Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tow Work

As spring arrives we can expect to see a bit more towing going on around Halifax, although there has been regular tug activity since January with the Halterm dredging project. With the larger tug Mister Joe off to Shelburne, the smaller tug J.F.WHalen must now herd the dump scows from the dredge all the way to Fairview Cove where the spoil is deposited.

With a bit of a head wind today J.F.Whalen was really leaning in on its scow as it worked northward, but was making good time nevertheless.

The versatile small tug, with 540 bhp is small enough to be carried around on the deck of the dredge when they move from port to port. Its aluminum wheelhouse is also detachable and the house and hull can then be moved by truck if needed. That is how it was delivered to Halifax first in 2014 from the builders, Chantier Naval Forillon in Gaspé. The boat is twin screw with flanking rudders and removable push knees. A sister tug D.J.Stanyar works for McNally Marine in Onrtario.

While J.F.WHalen was readying another scow, the Canadian navy tug Glenevis was picking its way out to sea towing  HMCS Moncton.

Glenevis ATA 642 is one of  three Glen class tugs based in HMC Dockyard, Halifax and operated by the Queen's Harbour Master with a civilian crew. The 1750 bhp VS tractor tug was built in 1976, and although there has been talk of replacements for many years, there does not appear to be anything on the horizon. But as it is election year I expect something will be said before October.

Glenevis is well suited to harbour berthing duties within tight confines, but also for coastal towing with light displacement vessels such as Moncton. It is one of six Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels based in Halifax (Six more are based in Esquimalt, BC). One or two of them are in refit in various shipyards around the region at any given time, and one of the Glens usually tows them to and from..
Voyages extend from Shelburne to Pictou, Sydney or even St.John's.

In view of ice conditions to the east, I expect this tow to be headed for Shelburne. [to be updated].


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Toisa Pegasus sold and renamed

A big offshore construction vessel that spent some time in Nova Scotia has been sold and renamed.

Toisa Pegasus, 9494 gt, 7800 dwt, was built in 2009 by De Merwede in Hardinxveld, Netherlands for Toisa Ltd of Piraeus, Greece. Through a complex chain of intertwined companies, it was managed by Sealion Shipping  of London. Toisa was a largish company with something like 24 bulkers and tankers (some under construction) and an equal number of offshore support vessels.
The falling oil prices and reduction in offshore activity in 2016 hit the company particularly hard and in an effort to survive it laid up many of its ships, but kept them in operational condition.

One such ship was the Toisa Pegasus, which arrived in Shelburne, NS March 29, 2016. Its huge 400 tonne capacity crane loomed over the government wharf, where it was originally intended to remain for up to a year. The ship was equipped with twin bell 18 person saturation diving system and had accommodation for 199 people in order to support offshore projects. It had all the other  "bells and whistles" required for a state of the art ship, including DP3.

The ship did not stay in Shelburne for the whole year, sailing, I believe, sometime in July 2016.
Attempts to save the company through chapter 11 re-organization and re-financing did not work out and all the assets were sold off over the past several months.

Toisa Pegasus was sold to Subsea 7 for reported fire sale price of $38,950,000 and renamed Seven Pegasus. It has now left its last layup port of Perama, Greece for Rijeka, Croatia, where it will have a refit. It is expected to go to work in the North Sea in the 2Q 2019. (The second quarter of this year.)


Ocean Uannaq re-registered.

A small Grope Océan tug has been re-registered after it was declared a total loss in 2016.

Océan Uannaq at work on a dredging project in the summer of 2015.

Océan Uannaq was built at Industrie Océan in Ile-aux-Coudres in 2008. The 11.5 gt tug was twin screw and rated at 770 bhp. It, and sister tug Océan Nigiq, were intended to work in the north at the Baffinland iron ore port. In fact both were transported there as barge cargo during construction of the original port infrastructure. They were then used to move the lighterage barges to anchored ships while the port was being built. They likely assisted in the building work too since Groupe Océan had the construction contract.

