Thursday, April 30, 2020

McKeil in at Belledune, Atlantic out - UPDATED

On April 3 the Port Authority of Belledune, New Brunswick announced a change in tug operators. Following a transition period, McKeil Marine would be taking over from Atlantic Towing, effective April 27.

Atlantic had been providing two tugs at the port, and depending on the time of year, these would be Atlantic Elm and Atlantic Beech in winter. Both have now left Belledune and returned to Saint John.

Atlantic Beech, built in 1959 as Irving Beech, was renamed in 1998 - a twin screw tug of 2250 bhp.

Atlantic Elm ex Irving Elm -98, twin screw 3460 bhp, built in 1980.

 Other tugs would be drafted in during the summer when these two were assigned to northern barge duties. Atlantic also operated the small 660 bhp Voith-Schneider tug Atlantic Aspen in the port, but its registry was closed November 18, 2019, and has presumably been scrapped.

Atlantic Aspen, dates from 1966 when it was built for the US Navy as USN 761, Mascouta.It was acquired for use in Belledune and renamed Eddie Mac1 after the well known local pilot.

Atlantic Towing's connection with the Port of Belledune is fairly deep as parent company J.D.Irving were involved in the development of the port through New Brunswick Mining + Smelting in the early 1960s. However the smelter is closed and the major customer in the port is now New Brunswick Power's coal fired generating station. It imports US coal via the Great Lakes and petcoke from various sources. There are also general cargo and barge terminals in the port.

McKeil has never been noted as a port tug operator, except possibly in their home port of Hamilton, ON, but even there they do not have exclusivity, as Ocean Group also operates there.

McKeil has, at least for the time being, assigned the tugs Lois M and Tim McKeil to Belledune, but those seem like expensive assets to have sitting there idle for long periods. Perhaps they will have other work to occupy them.

Both are ASD tugs, built 1991, 4800 bhp, acquired in 2014.

McKeil's Jarrett M is noted downbound on the St.Lawrence, heading for Belledune. Built in 1945 as the famous McQueen Marine tug Atomic it has been rebuilt several times, and is now a 1200 bhp twin screw tug. Despite its age, it is a capable tug, which has been used for winter icebreaking at Windsor, ON and harbour berthing in various ports.

There are a lot of other rumours surrounding Belledune tugs, but I will refrain from speculating beyond what has been announced officially.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

March 1970

I am always grateful when errors in my posts are pointed out. In my previous post regarding Anticosti , which I copied directly from an older post, I repeated an error of long standing that has stood uncorrected for several years. Thanks to a reader for pointing it out - and it is now corrected.

I should have recalled that one of the early operators of offshore tug/suppliers was P+O, and that their boats carried the suffix "Lady" in their names. The reason I should have remembered is that one of the first suppliers to call in Halifax was P+O'S Lady Delia in 1970.

I know 1970 was not yesterday, but I have been doing a series of posts on my companion blog Shipfax on events in Halifax harbour from 1970, and it was in the spring of 1970 that Lady Delia was here. In fact it was in the same month of March!.

I was lucky enough to be at pier 23 when Lady Delia got underway on whatever her mission was on March 7. (There was lots of exploration and drilling going on off Nova Scotia and elsewhere including off Prince Edward Island scheduled for the summer.)

The old grain loading gallery was still in place at pier 23-24, and there was even a shed on pier 23 in those days (right side of photo - all gone now.)  A little Spanish trawler Arosa Tercero occupied pier 25 (left side of photo.)

The tanks on the after deck appear to be for drilling mud, and are being transported to a drill rig. (They are not themselves being used as part of the boat's cargo capacity !)

Lady Delia was built in 1966 by Brooke Marine, Lowestoft and measured 773 gt. Originally powered with 2 cyl Blackstones = 1600 bhp,  it was re-powered in 1971 with two English Electrics = 3250 bhp.
When Tidewater took over P+O Offshore Services (which had been renamed International Offshore Services in 1970) the vessel was renamed Delia Tide in 1974.

The ship was finally sold in 1985 to Jovence Blue Corp SA and renamed Delia. Lloyd's dropped its in 2010 as its existence was in doubt.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Anticosti sails away - AMENDED

The former tug supplier and former naval trials craft Anticosti has finally left Canadian waters six years after being sold foreign. [See corrections in paragraph 2 -underlined.]

The ship was built in 1973 by Allied Shipbuilders in North Vancouver as Lady Jean Tide for International Offshore Service (Liberia) an arm of P+O. They ran it only until 1975 when it went to Tidewater Marine of Liberia and was renamed Jean Tide. In the late 1980s when the Royal Canadian Navy needed trials craft for the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel program, and reserve training, they acquired this ship and sister  Joyce Tide ex Lady Joyce , which they renamed Anticosti and Moresby respectively, Pennant Numbers MA 110 and MA 111. When the MCMDVs were delivered the two were decommissioned in March 2000 and sold. Anticosti left Halifax in tow of Escort Protector (McKeil) December 10, 2001 for Clarenville, NL for new owners, Star Line Inc.and it was registered without change of name in 2002. Ownership later passed to North Atlantic Corp (Cape Harrison Marine) of St.John's. The ship was then available for a variety offshore duties including research.

On about May 10, 2013 in St.John's, NL, a crankcase fire broke out as the ship was being shifted by tug from refit. While the move was being completed the boat slammed into a pier causing damage to both. The fire however self-extinguished before it could spread very far.  I don't believe the ship ever returned to service, and remained laid up until its Canadian registry was closed August 8, 2014. Eventually the new name Todo Pederoso II appeared. [Loosely translated the name means "strong man" or "almighty man"].

