Sunday, April 15, 2018

Point Valiant - long time no see - UPDATED

The Svitzer Canada dock in Halifax is usually devoid of tugs, since the entire Canadian fleet is based in Point Tupper, but it had a welcome addition this morning. The Point Valiant put in its first appearance in Halifax since the fleet was transferred in 2010. (Svitzer and Atlantic Towing Ltd formed two joint ventures: Halifax Marine Towing to service Halifax and Point Tupper Towing for the Strait of Canso with ATL tugs working Halifax and Svitzer tugs in the Strait.)

Built by Industrie Océan in Ile-aux-Coudres, Point Valiant was acquired by then Eastern Canada Towing  Ltd (ECTUG) while still under construction.  Intended to be Océan Jupiter for the parent company Groupe Océan, it was offered to ECTUG instead and delivered to Halifax in December 1998. It was the second in what was originally a class of four tugs designed by Robert Allan Ltd. One was sold overseas, and two, Océan Intrepide and Océan Jupiter remained with Groupe Océan.
Groupe Océan has since gone on to build two more tugs of the class, but with extended wheelhouse. All four work in the Port of Montreal. They are powered by Mitsubishi high speed engines giving 4,076 bhp.

The current Point Valiant is the second tug to carry the name,. The first was built as Foundation Valiant in 1963, became Point Valiant (i) in 1973 and  André H. in 1995 when ECTUG sold it to Trois-Rivières Boatmen. When Groupe Océan acquired that company from the Houde family, they retained the tug's name. When seen in Quebec City last summer, it was in need of a major refit.

The current Point Valiant appears to be en route to Lunenburg for its own refit is en route to Sambro, NS where it will be slipped for pre-purchase survey. I have it on good authority that the tug has been sold to west coast owners and will be transported by heavy lift ship. Stand by for more updates!


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tidewater boats arrive

To support the oil rig West Aquarius while it drills the exploration well Aspy D-11,  BP hired Halifax based Horizon Maritime to provide three vessels. Horizon's own supplier Horizon Star has been working for some time now to deliver riser pipe to the rig as it was mobilized in Newfoundland.

This week the rig (which is a self-propelled deep water semi-submersible) arrived at the drill site and the two other suppliers arrived in Halifax today (April 11) for the first time. Although they were initially based in Mulgrave, the drill riser and pipe is coming through Halifax.

Both of these suppliers have been bareboat chartered from Tidewater, one of many supplier companies with a large fleet of laid up boats in its 300 vessel fleet. ( It is estimated that about 36% of the world's Platform Supply Vessels are unemployed).

First to arrive this morning was Troms Sirius, a 4210 grt ship built by STX OSV. The hull was built in Tulcea Romania and finished by STX Soviknes in Sovik, Norway in 2012. It has diesel electric propulsion driving twin azimuthing drives, and is fitted with all the mod cons including Fire Fighter 2 and dynamic positioning.  It was registered in Canada March 9.

Tied up at pier 9C it was loading conventional drill pipe when I happened by, but there is still considerable riser pipe on the dock to be delivered to the rig when needed.(Riser pipe is encased in white buoyancy material whereas the drill pipe that actually goes down the drill hole is exposed steel. Small diameter pipe is drill pipe, large diameter is casing pipe.)

This afternoon the second PSV, Lundstrom Tide, arrived. A vessel of the same class,  it was built in 2013, and has slightly different stats of 3943 grt, and 9,430 hp driving twin z-drives.

It tied up at pier 25, likely awaiting its turn at pier 9C. It was registered in Canada April 4.

The drilling program is expected to take 60 days and is taking place about 250 km offshore in the Scotian Basin.. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Boa Bison en route Halifax

The "monster" tug Boa Bison sailed from Rotterdam April 3 bound for Halifax. It has in tow the semi-submersible Boa Barge 37 .

The 7,328 grt anchor handling tug / supplier was built in 2014 and its two Wartsila main engines develop 26,969 bhp giving a 275 tonne bollard pull. Used mainly in the North Sea oil patch, the tug has been laid up for two years for lack of activity in that sector. It has been recommissioned for this tow, but it is unknown where it will go after reaching Halifax about April 17.

