Friday, December 31, 2010

A Mighty Pair of Tugs

1. Early this morning Pegasus moves away from her over night berth at pier 27 to get bunkers. She is trimmed down by the stern, having taken on fresh water.

2. After bunkering Pegasus is on an even trim. She deployed her deck crane to handle the refueling hose, and will use it again when she ties up for pumping out waste tanks.

3. Pegasus nearing pier 25.

4. Pegasus tied up astern of sister Centuarus at pier 25.

The 8000 bhp, 100 tonne bollard pull tugs Centaurus and Pegasus arrived in Halifax late yesterday afternoon. After taking turns bunkering at pier 34 from Algoma Dartmouth, they tied up at pier 25.

Built in 2009 they are part of the German company Harms Bergung Transport & Heavy Lift GmbH & Co KG of Hamburg. They are designated as anchor handling tugs and are well fitted for ocean towing, hose handling, berthing, fire fighting and salvage. They measure 1262 gross tons and were built by the Mutselfeldt Yard in Cuxhaven.

The Harms fleet has been built up significantly in recent years, with several tugs of the "super class" as well as these mid-range types.

See their website at for full specs on their fleet.

The tugs are here to tow the offshore rig TSS Chemul to the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

RMI Marine on the job

1. Captain Jim hauls an oil boom, while the rig Chemul rests at anchor.

2. Belle D is lashed up to Halifax Carrier and ready to go when conditions permit.

RMI Marine Ltd has been engaged to carryout work on the offshore rig TSS Chemul at anchorage #1. As of last week, the rig was handed over by Halifax Shipyard to PEMEX (Petroleos Mexicanos) the Mexican state oil company, after a multi-million dollar refit.

RMI will be removing some gear from the rig's pontoons, but requires calm weather to do so. This week weather did not cooperate, as for the third Monday in a row storm conditions prevailed. RMI has the tug Belle D lashed to their barge Halifax Carrier, ready to go, but needs a little meteorological cooperation before heading out.

RMI's tug/workboat Captain Jim has also been working on the rig, but has also been occupied with other work, such as towing 800 feet of oil boom to the shipyard from pier 24.

Belle D was built in 1967 by Fercraft Marine of Côte Ste-Catherine, QC as Boatmen No.4 for Montreal Boatmen. It was later acquired by the Steel and Engine Products shipyard in Liverpool, NS and renamed Stenpro IV. It was subsequently transferred to Atlantic Towing and renamed Belle D. It is a 470 bhp twin screw vessel.

Captain Jim was built in 1989 as Atlantic Walnut along fishing boat lines. It has a towing bit and is fitted out for a variety of tasks including diving support, and crew boat.

The barge Halifax Carrier was built by Great Lakes Marine Contracting at Port Dover, ON in 1981. It was named La Malbaie until 2004 when it was acquired from McKeil Work Boats.

For more on RMI see their website:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Greetings

Tugfax will be a taking a few days off over Christmas. Have a Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2011.

In the spring of 1987 ice from the Gulf of St.Lawrence swept into Halifax (which never freezes over.) The tug Point Vigour was called in to divert ice from the propeller of the Russian ship Elton, loading flour at pier 22. The ice moved in an out with the tides and after few days disappeared out to sea.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter has Arrived

Atlantic Willow returns to her berth at Woodside in Dartmouth on Saturday morning. She had just been assisting the rig Chemul.

The dusting of snow received Friday is the first real indication of winter in Halifax despite several severe storms recently.

The jack-up drilling rig Rowan Gorilla III is undergoing maintenance at the same Woodside pier.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ryan Leet - baby sitter

Ryan Leet was called out to shadow the rig TSS Chemul as it left port yesterday for sea trials (see Shipfax) It did not have to tow the self-propelled rig, which also had two tugs on escort wires for security,

Today Ryan Leet also went out to the rig for a supply trip, but soon returned to base.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Point Halifax returns to Halifax - but briefly

1. Point Halifax at her new home base of Port Hawksbury, November 12, 2010.

2. Ocean Foxtrot and Point Halifax with Atlantic Sealion as seen from Point Tupper. Both tugs were on charter to Atlantic Towing.

Point Halifax returned to her "home port" this evening for the first time since July, but did not linger. Based here from the time of her delivery in 1986, she was transferred to Port Hawksbury as part of the deal that saw Svitzer and Atlantic Towing forming joint ventures for tugs in Halifax and the Strait of Canso. Atlantic Towing now provides all tugs in Halifax, Svitzer provides all tugs in Point Tupper and Point Halifax is bareboat chartered to Atlantic Towing.

