Sunday, December 28, 2014

Yankee - new life for good ol' tug - UPDATED

The big US tug Yankee arrived in Halifax today on its way to Florida and a new career.

Yankee making a slow speed approach to Halifax today.

Built in 1976 by Equitable Shipyard in Madisonville, LA as Pye Theriot for Nolty J. Theriot Inc of Golden Meadow, LA it went to work in the North Sea as part of the American invasion of big heavy tugs and suppliers. Powered by two 20 cylinder GMs giving 7200 bhp through twin screws, it was a powerful tug for its day, but was soon eclipsed by European vessels.

In 1980 it was sold to Marathon Marine Inc of Findlay, OH, renamed Loretta J and paired with the double hull tank barge MM-1 (8710 grt, 150,000 bbbl capacity, built 1981 by Galveston Shipbuilding Co). Fitted with side pads, the tug worked in the barge notch and was connected with face wires. It was fitted with an elevated wheelhouse to see over the barge when light.
 Loretta J was fitted with an elevated wheelhouse.

Using side pads and face wires the tug fitted into a deep notch in the barge's stern. The tug still had is original twin funnels. 

The pair worked the US Gulf of Mexico and southern Atlantic Coast until 1993 when they were acquired by Eklof Marine Corp of Staten Island, NY. Renamed Yankee, the tug still worked with the barge which was renamed DBL 151 and ranged farther afield, including calls in Halifax in 1994 and 1995.

When DBL 151 was light, even the elevated wheelhouse was barely high enough to see over the deck.

When Eklof was forced out of business, the pair were picked up by K-Sea Transportation , which in turn was acquired by Kirby Corp in 2011. However the barge was not part of that last deal.

Articulated tug/barges using pin connections have made wire boats obsolete, and in 2013 the tug was picked up by Donjon Marine of Hillside, NJ. Donjon is best known for its salvage work, but is also in the metal recycling business and operates Donjon Shipbuiding + Repair, in Erie, PA. Donjon had partnered with the huge offshore and transportation conglomerate Seacor to form Seajon LLC. They built the ATB tug Ken Boothe Sr and barge Lakes Contender for operation on the Great Lakes in 2011-2102.

Donjon and Seacor formed Seajon II LLC to own Yankee and in October 2013 sent the tug up the Seaway to Erie for a rebuild at the Erie shipyard.It has now been completely refurbished and re-powered and is on its return to the US to work out of Florida.
After the rebuild, the tug still has notches in the hull for side pads, but the pads are gone.

Also gone are the classic streamlined funnels, now replaced by huge boxes, each with twin pipes within. There is also a generator mounted on the boat deck.

There is speculation about what that work will be, but Yankee is still equipped with its massive towing winch. However the elevated wheelhouse is gone and so are the side pads.  My speculation is that it will go to work for Seacor's Trailerbridge operation between Jacksonville, FL and San Juan, PR. This is a Jones Act trade, requiring US built tugs to tow huge multi-deck container/RoRo barges (some of 5,860 grt, some of 12,068 grt). The barges are still towed on a towing wire, since they are far too high to operate with pushers. They are handled in ports with harbour tugs. Seacor has traditionally used charters from mainline tug companies to tow the barges. However those companies are concentrating more on ASD harbour tugs and ATBs these days, so line tugs are becoming rare. As a rugged US built hull, Yankee has value for its Jones Act compliance, and with new power, should be good for many more years.

After some repairs, the tug sailed New Year's Eve for New York. It is due there January 2.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Halifax built tug a sinker

One of the few tugs built in Halifax lies partially sunk at Trois-Rivières, QC after rolling on its side December 26. The unattended tug had been laid up for several years, and it is understood that the owners had been warned that it was at risk with the onset of winter weather. It had also been reported that the tug's engines had been at least partially dismantled.

Designed by Robert Allen Ltd it was built by Halifax Shipyards, when it was owned by the Dominion Steel + Coal Co, for the British Columbia forestry giant MacMillan-Bloedel. When it was launched October 26, 1965, at a cost of $1.25mn, it was the first tug built by the yard. Delivered to MacBlo's shipping arm Kingcome Navigation Ltd and named Haida Brave it went into service towing barges from Port Alberni and Powell River, BC to San Francisco and Long Beach, CA. The 350 ft long barges could carry 6500 tons of newsprint, and the trip could be up to 1200 n.mi., at the stately speed of 8 knots.
For this work the 566 grt tug was fitted with two 8 cylinder Werkspoor engines delivering 3470 bhp to twin screws.

