Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Remember the Oceanic

 In looking back through my files I note a significant tug arrival in Halifax on December 7, 1982. It was a different scene 40 years ago - large tugs were still used to tow ships and oil rigs, and the arrival of the German tug Oceanic towing the semi-submersible ODR John Shaw was not particulary unsual.

(n.b. the date on the above photo is incorrect, it should read 1982-12-07)
Assisted by harbour tugs Point Vigour (c), Point Vibert (r) and supplier Seaforth Highlander and Seaforth Jarl (one of which - far right) the oil rig would be secured at Woodside.

When built in 1969 the Oceanic and its sister tug the Arctic were rated at 14,640 ihp (12,800 bhp) and were the most powerful tugs in the world. They were certainly among the most impressive, as everything sbout them spoke of power and sea-keeping ability. They were built for double duty as salvage tugs and as long distance ocean towing tugs. Their great power could also propel them at 20 knots in order to rush to the scene of an emergency.


With the oil rig secured at Woodside, the tug remained in port until December 18, 1982.
This was not the tug's first call in Halifax. It was also in port in August 1969 when it was virtually brand new (it had been delivered in June), and had towed an oil rig from Europe to Sable Island.

Owners Bugsier sold the tug to Turkish owners in 2013 and it was renamed Osman Khan and again in 2015 Orka Sultan. It returned to its original name Oceanic in 2016 and although spotted from time to time in the Mediterranean it was also reported in 2019 bound for Ghana. Its DNV classification was withdrawn in 2016 and surveys are long overdue.
Some of the above is a repeat of an October 26, 2012 Tugfax post:

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Arctic Circle

 The icebreaking escort tug Polar Circle arrived in Halifax on October 7. Its story is covered in the sister blog Shipfax for that date.


Saturday, August 20, 2022

Dover Spirit tows from Halifax - Update #1

 The tug Dover Spirit sailed from Halifax in the early morning of August 20 towing the barge MM 143 en route to Sydney, NS,

The barge is carrying a large Manitowoc crawler crane and other gear used in cutting up the old trawler Hydra Mariner that was aground on Navy Island in Bedford Basin. The Minister of Transport ordered the removal of the wreck when the owners failed to remove it. Marine Recycling Corp of Port Colborne, ON (MRC) were hired to cut up the wreck. They completed the work earlier this month and the "chunks" of the ship were loaded on another barge, the MM 161. It will also be towed to MRC's facility in Sydport, NS where the material will be recycled.

See also Shipfax August 9, 2022 for more on the wreck removal.


The Dover Spirit is a fine little tug, built in 1998 at Port Dover, ON by Dovercraft Marine as Kaliutik. McKeil Marine acquired the tug and renamed it in  2018. It is rated at 550 bhp, and is equipped with a towing winch, stern roller, and a large push knee on the bow.


The Dover Spirit delivered the barge to Sydport on August 21 and more or less immediately put back out to sea for Halifax, arriving in the early hours of August 23. It then sailed again late in the day with the second barge  MM161, carrying the bulk of the cut up sections of the Hydra Mariner.

The yellow tower is part of the barge's equipment - purpose iunknown. The remnants of the Hydra Mariner do not appear to be secured - except by gravity - but it is more likely that they are chained down or welded on in some manner.

Once again I missed getting a photo of the tug underway (this time due to heacvy mist), so I am attaching a photo of the tug under its orginal name, Kaliutik, from 2012, taken in Port Hawksbury.


Saturday, August 6, 2022

French tug for scrap

 The French emergency towing and rescue tug Abeille Languedoc arrived in Brest France, August 2. After transferring some equipment to another tug, it was due to move to an adjacent dock where it will be broken up. Its retirement brings back a memory of seeing the tug close up and getting, what to me was an unforgettable photo.

