Sunday, July 5, 2020

More Big Tugs

Big offshore anchor handling tugs are working out of Pier 9C these days. Maersk Cutter, 6490 gt, built in 2015 has been in and out apparently for some big plow anchors.

Another biggie that arrived today is a recent arrival to Canadian ownership. Horizon Arctic 8143 gt, was built in 2016 in two steps. The hull came from the Vard shipyard in Tulcea, Romania and the ship was completed by Brattvaag as Bourbon Arctic. It was re-registered in St.John's March 13, 2020.


Friday, June 19, 2020

BOA Odin

Back in Halifax for the first time since 2015, the tug BOA Odin arrived June 19 from Storasund, Norway, towing the semi-submersible heavy load barge BOA Barge 34.

Built in 2010 to a Robert Allen design the tug is rated at only 4083 bhp but claims a bollard pull of 97 tonnes (fore winch) and 105 tonnes (aft winch). The tug has GE main engines and Schottel ASD drives. Despite looking like a harbour tug, it has made numerous transatlantic crossings towing barges.

In 2015 the tug was in Halifax on two occasions when it towed the sections of the former Novadock floating drydock to Tampa, FL on the BOA Barge 33.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Maersk Maker back to Denmark

After a very short duration under Canadian flag the large offshore tug / supplier Maersk Maker has returned to the Danish registration. Built in 2019 under Danish International registration the tug was transferred to Canada February 4, 2020 for work in Newfoundland. However that work was apparently cancelled and it was then sent to Nova Scotia. It was in and out of Halifax for work related to the decommissioning of Exxon Mobil's Sable Offshore gas field, possibly setting anchors for the crane ship Thialf, then in supply/support.

It has been replaced in that project by Maersk Mobiliser another vessel of the same Starfish class of 260 tonne bollard pull.

Maersk Maker returned to St.John's, Newfoundland, via Bay Bulls, then sailed from St.John's May 16 for Aberdeen, Scotland. On arrival its Canadian registry was closed June 4 (effective June 1). It returned to Danish International registry and will be working in the North Sea spot market.


Monday, June 1, 2020

Atlantic Tern and Siem Commander

Atlantic Towing Ltd operates a varied fleet of suppliers, mostly based in Newfoundland, and including some newish vessels. One not so new boat is the Atlantic Tern, based in Halifax.

Built in 1975 by Vito Steel Boat and Barge of Delta, BC, it worked for Canadian Marine Drilling in the Beaufort Sea as Supplier II and Canmar Supplier II until 1998 when it went to the North Sea as Rem Supporter until 2005 and Thor Supplier until 2012. (It was also extensively modified.)

When Atlantic Towing Ltd acquired the boat they initially named it Atlantic Birch II. Atlantic's harbour and coastal tugs are typically named for trees and their offshore tugs are named for birds. Since the boat was assigned to the offshore, it was soon renamed Atlantic Tern.

Although fitted with engines providing 7,040 bhp, it seldom needs all that power. It does carry small amounts of supplies but spends most of its time in offshore standby mode at the Deep Panuke gas field off Sable Island.

Sailing for the same destination at the same time was Siem Commander, followed soon after by Maersk Mobiliser (not pictured).

The wells in the field are currently being capped and the structures removed by Heerema's giant crane ship Thialf  It will load the scrap material aboard company barges which will be towed to the UK by company tugs.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Princess arrives

The Smit Boskalis tug Princess arrived this morning from Mulgrave, NS where it had delivered the Heerema barge H-591.

Built in 2002 by Yantai Raffles, the anchor handling tug/supplier is powered by a pair of 16 cylinder Wartsilas giving 16,500 bhp and 178 tonnes bollard pull.

Originally named Anglian Princess for Klynne tugs of England it was an early Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) in the UK. In 2012 it went to Union de Remorquage et Sauvetage of Belgium as Union Princess. It still flies the Belgian flag as URS became part of Smit, then Boskalis.