The tug worked consistently through 1978  for Kingcome, then Reliance Towing Co when it was sold to Rivtow Straits Ltd, also of Vancouver and renamed Commodore Straits. It then expanded its duties towing log and cargo barges until it was laid up in 1990.
Mac Mackay collection - unknown photographer
In 2003 it was acquired by an affiliate of the Upper Lakes Group Inc of Toronto and given a thorough refit at Allied Shipbuilders Ltd in North Vancouver. It sailed light tug  via the Panama Canal and arrived in its new home port of Trois-Rivières, QC December 3, 2003.

Upper Lakes set up Distribution Grands Lacs / St-Laurent Inc., and used inland river type covered barges, shuttling grain from the Lakes through the Seaway to its elevator in Trois-Rivières.  The tug was not particularly well suited to pusher work, but spent some years on an off moving the barges.

By 2008 Upper Lakes established Marinelink Inc as a heavy lift operator to work on the St.Lawrence. They found an old heavy lift ship in the southern US and sent Commodore Straits to pick it up. It towed the Barge Laviolette south for sale to scrappers and returned with the ship Revival ex John Henry.
Joined by the tug Océan Golf off Pointe-au-Pic they stopped in Trois-Rivières.

Then in September 2008 Commodore Straits was joined by the tug Radium Yellowknife and towed the ship to Port Weller Dry Dock where the superstructure was removed and it was reduced to a barge. Renamed Marinelink Explorer it retained its heavy lift derricks. The tug's ownership was also transferred to Mareinlink Inc and it received a small elevated wheelhouse for visibility over the barge.
The barge did find occasional work, but  was mostly idle, and the tug as well. Other tugs were moving the grain barges more efficiently.

 In  2011 Upper Lakes laid up the tug and barge and offered them for sale. At the same time Upper Lakes sold off its cargo ship fleet, bunkering tankers and other shipping interests. Finally in 2013 Distribution Grands Lacs / St-Laurent was allowed to go into bankruptcy.
In late 2013 CAI Logistics of Moncton, NB acquired the tug and barge. CAI was the company of Chaulk Air and other freight forwarding companies with business in Labrador and the far north, but had not been shipowners. The tug was renamed Chaulk Determination and the barge Chaulk Lifter.

The years of work and layup had taken their toll on the tug's engines and it is understood that a rebuild was started but abandoned. Some work was found for the barge using hired tugs.
The tug is now leaning against its pier in Trois-Rivières, and likely to capsize, having already spilled a large quantity of its 22 tonnes of fuel. A very big mess to clean up. See a picture and read more (in French) at:


Friday, December 26, 2014

Atlantic Teak at Woodside

The veteran Atlantic Towing Ltd tug Atlantic Teak is tied up at the Woodside dock in Dartmouth. The tug arrived just before Christmas, and was one of the last to pass through the Canso Canal, which closed December 24. The tug arrived from the west, after a summer of barge hauling. However it is so well painted that perhaps it had a refit en route back from the St.Lawrence.

Built in 1976 in Singapore as Essar it was purchased by ATL in 1979 and was renamed Irving Teak until becoming Atlantic Teak in a company wide renaming in 1996.
For the past several summers it has been towing barges to Hudson Bay in summer, using the massive towing winch, only partly visible in the above photo. It is a twin screw tug of 2320 bhp, with its KHD engines delivering 28 tonnes bollard pull. 

As Irving Teak the tug prepares to be hauled out at the Dartmouth Marine Slips in 1995. It is one of the few tugs on the east coast with an open flying bridge. Judging by the extended exhaust stacks in the current photo, I expect that it is still used  from time to time.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Atlantic Oak returns

Atlantic Oak returned to port following its five year survey in Shelburne. It also had a complete hull re-painting and looks like new.

Substitute Atlantic Fir, with its distinctive satcom domes will be returning to Saint John, NB.

