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.


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