Saturday, May 21, 2011

Atlantic Condor trials

1. Atlantic Condor returns to pier 9B this afternoon following day long trials in Bedford Basin.

2. At pier 9 B on Friday, the ship shows off her blue coloured davit.

The new supplier Atlantic Condor ran trials in Bedford Basin today. Since she was completed by Halifax Shipyard earlier this year she has had some specialized equipment fitted, including a large blue davit, in preparation for work on the Deep Panuke gas field.

Originally intended strictly as a supply vessel, it now appears he will be doing some installation work too.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Equipped with pusher knees to work with barges, the Canadian Forces Auxiliary vessel Tonnerre is another craft that is not quite a tug, but can do some kinds of tug work.

Attached to Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) based at Jetty NA in Shearwater, the boat carries the designation FDUA3 (partially obstructed by the open door to the wheelhouse). Like most naval auxiliaries it is poorly documented, so I have no specific details on it.

The name Tonnerre is a traditional one, and has been attached to other vessels in the past.


Monday, May 16, 2011

CFAVs in the Narrows

1. The Canadian Forces Auxiuliary Vessel Glenbrook YTB 643 made a solo security trip to Bedford Basin today. This is a daily trip to the Defence Research and Development Establishment Atlantic barge YLP 451. The barge is moored off Birch Cove and used for a variety of experimental purposes. It is sometimes manned, but there is a daily security visit from some HMC Dockyard craft. Glenbrook was built in 1976 and boasts a 19.5 tonne bollard pull from its Voith-Schneider propulsion system - quite adequate for light displacement warships.

2. The morning trip is usually made by the firefloat Firebird YTR 561, as it was on Saturday May 14. Built in 1978 the boat is fitted with a towing bitt, but is not rated as a tug.


W.N.Twolan sails again

1. W.N.Twolan in Halifax, while under McKeil ownership.

2. Handling the barge Loveland "The Twolan" leaves pier 23. The littel "bird house" wheelhouse was removed when sold by McKeil.

An interesting tug has found new work on the Great Lakes and upper St.Lawrence River, far from its original sphere of operations.
Built in 1962 by Geo. T. Davie & Sons Ltd (little Davie) in Lauzon, now Lévis, QC, it was designed for service in the port of Churchill, MB for the National Harbours Board. It was a twin screw vessel with two 700 bhp Gebr. Stork engines, two firefighting monitors rated at 1400 gpm at 150 psi, and a towing winch. It was also capable of working in ice, and was built to Lloyds Ice class 2. Its work at Churchill was to act as a pilot boat, and ship berthing tug, and was expected to work clearing ice at berths and other general port work. To accommodate pilots it was fitted with 10 crew berths and four spares.
It has managed to keep its distinctive ever since, through at series of owners. W. N. Twolan was the superintendent of pilots and later general manager of the Port of Churchill, MB on Hudson Bay. He retired in 1955 and the tug was named in his honour.
It went to Churchill to work, then in 1965-66 it came back to Halifax to winter over and for drydocking and refit. It repeated this every few years (1971-72, 1975-76) then went to other ports for refit.
It was replaced at Churchill in 1986 when the new 3030 bhp tug H.M.Wilson was built for the port. 'The Twolan' came south again. McKeil Work Boats had bought the tug and it ran for them in barge service and icebreaking from late 1986 to late 1992. It was a caller in Halifax from time to time, once in 1991 (as pictured) with the barge Loveland, which it picked up in the US.
The next owners were St.Lawrence Tug Boats, a company established in Montreal by Construction A. Dufresne and Berthiaume Marine, which had acquired McAllister Towing & Salvage. The tug worked in the Montreal area, and was useful in the ice, but by then underpowered for ship berthing work. They did not see fit the change the tug's name.
In 1995 W.N.Twolan was acquired,along with the barge McAllister 132, by a numbered company in Thunder Bay, ON doing business as ABM Marine, The company was associated with Buchanan Forest Products. The barge was set up to carry timber and packaged lumber and fitted with a high control house to see over the mountainous deck loads and to control the tug, which usually pushed from the stern. The pair traded from Thunder Bay, ON to various Lakes ports including Duluth, and as far afield as Detroit, MI and Erie, PA.
With the closure of some of that company's operations the Twolan was laid up at the end of the 2008 season.
This spring the tug has been brought out again, and sailed down to Oshawa, ON where it picked up two inland river type grain barges. It then set out for Prescott, ON where it exchanged barges and headed for Trois-Rivieres, QC.
The grain barges were previously handled by Upper Lakes Group's Marinelink tug Commodore Strait and the chartered Radium Yellowknife. Marinelink has ceased operations and the charter of Radium Yellowknife appears to have ended. That tug had some ownership and mechanical issues last year and was latterly operated by the Great Lakes Feeder Lines.

