Saturday, June 22, 2013

John Spence - rare caller

1. John Spence after delivering a barge this morning.

The tug John Spence arrived this morning after a long absence from Halifax. By my reckoning it was here last in 1998. However it was once here all the time, and that goes back to its original owners and its original job.
2. Mary B VI at the old Sugar wharf, now the IEL wharf in Woodside, in 1976.

Among the first offshore tug/suppliers built in Canada, it came out of the Star Shipyard in New Westminster, BC in 1972 as Mary B VI for Fedcom /Nordic Offshore Services to support oil exploration off Nova Scotia. Only a year or so after traces of oil were found from drilling on Sable Island, it was the beginning of an on again off again oil exploration era.
With sister Janie B and Cathy B , the Mary B VI worked out of Halifax for several years then returned to the west coast. It was renamed Mary B from 1981-1982, but then returned to its original name. In 1983 it was sold to Arctic Transportation Ltd and was renamed Arctic Tuktu. It worked in the Beaufort Sea under that name but in 1994 made what turned out to be mid-life career change.
McKeil Marine of Hamilton, ON bought the boat, renamed it John Spence and rebuilt it as a tug for a variety of chores, but normally working with large barges on the St.Lawrence River and Seaway. This involved installing an elevated wheelhouse- and not a little bird's nest type, but a full sized one. In recent years it had been paired with the barge Niagara Spirit transporting aluminum ingots from Sept-Iles up through the Seaway.
3. Big barge PML 9000 has only a push plate type notch, and tugs use face wires when pushing. 

Its arrival today was a bit of a surprise, since it came with the big barge PML 9000, owned by Purvis Marine Ltd of Sault Ste.Marie. The barge came down through the Seaway in tow of Evans McKeil.and must have been handed over on the Strait of Canso on Friday. The 4,285 gross ton (9,000 deadweight) barge was built in 1968 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Div. in San Francisco. It was tied up at the Cherubini Metal Workers Ltd pier in Dartmouth, and will be loaded with large industrial fabrications.
Meanwhile John Spence has moved over to pier 31 in Halifax, likely for fuel and stores.
4. Belle D. moves alongside for a nudge while tying up at Cherubini's dock in Eisner's Cove.

As far as I know, John Spence is still equipped with its original pair of GM La Grange 16-567-C engines giving a total of 3,280 bhp, through twin fixed pitch props, despite the fact that the engines, although installed when the tug was new, were in fact assembled in 1951.
5. Tanker Kometik unloads at Imperial Oil in the background, while in the middle ground, Cherubini's yard is full of steel fabrications to be loaded on the barge.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Outboard powered workboat

 1. The Flexifloat sectional scow and workboat at pier 6.

Work at Halifax Shipyard's pier 6 expansion enters a new phase as the Municipal Enterprises Ltd gears up to build the cribs for the pier phase. Municipal, or its Dexter Construction subsidiary has now assembled a Flexifloat sectional spud scow and brought in an outboard powered workboat.
The boat, which has no official name, is a 2 gross ton craft built by A.F.Theriault + Son Ltd, Meteghan River, NS, probably in 2012. It was registered August 2 last year with the Official Number C20115NS. A pair of big Yamaha 115s (in-line 4 cyl, 115 bhp)  provide all the power the boat will need to move the scow around, but may need a little help with the cribs.
2. Theriault built workboat with its big Yamahas.

Theriault has built at least a pair of these 24' aluminum craft, termed barges - see their website at:
Due to their small size, they are not registered as ships, but as boats, and do not have official names, only their license numbers. Owners are therefore free to give them any name they wish, so perhaps we should make some suggestions?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Coastal Sun at the scrappers

A tug that made one trip to Halifax has turned up at a scrap yard in Amelia, Louisiana. I stumbled across the a photo of the tug Coastal Sun while reading an article on another ship being scrapped at the same yard.

