Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Tugfax wishes you a very Merry Christmas.

As customary an old photo forms the subject of this geeting.

In June 1977 the tug D.Lauder was preparing to tow the dredge Nova Scotia to new owners in Quebec. It was tied up at the J.P.Porter dock on the Dartmouth side of Halifax harbour, just north of the Angus L. Macdonald bridge.
The tug was built in 1954 in at Port Dalhousie, ON for the J.P.Porter Co Ltd as the A.F.Fifield, named for one of the company superintendents. It was later renamed D.Lauder for another of the company personnel. When the Porter company was wound up in 1977 it was acquired by Sceptre Dredging and transferred to Sorel, QC.

Sceptre, after several re-organizaitons, was also wound up and the tug was sold in 1990 to Construction Ger-Con Ltée. They renamed the tug J.Manic before re-selling it to Navigation Harvey Frères (1992) Inc with the unlikely address of Thetford Mines, QC. They in turn renamed themselves Navcomar.

On June 29, 1994, while towing the barge Basse Côte from Sept-Iles to Monger Lake, the tug began taking water and sank . The crew took to a boat and were picked up by the tug Pointe Sept-Iles.
The sinking was the subject of a Transportation Safety Board Report :



Friday, December 20, 2013

New Names: Océan Basque, Océan Sept-Iles, R.J.Ballott and christenings

This week three former Ectugs changed names, and another tug entered service making 2013 a banner year for changes in the tug scene of eastern Canada.

On Friday December 20, the sale of Svitzer Canada's Pointe aux Basques and Pointe Sept-Iles became official when Location Océan Inc of Quebec City, re-registered the two tugs as Océan Basque and Océan Sept-Iles respectively. The surprise sale of these tugs to Groupe Océan after they had been displaced from Sept-Iles by Groupe Océan had been rumoured for some time, but Groupe Océan apparently did not want it to be known, but it is now official.

There is no outward sign of Océan ownership yet, but I can't imagine them letting the tugs sit idle for too long. As reported before, Pointe aux Basques has been inactive in Halifax since October and Pointe Sept-Iles was recently working in Point Tupper.

Meanwhile, also in the Strait of Casnso area, the new name for Jerry Newberry, ex Kay Cole ex Point Victor ex Foundation Victor  has now been revealed. New owners Sealand Shipping Service Inc of Baie Verte, NL have renamed the tug R.J.Ballott, and it appeared this week on the Transport Canada List of Shipping web site.

In the photo, taken in 2011, Jerry Newberry sits alongside the tug Kaliutik (built in 1998, 550 bhp, 2screw) which also is for sale. Behind them are Gulf Dianne and Atlantic Elm.

Meanwhile in Quebec City, the official naming ceremony for Océan Tundra took place one week ago on December 13. The tug was built in the company's own yard in Ile-aux-Coudres, with the superstructure and bow built at their ship repair facility in Quebec City and barged to Ile-aux-Coudres for installation after the hull was launched. The super tug has already entered service. For video of the ship's construction, up to and including some (brrrr) icy spins off Quebec City, see a 6+ minute Youtube item:


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tug and barge change hands

Idle since 2010 the tug Commodore Straits and the barge Marinelink Explorer have been sold and renamed. Chaulk Determination and Chaulk Lifter respectively. The new owners are shown as a numbered New Brunswick company, but based on the new names, I assume it is connected with CAI Logistics, a Moncton based freight forwarder.

Marinelink Explorer and Commodore Straits laid up in Trois-Rivières in 2011.

Halifax Shipyards built the tug in 1966 as Haida Brave, and it sailed directly to the wast coast on completion.  In 1984 Rivtow Straits renamed the tug Commodore Straits. A subsidiary of the Upper Lakes Group bought the tug in 200x and returned it east. It went to work for Distribution Grands Lacs/St-Laurent Ltée of Trois-Rivières, QC, moving grain barges through the St.Lawrence Seaway. It is a twin screw vessel with 3700 bhp Werkspoor main engines. Smaller tugs were found to be more suitable for the grain barge work and the tug was idled for a time and transferred eventually to Jackes Shipping, a UL Group subsidiary.
In 2008 Upper Lakes established Marinelink Inc, to be a tug barge service on the Lakes and St.Lawrence River. They bought a heavy lift ship, orginally named John Henry and built in 1978 by Peterson Builders Inc of Sturgeon Bay, WI. It was a specialized shallow draft ship with bow and stern doors and a reputed 300 tonne lifting capacity. It only worked for a couple of years until it went into a 15 year layup in a controlled environment. In 2000 it emerged from its US government cocoon and was to be rebuilt as Revival but work was suspended. Marinelink renamed the ship Marinelink Explorer and Commodore Straits was dispatched to Norfolk VA and towed it to Canada.

