Monday, December 27, 2021

An explanation and an apology

 There is a long tradition among ship watchers to exchange photos at Christmas time showing ships in snowy or icy conditions. I was going through some photos from 1977 and grabbed the photo that was part of my previous post and included it with no identification of the two tugs and the oil rig.

I did not intend to make it a guessing game or a mystery quiz, since I do have the names of all three recorded. So starting in reverse order they are:

The Sedco 704 one of seven semi-submersible oil drilling rigs built by Halifax Shipyards. This one dates from 1974 and was a known as a "mid-water floater" with a rectangular platform supported by columns on pontoons. It could work in water depths to 1,000 ft (later revised to 1,200 ft) and drill depth to 25,000 ft. It had a major drydocking and refurb in 1992-1993 at Verolme Botlek in Rotterdam, which consisted mostly of upgrading welds.

After a period working off Nova Scotia it operated in the North Sea for successor company Transocean. The rig was scrapped in Turkey in 2017.

Background tug, Point Vigour, built in 1962 by Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon, one of six sister tugs, all single screw, 1,000 bhp. Eastern Canada Towing Ltd acquired the tug in 1973 and it was renamed Point Vigour, they had it had refitted with a Kort nozzle and its single Fairbanks Morse main engine was upgraded.

Also in 1977, Point Vigour posed off the ECTUG dock with another oil rig in the background, the triangular platform Sedco J also built in Halifax.

 In 2007 McKeil Marine bought the tug and renamed it Molly M 1. It is still operating on the Great Lakes and St.Lawrence with the occasional foray into salt water. It will be sixty years old in 2022, but is nevertheless going strong. Two sister tugs, which have remained in Canadian operation, Point Viking and Point Vim are also still operating. The other three were sold foreign and are believed scrapped long ago.

Foreground tug is the Pointe Marguerite one of two tugs ordered by MIL Tug (formerly Foundation Maritime) for service in Sept-Iles, QC. Built by Collingwood Shipbuilding in 1973, they were heavily reinforced for work in ice, and had an icebreaker bow. Powered by a pair of 12 cylinder GM engines, they were rated at 4300 bhp (but often quoted as more than 5,000 ihp). MIL Tug was sold to Eastern Canada Towing Ltd while the tugs were under construction, and ECTUG employed them as planned in Sept-Iles.

Hauled out on the Dartmouth Marine Slip, Pointe Marguerite shows its icebreaking bow. On the adjacent slip Atlantic Towing's Irving Birch superimposes its funnel, lifeboat and mast. That is Sedco 704 in the background again.

Tragically Pointe Marguerite was crushed between two ships November 14, 1978 in Sept-Iles Bay and sank immediately with the loss of two lives. Sister tug Point-aux Basques is still in service, now with Groupe Océan as Océan Basques as is the replacement tug, built to essentially the same design, Pointe Sept Iles now as Océan Sept-Iles.

An enlargement of my "Christmas" photo shows the subjects in slighly more detail.


Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas from Tugfax

 Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy 2022.

A wintry scene from the old Eastern Canada Towing (ECTUG) dock in March 1977. 

(Oil rigs were a common sight in Halifax harbour in those days.)


Friday, November 12, 2021

Salvor to the breakers

 McKeil Marine has been disposing of surplus tonnage in recent years, and the latest to go under the torch is Salvor, one of two similar former Moran tugs in the fleet. I covered the tug's history on this blog ten years ago, and there is little to add to: Salvor story

McKeil acquired the fleet mates Esther Moran (built 1963) and M.Moran (built 1961) in 2000, but they were not unknown to Halifax. Both were here in 1982 to tow out the El Paso Columbia with help from local tugs in the above photo. Esther Moran is on the starboard side (left in photo) with Point Vim while Point Vibert assists M.Moran on the port bow (right in photo) moving the ship under the Angus L. Macdonald bridge.

Esther Moran became Salvor in 2000 and it has recently been reported that it is being broken up in Port Maitland, ON. M.Moran was initially renamed Salvager but became Wilf Seymour in 2004. It has been paired with the barge Alouette Spirit for many years delivering aluminum ingots from Sept-Iles, QC to Great Lakes ports and returning down river with a variety of cargoes. It is still in full operation.


Saturday, November 6, 2021

Atlantic Elm - veteran at work

 It is hard to believe that the tug Atlantic Elm has reached the venerable age of  41 years, yet still does a a day's work tugging and towing. 

The tug spent the summer barging cargo in Chesterfield Inlet, off Hudson's Bay. The cargo was bound for Baker Lake, and it was lightered off ships anchored in deep water. The tug returned to its home port of Saint John on October 22 with the barge Atlantic Marlin. It was not long until it was underway again, making a run across the Bay of Fundy, possibly with a small ferry in tow.

