Sunday, February 12, 2023

Missed Opportunity - perhaps

 The powerful icebreaking tug Polar Circle sailed from St.John's, NL February 8 for Bergen, Norway. This week (about February 10 or 11) it was announced that GC Rieber Shipping AS had acquired full ownership of the vessel, purchasing the 50% interest previously held by Maas Capital Offshore.

The ship arrived in Halifax October 7, 2022 and aside from one brief trip to Boston December 16-22 for refueling, it remained at anchor in Halifax, with a brief move to take on stores, until January 30, 2023. It arrived in St.John's February 2 for refueling, but had to wait for MDO (Marine Diesel Oil) which was not immediately available.  

Sailing from Halifax January 30, 2023.

 There was speculation that the ship was "shopped" to the Canadian Coast Guard and private companies, but if so there were no takers. The Canadian Coast Guard may need an interim icebreaker when the CCG Terry Fox undergoes a life extension process starting later this year. However they might need more power than the Polar Circle has. It is a 12,236 bhp tug with a bollard pull rating of 150 tonnes. Construction was completed by Langsten Slip in Tomrefjord, Norway in 2006 on a hull built by Aker Tulcea. (The Terry Fox is a 23,200 bhp vessel with a 1920 nautical mile / 58 day range.)

Polar Circle was built in 2006 for a 15 year charter to Exxon Neftegaz as a tanker escort in the Sakahlin Island region of Russia. The contract was extended to September 2023, but in July 2022 Rieber opted to exit Russia and the ship sailed transpacific via the Panama Canal and New York to Halifax. Its orginal name Polar Pevek was changed to Polar Circle in 2022. (A previous Rieber vessel named Polarsirkel built in 1976, was renamed Polar Circle in 1981. It participated in the seal hunt off Newfoundland in 1978 and possibly in other years.)

The future of the ship is thus unknown, but operation in Norwegian waters or the Baltic is the most likely.


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