The Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) Island Champion made a short stay at anchor in Halifax, NS September 14-15. The Bahamas flag vessel is en route from Montrose, Scotland to Norfolk, US.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
A pair of elderly tugs appear to have been sold, or at least are in the process of being sold for further service.
The older of the two tugs is the W.N.Twolan, built by G.T.Davie + Sons Ltd, Lauzon, QC in 1962. A twin screw tug of 1520 bhp, it is powered by Werkspoor engines. It was considered to be a very powerful tug for its day, and even twin screw tugs were something of a rarity.
It was built to operate in the Port of Churchill, MB on Hudson Bay, to assist bulk carriers into the port to load grain. It was ice strengthened so it could continue to assist ships at the beginning and end in the short July to October season. There were facilities for minor maintenance in Churchill, but the tug sailed south in 1966-67 and again in the 1970s for five year surveys and refits.
The tug was replaced in 1986 and passed through McKeil and Dufresne/McAllister ownership until 1995 when it was acquired Buchanan Forest Products of Thunder Bay, ON. They used it to push a lumber barge on Lake Superior. In 2011 it was chartered to push a grain barge but has been laid up in Toronto since about 2013.
Its AIS signal has reappeared in recent weeks in the area of Toronto Dry Dock Co, where it seems likely to be refitted for service. That company has successfully operated the veterans Salvage Monarch (1959) and Radium Yellowknife (1948) in recent years.
Another old tug destined for a new career is the Escorte, presently reported in Kingston, ON undergoing re-certification. Built in 1967 by Jakobson, Oyster Bay, NY for the US Navy as Menasha YTM-773 and later YTM-761 it was (along with a sister tug Mascouta) the first Voith Schneider tugs built in the United States. As Menasha it worked for the St.Lawrence Seaway Authority for a time in the late 1980s until acquired by Groupe Océan. It worked with Océan's dredging fleet for several years until moving to Goderich, ON for ship berthing duties.
The tug worked in Goderich, ON until April 2021. It then moved to Hamilton, ON in April, Oshawa, ON in May and Kingston. It has been idle at Kingston since mid-August in refit. It is rated at 1,000 bhp, (1300 ihp) 13 ton bollard pull from two GM 12V-71 engines and two V-S units mounted forward - a true tractor tug.
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
The small tug Strait Raven arrived in Halifax from Sydney late August 30 with the McKeil Marine barge MM143 and tied up at the Cherubini dock in Eisner's Cove. Although a small barge at 542 gross tons, it has a clear deck area on hull dimensions of 43.90 x 16.46m, so can carry a significant size load. Cherubini Metal Works specializes large metal fabrications such as the bridges recently completed for Toronto.
Strait Raven was built by its owners, Superport Marine Services of Port Hawksbury, NS in 2013 and is a twin screw 1,000 hp vessel, also equipped with a bow thruster.
A very useful vessel, it has carried out tows throughout the region, between Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
It may be the first time that a "multi-cat" type vessel has made an unassisted transatlantic crossing. Even if it is not the first, today's arrival (August 24) of Tidal Pioneer is a notable one. The small workboat, measuring only 26m x 11m, and rectangular in shape, sailed from Rotterdam August 5. After a stop in the Azores, it resumed its voyage August 15 and sailed through the tail of Post Tropical Storm Henri before arriving in Halifax this morning.
Monday, August 16, 2021
With the lack of offshore oil and gas activity off Nova Scotia there has been no call for supply ships in the area. There were several boats laid up here earlier in the year, but they had all been redeployed to Europe, and it seemed unlikely that we would see any more.
However there have now been two visits. First was the return of Atlantic Condor after delivering two Canadian Coast Guard lifeboats to British Columbia.
After off loading the boats in Victoria, Atlantic Condor was then used to assist in oil removal from an old shipwreck working with Resolve Marine Group and using an ROV to hot tap the hull and remove fuel.
See: Schiedyk wreck
Atlantic Condor arrived back in Halifax July 27 and after a short period at the IEL dock in Dartmouth returned to sea August 14 on an ROV survey far offshore.
Today, August 16, saw another arrival, Siem Pilot from St.John's. One of the few remaining members of Siem's Canadian subsidiary Secunda Canada LP, the ship entered layup at the COVE dock in Dartmouth.
Sunday, August 1, 2021
The tug Sandra Mary had a narrow escape today August 1, 2021 when it began taking water off Charlottetown, PE. Thanks to a quick response from the CCG and private boat owners a pump was delivered and a CCG mechanic assisted in securing the tug. It was towing the dump scow Pitts No.12 which was also secured and both were brought in and berthed in Charlottetown.
