Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nostalgia time: Christmas Season 1979

Halifax was a busy port for tugs over the Christmas season of 1979.

As previously reported here and in a recent Shipfax post, the French tug Abeille 30 was in port from December 21 to January 1, 1980. It was towing the broken down Algerian ship Biban from Montreal to Europe, but the ship needed drydocking in Halifax.

Abeille 30 revs up as she tows out Biban on New Year's Day 1980. 
Harbour tugs Point Vigour, Point Viking and Point Vim all assisted in getting the tow on the move.

Local tugs were being kept busy too, with Point Valiant assisting the three harbour tugs Point Vim, Point Vigour and Point Viking with docking the big bulk carrier Oremar.  I believe the ship was suffering some hull cracks and was escorted in to Halifax by Point Valiant.

Built in 1963 as Foundation Valiant, the tug was sold by Eastern Canada Towing to Three Rivers Boatmen in 1995 and renamed André H. Groupe Océan took over TRB and still operates the tug today.

There was quite a collection of tugs and suppliers at the Dartmouth Marine Slip. Front and centre was Tusker - a former Australian tug, acquired by McAsphalt Industries to tow its asphalt barge. It had yet to enter refit.
Pre-refit Tusker still wears the funnel marking "OSS".

Former Salvators on the left and former Shores on the right.

Also alongside were two Norwegian tugs, Odin Salvator and Orla Salavator. Both had recently been renamed, dropping the "Salavator" suffix, although the former became Odin II..

Two Canadian built suppliers, Scotian Shore and Breton Shore were in the process of reconfiguring as seismic survey vessels. Breton Shore had been renamed Edward O. Vettter, and Scotian Shore was to become Fred J. Agnich.

Two Fednav suppliers, Cathy B and Federal 6 also arrived for layover.

Glenkeen at the Irving  Oil dock, with the retired wooden tug Margaret Porter in the background.

The Glenkeen arrived from Montreal en route to the Caribbean. Built in 1945 at Kingston, ON it was one of 17 steel, and three wooden tugs of the Glen class built built for the Royal Canadian Navy. This one was of the A Type, with long deck house. Type Bs had a shorter house and no captain's cabin behind the wheelhouse. 
It operated for the National Harbours Board in Montreal until 1979 then sold to a Halifax company for work between Costa Rica and Columbia. That deal fell through and it sat in Halifax for a year until finally sailing in December 1980 ostensibly to work in Guadeloupe.

Another wartime build, Beaver Lily was laid up over Christmas at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth. Built in 1942 by Levingston Shipbuilding in Orange, TX for the United States Nay, it served in St.John's, NL as  ST 27. JPPorter acquired the tug post-war, and renamed it Catalina. It served them until Beaver Marine took it over in 1978. It also made its way to Guadeloupe, but in 1992 and returned to Canada in 1997 before heading south to US owners.

Another former JPPorter tug, JPP No. 11 was working in Sceptre Dredging colours at the former French Cable wharf in Dartmouth. The tug, built in 1958 in Montreal, had been acquired by Harbour Development Ltd, and was renamed HD No. 11 early in 1980. Sceptre took over many Porter assets in 1978, but soon sold off when it didn't find much work.

JPP No.11 moves the Cranemaster, with Biban in the background at Halifax Shipyard.

Eastern Canada Towing's Point Carroll, pitched in to help with harbour berthing work. Not well suited, since it steering nozzle was fairly slow acting, it was only used when all other tugs were busy.

Point Carroll sailed on Dec 22, and escorted Biban in on December 24, also assisting in its docking at the Shipyard. 
During 2015 the tug has been laid up in Hamilton, ON. Under McKeil Marine ownership since 2001 as Tony MacKay, the tug has seen better days since it was built in 1973.

Atlantic Towing Ltd had its big tug Irving Birch in Halifax toward year's end, tying up at the old Irving Oil wharf in Halifax. Built in 1967, it was a great tug, performing many salvage tows, but also handled barge tows. It became Atlantic Birch in 1999, and was scheduled for the scrap list last year, but as of June 2015 it was still intact at the Indiantown dock in Saint John.

