Sunday, April 21, 2013

Foundation Maritime - some memorabilia

I see my friend on Halifax Shipping News has plugged Shipfax and Tugfax again - thank you Peter! His recent reposting of a couple of photos from my collection shows the few colour photos I own of the Foundation Maritime tugs. Their distinctive green deckhouses and green "F" funnel mark were fixtures on the Halifax waterfront for many years.
  As Peter correctly states the Foundation Company itself was a large US construction firm. Attracted to Canada by the need for emergency shipbuilding during World War I, they were also large civil engineering contractors.
When they added marine construction to their portfolio they soon needed tugs and barges. Farley Mowat's humorous description of their early days as tug boat operators and their almost accidental entry into the salvage business, are well worth reading in the early chapters of Grey Seas Under-one of the classics of maritime literature. (Some would say in the creative fiction category).

Foundation Maritime Ltd as the parent company and Maritime Towing & Salvage as the Halifax tug operator really came into their own during World War II. With the huge increase in shipping, they were hard pressed to find tugs to meet the demands.The exploits of Foundation Franklin in Grey Seas Under and Foundation Josephine in The Serpent's Coil are mandatory tug enthusiast reading!

At the end of the War they acquired new tugs and expanded their operations to include Port Alfred, Baie-Comeau and Sept-Iles, while maintaining salvage stations in many ports from Québec City to Bermuda.
With the advent of modern aids to navigation, such as radar, Decca, Loran and safer ships, the salvage business eventually petered out and Foundation was left with mostly harbour work, coastal towing and the odd salvage job, usually carried out in association with other companies.They carried out a major fleet modernization between 1956 and 1963, but the management of parent The Foundation Company of Canada Ltd was looking in different directions.

In 1968 they got out of the tug business by chartering, then selling their fleet to Marine Industries Ltd, of Sorel, QC who formed MIL Tug & Salvage (Miltug) as a managing company. Marine Industries Ltd was having its own struggles however and started to run down the assets.

In 1970 Smit International of the Netherlands and Cory Towage Ltd of England formed Smit & Cory International Port Towage Ltd  to provide six tugs tugs at new refineries in Point Tupper, NS and Come-by-Chance, Newfoundland. Smit & Cory acquired MIL Tug in 1971 as a management company. Then in 1973 Eastern Canada Towing Ltd was incorporated by Smit & Cory and it acquired the remaining Foundation fleet, while also managing the operation of the Smit & Cory fleet of six tugs. Eastern Canada Towing (Ectug) removed the "Foundation" prefix from the tugs and substituted "Point".

Even though this is the fortieth anniversary of the formation of Eastern Canada Towing Ltd, remarkably there are still several former Foundation tugs working in Canada.
Eastern Canada Towing Ltd became wholly owned by Cory Towage in1990 and eventually through mergers with Wijsmuller evolved into present day Svitzer Canada Ltd. They no longer operate tugs in Halfax, but provide tugs in Point Tupper, NS and Sept-Iles and Baie -Comeau, QC. The current fleet consists of five owned and one managed tug.
Svitzer are partners with Atlantic Towing Ltd in Halifax Towing Partnership, but Atlantic Towing Ltd provides all the tugs in Halifax.
Former Foundation tugs still operating in Canada are:

Jerry Newberry, ex Kay Cole ex Point Victor, ex Foundation Victor, 1956 - laid up for sale in Point Tupper by McNally Construction Ltd.
Point Valour ex Foundation Valour, 1958 - owned by Thunder Bay Tug Services, Thunder Bay, ON.
Florence M ex Point Vibert, ex Foundation Vibert, 1961 - owned by McKeil Marine, Hamilton, ON.

Point Viking ex Foundation Viking, 1962 - owned by Construction Polaris of Quebec.
Point Vim ex Foundation Vim, 1962 - owned by Davis Shipping of Newfoundland.
Molly M 1 ex Point Vigour ex Foundation Vigour, 1962 - owned by McKeil, but chartered to Nadro Marine Services, Port Dover, ON.
André H ex Point Valiant ex Foundation Valiant, 1963 - owned by Groupe Océan and based Sorel, QC.
A pair of former Foundation Company work boats may also still exist.


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