Monday, December 31, 2012

Atlantic Juniper - a real veteran

Stopping over in Halifax for a few days is the veteran Atlantic Juniper. She is likely traveling from her summer base in Belledune, NB to Saint John or possibly Shelburne for winter maintenance.
Built in 1961 in Southampton England for Red Funnel tugs, she was originally the Thorness and fitted with two Crossley engines totaling 1340 bhp and driving twin screws.
J.D.Irving acquired the tug in 1983 with fleet mate Culver (a fire tug of similar design) and came to Saint John. They joined several other Red Funnel tugs, also owned by Irving, the former Atherfield which had become Irving Hemlock and is now Swellmaster and the former Dunnose which became Irving Willow.
Torness was renamed Irving Juniper in 1985 and Atlantic Juniper in 1996 and worked in Saint John as a harbour tug for many years. She was re-powered in 2000 with Cat engines, giving approximately 2,000 bhp.
The tug was imported after the implementation of new Canadian rules requiring all crew sleeping accommodation to be above the waterline. Since most of her quarters did not qualify she has operated as a day boat.
The tugs funnel, like many boats built by J.I.Thornycroft & Co Ltd of Woolston, UK, is slim and sleek- the height of fashion at the time.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Groupe Océan - tough tow

Groupe Océan of Quebec City won the contract to tow the Canadian warship HMCS Athabaskan from St.Catharines, ON to Halifax.. As recounted in Shipfax the job has not been without its challenges!
Assigned to the job were two veteran tugs, but without doubt they were the best for the job.

Ocean Delta is the only truly deep sea tug operating on Canada's east coast (not counting anchor handling tug/suppliers) . Built in 1973 as Sistella for ITC (Tschudi and Eitzen=International Towing Contractors) it became Sandy Cape in 1978 and was acquired by Québec Tugs, then part of CSL Group Inc, in 1980. Renamed Capt. Ioannis S. it served the company well, and was renamed in 1999 when Océan Group took over and rebranded/renamed the company. The tug has ranged as far south as the South America and well into the high arctic.
It has also been extensively rebuilt and meticulously maintained. It was built with a pair of Nydqvist and Holm engines giving 5600 bhp, with a 65 tonne bollard pull, but was re-engined in 2000 with two MaKs, giving 6,464 bhp through a single controllable pitch prop.

André H., despite its size and relatively low power, has been involved in countless tows, many of them well beyond the coastal waters for which it was built. It has also figured in numerous salvages and rescues over the years. Built as Foundation Valiant in 1963 it became Point Valiant when Eastern Canada Towing took over Foundation Maritime's fleet ten years later. In 1995 it was sold to Three Rivers Boatmen, and acquired its present name.When Groupe Océan acquired TRB the tug kept its name and continued to be based in Trois-Rivières until fairly recently when it was moved around to Sorel and spent some time in Sept-Iles. It has also been extensively refitted and well maintained. Equipped with a pair of durable 5 cylinder Fairbanks Morse engines driving twin open screws, it delivers 1650 bhp.

Ironic photo:
In September 1980 the tug Capt. Ioannis S. (now Océan Delta) was towing the two old lakers Helen Evans and Thornhill to Columbia for scrap. The tug's controllable pitch prop failed, suddenly putting the tug in reverse, and severing the tow line. And which tug went to the rescue? Non other than  Point Valiant now André H. The whole flotilla came in to Halifax for several days of repairs.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Atlantic Fir - update

Atlantic Fir sailed this morning, giving its destination as Méchins, QC. This would seem to preclude a visit to Montreal on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Craig Trans - saga continues - Atlantic Fir to Montreal - maybe