For the time being at least, there are four ATL tugs in Halifax, with Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Larch in their usual spots.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Seabed Prince - back for more + update

The Norwegian offshore vessel Seabed Prince is working for Secunda Canada on the export pipeline at the Thebaud gas field near Sable Island. Since no Canadian vessel was available to do the specialized work, the ship was granted a coasting license.
I covered its first arrival in Shipfax November 20: but it was back in port again Decmber 6 -7 and returned again this afternoon.

Seabed Prince is providing dive team accommodation and ROVs for installing grout bags, reinforcing bars and weighted mattresses to the pipeline.

Recently an application has been made to extend the coasting license beyond the end of December to February 28, 2015.

Waiting for the ship at pier 31 was a trailer carrying weighted mattresses and not far away a stock of grout bags.They will be loaded aboard using a shoreside crane.

Saturday Update
After unloading some tank containers from deck and taking on the matresses and grout bags, the ship sailed Saturday afternoon, back to the Thebaud field.

A shore crane hoists grout bags aboard. The ship's crane has been swing inboard to allow the mattresses to be loaded. The grey cement tank containers on the dock were removed from the ship.
Sailing Saturday at dusk.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Glen help

Atlantic Towing Ltd manages to carry out harbour berthing and even some outside work with the three ASD tugs normally based in Halifax. From time to time if another tug is needed, they have been able to call on Saint John, NB to send a tug in for a day or or so. However today was a little different.
Faced with shifting an effectively dead ship from anchorage to a pier, the three tugs were not going to be enough. With the tug Atlantic Oak undergoing its 5 year survey in Shelburne, Halifax has already brought in Atlantic Fir from Saint John, and the latter port could not spare another. What to do?
It is not unheard of, but has not been done in years (and never by Atlantic Towing to my knowledge) - they called HMC Dockyard. The Queen's Harbour assigned a Naval Auxiliary tug to lend a hand. Normally working on navy jobs only, with navy pilots, this would be a new experience for the civilian crew.

So early this evening Atlantic Fir, Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Larch were assisted by Glenevis in moving the disabled Australian Spirit from anchorage in Bedford Basin to pier 9C. The ship has no steering capability, having lost its rudder at sea, and there was a breeze picking up. Thanks to Voith-Schneider propulsion Glenevis's high degree of maneuverability makes up to a degree for its modest power of 1750 bhp 

Back in the day when ships were smaller, the Glens had comparable horsepower to the local tugs, and were called in more frequently when one of the harbour tugs was out of service or more power was needed.

Glenevis at her normal berth in HMC Dockyard, although she will not have HMCS Iroquois for company much longer.

Glenevis helps to berth Hoegh Pride in 1979.

Point Vim and Point Vibert in the background get an assist from Glenbrook with the tanker Fina Belgica in 1991. (Photo taken from Point Halifax)

The most notable occasion when Dockyard tugs did civilian work occurred in March 1982 when the oil rig Zapata Scotian on the barge Seacamel 393-11 broke loose from its berth and went adrift in the harbour, threatening the Macdonald Bridge, a Dartmouth office building and the anchored Polish bulker Ziemia Wielkopolska. All three Glens, and St.Charles along with six harbour tugs, three tug/suppliers and the deep sea tugs Shamal and Simoon were all involved in the operation to recover the rig, and eventually get it back alongside the next day when the wind died down.

 Glenbrook gives it her all assisting Point Valour in getting the rig back alongside. The Glen's side thrust was especially helpful compared to the local single screw harbour tugs of roughly equivalent horsepower than t could only push or pull on a tow line.

Navy tugs were deemed to have saved the day, but the Queen's Harbour Master declined to put in a salvage claim.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lonely and Blue

The magnificent tug Ryan Leet has been laid up at pier 9B in Halifax. Just before the arrival of the salvage tow of Australian Spirit on Friday afternoon, the tug moved from the Mobil dock and the crew signed off. I thought it odd at the time that this tug was not used in the salvage tow, but apparently plans to tie it up were in the works and it was not available to use.

Ryan Leet moves to its layup berth on December 12.

The longest serving member of the current Secunda Canada fleet, the tug has been a stalwart for them since 1990. Although mostly used as a standby vessel for offshore work, it has figured in numerous salvage and rescue jobs over the  years, most recently in March 2014 when it worked on the salvage and towed off the grounded bulker John I.near Rose Blanche, Newfoundland.

