Sunday, April 23, 2017

More Spitfire III

The substitute tug Spitfire III (see previous post) has been getting its share of escort duties. As the most powerful tug in Halifax, it is the usual choice when two tugs are required to escort a ship to Fairview Cove.

Today it got a good workout with the 8-,274 dwt ship Mary as it transited the Narrows. Fleet mate Atlantic Oak was the second tug, and it took up position on the port bow, and does not appear in the photos.


Tucked in astern of the Mary, Spitfire III is ready to work.

Leaning into the line, the tug lists to the point of getting its deck wet.

The tug can exert 100 tonnes or so of braking and turning force to swing the ship's stern.

After straightening up a bit, the tug once more leans into the line as it rounds the pier 9 knuckle.

Spitfire III is lining up the ship to pass under the MacKay bridge.

.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spitfire III subs for Atlantic Fir

With the tug Atlantic Fir off to Minas Basin to assist with the tidal turbine project, ATL brought in one of its big terminal tugs to fill in. Spitfire III is one of three 5,432 bhp, 70 tonne BP tugs built to service the LNG terminal near Saint John, NB. With little work at the terminal these  days, the tug is freed up for harbour duties.

Atlantic Willow has its line up near the bow, and Spitfire III is tucked in astern for tethered escort as Dalian Express transits the Narrows. The tug is about to go into a hard move to the ships starboard side and exert about 90 tonnes of pull to swing the stern.


The Cape Sharp Tidal Power project, developed jointly by Open Hydro Ltd and Emera Inc was positioned in the Minas Basin last year, but now needs adjustment and is to be raised off the seabed and barged to Saint John on its own specially built Scotia Barge assisted by the tugs Atlantic Hemlock, Atlantic Bear and  Atlantic Fir. There is about a one week window of favourable tides to do the work, so Atlantic Fir may be away from Halifax for some time.


Pull completed, the tug swings back in line with the ship. Note the escort winch is covered to protect it from winter conditions.

In the meantime the more than capable Spitfire III will perform ship docking and escort services in Halifax. Today it assisted the 1000,006 dwt tonne Dalian Express transit the Narrows in a stiff breeze, then turn the ship when it reached Bedford Basin.


Spitfire III leans into the line as it assists in turning the ship in Bedford Basin.

Unique among Atlantic Towing tugs, Spitfire III and its sisters (Atlantic Bear and Atlantic Beaver) are not named for trees. However it is indirectly. During World War II, one of the J.D.Irving businesses made specialty aircraft plywood, used to build Mosquito and Spitfire aircraft among others. K.C.Irving, himself was a World War I member of the Royal Flying Corps and was a keen pilot in peacetime, once landing his own float plane on Halifax harbour.

.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

New name for McAsphalt tug

Making its way from the Great Lakes to Halifax for the first time this year, an articulated tug/barge arrived at the McAsphalt jetty in Eastern Passage this afternoon. As of January this year the tug is now named Leo A McArthur in honour of one of the McAsphalt founders. It is paired with the barge John J Carrick, named for the McAsphalt co-founder.

Leo A McArthur has rounded Ives Knoll and is passing Indian Point on its way up Eastern Passage.

The pair were built by Penglai Bohai Shipyard Co Ltd in Shandong, China in 2007 and are connected by the Articouple system that allows the tug to pitch independently, but remains connected except in the most extreme weather conditions. It is equipped to tow the barge if necessary.


 Taking the way off, the combo begins to turn in the small basin off the McAsphalt dock.

As built, the 5,000 bhp tug was named Victorious, after a famous Great Lakes bulker, once operated by the Upper Lakes Shipping Co Ltd. Upper Lakes managed the McAsphalt fleet, until 2011 when the company sold its ships and was wound up. McAsphalt Marine Transportation Ltd now manages the McAsphalt fleet which also includes the articulated tug/barge combo Everlast / Norman McLeod.
Both units normally operate on the Great Lakes and St.Lawrence River, but the McArthur / Carrick combo usually makes a few coastal trips each year.

Using a bow thruster on the barge and its own twin screws, the Leo A McArthur powers a turn to allow it to back into the dock.

 The tug's stern is heavily fendered and there is a large strong back on the fan tail for towing. The wheelhouse also has excellent visibility aft. 

.

