Wombi ex Hi Gang 107 will be deployed to Port-Cartier, not Baie-Comeau. ArcellorMittal Mines Canada Inc, which operates Port-Cartier, has two Voith-Schneider tugs, Brochu and Vachon working in the port, but they are overloaded with work and a third tug is needed. The tight confines of the port make it ideal for V-S tugs, and the crews are familiar with that type of tug and its operation. The year round activity at the grain storage and iron ore docks, with ever larger ships, means that an increase in power would also be welcome. The current tugs built in 1972 are rated at 3600bhp. They have been well maintained and will continue to operate.

      Svitzer Canada Ltd was successful in obtaining a contract to provide the third tug, and the 5600 bhp former Chinese tug will be delivered to Port-Cartier from Singapore this year. It is yet to be named, but will likely have a name with some local flavour.  The current tugs were named for Pierre Brochu and J-B Vachon, pioneers of the North Shore area in 1880s. (I modestly suggest that the new tug could be named Mackay after my great grandfather, who was also active in the area in 1880s to 1901 when he died in Sept-Iles.)

The brand new Pointe Comeau came to Halifax en route from Marystown to Baie-Comeau.

    The current Baie-Comeau tug Pointe-Comeau will not be retiring from service. In fact it received a major rebuild in 2005 and is good for many years to come. As stated the tug is owned by the Cargill Grain Co Ltd and managed by Svitzer Canada Ltd.

    I was incorrect when I stated that is predecessor was also owned by Cargill Grain. Foundation Vibert was built in 1961 by P.K.Harris in Appledore for Foundation Maritime. It was also not built for the port of Baie-Comeau. In fact it was built for Port-Cartier and served there until 1973 when the Brochu and Vachon went into service.They were built by Star Shipyard in New Westminster, BC and sailed via Panama arriving in Port-Cartier in the summer of 1973. (Vachon stopped n Halifax September 4, 1973 for voyage adjustments.)

    However Foundation Vibert was not the only tug built for Port-Cartier at the time. The other was called Federal Beaver, and it was built by Russel-Hipwell in Owen Sound, ON (hull number 1205) and delivered in 1962. It was built for Federal Terminals Ltd, although it was apparently ordered by another Federal Commerce + Navigation Ltd subsidiary Pyke Salvage. Built to essentially the same spec as Foundation Vibert, it was a 95 foot twin screw, with three tiered deckhouse, strengthened for navigation in  ice. It looked quite different from Vibert because it had the standard Russel wheelhouse, repeated on so many of their other tugs.
I have no photos of my own of this tug, but the Russel web site has a nice file:

   It is perhaps unusual that Federal Beaver was powered by two 8 cylinder Lister Blackstone engines giving 1600 bhp and 36 tons bollard pull, whereas Foundation Vibert was powered by two Fairbanks Morses of 666 bhp each, engines that had to be shipped to England for installation. It is possible that Listers were chosen for Federal Beaver because another three tugs ordered for Pyke Salvage, also from P.K.Harris in Appledore in 1959, were fitted with Listers. Helen M. McAllister and Salvage Monarch were taken over by McAllister Towing Ltd of Montreal when it bought Pyke Salvage from Federal Commerce in 1962. The third, Hull No. 258 was towed to Canada as a hull, and may have had Lister engines. It was sold to west coast owners and completed with Cat engines. So maybe its original engines went into Federal Beaver. This is only speculation of course at this point. How it reached the west coast is also a bit of a mystery.

     In 1964 Quebec Cartier Mining took over operation of the port from Federal Terminals and renamed the tug Federal Beaver as Manicouagan. (This only added to the confusion, since the Manicouagan River flows into the St.Lawrence at Baie Comeau - many miles away from Port-Cartier.)

    When the new V-S tugs arrived in Port Cartier in 1973, the company sold Manicouagan to Northland Navigation and it sailed via the Panama Canal to work out of Prince Rupert, BC. In 1980 Rivtow bought the tug, renamed it Rivtow Princess and re-engined it with a pair of GMs, upping the horsepower to 1740 bhp (others say 1860 bhp). When Smit Marine Canada took over Rivtow, the tug became Smit Princess but was soon sold on in 2005 to Seaspan Marine Corp becoming River Princess. Its sphere of operations had shifted to the lower mainland of BC.
    In 2012 Seaspan did a major housecleaning of old tugs and barges, and River Princess and several fleetmates were loaded aboard the semi-submersible ship Development Way and sent off the China for scrap. 

    Foundation Vibert's transfer to Baie-Comeau displaced the single screw 1000 bhp "V" class tugs that had served the port since 1962. (They had used steam tugs, such as Foundation Vera before that.)
The transfer occurred after the sale of the Foundation tugs to Marine Industries Ltd in 1968, with MIL Tug + Salvage as managers. In 1971 Smit+Cory became managers of the tug fleet and in 1973 formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (ECTUG) and purchased the Foundation Vibert, and renamed it Point Vibert.

    ECTUG bought five of the six "V" class tugs from MIL, but since they were no longer needed to cover Baie-Comeau, ECTUG almost immediately sold two of them back to MIL's dredging subsidiary Richelieu Dredging Corp Inc. Foundation Vanguard became A.Moir and Foundation Viscount became C.O.Paradis. The sixth tug of the series, Foundation Viceroy had been sold to the federal Department of Public Works in 1972, while Smit+Cory were managers, but before they bought the fleet. It became Feuille d'Erable.

    ECTUG kept the legendary Foundation Vim and Foundation Vigour and the Foundation Viking, giving them Point names.

   When ECTUG became Svitzer Canada, Point Vibert was repainted in Svitzer colours. It was also transferred to Port Hawksbury .
    When it was sold to McKeil Marine it joined its former Halifax partner Point Vigour.

Molly M 1 ex Point Vgour, ex Foundaiton Vigour and Florence M ex Point Vibert ex Foundation Vibert became fleet mates again under the McKeil banner.

Since that time, Molly M 1 has been repainted in Nadro colours see: tugfax 2014-11-10   (Nadro is a McKeil subsidiary) and Florence M has also received the latest McKeil colour scheme.

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