Shortly after the photo above was taken the tug Océan Golf met the tow and assisted it up river to Trois-Rivières. In September of 2008 Commodore Straits and Radium Yellowknife towed it up through the Seaway to the Port Weller Drydock where it was reduced to a barge, with temoval of its superstructure, but it retained its heavy lift capability.

The tug and barge did get some work, including transfer of some locomotives from Becancour to Sept-Iles in 2010, but they were laid up in Trois-Rivières. In 2011 when Upper Lakes sold its Great Lakes bulk carriers, the pair were put up for sale.

CAI Logistics is involved in freight forwarding and logistics by air, sea and road. Originally based in Goose Bay, NL but now headquartered in Moncton, NB, and with connections to the Canadian north, they have chartered or used ships, tugs and barges. Founder David Chaulk and CAI were listed in 2010 as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada (4,650% in the 5 years to 2009.)

In  about 2010 CAI acquired a ship, the former Visten ex Coldstream Trader-96, ex Aldabi -93. It was a 3,987 gross ton ice class combi tanker/cargo ship, built in 1990 in the Netherlands. Renamed Chaulk Tenacity it was sent to Swansea, Wales to be refitted as a cargo ship after some time in layup. It was to become capable of carrying 253 TEU and /or general cargo and to have a pair of 20 tonne cranes.
The refit did not go well and Chaulk sued the ship yard and the project managers for incompetence. The ship is still listed in the Canadian register, with owners as Chaulk Air Inc of Moncton, but to my knowledge the ship has never entered service.

Perhaps CAI will have better luck with their new venture.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Tows can go wrong

Things can go wrong with tows, and I have covered a few here. I am not pointing fingers - it is a fact of life, but there are factors that can be pointed to as possible causes.
One big tow that went wrong, but without permanent damage, took place in 1980. On September 17 the Quebec tug Capt. Ioannis S. (now Océan Delta, see previous post) set out from Quebec City towing two retired Great Lakes ships, Helen Evans and Thornhill. Destination was the scrap yards in Mamonal, Columbia. Things went well until just off Halifax when the controllable pitch mechanism on the Capt. Ioannis S. went into reverse and severed one of the tow lines. 

The result was one ship in tow and another on the loose, and this was more than the Capt. Ioannis S. could handle by itself. Point Valiant (ex Foundation Valiant)(now André H.- see today's Shipfax) went out to assist on September 22. The crew was able to recover the severed tow line, which was hanging down in the water, and did not have to use the emergency pick up line. Fortunately conditions were calm - but foggy.
Capt Ioannis S. still had Thornhill on a string and was able to tow it in, arriving early on September 23, then stood by the as Point Valiant brought Helen Evans in later the same day.

Once in port Ectug mobilized its harbour fleet to bring the ships alongside. Point Viking, Point Vigour, and Point Valour all assisted.

The tug and tows remained in Halifax until October 16 when the fotilla set sail  and reached Columbia safely October 30.

Remarkably all these tugs remain in service today. Point Vigour is now McKeil's Molly M 1, Point Viking works in Quebec for Construction Polaris and Point Valour is stationed in Thunder Bay, ON.

News Flash: The newly elected Liberal provincial government of Nova Scotia says it will go it alone to start removal of the wreck of Miner, which has littered a beach on Scatarie Island since its tow line parted two years ago. It will chase the Conservative federal government for compensation later - good luck with that.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Océan on the move again

Groupe Océan is making tug news again with acquisitions and sales.

1. Pointe aux Basques and Pointe Sept-Iles  reported sold.

I have received reports from several sources that Groupe Océan has purchased Pointe aux Basques and Pointe Sept-Iles from Svitzer Canada. As previously reported, the two tugs were idled when Svitzer's contract with the Iron Ore Company of Canada was not renewed. Svitzer, and its three predecessors, Ectug, MIL Tug and Foundation Maritime, had provided tugs in Sept-Iles since 1956 (and possibly earlier), and these twin screw icebreaking tugs were built to work there. The contract ended August 1, 2013.
Groupe Océan became well established in Sept-Iles the past few years, with their tugs supporting construction, dredging and ship-lightering in the bay.  They now provide tug service at both Pointe-Noire and at Sept-Iles. They also chartered Océan Arctique and Océan Stevns last summer with an option to buy, and have stationed them in Sept-Iles.