Monday, April 10, 2017

US tugs (yes plural) on the move


US Tug 1

What was expected to be a short stay in Halifax for the tug Genesis Victory (see previous post) turned into a bit of a marathon as weather systems kept wandering through the region making conditions unfavourable, particularly in the Cabot Strait and eastern Gulf of St.Lawrence.
There was also ice in the Sydney Bight (enough to trap the big Marine Atlantic ferry Highlanders for a time) but the northern side of the Strait was blown quite clear.
It was not until Sunday April 9 that calm conditions prevailed and Genesis Victory ex Huron Service got under way for sea, towing its barge GM6506 directly from the Bedford Basin anchorage.




Genesis Victory underway in the Basin early Sunday morning heading for sea. It was very calm, and the barge tracks well, so it was not necessary to push it from the notch while leaving harbour.

 The tug and barge remained at anchor from March 26 until April 1 when they went in to pier 9c for the day - likely for supplies, such as water. It went back to anchor that evening then put in a pilot order for Saturday April 8, but that was cancelled after the pilot was aboard due to late received weather forecast with high winds over night. By Sunday however it was good to go and they headed for the Great Lakes - finally.


Tow line bar taught, the tug glides through the Narrows in near dead calm conditions. Her twin EMDs were purring nicely as she made the bend at Tuft's Cove.

US Tug 2 

It was a much briefer stay for the  traditional US style tug Thomas. It arrived this morning with the barge J.G.Burke and was underway again this evening back to New York.




Built in 1976 as Ocean Voyager by McDermott Shipyards Inc in New Iberia, LA the tug was acquired by Weeks Marine Inc in 1986 and renamed. Powered by a pair of GM EMDs totaling 4,000 bhp it has a tiny bird's nest type conning post atop a spindly mast. it is also fitted with a substantial towing winch and is obviously used for barge work with (count 'em) 27 aircraft type tire fenders, and big bow and stern fenders.  On its last visit to Halifax in October 2008, it had the barge Weeks 246 in tow, and loaded steel bridge fabrications at the Cherubini Metal Works pier in Eisner's Cove. 



There will be more on its tow, the barge J.G.Burke in future posts. The barge was built specifically as a building platform for concrete pier cribs. The cribs will be slipformed in place on the barge, which will then submerge to float them off. Weeks is the parent company of McNally, who will build the six 45m x 20m cribs for the new navy jetty for Arctic Offshore Patrol ships (AOPS). Work on the jetty began last year, but shut down from January until the last week of March.
As a US flag vessel, the Burke has been granted a coasting license, good from March 1 to August 31 of this year to build the cribs (also known as caissons).

.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Genesis Victory - bound for the Lakes

With the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway this week for another season, the tug Genesis Victory out of New York is headed for the Great Lakes again. The tug with its tank barge GM 6506 has been a regular on the Great Lakes, spending most of the summer there and leaving in the fall. Last year it was not until April 19 that it passed up through the Seaway locks leaving again October 22.

Anchored in Bedford Basin, the barge's towing bridle can be seen draped over the bow. The tug tows the barge in the conventional manner when at sea.

The tug was built in 1981 by Halter Marine of Lockport, LA as Eric Candies and was renamed Huron Spirit in 2005 when acquired by Hornbeck Marine.  It was modified with the addition of an elevated wheelhouse and other gear when it was paired with Energy 6506 a 5778 grt/ 4499 dwt tank barge, built in 2007 by Bollinger Fabricators Inc. The tug is a twin screw, powered by GM EMD engines totaling 3,000 bhp.
 
 Genesis Victory is secured in the shallow notch of the barge, using  face wires.
 
Hornbeck sold its fleet to Genesis Marine Co of Houston in 2013, but the tug did not become Genesis Victory until 2015.   The barge was renamed GM 6506. Their Great Lakes work seems to be on Lake Michigan, working out of Whiting, IN.


The tug and barge usually use the Canso Canal to reach the Gulf St.Lawrence, but since that facility will be closed for renovations until May, they may be waiting for better weather before proceeding on their trip around Cape North. An anchorage in Bedford Basin is generally used for stays longer than a day.

 .

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ocean Ranger Anniversary

Today Marks the 35th anniversary of the loss of the drilling rig Ocean Ranger and all 84 persons on board. The world's largest semi submersible was working on the Hibernia field 166 miles east of St.John's when it was struck by a severe storm.

The rig was supposed to withstand harsh conditions but a sea broke through a portlight washing out the ballast control room. Unable to prevent further flooding, the crew attempted to abandon the rig in appalling conditions, but did not survive.

A Royal Commission found numerous faults in the design of the rig, inspection, training and safety procedures.

At the time of the loss there were two other drill rigs nearby, Sedco 704 and Zapata Ugland. Both suffered damage, but survived.