The barge will be used as part of Heerema's removal of the Sable Offshore Energy Project structures using the crane rig Thialf.


Saturday, May 2, 2020

Wavemaster stopover

The tug Wavemaster and its tandem tow made a stopover in Halifax last evening en route from Saint John, NB and Summerside, PE. It was towing the dredge Cranemaster and the split hull hopper barge HD-11.

This is my first opportunity to see the tug up close since it was refitted for Canadian service and renamed. I did see it in Shelburne shortly after it was acquired from the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2018. Originally named Regge it was built in 1987, and beautifully maintained.

This is the second Wavemaster in the Harbour Development fleet. See:

Among the modifications made for Canadian service was moving accommodation above the water line and the addition of a towing winch, rescue boat, etc.,

Harbour Development Ltd is the dredging and marine construction arm of the J.D.Irving Group, and is run independently from Atlantic Towing Ltd.


Thursday, April 30, 2020

McKeil in at Belledune, Atlantic out - UPDATED

On April 3 the Port Authority of Belledune, New Brunswick announced a change in tug operators. Following a transition period, McKeil Marine would be taking over from Atlantic Towing, effective April 27.

Atlantic had been providing two tugs at the port, and depending on the time of year, these would be Atlantic Elm and Atlantic Beech in winter. Both have now left Belledune and returned to Saint John.

Atlantic Beech, built in 1959 as Irving Beech, was renamed in 1998 - a twin screw tug of 2250 bhp.

Atlantic Elm ex Irving Elm -98, twin screw 3460 bhp, built in 1980.

 Other tugs would be drafted in during the summer when these two were assigned to northern barge duties. Atlantic also operated the small 660 bhp Voith-Schneider tug Atlantic Aspen in the port, but its registry was closed November 18, 2019, and has presumably been scrapped.

Atlantic Aspen, dates from 1966 when it was built for the US Navy as USN 761, Mascouta.It was acquired for use in Belledune and renamed Eddie Mac1 after the well known local pilot.

Atlantic Towing's connection with the Port of Belledune is fairly deep as parent company J.D.Irving were involved in the development of the port through New Brunswick Mining + Smelting in the early 1960s. However the smelter is closed and the major customer in the port is now New Brunswick Power's coal fired generating station. It imports US coal via the Great Lakes and petcoke from various sources. There are also general cargo and barge terminals in the port.

McKeil has never been noted as a port tug operator, except possibly in their home port of Hamilton, ON, but even there they do not have exclusivity, as Ocean Group also operates there.

McKeil has, at least for the time being, assigned the tugs Lois M and Tim McKeil to Belledune, but those seem like expensive assets to have sitting there idle for long periods. Perhaps they will have other work to occupy them.

Both are ASD tugs, built 1991, 4800 bhp, acquired in 2014.

McKeil's Jarrett M is noted downbound on the St.Lawrence, heading for Belledune. Built in 1945 as the famous McQueen Marine tug Atomic it has been rebuilt several times, and is now a 1200 bhp twin screw tug. Despite its age, it is a capable tug, which has been used for winter icebreaking at Windsor, ON and harbour berthing in various ports.

There are a lot of other rumours surrounding Belledune tugs, but I will refrain from speculating beyond what has been announced officially.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

March 1970

I am always grateful when errors in my posts are pointed out. In my previous post regarding Anticosti , which I copied directly from an older post, I repeated an error of long standing that has stood uncorrected for several years. Thanks to a reader for pointing it out - and it is now corrected.

I should have recalled that one of the early operators of offshore tug/suppliers was P+O, and that their boats carried the suffix "Lady" in their names. The reason I should have remembered is that one of the first suppliers to call in Halifax was P+O'S Lady Delia in 1970.

I know 1970 was not yesterday, but I have been doing a series of posts on my companion blog Shipfax on events in Halifax harbour from 1970, and it was in the spring of 1970 that Lady Delia was here. In fact it was in the same month of March!.

