Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bulletion # 2 Groupe Océan makes another move and other news [updated]

Word has reached me that Groupe Océan has made a change to improve service at Baie-Comeau, QC.
In 2017 Océan took over management of the tug Pointe-Comeau, owned by Cargill Ltd. Svitzer Canada, as successors to Eastern Canada Towing (ECTUG), MIL Tug and Foundation Maritime had been the tug operators in Baie-Comeau since the port was developed in the 1950s.(The Foundation Company built the piers and were involved in several of the plants that the port serves.)

Pointe-Comeau delivered to Halifax from the shipyard.
Pointe-Comeau, delivered by Marystown Shipyard in 1979, is a 3600 bhp, 48 tonne bollard pull V-S tug built specifically for operation in Baie-Comeau. Unlike its predecessors, it was owned by Cargill Grain Corp.  It took over from Point Vibert (ex Foundation Vibert) a 1700 bhp twin screw tug built by in 1961 by P.K.Harris + Sons Ltd, Appledore, UK , also for service in Baie-Comeau, but under direct ownership of Foundation Company of Canada subsidiary A.D.Ross + Co Ltd. Prior to that Foundation Maritime provided tugs seasonally from Sept-Iles or other locations.

 Pointe-Comeau in Svitzer colours at Baie-Comeau.

The latest development is that Groupe Océan has taken ownership of Pointe-Comeau and have sold Océan-Cartier to Cargill and will manage it on their behalf.

Océan Cartier in Quebec last summer after refitting.

Océan-Cartier was built as Hai Gang 107 in 2007 by Sam Lin Shipyard for the Port of Shanghai. It is a  56 tonne bollard pull, 5,149 bhp V-S tug and therefore can provide the power needed for the larger ships now using the port. In May 2014 the tug, and two others of its class, were acquired by Svitzer, originally for use in Newcastle, NSW, Australia and was renamed Svitzer Wombi. However by December of that year it was in Singapore to be ice strengthened. Then Svitzer Wombi was re-assigned to Svitzer Canada and arrived in Halifax March 30, 2015. (It had been transported across the Pacific by heavy lift ship, but sailed on its own hull from Panama.)

 As Svitzer Wombi arriving in Halifax for the first time.

After fitting out to Canadian compliance it was renamed Svitzer Cartier and sent to Port Cartier, QC to assist the two V-S tugs based there and owned and operated by ArcelorMittal. That arrangement did not last however and the tug was reassigned to Svitzer's short-lived Montreal operation.When Svitzer closed that operation in 2017 it sold most of its tugs to Océan, and Svitzer Cartier became Océan Cartier. Not long after, Océan took over the Port-Cartier tug service and at about the same time management of the Baie-Comeau tug. Svitzer Cartier has spent the past year in Quebec City, refitting for Groupe Océan service. It is expected to receive a new name in mid-May.

Pointe-Comeau, (which will also likely to be renamed) will be transferred to Sorel-Tracy, but it would not surprise me if it eventually went to Ontario where older V-S tugs are very useful. They do not have to deal with very large ships, their agility is needed in tight quarters, and working in fresh water will extend their lives almost indefinitely.

In other Océan news, the former Océan Hercule put in to Halifax Sunday, April 29. Sold last year to West Indies Petroleum Ltd and flying the Jamaican flag as Hercule, the veteran tug spent the winter in its old home port of Sorel-Tracy before heading south.

Built in 1976 by A.M.Liaaen in Aalesund, Norway as Stril Pilot the 4400 bhp tug carried the names Spirit Sky from 1981, Ierland from 1985, Ierlandia from 1989 until acquired in 1995 by Remorquage et Sauvetage McAllister of Montreal. Renamed Charles-Antoine it was taken up by Océan in 1997 when they acquired the McAllister assets and renamed it Océan Hercule. An ice strengthened tug with 63 tonne bollard pull it has twin screws in nozzles and is powered by two turbocharged V-12 Alcos downrated to 4400 bhp and a 200 bhp bow thruster.

 On  the slip at Industrie Océan, Ile-aux-Coudres, Océan Hercule shows off its finely moulded deep hull and twin controllable pitch screws.

 A tired looking Hercule slowly made its way into Halifax this afternoon.

The tug's hastily painted-over former name has already been partly washed away.

The crew was able to minimize the amount of new paint used to modify its previous port of registry from Montreal to Montego Bay. Note the heavy reinforcing on the stern for anchor handling.

 Charles-Antoine, as it was then, arrived in Halifax for the first time July 25, 1995 on one engine. After repairs it sailed again July 26, towing the barge Marmac 15 with lifting frames to raise the barge Irving Whale. (The lift operation was cancelled that year and the Irving Whale was raised in 1996 - it is currently tied up in Halifax as Atlantic Sea Lion.) 

After a couple of days in port taking stores (including lube oil I suspect) and making some unseen adjustments, Hercule sailed May 3 giving Freeport, Bahamas as the next port of call.


