Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Siem Commander - gone to Rotterdam

 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

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Mirjana K ex Atlantic Tern

 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.

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Saturday, May 1, 2021

Lois M - return engagement

 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.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Atlantic Tern sold

 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.

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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Atlantic Oak(s) and Irving Oak [corrected]

 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.

Irving Willow (left) and Irving Oak (centre) idle over Christmas week 1981 at the Indiantown pier in Saint John.
 The tug carried on without attracting much attention until it was replaced by more modern units. After a period in layup it was taken out to sea off southwest Nova Scotia and scuttled in deep water August 30, 1991.

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.



With Atlantic Cedar (left) towing the floating drydock General Georges P. Vanier arriving in Halifax from Montreal.

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.



As you can imagine I have many photos of Atlantic Oak (iii), including the title photo for this blog. Here is a selection:


Atlantic Oak iii going astern at speed, to swing around to the other side of CMA CGM Almaviva  
(96,817 gt, 10,900 TEU)

Atlantic Oak iii pulls on the stern of ZIM Antwerp (114,000 gt, 10,062 TEU.)

A skim of frozen spray coats the hull as Atlantic Oak iii accompanies a ship through the Narrows.
 
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* Thanks to readers for pointing out the correct name of the Smit Internaiotnale tug was Blankenburg.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Atlantic Willow - correction and clarification

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.

Atlantic Willow moves between assignments in Halifax harbour.
It is still using the winter shelter over its ship handling winch on the foredeck.

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.

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Friday, March 26, 2021

Theodore Too - sold

 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.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Siem Hanne becomes PSV Hakan

 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.

Siem Hanne is tied up at Pier 9C, preparing for new duties.
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Monday, March 15, 2021

Atlantic Beaver in Halifax

 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.

Atlantic Oak (left) moving Atlantic Bear during acceptance trials in Halifax in September 2008.

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.

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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Siem Hanne underway

 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. 



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Saturday, February 13, 2021

All aboard

 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.

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Thursday, January 21, 2021

New Gig for the Atlantic Condor

 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.]

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Atlantic Hawk - sold and renamed Sayan Jarl

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.


Built in 2000 by Halifax Shipyard, it was the second of four similar vessels of Ulstein UT 722 design. (The first was Atlantic Eagle.) The third and fourth boats were UT722L design, meaning they were somewhat longer. Equipped as an anchor handling tug supplier, it has engines totaling  14,411 bhp.


The ship is reported to be in South Dildo, NL, refueling and taking on stores for its delivery trip to the new owners.

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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Jarvis sails south

 The former Venture Sea (see previous post) sailed late this afternoon, now with its new name Jarvis stenciled on the bows.


AIS is not showing a destination, but the boat is heading generally south if that is any indication of where it may be going.

Of the many pictures I have taken of this tug over the years, none have shown what it is really like out at sea. However perhaps this one gives some idea of how this boat might perform.


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Saturday, January 9, 2021

More Towing for the Elm (revised)

 Atlantic Towing's Atlantic Elm returned to Halifax this morning towing the barge Scotia Tide from Liverpool, NS. After entering the harbour it was met by Atlantic Oak and made its way toward Eastern Passage.


The twin hull barge, built by Aecon in Pictou in 2015 for a reported $30 million, was designed to carry and place a 1300 tonne tidal turbine on the sea bottom of the Minas Passage in the upper Bay of Fundy. After a failed first placement, and a second placement in 2018, the turbine operators declared bankruptcy leaving an estimated $14 million owing a number of creditors. The barge was ordered sold at auction to recoup some of the loss.

Ironically, among the creditors is Atlantic Towing Ltd ($1.4 million) and RMI Marine ($444,720) . It was RMI's motor boat that picked up the insurance line and float as the tow neared the Cherubini dock in Eisner's Cove.


The barge, is now owned by Halifax Offshore Consulting and SPB Equipment of Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador, a company specializing in iron and metal salvaging, dismantling structures, and dealers in recovered components. It is unclear what their intentions may be at this time. The tidal turbine remains inoperative on the bottom of the Minas Passage, and this barge could conceivably be used to recover it.

Atlantic Elm moved back to Pier 27 after securing the barge.


Built by Saint John Drydock + Shipbuilding in 1980 to a proven Robert Allen design, it is a 3460 bhp, 44.5 tonne bollard pull twin screw tug. Originally named Irving Elm it was renamed in 1996. The small "bird house" crows nest was also added later. 

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Friday, January 8, 2021

Tugs in Transit - Part 3

 The latest arrival in Halifax is the former Venture Sea. Now sold by Secunda Canada to Virgo Ships and registered in Vanuatu, the tug/supplier is sailing under the name Jarvis, although this has not been painted on in the customary places.

Looking a bit bedraggled, and still carrying its former name, the tug arrives in Halifax this afternoon.

As Venture Sea it was noted on this blog as recently as September when it was mobilized out of layup in Halifax and sent north for a towing assignment.

http://tugfaxblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2020/09/venture-sea-heads-north.html

On return from that job the tug went to Shelburne, NS where it has remained until yesterday when it departed for Halifax. On arrival this afternoon it berthed at Irving Oil's Woodside terminal for refueling.

The letters "M.V." formed no part of the tug's official name, but were applied by the builders and have remained ever since.

Although proving its worth so recently as a towing vessel, there is speculation that this may be the end of the road for the tug, and that it will be headed for the scrappers. After fueling it is scheduled to move to pier 27 so it may be some time before we learn of its fate.

Back in September Venture Sea was laid up sandwiched between its two newer and larger fleet mates.

Secunda Marine, founded in Halifax in the 1980s has been a subsidiary of the Norwegian company Siem Offshore since 2016. Siem is in the process of re-financing and has shed a number of idle vessels. With no work in the oil and gas offshore Nova Scotia, it may be a matter of time before other vessels in the fleet are sold or re-assigned too. Both Siem Commander and Siem Hanne remain laid up in Halifax with few short term prospects.


In addition, on December 22, SIEM received early termination notice for its Siem Pilot working for Suncor off Newfoundland. The charter was to last until November 2022. The total Siem fleet world wide was reported to be 33 vessels before the Venture Sea was sold but may now be down to 19.  

Another Canadian flag vessel, Siem Diamond was reflagged back to Norway in November 2020.

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Tugs in Transit - Part 2

 With Christmas and New Year holidays over, it was time to get back to work for some temporary visitors. Atlantic Elm sailed light tug on January 7 giving Liverpool, NS as destination. It only took a few hours to reach that port, and the tug appears to have tied up at the former Mersey Paper dock in Brooklyn.

This morning, January 8 the small Harbour Development flotilla got underway for Saint John. Wavemaster lead off towing the dredge Cranemaster.


The tug is the former Royal Netherlands Navy tug Regge, built in 1987. It was renamed in 2018 after HDL acquired and refitted it to suit Canadian regulations. 

They were followed by Atlantic Tamarack towing the split hopper barge HD-9. Unfortunately when I was poised for a photo a sudden snow shower blotted out the scene. It soon blew over and a distant shot was possible.


Harbour Development Ltd is a subsidiary of Atlantic Towing Ltd, part of the J.D.Irving group of companies. It is essentially a dredging contractor and is nominally based in Halifax. Its equipment works throughout the region, often in the Saint John, NB area. (Their website is woefully out of date, so do not take information from it at face value.)

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