I was lucky enough to be at pier 23 when Lady Delia got underway on whatever her mission was on March 7. (There was lots of exploration and drilling going on off Nova Scotia and elsewhere including off Prince Edward Island scheduled for the summer.)

The old grain loading gallery was still in place at pier 23-24, and there was even a shed on pier 23 in those days (right side of photo - all gone now.)  A little Spanish trawler Arosa Tercero occupied pier 25 (left side of photo.)

The tanks on the after deck appear to be for drilling mud, and are being transported to a drill rig. (They are not themselves being used as part of the boat's cargo capacity !)

Lady Delia was built in 1966 by Brooke Marine, Lowestoft and measured 773 gt. Originally powered with 2 cyl Blackstones = 1600 bhp,  it was re-powered in 1971 with two English Electrics = 3250 bhp.
When Tidewater took over P+O Offshore Services (which had been renamed International Offshore Services in 1970) the vessel was renamed Delia Tide in 1974.

The ship was finally sold in 1985 to Jovence Blue Corp SA and renamed Delia. Lloyd's dropped its in 2010 as its existence was in doubt.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Anticosti sails away - AMENDED

The former tug supplier and former naval trials craft Anticosti has finally left Canadian waters six years after being sold foreign. [See corrections in paragraph 2 -underlined.]

The ship was built in 1973 by Allied Shipbuilders in North Vancouver as Lady Jean Tide for International Offshore Service (Liberia) an arm of P+O. They ran it only until 1975 when it went to Tidewater Marine of Liberia and was renamed Jean Tide. In the late 1980s when the Royal Canadian Navy needed trials craft for the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel program, and reserve training, they acquired this ship and sister  Joyce Tide ex Lady Joyce , which they renamed Anticosti and Moresby respectively, Pennant Numbers MA 110 and MA 111. When the MCMDVs were delivered the two were decommissioned in March 2000 and sold. Anticosti left Halifax in tow of Escort Protector (McKeil) December 10, 2001 for Clarenville, NL for new owners, Star Line Inc.and it was registered without change of name in 2002. Ownership later passed to North Atlantic Corp (Cape Harrison Marine) of St.John's. The ship was then available for a variety offshore duties including research.

On about May 10, 2013 in St.John's, NL, a crankcase fire broke out as the ship was being shifted by tug from refit. While the move was being completed the boat slammed into a pier causing damage to both. The fire however self-extinguished before it could spread very far.  I don't believe the ship ever returned to service, and remained laid up until its Canadian registry was closed August 8, 2014. Eventually the new name Todo Pederoso II appeared. [Loosely translated the name means "strong man" or "almighty man"].

Some work was carried out intermittently, and a few old cars appeared on its after deck as possible export cargo, but it was not until quite recently that there have been serious signs of life aboard. This has certainly taken the "manana" principal to heart. Honduras Aero Marine S de RL have been listed as owners since about February of this year and the ship was listed under Honduran registry (it had been Panama since 2014 but that lapsed in 2017).

On April 12 the ship finally got underway from St.John's and sailed giving La Cieba, Honduras as a destination. Central America and the Caribbean region is the graveyard for a lot of old ships and some work is occasionally found for them. Old suppliers are often pressed into service to carry deck loads, but they are really unsuitable for most other kinds of work, and expensive to operate. They usually do not last long.

This one apparently has some life left in it, so lets hope it does see a few more years of use.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Maersk Maker at pier 9C

One of the most modern tug / supply ships currently operating is Maersk Maker completed in 2017 by Kleven Verft , Ulsteinsvik and registered in St.John's February 4 of this year. The last of six vessels in Maersk's Starfish class it is rated at 260 tonnes Bollard Pull with five Wartsila main engines totaling 23,000 bhp and diesel electric drives. Specifically designed for deep water anchor handling it has the latest in emission controls and fuel economy measures and a bewildering array of features for offshore work.