When Svitzer unexpectedly won the Baffinland tug services contract Océan put the two tugs to work with their St.Lawrence River dredging operation, pushing spoil barges, usually connected by face wires in a stern notch.

Connected to their dump scows, Océan Nigiq (foreground) and Océan Uannaq (background) did not adjust the face wires when the barges were empty or full.

When construction of the massive new Champlain Bridge began in Montreal, Océan Uannaq was chartered to the Signature sur le St-Laurent construction consortium for barge handling work. On April 1, 2016 the tug was involved in an accident and sank at the work site. Fortunately no one was injured and both crew members managed to escape to the adjacent tug Océan Catatug 1.

On May 28 the tug was raised from its sunken position, but due to damage caused by the accident and the prolonged period submerged, it was declared a total loss. The incident was investigated by the Transportation Safety Board, and report number M16C0036 can be found here:


Photos in the report show a badly mangled wheelhouse and other bumps and bruises.
Nothing much more was heard of the tug, but it made its way back to Quebec City, where it was rebuilt. When I saw it early last summer, the wheelhouse had been completely restored. It appeared ready to go north for a dredging project in Iqaluit.

Now the tug has been re-registered in Quebec on March 15, 2019.

Footnote: nigiq and uannaq are terms used to describe direction by the indigenous people of northern Canada. The directions, usually of wind,  do not relate to the compass directions used by southerners, but relate more to prevalence of direction, and thus the same word may be used in different places to describe different compass directions.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Tugs and Ice

Tugs have to work year round, and in the cold of winter they are likely to take on quantities of frozen spray as they go about their business.

However towing in the winter takes on another set of problems as the tow line can become fouled by ice. If the towed ship cannot maneuver or use its own power, there is the danger of over running. If the tug is stopped by ice, the towed vessel can catch up quickly, and if it is unable to stop can slam into the tug. Therefore great care must be taken in towing in those conditions.

On successful, albeit lengthy, tow occurred in March 19898 when the tug Orion Expeditor was called out from its North Sydney, NS base to assist the paper carrier Margit Gorthon. The ship's rudder had become jammed 5 degrees off centre in ice and was unable to proceed. The tug set out on March 12 and took the ship in tow off Cape Ray.

It then had to tow well east along the Newfoundland south coast as far as the Avalon Peninsula before turning south. Fortunately it had the assistance of CCGS Edward Cornwlalis when it transited the Cabot Strait where ice was as its worst. From a position off Cape Race, it sailed to the northern tip of Sable Island to remain clear of the ice. It then made for Halifax, arriving March 16.
Under normal circumstances the voyage time from Cape Ray to Halifax would be a day and a half.

Just passing Ives Knoll inbound to Halifax, the Orion Expeditor is about to hand off the tow to harbour tugs.

A weary looking Orion Expeditor makes for its berth. After some rest the crew ill set to trimming the tug by shifting some bunker fuel.

Dominion Diving's Big Steel with divers and some work scows, attacked the rudder almost immediately on arrival.

Orion Expeditor was built in1974 by Bolsones Werft, Molde, Norway as Orion. Powered by an 8 cyl MaK it had 3400 bhp delivered to a single controllable pitch prop. It also had a huge "barn door" rudder that swung nearly 90 degrees to each side and was well suited to working in ice.
It came to Canada in 1981 for Arctic Offshore and worked in the Beaufort Sea until 1987. It then moved its base to North Sydney. 

In 1990 Secunda Marine Services acquired the tug and renamed it Breton Sea and moved its base to Halifax in 1992. In 1994 it returned to Europe for Finnish owners OY Yxpila Hinaus and resumed the name Orion. It is believed to still be in service from the port of Kokkola.

  All dressed and ready for action at North Sydney, NS.

