Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tugs and Atlantic Condor

Three tugs attended the launch of the Atlantic Condor this afternoon. The new supplier was very difficult to handle, in part because she was trimmed down by the bow. The tugs also had a hard time getting secured to the ship, and very narrowly averted contact with the HMCS Ville de Quebec which was moored nearby.

Atlantic Larch, Fir and Willow spent the rest of the afternoon getting the ship into her fit out berth.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tug Show in Halifax

The four harbour tugs of Atlantic Towing Ltd put on quite a show this afternoon. They were off Halifax Shipyard to attend the launch of the new supplier Atlantic Condor. However at the appointed time the launch was postponed due to high winds. Nevertheless we were treated to some very skilled maneuvering, including spins, sidestepping, nose to nose, pinwheel and some water spraying.

With the launch rescheduled for tomorrow, may we expect another show (please?)

1. Atlantic Fir, Willow, Larch and Oak, four abreast.

2. Atlantic Oak gives a display of pumping.

3. All four tugs in attendance for the launch of Atlantic Condor.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tug News from Quebec

Groupe Océan of Quebec City is conducting trials on the new tug Ocean Serge Genois at their shipyard Industries Océan at Ile-aux-Coudres, QC. The new tug is based on the Robert Allan design originally used to build Ocean Jupiter and Ocean Intrepide , and well as the Point Valiant and a fourth tug exported to Mexico. The design was modified for a second generation, of which Ocean Georgie Bain was delivered last year. It is distinguished by a larger wheelhouse.
All these tugs were built at Ile-aux-Coudres, and are ASD types, with 4,000 bhp high speed diesel engines. Ownership of the Ocean Serge Genois is vested with the Industries Ocean yard, of which M. Genois is the guiding force.

Meanwhile at East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE, the first of two new buildings for Groupe Océan has been named Ocean Yvan Desgagnes. The 5,000 bhp ice class ASD tug is still under construction and will be delivered later in the year. Interestingly the tug is named for Yvan Desgagnés, scion of the well known shipping family from St-Joseph-de-la-Rive, QC. Transport Desgagnés and its many subsdiaries is no longer controlled by the Desgagnés family and Yvan Desgagnés is now well known for his work to promote the Musée Maritime de Charlevoix at St-Joseph-de-la-Rive.
Ownership of the new tug is listed as Location Océan Inc., which is the rental arm of Groupe Océan. It is thus anticipated that the tug will be leased to a third party and operated on its behalf by Groupe Océan. This was expected to be a Baffinland iron mine, but that project has been delayed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tug News from the West

1. Smit tugs at play in Vancouver, during the International Tug & Salvage convention in May 2010.

Smit has sold parts of its British Columbia business to arch-rival Seaspan.

The transaction involves several tugs and barges, all formerly operated by RivTow, but which are not part of Smit's core business, which is harbour work in the greater Vancouver port and in Prince Rupert.

These tugs and barges are used in coastal towing and are much more in line with Seaspan's traditional business (even though they are in head to head competition in harbour work too.). However as I noted when I was in Vancouver in May, the coastal towing business is hurting due to the slump in the forestry sector. It would seem that this move is more to eliminate a rival from Seaspan's point of view, and to dispense with losing operations from Smit's point of view.

Seaspan will get at least one valuable asset in the Smit Capt Bob, a big ocean tug.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hantsport Tug For Sale [for a while]

1. Spanish Mist off the dock at high water, and outbound. September 17, 2003.

2. Between jobs, the tug dries out at her berth. Note she has no rolling chocks, which would be damaged by twice daily groundings. September 10, 1997.

The tug Spanish Mist is for sale. With the downturn in the US construction industry, gypsum shipments from Hantsport, NS have virtually ceased. What little traffic there is can be handled easily by Atlantic Towing Ltd, with tugs from its Saint John, NB base. (A recent call by Gypsum Centennial was handled by Atlantic Hemlock.)

Spanish Mist was built in 1981 by S.L. Ardeag of Bilbao, Spain as Ebro, but was renamed Reus on completion. In 1994 it was renamed Ole Rabudal, but was soon sold to Fundy Gypsum, the operating entity at Hantsport, as replacement for their venerable Otis Wack.

Fitted with a 2610 bhp V-18 B&W main engine, driving a single controllable pitch screw in a steering nozzle, the tug was a major boost from the Wack's 1200 bhp.

In May 1995, the newly renamed Spanish Mist arrived in Hantsport for the first time after a refit in Meteghan, NS.

Hantsport is an unusual assignment for a tug. The gypsum berth and the pier where the tug ties up are at the head of the Minas Basin, on the Avon River, where tides exceed 45 feet, and dry out at low tide. The tug must get underway to meet a ship on the tide prior to the ship's arrival. It meets the ship well out in Minas Basin and when the next tide begins to flood in, it accompanies the ship to the pier and holds it alongside. The tug master usually boards the ship to act as berthing master and pilot.

