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.

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