 Atlantic Birch, Atlantic Pine, Atlantic Elm and Swellmaster at Atlantic Towing's Indiantown facility in Saint John last summer.

There is no use complaining about the current state of tugs in Halifax, but by comparison my January 1, 1980 count of ships in port included 21 tugs, suppliers and workboats. Eastern Canada Towing alone accounted for six tugs.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Breaux Tide working, not so Jones Tide - updated 2015-12-23

Support vessels for Shell's offshore drilling program come and go on a regular basis - that is until recently. Today Breaux Tide was backing in to pier 9B where Skandi Flora had been tied up, however sister supplier, Jones Tide has been sitting idle.

I hear that Jones Tide (owned by Tidewater, and bareboat chartered to Atlantic Towing) is off charter due to some unfortunate problems with its Dynamic Positioning System. DP is  used to hold a ship in position using sophisticated satellite navigation instrumentation, tied to the ship's propulsion controls. Something went wrong with Jones Tide's DP however and it "contacted" the drill ship Stena Icemax on two occasions. The nature of the contact is not known to me, and there is no visible evidence of it on Jones Tide- Even so it is not supposed to happen at all.

No doubt repairs are underway, but there will have to be a trials period before it can resume it charter, to ensure that there is no repetition. So far there has been no sign of a replacement vessel.

Update: Jones Tide sailed Wednesday December 23, so the problems were apparently sorted out.  Strangely, Marine Traffic showed its destination as a marina in Ston, Honduras, however its course heading indicates it is heading for the Stena Icemanx.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Beverly M 1

The McKeil tug Beverly M1 tied up at the Svitzer Canada dock December 7. I missed the arrival, but
there is a great shot on Halifax Shipping News.

The former Eastern Canada Towing [ECTUG] and before that Foundation Maritime dock has been very quiet since Svitzer assigned its tugs to Point Tupper, with only the occasional visitor, so it was good to see a tug there again.

Back in 1958 Foundation Maritime ran harbour tugs, a salvage fleet, ocean tugs and had a marine construction and repair yard. Although barely recognizable today, the main wharf and the secondary wharf with the old salvage shed still stands in the midst of a rejuvenated Halifax waterfront.

Beverly M 1 was built by Imamura Zosen , Kure, Japan in 1993 for Hong Kong Salvage + Towage as Shek O, and that name is still visible on the wheelhouse. The McKeil crew has modified the letters HK to McK [not visible in this photo] and kept "Salvage + Towage" . Even though the company's official name is Evans McKeil Workboats, it is commonly known as McKeil Marine.From its main base in Hamilton, ON it also has operations in Quebec, Newfoundland and has now established a base in Sydney, NS.

Following completion in 1992 the 4,000 bhp tug worked in Hong Kong, but in 2004 was transferred to sister company Swire Pacific Offshore and was renamed Hunter for two years, before reverting to Shek O. In 2008 it was became Swire Pacific's Pacific Typhoon. A very capable tug, it is fitted for ocean towing and has a massive towing winch. It is a ASD tug, with Niigata stern drives, and is also equipped to work over the bow for ship berthing.

When McKeil acquired the tug in 2013 it was for work in Newfoundland, but it has been in and out of Halifax several times.


Saturday, November 14, 2015


Maersk Cutter got underway this afternoon on a cable work mission. International Telecom chartered the ship from Maersk, but the cable work will be in Placentia Bay, NL for Eastlink, a cable TV, internet and cell phone service provider.

A pair of slides mounted over the stern roller were fitted for cable work. Not visible on deck due to the high gunwales is a container with the side cut out to store cable, and other gear for fibreoptic splicing. I am told that there is a complement of 47 persons aboard for the project.

Who's minding the store?
I had to wonder today who was looking after the drill ship Stena Icemax out in the Shelburne Basin, since all the suppliers that normally tend to it were in Halifax. Several days of bad weather - mostly high winds - may be the answer to why the boats were all in Halifax.

 Skandi Flora got away from pier C, swapping places with....

Breaux Tide, which joined sister Jones Tide at pier 9C.