Recent Photos on the Boatnerd web site show the W.N.Twolan still carrying the ABM funnel marking.
After many years in fresh water, W.N.Twolan’s life has no doubt been extended. And it may well see many more years of service.

A tug of the same basic design was built in 1961 by the Saint John Dry Dock as Kelligrews for the Minister of Public Works, for service with the dredging fleet in Newfoundland. It was an ice class 3 vessel. Sold in 1989 to Verreault Navigation of Les Méchins, QC it carried the name Verreault No.25 for a brief time but was renamed Keta V later in 1989.It became the company’s main towing vessel and towed dredging plant all over eastern Canada. On October 3, 2000 it struck a ledge and sank while entering Liverpool, NS and was a total loss. Plans to raise it were never carried out, although the wreck was sealed and its tanks pumped out.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Recent redeployments at Groupe Océan

With its large fleet of tugs, Groupe Océan of Quebec City can be expected to move its tugs around from port to port as needed. However, most tugs are permanently assigned to specific ports due their particular capabilities. However this spring there have been the following redeployments:
1. Escorte from Hamilton to refit at Industrie Océan in Ile-aux-Coudres. (She is still listed for sale on brokers sites.) In this photo she is shown at Trois-Rivières, QC in the colours of Three Rivers Boatmen, a company taken over by Groupe Océan. Ahead of her is the Norton class Robert H ex Heatherton, since sold south.

2. Océan Yvan Desgagnés (not pictured) from Quebec City to Sept-Iles for Océan Remorquage Côte-Nord. (Her place in Quebec City will be taken by the newly delivered Océan Ross Gaudreault when it enters service this month.) Océan now has three tugs in Sept-Iles (versus two for Svitzer), the others being Ocean Raymond Lemay (pictured on trials in Halifax in 2006) and André H (the former Point Valiant, Foundation Valiant)

3. André H. shown in Trois-Rivières, has been based in Sept-Iles for the last two years.

4. Laprairie returned to Hamilton at the opening of the Seaway season, after a spell icebreaking in the South Shore Canal - a job she was built to do originally. She is shown here in the SSC with the Seaway scow V/MS 488 shortly after Océan acquired the tug from the St.Lawrence Seaway Authority. Her icebreaking bow is in full view. Océan has since changed is fleet colour scheme.

5. Océan Golf from Sorel to Hamilton for Ocean Ontario. The twin screw tug is seen here in refit at Industrie Océan at Ile-aux-Coudres last summer. Built in the UK in 1959 as Stranton, but brought to Canada as Helen M.McAllister, she was repowered and fitted with a new wheelhouse in 1996-97.

6. (Not Pictured) Océan A. Simard (the forner Alexis-Simard of Rio Tinto Alcan) was recently re-registered in Montreal, leading to the expectation that she will be based in that port. At last report she was in refit at Ile-aux-Coudres.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Pup out for a run

The Ville class tug Granville is northbound in the Narrows on a run to Bedford Basin. One of three tugs of this class based in HMC Dockyard in Halifax, it carries the pennant number YTL 594, and although owned by the Minster of National Defence, it is operated by the Queens' Harbour Master, with a civilian crew.

Originally built as Marysville , its name was too similar sounding to sister Merrickville YTL 593, and so was changed to Granville, after a familiar downtown street in Halifax.

The third Halifax based Ville is Listerville YTL 592.

Commonly called Pups, because of their small size, these tugs assist in handling yard craft, but can also be seen berthing larger ships, assisting the Glen class tugs.

The "Ville" naming scheme was adopted in Worlds War II when scores of small tugs were built by Russel Brothers of Owen Sound for navy use. When those tugs were retired their replacements were named Villes. Of 365 bhp, they have steering nozzles on their props and a Bollard Pull of 7.5 tons. All three east coast tugs were built in 1974.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

What next for East Isle Shipyard?

1. First tug in the 36 tug series of similar tugs was Atlantic Spruce (i) seen here 1996-04-07.

2. The same tug on the Dartmouth Marine slip 1997-03-28. An escort skeg was retrofitted after it was sold to Norwegian owners.

3. After a break-in period with Atlantic Towing, the tug was sold to Johannes Ostensjo of Norway, and renamed Felix. It is seen here 1997-04-20, the day before sailing to Norway, where it is still in service.

