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.