1. Atlantic Fir - file photo

The Port of Montreal web site shows the tug Atlantic Fir arriving Christmas Day, then proceeding on to Beauharnois. Presumably this would be to pick up the former cargo ship Kathryn Spirit which has been tied up there for recycling. Neighbours managed to block the scrapping in that location, and the hulk reportedly has been sold to Mexican owners.
It is also the ship which the tug Craig Trans - see previous posts, was intending to fetch.
Craig Trans is still tied up in Halifax (now minus the containment boom), and directly across the harbour sits the tug Atlantic Fir. It has been in port for several days, presumably waiting out the horrible weather we have been experiencing. It will not, as a result, be arriving in Montreal on Christmas Day. Another minor complication is that the Canso Canal will be closing on Christmas Eve, so it will mean sailing through the Cabot Strait, where weather has been bad enough to force cancellation of Newfoundland ferry service.
The object apparently is to get the Kathryn Spirit out of the Seaway before closing - which will likely be December 29 at the latest - and get ti to Halifax where Craig Trans or some one else can to tow it to Mexico.
Let us hope it is the well found tug Atlantic Fir that tows it past Scarari Island, so it does not join the Miner, wrecked over a year ago by a failed tow line.
We'll wait and see.

2. Kathryn Spirit laid up in Sorel in July 2011. In August 2011 it was moved up the Seaway as far as Beauharnois where scrapping began, but was then halted.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Craig Trans - more

1. Craig Trans now has a boom around it.

News reports tell us that the eight member Honduran crew on Craig Trans ran out of food three days before arriving in Halifax. The tug has now been detained by Transport Canada due to deficiencies related to crew accommodation. It will not be allowed to sail until these are corrected. The Mission to Seafarers and Adship Agencies are tending to the crew's needs, but are also asking for public assistance.
Yesterday afternoon the tug Gulf Spray placed a containment boom around the tug, so there are other problems too.
The report also says that the tug was en route to Montreal to tow a ship to Mexico for scrap.There are several candidates in Montreal for such a tow, so I won't speculate on which one it might be, except to say do we need another Canadian Miner?
Owners are quoted as being Vesta Shipping of New Jersey. Who in their right mind would tow a ship out at this time of year? Will authorities stop them if they try? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Craig Trans - more

With storm conditions persisting the tug Craig Trans is secure at pier 25, but she is still bobbing around in the swells.
The tug has certainly seen better days. She still wears her Foss green hull colour with white bulwark panel, but the formerly white painted house has been daubed over with a sort of rusty yellow. The  colour does not conceal some real rust streaks weeping from vents. And there is lots of soot from her EMDs staining the work boat and funnel.
She flies the Bolivian flag on her signal mast, but still maintains some dignity.

More news when I have it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Craig Trans - in the teeth of a gale (more to come)

1. As Craig Foss

The classic tug Craig Trans flying the flag of Bolivia, arrived this afternoon in the teeth of a gale. It anchored at first, but was unable to hold position, and so moved to pier 25 - where I hope to get a better picture.
Built in 1943 by Tampa Marine Corp for the US Army, it was one of the class of Large Tugs and was named LT 648.
The Army laid up the tug in 1960, and Foss Maritime of Seattle acquired in 1965. They rebuilt the tug at their own yard in 1966. They replaced the original single 1343 bhp Fairbanks-Morse with a pair of 2,000 bhp EMDs. Renaming it Craig Foss they sent it far and wide. First hauling lumber barges to Hawaii, and latterly running to Alaska, it made numerous long tows to the Gulf of Mexico, Venezuela and got as far north as New Jersey on at least one trip.
Eventually in 2011 Foss said goodbye to the tug. Its first assignment for the new owners was to tow the ferry Queen of Saanich from Anvil Island, BC to Ensenada, MX for scrap last August. I don't have any details on its more recent movements however.
At this point my bet is that it is heading for St.John's to tow the cruise ship Lyubov Orlova to the Dominican Republic, instead of the woefully under powered Charlene Hunt featured in these pages a few weeks ago. [My bet was wrong - see updates]
That tug is still sitting in St.John's with plywood on its windows after encountering severe weather on its way past Halifax. I hear it had to be evacuated by some of its crew, and was brought in full of water by only its master and engineer.
Regrettably I fear that Craig Trans, despite its power and wonderful sea keeping abilities may be well past its prime too, so there may be little good news in this story.
More later.

