Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Tugfax will be taking a break over Christmas.

The delightfully named Point Vim and Point Vigour were built in 1962 as Foundation Vim and Foundation Vigour, part of a series of six identical tugs. They served various ports in eastern Canada, but principally Halifax, until the mid-1980s when larger and more agile tugs were needed to berth larger ships.
Although kept as spares, their 1,000 bhp and single screw (in retrofitted Kort nozzle) was inadequate for most ship berthing.They were sold for further, less demanding use.
Both tugs are still operating - Point Vigour as Molly M 1 for Nadro Marine, mostly on the Great Lakes. Point Vim was sold again in 2017 by Davis Shipping of Wesleyville, NL to Les barges de Matane Inc of Matane, QC.
The photo above, taken on a very cold day in Halifax, exactly thirty-four years ago. It was sub-zero (Fahrenheit) as the rising sea smoke and freezing spray will confirm. The two tugs and fleet mates Point Carroll and Point Valiant (both also in existence but apparently retired) were returning from berthing the container ship Sea-Land Voyager. It was the first of Sea-Land's new D-9s to call in Halifax (June 26, 1983). With a  capacity of 1782 TEU on 24,337 grt, 23,308 dwt, it was a big ship in its day..


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Océan Delta sold and other deployments

Another of Groupe Océan's veteran tugs has been sold. Océan Delta has apparently gone to the same buyers that acquired Océan Hercule. Océan Delta is still in Quebec City, but its Canadian registry was closed November 30 and it now flies the Jamaican flag.

With more powerful and more modern tugs (such as Océan Tundra, at right),big single screw tugs like Océan Delta (second from left) are becoming obsolete.
Also pictured: Océan Charlie at left, and Océan Yvan Desgagnés, second from right.

Dating from 1973 when it was built by Ulstein Mek. Verksted AS in Ulsteinvik, Norway as Sistella. One of a three of similar tugs for International Transport Contractors (ITC), Tschudi and Eitzen, managers. They were ocean salvage tugs intended also for long tows associated with the oil industry. Fitted with two 16 cylinder Polar engines geared to a single controllable pitch screw, they were rated at 7,000 bhp and 65 tonne bollard pull.

Renamed Sandy Cape in 1978 and transferred to Liberian flag, by the same Norwegian/Dutch owners, it worked word wide until 1980 when it was acquired by the Power Corporation of Canada and assigned through the CSL Group to their Quebec Tugs Ltd (QUETUG) subsidiary.
It was renamed Capt. Ioannis S. for Captain Ioannis "John" Stylidiadis operator of the Quebec City tug fleet once under the direction of the Davie Shipyards. They fleet had always been involved in salvage work but this was the first big tug they had owned for many years.

Capt. Ioaanis S in QUETUG colours.
 In 1987 Océan Construction Inc acquired QUETUG and the company has since gone on to become Groupe Océan, 45 years after it was originally founded.

In 1999 Océan renamed the tug Océan Delta as part of a naming scheme that has reached "Lima" in the international signals alphabet, but has since been displaced by a new scheme recognizing individuals.
Over the years Océan has invested a lot of money in this tug with at least one major rebuild and in 2000 re-engining the vessel with a pair of 8 cylinder MaKs giving 6464 bhp.

Océan Delta in a previous GO colour scheme.
In the intervening years the tug has provided ship docking and escort services in Quebec, made many long tows to the arctic and worked around the lower St.Lawrence River and Gulf. In December 2012 it was lead tug in the aborted tow of HMCS Athabaskan from the Port Weller DryDock  for Halifax with André H.(ex Point Valiant, Foundation Valiant). The tow went wrong off Sydney and there was damage to the tugs and several perforations in the warship's hull. The tow to Halifax was later completed by Atlantic Towing Ltd.

Undergoing a "shave and a haircut" at Ile-aux-Coudres, in 2005, its rudder and prop were removed for repair.
Back for more ten years later - this time with rudder and prop intact.
Océan Delta has been listed for sale for several years and has not been active in the last two or three years.
With both Océan Hercule and Océan Delta sold to the same Jamaican owners it is possible that one will be towing the other. Let us hope this is not a repeat of another unwise late season tow out from the St.Lawrence. Too many of these have gone wrong recently to allow another foolhardy or unprepared attempt. 

Océan Hercule has also been sold to the same Jamaican buyers and has been renamed Hercule.

Meanwhile there have been some interesting deployments in the Océan fleet. The former pilot boat, converted to tug, Océan Côte-Nord, which was stationed in Goderich, ON has left that port, returning down through the St.Lawrence Seaway to Quebec. Whether this is to accommodate a winter refit or an end to the Lake Huron service has not been revealed.

Océan's recent acquisition of the two Port-Cartier tugs from ArcelorMittal Steel has resulted in two renamings. Brochu has been renamed Océan Brochu and Vachon is now Océan A. Gauthier.

 Vachon in the colours of original owners, Quebec Cartier Mining. (unknown photographer)

It was upbound in the Seaway on December 6 for its new home port of Hamilton, ON. There it joins another Voith-Schneider tug Océan A. Simard transferred this fall after working in Bull Arm, NL for a few years. The latter has also been doing ship assist at the entrance to the nearby Welland Canal.