Also at pier 9C Atlantic Tern did some trials in Bedford Basin then returned to the pier.

Moving from pier 36 to pier 9 was Kaliutik and its barge Kaligak.

The barge is now loaded with two large steel fabrications for the McInnis cement project in Port Daniel, QC. The castings are independently supported on the deck of the barge with steel pedestals, but a highway trailer is run under them to allow for drive off when it reaches its destination.

The barge's name is spelled out as kaLIgak. Note the two wheel ramps secured to the deck in the foreground. They are still packed with sand from the last beach landing.

I imagine they are also waiting out the weather for a few days before embarking on the trip.
Interestingly the Kaliutik's AIS signal states that its next port of call is Cornwall, ON. Perhaps not surprising since it s now working under the agency of McKeil Marine.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Maersk Cutter

Maersk Supply Service Canada Ltd's newest vessel arrived in Halifax this morning for the first time. Delivered by Asenav in Santiago, Chile August 5, the ship arrived in St.John's on its delivery trip September 8: see Shipshots.blogspot

 A crane is set up to load gear aboard Maersk Cutter. That is Skandi Flora astern at pier 9C.

It berthed at pier 9A in Halifax, the new home of International Telecom (their former quarters at pier 9 have been annexed by Halifax Shipyard). It appears then that the ship will be doing some cable work just as its former fleet mate Maersk Chignecto used to do. See Tugfax 2015-02

That latter supplier the ex Chignecto Bay sailed from St.John's September 8 or 9 and headed to Tampico, MX.  Its Canadian flag registry was closed October 9 and it was reflagged to Mexico with owners listed as Armamex Naviera SA de CV. No new name has been posted yet.

The Maersk Clipper is the second of and order of two sister, Maersk Clipper is the other, built in Chile (a Canadian free trade partner) and measures 6,490 grt, and about 4,000 dwt. Its engines produce 13,000 bhp and its design bollard pull is 180 tonnes. It is fitted with all the DP and FF bells and whistles.
The ship was not built to fulfill any particular Maersk contracts, so is apparently available on a spot basis.

The downturn in oil work has resulted in more than 30 suppliers from one company alone "stacked" in the Gulf of Mexico and about 100 in North Sea ports. Maersk is laying off employees world wide (and not just in its offshore operations) so it iS good to see suppliers working.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

kALIUTIk sneaks in under the radar

I was startled to see the small tug kALIUTIk with its scow (believed to be kALIGAk) at pier 36 this afternoon. The pair arrived unbeknownst to me, and since they did not require a pilot, there was no advance notice of its arrival.

The tug was built in 1998 at Nanticoke, ON (where it is still registered) and fitted out in Port Dover, ON, by Dovercraft Marine. Measuring only 82.79 grt, it is rated at 550 bhp, with twin screws. Owners Labrador Unuit Development Corp of Happpy Valley-Goose Bay (and its subsidiary Torngait Ujaganniavingit Corporation of Nain) had the tug and two scows, Kaligak and Sappatak built to service a stone quarry at Ten Mile Bay, near Nain. They were to transport stone from the quarry 40 miles to Iggiak where it was to be loaded onto anchored ships for export to Europe. The quarry contains various decorative feldspars such as  labradorite (also known as firestone) and anorthosite (called "Blue Eyes") used for sculptures decorative architectural stonework.
The quarry operation was closed in 2009 and since then the tug has had periods of idleness and has worked around Nova Scotia at various times. It has also been advertised for sale for several years.

 The last time I saw the tug was in 2012 while exiting the Canso Lock......
heading for Port Hawksbury..........

where it picked up the barge kALIGAk.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Tides Coming In

With the Shell drilling program well underway off Nova Scotia, the suppliers are making a steady progression in and out of port. On Saturday November 7 Jones Tide arrived and on Sunday November 8 Breaux Tide arrived.They are operated by Atlantic Towing Ltd on charter from Tidewater.

Ostensibly sister ships, there are difference in appearance and fittings between the two, built about a year apart.

Breaux Tide had to wait for Jones Tide to leave the oil dock before going in for fuel, but instead of anchoring it "set itself up on DP". It was a very windy day, and there anchorage areas were occupied, but the ship used is Dynamic Positioning and remained beautifully steady in position for a few hours until it was time to move.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Boa Odin - back again

The tug Boa Odin returned to Halifax with the barge Boa Barge 33. On its first visit a month ago, it loaded the first section of the Novadock floating drydock and towed it out to Tampa, FL.

Tomorrow the tug, with assistance from harbour tugs, will load the second and larger section of the Novadock for the same destination. Meanwhile Boa Odin moved to pier 25 to take on fuel, delivered by truck.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Headed south

Activities in Canada's north are winding down for the year, which means that several tugs are returning to the south.

Svitzer Canada's two tugs Svitzer Nerthus and Svitzer Njal were reported arriving in Mulgrave October 23 and cleared this morning bound for Bermuda. Since July they had been working at Milne Inlet on the north side of Baffin Island assisting Fednav ships to load iron ore.

As Irving Elm, the tyug is hauled on the slip at the now deunct Stenpro shipyard in Liverpool, NS.
Atlantic Towing Ltd's Atlantic Elm and Atlantic Beech were reported off Nova Scotia October 24, heading for Saint John. They had been working in Rankin Inlet all summer, assisting Desgagnés ships as they delivered cargo to lighterage barges.

Atlantic Beech doing some shiphandling work with an autocarrier in Halifax in 2005.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Halifax Tugger update

I have now received conformation on the ancestry of the small tug Halifax Tugger. It was indeed previously known as Cercle Polaire, built in 2011 and carrying registration number C19246QC. Craft enrolled in  Canada's Small Vessel Registry have no official number, only a number. These are generally vessels of under 15 grt.

Halifax Tugger working on the BigLift project in Halifax.

Cercle Polaire moored in the tidal marina at Ile-aux-Coudres last year.

According to the Transport Canada web site its numerical registration has been suspended, which would explain why the number was painted out on the tug's bow. Every vessel must have some form of registration, so it would seem that new owners RMI Marine intend to re-register it by name, which is permitted for vessels of all sizes. It also applies to vessels that are subject to mortgages or financing.

The tug's aluminum wheelhouse top is demountable, allowing it to be transported by road.

Built by the GFFM Leclerc shipyard in Ile-aux-Coudres as their hull number 7, it was first registered in 2011. The tug was part of the Leclerc rental fleet and was used in marine construction and arctic supply work. It is a twin screw boat, powered by two Cat engines. Horsepower is inconsistently reported as 300 bhp or 520 bhp. It measures 33.6' x 10' x 2.6' permitting it to work in very shallow water.

The Leclerc company has built several new and more powerful triple screw tugs recently, so this one seems to have become surplus to their needs.


Monday, October 19, 2015

And they're off

Almost like the beginning of a horse race or perhaps the old time LeMans start for a car race, a small fleet of suppliers began to leave over the weekend for the start of Shell's drilling program in the Shelburne Basin.

Shell Oil (with non-operating partners Conco Phillips 30% and Suncor 20%) acquired licenses for six areas and may drill seven exploratory wells over the next four years. The area, about 250 km south of Halifax, just off the edge of the continental shelf, is off the Southwest Scotian Shelf.

The drill ship Stena IceMAX has arrived from the Gulf of Mexico and will be positioning itself to drill in 1500 to 3500 meters of water. If the first two wells look good Shell will continue drilling, However it is do or die, for if those two are unpromising the program will end.

Shell has contracted for four suppliers to support the operation.

Secunda's Scotian Sea sailed on Sunday, and will be the standby vessel which will remain on scene most of the time. It can also carry supplies, and is fitted with large rescue boat.

Breaux Tide sailed also and it is one of two suppliers chartered by Atlantic Towing from Tidewater. Sister Jones Tide is still in Halifax but ready to sail when needed.

DOF Subsea Canada is using Skandi Flora which has also sailed.

All the suppliers are working under the Canadain flag, with Canadain crews.

Unfortunately the drilling site is outside of the AIS range, so it will not be possible to monitor activity as we can with the gas fields in the Sable Island area.