Its most recent assignment was a tow from Shelburne, NS to Halifax, NS. The vessel in tow was the museum ship Acadia, built as a hydrographic research ship in 1913. Irving Shipbilding Inc completed some much needed hull work on the old ship and it was time to return to its static berth at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Atlantic Elm handed off the tow of Acadia to the harbour tug Atlantic Fir which brought the old ship alongside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's pier on November 5.

Atlantic Elm was built in 1980 by Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock to a Robert Allen Ltd design. The twin screw 3460 bhp, 44.5 tonne bollard pull tug was originally named Irving Elm but was renamed in 1996 as part of a fleet wide renaming program.

Irving Elm has travelled far and wide including some trips to the Great Lakes. It had a small "birdhouse" type elevated wheelhouse added, but I wonder how often it is used.

The split funnels provide some additional view aft over the enclosed winch house. The design of the tug closely follows that of the Jervis Crown / Seaspan Monarch built in 1977 for barge work on the Pacific coast, and also still in service.

Job completed, the tug returned to Saint John. Its fleet mate the even older Atlantic Beech, built in 1969, is also in Saint John having just returned November 3 from Chesterfield Inlet.



Friday, October 22, 2021

Atlantic Cedar - rare visitor

 Atlantic Towing Ltd provides harbour tug services in Saint John, NB and in Halifax. Tugs are sometimes reassigned between the ports, and it is always interesting to see one from Saint John come to Halifax. Atlantic Cedar arrived October 21 for for a special assignment at Irving Shipbuilding's Halifax Shipyard.

 Today the tug was standing by alongside the semi-submersible Boa Barge 37 as the latest Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel was rolled aboard using self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs). The barge is on long term charter to perform this function as the ships are no longer launched in the traditional way.

The barge will be moved to Bedford Basin where the ship will be floated off. That operation will likely be covered tomorrow on the companion blog Shipfax.

Atlantic Cedar was built by Irving Shipbuilding's Eastisle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE in 2005. It is a 5,000 bhp, 66 tonne bollard pull tug with FF1 fire fighting capability. It is a sister tug to the Halifax based Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Fir. They are among the 36 similar vessels built from 1995 to 2011 based on a Robert Allen Ltd design of azimuthing stern drive harbour tug.

Atlantic Cedar's normal duties involve standing by tankers offloading at the Canaport monobuoy off Saint John, NB, where they deliver crude oil to the Irving Oil refinery.


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Siem Dorado

 The offshore construction vessel Siem Dorado sailed from Halifax today, October 21, giving "Dover" as its destination. My guess is Dover Strait, for orders.

The ship arrived in Halifax July 31, 2021 where it was modified by IT International Telecom for a cable lay project in Barbados, returning to Halifax October 8 where it was "unconverted". That work included re-installing a portion of the transom which had been removed for the cable work.

Built in 2009 by Kleven Ulsteinvik in Norway, it is a 4869 gt, 4257 dwt vessel, equipped with the usual variety of thrusters. Coupled with a diesel electric propulsion system, it has a high grade dynamic positioning capability. It is also equipped with a 100 tonne capacity, heave compensating crane, equipment to support an ROV including a moon pool, not to mention the obvious helicopter landing platform.Owner Siem Offshore AS is the parent company of Secunda Canada LP, but this ship appears to be directed by the parent company. It was built as Siem Dorado but carried the names Adams Vision 2010-2013, Siem Stork 2013-2015 and Siem N-Sea 2015-2019. 


Monday, October 18, 2021

Roseway - veteran tug soldiers on

 The little tug Roseway despite its many years of service is in almost daily use for Dominion Diving in Halifax harbour. This morning I caught sight of it while en route to one of its regular assignments, as line boat for the Irving Oil jetty in Woodside. That is one of two regular docks where line boats are needed (the other is Autoport). A third dock at Nova Scotia Power in Tuft's Cove rarely sees ships anymore since the plant is now normally gas fired.

Roseway passes the IEL pier in Dartmouth, site of one of the tug's rare embarrassing moments. It sank at the dock December 23, 1991 but was immediately raised, repaired and returned to service better than ever. The two screw tugs has engines totaling 300 bhp. Their sound is distinctive and they can be heard across the harbour when it is hard to see the tug.

I have referenced the tug many times over the years on this blog, so here are some posts from the past: Roseway

Roseway dates from 1960 when it was built by Steel and Engine Products Ltd in Liverpool, NS (then owned by K.C.Irving) for the Department of Public Works. It was paired with a small dredge and dump scow and put to work in small harbours, chiefly in Nova Scotia. The tug's name comes from the community of Roseway on the western shore of Shelburne harbour, and Cape Roseway on McNutt's Island at the entrance to Shelburne harbour, site of the second oldest lighthouse in Nova Scotia, built in 1788.