The 15,185 grt, 29,500 dwt heavy lift semi-sub barge will be delivered to Halifax Shipyard and the Royal Canadian Navy for a four year contract to float out the new Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels under construction in Halifax, and as a general purpose drydock.

Specifications and drawings of both tug and barge are available on Boa's web site:

 Thanks to pilot Hans Hoffman for supplying these photos, taken after he disembarked from the tug off Rotterdam.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dutch tug bound for Canada

As the Royal Netherlands Navy upgrades its tug fleet, one of its veteran tugs is bound for Canada. Regge A875 is one of the four tug Linge class* declared surplus. Although not powerful by today's standards at 1600 bhp it has been well maintained and has many good years left in the right trade.

Photo taken when the tug was new, by unknown photographer (photo acquired in trade)

Despite being built in 1987, it has many desirable characteristics: including twin screws with controllable pitch props and has firefighting gear. It also has sufficient accommodation above the waterline to ensure that it can be registered in Canada. Despite its somewhat spartan appearance (and also in terms of interior fittings), it seems well worth upgrading to Canadian regulations.

As usual anonymity surrounds the name of the buyer, but all will be revealed in due course, including arrival date in Canada. The tug has been based in Den Helder.

Addendum: from online photos I can see that the tug is also fitted with a towing winch.
* - Linge A874, Hunze A876, Rotte A877. A fifth tug, named Gouwe A878 of the same class, but built 10 years later, will be retained by the RNN.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Local tugs assist

Although details are sketchy and accounts are conflicting (and some obviously wrong) two local tugs and the Canadian Coast Guard came to the assistance of a ship in trouble off Nova Scotia at the end of last week. The cargo ship Nordika Desgagnés had a steering problem while outbound from the Gulf of St.Lawrence east of Louisbourg. Reportedly bound for Sydney, Australia, the ship called in with its problem March 13. A storm was passing through the area at the time, and conditions must have been very poor with extreme high winds and seas.

CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell was first on the scene. Although based in  Newfoundland, it has been working out of Halifax this winter.

Built in 1985 in Marystown, NL, as an anchor handling / tug / supplier, on spec for the Newfoundland government, it was acquired by the Coast Guard and converted for Search and Rescue work. It was also upgraded to Ice Class I and fitted out for firefighting and equipped with survivor accommodation, including hospital.

Some reports indicate that the Grenfell took the Nordika in tow, but this seems unlikely. CCG ships are not normally equipped or mandated to tow vessels except in extreme circumstances. However under a new program recently announced, CCG ships are to be equipped with "towing kits" (whatever ever that may mean). Certainly a ship like Sir Wilfred Grenfell, with 12,860 bhp would be quite a capable towing vessel if it carried the right gear to tow.

Transport Desgagnés acquired Nordika Desgagnés a year ago, for use in northern supply work. Built in 2010 by Tianjin Xingang as  BBC Oder the 12,974 grt, 16,953 dwt ship is equipped with three 60 tonne cranes. As with many Desgagnés ships, it is chartered out bareboat for most of the year and brought back under Canadian flag from July to October during the northern re-supply season. A the time of this incident the ship is flying the Barbados flag, and is likely working for BBC Chartering.

Reports indicate that Sir Wilfred Grenfell handed off standby duties to the icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent  which was off Sydney headed for the Magdalen Islands at the time.  How long it carried on these duties is not known to me. Sir Wilfred Grenfell stood by off Eddy Point at the entrance to the Strait of Canso to relieve the Louis at some point.

Desgagnés apparently put out the call for a tug, and Atlantic Larch, based in Halifax, was sent to the scene. The 4,00 bhp ASD tug is fitted out with a towing winch  in addition to the shiphandling winch forward, and is considered the "outside" tug in the Halifax fleet of Atlantic Towing Ltd.

It is reported that the Atlantic Larch secured a tow line to the ship. It is not clear what happened then, but either the line parted or there was some other reason that caused Atlantic Larch to break off the tow and head for Port Hawksbury. (The original destination was given as Sydney, but that was upwind and likely to be more difficult).

It was then that the 7,000 bhp Atlantic Tern was called in from its standby duties off Sable Island, to take over the tow. This it apparently did and safely delivered the Nordika to the paper mill dock in Port Hawksbury early Saturday March 17.

Atlantic Tern is much rebuilt from its original appearance as Canmar Supplier II when it was built in 1975 by Vito Steel Boat in Delta, BC. Fitted with two Nohab Polar engines driving CP props it was an ice class anchor handler with FiFi1 for use in the Beaufort Sea.  In 1998 it became Rem Supporter for the Norwegian company Remoy then in 2005 Thor Supplier for Faroese owners Thor P/F. In the meantime it had been rebuilt with a raised forepeak and its wheelhouse extended aft. Atlantic Towing acquired the boat in 2012 and initially renamed it Atlantic Birch II. However as it was attached to Atlantic's offshore support vessel fleet , they gave it a more appropriate bird name in 2013. 

Ships working through ice frequently strain their steering gear or even jam their rudders while backing, especially with an inexperienced crew. That is one possibility of how the ship "lost" its steering. It could also be the strain of weather, or any one of a number of reasons. (The tanker Australian Spirit lost its rudder completely closer to Halifax in December 2014.)

However it has to be said that although there was a speedy Coast Guard response, there was not a large towing vessel available to assist. Fortunately for all involved the weather improved dramatically and a tug was found to assist, but it does not take much to imagine more severe conditions where even a 7,000 bhp supply tug would not have been adequate. Calls for an Emergency Towing Vessel program for the east coast have apparently fallen on deaf ears. Either that or British Columbia called louder - they are getting ETVs.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Light duties for Glenside

In a break from the usual job of shoving naval ships around, the Canadian Naval Auxiliary Vessel Glenside was tasked this week to return two large fenders from the Bedford Institute to HMC Dockyard.

The Ville class "pup" tug Listerville moved the fenders originally (see a previous post) perhaps to be used to protect CCGS Hudson during the recent severe sou'easterly winds.

Glenside is one of three "Glen" class tugs based at HMC Dockyard in Halifax (there are two more at Esquimalt on the Pacific coast). Built in 1977-79 they are 1750 bhp (Ruston-Paxman) 19 tonne Bollard Pull Voith-Schneider tugs, and were quite revolutionary for their time. Despite their great agility and ability to move within the tight confines of HMC Dockyard, they are under-powered by today's standards and obviously are getting old and parts are hard to source.

Late last year the Department of Defense and the government procurement agency issued a Request for Information to "solicit feedback from industry" for replacement of these tugs. It was not a invitation for bids, since there is no funding in place yet, but more of a sounding out of those interested in building new tugs. I have detailed some of the particulars here before, but essentially the navy wants two new tugs in Halifax and two in Esquimalt, and they are to be more or less off-the- shelf commercial designs.

Canadian Navy tugs come under the direction of the Queen's Harbour Master (QHM) and and have civilian crews. The Master Attendant in the QHM is responsible for their daily operation.
When the current Glen tugs were planned, it was recognized by the QHM that work in HMC Dockyard had some unique characteristics due to the narrow cambers between the finger piers. The operators studied tugs in many other locations, including the Alcan tugs at Port Alfred, some of the earliest V-S tugs in Canada. Voith-Schneider tugs, with their ability to change thrust direction without having to re-orient hull direction, were ideal for the Dockyard work, but I believe it was a bit of hard sell to convince the top brass that the higher cost was justified. Perhaps that is why the horsepower is so low.

Things have changed since those days however, with  larger naval vessels in service and more to come. There are also many more options such as ROtor tugs (three thrusters), more sophisticated Azimuthing drives, including controllable pitch props, and more efficient V-S. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the RFI, which closed February 28.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Warrior has landed

After a stormy day yesterday that prevented unloading, Dominion Warrior took to the water today from the heavy lift ship Stellaprima.

The new acquisition was shepherded by Dominion's Roseway to the Dartmouth Cove base, attended by Dominion Bearcat and Halmar. Both of these boats have been rebuilt by Dominion's own forces during their tenure with Dominion and it is likely that Dominion Warrior will receive similar treatment before it enters service.

As per the previous post, Dominion Warrior ex Coastal Warrior will expand Dominion's capabilities to support its diving and marine service business by being a multi-tasking vessel with tug / cargo/ and other capabilities.