Atlantic Hemlock was the third tug built at the East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE under the Irving Shipbuilding tug program that started in 1995 and ended in 2011 after building 36 tugs to a similar design. When it was delivered in 1996, Irving Hemlock was the first tug intended for long term ownership by Atlantic Towing. The first two tugs in the program, Atlantic Spruce (i) and Atlantic Fir (i) were exported. Atlantic Hemlock is a 4,000 bhp vessel with two Aquamaster ASD drives.
In order to show off the yard's ability, the tug, which was state of the art at the time, travelled across the Atlantic to various ports in England and Europe in 2000, including St.Malo, France. It was present at the International Tug and Salvage Conference.
Over the years the design was tweaked based on operational experience, and such features as fire fighting, towing winches and ice reinforcement were added or deleted as the owners required. Horsepower also increased from 4,000 bhp to 5,000 bhp.
In 2008 East Isle built three tugs for working gas tankers in Saint John. Atlantic Bear, Atlantic Beaver and Spitfire III have heavier winches and more fendering for working in the open roadstead and more power for handling the larger ships. One of those 5432 bhp tugs is usually based in Halifax, but will return to Saint John for gas tanker work.
A comparison view of Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Bear.
Also in port this week is the veteran Atlantic Elm, built in 1980 as Irving Elm. It is a 3460 bhp twin screw tug now used for towing work. It spent the summer in the north working supply barges in Rankin Inlet with fleet mate Atlantic Beech. It had been in refit at Atlantic Towing's repair yard in Saint John since returning from Hudson's Bay last month.
Little changed since it was renamed Atlantic Elm in 1996, the tug is standing by in Halifax.