Now behind a security fence, with only a watchman, it is unclear what the future may bring for the only tug of its type in eastern Canada. With so many more powerful anchor handling tug suppliers available to tow ships when needed, the days of deep sea tugs are numbered around the world. Sadly it is no different here. These wonderful sea boats, built for rescue towing can handle any kind of conditions and are a valuable asset to marine safety.

I have written the story of this tug on this blog several times before, so will only mention in passing that it was built as Abeille Provence in 1977, for use on the French coast. It was replaced by bigger tugs and went to South America as Salvor Commander in 1987. Secunda Marine Services, as it was then, bought the tug and near sister Salvor General ex  Abeille Normandie and reconditioned them for service.

Sisters: Magdelan Sea (foreground) in 2003. The next year it was sold to Greek owners and became Zouros Hellas. In 2007 it became Tsavliris Hellas and is still in service as a salvage tug.

Ryan Leet was re-powered in 1994 with a pair of V-20 GM EMDs of 3,650 bhp each, and was fitted with a retractable 800 bhp omnidirectional bow thruster. For station keeping in standby mode, it can use the thruster only. Its controllable pitch props are in nozzles.

One of Ryan Leet's finer moments, fighting the container fire on the ship Kitano in Halifax harbour, March 23, 2001.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Venture Sea and Atlantic Larch called out to sea

Two Halifax based tugs put to sea today to assist the drifting tanker Australian Spirit. En route from Whiffen Head, Newfoundlad  with 90,000 tonnes of crude oil for New York, the tanker lost is steering on last night (December 9).
Gale force winds and 4 meter seas along with driving rain and limited visibility have raised concerns about the safety of the ship which is 40 nautical miles off Halifax's Chebucto Head. CCGS Earl Grey also put to sea to standby.

Atlantic Towing's Atlantic Larch was the first tug to respond. The 4,000 bhp tug is fitted with a towing winch in addition to its shiphandling winch forward. It would not be large enough to tow the tanker single handedly, but it could certainly assist in keeping its head up to winds and seas, if it can secure and maintain a tow line in rough conditions.

Also sailing from Halifax the anchor handling tug supplier Venture Sea with 12,280 bhp would certainly be able to tow the ship. The Secunda Canada tug was in Halifax on a regular run from the Sable Island gas operations when it was called out. Built in 1998 by Halter Marine in Pascagoula, it has worked for Secunda in Canada and overseas.

Australian Spirit is operated by Teekay Shipping and was built in 2004 by Hyundai Heavy Industries of Ulsan, South Korea. It measures 68,213 grt, 111, 9045 dwt. 

Halifax Harbour is under weather watch due to winds and seas, with several ships waiting offshore for improved conditions to make it possible to enter port. These conditions will make it difficult to manage Australian Spirit, which will no doubt have to enter port to effect repairs.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Number two is Tim McKeil

McKeil has taken delivery of its second ASD tug from Singapore. Pannawonica I arrived in Sydney, NS recently and was registered today in St.John's as Tim McKeil.
My earlier posting about sister tug Lois M gives most of the details about the tug. See:

Both tugs were delivered by the noted Dutch ship delivery company Redwise. They will deliver just about any floating object anywhere, but they specialize in tugs, largely because they are an offshoot or the famous, but now vanished, tug company Wijsmuller. Long a freestanding independent, their roots are still in tugs.

First both tugs were delivered to Singapore from Australia, some 2200 miles in February 2014. Once there they entered a shipyard for what was described as TLC.

Lois M (as Lambert) sailed from Singapore May 23*, traveling 16,500 miles in 4 1/2 months towing two dump scows, Marmac 250 and Marmac 251, and stopping in Mauritius June 23 and Walvis Bay July 15 for fuel. After delivering the scows to Tampico Mexico, the tug sailed light to Mulgrave. A near disaster was averted off Tampico when Marmac 251 broke loose in Hurricane Dolly September 4. Fortunately it was recovered undamaged by a local tug.