While Maersk Maker was the centre of attraction at Pier 9C, there was interesting action in the background. CCGS Earl Grey was alongside at BIO mostly blocking the view of CCGS Ann Harvey newly arrived from St.John's. The Halifax built ship is filling in for CCGS Edward Cornwallis which is in Shelburne for its life extension. And in the far background Algoma Integrity is back from Portsmouth, NH for for more gypsum.


Monday, April 6, 2020

Tugboat frustration

With my movements restricted I am unable to post a lot of photos of some noteworthy tug boat activity in Halifax and nearby ports.

Arriving at pier 27 on March 29 was the tug Ocean Echo II, towing a dredge. The tug has a very interesting history and I am sorry not to be able to post a current picture of it on its second ever visit to Halifax.

Built in 1969 as Laval by Port Weller Dry Dock, it was originally teamed with a pair of barges, Sault au Cochon and Betsiamites, to carry bulk pulpwood from Forestville, QC to the Anglo Canadian paper mill in Quebec City. The plan was to have one barge unloading in Quebec while the other barge was in transit (usually being pushed, but sometimes towed). At the end of the original ten year charter in 1979, then-owners Reed Paper, decided that a third barge was needed and purchased Pulpwood No.1 in the US and had it towed from Jacksonville, FL to Halifax by Point Carroll.

Laval was sent to Halifax to pick it up. I got a glimpse of the tug leaving port December 4, 1979 and well recall my frustration in not getting a photo. [I think I am still frustrated actually.]

After a number of ownership changes the tug was finally acquired by Groupe Ocean and renamed. It was then fitted with barge connectors for ATB work and the barge Betsiamites was rebuilt to carry chips. The third barge was renamed Jean-Raymond but was really mis-matched and not used much as planned.

The tug and barge duo have worked up the St.Lawrence River as far as Trois-Rivieres, and as far east as Point Tupper, NS but never for very long periods of time. The tug itself also did duty as standby tug at Iroquois Lock last year when the St.Lawrence Seaway had to increase water flow rates.
I doubt that it was an ideal tug for that job, and has been replaced this year by Ocean K. Rusby.

Ocean Echo II spent the winter at Port Hawksbury, so this move must have been in the planning stages since last year.

The tug and tow sailed April 5 for Saint John, NB. The Groupe Ocean trailing suction hopper dredge Ocean Traverse Nord is already there. Usually dredging in Saint John does not start until after the spring "freshet" (meaning "flood") washes silt down the Saint John River. I therefore assume that there is some contract dredging to perform. This is hard to imagine right in the backyard of Harbour Development Ltd.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Svitzer renews at Nustar

Svitzer Canada has won a five year renewal of its terminal ship berthing contract at Point Tupper, NS. The terminal is owned by Nustar nad has contracted with Svitzer since 2010 for three tugs. The current tugs are:
Svitzer Bedford (built 2005: 4895 bhp, ASD)

Point Chebucto (built 1993: 4100 bhp, ASD 64 tonne BP)

 Svitzer Montreal (ex Svitzer Caucedo-16, Caucedo-16, built 2004: 5072 bhp, ASD 66 tonne BP)

The terms of the contract permit Svitzer to use the tugs to provide ship berthing and other services at Mulgrave, Port Hawksbury and as far away as Sydney, NS when not occupied at Nustar.

Svitzer Canada Ltd formed a joint venture with Atlantic Towing Ltd whereby Atlantic Towing Ltd tugs serve Halifax and Svitzer serve Nustar and the Strait of Canso.

With 440 veesels operating world wide Svitzer (part of A.P.Moller/Maersk) is the largest tug operator in the world. The Americas operation is run from Miami and serves 23 ports in 12 countries.

Svitzer Canada Ltd is the successer to Eastern Canada Towing Ltd. and currently operates only the three tugs.


Saturday, April 4, 2020


A contract to remove the Sable Offshore gas platforms 120 miles off Halifax  was awarded to Heerema Marine Contractors of the Netherlands. To carry out the work they mobilized their gigantic floating crane rig Thialf. The rig sailed from Rotterdam February 27 and made its stately way across the Atlantic, arriving off Halifax April 4.