All three had standby boats in the area, but there was little they could do but assist in recovering bodies.

The standby boat for Zapata Ugland was Nordertor. Built in 1976 by Hitzler, Lauenburg, it was owned by Offshore Supply Association.

 Nordertor was often seen in Halifax, working for Esso.
Boltentor at pier 23 in Halifax.

A sister vessel Boltentor was standby for Sedco 704.

Seaforth Highlander was standby boat for Ocean Ranger.
It was built in 1976 by Ferguson Brothers, Port Glasgow, Scotland and was operating for the Seaforth Fednav joint venture.

 Seaforth Highlander off the Exxon Mobil dock in Woodside (Dartmouth).

A sister tug/supplier Seaforth Jarl from the same builders in 1975 was lost December 18, 1983 when an improperly secured deck load of chain ran overboard and capsized the vessel. The crew was rescued by Arctic Shiko.

Seaforth Jarl at the Exxon Mobil dock in Woodside (Dartmouth). The tankers Irvingwood (left) and Irving Nordic (right) are tied up at the adjacent Irving Oil terminal in Woodside. 

Sixty-five miles to the east the Russian Mekhanik Tarasov was struck by the same storm. On a trip from Trois-Rivières, QC to Leneingrad, it attempted to assist in the Ocean Ranger rescue operation, but took a severe list eventually capsizing February 16 with the loss of 32 of its 37 crew.

The crew of the Atlantic Project were more fortunate. All survived a fire aboard their vessel between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia February 14, 1982. The ship reached Halifax safely February 15, thus escaping the worst of the storm.

.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Bugsier Tugs in Halifax

The 1960s to 1980s were the boom years for deep sea salvage and towing tugs. The writing was on the wall however, for offshore anchor handling tugs were poaching the once exclusive territory of the big Dutch and German companies. Although not ideal for towing, the offshore tugs were powerful and did not depend on long tows and the occasional salvage job to pay the bills.

Dutch and German companies ruled the waves, although many other countries had big tugs too. Prime among the German companies was Bugsier of Hamburg. As they rebuilt their fleet post World War II, they continued to build larger and larger and more capable tugs, primarily for salvage. At the same time the oil industry was building larger and larger drilling rigs, and so the tugs were employed to tow the rigs over long distances to various oil fields.


From the 1960s Bugsier expanded its fleet dramatically, with ever larger tugs, several of which visited Halifax.

Here is a selection:

Albatros built 1965 visited Halifax on a salvage job.



Tied up at Purdy's wharf , Albatros had arrived towing Reefer Trader from 900 miles out at sea. The ship was on a trip from New York to Tenerife with frozen chickens when it broke down. Delivered to Halifax it was soon repaired and on its way again.

 A Benny Claus photo from my collection shows the tug arriving in Antwerp.


Simson built 1973, was one of  three  sister tugs with Titan and Wotan .

Simson was in port briefly in January 1975. Even in winter the crew was doing some work overside while at Purdy's wharf. It did not tow anything in our out, so may have been on salvage spec.
 
 
Simson tied up at the Long Wharf, Dartmouth Marine Slip, after towing in the jack up oil rig Rowan Juneau. It is standing by to tow the rig to Sable Island.

Jacques Carney took this photo of Wotan, likely in Brest, France.
It visited Halifax in 1974 and with Irving Maimi towed the drilling rig Sedco 704 to the North Sea.


Oceanic was the largest tug in the world. Built in 1969 it was almost brand new on its first arrival in Halifax.
 At pier 26 after towing an oil rig to Sable Island in 1969.

 Oceanic was back in 1981, having been re-engined for more power. 
Nevertheless every available tug assisted it into port with its tow.
Oceanic arrived with the drilling rig Bredford Dolphin from Gibraltar. 
The supplier Seaforth Jarl  also assisted the tow in.


Oceanic was back in 1982 towing the rig John Shaw from Japan.
Point Vigour stands by as Point Vibert and Seaforth Jarl take up trailing lines.

Oceanic spent a few days at Purdy's Wharf on completion of the tow.

Leaving Halifax, without a tow, (John Shaw in the background.)
Power measurements are difficult to pin down, but the tug's bollard pull was more than 150 tonnes, and possibly 170 tonnes with the new engines. It had an enormous range and could reach 20.5 knots.


The bottom fell out of the salvage and towing business in the mid-1980s and Bugsier retrenched to their home base in Germany. They now concentrate on harbour towage, coastal and near offshore towing.

Although more powerful tugs are now available, they are generally built along supplier lines and are not nearly as attractive as these traditional boats.

.