Sunday, April 25, 2010

Atlantic Towing at the Strait of Canso

Atlantic Towing manages a large fleet of tugs, more than twenty at last count. In addition to the three in Halifax, there are usually three based at the Strait of Canso, for ship berthing at the various piers, and to assist in transits through the Canso Canal.

When I was there late last week, there were four tugs. The usual fleet of Atlantic Fir and Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Beech, and also Atlantic Elm. When I happened by their berth, they were all tied up, with the tanker Eagle Birmingham in the background.

Atlantic Elm had been on the Mulgrave side of the Strait the day before.

Gulf Dianne at Port Hawksbury

It was nice to see the tug Gulf Dianne again even if she is still in winter layup. The tug spends the shipping season shuttling gravel barges from Cape Porcupine, Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island, but this winter she was laid up in Port Hawksbury where I caught her on Thursday.
She is an unusual tug for this coast, due to her distinctive open flying bridge.
This is a a west coast tug feature, and indeed Gulf Dianne was built on the west coast as Gulf Diane in 1962.
She came east in 1968 as deck cargo on one of her gravel barges, G of G 270, bedded in a load of limerock. That barge and the other barge G of G 271 were towed by Gulf Joan to Halifax, where Gulf Diane was unloaded. [see previous posting on Gulf Joan.]
She was employed by Gulf of Georgia Towing's "Fleuvetow" venture in Quebec, working from Stephenville, Newfoundland, among other places, carrying aggregate.
When that venture folded in 1976, she was sold to Mariner Towing of St.Eleanor's PEI and in 1985 the second "N" was added to her name.
She has been on the PEI gravel run ever since. She tows one barge while the other is loaded at Cape Porcupine.
And in case you wondered- yes the flying bridge is used. In the May 22, 1995 photo she is transiting the Canso Canal eastbound, towing G of G 270 with two men on the flying bridge, conning the tug and barge.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Big Steel

Dominion Diving's Big Steel steams down harbour this evening on her way to pier 33. In the background is Atlantic Towing's Woodside base, with Atlantic Larch, Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Spruce tied up for the evening.
Big Steel is a multipurpose vessel, used as a tug, diving tender, lineboat and general utility vessel. As a tug she often handles water and supply barges for tankers berthed at Imperial Oil.
Built for the RCN as YFU 116 / YMU 116 she was built for this role (the YU designation means Yard Utility vessel) She was one of two vessels of this type - the other was YFU 117 / YMU 117.
They were built by the famed Russel Bros of Owen Sound, ON in 1955, and worked in Halifax or Sydney (Point Edward) or Shelburne as needed.
Once acquired by Dominion Diving in the 1980s, she was modified, then in 1992 her wheelhouse was rebuilt.
Sister tug YFU 117 (photo taken 1994) is now owned by Indian Head Towing Ltd of Troy, NS.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Belle D

The small tug Belle D. has been working in Halifax all winter on a variety of jobs.
She was built in 1967 by Fercraft Marine Inc of Cote Ste-Catherine, QC as Boatmen 4. She worked for Montreal Boatmen, based in the eastern end of Montreal, servicing the anchorages with water and stores barges. She was rebuilt in 1989.
Picked up by the Irving group of companies in the 1990s, she became Stenpro IV, and was based at their ship repair yard, Steel and Engine Products, in Liverpoool. NS.
She then became Belle D. (for Belledune, New Brunswick) and was registered in Bathurst, NB. She worked in Belledune, Dalhousie and Bathurst, and other places as needed.
This winter she has been working with divers on the accommodation rig Chemul at Irving's Woodside yard as well as doing barge work on a daily basis to McNab's Island. Her crew seems to come from RMI Marine, and she has been based in Eastern Passage, but coordinates with Le Grow's Marine as well.