Tim McKeil (as Pannawonica I ) spent more time in the shipyard, where work included the installation of an elevated wheelhouse. They sailed from Singapore July 6, reaching Fremantle July 20 where they had more work done, including prop polishing. There they picked up two split hopper scows, GL 501 and GL 502. Stopping in Mauritius August 28, Walvis Bay September 23, Cape Verde Islands October 20-24, they delivered the scows to Miami November 15, then sailed light tug to Sydney. A five month trip of 5,000 miles.

During the trips, Redwise crews did considerable running maintenance and  generally handed over the tugs in better condition than they found them. These crews are a breed unto themselves, taking on long voyages in small ships, often battling severe conditions of weather, heat and deprivation when systems break down. Rusty water tanks, decks awash and other risks are taken in stride.

Redwise has a website, and crews keep blogs of the trips. If you can't read Dutch, Bing Translation can give you a very rough approximation if your computer has that feature.

Company website: [go to the bottom of the page for English]

* all dates are approximate.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Eileen McAllister - Mission Scrubbed

Eileen McAllister is returning home to the US after her planned tow out was scrubbed. The tug had arrived in Quebec City prepared to tow the old Great Lakes bulker American Fortitude ex Courtney Burton, ex Ernest T. Weir to Brownsville, TX for scrapping.
Due to the condition of the ship itself, and some issues with the tow, its progress down the Seaway was halted by Transport Canada at Côte-Ste-Catherine, above Montreal.
The veteran bulker was built in 1953 and converted to a self-unloader in 1980, but had been laid up in Toledo, OH since 2008. The Canadian tugs Evans McKeil, on the bow and Jarrett M ex Atomic on the stern, towed the ship down through through the Welland Canal and most of the Seaway until it was stopped. The indeterminate delay resulted in McAllister Towing opting to recall Eileen McAllister. (She had arrived from Norfolk, VA.)

It is late in the season, with ice forming and recent experiences with HMCS Athabaskan and Miner probably lead to wisdom prevailing.

Eillen McAllister, in bright Houston sunshine, shows off her heavy hull fendering, similar to the railroad tugs of New York.

Eileen McAllister was in Halifax in August 2012 and towed out the old floating drydock Scotiadock II, also for scrap. Built in 1977 by Main Iron Works in Houma, LA, the 4300 bhp tug is of traditional US design. Like most tugs from that builder it is of extremely durable construction, and its GM EMD engines are famed for their longevity.

 Eileen McAllister steams smartly into Halifax August 1, 2012 with company pennant flying.

The next day she makes her way outbound, with tow rigged, complete with gog line. 

Her tow was an old floating drydock.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Temporary tug change for Halifax

The tugs in Halifax are all so similar in appearance, it is somtimes hard to tell which is which. This past weekend there was a change that might not have been noticeable to the casual observer.

Easiest to identify is Atlantic Larch because it has no firefighting gear:
Built in 2000 it is a 4,000 bhp ASD tug. It is fitted with a towing winch and is sometimes sent away from Halifax for various chores where a winch is needed. However it does look very similar to the Atlantic Hemlock which sometimes comes to Halifax.

Atlantic Willow is a firefighting tug, with prominent water cannons:
It dates from 1998 and is also a 4,000 bhp ASD, and has no towing winch. However it has open bulwarks at the bits fore and aft, and a strongback on the stern rail to protect the line if it is using its towing hook.

Atlantic Oak is a firefighting tug with less prominent water cannons:
It also has the open rails, but is fitted with stainless steel shields over the air intakes on the funnel casings and has a side door on the wheelhouse. It was built in 2004 and is a 5,050 bhp tug, and as the most powerful tug in Halifax it is the one used most often for tethered escort work.

However Atlantic Oak has a sister tug named Atlantic Fir, based in Saint John:
Aside from different shields on its water cannons it was virtually indistinguishable from its sister. It was built in 2005 and is also rated at 5050 bhp. Since it travels about a great deal, it does show up in Halifax from time to time. Unless one was really alert, it was hard to tell which tug it was - until now.

This weekend Atlantic Willow was sent off to Liverpool to berth the ship Thorco Dolphin with wind turbine components and Atlantic Oak was sent to Shelburne for refit. When Atlantic Fir arrived to fill in I noted that something new had been added:
 Two satellite domes have been appeared. A small one on the mast and larger one on its own pole. These certainly make the tug stand out from the rest! They may have been added for navigation purposes likely for the tow out of the Gravity Base in Newfoundland, where precise location was required. It is not clear if these have been tied into the tug's autopilot to provide dynamic positioning. They are for communication only.