Coastal Sun was built in 1970 by Gulfport Shipbuilding in Port Arthur, TX as E.B.MacNaughton for Ultramar Chemical Co and worked on the west coast and in Hawaii. It was renamed Dauntless in 1990 when acquired by Crowley Marine Services of San Francisco.It became Coastal Sun in 1999. Its owners were Bay Towing Corp of Norfolk, VA, when it called in Halifax June 6 to 9, 2003 -almost exactly 10 years ago.It was towing the barge Columbia Miami, and it loaded containers at Halterm and Fairview Cove. The containers were all empties, and were hauled away to Elisabeth, NJ.
Since then the tug was owned by Harbour Service LLC then Tug Coastal Sun LLC, but its US documentation expired August 31, 2009, and has likely been laid up since that date.Since its visit to Halifax it had a small elevated wheelhouse added.
Unusual for a US tug of its vintage, it was powered by a pair of 12 cylinder Fairbanks-Morse engines, generating 4400 bhp, through gear boxes to twin screws..

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tug big: Barney Turecamo, Tug small: Atlantic Tamarack

After several weeks of no noteworthy tugs movements in Halifax, it was a big and small day today.


1. Atlantic Tamarack sailing early this afternoon.

Altantic Tamarack sailed light tug for Saint John, NB. After spending the winter in Halifax with little to do, the tug has apparently been called to work in Saint John dredging. There is still dredging at pier 6 in the Halifax Shipyard, but bigger sister tug Atlantic Hemlock is looking after the dredge and scows.
At 725 bhp, Tamarack must be considered on the small side these days, but it has plenty of power for wrangling dump scows and has made some long tows in its time. Built for work around Irving Oil's Canaport oil buoy off Saint John, it was not expected to do much in the way of towing when built in 1969 as Irving Tamarack. Since transferring to Atlantic Towing Ltd's subsidiary Harbour Development Ltd the tug has done its fair share.  
2. On a snowy December 28, 1981, Irving Tamarack was nestled in between Irving Teak (left) and Irving Beech (right) at the old Broad Street pier on Courtenay Bay in Saint John, NB.


3. Barney Turecamo and barge Georgia get away from Imperial Oil this evening.
Moran Towing Corporation's articulated tug/barge Barney Turecamo/Georgia  have been calling in Halifax off and on since 2006. The barge was built in 2005 and is a double hull unit with 118,000 bbl capacity. It is deeply notched to take the tug, which was built in 1995.
The tug's hull was built by Halter's Moss Point Yard and finished by their Escatawpa yard in Mississippi. Originally rated at 5600 bhp from two GM EMDs, recent publications show it at 5100bhp. It sailed for its home port of New York, with somewhat less than a full load. It was a calm evening so it is likely that the tug will remain in the notch at sea, although it can move very quickly to towing if needed.The tug has a towing winch and winch operator's house between the funnels.
4. Making a bit of a rooster tail as it passes the Ives Knoll buoy, Barney Turecamo is well fitted into the barge notch. A blue coloured emergency tow line is stretched along the side of the barge and can be retrived if the tug nust exit the notch. The high wheelhouse permits a view over the barge when it is in ballast.  

The tug was rebuilt in 2005 with a new elevated wheelhouse, replacing the traditional lower level wheelhouse and bird's nest type elevated wheelhouse. At the same time the tug was fitted with an Intercon Type C coupler system that mates it to the barge.
5. Barney Turecamo in pre-rebuild configuration at Moran's Staten Island yard, April 6, 2002.
Turecamo Bros was a long established Staten Island tug company that had expanded to Charleston, SC and Philadelphia when they were bought out by Moran in 1998. Existing Turecamo named tugs generally kept their names after the merger, but had long since lost their distinctive wood grain effect deck houses.The graining was in fact paint that was combed when wet to give a wood grain look, then covered with varnish. Also lost was the Turecamo Brothers funnel mark, which was at least as distinctive as Moran's mighty M. 
6. Poster hangin on a wall near Tug Central.

It should be a reasonable trip for both boats heading south with not too too much wind, and relatively calm seas.
7. Sailin' away.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Charlene Hunt and Kirsten Grace

The 1880 bhp tug Kirsten Grace (ex Marquita-93, Boo Cenac -89) sailed from St.John's June 7 towing the beleaguered tug Charlene Hunt bound south, presumably for Boston. Charlene Hunt had been detained in St.John's since losing her tow Lyubov Orlova. The defects found by Transport Canada were apparently serious enough that the tug could not sail again on her own. (How she was allowed to sail with a tow is a big question-still unanswered).

