Saturday, January 29, 2011

Canadian tug and barge maybe waiting for spring

The articulated tug/ tanker barge combo Victorious / John J. Carrick are tied up at the McAsphalt dock in Eastern Passage with extra mooring lines out to shore.

The Chinese built pair joined the McAsphalt Marine fleet in 2009 and have seen service on the Great Lakes and this coast, including some US ports carrying asphalt for the most part.

McAsphalt Marine is a joint operation between McAsphalt and Upper Lakes Group.

Victorious is a 6000 bhp tug, equipped with the articulation gear required to stay connected to the barge in most conditions.

The McAsphalt dock, formerly known as Dook's dock is adjacent to Autoport, and its mooring buoy can be seen at the stern of the tug.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

US tug and barge wait for a nicer day

The US flag tug/ tanker barge Scott Turecamo/ New Hampshire are anchored in the harbour waiting for a low pressure system to pass before heading south. This is the second trip to Halifax this month for the pair which are used to shuttle petroleum products.

Although the tug and barge are connected with an articulating pin system which can withstand most weather conditions, the barge's low freeboard forward must be a concern in bad weather. The pair are owned by Moran Towing, and are based in New York. The tug is 5,100bhp vessel and the barge has a capacity of 118,000 bbl.

See for more on this well known tug operator.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Halifax Tugs at Work

1. The pilot boat returns to base, as tugs make up to OOCL Hong Kong. HMCS Fredericton is anchored on the Static Sound Range, just inside Meagher's Beach.

2. Atlantic Larch is made up forward, just aft of the flare, where there is good flat hull to push against if needed.

2. Atlantic Fir is now in full view at the stern.

3. Atlantic Fir is keeping up with the ship, leaving slack in the stern line until needed for braking or turning.

A typical post-Panamax arrival, this time OOCL Hong Kong, came along west of George's Island late this afternoon, heading for Fairview Cove in Bedford Basin. To prepare for passage through the Narrows and under the two harbour bridges, tugs met the ship just inside Meagher's Beach.

Atlantic Larch (4000 bhp) came alongside near the flare forward and Atlantic Fir (5000 bhp) took the escort position astern.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Icecap on the way back - updated

1. Stevns Icecap at Halifax Shipyard 2008-05-28, dressed for its handover to Nordane. It completed its trials in Halifax under the supervision of Irving Shipbuilding.

2. Alexis-Simard and Grande Baie berthed at Port Alfred (now La Baie) in 1983. Alexis-Simard was rebuilt following an explosion in 1990.

As expected, it has now been announced that Rio Tinto-Alcan Inc has purchased Stevns Icecap from Nordane Shipping of Denmark for service at La Baie, QC.

Built at East Isle Shipyard in 2006, the tug was delivered on its own bottom from Halifax after trials. Nordane had the tug out on charter to Svitzer as Svitzer Nanna from 2007, but it was returned and laid up last summer. A 5,000 bhp ice class, azimuthing stern drive tug, it is an exact sister to Fjord Saguenay (built as Stevns Iceflower , ex Svitzer Njord -07-09) purchased by Rio Tinto-Alcan in 2009 to replace Grande Baie, which sank at its berth earlier that year.

Stevns Icecap will be returned to Canada by heavy lift ship in February, and will no doubt be renamed.

It will replace Alexis-Simard, a Voith-Schneider tug, built by East Isle's predecessor, Georgetown Shipyards, in 1980. A fine tug of 3290 bhp it is slightly underpowered for the size of ships now using La Baie. An unusual feature of the tug is the aluminum deckhouse, used to promote the material manufactured by its owners. Most of the tug's work is berthing bulk carriers bringing in raw materials for the nearby aluminum smelter. Much larger ship are now used in this work and larger tugs are required, particularly in winter ice conditions.
There is an excellent photo of it, out of the water, on shipspotting at:

Update Groupe Ocean has reportedly purchased Alexis-Simard for use in their Ocean Ontario Towing operation, based in Hamilton. It will replace Escorte.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rub a Dub Dub

Rub a dub dub,

Three men in a tub,

And who do you think they be?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick maker.

Turn them out, knaves all three.

The three man crew of Waterworks I towed a small float across the harbour today. I don't mean to suggest that they are knaves, nor any of the other three occupations listed above. They are more likely preparing to work on the damaged piles under the Svitzer tug dock.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mystery Solved-Oak returns

Thanks to an intrepid squad of observers, I have been able to piece together the whereabouts of Atlantic Oak for the last several days.

After leaving Halifax, Atlantic Oak remained with the Triumph as it continued "around the corner" to St.Margaret's Bay - just west of Halifax. There is shelter and room in the Bay, which is also free from conflicting ship traffic. (Triumph's position at anchor in Halifax was creating issues for other shipping.) Bad weather closed in soon after the rig left Halifax, with high winds being the predominant factor, and it was a better place to anchor than in Halifax.

