Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fire at Port Cartier

The tug Brochu suffered a fire at Port-Cartier, QC in mid-September and was removed from service. With its sister tug Vachon it was to be retired September 30 when Groupe Ocean is due to take over tug services in the port.

Brochu and Vachon entered service in 1973 for Quebec Cartier Mining (now ArcelorMittal) in Port-Cartier - a busy iron ore and grain transshipment port. They are 3200 bhp Voith-Schneider tugs.

See photo here: Boatnerd, Robert Talbot photo

Groupe Ocean has assigned Ocean Yvan Desgagnes and Ocean Ross Gaudreault to work in Port-Cartier. Both are 5,000 bhp ice class, fire fighting tugs, built in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
They can also call for assistance from tugs based in Sept-Iles, which is nearby.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hornbeck Offshore in Halifax

The first Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc (HOS) ship to call in Halifax tied up at Pier 9 C on Saturday September 9.

HOS Red Dawn  was the first of a series of supply boats in the HOSMAX 300 class and was built by Eastern Shipbuilding of Panama City, FL in 2013. With a  deadweight tonnage of 5,000 and large clear deck space, they are suitable for numerous offshore tasks.

The ship is also diesel electric powered, with a four Cat engines mounted well forward, working through a GE system to drive two Schottel Z-drives mounted aft, giving 6,704 bhp . They also power the usual transverse thrusters. The resultant lack of shafting maximizes below deck tank space for dry and liquid cargoes. The 3911 grt ship, has berthing for 50 in 17 staterooms and features DP2 and numerous other state of the art systems.

It appears that the ship is fitting out for cable transport, since a number of gray painted steel fabrications arrived at the dock at the same time. HOS has several ships that lay communication and data cabling for offshore energy projects. Since this ship is US flagged, the work will likely take place in US waters.
Several ships have loaded cable tank frames here in the last year or so, and then proceeded to Newington, NH to load fibre optic cable manufactured by Tyco.

HOS is a major US flag supply boat operator, based in Louisiana, and currently has a fleet of around 70 vessels although several may still be laid up as a result of the US oil industry slowdown. In 2016 they had reportedly "stacked" more than 30 boats, which represented 80 % of the fleet.

In 2013 HOS sold their "downstream" fleet of nine ocean tugs and tanker barges to Genesis Energy.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Mister Joe on the move

McNally Construction's hard working tug Mister Joe made a brief visit to Halifax today. First job was to move the crane barge Canadian Argosy (951 grt, built 1978 Collingwood), from its anchorage near the MacKay bridge, in an inlet that I call Turple's Cove, to Pier 9 C with the assistance of the tug Oshawa.

Canadian Argosy has been in Halifax for a few years as McNally built various piers. Most recently it has been working on crib building for HMC Dockyard's new Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship jetty.

Mister Joe dates from 1964 when it came out of the Russel-Hipwell shipyard in Owen Sound, ON as Churchill River. McNally susibiary Beaver Marine acquired the tug in 2000 and renamed it in 2001.  It was also repowered in 2002 with a pair of GMs rated at 750 bhp, driving twin screws and extensively rebuilt, with a new pilot haouse identical to the original in 2013-2014.

Oshawa was built in 1969 by McNamara Marine in Whitby, ON and is 472 bhp twin screw.

Once the first move was completed the same tugs move the spud scow VM/S 87 from Turple's Cove to alongside Canadian Argosy.

 Later in the day Mister Joe sailed with VM/S 87 for Saint John, NB. Also built by Collingwood Shipyard, but in 1958, the scow was originally named S.L.S. 87 for first owners the St.Lawrence Seaway. Later the name was translated to French-  VM/S standing for Voie Maritime St-Laurent. McNally acquired the scow in about 2010. It measures 422 grt, and was not assigned a hull number by the builders.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Old Navy Tugs

Canada's five Glen class tugs continue to serve, although based on the July report they will be replaced in record setting time by 2020. This date is one of several questionable aspects in what is expected to be a Request for Proposals issued this fall under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Firstly, the Canadian shipyards best positioned and most experienced in building tugs cannot (singly) deliver 4 tugs by 2020, even with the so called "off the shelf commercial design" that the government is calling for. What it should mean of course is that the order will be split, with two tugs going to a west coast yard or yards and two to an east coast yard or yards. If that is done then there is a chance for 2020 delivery.

What it should not mean is that some large yard (I am thinking Davie), with no tug building experience in this century, will get the job just because they built six tug in two years in 1962.

HMC Dockyard in Halifax currently has three Glen class tugs,  and Esquimalt in British Columbia has two. The expectation of the new plan is that Halifax can make do with two tugs, even though the fleet will be growing by 6 to 8 more ships after 2020. Two tugs aren't enough for Halifax, even with the availability of the small Ville class pup tugs and local commercial tugs. Experience should tell the powers that be that having three tugs gives unlimited availability in-harbour, and out-of-harbour at the same time and covers off refits. The low running hours and redundancy that result from having three tugs is one of the reasons that the current tugs are still serviceable after 40 years.
The new tugs will also have to have firefighting capability. This is now standard in most tugs built world wide,  and I suppose the thinking is that if one of the tugs is busy fighting a fire, they will hire in a civilian tug if they need one. This may be wishful thinking as emergencies do not always occur at convenient times.Again, to cover off the rare fire fighting requiurement, three tugs would be a safer bet.

Also if the tugs are to be capable of in-harbour and out-of-harbour work, what happens when one is out-of-harbour?

On Monday the tug Glenevis was spotted in Pictou with the swill barge YRG 62. I assume the barge is there for hull work, and maybe the tug is there for refit too. If so, under the proposed scheme that would leave Halifax with only one tug for an extended period.


Another interesting term in the RFP is reported to be the Near Coastal Voyage Class 2 certification (no more than 25 miles from shore) and the RFP's restricted range of 750 nautical miles from home ports.  I suspect such a classification might preclude trips to Newfoundland, for example.

The 750 n.mi. restriction would might also prevent the trip that Glenevis made in 1977 when it went to St.Catharines, ON and took delivery of the self-same YRG 62 (but then called YBZ 62), newly built by Port Weller Dry Dock and towed it to Halifax.

My suggestion is for the RCN to build three new tugs for Halifax, - fit then out with decent anti-pollution capability, (and yes fire fighting) and have them capable enough of going to sea if need be and to make long trips - maybe even to the north in summer. Just building a pair of low power, short range, docking tugs seems to me to be short sighted.