2. As Craig Foss.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ocean makes a move into ATBs (amended)

Mega (no copyright/wiki commons)

Groupe Océan of Quebec has made a jump into the Articulated Tug and Barge world with the acquisition of the tug Mega (ex Aatos-93, ex Teuvo-85) and the bulk dry cargo barge Motti (5,195 gross tons 1993).
Built in 1975 by OY Wartsila in Finland, the tug is powered by four engines through diesel electric drive driving twin screws. Power is listed as 3,967 kW (about 6,000 BHP). The tug was rebuilt in 1993 and paired with the barge. The conversion consisted of elevating the wheelhouse and fitting the coupler system.

Why diesel electric you may ask, but when you think of Wartsila you usually think of icebreakers. Although Lloyd's does not show the tug as ice rated, photos on Marine Traffic do show it in loose ice in the Kiel Canal.
See those photos here:

For several years Océan has been operating the tug Ocean Echo II and barge Betsiamites carrying pulpwood and wood chips. They also operate as an ATB (Articulated Tub/Barge.)

P.S. (2012-12-19)
More details have emerged about the Mega + Motti pair. They are indeed ice rated, in fact at SF 1A super (Swedish Finnish class) and this is a high rating for Baltic winter navigation. There are hundreds of images on the net, and from them you will see a sort of add-on stem on the barge, but not seen are bilge keels, which allow it to work offshore. There are photos showing the barge carrying large steel fabrications -its decks are reinforced for heavy loads. A side ramp is rated for 85 tonnes, and it has carried 28,000 cu.m. of wood. The pair are connected by Articouple system, and the barge its own independent generator to run windlass, lights and other systems.
They have been laid up in Bremerhaven since July of 2012,. Spec sheets on tug and barge may be found on

Sunday, December 16, 2012

McNally tug on the move

McNally Marine's Sandra Mary sailed at dawn this morning with the barge Beaver Kay to carry out some cable work. The tug is a rare caller in Halifax, we usually see Mister Joe. Both tugs are built to the same design, but Sandra Mary is single screw and Mister Joe is twin screw. Both are products of the Russel yard in Owen Sound, ON.
Sandra Mary heads out through the sea smoke as the sun rises behind Macnab's Island this morning.

Following recent movements of the Mister Joe, I see that it was upbound in the St.Lawrence Seaway on November 22 with he dredge William P. Dilly and again on Nov 29 with the scow Derrick No.1.

See this blog of April 22 for photos of both tugs.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Naval Large Tug Construction Project

As reported in Halifax Shipping News last week the Canadian government has issued a “Price and Availability Enquiry” for the acquisition of new naval large tugs. In a Notice on the Public Tenders web site MERX, the navy is seeking to acquire six new tugs to replace five Glen class tractor tugs and two fire boats. The tugs will be stationed at the naval dockyards in Halifax and Esquimalt.

1. Glenside is the larger of two classes of naval tugs currently in service.

The current fleet of “large” tugs consists of two Glens at Esquimalt, three Glens in Halifax and one fireboat at each. All were built in 1977-78. The Glens are 1750 bhp Voith-Schneider water tractors, and the fireboats are 750 bhp firefloats with very minor tug capability.

2. Firebird's fire fighting capability can be combined in with that of a tug.

The new tugs are to be under 33m loa, with 40 tonne bollard pull and 4,000 bhp with FiFi1 (the lowest level) fire fighting capability, and 12 knot speed. They are to perform the usual dockyard berthings of ships up to 25,000 tons [displacement]. No mention is made of coastal towing which the current Glens are tasked to do from time to time, or a towing winch. No mention is made of preferred propulsion systems, but azimuthing stern drives seem to be the most likely.

To quote the notice “ it is expected that commercial tug designs currently in service will meet all requirements... with minor or no modifications.”

The speculation then is, who will respond to this offer and what will they propose?

In eastern Canada there are only two yards with recent, significant tug experience.
3. Atlantic Willow 4,000 bhp, FiFi1 would seem to meet the RCN's requirement, except perhaps in length. (See also earlier post from today for another picture of the same tug.)

1. East Isle shipyard in Georgetown, PE, part of Irving Shipbuilding Inc, although idle for the last two years, built in excess of 30 tugs of a design similar to what is wanted. The last tugs built were 5,000 bhp, ice capable, which are only a bit bigger and more sophisticated than the P&A Enquiry is asking for, however they would easily accommodate the 4,000 bhp engine package, as the earliest tugs in the series had that power.)
4. Point Valiant is the right size and power, but lacks firefighting, which could be added.