Her arrival in Halifax tonight had her towing the barge Atlantic Sealion [see Shipfax for more on the barge] from Port Hawksbury to the Novadock floating drydock at Halifax Shipyard. Once inside the harbour Point Halifax turned the tow over to Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Larch and headed directly back to sea, bound for Port Hawksbury.

All this happened after dark, so no photos of the actual event.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back Under Canadian Flag

1. Mariner Sea arriving at dusk December 12.

2. Deck lights are on, but shielded from a forward view.

Mariner Sea arrived on Sunday, with the port of Bridgetown (Barbados) on her stern. Bright and early Monday morning she hoisted the Canadian flag again, with her port of registry as Quebec City. And yes, as you might have guessed, there is a story behind that.

She was built back in 1979 by Georg Eides Sonner A/S of Hoylunsbygd, Norway, as a deck cargo/ dive support vessel, with moon pool. Named Sulair, she was owned by BP Development Ltd before being sold and renamed TNT Puma in 1989. In 1990 she became Toisa Puma.

In 1995, with the wordwide craze for fibreoptic cable networks, she was sold to Tyco who converted her to a full scale cable ship named Coastal Connector. The work involved a complete packaged cable operation on her cargo deck, and increased her gross tonnage from 1939 (as built) to 4480. Tyco's timing was off and with the dot com bubble bursting and Tyco in trouble the ship was put up for sale.

Secunda Marine [since 2007 McDermott] purchased the ship late in 2002 while it was lying at Caracas, Venezuela, and it arrived in Halifax January 17, 2003 flying the Marshal Islands flag as Mariner Sea. They sent the ship to Verreault shipyard in Méchins for conversion back to a supplier. It was fitted with tanks for 1200 cu.m rig fuel 1200 cu.m drill water, 800 cu.m drilling mud, while retaining 860 sq.m of deck cargo space. Dynamic positioning was also fitted, using three thrusters forward and one aft. The newly refitted ship returned to Halifax May 15, 2003, with the new port of registry of Quebec City (assigned May 14.) Tonnage was now 2904 gross, 4450 deadweight.

Mariner Sea was fixed on charter to Encana, and until earlier this year had been supporting the Deep Panuke project, but was chartered out this fall and adopted the Barbados flag.

On Sunday the ship tied up at pier 9 to be fitted with cable laying gear. This will not be as comprehensive as in her previous incarnation, but will be a relatively small portable package, with a demountable stern sheave for passing the cable.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

McNally brings in reinforcements

1. S-12, FDJV3, Canadian Argosy, Whitby and Beaver Delta II at pier 9C, Sunday afternoon.

2. Carl M. on a the dredge scow, whose official name is VM/S 87.

3. Whitby swings around Mister Joe, Saturday morning.

4. Whitby secures a fender with Beaver Kay and Beaver Spartan in the background.

McNally Construction has brought in more equipment for the Halterm extension project. They now have another small tug, Carl M. and the dredge scow VM/S 87, to assist in the work. These were towed from Sorel via the Strait of Canso by the tug Mister Joe, arriving Halifax December 9. A crane will be loaded aboard VM/S 87 next week. (The barge owes its name to the Voie Maritime St-Laurent, a.k.a. the St.Lawrence Seaway, for which it was built as S.L.S. 87 in 1958 at Collingwood, ON.) Carl M. dates back to 1957 when it was built as Louis M. A single screw tug of 465 bhp, it acquired its present name in 1975. The M stood for McNamara, the original owners. It was built by Russel-Hipwell in Owen Sound.

On Saturday, to make room for the arrival of another ship, the barges were moved at pier 9 by Whitby, which has been tending the dredge Canadian Argosy. The scows Beaver Kay and Beaver Spartan were moved north, with Mister Joe moved as a dead ship to the outside of the fleet. VM/S 87 and the dredge Harold M. were moved south. The latter will also have a crane moved aboard next week.

Whitby returned to the Halterm site after these moves and later on Saturday night moved Canadian Argosy and the dump scows S-12 and FDJV3 to pier 9C to shelter from Monday's coming storm.The tug Beaver Delta II assisted in this move, but it will be lifted out next week and replaced by Carl M.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rig Move

All four Atlantic Towing tugs were pressed into service this morning to move the accommodation rig Chemul from the IEL dock to anchorage #1. The rig is nearing the end of a major rebuilding by Halifax Shipyard and will be conducting trials in the anchorage area.

