Saturday, October 10, 2015

Keewatin at pier 27

The Northern Transportation Co Ltd tug Keewatin arrived in Halifax October 8 towing the barge NT 1509 and tied up at pier 27. The tug has been an off an on visitor to Halifax  since 2002 when Northern Transporation began to ramp up an eastern operation, to supplement its western arctic and Mackenzie River business.

Keewatin at pier 27 today.
Yarrows built the Keewatin in Esquimalt, BC in 1974. The triple screw 3375 bhp shallow draft tug sailed via the Panama Canal, with four 1800 series barges and wintered on the St.Lawrence, then loaded in Valleyfield, QC in the summer of 1975 for Churchill. MB. It then began to service five western Hudson Bay communities and Coral Harbour under government contract. Northern Transportation Co Ltd was then a crown corporation, but was privatized in 1985 and is now part of the aboriginal owned NorTerra Inc.

The company, and the tug, have suffered many ups and downs over the years due to shifts in the business climate and management changes. In 2002, the tug was sent south and arrived in Halifax for the first time on November 9. After a refit in Shelburne it went to work for Atlantic Towing Ltd. In 2003 it worked on the Great Lakes with a gravel barge, then with a brine barge.

In 2004 it returned to Halifax and towed barges for Atlantic Towing Ltd.

In 2010 the tug was to work the supply run to Hudson Bay again, but was laid up in Newfoundland due to hull deficiencies. These have since been repaired and the tug was again in Halifax in July 2013.

The tug was much more photographable in 2013 when it towed the barge NT 1524 through the Narrows to Fairview Cove.

Keewatin departed St.John's August 7, 2015 towing the fleet mate supply/tug Alex Gordon to an unknown destination (likely to Mount Carmel, NL for layup, but this has not been confirmed).
( Northern Transportation's other supply/tug Jim Kilabuk was in Halifax earlier this year on its way back to the west coast, eventually making its way to the Beaufort Sea. Both suppliers have worked off and on in the western arctic over the years.) 


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