The tug/supplier Atlantic Kestrel standing by the Thialf off Halifax.

Accompanying the rig is Heerema's large tug Bylgia. Built in 2013 by Astilleros Armon in Vigo, Spain, it has main engines developing in excess of 16,000 bhp and delivering 180 tonnes bollard pull. The 72m x 18m vessel has a large range and can sail from Rotterdam to Cape Town without refueling.

After standing by the rig until today Bylgia put into pier 9B in Halifax.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Tug News Round Up

Several important events have taken place since last I posted.

1. LEKKO for the last time

Sadly the International Tug Enthusiasts Society has decided to wind up its affairs and discontinue publication of the respected journal LEKKO. Declining numbers of subscribers, coupled with overwork for the volunteer editors and contributors - none of us are getting any younger - resulted in this difficult decision. Whether a web site or blog or Facebook group will take over remains to be seen. LEKKO was always respected for its accuracy and professionalism - something alternatives have struggled with.

2. Groupe Océan goes west

Following the advice of Hoarce Greely to "Go West Young Man" the management of Groupe Océan has announced a major move westward. On the strength of a contract for tug services with Cargill Grain, Océan has taken delivery of two new Damen tugs, built in Vietnam, and transferred one tug from Jamaica.
Stationed in Vancouver harbour, the tugs will also try to pick up other work in the port.

Ocean Granville and Ocean Kitsilano are the new tugs, apparently Damen 2813 type, which were shown on this site October 23, 2019:

They are now joined by Ocean Stevns which had been working Jamaica until new tugs arrived there. It was re-registered in Canada February 25, having sailed from Kingston to Vancouver via the Panama Canal. It has been working in Jamaica since July 2018.

Ocean BC Towing Inc has been established to run the Vancouver operation.

At the same time Océan announced a major marine construction project in the port of Prince Rupert, BC. The work involves dredging and road building to connect various terminals in the port.

Recently the tug/worboats Ocean Nigiq and Blizzard Polaire were transported by truck from Quebec to BC. Groupe Océan has been active in Alberta with a number of small craft and scows working in the various ponds created by the oil industry, but this is the first work on the Pacific coast.

3. Atlantic Shuffle

Atlantic Towing Ltd moves its various tugs around to different ports as needed. When Saint John needs the large tugs because of large tanker arrivals, a tug from Halifax is sent over, and a smaller one one from Saint John comes back to cover. That is apparently what has happened recently as Spitfire III was sent to Saint John for a spell. Its place in Halifax was taken by Atlantic Cedar, a tug that is seldom seen in Halifax.

Atlantic Cedar outboard of Atlantic Oak at The Cove (former CCG base).
Both are rated at 5,000 bhp. 

Apparently a Saint John crew brought Spitfire III back to Halifax yesterday, and sailed for home this afternoon on Atlantic Cedar. The other tugs currently in Halifax are Atlamtic Willow, Atlantic Larch, Atlantic Fir and  Atlantic Oak. The latter tug is tied up ast The Cove, and is apparently undergoing some maintenance, since it does not appear to be working in the harbour.

Similarly ATL's offshore vessels move where needed, although most work in Newfoundland.

Currently Atlantic Osprey is working out of Halifax supporting the Noble Regina Allen.

I note fleet mate Atlantic Kestrel coming out of refit at Damen, Amsterdam.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Thebaud Sea to the scrappers

The former Secunda Marine supplier Thebaud Sea has been sent for scrap. Last reported in the United Arab Emirates it was sold to breakers in December.

Thebaud Sea in Halifax soon after delivery in October 1999.