Although St.Margaret's Bay is some distance from Halifax by sea, it is not far by land, and so it was that workers could shuttle from Halifax to the Hubbards by road for additional securement work on the rig. Dominion Diving's Halmar provided boatmen service for the workers out to the ship.

Atlantic Towing's Atlantic Elm was also called in to assist. It has been scheduled to bring the tidal turbine from Saint John for the last several weeks, but weather has also interfered with that move.

Atlantic Oak and Halmar returned to Halifax today when weather permitted Triumph (with is deck cargo of Rowan Gorilla III) to sail for Corpus Christi TX.
[photo: October 4, 2010]

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Where is the Mighty Oak

1. Atlantic Oak with stern line up, escorting Triumph, January 11.

2. Tug Atlanic Oak, January 6, with the heavy load ship Triumph in the background.

The tug Atlantic Oak sailed on January 11, as stern escort tug with the heavy lift ship Triumph carrying the jack-up rig Rowan Gorilla III. Since the tug has not returned to port, the question is where is she now?
Update: The question has been answered! I have received several intelligence reports, on the (no longer) mysterious whereabouts of the Atlantic Oak.
Thanks to Armchair Captain for coining the right headline - and the others who e-mailed or commented.

It's back to work we go

Yesterday's storm called a temporary halt to dredging off Halterm. But this morning it was back to work for the tug Whitby towing the dredge Canadian Argosy back to the work site. They took overnight refuge at McNally Construction's base at pier 9. Winter dredging is possible in Halifax where the harbour never freezes over. Despite sometimes cold air temperatures and bone chilling wind, the work goes on.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Editorial - How Many Tugs Does Halifax Need

Events over the past several days lead to the obvious question - how many harbour tugs does Halifax need?

Last week when TSS Chemul was trying to get out of town, all four of Atlantic Towing's tugs were tied up for several lengthy periods for two days. Then on Saturday all four tugs were again involved, this time moving the drilling rig Rowan Gorilla III. On Sunday and well into Monday two tugs were dedicated to standing by the Triumph with Rowan Gorialla III on board.

This meant that normal harbour activity was in some cases delayed due to tug availability - including crew rest and crew changes.

If there had been some exceptional requirement for tugs - such as holding ships at berths, or a another ship dragging anchor in gales, there might have been a crisis.

Since Svitzer Canada formed the joint venture with Atlantic Towing and sent its tugs to the Strait of Canso last summer there have been no more than four working tugs in commercial service in Halifax. Svitzer had three tugs (sometimes four) in Halifax, and Atlantic two or more, during the worst shipping slump in decades, and they weren't making money. But now that the economy is in recovery mode and shipping is busier, times have changed.

So are four tugs enough to handle all the work in Halifax, allowing for some emergencies?

The Royal Canadian Navy operates three harbour tugs, but they are so underpowered that they would be of little if any use in assisting commercial shipping. The nearest source for supplemental tugs is Point Tupper/ Port Hawksbury or Saint John.

It is obvious that sometimes four tugs would not be enough. Holding ships outside the harbour, or delaying their departure until tugs are available is not a long term answer. It places Halifax at a disadvantage over most other sizeable ports where back-up tugs are almost always available. Additional tugs for Halifax are not available on short notice.

Atlantic Towing has four tugs, constantly crewed and ready for work, and presumably off duty crews too, that could be called in for overtime in an emergency to relieve working crews if they become fatigued or need rest time. They can't work 24 hours a day, but I imagine there have been some long days recently.

My opinion, for what it is worth, is that Halifax needs at least one more tug right now, and probably a sixth tug in a year`s time if more post Panamax ships show up.

Tugs don't grow on trees, they have to be built, so it is certainly time for Svtizer to be ordering a tug (their fleet is getting to be very old) and it is time for Atlantic Towing to order a tug since they are apparently stretched to capacity.

If I might make one more suggestion, it is that any new tugs need to be at least 6,000 hp (that is 1,000 horsepower more than any current tug in Halifax) and should be of a more advanced design than the current tugs. The Robert Allen Z-Tech type would be a good choice, in view of the escort requirements in Halifax for tankers and large ships going to Bedford Basin. Presently these tugs are licensed for construction in China only, through an arrangement with the Port of Singapore, where the above photo was taken in May 2008. However some US builders have been licensed to built variants.

All day, all night and all day again

Tugs have been standing by the heavy lift ship Triumph since yesterday (at times two tugs) always shifting position and power to keep the ship in place.

The huge sail effect of the oil rig Rowan Gorilla III means that the ship cannot remain in position without dragging anchor.