Sandra Mary was built by Russel Bros in Owen Sound, ON in 1962 as Flo Cooper and its complete history is available on the excellent Russel Bros web site: http://www.russelbrothers.ca/xflocooper.htmlThe tug had only recently arrived in Point Tupper after a long trip from the Great Lakes.
CCG vessels nearby responding included M.Perley, Samuel Risley (en route from the Great Lakes for refit in Pictou), CCG RHIB, two inshore fishing vessels and two pleasure craft.
Monday, June 28, 2021
There has been a temporary re-assignment of tugs to Halifax, with Atlantic Towing Ltd transferring Atlantic Cedar from Saint John, NB.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
The last offshore tug/supply vessel based in Halifax sailed for Rotterdam today (June 16) [in dense fog]. Siem Commander first arrived in Halifax July 31, 2019 and participated in the removal of the last offshore gas platforms off Sable Island. Aside from contract towing, the boat has been idle at the C.O.V.E. in Dartmouth ever since the work was completed. In recent days it conducted trials in Bedford Basin and refueled at Irving Oil.
Parent company Siem Offshore, owners of Secunda Marine , still have Avalon Sea and Siem Pilot in Newfoundland, but with no planned activity offshore Nova Scotia it may be a long time before we see any similar vessels in Halifax.
Built in 2009 by Havyard Liervik as Stril Commander for Simon Mokster Shipping AS it is a 2807 gt, 3000dwt vessel of 16,000 bhp, fully equipped for DP2 with a swing up bow thruster and tunnel stern thrusters. Siem acquired and renamed the vessel in 2017 but it has seen very little service since then, either in Norway or in Canada.
See more images: http://tugfaxblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2019/07/new-for-secunda.html
Friday, May 28, 2021
The former Atlantic Tern having been sold only a month ago and renamed Mirjana K (Panama flag) has not been idle. It left its layup berth in Stephenville NL May 7 and sailed directly to Rotterdam arriving May 22. It then sailed again May 27 with the surprising destination of Gros Cacouna, QC, towing the barge YN524305.
Recorded today, May 28, in the Dover Strait at 4.9 knots, it has an ETA of June 16. Gros Cacouna, next door to Rivière-du-Loup, QC, has a large port basin sometimes used for importing wind turbine components. It is also used to unload pulpwood from barges.
Saturday, May 1, 2021
The well traveled McKeil tug Lois M arrived back in Halifax April 28 with the barge Glovertown Spirit. This visit is similar to its call last autumn which for some reason was not mentioned in this blog, but did make it to my other blog Shipfax : October 24, 2020
The Sydney, NS based tug once again has the 4800 tonne capacity deck barge Glovertown Spirit, and will load another bridge component for Toronto.
The bridge builders, Cherubini Metal Works, have their own dock in Eisner's Cove in the South Woodside / Eastern Passage area of Halifax harbour and can load out almost any fabrication they can manufacture. Once workers have installed the crib work on the barge, they will load the bridge section, which will also likely be covered by Shipfax.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Atlantic Towing Ltd has sold another of its laid up offshore support vessels. Atlantic Tern is the oldest and smallest vessel in the offshore fleet, but has found new owners reported to be in Croatia. They have renamed the tug/supplier Marjana K under the Panama flag.
Built in 1975 by Vito Steel Boat + Barge Construction Ltd in Delta, BC, the 1409 gt, 7040 bhp vessel has had a lengthy history of changes in ownership and name. All that does not require repeating since it has been posted here before: February 18, 2019
Atlantic Towing Ltd based the tug in Halifax and it worked to support the last of the gas activity off Nova Scotia. As the offshore installations were removed, Atlantic Tern's presence, largely as a standby vessel, was no longer required and it sailed from Halifax for the last time August 18, 2020. It has been laid up in Stephenville, NL since August 20, 2020. The new owners have now reactivated the vessel and with its new name now shows up on some AIS sites.
No departure date nor destination has been posted yet.
Sunday, April 25, 2021
The oak tree is noted for its strength and durability, which may explain why it has been a favourite name for J.D.Irving / Atlantic Towing Ltd tugs.
The first to use the name was built in 1942 as Empire Spruce. Built by Richard Dunston Ltd, Thorne, UK, it was a Maple class steam tug, with a 500 ihp engine by McKie + Baxter. Intended for civilian service it was instead transferred for naval duties on the River Clyde. On January 9, 1943 it was in collision with a warship in tow at Gare Loch. Cut nearly in two it sank in 30 seconds carrying four crew to their deaths. However it was salved February 23 and taken to Glasgow where it was repaired and continued in RN service until 1945. It served briefly under civilian management with William Watkins Ltd in London, then with the Dover Harbour Board but in November 1945 returned to naval service. In March 1947 it was permanently allocated to the Admiralty and in August 1947 they renamed it Emulous.