2. Point Valiant in refit, Lunenburg.

Pointe Sept-Iles found work in Belledune, NB and is presently filling in at Point Tupper while Point Valiant is in refit at Lunenburg. Pointe aux Basques arrived in Halifax October 10 and has been idle ever since.
Océan had previously reported that they would be assigning two tugs to Bull Arm next year, so these may be the tugs they will use.

Meanwhile Groupe Océan has listed the tug/barge combination Mega and Motti with Marcon International ship brokers. I hear that Océan bought the combo for a contract, which was subsequently cancelled. The transatlantic delivery of the pair last winter and spring, was a bit of a marathon, with extended stops in the Las Palmas and Hamilton, Bermuda.
Full particulars on the pair may be found on Marcon International's web site:  http://www.marcon.com/marcon2s.cfm?SectionGroupsID=20&SectionListsID=20&PageID=24&Action=Detail&File=HB42678

Also on the For Sale list are Océan Delta and Océan Foxtrot. These two are among the senior citizens in the Océan fleet, and with newer tugs available and on the way, they will have to go.

Océan Delta was Océan's largest tug, Built in Norway 1973 for the International Towing Contractors as Sistella it was renamed Sandy Cape in 1978, and in 1980 came to Canada for Québec Tugs [Quetug], then part of Davie Shipbuilding, which was owned by Canada Steamship Lines. Renamed Captain Ioannis S. (for Capt "John" Styliadis) it worked on the St.Lawrence, on the east coast, towing icebergs and in the arctic and farther afield. When the present Groupe Océan acquired the Quetug fleet they retained the name until 1999 when it became Océan Delta.
3. In Halifax in June 1997, the tug wearing its Quetug funnel marking.

4. In August 1996 it teamed up with fleetmate Océan Foxtrot to assist in the tow the oil rig Spirit of Columbus from Halifax to Quebec City for rebuilding. Foxtrot was carrying the name and wearing the new colours of Groupe Océan

Océan Delta made the headlines a year ago during the ill-fated tow of HMCS Athabaskan from St.Catharines, ON toward Halifax. As lead tug, Delta was plagued by breakdowns, (and I hear a scratch crew). They had to abort the tow in Sydney, NS, after the towline parted and the warship was holed when it made contact with the tug. Atlantic Towing Ltd completed the tow.

Groupe Océan spent a lot of money on the tug over the years, including a re-engining, when its original 5,600 bhp N+H was replaced with a 6,464 bhp MaK in 2000. However large single screw tugs* are becoming dinosaurs, and with a spring delivery of Océan's new Océan Tundra the Delta will be replaced with a much more capable ship. 
[* Marcon categorizes the tug as twin screw in its index, but the actual listing shows it correctly as single screw.]

5. Trading a Halifax grain elevator for Quebec City grain elevator as a backdrop, Océan Delta rests in its home port. It was just about to enter a summer refit. Soon after this photo was taken the Océan funnel mark changed again to a broader black cap and no logo.

For Marcon's listing  of Océan Dleta see: http://www.marcon.com/marcon2s.cfm?SectionGroupsID=20&SectionListsID=20&PageID=8&Action=Detail&File=TG56000

 Océan Foxtrot is an untypical tug for Groupe Océan. It was built as an anchor handling supply tug, with lots of pulling power for its size. Originally Polar Shore it came out of the Cochrane Yard in Selby, England in 1971 for Offshore Marine. With 72 tonnes bollard pull from a pair of Ruston-Paxmans totaling 5,280 bhp, it was considered a powerful vessel in its day. As its name implied it was built for work in northern waters to Lloyds Ice Class 1. 
In 1988 Canadian Marine Drilling bought the tug, renamed it Canmar Supplier VII and put it to work in the Beaufort Sea. Quetug bought it in 1995, giving it the name Océan Foxtrot and initially put it to work as pusher tug, with a special bow fitting. That was removed in Halifax in March 1999.
6. Océan Foxtrot with pushing fender. The former Coast Guard landing craft Nanook, then owned by Océan is alongside.
7. On a bitingly cold day in Halifax, Ocean Foxtrot carries a bit of frozen spray on its return from a trip to Come-by-Chance, NL in 2003.

 Meanwhile it worked on numerous unusual projects, such as dive support for the Irving Whale salvage in 1995, the Swiss Air crash recovery in 1998, several cable repair jobs, and salvage tows.It has also worked offshore and in the north. I am sure Océan will miss its versatility if it sells.
6. Océan Foxtrot leaving Halifax for a cable repair project. It has been fitted with a slide over its stern roller, and carries a containerized fibrepoptic splicing shop on deck.

Being "For Sale" doesn't mean "Sold" so we will have to wait and see what happens to these two tugs. Marcon is also listing McKeil's Tony MacKay - more on it another time.