2. Industrie Océan in Ile-aux-Coudres, QC, which has built several 4,000 bhp tugs, which would seem to meet this requirement exactly. (Ectug’s Point Valiant, one for export and five to their own account - one to be delivered this fall.).
5. Seaspan Falcon was built on the west coast, but in 1993.

3. No yard on the west coast has built anything like this in some time. The most recent large tugs for BC owners were built in the US or Turkey..(Seaspan Falcon, 1993: 3,000 bhp was an earlier design to the Océan-built tugs)

6. World War II emergency single screw steam tugs were built on the Great Lakes and elsewhere.

4. The marginal yards, such as Davie, will likely jump in with both feet, citing fifty year old experience as relevant, or that they can built anything. I would be very cautious about such claims.

The navy is certainly not seeking to break any new ground with this Enquiry. No mention is made of hybrid or other energy efficient propulsion systems, which would certainly be warranted for tugs with this kind of duty, where the maximum power is needed so infrequently and for such short periods, that going with conventional power systems seems irresponsible to me.

Yes the navy may have to pay a premium for such novelty, but given the life of the current tugs, the payback would be significant over a 35 to 40 year service life for the new ones.

The current tugs were very advanced state of the art when they were built (azimuthing stern drives had not been developed at the time) and the new ones should be too. Just buying off the shelf does not seem to me to make good sense.

My advice: get with it Public Works Canada and Royal Canadian Navy, and get green! Also built some tugs with slightly higher ultimate high end power, say 4,500 to 5,000 so that they might be of use in Halifax harbour in case of an emergency. My solution: the Z-Tech tug of Robert Allan design. Scores are working around the world, including the port of Singapore and the Panama Canal. But add the hydrid option.
It has many of the capabilites of the current V-S tugs, it does not require a separate towing winch, which a conventional ASD would, fire fighting can be added with ease, and hydrid (such as Aspin Kemp's diesel /battery/electric) can be added. Added benefit? Canadain design, Canadian technology and Canadian built. Can't go wrong!

Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Willow assist in launch

1. Atlantic Oak has the bow line and Atlantic Willlow the stern in the cold move* of the newly launched patrol boat.

Among the many duties of the Halifax harbour tugs is attending launches at Halifax Shipyard. This morning it was the third in a series of Coast Guard patrol vessels taking to the water.  Each launch is different, but this morning's windy conditions combined with the light :    Correction: the ship was held in position until the cradle cables were released and the hull was checked for water integrity, then it was released to launch. Tugs took control immmediately.
The same thing happened with the first patrol boat in the series hung up on the launch way due to high winds, but htis one went off without a hitch. The harbour pilot, a crew from Connors Diving and the tug crews knew how to handle the situation. There was a shipyard deck crew on the ship itself.
With some careful line work, the patrol boat CCGS Corporal Teather C.V. was persuaded into the water, in control of the tugs Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Willow and took over the moved to pier 9B for fitting out work. The ship did not use any of its own engine, and a package generator on deck for lighting was all that was running aboard the ship.
The tugs had to gentle the ship alongside (squeezing it in between other berthed vessels) without touching the new ship any more than necessary. I understand that the stern line might have parted at one point, but it was made up again and all went well.
2. Atlantic Oak has no weight on the line as the wind and momentum carry the new ship towards its fitting out  berth.
3. Atlantic Willow has just made up a new line after the first one parted. They appeared to be using very light line, not the tug's usual ship docking winch line.

* a note on terminology: a cold move is one in which the ship's own machinery is not used (the engines are cold) but the ship has a crew on board.
A dead ship move is one in which there is no crew on the ship and no engine or other power.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Penn Maritime Inc sells to Kirby

1. Penn's Eliza following a drydocking at Halifax Shipyard in 2003. She is an ATB tug - you can see the coupler - and is rarely detached from her barge.