If this post seems familiar, I posted some of the same information before see: Tugfax January 27, 2012


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Firebird registered

On March 5 the former navy fireboat Firebird was registered for the first time as a civilian vessel.
Ordered in 1974 and delivered in 1978 by Vancouver Shipyards Co Ltd in North Vancouver, BC, it was one of two fireboats built for the Minister of National Defence. The sister tug, Firebrand was assigned to the nearby Esquimalt naval base, but Firebird had farther to travel. It was brought to Halifax in August 1978 via the Panama Canal, nestled on a bed of gravel in a barge towed by the tug Ocean Crown. The tug and barges were being delivered to new owners in Quebec, and the fireboat was able to hitch a ride.

Still perched in its gravel nest, Firebird waits to be unloaded at Dartmouth Marine Slips Long Wharf. The RCN tug CNAV St.Charles is also in for a refit.

Assigned to the Queen's Harbour Master and classed as an auxiliary vessel, employing a civilian crew, the Firebird worked out of HMC Dockyard in patrol and firefighting duties. It was initially assigned pennant number YTR 562 (Yard Tug Rescue), but later re-categorized as YTB 561 (Yard Fire Boat) since it was rarely used as a tug. Its bollard pull rating of 7.5 tonnes was not in demand when the Dockyard had six other harbour tugs available.

Firebrd is powered by two 365 bhp Cats for propulsion through a pair of z-drives. Another duo of 365 bhp Cats drive the fire pumps and could deliver 5,000 igpm at 150 psi while the boat still moves independently. Three 3 inch monitors of 1250 igpm were the main firefighting tools, but it also had several deck connections and carried 500 gallons of AFFF (foam). In a fire emergency its crew was supplemented by Dockyard firefighters.

Firebird was called out on New Year's Day to retrieve an errant target float. 
Regular Dockyard tugs were apparently on holiday schedule.

In 2017 the Firebird was declared surplus and sold to R.C. Ballott of Springdale, NL. The boat was moved to Eastern Passage where refitting work has been going on, particularly in the past few months.
Although it is not clear what use will be made of the boat.

Sealand Shipping Services and Sealand Diesel Services Ltd of Springdale NL have made good use of the tug  R.J.Ballott (ex Jerry Newberry-13, Kay Cole -95, Point Victor -77, Foundation Victor-73) built in 1956 and still going strong, so they no doubt have good plans for the Firebird.

Rarely used to fight an actual fire, Firebird did from time to time put on a show.


Monday, March 4, 2019

Comings and goings in the offshore

On February 22 the supplier Atlantic Condor sailed from Halifax for St.John's, NL where it went into drydock. Word has it that the boat will be working from St.John's. This has not been confirmed officially but I have heard it from more than one source, totally unconnected to each other.

Atlantic Condor is a UT 755 LN type supplier, built with extra methanol carrying capacity.

The vessel was built by Halifax Shipyard and completed in 2011 to service a ten year extendable contract with Encana for the Deep Panuke gas field south of Sable Island. In May 2018 Encana announced the premature shut down of the project, after the gas was found to be heavily saturated. The project had been expected to produce for 13 years. Now that it will be decommissioned different types of support vessels will be needed.

Supply vessels from the United Starters are rare in Halifax these days, so the arrival on March 3 of the HOS Renaissance was a bit unusual. Out of Port Fourchon, LA, the boat is one of the HOS MAX 300 class and normally works in the Gulf of Mexico.

This may be the first time that HOS Renaissance has been in ice and snow. If so it got a real taste of winter, passing through one storm on the way and arriving in time for another today.
Its call in Halifax is apparently to load deck gear to enable it to carry fibreoptic cable. A sister boat HOS Red Dawn called in Halifax in 2015 for the same reason.

Typical of the offshore supply vessel industry world wide, HOS (Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC) has not been able to find traditional offshore work for all its boats, so is taking on other types of work. HOS reported at year end 2018 a fleet of 80 boats, of which 38 were stacked. They expected no improvement in that situation in the near future.

A more detailed account of much the same material can be found in Shipfax March 3, 2019