Kirsten Grace was built in 1981 by the Cenac Shipyard in the deep south, and is a typical clean lined southern US tug. My only photo was taken when she had her odd original name and colour scheme. Recent photos on line show her with all white superstructure, blue trim and spray bulwark and blue funnel. A white "D" on her funnel originally denoted Dana Marine, but current owners are listed as Hansen-Dreijer Marine Enterprises Inc of Theodore, AB. The tug has worked off and on in the Boston area for many years, but has been all over the US east coast. I think this is the first time she has ventured this far north however.As she is now heading into a tropical storm as it heads for Newfoundland, I hope she is well battened down and wish them all a safe trip.

Svitzer Canada - more changes to come

I hear that Svitzer Canada Ltd's contract with the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Sept-Iles will not be renewed and that the two tugs stationed there will be sold. It will probably comer as no surprise when we the name of the new owners becomes official. (Hint: they have made other purchases of former Svitzer/Ectugs - in fact almost all former Ectugs).

When the port of Sept-Iles began to ship Labrador iron ore in the early 1950s, it was a very different era. Two factors determined how the ore was carried. First and foremost, there was no St.Lawrence Seaway. Therefore iron ore destined for the Great Lakes was transported by deep sea bulk carriers to Contrecouer, QC and trans-loaded into canallers for the trip to Hamilton. That changed by the late 1950s and when the Seaway opened transhipment was no longer needed, and lakers could load at Sept-Iles and sail directly to steel mils on the lakes.The trade remained seasonal, but the size of ships increased dramatically to 730 foot lakers, displacing the ocean going bulk carriers.
The second factor was the increasing size of ships and the development of specialized bulk carriers. At first most of the Labrador iron ore was exported overseas, and oceangoing bulk carriers grew and grew in size as the 1950s became the 1960s, and Sept-Iles became a year round port for ice strengthened ships.
The Foundation Company of Canada's tug operation, Foundation Maritime was involved with Sept-Iles from the early days in in 1956 and 1958 they built two tugs to service the port, seasonally. In 1961 a third tug arrived in 1961 to serve Baie-Comeau and Sept-Iles as needed. Remarkably all three of those tugs are still in service: Foundation Victor (1956) now McNally's Jerry Newberry, laid up and for sale at Port Hawksbury; Foundation Valour (1958) now Point Valour and in active service for Thunder Bay Tug Services in Thunder Bay, ON, and Foundation Vibert (1961) now McKeil's Florence M., and also very much operational.
 The tugs were built with a three tier deckhouse to give skippers a better view over the deck of large ships. This distinctive feature made those three tugs unique in their day.

As winter navigation became a reality by the 1970s more powerful icebreaking tugs were necessary and two new tugs were ordered for Sept-Iles from Collingwoood Shipbuilding. The tugs were contracted to the Iron Ore Company of Canada, although they were free to do other work if not needed by IOC.
Foundation Maritime had sold out to MIL Tug, but the company was on the market. Smit + Cory International had arrived in Canada to operate tugs at Point Tupper and Come-by-Chance, NL and they formed Eastern Canada Towing (ECTUG). So it was Ectug that took delivery of Pointe aux Basques in 1972 and Pointe Marguerite in 1973. At 4300 bhp from two 12 cylinder GMs driving twin controllable pitch, open screws and with icebreaking hulls, they were the most powerful tugs in Eastern Canada.
[As an aside, it is interesting that nearby Quebec Cartier Mining in Port Cartier, acquired new tugs at the same time. Now Arcelormittal, they are still operating Brochu and Vachon, both 3600 bhp Voith-Schneiders. They are sisters in all but funnel design to Pointe-Comeau, operated by Svitzer in Baie-Comeau]

1. Pointe Marguerite on the slip in Dartmouth shows off her icebreaking bow. Irving Birch is on the adjacent slip, confusing the look of the tug. March 6, 1977.
A tragic accident on November 14, 1978 saw Pointe Marguerite crushed between the laker Algobay and the Italian bulker Cielo Blanco (88,785 deadweight tons). The tug sank immediately and two men were lost.