Up close then, there is now little doubt that one is seeing Atlantic Fir. but from a distance it still requires some experience to pick it out.
Atlantic Larch on the left, and Atlantic Fir, at Atlantic Oak's normal berth at the IEL dock in Woodside. From a distance the sat domes are barely visible.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Call out for Wijsmuller tug

A group in Ijmuiden, Netherlands is looking for an old Wijsmuller tug to restore. They want to bring it back to Ijmuiden to pay tribute to the famous tugboat company. They have their aim set on four potential tugs in various parts of the world, all in dubious condition at this point. However based on the experience with other old Dutch tugs that have been restored, they may be on to a good thing.

We did not see many Wijsmuller tugs in Halifax, but in the fall of 1978 and again in 1980, Bureau Wijsmuller, as it was known then, based a tug in Halifax on standby for salvage work. They used the old Purdy's Wharf as their salvage station, but I don't think they got any business and the Wijsmuller logo was not seen in Halifax again until 2000.

Jacob van Heemskerk was stationed here in 1978. Built in 1964 it was a single screw (with nozzle) tug of 3550 bhp. It was sold to the Philippines in 1981, renamed Hurricane II and broken up in Manila in 1995.

 The slightly smaller Noord-Holland was stationed here in the autumn of 1980. Built in 1965 as a single screw tug of 2950 bhp, it was re-engined in 1970, had a nozzle added in 1971 and re-engined again in 1975 to 4200 bhp. It was sold in 1984 becoming Sierra and in 1989 it was sold again and renamed Asetec. It was sold at auction in 2001 and a rather cryptic note in Lloyd's 2013 says "whereabouts unknown."

On January 14, 2000 Wijsmuller stunned the tug world by buying the Cory Towage Group from Ocean Group plc, and thus Eastern Canada Towing (ECTUG) became a Wijsmuller company. The tugs were gradually repainted, with white superstructure, red visor, blue funnel with white stripe and black cap, blue mast and trim and  the "global link" logo prominently displayed.

By summer 2000 Point Chebucto was repainted except for the winch. Two Wijsmuller logos appeared on the bridge front.

Point Halifax in full Wijsmuller colours.

Point Valiant's winch remained in black paint.

Pointe Sept-Iles had its line reels painted blue, and a section of deck painted blue aft.

It was well into the year 2000 by the time this scheme was completed on most of the ECTUG fleet. In fact the smaller tugs were not completely repainted when in 2001 Svitzer, in another stunning move, swallowed Wijsmuller and the repainting started again!. First to go was the Wijsmuller logo, and the Svitzer cross appeared on the white stripe of the funnels, but it took a long time to completely repaint the tugs again.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Gulf Spray restored to service

After last March's disastrous encounter with the stern of the RoRo ship Cavallo the small tug Gulf Spray was badly banged up.See three posts:

However it was restored and went back to work for the cruise ship season. The unglamorous job of tending refuse and waste scows goes on largely unnoticed, but is an essential service for ships calling in Halifax. International waste must be treated differently from ordinary domestic waste, and cruise ships generate a lot. They also yield mountains of recyclabes, such as drink bottles and cans and cardboard.

 An early morning start across the harbour with a liquid waste barge, to work alongside a cruise ship.

Built to a similar pattern to navy pup tugs and Department of Public Works  tugs, the stovepipe from the forward cabin was a prominent feature.

Built in 1959 by Ferguson Industries in Pictou to their own account, the tug assisted ships on and off the marine cradles in Pictou for years until the yard was closed. In 2007 new owners in Halifax rebuilt the tug, with its cabin fitted out in yacht like style.

Alongside pier 24 with a sold waste scow, and various sorting bins, Gulf Spray shows off its large single wheelhouse window.

The port side of that house was badly damaged and the funnel dislodged in last winter's incident, but it has all been put right now.With the end of the cruise season, the boat may find other work, but it has earned a well deserved rest.

Running free at hull speed yesterday, Gulf Spray still looks first class.