Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tar Season

Some say there are two seasons in the Atlantic Canada - snow plowing season and paving season. The latter traditionally ends in late November when freezing temperatures make it difficult for asphalt to cure properly. So at this time of year there is usually a mad last minute rush to get all the planned work done.

Asphalt is a tricky commodity to handle as it must be kept heated at all times, and so it can only be carried in specialized tankers. There are never enough Canadian tankers (whether they be ships or barges) to meet the seasonal demand, and the region's major asphalt product Irving Oil, acquires a coasting license for the US flag tug barge combo Coho / Penn No.92 to operate between Canadian ports when the Canadian fleet is too busy. (This is the fourth coasting license trip the tug has made this year. Much of the rest of the time it is running from Saint John, NB to US ports.)

Coho and Penn No.92 arrived in Halifax today from Saint John, NB, carrying 80,000 bbls of hot asphalt (at 300 degrees Fahrenheit), some of which it will discharge at the McAsphalt depot in Eastern Passage. It will continue on with cargo for some or all of the ports of Stephenville, Holyrood, Come-by-Chance and Botwood, NL.

Built in 2008 by Thoma-Sea Boatbuilders of Lockport, LA, Coho is a Fin class ATB tug, with a 53 foot height of eye elevated wheelhouse. It is powered by a pair of Cummins engines giving 4,000 bhp through twin screws in nozzles and Nautican triple shutter rudders. It relies on a JAK-400 coupler system to connect with the 90,0000 bbl, 414 foot long barge, and stays in the notch in virtually any sea condition. It thus does not carry a towing winch, but has a capstan and H -bitts if required to tow the barge.

The tug was ordered by Penn Maritime of Philadelphia, and called here in their grey and black livery. In 2012 Kirby Corp acquired Penn and repainted the superstructure white, and applied the Kirby diamond to the stacks.

I have featured the tug here before where I posted some photos of the tug out of the notch.:




Friday, October 19, 2018

Lois M - Arctic assignment and other nothern operations

The tug Lois M has arrived in Deception Bay, Nunavut to provide assistance to the Fednav OBO Arctic. The combination bulker / tanker has experienced a mechanical issue that has prevented its departure from the northern port. The tug arrived yesterday at the nickel ore loading port. Due today is the bulker Federal Sable to take the last ore cargo of the season as winter closes in. That ship was brought in because severe ice conditions in June delayed the start of the shipping season. Deception Bay, off Hudson Strait, serves the Raglan nickel mine and carries concentrates to Quebec City.

Lois M spent most of the summer in Quebec City apparently on charter to Groupe Océan to cover for other tugs such as Océan Tundra which was called away from the St.Lawrence to work in an even more northerly port, Milne Inlet on Baffin Island.

Lois M was built in 1991 by Matsuura Iron Shipbuilding, Higashino as Lambert for the Robe River Mining Co in Australia. Acquired by McKeil Marine in 2014, the 4800 bhp ASD tug was one of four similar looking tugs acquired by McKeil.

The Arctic returning from Deception Bay with a full ore cargo and some containers on deck.

The ship Arctic dates from 1978 as an icebreaking bulk carrier. It was extensively rebuilt in 1985 to carry ore /bulk / oil (OBO) with a new bow. It is therefore able to reach northern ports without icebreaker assistance, and to carry supply cargoes, including fuel, for the mines. It then loads the outbound ore. In 2017 the ship received a life extension refit in China. A 30,000 dwt replacement ship was announced earlier this year for delivery in 2020. It will be a Polar Class 4 icebreaking OBO.

 After unloading in Quebec City, the ship's icebreaking bow is partly visible.

Other Northern Operations
The other tug copmanies operating in the north are now winding down for the year. Atlantic Towing Ltd has completed their summer supply runs for Baker Lake off Hudson Bay, with the tugs Atlantic Beech and Atlantic Elm en route home with their barges.

The shipping season at Milne Inlet has been extended until sometime next week, which is very late (October 15 is the normal end of season)  but the supply ship Qamutik is still in port unloading much needed mining equipment and supplies. The last iron ore cargo has been shipped, but the hired icebreaker Botnica is standing by in Eclipse Sound for ice management to ensure that the last ship is able to depart. Tugs Océan Raynald T and Océan Tundra will also stand by until the last moment before returning home. Océan Tundra was called in when the tug Océan K. Rusby damaged a thruster in ice. It returned to Quebec on its own and is now on the slip at Industrie Océan at Ile-aux-Coudres for permanent repairs.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Scrap Tow from Montreal

It seems likely that Océan Delta will soon embark on its last trip. Now under Panamanian registry, the tug was sold by Groupe Océan and its Canadian registry closed November  29, 2017. Since year end it has been idle in Sorel - Tracy, QC, latterly with crew aboard.

Lying in Sorel in August this year, the tug looked pretty tired.

It moved from Sorel September 5 to Montreal where it is slated to tow the decommissioned laker Nito to a scrapyard, likely in Aliga, Turkey, starting out Sunday, October 14.

Groupe Océan has sent both Océan Echo II to Montreal to take the stern line as far as the Escoumins pilot station.

It is very late in the year, but the former hurricane Michael is expected to peter out in the mid-Altantic this weekend. The record of late season tows has not been a starry one, particularly with this tug.

One of the last deep sea tugs under the Canadian, flag, and the last one on the east coast, its departure will follow only by a month of that other stalwart Ryan Leet which sailed from Sydney, NS for its new owners, and is now reported to be in Columbia. I was told that Ryan Leet was headed for a shipyard to be reconditioned for further use, but that seems too much to hope for at this stage for Océan Delta and most believe it will also be scrapped on arrival in Turkey.

Built in 1973 by Ulstein Mek.Verkstad AS in Ulsteinvik, Norway as Sistella it was an early member of the International Transport Contractors (ITC) fleet of deep sea towing tugs. In 1978 it was renamed Sandy Cape by the same owners until sold in 1980 to Quebec Tugs. As their Capt. Ioannis S. it was named for Capt "John" Styliadis, longtime Davie tug master.

In 1999 after Groupe Océan took over Quebec Tugs, they renamed the vessel Océan Delta and re- powered it with two 8 cylinder MaKs, giving 6464 bhp, replacing the original 5600 bhp N+H engines, driving a single controllable pitch single screw.

Over the years the tug took part it too many tows to relate here, including many trips to the far north, but in later years this work became harder to find eventually leading to its sale.

In Halifax in 1980 after losing its tows in the Gulf.

The laker Nito has an even longer history than the tug, starting life in 1967 at Collingwood Shipyard as N.M.Paterson's Mantadoc. Renamed Teakglen in 2002 by CSL, it passed through ownership by Goderich Elevators Ltd and near sale to scrappers in 2005 when it was returned to service as Maritime Trader for Voyageur Maritime Trading Inc. In 2011 Lower Lakes Towing took over ownership and renamed the ship Manitoba. It is also among the last of its kind - a wheelhouse forward laker, with no self-unloading gear.

Océan Delta was lead tug in the unfortunate December 2012 tow of HMCS Athabaskan that resulted in damage to the ship and its hastened decommissioning. It did successfully tow several lakers to scrap in years past, but not all without incident. In 1980 with a double tow of two lakers, its CPP malfunctioned, and it backed over the tow line and both ships went astray. It was major operation by Ectug to round them up and bring them into Halifax.

However those are only unfortunate incidents in a long and successful career. Groupe Océan spent a lot of money keeping the tug going, even to the extent of re-engining it, so it was well cared for.

The tug has been featured here many times see:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Jane Ann IV offered for scrap

The tug Jane Ann IV has now been offered for scrap sale on Facebook according to reports. The veteran tug had been laid up since 2009 until this summer when its barge coupler system was removed and then it was towed from Toledo, OH to Calcite, MI where it was hauled out on a beach.

Once based in Halifax as Secunda Marine's Tignish Sea, the tug was built in 1978 by Mitsui Engineering + Shipbuilding in Japan. As Ouro Fino until 1981 then Bonace until 1992, it was laid up in Brazil when Secunda found it. As Tignish Sea it arrived in Halifax May 9, 1993 towing sister tug Cavendish Sea. It went to work doing offshore supply and towing work until 2000. Included in that were several notable salvage jobs, including the Amphion featured here before.

Towing disabled Talisman in to Halifax.

The tug had a rendency to dip its bow, and was reported to be very uncomfortable at sea.

Great Lakes Transportation (GLT) of Halifax then acquired the tug and installed a coupler system  allowing the tug to push the barge Sarah Spencer. The barge, started life as the laker Adam E. Cornelius in 1959. It was modified by removal of its engines at Halifax Shipyard in 1989. A large notch was installed in the stern and several different tugs were used to push the barge in coastal trade and on the Lakes. Those tugs used face wires, but GLT installed the ladders needed for the coupler system.

 A large section of the accommodaiton was removed to install the coupler ram tunnel.

The hull was fared out to the width of the barge notch.

The actual coupler installation was not done in Halifax. The tug sailed from Halifax in October 2000 with plates over the coupler openings. The rams were installed on the Great Lakes.

Once GLT began running the pair as an integrated tug and barge it remained on the Great Lakes and Seaway until 2006 when it had a major refit. New owners were then listed as TGL Holdings of Plymouth, MI and Toronto, ON, but both tug and barge retained Canadian registry and management. However they finally laid up in Detroit in 2009, never to sail commercially again. Jane Ann IV sank at least once (in 2013) and perhaps once again until it was sold earlier this year. The new owners removed the coupler system for potential re-use in another tug and plated over the hull opening.

Sarah Spencer as it was intially converted to a barge. The tug was conned from the barge's wheelhouse. It also carried the name Sea Barge One before it was acquired by GLT.

Even with a fully loaded barge, the tug had no visibility forward.

The tug's Canadian registration was closed August 24, 2018 shortly after its arrival in Calcite, MI.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Scrap tow from Halifax

This morning two surplus navy barges were towed out for scrapping to shipbreakers in Sydney, NS. Because the barges are not over large, they did not require large tugs. Also, possibly in order to economize on pilotage fees, the tow was organized in elephant style, so that only one pilot was required.

Lead tug was Strait Raven, operated by Superport Marine Services Ltd of Port Hawksbury.  A 455 bhp twin screw vessel, it was built by Superport at their own yard in 2013.

It was towing the barge YRG-60, a fueling barge used in the naval dockyard.. It in turn was connected by towline to YDG-2 a degaussing barge.

 At the end of the procession was the McKeil Marine tug Dover Spirit, with a line to its bow.

I saw Dover Spirit in Quebec during the summer ( see Tugfax August 29 ) for the first time under its new name. It was previously called Kaliutik when it was built in 1998 by Dovercraft Marine. It is a two screw 550 bhp tug.

I did note that YDG-2 was towing stern first, so I suspect that when the tow reaches the harbour limits Dover Spirit will take over the tow of YDG-2 alone.