Built in 1978 by Ulstein Hatlo in Ulsteinvik, Norway as the salvage tug Neptun Gothia, it was chartered the next year by the French Navy and operated by "Les Abeilles", the famous French towing company, then owned by Progemar. It was a 12,632 bhp vessel with a160 tonne bollard pull. Along with sister tug Abeille Flandre (the forner  Neptune Suecia) they were to be available on 40 minute notice or on patrol to respond to emergencies. The need for such vessels became evident the year before when the disabled VLCC "super tanker" Amoco Cadiz drifted aground and spilled all 220,880 tonnes of its crude oil cargo into waters off Brittany. The ship had a malfunctioning rudder and was taken in tow by the large salvage tug Pacific, which happened to be in the area. Unfortunately the tow line parted and the ship grounded on rock pinnacles and broke up before a second line could be rigged. See more in Wikipedia: Amoco Cadiz

The French government reponded very quickly and established the Emergency Towing Vessel service to assist ships until commercial salvors could arrive on scene. In addition the Abeille Languedoc and Abeille Flandre, they commissioned construction, also in 1978-1979, of two more ETVS, Abeille Provence and Abeille Normandie. The latter two were replaced by more powerful tugs in 1987 and in 1990 joined Secunda Marine Services. Based in Halifax they were renamed Ryan Leet and Magdelan Sea respectively. Long since sold off, they were always an appealing sight.

 In my opinion the latter two were much better looking tugs, but Abeille Languedoc and Abeille Flandre were impressive nonetheless.

In May 2000 while traveling between Jersey, Channel Islands and St-Malo, France as part of the International Tug and Salvage Conference, our boat was overtaken by Abeille Languedoc (at speed). The rendez-vous had been prearranged, and the decks were lined with photo takers, some of whom (and their cameras) were doused with spray as the tug passed. Those of us who managed to stay dry got the photo that heads up this post.

In recent years Abeille Languedoc has also been rescuing distressed migrants trying to cross the English Channel (La Manche) from France to England. The French government currently operates an ETV fleet of four big tugs, and the service has figured in countless emergencies and has saved many ships and many lives.

Don't miss the You Tube video of the sister tug Abeille Flandre at:

 Be sure to push the "CC" (close caption) button to get English subtitles.


Friday, July 22, 2022

Océan sells off older units

 Quebec City based Groupe Océan has apparenty sold its four older units to the Georgetown, Guyana company BK Marine Inc. (The company is part of the huge BK Group, a conglomerate of transportation, construction, and infrastructure operations.) The tugs have been inactive for some time, but have been maintained in  "warm layup". All four are veterans, and can be expected to see a few more years of service in the Caribbean /South America.

The tugs are:

Ocean Echo II , previously covered in this blog May

 Now renamed Brianna K the tug is tied up in Quebec City with fleet mate Océan Basques which has been renamed  Bradley G

The Océan Basques has also been covered here numeorus times, including my September 2014 post.

Océan Echo II and Océan Basques at the Industrie Océan shipyard in Ile-aux-Coudres in 2014. Both are twin screw tugs.

BK Marine has also acquired the Avantage, now renamed Kane G. I speculated on its potential sale, also in May 2022.

 The fourth and final tug is Mega - not so far renamed, and presumably its barge Motti as well -both of which remain laid up in Sorel-Tracy, QC.

The Brianna T ex Océan Echo II is fitted  with hydraulic rams for articulated tug/barge work, and Mega is also paired with its barge, Motti and it is likely that BK Marine has found work for such combinations. Bradley G ex Océan Basques is a powerful twin screw tug, and could be an asset in the right place (but won't need its ice breaking abilities in Guyana).  Kane G ex Avantage as a low powered single screw tug is a little harder to figure, but perhaps in an "en bloc" sale, it was part of the deal. 

So far no sailing dates have been posted, but the tugs in Quebec City are flying the Guyana flag, and have their new names painted on.


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Venture Sea - final chapter

The end has apparently come for the notable tug / supplier Venture Sea a former stalwart of Secunda Marine. Under the name Jarvis it was reported beached at Alang India on June 17, and scrapping began almost at once.

The Venture Sea dated from 1998 when it was built by Halter Marine of Pascagoula, MS at their Escatawpa shipyard. The story I have heard was that Secunda needed a high specification vessel in a hurry and Halter was the only yard that could deliver on a tight schedule. In fact the boat's upper superstructure was built separately and joined after the hull was floated downstream and cleared a low bridge on the Pascagoula River. (I believe it was the I-10 bridge with about a 40 foot clearance.)