As mentioned the large US tug and barge operator Kirby Corp (a publicly traded company)  has purchased the family owned Penn Maritime in a deal that is expected to close in mid-December. Penn's corporate headquarters are in Stamford, CT, but they operate from Staten Island, NY and Slidell, LA..
Kirby has been on a bit of a buying spree, expanding beyond its inland roots to coastal operations. It is now the only US operator working the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific (including Alaska) coasts and the inland rivers. Latest figures indicate that is fleet consists of 853 inland barges, 246 inland towboats, 63 coastal barges, 63 coastal tugs and 3 offshore drybulk barges.

In July 2011 it acquired K-Sea Transportation (itself an amalgam of Eklof, Roehrig and others) and in 2012 already bought Allied Transportation Co, a small southern operator.
With the Penn Purchase it gets 18 double hull barges and 16 tugs (of theses 12 are ATBs, the others are wire boats).

Penn tug/barges have been regular callers in our waters for many years, most often in Saint John, but also from time to time in Halifax and as far as Newfoundland. They specialize in liquid asphalt, fuel oil and feed stocks, and have been chartered by Irving Oil to carry asphalt in our region and to the US.
Penn Maritime was founded in 1985, but is an offshoot of the Morania Oil Tanker Corp, which dates from 1947 (it also ran small tankers). The two companies had common ownership and shared offices and management, but there was some complication due to family ownership that kept them apart, at least nominally, until 2000. In that year Morania was merged into Penn and thus disappeared. I always liked the fire engine red Morania tugs, but Penn's are a less exciting grey. However many other tug operators have red as their colour, and Penn was virtually unique in their choice. That will likely disappear now when the tugs are repainted and renamed.

2. Penn No.2 was typical of the smaller wire boats operated by Penn, but previously run by Morania. It had been Morania No.2  at that time. It has since been sold and operates as Coral Coast.

For one of Penn's larger wire boats see:

In its prior life with Morania, it was Morania No.6 when I saw it in  Saint John, glistening in wet weather with its spotless red paint and silver :

3. Morania No.6 in the notch of its barge.

The most frequent Penn Maritime tug to be seen in these parts lately has been Coho. It was in Eastern Passage in June, but did not make it easy for the photographer:

It also made a trip to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland during August/September.

After the nmerger it is likely that the same tugs will continue in the same trades, but under new names.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mariner Sea - out, Atlantic Kestrel - in, Maersk Beater-in,

The latest changes in the offshore tug/supplier business have seen a couple of additions and one deletion from the roster of the three main players in the Atlantic region.
Secunda Marine have sold Mariner Sea to as yet undisclosed Nigerian buyers:

Built in Norway in 1979 as a supplier/dive support ship, it carried the names Sulair-89, TNT Puma-90, Toisa Puma-95, Coastal Connector -02 until acquired from Tyco by Secunda late in 2002. It had been been partially converted to a cable ship, with a large deck house:

Soon after arrival in Halifax in January 2003 it was dispatched to the Verreault Navigation shipyard in Les Méchins, QC, and converted back to a supplier, with tankage for fuel, drill water, mud and for deck cargo. It went into service in May 2003 on charter to Encana as a supplier. Its tonnage was then listed at 2,904.:
Since then it has been in and out of Canadian and Barbados registries, and was most recently idle at pier 9.

Meanwhile Maersk Canada, which seems to have become Maersk Eastern Canada (have they got west coast plan?) brought Maersk Beater under Canadian flag in October, and based it in St.John's. It is a very big vessel at 4,363 gross tons, built in 1997 in Norway and is rated at 14,800 kW (approx. 20,000 bhp).I haven't seen the vessel in person, but for photos go to :

Atlantic Towing has also registered its newest tug/supplier as Atlantic Kestrel on November 27. Built as Jaya Supreme in Singapore, it is also very big, at 6,206 gross tons, and highly sophisticated. It has numerous new and up to date features, including DP2 (dynamic positioning) and ice rated as DNV Ice-1a, meaning it can travel through ice already broken by an ice breaker, and can work near the arctic circle. It has 12,000 kW (about 16,000 bhp) at its disposal and is fitted with a very big anchor handling winch. It also has numerous environmental and crew comfort features, making it "state of the art"- to use a worn out phrase.
To see its launch, and a swarm of tiny little tugs go to:
There are lots of other articles and photos on the web as Jaya Supreme, e.g.: