Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mister Joe, Beaver Kay and Whitby - oldies but goodies

1. Mister Joe gets underway from pier 9 towing Beaver Kay.

2. On deck is Whitby, much in need of hull cleaning.

3. The barge is on a short tow line until clear of the harbour.

4. Beaver Kay was built as YD 251 a steam derrick for the naval dockyard. What looks like a gun tub as the top of the derrick was a fire monitor. Photo October 10, 1995 at pier 35.

After a hard summer's work the various dredging and marine construction fleets are getting ready to go into the barn for the winter.

This morning the tug Mister Joe sailed form Halifax towing the Beaver Kay with Whitby on deck. Yesterday a crane was offloaded from the Beaver Kay and positioned on the new pier C extension at Halterm where it will continue the work from the land side. Whitby was also working steadily on the pier C project, but will not be needed now.

These vessels all belong to McNally Construction Inc, which, since July is a wholly owned subsidiary of Weeks Marine, Inc of Cranford, New Jersey.

Mister Joe started life as the Churchill River in 1964 at Russel-Hipwell Engines in Owen Sound ON. Built for the Hudson Bay Company it worked for them in the far north until sold to work on the Hibernia project. It moved to Beaver Marine in 1997 and was renamed when Beaver was integrated into McNally. It is a twin screw tug of 750 bhp.

Whitby was built in 1978 by and for McNamara Construction. McNally took over that operation and the tug has worked all over eastern Canada. It is also twin screw with 474 bhp.

The senior citizen in the bunch is Beaver Kay. Built in 1953 by Geo. T. Davie & Sons Ltd in Lauzon, QC, it was the steam crane YD 251 and worked in the HMC Dockyard in Halifax until 1995. Beaver marine acquired it in that year and removed the crane derrick and all the steam machinery, leaving a small portion of the deck house. It was registered for the first time in Halifax December 17, 1996 and named Beaver Kay. It is a very wide (115 feet long x 60 feet wide) and stable hull, and makes a good working platform for some very big cranes for dredging, pile driving and other work.

The little flotilla is headed for Point Tupper where McNally has its maintenance base. Whitby needs a good shave and a haircut, and there is work to do on Beaver Kay too. Mister Joe usually keeps running until December.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Former Quebec and Montreal tug to the scrappers

1. Charlie S. (left) and Jerry G. off Quebec City in ice- the work for which they were designed.

2. In McAllister colours, Cathy McAllister berths the tanker Le Chêne No.1 in Montreal. The ship also had a full width bridge for winter conditions.

3. Cathy McAllister, again with Jerry G. at the McAllister dock in Montreal.

4. Now in Océan colours, at the same dock, and with Salvage Monarch.

In the early 1950s Davie Shipbuilding Ltd in Lauzon, QC was replacing its old steam tugs, which served the port of Quebec. In 1954 they built Charlie S. a modern tug for the time, with a few unique features. Chief among them was the full width enclosed bridge.

In recognition of the winter conditions that the tug would have to work in , the full width wheelhouse was a useful feature, but never repeated in any other tugs. The wheelhouse was also raised about a half deck above the deckhouse, giving better visibility to the master.

A single screw tug, it was powered by a 12 cylinder 1200 bhp GM, and was named for Charlie Sauvageau, a member of the management team at the yard.

Davie Shipbuilding got out of the tug business in 1974 and sold the tug to McAllister Towing of Montreal. They renamed the tug Cathy McAllister and transferred it to Montreal. The tug was repainted in the black hull and gold stripe, with red house and McAllister funnel.

On January 20, 1975 the tug sank in ice covered waters at a Montreal pier. It was not until February that the tug was refloated, and some rebuilding was no doubt required.

The McAllister family sold its business and the fleet was taken over by new owners, who adopted a new colour scheme of plain black hull, white house and red stripe. They kept the McAllister funnel and company name.

Groupe Océan then bought the McAllister operation and gradually integrated the tugs into its fleet, with their own colour scheme with blue paint on the upper part of the wheelhouse and Océan funnel. They did not rename the tug either.

In 2002 Océan sold both Cathy McAllister and Salvage Monarch to Heritage Harbour Marine Ltd of London, ON and on October 31 Salvage Monarch entered the Seaway towing Cathy McAllister for Goderich, ON. The trip was not without drama, when the tow had problems on Lake Ontario and CCGS Griffon took over. Once in Lake Erie the tug Miseford took over the tow and delivered it to Port Maitland. The tug eventually reached Goderich on November 14, 2002, where it was renamed Seven Sisters.

I am a little fuzzy on the tugs movements after that point, but it seems it was not used much, but did move around from time to time.

In 2005 it was towed to the Welland Canal where it was fitted out for assist work. This meant that the tug would be used as tail tug for other tows through the locks.

Later in the same year the tug was taken over by Distribution Grand Lacs/St-Laurent (Three Rivers Elevators) a member of the Great Lakes Group. They were developing a grain barge service from the Lakes to Trois-Rivières, and a variety of tugs have been used, but I am not sure Doc Morin saw much service.

Upper Lakes Group sold its ships this year, and placed the tugs on the sale market. This fall it was reported that Doc Morin had been sold for scrap, and was being broken up near St.Catharines, ON.


Sunday, November 13, 2011


1. A Sea King helicopter, of about the same age as the Swellmaster, flies overhead as the tug arrives in Halifax November 10.

The venerable Swellmaster arrived November 10 towing the dredge Cranemaster in company with the tug Atlantic Tamarack towing the mud scow HD8. The small flotilla tied up at pier 6, but by this morning both tugs had sailed again for Saint John. I see them heading into Shelburne this evening on AIS.

I have writen about Swellmaster so many times, I don't need to tell her story again. She was British-built in 1965 and seems destined to last forever.

If you want to see what she looked like in 1991, as Irving Hemlock go to Shipfax for November 11:

In that photo-also at pier 6, she is alongside the dredge Shovelmaster. It capsized and sank in 150 meters of water south of Nova Scotia November 19, 2008 while in tow from Saint John for Halifax.

See J.D.Irving's press release:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Atlantic Hemlock- off again; Atlantic Larch back on the job

1. Atlantic Hemlock stretches out her tow line.

2. Atlantic Swordfish is a former Boabarge 18, built in 2000 in China.

3. The barge has an emergency pickup line trailing aft.

4. Atlantic Larch has been away from Halifax since summer.[file photo]

Atlantic Hemlock left Halifax today after a spell doing harbour work here since October 11.

Earlier this morning Atlantic Larch returned to port with the barge Atlantic Swordfish in tow. Larch immediately returned to harbour work and Atlantic Hemlock left this afternoon towing the Swordfish for Saint John. The barge was carryhing a large J.D.Irving Ltd crane, and had reportedly been working in Newfoundland.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

From the Files, Ten Years Ago: Cocle

1. Cocle arrived in Halifax as a "dry tow" - note the escort skeg, and large cooler inlets.

2. Colon on trials, was launched without incident and arrived in Halifax three days later. The low profile allows her to get under ships' sterns in tight quarters.

3. Atlantic Salvor's Alcos clear their throats as the tug moves its crane away from the dock in Georgetown, PE.

4. The massive Chesapeake 1000 did its work in good time.

5. Atlantic Teak towed the barge carrying Cocle from Georgetown to Halifax.

On July 1, 2001 the new tug Cocle toppled off its launching cradle at the East Isle Shipyard in PEI. What might have proven to be a disaster turned out all right in the end.

East Isle was in the midst of building a four tug order for the Panama Canal Commission. These tugs were based on the original Robert Allan design, but were modified for the Canal with more power, lower wheelhouse, and a large escort skeg. The latter was a new development for this class of tug, but had been proven in retrofits of earlier tugs.

A speedy response to the tip over was made by Donjon Marine of Hillside, NJ, who dispatched their crane Chesapeake 1000 (named for its capacity) in tow of the tug Atlantic Salvor. By July 12 the tug was righted and repairs were underway.

The East Isle tugs usually did their sea trails on the way to Halifax where they received final fitting out and acceptance trials. However Cocle arrived in style on the barge ATL 2402 in tow of the tug Atlantic Teak. This was the first and only "dry tow" of an East Isle tug to Halifax, arriving September 24. Sister Colon arrived September 30 on its own (it had been launched without incident September 27.)

After trials the pair set off for Panama November 3 on their own hulls.

The final two tugs in the order, Herrera and Los Santos were delivered in August and November of 2002.

Since that time The Panama canal has acquired eight (with five more to come) Robert Allan design Z-Tech tugs form Cheoy Lee shipyard in China. The Canal Authority now has 37 tugs in its fleet.

They have also now ordered fourteen more tugs to work ships following the expansion of the canal, to be completed in 2014. The new locks will use only tugs to assist ships, they will not have the typical shoreside rail mules of the old locks.

All the tugs shown are still in service for the same owners:

  • Cocle and Colon 4,486 bhp Deutz, 2 ASD

  • Atlantic Teak ex Irving Teak built in Singapore in 1973 as Essar, 2,300 bhp Deutz, 2 screw.

  • Atlantic Salvor ex Mister Darby, built in 1976 by Halter Marine, New Orleans, 6480 bhp Alco, 2 screw.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Salvage Monarch is refitting

1. As built, Salvage Monarch had a huge steam winch aft, and a smaller one forward. Also a derrick and a chain stopper for ground tackle forward. Photo taken at Kingston, ON ca. 1960.

2. By 1971 the big steam winch was gone, and Salvage Monarch was set up for towing. Seen here in Halifax after towing a retired ferry from Sorel.

3. The tug was on harbour duties in Montreal in 1995.

4. In Groupe Océan colours, the tug spent the winter of 2000-2001 on charter in Halifax.

Word has reached Tugfax that the veteran tug Salvage Monarch is in refit for new owners in Toronto. According to our close personal friend Charlie Gibbons, Toronto Dry Dock recently purchased the tug, which has been idle for some time. This is great news for a tug with a long and interesting history.
P.K.Harris of Appledore, North Devon, UK built the tug for Pyke Salvage & Navigation of Kingston, ON in 1959 in preparation for the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway that year, and the expected increase in size and number of ships needing salvage assistance. As with many tugs of the era from that yard, it had the new hydroconic (hard chine) hull form developed by Burness Corlitt. The hull was also strengthened for operation in ice.
The 97'-8" long craft was powered by two 8 cylinder Lister Blackstone engines geared to a single screw shaft producing 23 tons bollard pull. It was fitted with an 80 ton steam wrecking (and towing) winch aft and a 15 ton steam winch forward, powered by a 4,500 lbs per hour steam generator. (Apparently electric and hydraulic winches were not up to the game.) There was also a derrick mounted forward of the house, and a hold forward for salvage gear.
At the time of her delivery Pyke was a wholly owned subsidiary of Federal Commerce & Navigation Co Ltd [now Fednav], but Pyke had joined forces with McAllister Towing of Montreal to form McAllister Pyke to service the Seaway.

The Pyke operation had various salavge craft with names such as Salvage Prince, and Queen and is notable that this tradition has been respected through several owners.
Salvage Monarch towed the incomplete tug Stranton from the England to Sorel, where it was completed at Cathy McAllister. (It has since been rebuilt as Ocean Golf and is stationed in Toronto.)
Eventually McAllister took over Pyke completely and by 1962 Salvage Monarch was owned by McAllister Towing & Salvage Ltd.
Many were the salvage jobs, scrap tows and miscellaneous chores the tug performed through the years. Usually confined to the waters of the Seaway, she did make some trips further afield. As time went on she became less of a salvage vessel and more of a tug, and the forward winch and derrick were removed and the after winch was replaced.
Salvage Monarch's first visit to Halifax that I know of was in 1971 when it towed the retired Sorel ferry Napoleon L, which it handed over to the Gulf Joan, which in turn towed the ferry to British Columbia for further service.
When McAllister sold its business Salvage Monarch was mostly a harbour tug in Montreal, but new owners Groupe Océan looked farther afield for work. In the winter of 2000-2001 the tug was based in Halifax on charter for cable protection work.
In 2002 Heritage Harbour Marine of London, ON bought the tug and fleet mate Cathy McAllister ex Charlie S., which it renamed Seven Sisters. It was later sold and became Doc Morin and is presently being broken up at St.Catharines, ON.
Salvage Monarch saw some service under Heritage Harbour ownership, but it was laid up and has been for sale for several years.
It is good to see that the tug will be given new life. Thanks to spending most of its life in fresh water, it will certainly last for a few years longer.