I assume the tug was used in various naval dockyards, possibly doing some coastal towing. In 1958 it was stranded one mile east of Dover and was refloated by the Smit tug
Brandenburg. Blankenburg*. With all the salvage capability of the RN it is strange that a Dutch tug would be used, unless it happened to be on the scene and responded to the emergency. I have no reports on the extent of damage, but it appears that the Admiralty did not think it was worth repairing because they sold the tug to H.G.Pounds Ltd, of Portsmouth on March 25, 1958. It is possible that Pounds made some repairs and even operated the tug, but better known as buyers, sellers and scrappers, Pounds may have kept the tug laid up.
J.D.Irving Ltd made a mass purchase of tugs from Pounds in 1961 which included several tugs and an LST to carry some of them to Saint John. On arrival the tug was rebuilt. Work included upgraded crew accommodation and installation of a war surplus 1440 bhp V-16 GM engine, built in 1945 for an LST. On completion the tug was renamed Irving Oak signifying that it would not be used for river work (which tugs had soft wood tree names) and was put to work in general towing and ship berthing in Saint John harbour.
Next up for the Oak name was an oddity for J.D.Irving. Built for work in the Beaufort Sea by Allied Shipbuilding in North Vancouver in 1981 as Canmar Tugger a 3,050 bhp, 40 tonne bollard pull, ice class anchor handling tug, it was used almost exclusively for ocean towing. After Beaufort work shut down, the tug transferred to the east coast in 1991, via the Northwest Passage. On March 11, 1993 the tug began to take on water in Sydney, NS and the stern settled on the bottom. The wheelhouse was not submerged but the rest of the tug received considerable water damage. Atlantic Towing then bought the tug - probably for a very good price.
Atlantic Towing, in line with corporate policy renamed it Atlantic Oak.
In 2000 with newer tugs available, and ocean towing work much reduced, the tug was sold to Island Tug and Barge Ltd of Vancouver where it was renamed Island Tugger. It was initially put to work as an ITB tug, but has also been used in long range transpacific towing and into the arctic.
In 2002 Atlantic Towing took delivery of hull number 78 from East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE. It was the fifteenth tug of a type built to a Robert Allen ASD design. The 4,000 bhp vessel was named Atlantic Oak. It was fully equipped with a towing winch and firefighting gear.
While some of the Georgetown tugs were built for their own account Atlantic Towing sold several of the tugs to overseas buyers after some limited use by ATL. In 2003 the second Atlantic Oak was sold to Dominican Republic owners Remolcadores Dominicanos and renamed Ocoa. It is still in service.
ATL eventually completed a joint venture with Svitzer wherein ATL took over tug operations in Halifax Harbour. Due to the size of ships coming to the port tethered escort tugs had become mandatory and ATL had the next tug built specifically for that service in Halifax. East Isle Hull No.81, the 18th tug in the series at 5,050 bhp and 66 tonnes bollard pull became the third Atlantic Oak. That tug is still in service in Halifax and shares tethered escort and general docking duties with three other tugs.
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
A regular Halifax based tug for several years is the Atlantic Willow. One of the large series of ASD tugs built by Irving Shipbuilding's Eastisle Shipyard , it was based on the original Robert Allen Ltd design, but with some modifications. It entered service in 1998.
It was the first tug in the series to be built with the full firefighting package, because it was intended for use at the NuStar oil terminal at Point Tupper, on the Strait of Canso. Presumably that is why it is the only tug in the ATL fleet registered in Port Hawksbury, NS instead of the company's home port of Saint John, NB.
It was also equipped with a towing winch aft.
The tug is rated at 4,000 bhp / 50 tonne bollard pull - somewhat less than the 5,000 bhp / 66 tonne, 5,500 bhp / 70 tonne ratings of the other Halifax tugs. Nevertheless it is still a hard working member of the fleet and it is often designated to work at the bow of a ship and with the smaller ships.
In case the above photo is a bit placid looking, it should go on record that the tug can "step out".
Irving tugs have traditionally been named after trees, because the company got is start in the tug business by towing timber on the Saint John River. Originally the river tugs were named for coniferous (softwood) trees (used for lumber and paper making), whereas coastal and ocean tugs were named for deciduous (hardwood) trees. No distinction is made now since some harbour tugs work coastal, and there is no longer any river work.