Bulletin #1 - Boa Arrivals

The extra large tug Boa Bison arrived today with the barge Boabarge 37 after a lengthy Atlantic crossing. (See previous post and today's Shipfax). The original ETA for the tow was April 17, but a series of storms and strong headwinds made the first leg of the journey - as far as the Azores - much longer than planned. The last 1500 miles or so was apparently much easier, although some poor weather did cross the track in the past few days.

Dominion Diving's Roseway, just about the smallest tug in Halifax Harbour scuttles past the inbound Boa Bison.

The tow line has been let go and Boabarge 37 is in control of the harbour tugs Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Oak (not visible). Harbour pilots, in orange oilskins direct the tugs from atop the starboard forward tower.

Boa Bison remained in port only long enough to take bunkers and sailed eastbound late this afternoon, giving Bergen, Norway as its destination.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Glen tugs going about their business

Although we see Glen tugs going about their business in Halifax Harbour they do go farther afield from time to time.

On Tuesday morning (April 24) Glenevis (YTB 642) was at work with the flat top scow YC600 moving from HMC Dockyard to Shearwater.

The deck load on the barge appeared to be trot buoy anchors. The old trot buoys used to be positioned off the dockyard on the Dartmouth side of the main channel to the Narrows. They have not been used for some years and were lifted this spring and their anchors retrieved by Dominion Diving using the Waterworks Construction crane barge.

RCN ships HMCS Iroquois, Huron and Skeena secured to the trot buoys for fleet review 1980.

The trot buoys were not navigational buoys, but were Admiralty pattern mooring buoys, large steel cylinders, about 15 feet long and 8 feet in diameter used by naval vessels as an alternative to the civilian anchorages which were generally reserved for merchant shipping. Especially agile crew members, called "buoy jumpers" took bow and stern lines to the buoys by boat, then and clambered up onto the buoys to make the lines fast or let them go. The buoys had the advantage of keeping the ships in the same position no matter the direction of wind or tide, unlike a single point anchor..

On April Wednesday April 18 the Glenside (YTB 644) left Halifax towing HMCS Goose Bay. I was not aware of the destination at the time, but by tracking on AIS (and referring to the St.John's Shipping blog) I have learned that the destination was St.John's NL. The tow arrived there safely April 23 and Summerside was delivered to Newdock for a refit.


The tug sailed from St.John's on April 25 and stopped over in Marystown until sailing last night giving Halifax as its destination.

Glen tugs regularly make short coastal voyages to Shelburne and Pictou towing small naval craft to refits, or to go on refit themselves, but St.John's is about as far away as they range.

The current class of five Glens (three in Halifax, two in Esquimalt) are the second generation of Glens, the first having served the RCN for better than thirty-five years, but went on to successful commercial careers for many years after.

 A pair of first generation Glen tugs at HMC Dockyard shortly while still in naval auxiliary service. Note the elaborate pudding fenders. These masterpieces of ropework were once common on tugs and sailors made them up out of old rope. Even after old tires became the standard for fendering, the Dockyard's rope shop "embroidered" the tires to give them the desired characteristics. These included reduced scuff marks (black smears on navy grey hulls were not desired!) and better friction on contact - not to mention appearance..

 The first Glenevis (CN 890, W.65, YTB 502) was built by Russel Brothers in Owen Sound, ON in 1944 and served the RCN until 1979. McKeil Workboats of Hamilton, ON purchased the tug, and replaced its 400 bhp engine with 900 bhp, converting is from single to twin screw.

McKeil did not rename the tugs, and its RCN replacements used the same name, thus creating the unusual situation of two vessels of the same name operating in Halifax at the same time. Since naval vessels are not registered the way private vessels are, there is no requirement for their names to be unique. Private vessels may not have the same name as a vessel already on the register, so this does not apply to naval vessel names.

On January 1, 1991 Glenevis sank at its berth in Pugwash, NS, but was raised on January 9. A major rebuild included a new raised wheelhouse with captain's cabin. The tug lasted in McKeil service until June, 2007 when it was sold to Caribbean owners and sailed through the Erie Canals to Long Island Sound. Its movements thereafter remain a mystery.

Glenside (i), (CN.88, W.93, YTB 500) also built by Russel in 1944, was also acquired by McKeil in 1979. It was assigned to their Remorqueurs et Barges de Montréal Inc subsidiary and received a similar rebuild in the same year, and  converted to twin screw, with new engines totaling 1450 bhp.

In 1998 it was also sold to Bahamas owners and sailed from the Great Lakes via the Erie Canal. It was renamed Tycoon but little is known beyond that except that it likely did barge work for Tycoon Management Ltd, a large local construction aggregates operator.

The third Halifax based Glen is Glenbrook (YTB 643). I have not seen it in action recently, and it may not be crewed at present.