The 2235 gt vessel was rated at 12,292 hp from four GM EMD main engines and 132.5 tons bollard pull. I won't go into all the ins and outs of ownership as Secunda migrated to McDermott and back, and then to Siem, but during those years the vessel worked out of Halifax for at least some of the time. 

Its last real assignment was an emergency tow for the bulk carrier Golden Opal with a cargo of iron ore from Baffinland Mine for Immingham. It experienced steering gear failure (perhaps due to ice damage) in the Davis Strait and Venture Sea was dispatched from Halifax September 27, 2020 to take the ship in tow for Nuuk, Greenland where it made repairs. 

In late 2020 the ship was reported sold and renamed Jarvis under the Vanuatu flag. Its Canadian registration was closed December 22, 2020 but it arrived in Halifax January 8, 2021 from layup in Shelburne still carrying its original name. Curiously the ship always had the initials "M.V." before that name, even though that was not part of the official name. It is the only ship I know of that did this.

 The new name was painted on in Halifax at Pier 27, shortly before sailing January 10, 2021.

Since the sale to owners called Virgo Ships, the Jarvis * was reported in the Mediterranean, Western Europe, South Africa, South America (east coast), West Africa and South Asia. Other owners, such as Star Martrix of Hong Kong were later reported, but management remained with Hermes Marine Services of Mumbai. It is believed the Jarvis was towing ships and oil rigs to the scrap yards.

In April it was reported taking stores in Cape Town, departing for Alang. With a possible change of ownership in May, likely to Indian cash buyers, it arrived in Alang about the first of June. I would like to think that the breakers are among the few responsible ones in the area, but that seems unlikely.

My favourite photo of the Venture Sea has it sailing from Halifax December 30, 2016 and dipping into a slight swell off Herring Cove - a taste of things to come in the life of an offshore tug/supplier.
* The Hermes Marine people tlike to name their ships after characters in Marvel Comics superheroes comic books. Jarvis is the name of the factotum in the family home of  Tony Stark, a.k.a. Ironman.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Océan cleans house - 3. Mega, and maybe Avantage

 3. Mega

Groupe Océan has recently decommissioned some of its older idle tugs, possibly for sale or in some cases more likely for scrap [ see Part1 and 2 - previous posts]. One of the tugs is the Articulated Tug Barge pusher Mega, along with its barge Motti. The duo have been laid up for sale for years, without any takers.

The tug Mega was built in 1975 and is ice rated and with four Wartsila diesel engines delivering 6,000 hp through electric drives. It was refitted with Articouple connectors and paired with the 5195 gt barge in 1993. It was previously named Teuvo to 1985 and Aatos to 1993. The barge can carry 28,000 cubic meters of wood chips, and is fitted with a side door/ramp, and carried crawler backhoes for unloading.

Océan took delivery of the duo in March 2013 and it did make some trips to Port Hawksbury, NS with wood chips as well as working on the St.Lawrence.

Steady work did not materialize however, and the pair were laid up together in Sorel.

Canadian registrations for both tug and barge were closed May 17, 2022. Whether this indicates a sale to foreign parties or a trip to the scrappers is unknown at present, but this post will be updated when information is received.


Another idle Groupe Océan tug is the Avantage, and its fate is also unclear. Its Canadian registration was closed July 25, 2018 and it remains idle in Quebec City. It was recently moved from one berth to another, but that may not have any particular significance.


Laid up at Quebec City in 2018, it was next to the Brochu which was scrapped at Ile-aux-Coudres.

The Avantage was built in1969 by Boelwerf in Temse, Belgium as Sea Lion for Union de Remorquage et de Sauvetage (URS). Powered by two 8 cylinder ABCs driving a single screw, it was rated 2160 bhp 38 tons bollard pull or 3500 bhp, 45 tonnes bollard pull depending on sources.

 It stopped over in Halifax in March 1997 on delivery to MTL Marine Tug Inc of Montreal, and it was renamed Avantage. Ownership passed to Les Remorqueurs de Trois-Rivières in 1999, and was drydocked for hull work in Halifax in October of that year. The company was later taken over by Océan.

Avantage working as stern tug on the Aquarama scrap tow in 2007.

The eventual fate of the Avantage is unknown, but this post will be updated when that becomes clear.