2. Pointe-Margureite alongside the Ectug dock in Halifax, March 20, 1977, with Point Vigour (now McKeil's Molly M 1 ) tied up astern and the oil rig Sedco H in the background.

Ectug ordered a replacement from Collingwood, and it was built to essentially the same design. Delivered in 1980 it was named Pointe Sept-Iles. It was christened by no less than Mila Mulroney wife of the then President of the IOC (and later Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney.)

3. Pointe Sept-Iles in Wijsmuller colours, June 19, 2001, after Cory (and Ectug) were purchased by the Dutch company.

The tugs have a made a few notable salvage tows through ice in the Gulf and on to Halifax, but they have generally remained in the Sept-Iles area. In the 1970s they came to Halifax for drydocking, but in more recent years at Verreault's shipyard in Méchins.

4. and 5. Pointe Sept-Iles (top) and Pointe aux Basquers (bottom) in the current Svitzer livery, July 6, 2011 at Sept-Iles.

Now it seems that the tugs (which are getting very old in the tooth) will be sold and Svitzer Canada will no longer be represented in Sept-Iles. Groupe Océan has had new 5,000 bhp ice class tugs in Sept-Iles for two years handling the ships at Pointe-Noire and the transshipment to larger bulkers in the bay, and will now have the port to themselves.Most lakers loading iron ore do not need tugs, since they are equipped with thrusters, and ASD tugs have become the world standard for harbour work -able to push and pull with equal power, and twin screw tugs are now relegated to line haul work.The new owners do a lot of that kind of work, so the tugs should have many more years of service.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Irving Maple - from the archives

From time to time when there is nothing much happening on the current tug scene I will  be dipping into the archives for a favourite tug.
 1. Irving Maple lying at the Irving Oil Woodside dock after delivering the barge Irving Sealion.

One of my all time favourites is of course Irving Maple. Built in 1966 by Saint John Shipbuilding + Dry Dock Ltd [hull number 1063] she was the first ocean going tug built for Atlantic Towing Ltd (they always had second hand before this time).
2. The original funnel had a light blue cap, which became black with time. It was a nice touch, but proved impractical.

Built to Ice class 1 she was 125 ft loa x 32'-4" breadth x 15' draft,  and powered with a single 8 cylinder Nydqvist + Holm (now known as Nohab Polar) of 3200 bhp driving a single CPP in a nozzle.
She was a fine sea boat, and worked all over the east coast of Canada, US, the arctic and transatlantic with tows, and on salvage jobs. Her achievements are too numerous to mention (wait for the book) but between heroics she towed Irving Oil barges to numerous terminals and power plants. The barges had only shallow notches, so she was made up with face wires when in harbours or calm waters, but resorted to towing when at sea.
3. Made up to push, she is directing a barge toward the Nova Scotia Power plant at Tuft's Cove in Halifax harbour.

In 1996 Atlantic Towing Ltd started to re-brand all their tugs with the prefix Atlantic and so she became Atlantic Maple, but I still think of her in her original form. In later years work was found in the Caribbean, but as time went by there was less and less and she was finally laid up early in 2003.
4. As Atlantic Towing Ltd began to re-brand, the tug lost the Irving logo on the funnel, and the painter ran out of room for the new name on the bow, and hadn't got to the stern yet. Speaking of which, when she was towing or even moving with a little speed, she squatted a bit by the stern and looked good. Otherwise her stern had a bit too much lift for my liking.

5. Among her regular tows was the Kent Line paper barge Kent Transport.
Shipbrokers Marcon International have been listing her for years now "as is where is" in Saint John with stated deficiencies including gen sets and stack insulation to be replaced. There is also a non-compete condition for the east coast of Canada, the US and the Arctic.
With no apparent takers I wonder how long she will be around.

6. Not writing her obit yet - that's not why there is a black frame - she showed off well while in refit at the Steel +Engine Products Ltd (Stenpro) slip in Liverpool - and just fit into the fixed 50mm lens. Note she has no rolling chocks due to her ice class.