Saturday, December 24, 2022

Two Old Timers

 The longevity of some tugs is hard to believe. Spending many years in fresh water may be an explanation in some cases, but for others it must be quality of construction and maintenance over the years. As of December 24, 2022 there are two tugs in Halifax, both over fifty years of age.

The older of the two, clocking in at a spry 60 years of age, is the W. N. Twolan, built in 1962 by George T. Davie + Sons Ltd in Lauzon, QC. A twin screw tug of 2038 bhp, built with Stork Werkspoor main engines, its initial service was in the Port of Churchill, MB on Hudson Bay. After several years there (with occasional refits and winters in Halifax) it was acquired by McKeil Marine and operated mostly on the Great Lakes. Later acquired by ABM Marine in Thunder Bay, ON, it was fitted with an elevated wheelhouse and ran exclusively on Lake Superior, pushing a barge carrying lumber. However it was laid up for several years.

Current owners, since 2021, are listed as Halls Bay Marine Services of Springdale, NL. The company completed a major refit on the tug last year,  and returned it to active service. Proprietor Richard C. Ballott  also owns, through Sealand Shipping Services Ltd, the tug R. J. Ballott (ex Jerry Newberry, Kay Cole, Point Victor, Foundation Victor, built 1956) and Firebird (former RCN fireboat, built 1978).

The W. N. Twolan arrived in Halifax December 11 on its most recent trip, towing the barge NT 1802 from Matane, QC. It was reported that the barge will be loaded with a component for the McInnis Cement plant in Port Daniel, QC. No component seems gto hav e appeared yet, and it is getting to be very late in the season for towing in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. Recent bad weather has kept the tug in port.

The second elderly tug is the Atlantic Beech, a product of the Saint John Dry Dock + Shipbuilding Co Ltd in 1969.

The 2250 bhp twin screw tug was initially named Irving Beech but was renamed in 1991 when the entire Atlantic Towing Ltd fleet was renamed as part of a corporate restructuring. The tug was one of the first Canadian tugs built when new rules required all accommodation to be above the water line. For many years the tug operated in barge work for Irving Oil, usually with the barge Irving Seal. They ranged over most of Atlantic Canada and into the St.Lawrence River. After the corporate restructuring it also did harbour work in Saint John and even in Halifax for a time.

For the last several years the Atlantic Beech has worked in the Hudson Bay in the summers (with fleet mate Atlantic Elm) handling lighterage barges as part of the Nunavut Sealift. The barges ferry cargo from ships in Chesterfield Inlet to Baker Lake, 320 km inland from Hudson Bay, and Rankin Inlet.

On December 22 the Atlantic Beech completed the tow of the fire-damaged ferry Holiday Island from Wood Islands, PE to Sheet Harbour, NS for scrapping. It is now en route back to winter layup in Saint John, NB, but has put in to Halifax during the current spell of severe weather. The crew may have returned home overland!


1 comment:

  1. The WN Twolan was also owned and operated after ABM by a small outfit called Navcon Marine for a few years. She was busy moving a fleet of 8 Mississippi style grain barges around Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River as far down as Quebec City. Also did some special project cargo work from Thunder Bay. Navcon would have owned and operated her between around 2012-2025 , at which point the cargo run she was on went out of business.