With delivery of the tug Océan Ross Gaudreault to Groupe Océan of Quebec City this week, there are questions about what might be next for Irving Shipbuilding's East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PEI.
The long run of tugs to essentially the same pattern has evolved into ice class / escort / fire fighters, but now seems to be over, with no orders in sight. Atlantic Towing has apparently got enough tugs for now (a spare would be a really good idea, but there is no word of it.) There has also been talk of a hybrid tug, but no official announcement for construction has been made.
As suggested in this blog a newer generation of tug, such as the popular Z-tech, built under license in several other yards, might also be a winner to replace the now aging design that East Isle has been using. Developed originally by Robert Allen in the mid 1990s, East Isle has fine tuned it based on Atlantic Towing's experience and the needs of other customers. However a 5,000 bhp ASD tug now has limited markets. (Seaspan in Vancouver has purchased terminal tugs in Turkey of a more sophisticated Robert Allen design, with up to 6,000 bhp.)
At least two other tug owners in eastern Canada could certainly use new tugs (two new tugs for two operators) not to mention the navy, as previously posted.
Groupe Océan with six tugs from East Isle seems poised to built a Rotor (3 drive) tug at its own yard under license from Rotor Tugs (Kotug) in the Netherlands, as an escort tug for the Rabaska gas terminal. That would be a 7500bhp tug. They would be an unlikely potential customer for more orders from East Isle.
However I can see a need for 7 to 10 potential new tugs in the next few years, but no one is ordering for now. Groupe Océan did not view the Irving ownership of East Isle and Atlantic Towing as an impediment when it needed tugs, and so this would not seem to me to be too big an issue for Atlantic Towing competitors who might need tugs.
East Isle has built components for Halifax Shipyard projects, and may still do so, so it is certainly not the end of the yard. However a run of 36 tugs between 1995 and now is certainly a record no other yard can come close to matching. Starting with the Atlantic Spruce (i) a 4,000 bhp ASD, it has been quite a run.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Tugs go to church

An interesting tug and barge operation took place in the Minas Basin of the Bay of Fundy May 4 and 5. It involved the relocation of an old church from Walton, NS to Newport, NS. Because of its size and height the church could not be moved overland (it would involve too many interruptions to power and telephone lines) and so house mover Phil Leil masterminded the move by barge.
Although the operation was planned for last fall, weather did not cooperate, and so the move was delayed until this week when tides and winds were more cooperative.
The church was raised and loaded aboard a heavy truck trailer and driven aboard a former ferry barge. The barge is equipped with bow and stern loading ramps, and can drive up onto the beach to load and unload. Named Fundy Trail, the 22m barge was recently retired from ferry service at Deer Island, NB. It is still owned by East Coast Ferries Ltd of Lord’s Cove.
To handle the barge East Coast’s two tugs Fundy Trail II and Hopper II were lashed on, one to each side and hauled the barge round from Walton to a position off Hantsport. They stood by there for the night and brought the barge in alongside the Newport wharf on Thursday May 5.
Firmly beached, with the tugs holding it in position, the barge lowered its ramps and the truck and trailer drove off.
Both tugs were built by East Coast Ferries. Fundy Trail II in 2005. It is a twin screw vessel of 450 bhp. Island Hopper II , built in 1999 is also twin screw, with 700 bhp. Built along the lines of southern US inland tugs, they are fitted with elevated wheelhouses to see over the barge deck.

There are several net references to this move:

Good still photos:

Then there is this breathless video account:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A grove of Firs

1. Atlantic Fir in the Narrows this afternoon. It is the third tug to carry the name in the Atlantic Towing Ltd fleet.

2. The second Atlantic Fir became Kotug's SD Jacoba in 1998. It is seen here in Rotterdam in 2006.

3. Undergoing pre-purchase trials, Atlantic Fir (ii) had its new name painted on, but coverd, until trials were completed and it was reflagged. 1998-11-27.

4. The first Atlantic Fir on pre-purchase trials in Halifax. It had its new name and number promintently displayed, but until handover it was still officially Atlantic Fir. 1997-09-22.

5. The first Atlantic Fir was based in Saint John, NB until sold to Norwegian owners. I twas only the second tug built to this pattern by East Isle Shipyard. 1996-04-14.

The tug Atlantic Fir, based in Halifax, is the third tug in the Atlantic Towing Ltd fleet to carry the name.
The first Atlantic Fir was built in 1995 and was a 4,000 bhp tug with fire fighting capability. In 1997 it was sold to Johannes Ostensjo oy (now Ostenso Rederi AS) of Haugesund, Norway, and renamed Alex, with the number 18 prominently displayed on its funnel (Ostensjo's tugs are not only named, but numbered sequentially.) It did it s pre-purchase trials in Halifax, then sailed to Cobh Ireland, where it is operated by Ostensjo's wholly owned subsidiary Lee Towage Ltd.
The second Atlantic Fir was built in 1998, and was also a 4,000 bhp tug, but without firefighting equipment. It was sold in the same year to Kotug of Rotterdam and renamed SD Jacoba. (SD stands for stern drive. All Kotugs have a prefix indicating type of drive, e.g. VS for Voith-Schneider and RT for Rotor drive - their patented three engine, three drive tugs.) After pre-purchase trials in Halifax the tug sailed on December 2, 1998 for use in Bremerhaven. It has since seen tours of duty in Rotterdam and Hamburg.
The current Atlantic Fir, as with all the others was built at the Irving owned East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PEI. It was built in 2005 and is an updated version of the previous tugs, with 5050 bhp and an escort skeg. It is also fitted for firefighting.