However, due to the limited number of local tree species, the names do get re-used. Such is the case of the willow, a name used in the fleet from 1980 to 1996. Irving Willow was built in 1958 by J.I.Thornycroft in Woolston, UK for Red Funnel Tugs of Southampton, UK as Dunnose. It was one of a series of first generation twin screw diesel tugs, built to serve the large ships, including the "supertankers" of the 1950s. Its two 6 cylinder Crossley's giving 1340 bhp became obsolete for that purpose as ships continued to grow, and it was replaced with a new generation. Irving acquired four tugs from the Red Funnel fleet, three of which went into regular service.
Irving Willow ex Dunnose was assigned to the Harbour Development Ltd division of Atlantic Towing Ltd and tended barges and dredges all around the Atlantic region. In 1995 Atlantic Towing Ltd and Harbour Development Ltd, were given a separate corporate identity under the J.D.Irving branch of the family companies, as distinct from Irving Oil. Most Irving tugs were given the "Atlantic" prefix, however those attached to Harbour Development Ltd were given a "master" suffix, and Irving Willow was renamed Wavemaster in 1996. It carried that name until it was broken up in Dartmouth, NS in 1995.
Irving Willow with dump scows at a dredging site in Yarmouth, NS in 1985.
CORRECTION: The Atlantic Willow does not carry a towing winch. The most photo I have that shows the tug from the stern, has a picnic table where a towing winch could be installed if needed.
CLARIFICATION: In addition to Atlantic Willow, 4,000 bhp, Atlantic Towing Ltd normally posts two 5,000 bhp tugs and one 5,500 bhp tug in Halifax. The one larger tug is drawn from the three tugs built for working with LNG tankers at the Canaport buoy off Saint John, NB. If needed for an LNG tanker it will return to Saint John, but this is now a rare event. Currently that tug is Atlantic Beaver. The two 5,000 bhp tugs based in Halifax are Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Fir.
Thanks to readers for pointed out the error and inaccuracy in the last post.
Friday, March 26, 2021
One of Nova Scotia's marine icons (see also today's Shipfax) has been sold. Theodore Too, the beloved full size replica of the star of the animated childrens' television program of the same name, will be taking on a new role to promote careers in the marine industry. Ambassatours, owner of the "tug" , have sold the boat to Blair McKeil, former owner of McKeil Marine Ltd.
Ambassatours, operators of Halifax harbour tour boats have been looking for meaningful work for Theodore Too ever since they acquired the tour boat business from the Murphy family. Coupled with last year's much abbreviated tour boat season and the need for maintenance on the twenty-one year old vessel, the timing is right for the sale.
Mr. MacKeil, son of the founder of McKeil Workboats, now a major tugboat, cargo ship and tanker operator based in Hamilton, ON, has deep family roots in Nova Scotia. He has been a promoter of various shipping initiatives and has partnered with Heddle Marine. McKeil Marine Ltd itself, although still bearing the family name, is not involved directly in the purchase. Blair McKeil is Vice Chairman of the company.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
The AIS signal for the supplier Siem Hanne is now showing as PSV Hakan. No new name has yet appeared on the vessel itself (it remains too cold for painting).
After many months of layup, it was rumoured that the boat was to be sent back to Europe by parent company Siem Offshore. [See previous post of March 4.]
It now seems that it has been sold, with an as yet unknown destination. When it does sail that will leave fleet mate Siem Commander as the only Secunda Canada vessel in Halifax. It is also without work.
Monday, March 15, 2021
It was a busy day for tugs in Halifax with all four tugs working at one point late this afternoon. As usual one of Atlantic Towing's three large 70 tonne bollard pull tugs has been assigned to Halifax for escort and ship berthing duties. The three tugs were built in association with the Spanish firm Reyser to service the LNG offshore discharge facility near Saint John, NB. Because LNG tankers are infrequent callers in there one of the big tugs can usually be spared for use in Halifax. Up to now that has always been Atlantic Bear and Spitfire III. However on March 9 Atlantic Beaver arrived in Halifax.
Heading through the Narrows into a stiff north wind this afternoon, Atlantic Beaver was making a little freezing spray on its bulwarks. Its winch and fire monitors are protected for the winter with heavy tarps.
To my recollection this is the first time that Atlantic Beaver has been back in Halifax since it was here on trials in 2008. It was built by Eastisle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE, and as with all the tugs built there it came to Halifax for bollard pull trials, which were conducted off Pier 24 in September and October 2008.
The three tugs of this class are easily identifiable by the extra fendering, particularly the three bow fenders, and the fire fighting monitors mounted on the bridge deck.
One other item of note is the fixed gangway platform on the stern. Saint John tugs moor in Mediterranean style - stern in to a landing stage, and personnel embark and disembark over the stern.