Atlantic Fir, Larch, Oak, and Willow pulled the rig off the dock, and moved it position. As a semi-submersible rig it will also set out anchors once it is in position. The tugs will also assist in this work.

The small tug Belle D appears to be in the background of the photo, between the rig and the dock. It was probably assisting in line handling.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Navy tugs at work

Navy tugs are frequently tasked for cold moves within the harbour. This morning they moved HMCS Charlottetown from the Dockyard to Imperial Oil for bunkers. One Glen and two Villes were given the job. It is a very expensive operation to fire up the main engines on a warship, and so short trips in the harbour are usually done as cold moves.

The Glens are V-S propulsion and can thrust in any direction, but normally handle all lines over the stern. They are often seen lashed up stern too. In this way they can push or pull on command, without having to change position or orientation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Not exactly a tug, but..........

1. Firebird on her rounds this morning in the Narrows.

2. Some firefighters on deck. The boat is graced with some well made rope fenders - a rare sight these days when old tires seem to be the rule.

3. Sister fireboat Firebrand is based in the naval dockyard in Esquimalt, BC, May 12, 1986 photo.

The Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessel Firebird is the only red painted vessel in Canada's east coast naval Dockyard. While not exactly a tug, it is built along more or less tug boat lines, but performs a very useful function.

As Dockyard fireboat it responds to fires and conducts regular fire and security patrols to various installations around the harbour. If called upon it could certainly tow a smaller vessel, in case of emergency, but its primary duty is firefighting.

It is one of two sister vessels, one on each coast, built by Vancouver Shipyard in North Vancouver, BC in 1978. Powered by 2-385 bhp Caterpillars, it also has two more 365 bhp Caterpillars for pumping. It can pump 2500 gpm @ 150 psi, without hindering its propulsion. (The force of spray in some cases would force the boat backwards, so it is important that it keep its station when fighting a fire.) It has z-drives (ASD) and three monitors rated at 1250 gpm. It also carries 500 gal of AFF (foam.)

Firebird arrived in Halifax in August 1978 on the barge G of G 240, towed by the tug Ocean Crown, which had been sold to Quebec owners - see following post.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Whole lotta towin' goin' on

In addition to the usual ship berthings, that happen every day, there was some other interesting towing going on in Halifax today.

This morning the veteran tug Swellmaster and the smaller tug Atlantic Tamarack arrived with an interesting tow, consisting of the dredge D-6 and the scow HD-9. Cradled in the scow was the tug/workboat Irving Chestnut. The convoy originated in Montreal, where the dredge plant worked on and off over the past few years in the St.Lawrence Seaway.
Once in past George's Island, Tamarack moved the scow alongside the dredge and assisted in tying up at pier 7.

Lining up for the approach to pier 7, Atlantic Tamarack leans into the D-6.

Swellmaster is running out of water forward, and has her stern up against D-6 ready to let go the bridle. A puff of smoke from Tamarack's newly installed Cat engine drifts across the dredge.
Later in the day the D-6 crane lifted Irving Chestnut out of the scow and placed it in the water. [Update: this did not happen, she is still in the scow as of late in the day]

The plant is operated by Harbour Development Ltd, a division of Atlantic Towing within the JD Irving group of companies. See
For more on the dredge D-6 see Shipfax.

Soon after these evolutions, the tug Whitby moved three scows from pier 9 to pier 9 C to free the berth for a tanker tomorrow. The scow Harold M was the last to be moved. It can be used for dredging or piling when a small crane is mounted.

Whitby rounds the knuckle with Harold M on a bridle. When it was secured to the (as yet unknown) scow on the right, Whitby returned to pier 42 to tend to dredging operations there, with Beaver Delta II and the dredge Canadian Argosy.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Long, long ago, but not too far away

The Waterfront Development Corporation has named the parking lot adjacent to the tug dock, Foundation Place in recognition of its place in history.

1. A busy Foundation Maritime, ca. 1956

2. November 2010, the salvage shed remains, underutilized on the waterfront.

3. ca. 1970. In busier times, it was surrounded by wharves and activity, with the salvage tug Foundation Vigilant alongside.

4. Ad with Foundation Vigilant.

5. Ad with Foundation Franklin, heroine of Grey Seas Under.

Time was when Foundation Maritime was in the marine salvage business in Halifax. That all ended when they sold their last salvage tug, Foundation Vigilant, in the early 1970s. Successor Eastern Canada Towing Ltd did some light salvage work and emergency towing, but no longer maintained a salvage plant.

