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.


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.



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.

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.


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. 


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.


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 GaspĂ©, 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

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.


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.


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. 


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.

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.


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.)