Thursday, March 4, 2021
After a lengthy layup the supplier Siem Hanne got underway today for the short move from the COVE dock in Dartmouth to Pier 9C in Halifax.
Built in 2007 by Aker, the vessel came to Canada in 2016 under a five year bareboat charter (some called it a loan) by parent company Siem Offshore to affiliate Secunda Marine. The vessel was repainted from red to Secunda blue, but an expected renaming never took place. Siem took up the remaining 50% ownership of Secunda later the same year and kept Siem names for its vessels.
It has been rumoured for some time that the ship was going back to Siem. For now at least it looks like it will be reactivated with DP trials tomorrow. It will hardly be surprising with no activity offshore Nova Scotia, and no new work in the offing for Newfoundland, if the boat heads back to Europe.
Fleet mate tug/supplier Siem Commander remains tied up at the COVE dock. It has seen some spot hire towing work, but its prospects seem equally bleak for long term activity.
Saturday, February 13, 2021
After drydocking in St.John's Atlantic Condor returned to Halifax February 8 and tied up at the IEL pier. Yesterday, February 12, the operation began to lift on the two lifeboats Cadboro Bay and Florencia Bay.
See yesterday's Shipfax
By this morning both boats were sitting happily on deck while workers completed lashing and securing the deck load.
As yet there is no departure time posted.
Thursday, January 21, 2021
The Atlantic Condor has been mobilized from layup in Stephenville, NL to carry out an interesting contract.
After drydocking at Newdock in St.John's for renewal of classification and certificates, I hear that the supplier will proceed to Halifax where it will load two Canadian Coast Guard lifeboats as deck cargo and transport them to Victoria, BC. Atlantic Towing Ltd won the contract with a $3,449,999.00 bid, and must deliver the boats by April 30, 2021.
The two boat were built in 2020 - CCGC Cadboro Bay by Chantier Naval Forillon in Gaspé, QC and CCGC Florencia Bay by Hike Metal Products in Wheatley, ON. At present Cadboro Bay is based in Sambro, NS filling in while the regular boat is in refit and Florencia Bay is at the Bedford Institute.
Each boat weighs close to 53 tonnes*, so will require shore based cranes to load and offload. The contract also requires provision of cradles, spreaders and rigging as required for safe transport. Each boat is valued at $ 8 million, so great care will be required.
Atlantic Condor was built by Halifax Shipyard in 2011 and is a UT755LN class cargo vessel, of 2334 gt, 3240 dwt to serve an extendable ten year contract with Encana to support the Deep Panuke gas field. That installation has been capped and removed in 2020, and Atlantic Condor has been without work.
I do not know if the ship will return to this coast on completion of the delivery. However more new CCG lifeboats are under construction - these two are number 7 and 8 of an order of 20, so the ship may find similar work in the future.
* [ Despite the CCG's web site that asserts that the boats "weigh 75 gross tonnes" the tender documents give the weights of the boats as 52.93 tonnes and 52.336 tonnes. Actual weight at time of lift will depend on what fuel, water, stores, etc., may be on board.
[A gross ton is a non-linear measure of volume (not weight), where traditionally 100 cu.ft = 1 gross ton. Gross tonnage is now determined by international protocol and is the product of the ship's internal volume in cubic meters, multiplied by a variable logarithmic amplification factor, or sliding scale, and is thus not solely a direct measurement. However as a relative comparative term it is still useful in describing ships sizes.]
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Offshore tug and supply operators have experienced a dramatic slowdown in activity over the past year. The reasons are related directly and indirectly to the pandemic, which resulted in a drop in demand for petroleum products and cutbacks in offshore activity by the oil companies.
Most tug/suppliers work under long term contracts, but even some of those have been subject to early cancellations, or the contracts simply have not been renewed or extended when they expired. Some boats have been placed on the "spot market", meaning intermittent work under daily rate hire.
In 2020 Atlantic Towing Ltd had 13 vessels in its offshore fleet. Two of them, Atlantic Eagle and Atlantic Raven are working on the Pacific coast as Emergency Towing Vessels under contract to the federal government. By the end of the year two boats, Atlantic Kestrel and Atlantic Merlin were operating in the North Sea and four were operating out of St.John's for Hibernia or Hebron: Atlantic Griffon, Atlantic Shrike, Atlantic Heron and Paul A. Sacuta. Three more were laid up in Stephenville, NL namely Atlantic Kingfisher, Atlantic Osprey, Atlantic Condor (see next post) and Atlantic Tern.
A fifth tug in layup was Atlantic Hawk which has now been reported sold to Russian owners and renamed Sayan Jarl under Cyprus registration.