Monday, February 1, 2016

Criag Trans - it's still not over

The story of the tug Craig Trans should have been over long before now, but it seems that another chapter will be added on February 17. On that date bids will be opened at the office of Cox+Palmer, attorneys, after its most recent owner walked away from the tug (or perhaps more accurately he ran away).

The tug's story as far as Halifax was concerned began with its arrival here December 18, 2012, but in fact it started in 1943 at Tampa Machine Corp where it was built for the US Army's Transportation Corps as LT-648. I told a bit about its subsequent career as Craig Foss on this blog December 18, 2012., but to summarize the legendary Seattle operators, the Foss Maritime Company acquired the tug from the Army in 1960, but kept it mothballed until 1966 when they overhauled it completely, and installed two new GM-EMD engines of 2,000 bhp each, replacing the single Fairbanks Morse. Foss completed all the work at its own shipyard in 1967.

For the first few years of its life with Foss the tug was constantly towing a log barge barge back and forth to Hawaii (40 days each way). Then in 1972 it towed a barge load of lumber from Coos Bay, OR to Camden, NJ and Portsmouth, NH, returning it empty to Mobile  AB. Its seagoing capabilities were never in doubt.

The tug towed regularly on the west coast including many trips to Alaska until 1978 when it made another tow to the east coast, this time from Tacoma, WA to Chester, PA Earl, NJ, Norfolk, VA and Charleston, SC. It then went on to Bay City, MI  to tow a dredge to Baltimore, MD, tow scows to Puerto Cabello,  Venezuela, and two offshore suppliers to Seattle. It was then back to Alaska runs until the early 2000s when the tug was laid up and sold in 2011.

It then entered a shady period where its movements become hard to trace. It did show up September 8, 2012 as Craig Trans when it towed the derelict ferry Queen of Saanich from Anvil Island BC to Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico for scrap. The old Swartz Bay-Tsawassan ferry, built in 1963 had been sold by BC Ferries in 2008 and ended up arrested and derelict until a Federal Court ordered sale in January 2012. It was moored on Anvil Island while copper was stripped out, then towed away.

In its prime, Queen of Saanich was one of BC Ferries stalwarts, but ended up in Mexico for scrap, towed by Craig Trans

When Craig Trans put in here in December 2012 it was en route to Beauharnois, QC to tow away the derelict Kathryn Spirit - see Shipfax   but the crew was without food and the tug was unlikely to get to Beauharnois before the close of the navigation season.
Once tied up at pier 25 it was found to be in despicable condition. Some 53 deficiencies were listed by Port State Control. See these photos and report. The owner, Vesta Shipping, owned by a US based Haitian arrived in Halifax then disappeared, abandoning tug and crew. The latter were repatriated thanks to the generosity of donors and the Mission to Seafarers, but the tug was eventually auctioned off. Its sale price came no where near compensating the agents, the Port, the Atlantic Pilotage Authority, and other creditors who were saddled with the tug for months, keeping it afloat and preventing it from polluting the harbour.

I made several more posts over that time December 20, January 30, 2013 , May 18 , July 28
and perhaps some others until the time of its sale.

The buyer was identified as a local ship breaker, but a number of his previous purchases have since sunk or have been abandoned - or both - in various Nova Scotia ports. The tug, which had elapsed (or falsified) Bolivian registry, was then registered in Canada as a "yacht" - thus freeing it from any regulations covering commercial vessels.

It ended up at the Secunda pier in Wright's Cove, Bedford Basin where the scrapper has now apparently given up ownership. The pier is in poor condition and will likely be dismantled and the tug must go somewhere else.

Craig Trans will have to move from the Secunda pier. In this September 2015 photo the Waterworks barge Commdive II was tied up there when it was working nearby.

With the current state of the scrap metal market it won't fetch much at this sale. Let's hope no one thinks they can rehabilitate it and put it back in service, or get it running as a "yacht". One only has to recall the ill fated coaster Fermont that left Halifax under a Kentucky yacht license and within days wrecked on Seal Island. It cost the Canadian tax payer a small fortune to clean up back in 1991. See my Navigation-Quebec blog  Poste #27  for more on Fermont.


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