Svitzer, successor to Ectug, has no tugs in Halifax anymore, and the salvage shed sits forlornly on the waterfront, but for how much longer? The area to the south of the salvage shed was filled in years ago, and a new development will start construction in the spring. I doubt they will be thrilled to have that shed next to their new hotel/apartment/shopping complex - no matter what its history.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When the world was black & white

Built in 1962 for Foundation Maritime the tug Foundation Viking was one of six identical tugs built by Davie in Lauzon. When Eastern Canada Towing Ltd took over in 1973, the tug was renamed Point Viking. After working in and out of Halifax for many years it was then based in Port Hawksbury for a time until sold to Newfoundland owners for use in Stephenville.

In 2008 they sold the tug to Construction Polaris Inc of l'Ancienne-Lorette, QC. It has been assigned to their marine division, Polnav Transport Maritime and based at Natashquan, QC.

Polaris is a major civil engineering construction company, with considerable work on the Lower North Shore of the St.Lawrence where there a few roads. The tug is used to haul construction material and equipment to remote sites, and generally works between Sept-Iles and the Labrador border in season.

Point Viking is a single screw tug of 1,000 bhp, powered by a single Fairbanks-Morse engine.

In the photos it is seen working in Halifax harbour in 1979. At that time tugs worked with tow lines over the stern, using a quick release towing hook. They used ship's lines for unberthing. It took two deck hands to handle the ship's line. The ship dropped its line over and the ship's crew hook it then attach a heaving line to pull it aboard and connect to the towing hook. Once the ship is off the dock and clear, the hook will be dropped and the line will slide over the tug's stern to be recovered by the ship.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mary Steele

1. Mary Steele in Halifax June 13, 2004.
2. She is towing Superport Marine Service's scow SPM 125.

3. As Tignish, the tug is tied up at Queen's wharf in Halifax July 4, 1987.

4. Wearing the colours of DPW, she shows very nice lines.

5. As Techno-Rochette, the tug shares a berth with fleet mate Techno-Manic (built in 1932) at their home port July 16, 1978.

As promised, more on Superport Marine Service's Mary Steele.

Built at Lauzon, QC in 1972, iut was not built by one of the Davie yards, but by Eddy and Laetare Bargone. Of 51 gross tons, the tug was powered by a 365 bhp engine driving a single screw. The tug was built for Techno-Maritime Ltée and named Jacques Rochette. Techno owned several tugs, research vessels and barges, and in 1975, the tug was brought into line with other vessels in the fleet and renamed Techno-Rochette.

Techno went out of business and the tug was sold to the Canadian Department of Public Works and renamed Tignish in 1981. As the name implies the tug was stationed in Prince Edward Island, but did get around the rest of the maritimes towing dredging plant.

When DPW got out of dredging work Superport picked up the tug in 1996 and gave it the name Mary Steele. In Superport service it has been repowered with a 450 bhp Cat engine, but looks remarkably similar to its original self. I do note that watertight doors were added to the wheelhouse by DPW.

The tug has towed barges all along the Atlantic coast as far as Saint John, NB, and presumably to various points in Cape Breton and the Gulf of St.Lawrence.
Update: Mary Steele is reported to be in Saint John, NB on November 17. She was in Port Hawksbury November 12.

Monday, November 15, 2010

McNally activity at Halterm

1. Canadian Argosy at work off Halterm.

2. Beaver Delta II (left) sports a new coat of paint.

3. Whitby makes a shore run.

Dredging activity off the Halterm container pier continues, night and day. The tugs Beaver Delta II and Whitby are attending the dredge Canadian Argosy. Whitby is doing most of the work, moving the dump scows to the dump site, and Beaver Delta II assists in moving the dredge and running back and forth to shore and swapping empty scows.

The excellent weather over the past week end allowed for a little painting on Delta II so she now looks quite respectable.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Superport Marine Services at work

1. Strait Rider gets away from the company dock at Pirate Harbour, opposite Point Tupper, November 12.

2. Wikit backs away from the same dock. Pirate Harbour is just east of Mulgrave.

3. Wikit storms into the Canso Lock, close on the heels of Strait Rider.

4. Strait Rider enters the Canso Lock first. She has a tow line laid out on deck to take Wikit in tow for Pictou.

5. The two boats nudging the naval research vessel Quest on one of several attempts to haul the ship out on the newly rebuilt marine railway at Aecon-Fabco in Pictou. November 13.