Atlantic Fir has been on a bow line all morning today.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

More from the Archive: Beaver Lily

1. Beaver Lily in all its glory at pier 9C, May 23, 1989. Her bulwarks had been raised in 1988.

2. Timeless shot of Beaver Lily, May 2, 1985.

3. Beaver Lily working on the new Dartmouth ferry terminal, May 25, 1980.

4. Catalina, in burned condition at the French Cable Wharf in Dartmouth July 1977.

5. Catalina, laid up at the J.P.Porter yard in Dartmouth, May 23, 1977. The yard was just north of the Macdonald bridge.

One of the major marine construction firms in Atlantic Canada from the early days of the 20th century was J.P.Porter. As with many firms of this type, they possessed an incredible collection of relics. In the 1970s when the infamous Dredging Scandal resulted in McNamara, Porter and Richelieu, among others, going out of business, a lot of Porter's assets went for scrap. They had a number of tugs however, and most of these were sold off to other firms.

One such was Catalina, built in 1942 by Levingston Shipbuilding Co of Orange TX as ST-27 Jones for the US Army, it was one of the "327" type standard tugs built in large numbers to fulfil wartime needs.It had found its way to Newfoundland as part of a large US military presence, which continued well after the end of the war.
In the early 1950s J.P.Porter acquired the tug and named it Catalina -not after the island in California, but after the village near Cape Bonavista on the east coast of Newfoundland. (It was also pronounced Cat-a-LINE-a, not Cat-a-LEEN-a as it would be in California.)
When Porter went under the tug was laid up in Dartmouth, where it was eventually vandalized and the wheelhouse burned out. I enjoyed many stiff cups of tea with the watchman in Catalina's galley when I prowled through Porter's old equipment.

Beaver Marine bought the tug in 1977, towed it to Shelburne, NS where it was rebuilt and reconditioned. The old 400 bhp engine was replaced with two GM engines in line, totalling 800 bhp. Renamed Beaver Lily, it was put to work all around Atlantic Canada, towing barges and attending construction and dredging work.

In 1988 her bulwarks were raised for part of her length, then in 1992 she went south to Gaudeloupe, but in 1994 came back to Canada (on one engine) arriving in Saint John in May. Her engine was rebuilt on her way back south again and in 1997 she was sold to US interests. I have lost track of her since then.
Beaver Marine is now part of McNally Construction.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Oldie from the Archive

1. Douglas Reid getting away to work on Halterm, August 22, 1970.

All the tug activity at pier 42 Halterm has been largely invisible this week, since the dredge is working along the pier face. Pile driving is starting on the extension, but it may be a while before more crane barges are at work.

Back in 1969-1970 when Halterm was built, there was also tug activity, and I posted one of my photos on Shipfax October 19, 2009, of the tug Douglas Reid.

It was built in Cleveland, OH as Racine by Great Lakes Towing Co in 1914, and declared surplus in 1940. A.B.MacLean of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, bought the tug and ran it until 1950 when McNamara Construction acquired It., In 1954 they rebuilt the tug to work on the St.Lawrence Seaway project, and converted it to diesel, built a new deckhouse and raised the bulwarks from the typical Great Lakes style, and renamed it.

The tug worked all over eastern Canada, and wound up in Newfoundland where it was broken up before 1978. Interestingly most of McNamara's assets eventually wound up with McNally, the people working on the present Halterm extension.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Big Tugs Underway

The tugs Centaurus and Pegasus went to work this morning. They will be towing the offshore rig PSS Chemul to the Gulf of Mexico. According to today's press accounts, the two year refit of the rig cost $110 million.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

From the Archives

The icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent has had a long and chequered career. Although its recent history has been largely event free, as far as the public knows, her earlier history was was not so.

She suffered a disastrous fire in her accommodation in March 1982, and was towed into Sydney by the smaller icebreaker Tupper. She was then towed to Halifax by Point Carroll and Point Valiant, arriving on March 13, 1982 when the above photo was taken.
Remarkably all these vessels are still in existence. CCGS Tupper is little more than a hulk, laying forlornly at a dock in Dartmouth, NS, renamed Caruso in a stalled bid to convert her to an expedition cruise ship.
Louis S. St-Laurent following another fire, a re-engining and a mid-life refit (which replaced the bow shown in this picture) is now based in Argentia, NF. A replacement has been announced.
The tug Point Carroll was sold to McKeil of Hamilton, ON and renamed Tony MacKay. It called in Halifax in September to tow out the retired warship Fraser to Port Maitland, ON for scrapping.
And Point Valiant was sold to Three Rivers Boatmen (since taken over by Groupe Océan) and renamed André H. It is still in service, most recently at Sept-Iles, QC.
The picture was taken from the harbour tug Point Vim (still in service, now in Newfoundland for Davis Shipping.) Also assisting was Point Vigour, now McKeil'S Molly M 1.