Just about 40 years ago I caught Roseway and its dredge D.P.W.No.16 and a dump scow in Eastern Passage.


I don't have many pictures of cars that I have owned, but that is my 1977 Volvo on the pier in middle of the photo. One of the dredge spuds blocks a view of the spire of St.Andrews Roman Catholic Church, immediately behind the car.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Maersk Clipper for cable work

 There are only a few ships built exclusively for the installation and repair of subsea cables. However offshore support vessels can often be pressed into service for specific jobs. This particularly so now that tug/suppliers are readily available due to lack of offshore work.

IT Telecom, based at Pier 9A in Halifax has used offshore vessels many times and has a portable, containerized fibreoptic cable splicing unit that can be loaded on supply boat's deck. Other equipment including what I call a slide, can be fitted over the stern to retrieve and re-lay the cable.

Other conversion work may be needed for more complex jobs that require use of a ROV. That is the case for the offshore construciotn support vessel Horizon Enabler Siem Dorado which has recently returned from cable work in Barbados. Conversion work included removal of a portion of the ship's transom bulwark. That section has now been reinstalled and the ship can return to it owners.

Now another offshore vessel has arrived to be adapted for cable work. Maersk Clipper, built in 2013 in Chile is an anchor handling tug supplier. Its twin MaK engines produce 15,000 hp and deliver 180 tonnes bollard pull.

The ship will be fitted with the containerized cable splicing shop and other gear to retrieve and repair cable.

Maersk Clipper is a versatile vessel. It recently towed the broken down tanker Dorset Spirit out of Come by Chance, NL heading for repairs in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It handed over the tow to the Maersk Lifter somewhere offshore.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tug Zeus and Barges - Part 2

 The tug Zeus sailed this afternoon (September 28), towing the barges Witte 3301 and Witte 3302. The tug and tow arrived in Halifax September 24 en route from Erie, PA to Newark NJ. [See previous post]. With the assistance of the harbour tug Atlantic Fir the departure was a nice bit of work.

Atlantic Fir moved the barge Witte 3301 outboard of the Witte 3302 and the pair were lashed together until they were well off the dock.

The master of the Zeus is operating the tug from the after control station on the boat deck. Once well clear of Pier 9B and out in the Narrows, the Witte 3302 is cast off and allowed to follow in astern of the Witte 3301.

Each barge has its own separate tow line from the winch on the Zeus. I do not envy the winch man in the light drizzle, but I do admire the skills required to pay out the line while handling the tug by screw/throttles only.

Within a very short distance the tow was nicely formed up and Atlantic Fir retrieved the deckhand from from the Witte 3301. Once clear of the Narrows and the lower harbour the tow will be lengthened out for ocean towing.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Tug Zeus and barges

 The tug Zeus arrived in Halifax today, September 24, towing two barges on a long trip. They are en route from the barge builder's yard in Erie, PA to the owner's home port of Newark, NJ.

The tug is an interesting one, as it was built as far back as 1974 and is still serving its original owners, as the first tug in the fleet. Dann Marine Towing LLC of Chesapeake City, MD now has a fleet of more than twenty tugs and a number and variety of barges. The Zeus is a twin screw tug with a pair of Caterpillar engines delivering 2250 hp. According to the owner's website the tug was built by Bobbin Fabricators of Harvey, LA (other records say Houma Welders Inc of Houma LA.) It has an elevated wheelhouse raising the height of eye for the helmsman from 38 ft to 55 ft above the waterline.

The two open hopper barges, named Witte 3301 and Witte 3302 grossing 1360 gt were built by Donjon Marine in Erie, PA for the yard's parent company, based in Hillside, NJ. Starting as a marine salvage contractor, Donjon is also involved in dredging and metal recycling in addition to operating the large shipyard in Erie. The company's founder, J. Arnold Witte is the dean of the American salvage industry. In fact the shipyard has recently completed building an inland rivers type pusher tug named  J.Arnold Witte

On arrival of Halifax the tug Zeus handed off one of the barges, Witte 3302, to the tug Atlantic Fir for docking at Pier 9B. Zeus then came alongside the Witte 3301 and docked it at Pier 9B. I understand that tug and tows  will remain in port until the tropical storms Odette and Peter have passed offshore.

As a sort of footnote, it is interesting that the two barges were brought down through the St.Lawrence Seaway separately. Zeus handled the Witte 3301 and the McKeil tug Molly M 1 handled the Witte 3302. The Molly M 1 is the former Halifax based tug Point Vigour ex Foundation Vigour built in 1962. It passed off its tow at the Escoumins pilot station and Zeus then towed both barges.