The ship can only load in the last of the flood tide and must leave the berth at high tide or it will not reach deep water in time. This leaves only a two to three hour loading window. (The loaders can dump 10,000 tonnes per hour into the ships!). The ships load to about 31.5 foot draft and sail on the high tide whether fully loaded or not. The tug therefore must be powerful enough to tow the ship out if it has any engine problems.

The tug then works the ship off the berth and usually accompanies it out in to the Basin. It must await the next tide to return to its berth, and tie up before it is stranded. It has therefore been away form its berth for three tides. The port is usually closed for some time each winter due to ice.

Spanish Mist has been well maintained by USG Canadian Mining Ltd, and now CGC Inc (the successive names of the gypsum operations, all of which are subsidiaries of United States Gyspum.) In 2001 she went into a major refit at Meteghan and emerged with a new 8 cylinder Cat rated at 2839 bhp.

The tug has now been removed from service and offered for sale. A standby master and engineer are on board, but as described above, when tug services are needed, they are provided by Atlantic Towing Ltd.

For some great photos of gypsum operations (and some wonderful farm tractors!) see:

Update: As you will see frm the comment below, the tug was no longer for sale as of November 1. What changed?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trespasses Forgiven

1. The No Trespassing sign does not apply to tugs of Atlantic Towing.

2. In the background, Rowan Gorilla 3 preempts Atlantic's normal berthing spaces.

Atlantic Larch tied up at the Svitzer Canada dock this afternoon. This is the first time since the August departure of Svitzer's tugs for the Strait of Canso that Atlantic Towing has used the pier. With the arrival of the drilling rig Rowan Gorilla 3 last week, Atlantic's normal berthing space at Woodside has been partially preempted. Atlantic Larch initially moved to pier 24, but since there is no shore power there, it must be an inconvenient location. I noted them taking fuel yesterday at pier 24, but early this afternoon the tug showed up at Svitzer's.

With the formation of Halifax Marine Towing LP (a joint venture between Svitzer and Atlantic) the Svitzer pier has been empty - a real loss to the accessible Halifax waterfront- let's hope activity returns and we will once again see tugs coming and going from downtown Halifax.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nordane in Goteborg

The two new tugs delivered this year by Irving Shipbuilding's East Isle Shipyard to Nordane Shipping have gone to work in Goteborg, Sweden, in a head to head competition with the established tug company.

Nordane, a Danish company has positioned Stevns Breaker (seen above) and Stevns Battler in Goteborg, Sweden, where Roda Bolaget has been the only tug provider for many years. Both tugs completed trials and commissioning in Halifax before sailing to Denmark.

By coincidence, Roda Bolaget is part of Svitzer, also a Danish company, within the Maersk group.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blustery day

1. Trinity Sea outbound for sea.

2. Neftegaz 2 (rafted with Neftegaz 1) arriving in Halifax May 18, 1998, and shepherded by Point Chebucto. She was rebuilt virtually from the hull up in 1999.

It was a blustery late afternoon in Halifax with high winds and showers. There was lots of action in the harbour and the tugs were kicking up spray as they went about their business.

The tug/supplier Trinity Sea didn't seem much bothered by the chop as she sailed for Sable Island.

Trinity Sea was built in 1983 as Neftegaz No.2 in Poland for the USSR's oil monopoly. Secunda Marine rebuilt her in 1999 to her present configuration and she has worked in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia since then.
Secunda Marine was acquired by McDermott International in 2007 and now operates as J. Ray McDermott Canada Ltd.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Canadian built tugs - for the history books?

Atlantic Fir and Atlantic Larch were tasked with unberthing the container ship Arsos this afternoon. Fleetmates Atlantic Oak and Willow were berthing Fidelio at Autoport at the same time. All four tugs were built in Canada by Irving Shipbuilding for Atlantic Towing. Both companies are owned by the Irving group, and so one would expect that they might cross-pollinate to an extent.

However other Canadian tug owners ( including Groupe Océan, which also builds smaller tugs for itself at its own yard) among others, have also had tugs built by Irving at its Eastisle facility in Georgetown PEI. The yard has also built numerous tugs for export-all from the same basic Robert Allan Ltd design.

However with the recent announcement that the 25% duty on foreign built ships has finally been dropped, the yard may be in for some stiff competition. Please note the tarif reduction does not (yet) apply to tugs.

Seaspan, the large west coast tug operator, which is part of the Washington Marine group - which also owns very capable shipyards, has just placed an order for four tugs in Turkey. Granted Turkey has a very fine reputation for building Canadian designed tugs, (Robert Allan Ltd of Vancouver is the premier tug designer in the world), but building tugs in Turkey for Vancouver would be even more attractive without duties and foreign yards would certainly be more competitive for Canadian orders in the future.

For more on this topic see Shipfax.