As I remember it, Secunda had an urgent need for a supplier to fulfill a contract, but most world shipyards were booked up solid and could not deliver in time. Halter Marine's Moss Point yard in Escatawpa (part of Pascagoula), Mississippi could meet the date and they completed the vessel in the fall of 1999. They did have to temporarily remove the wheelhouse to float it down river under a low bridge (since replaced), but it arrived intact in Halifax October 13, 1999.

A 2594 gt, 3406 dwt supplier, it was also fitted out for dive support, with a moon pool, and had a 100 tonne capacity crane. Powered by six Caterpillar engines at 1825 (some say 1901) kW each, its total output was about 15,000 bhp driving two azimuthing thrusters through electric drives. It was also fitted for DP and had a pair of 2500 bhp thrusters too.

There was a fire on board Februay 3, 2001 in the starboard engine room 70 miles off Halifax while the ship was en route to the Sable gas fields. The fire was extinguished by crew and a fire team from HMCS St.John's assisted. CCGS Sambro and Venture Sea escorted the Thebaud Sea back to port, but there was extensive damage in the engine room.

The crane was removed at one point but re-instated in August 2001.

The ship was included in the 14 ship fleet when Secunda International Ltd was sold to a J. Ray McDermott subsidiary in 2007. However when the newly formed Secunda Canada LP was formed and brought back ten boats back to Secunda ownership in 2012, Thebaud Sea was not included. It remained with McDermott Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. Fleet mate tug/supplier Venture Sea (Halter Marine 1998) was included in the buy back and is currently in Halifax.

Curiously Venture Sea has always carried "M.V. Venture Sea"  on its bows.

Thebaud Sea had flown the Barbados flag on and off since 2005, but somehow was still carried on Canadian registry books until suspended in 2013.

Thebaud Sea was one of the few offshore suppliers ever to visit the port of Montreal. In 2008 it went there to load a cargo of Deepflex pipe for Nigeria. The pipe had arrived in Montreal in early April 2008 from Manitowoc, WI on the Ryba barge OB 185 with tugs Manitou and Vigilant 1 via the St.Lawrence Seaway. Thebaud Sea had stopped in Halifax in mid-March en route from Galveston to Montreal.

Secunda is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Siem Offshore of Norway, and has slowly abandoned the "Sea" naming system that Secunda carried from its very start. Although maintaining the blue hull with red and white stripes on most of its fleet, the most recent acquisition Siem Commander has not yet been repainted.

As a footnote, Burin Sea arrived in Aliaga Turkey two weeks ago towing Trinity Sea. Demolition began almost at once.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Dominion Bearcat - icing on the cake

The tug/ workboat/ diving tender Dominion Bearcat is back in the water after a thorough refit at its base in Dartmouth Cove. Owners Dominion Diving Ltd do all their own maintenance and refit work and have also done extensive rebuilds "in house".

Late in December I noted Dominion Bearcat hauled out at its Dartmouth Cove base.

Dominion Bercat was built in 1987 by Georgetown Shipyards Inc in Prince Edward Island to their own account as a tug/ workboat named G.S.I. No.1. In 1992 it was sold to the Mersey Paper Co in Brookyln (Liverpool), NS as a ship docking tug / lineboat, named Mersey Pride. When Mersey Paper shut down it newsprint mill and export dock, the boat was acquired by Dominion Diving and renamed in 2014.
It has since been fitted with an A-frame and other gear and primarily supports diving operations in Halifax.

Dominion Bearcat returns to base this morning with a bit of snow clinging to its fenders, like icing on a cake.
(Atlantic Larch and the former RCN fireboat Firebird in the background, are similarly decorated.)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Home for the Holidays

A pair of tugs not seen in Halifax for some time are tied up at Atlantic Towing Ltd's dock in Woodside.

Atlantic Larch arrived yesterday from Saint John and Atlantic Willow arrived recently too.

The Spitfire III remains in Halifax but sister tug Atlantic Bear sailed for Saint John today. Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Fir (background) are still here, so the port of Halifax is well covered with five ASD tugs.

Addendum: The Spitfire III also sailed for Saint John this afternoon.