Its predecessor the first Glenbrook (CN.889, W.64, YTB 501), also a 1944 Russel product  and acquired by McKeil in 1979, received a different rebuild in 1980 when it was repowered with engines totalling 1300 bhp.

Its wheelhouse was replaced in 1990 with a larger installation with all round windows. After its sale to Caribbean owners in 1999 its movements are not known to me.

The current Glens have served the RCN for thirty-eight years now, and seem likely to hit the forty mark, since the replacement process is still in its early stages.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Point Valiant - long time no see - UPDATED

The Svitzer Canada dock in Halifax is usually devoid of tugs, since the entire Canadian fleet is based in Point Tupper, but it had a welcome addition this morning. The Point Valiant put in its first appearance in Halifax since the fleet was transferred in 2010. (Svitzer and Atlantic Towing Ltd formed two joint ventures: Halifax Marine Towing to service Halifax and Point Tupper Towing for the Strait of Canso with ATL tugs working Halifax and Svitzer tugs in the Strait.)

Built by Industrie Océan in Ile-aux-Coudres, Point Valiant was acquired by then Eastern Canada Towing  Ltd (ECTUG) while still under construction.  Intended to be Océan Jupiter for the parent company Groupe Océan, it was offered to ECTUG instead and delivered to Halifax in December 1998. It was the second in what was originally a class of four tugs designed by Robert Allan Ltd. One was sold overseas, and two, Océan Intrepide and Océan Jupiter remained with Groupe Océan.
Groupe Océan has since gone on to build two more tugs of the class, but with extended wheelhouse. All four work in the Port of Montreal. They are powered by Mitsubishi high speed engines giving 4,076 bhp.

The current Point Valiant is the second tug to carry the name,. The first was built as Foundation Valiant in 1963, became Point Valiant (i) in 1973 and  André H. in 1995 when ECTUG sold it to Trois-Rivières Boatmen. When Groupe Océan acquired that company from the Houde family, they retained the tug's name. When seen in Quebec City last summer, it was in need of a major refit.

The current Point Valiant appears to be en route to Lunenburg for its own refit is en route to Sambro, NS where it will be slipped for pre-purchase survey. I have it on good authority that the tug has been sold to west coast owners and will be transported by heavy lift ship. Stand by for more updates!


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tidewater boats arrive

To support the oil rig West Aquarius while it drills the exploration well Aspy D-11,  BP hired Halifax based Horizon Maritime to provide three vessels. Horizon's own supplier Horizon Star has been working for some time now to deliver riser pipe to the rig as it was mobilized in Newfoundland.

This week the rig (which is a self-propelled deep water semi-submersible) arrived at the drill site and the two other suppliers arrived in Halifax today (April 11) for the first time. Although they were initially based in Mulgrave, the drill riser and pipe is coming through Halifax.

Both of these suppliers have been bareboat chartered from Tidewater, one of many supplier companies with a large fleet of laid up boats in its 300 vessel fleet. ( It is estimated that about 36% of the world's Platform Supply Vessels are unemployed).

First to arrive this morning was Troms Sirius, a 4210 grt ship built by STX OSV. The hull was built in Tulcea Romania and finished by STX Soviknes in Sovik, Norway in 2012. It has diesel electric propulsion driving twin azimuthing drives, and is fitted with all the mod cons including Fire Fighter 2 and dynamic positioning.  It was registered in Canada March 9.

Tied up at pier 9C it was loading conventional drill pipe when I happened by, but there is still considerable riser pipe on the dock to be delivered to the rig when needed.(Riser pipe is encased in white buoyancy material whereas the drill pipe that actually goes down the drill hole is exposed steel. Small diameter pipe is drill pipe, large diameter is casing pipe.)

This afternoon the second PSV, Lundstrom Tide, arrived. A vessel of the same class,  it was built in 2013, and has slightly different stats of 3943 grt, and 9,430 hp driving twin z-drives.

It tied up at pier 25, likely awaiting its turn at pier 9C. It was registered in Canada April 4.

The drilling program is expected to take 60 days and is taking place about 250 km offshore in the Scotian Basin.. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Boa Bison en route Halifax

The "monster" tug Boa Bison sailed from Rotterdam April 3 bound for Halifax. It has in tow the semi-submersible Boa Barge 37 .

The 7,328 grt anchor handling tug / supplier was built in 2014 and its two Wartsila main engines develop 26,969 bhp giving a 275 tonne bollard pull. Used mainly in the North Sea oil patch, the tug has been laid up for two years for lack of activity in that sector. It has been recommissioned for this tow, but it is unknown where it will go after reaching Halifax about April 17.

The 15,185 grt, 29,500 dwt heavy lift semi-sub barge will be delivered to Halifax Shipyard and the Royal Canadian Navy for a four year contract to float out the new Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels under construction in Halifax, and as a general purpose drydock.

Specifications and drawings of both tug and barge are available on Boa's web site:

 Thanks to pilot Hans Hoffman for supplying these photos, taken after he disembarked from the tug off Rotterdam.