Some work was carried out intermittently, and a few old cars appeared on its after deck as possible export cargo, but it was not until quite recently that there have been serious signs of life aboard. This has certainly taken the "manana" principal to heart. Honduras Aero Marine S de RL have been listed as owners since about February of this year and the ship was listed under Honduran registry (it had been Panama since 2014 but that lapsed in 2017).

On April 12 the ship finally got underway from St.John's and sailed giving La Cieba, Honduras as a destination. Central America and the Caribbean region is the graveyard for a lot of old ships and some work is occasionally found for them. Old suppliers are often pressed into service to carry deck loads, but they are really unsuitable for most other kinds of work, and expensive to operate. They usually do not last long.

This one apparently has some life left in it, so lets hope it does see a few more years of use.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Maersk Maker at pier 9C

One of the most modern tug / supply ships currently operating is Maersk Maker completed in 2017 by Kleven Verft , Ulsteinsvik and registered in St.John's February 4 of this year. The last of six vessels in Maersk's Starfish class it is rated at 260 tonnes Bollard Pull with five Wartsila main engines totaling 23,000 bhp and diesel electric drives. Specifically designed for deep water anchor handling it has the latest in emission controls and fuel economy measures and a bewildering array of features for offshore work.

While Maersk Maker was the centre of attraction at Pier 9C, there was interesting action in the background. CCGS Earl Grey was alongside at BIO mostly blocking the view of CCGS Ann Harvey newly arrived from St.John's. The Halifax built ship is filling in for CCGS Edward Cornwallis which is in Shelburne for its life extension. And in the far background Algoma Integrity is back from Portsmouth, NH for for more gypsum.


Monday, April 6, 2020

Tugboat frustration

With my movements restricted I am unable to post a lot of photos of some noteworthy tug boat activity in Halifax and nearby ports.

Arriving at pier 27 on March 29 was the tug Ocean Echo II, towing a dredge. The tug has a very interesting history and I am sorry not to be able to post a current picture of it on its second ever visit to Halifax.

Built in 1969 as Laval by Port Weller Dry Dock, it was originally teamed with a pair of barges, Sault au Cochon and Betsiamites, to carry bulk pulpwood from Forestville, QC to the Anglo Canadian paper mill in Quebec City. The plan was to have one barge unloading in Quebec while the other barge was in transit (usually being pushed, but sometimes towed). At the end of the original ten year charter in 1979, then-owners Reed Paper, decided that a third barge was needed and purchased Pulpwood No.1 in the US and had it towed from Jacksonville, FL to Halifax by Point Carroll.

Laval was sent to Halifax to pick it up. I got a glimpse of the tug leaving port December 4, 1979 and well recall my frustration in not getting a photo. [I think I am still frustrated actually.]

After a number of ownership changes the tug was finally acquired by Groupe Ocean and renamed. It was then fitted with barge connectors for ATB work and the barge Betsiamites was rebuilt to carry chips. The third barge was renamed Jean-Raymond but was really mis-matched and not used much as planned.

The tug and barge duo have worked up the St.Lawrence River as far as Trois-Rivieres, and as far east as Point Tupper, NS but never for very long periods of time. The tug itself also did duty as standby tug at Iroquois Lock last year when the St.Lawrence Seaway had to increase water flow rates.
I doubt that it was an ideal tug for that job, and has been replaced this year by Ocean K. Rusby.

Ocean Echo II spent the winter at Port Hawksbury, so this move must have been in the planning stages since last year.

The tug and tow sailed April 5 for Saint John, NB. The Groupe Ocean trailing suction hopper dredge Ocean Traverse Nord is already there. Usually dredging in Saint John does not start until after the spring "freshet" (meaning "flood") washes silt down the Saint John River. I therefore assume that there is some contract dredging to perform. This is hard to imagine right in the backyard of Harbour Development Ltd.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Svitzer renews at Nustar

Svitzer Canada has won a five year renewal of its terminal ship berthing contract at Point Tupper, NS. The terminal is owned by Nustar nad has contracted with Svitzer since 2010 for three tugs. The current tugs are:
Svitzer Bedford (built 2005: 4895 bhp, ASD)

Point Chebucto (built 1993: 4100 bhp, ASD 64 tonne BP)

 Svitzer Montreal (ex Svitzer Caucedo-16, Caucedo-16, built 2004: 5072 bhp, ASD 66 tonne BP)

The terms of the contract permit Svitzer to use the tugs to provide ship berthing and other services at Mulgrave, Port Hawksbury and as far away as Sydney, NS when not occupied at Nustar.

Svitzer Canada Ltd formed a joint venture with Atlantic Towing Ltd whereby Atlantic Towing Ltd tugs serve Halifax and Svitzer serve Nustar and the Strait of Canso.

With 440 veesels operating world wide Svitzer (part of A.P.Moller/Maersk) is the largest tug operator in the world. The Americas operation is run from Miami and serves 23 ports in 12 countries.

Svitzer Canada Ltd is the successer to Eastern Canada Towing Ltd. and currently operates only the three tugs.


Saturday, April 4, 2020


A contract to remove the Sable Offshore gas platforms 120 miles off Halifax  was awarded to Heerema Marine Contractors of the Netherlands. To carry out the work they mobilized their gigantic floating crane rig Thialf. The rig sailed from Rotterdam February 27 and made its stately way across the Atlantic, arriving off Halifax April 4.

The tug/supplier Atlantic Kestrel standing by the Thialf off Halifax.

Accompanying the rig is Heerema's large tug Bylgia. Built in 2013 by Astilleros Armon in Vigo, Spain, it has main engines developing in excess of 16,000 bhp and delivering 180 tonnes bollard pull. The 72m x 18m vessel has a large range and can sail from Rotterdam to Cape Town without refueling.

After standing by the rig until today Bylgia put into pier 9B in Halifax.