Superport Marine Services Ltd of Port Hawksbury operates tugs, barges, pilot boats and research vessels in the Strait of Canso area. This includes the Bras d'Or Lakes and Northumberland Strait and occasionally farther away.

On Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13 I was fortunate enough to catch two of their tug/workboats in action. These are interesting boats, both built at the legendary Russel Brothers/ Russel-Hipwell Engines Ltd yard in Owen Sound, ON.

Strait Rider was built as Hollis IV in 1962. For a time it was owned by the yard (perhaps as a means of financing) but by 1967 by Hollis IV Ltd of Chatham, ON. It was never seen in Chatham to my knowledge, but was based at the Lake Erie port of Wheatley where it supported some drilling operations and was used as a workboat.
The boat was listed for sale for a time until acquired by Superport in the early 1990s. They rebuilt the boat in 1992 and again in 2002. It was also re-engined. I assume her original engines were Cummins (Russel-Hipwell was a Cummins dealer as well as a shipyard.) Her original 456 bhp was upped to 550bhp when two Detroit Diesels were installed.

Wikit was built by Russel in 1960 as Midgell for the federal Department of Public Works. She was a twin screw tug of 300 bhp. When the DPW started to sell off its dredging fleet, Superport acquired the tug and renamed it in 1992. They carried out a rebuild in 1993-94 and probably re-engined her at that time with the current 2 x 250 bhp GMs.
Superport also operates the tug Mary Steele, another former DPW tug, which has had towing assignments as far afield as Halifax and Saint John, NB. (It will be featured in a subsequent posting)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Florence M tow trouble

1. Florence M leaves the Pictou wharf to head out to the barge to begin salvage work, November 12.

2. Florence M lies alongside the grounded barge Sault au Cochon off Pictou. The calm conditions November 13 are far different from the storm on November 10.

The former Halifax tug Florence M was towing the barge Sault au Cochon toward Pictou, NS Wednesday, November 10 in storm force winds and high short seas when her tow line parted. The barge drifted ashore near Pictou Lodge and dumped much of her load of pulpwood.

The tug was built in 1961 as Foundation Vibert for service in Baie Comeau, QC. Built with the then revolutionary hydroconic hull form (using flat plates instead of compound curved plates) it was a product of the P.K.Harris yard at Appledore, North Devon, UK. A twin screw tug, she is powered by two 4 cylinder Fairbanks Morse (opposed piston) Diesels, each developing 666 bhp.

Her intended service was to work in Baie Comeau, QC in summer then move to Halifax for the winter. By the 1970s however, Baie Comeau remained open year round, and larger ships began calling there. The newly formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd, renamed the tug Point Vibert in 1973.

In 1977 Cargill Grain had the V-S tug Pointe-Comeau built with Ectug as managers, for service at Baie Comeau. Point Vibert was transferred to Halifax. Despite its limited power, it served as #2 tug in Halifax until Point Chebucto was delivered in 1993. The tug then went to Port Hawksbury until Ectug (Svitzer) withdrew from the Strait of Canso.

In 2001 McKeil Marine bought the tug and renamed in Florence M. It has since had a towing winch installed and has been working in barge service on the Lower St.Lawrence and Gulf for the past several years.

The barge Sault au Cochon was built by Port Weller DD in 1968 with the barge Betsiamites and tug Atlanitc (later Laval and now Ocean Echo II.) They were used to shuttle pulpwood from Forestville, QC to the Anglo-Canadian paper mill in Quebec City. When that service was halted by later owners, Sault au Cochon was acquired by Sablico and used for sand and gravel transport during the construction of the Confederation Bridge to PEI. In 1995 while loading gravel at Forestville, Quebec the barge broke in half. The barge was completely repaired and later sold to McKeil Work Boats of Hamilton, ON.

It has returned to pulpwood transport in the past several years and has worked all over the Gulf and Lower St.Lawrence.

As of November 13 salvage operations were underway on the barge and its cargo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Atlantic Elm to retrieve tidal turbine

1. Atlantic Elm at Woodside in 2008

Atlantic Elm is due to tow the barge Open Hydro Installer from Halifax to a position near Parrsboro, NS to retrieve a tidal turbine. The experimental turbine was lowered to the seabed by the same barge last year as part of a pilot project to use the Bay of Fundy's tides to generate electricity.

The turbine was damaged at some point and will be raised by the special lifting gear on the barge and returned to Halifax for repairs.

Atlantic Elm has been kept busy this summer with northern supply work.
For more on the barge and turbine see: