Thursday, December 22, 2011

Silk purse from sow's ear

1. Trinity Sea approaches pier 9 this morning.

2. Upper: arriving in Halifax with sister tug./ Lower on the cradle at Dartmouth Marine Slip.

Trinity Sea moved to pier 9 today for a Christmas time refit. The ship was rebuilt from the hull up in 1998-99 and has put in some heavy work as an offshore supplier. On December 7 she arrived in port on one engine, but that seems to have been patched up.

Built in Poland in 1983 as Neftegaz 2 it was part of a huge fleet built up by the USSR Ministry of Gas Industry. With the collapse of the USSR most were laid up, many unused, and eventually sold off. Secunda Marine Services acquired four over the years, but Neftegaz 1 and Neftegaz 2 were bought in 1998. They arrived in Halifax in tow of Magdalen Sea and were rebuilt over a period of a year or so. Work included all new accommodation, and internals, except the main engines, which were retained. The bow was built up, the exhaust uptakes re-routed and a new bridge and wheelhouse installed to improve visibility aft.

Neftegaz 1 became Burin Sea and Neftegaz 2 became Trinity Sea.

The pair have worked off Newfoundland and overseas, with Trinity Sea active off Nova Scotia for the last couple of years. Burin Sea is still in Newfoundland.

A third boat, Neftegaz 14 was rebuilt as Panuke Sea in 2003. The fourth is laid up at pier 9B with the name Neftegaz 29 still displayed, although it has been officially renamed Intrepid Sea. Secunda Marine Services is now J.Ray McDermott Canada.


Monday, December 19, 2011

And Jarrett McKeil/ Robert B No.1 to the same fate

Another classic tug has gone for scrap. Jarrett McKeil, ex Robert B. No.1 will be broken up by current owners, Heddle Marine of Hamilton, ON.
1. Robert B. No.1 at rest in Quebec City, September 3, 1975. The reddish brown deck house was unique to the Davie tugs.

2. Quebec Tugs opted for a stark black and white look. Robert B. No.1 returns to Bassin Louise in Quebec City on hot July 1, 1983.

3. Setting out from Halifax October 23, 1994, towing the barge Black Carrier destined for Boston.

Built in 1956 by Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon, QC, it was built to the yard's own account. The shipyard was owned by Canada Steamship Lines at the time, and it provided tug service in Quebec City, and had the tugs available for salvage work and ship handling. It was named for Robert Black, a member of the management team at the yard. (The No.1 came from the fact that there was another Robert B. (a Vancouver tug) and a Robert B. II (owned in Port aux Basques, NL.)

CSL divested itself of the shipyard, and the tug fleet, so ownership changed to Quebec Tugs. It lost its beautiful paint job and became black and white. As Groupe Océan formed itself, the tug was sold to McKeil Workboats of Hamilton, ON and in 1997 became Jarrett McKeil. They found lots of work for it, towing old lakers, and barges, and it even reached Halifax in 1994 towing container crane components from Sorel to Massport in Boston.

Like fleet mate Wyatt McKeil ex Otis Wack it is a single screw, 1200 bhp GM powered tug, and a member of a now endangered species. It was sold to Heddle Marine a number of years ago and has been laid up for some time, awaiting the inevitable torch.


Otis Wack -off to the scrappers

Of course it hasn't been called the Otis Wack for a long time, but that's how I will remember it.
1. Otis Wack at its berth, dried out at low water.

2. The very attractive funnel, with the distinctive "cobra" funnel mark used by the Fundy Gypsum Corporation. The same logo was used on the company's bulk carriers, but on a tan funnel.

3. A composite photo of the tug afloat, with the old gypsum loading dock in the background.

Built in 1950 at Davie Shipbuilding & Repair Co Ltd in Lauzon, QC, to a design by Robert W. Morrell of New York, the tug was built especially for service at Hantsport, NS. When not working it tied up at a little pier next to the government wharf and dried out at low tide each day. Its hull was designed to take this constant stress, and to deal with a bit of ice from time to time too.

Most unusual for a Canadian tug of the era (they were invariably powered by Fairbanks-Morse) it was powered by a V-12 GM- the American standard. It developed 1200 bhp, on a single screw, which was enough for the small bulk carriers that loaded gypsum at Hantsport, and the other small freighters that docked at Hanstport, Windsor, and several other nearby ports. I have no record of it assisting shipping in Port Williams, Wolfville, Parrsboro or Walton, but it may well have done so.

It was not the first tug named Otis Wack - that was a wooden tug built in 1921 in Port Greville. The tugs were named for Otis Wack, an American citizen and long time manager of the Fundy Gypsum operations, which were owned by U.S. Gypsum.

In 1995 Fundy Gypsum needed a more powerful tug (they bought Spanish Mist - since sold to the Magdalen Islands.) McKeil Workboats of Hamilton bought Otis Wack. It carried the original name until 1997 when it was renamed Wyatt McKeil and worked around the Lakes and down the St.Lawrence. Being largely in fresh water would have ensured a long life for the tug if there had been work, but a single screw, low power tug is not much in demand these days.

Ownership was transferred to Heddle Marine, also of Hamilton, and the tug is now to be broken up there.

For more on gypsum operations at Hantsport see:


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And the Tamarack too.

1. This morning Atlantic Tamarack goes to work in the Narrows.

2. Back in 2001 it wore the soviet insignia on its funnel for a movie role.

With fleet mate Swellmaster off the Meteghan on another chore, it has fallen to Atlantic Tamarack to take over the wrangling of mud scows for the dredging project in the Narrows. Built in 1969 as Irving Tamarack, and renamed in 1997, the tug did duty as a standby vessel at the Canaport oil buoy off Saint John for many years before going to work for Harbour Development. The single screw tug was re-engined in 2010, and also seems to be going strong after all these years.

It also acted in a supporting role in the movie K-19:The Widowmaker in 2001. It wore the hammer and sickle and was seen pulling a sub out of drydock.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Swellmaster keeps on tugging

Sorry to repeat myself, but I love seeing the Swellmaster working. A tug built in 1965, repowered in 1987 (with remanufactured Cats built in 1973) and knocking about with barges dredges, and coastal tows of same, must be built of stern stuff.
I also love the Admiralty funnel.
Here's a little retrospective.

1. As Irving Hemlock working off Borden PEI in 1996. That's the old Harbour Development Ltd funnel mark.

2. Wearing a Soviet era funnel marking while playing a supporting role in the move K-19: The Widowmaker. She and Tamerack appear in the movie pulling a sub out of the graving dock.

3. The hammer and sickle are gone, and she is now the camera boat for the same movie. The telescoping arm could get right down to a water line view or elevate well above.

4. December 9, 2011 back at the mud scow work.

5. Today, running the Narrows. The ladders must have been added while she worked in Saint John. It's a long way up to the piers when the tide is out. Most of those dents in her bridge dodger are twenty years old.