In 1979 Point Vigour, a single screw tug of 1,000 bhp, with sister tug Point Viking were the prime harbour tugs in Halifax harbour.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Island Champion in transit

 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.

Built in 2007 by Aker Braila, completed by Aker Brevik to a UT776E design, it is a 4,382 gt vessel of 4,100 dwt. With the usual capability to carry liquids, cement, and barite it can also carry pipe on deck and its fitted for oil recovery, standby and is rated FFII (firefighting) and DP2 (dynamic positioning).
Its reason for stopping in Halifax is not known.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

New life for old tugs

 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. 


When in barge service with McKeil a small "birdhouse" was installed above the wheelhouse for improved visibility.

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

Strait Raven and barge

 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

Transatlantic Crossing

 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.

Built on strictly utilitarian lines, the vessel has a square "bow" with push knees, large working deck, open from  bow to stern, with wheelhouse offset to starboard, a small superstructure and exhaust stacks to port, and a pair of cranes - one forward and one aft. 

This type of vessel, commonly called a "multicat", although that is a trademark, is popular world wide, but still rare in North America. Dominion Diving's Dominion Warrior was the first to be seen in these parts, and it arrived from Europe on a heavy lift ship in 2018. 

Tidal Pioneer is owned by Sustainable Marine Energy, the Scottish/Canadian company that has developed floating tidal power generators. It is currently commissioning the Grand Passage project, between Digby Neck and Brier Island, Nova Scotia. The floating platform has been built by A.F.Theriault + Sons, Meteghan River, NS, and equipped with tidal turbines built by Schottel. Seabed anchors and undersea power cable work are scheduled for completion this summer. Presumably Tidal Pioneer will be used in the construction and servicing of the installation.

Tidal Pioneer was initially laid down in 2019 by Neptune Shipyard in Aalst, Netherlands as their hull number 556 then fitted out and completed for SME earlier this year. Neptune's multi-purpose vessels are called "Eurocarrier" and Tidal Pioneer appears to be based on the 2611 standard design, with many modifications to suit the specific needs of SME. It is a twin screw vessel, of 2600 bhp.

Registered in Canada July 2, it was reflagged to Belize for the delivery trip. This is standard procedure for ship delivery companies. They are contracted by means of a charter arrangement, and use experienced delivery crews, mostly from the Netherlands. These crews also perform warrantee monitoring, break in procedures and other work during the delivery voyage. They must also be a hardy breed of seafarer to withstand a transatlantic voyage like this one.


Monday, August 16, 2021

Work for Suppliers

 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.

See: New Gig and Lifting On

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.

It is a 5,000 gt supply and pipe carrier. Construction started in 2007 at UMO, KD-Eregli in Turkey but was completed by Eidsvik, Uskedalen, in Norway in 2010. Fully equipped for standby and firefighting it is also DP2 with diesel electric drive and ROV support. Although not a tug, it has a bollard pull of 70 tonnes.
With its arrival in Halifax, possibly for layup, Siem/Secunda is left with Avalon Sea working off Newfoundland on the Hebron field.


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Sandra Mary - a narrow escape

 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:

The 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

Atlantic Cedar in Halifax

 There has been a temporary re-assignment of tugs to Halifax, with Atlantic Towing Ltd transferring Atlantic Cedar from Saint John, NB.

Built in 2005 by East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE, it is a second generation  type, with 5,050 bhp, FiFi1 fire fighting and 66 tonne bollard pull.

It joins Atlantic Oak (2004) and Atlantic Fir (2005) also second gen types with the same horsepower and bollard pull.

Atlantic Fir, alongside and Atlantic Oak (astern) bring in the container ship ONE Hangzhou Bay (96,980 dwt). Atlantic Cedar had been on the starboard side, but once clear of the Narrows, moved on to assist MOL Experience with Atlantic Willow ((1998, 4000 bhp, 50 tonne BP).

Atlantic Willow is a first generation type, and the the first to be fitted with firefighting gear.

Irving Cedar is in Halifax to replace the  Atlantic Beaver (2008, 5432 bhp, 70 tonne BP) which has gone to Saint John to assist with the LNG tanker Hispania Spirit.

Atlantic Beaver
 and sister tugs Atlantic Bear and Spitfire III were built especially to handle LNG tankers at the mono-buoy unloading facility at Canaport, off Saint John, NB. Those ships are fairly rare now, so one of the three can usually be found in Halifax to assist with the large container ships.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.
* Thanks to readers for pointing out the correct name of the Smit Internaiotnale tug was Blankenburg.