Saturday, August 20, 2022

Dover Spirit tows from Halifax - Update #1

 The tug Dover Spirit sailed from Halifax in the early morning of August 20 towing the barge MM 143 en route to Sydney, NS,

The barge is carrying a large Manitowoc crawler crane and other gear used in cutting up the old trawler Hydra Mariner that was aground on Navy Island in Bedford Basin. The Minister of Transport ordered the removal of the wreck when the owners failed to remove it. Marine Recycling Corp of Port Colborne, ON (MRC) were hired to cut up the wreck. They completed the work earlier this month and the "chunks" of the ship were loaded on another barge, the MM 161. It will also be towed to MRC's facility in Sydport, NS where the material will be recycled.

See also Shipfax August 9, 2022 for more on the wreck removal.


The Dover Spirit is a fine little tug, built in 1998 at Port Dover, ON by Dovercraft Marine as Kaliutik. McKeil Marine acquired the tug and renamed it in  2018. It is rated at 550 bhp, and is equipped with a towing winch, stern roller, and a large push knee on the bow.


The Dover Spirit delivered the barge to Sydport on August 21 and more or less immediately put back out to sea for Halifax, arriving in the early hours of August 23. It then sailed again late in the day with the second barge  MM161, carrying the bulk of the cut up sections of the Hydra Mariner.

The yellow tower is part of the barge's equipment - purpose iunknown. The remnants of the Hydra Mariner do not appear to be secured - except by gravity - but it is more likely that they are chained down or welded on in some manner.

Once again I missed getting a photo of the tug underway (this time due to heacvy mist), so I am attaching a photo of the tug under its orginal name, Kaliutik, from 2012, taken in Port Hawksbury.


Saturday, August 6, 2022

French tug for scrap

 The French emergency towing and rescue tug Abeille Languedoc arrived in Brest France, August 2. After transferring some equipment to another tug, it was due to move to an adjacent dock where it will be broken up. Its retirement brings back a memory of seeing the tug close up and getting, what to me was an unforgettable photo.

Built in 1978 by Ulstein Hatlo in Ulsteinvik, Norway as the salvage tug Neptun Gothia, it was chartered the next year by the French Navy and operated by "Les Abeilles", the famous French towing company, then owned by Progemar. It was a 12,632 bhp vessel with a160 tonne bollard pull. Along with sister tug Abeille Flandre (the forner  Neptune Suecia) they were to be available on 40 minute notice or on patrol to respond to emergencies. The need for such vessels became evident the year before when the disabled VLCC "super tanker" Amoco Cadiz drifted aground and spilled all 220,880 tonnes of its crude oil cargo into waters off Brittany. The ship had a malfunctioning rudder and was taken in tow by the large salvage tug Pacific, which happened to be in the area. Unfortunately the tow line parted and the ship grounded on rock pinnacles and broke up before a second line could be rigged. See more in Wikipedia: Amoco Cadiz

The French government reponded very quickly and established the Emergency Towing Vessel service to assist ships until commercial salvors could arrive on scene. In addition the Abeille Languedoc and Abeille Flandre, they commissioned construction, also in 1978-1979, of two more ETVS, Abeille Provence and Abeille Normandie. The latter two were replaced by more powerful tugs in 1987 and in 1990 joined Secunda Marine Services. Based in Halifax they were renamed Ryan Leet and Magdelan Sea respectively. Long since sold off, they were always an appealing sight.

 In my opinion the latter two were much better looking tugs, but Abeille Languedoc and Abeille Flandre were impressive nonetheless.

In May 2000 while traveling between Jersey, Channel Islands and St-Malo, France as part of the International Tug and Salvage Conference, our boat was overtaken by Abeille Languedoc (at speed). The rendez-vous had been prearranged, and the decks were lined with photo takers, some of whom (and their cameras) were doused with spray as the tug passed. Those of us who managed to stay dry got the photo that heads up this post.

In recent years Abeille Languedoc has also been rescuing distressed migrants trying to cross the English Channel (La Manche) from France to England. The French government currently operates an ETV fleet of four big tugs, and the service has figured in countless emergencies and has saved many ships and many lives.

Don't miss the You Tube video of the sister tug Abeille Flandre at:

 Be sure to push the "CC" (close caption) button to get English subtitles.