Saturday, January 24, 2015

Irving Shipbuilding Inc grabs the gold ring

The announcement that Irving Shipbuilding Inc has been named prime contractor the RCN frigate replacement program is perhaps the biggest news coming out of Halifax Shipyard since the announcement in 2011 that they had been selected to build the frigates.
Several world scale powerhouse bidders were no doubt vying for the prime status which would have relegated ISI to sub-contractors. Even before the decision of the tribunal in the National Ship Procurement Strategy there was never much doubt that Halifax Shipyard would build the frigates. Irving's credentials as builders of most of the current frigates and refitters of the east coast frigates gave them credibility, even if there are few if any people left in the ISI organization who were involved in the original construction of the Halifax class ships.
However being prime contractor is a far bigger prize than (just) being the builders.
As prime contractor they will essentially be in charge of all aspects of the program, and will call the shots to the myriad suppliers and  sub-contractors. Their ability to get performance out of those subs will be key to the success of the program, both in terms of budget, but also of delivery time and performance. No one should under estimate ISI's determination in those areas.

 The massive new building hall dwarfs the Novadock which will be replaced.

The south end of the yard where the current frigates are being upgraded has a newly built parking structure, the graving dock, machine shop wharf and an ant colony of temporary buildings. 


Friday, January 23, 2015

Kouros anchors instead

The tanker Kouros arrived this afternoon on schedule, and everyone expected it to go to Imperial Oil dock #3. By everyone, I mean me and the tug Atlantic Willow which set out to meet the ship at the usual meeting point in the Middle Ground area. However as the tanker steamed up, the tug was called off and sent back to the dock and the ship went to anchorage area number one  instead.
After about an hour doing a slow donut, it then went alongside dock #3. Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Oak came out to assist the docking.

Kouros has freed up its anchor, and Atlantic Willow scurries past on its way back to its dock.

Kouros is a typical product tanker, built in 2008 by STX Shipbuilding Co in Jinhae. It measures 29,993 grt, 51,278 dwt, and flies the flag of Liberia and is operated by Grace Management SA of Piraeus, Greece.


Where Have All the Con-ros Gone - Part 8 (and last)

Canadian Con-Ros


Docked in St.John's - Mediterranean style - Astron shows off its flush deck with a hatch cover removed to load containers below deck.
Arriving in Halifax for Atlantc Searoute, Astron carries a lot of Terra Transport boxes. Terra was owned by CN, then operators of Marine Atlantic, and ASL's primary competitor, but in 1988 CN abandoned all rail operations in Newfoundland, and sold one of its rail ferries. ASL could compete with Terra by shipping the boxes directly to Halifax compared with Terra trucking them to Port aux Basques, then shipping them to the mainland.

Now holding the record as Canada's oldest Con-Ro, Astron has been a fixture in eastern Canada since 1978. It was built in 1971 by A. Vuyk+Zonen in Capelle o/d Ijssel, Netherlands as Atlantic Bermudian, becoming Londis in 1973 and Merzario Sardinia in 1976. It was acquired by Coastal Shipping Ltd and at first operated under the Bermuda flag. Its normal area of operation was Newfoundland and Labrador, but from time to time was called on to assist the St-Pierre Con-Ro service in 1988, 1992, 1995-1996 and Atlantic Sea Route in 1989, showing up in Halifax from time to time.In 1983 it ran aground in Domino Run en route to Goose Bay and was declared a constructive total loss. It was repaired and returned to service.
Its 108 TEU capacity included 33 reefers. The TEU was later upped to 113. It can carry 40 trailers or some combination thereof. Its hold, fitted with flush hatch covers, can accommodate 40 - 20' boxes. The traveling gantry crane has a 30 tonne capacity.
In 2011 it was called in to replace the newer Con-Ro Dutch Runner which could not maintain its Lewisporte / Labrador summer supply schedule.
The ship is still in service and looks to be good for some years to come.

Dutch Runner
Built by the famed German builders J.J.Seitas  in 1988 as North King the ship was renamed Dutch Runner in 2000 and P+O Nedlloyd Douala in 2001. It reverted to the name Dutch Runner again in 2002 when the Great Lakes Feeder Line ULC was formed and based in Calgary, AB. However it did not begin to fly the Canadian flag until 2008.

It operated on the Halifax -St-Pierre et Miquelon service in 2008-2009 and again in 2010. It also had a charter to Desgagnés for northern work in 2010 then made a trip to the Great Lakes calling in such ports as Deseronto, Thunder Bay, Owen Sound and Cleveland. In November 2010 it arrived in Halifax with a small consignment of aluminum ingots bound for Rotterdam. It was to have reflagged to make that trip, but returned from what I can tell it remained Canadian.
It was chartered for the summer of 2011 by CAI to work out of Lewisporte, NL for Labrador. The ship was apparently slow to load and a large backlog of undelivered cargo accumulated as winter closed in. Astron was brought in to replace Dutch Runner. It then was reported in Pugwash, NS in November running salt cargoes to Mulgrave, NS. It may have made a run up the St.Lawrence before laying up in Souris, PE in December 2011.
It remained there until October 2014 when it was towed to Port Hawksbury ostensibly for refit, but has been idle there since. The ship has a capacity of 219 TEU or 16 trailers, and has two 35 tonne crane. The future seems fairly bleak for this interesting little ship as demand for Con-Ros has diminished. It will likely end up in the Caribbean somewhere.

Nada / Trans Gulf
Another ship to work the Lewisporte to Labrador route was Nada. Its contract with the Province of Newfoundland was for three years, 2003, 2004 and 2005, and owners were Star Line Inc of Clarenville, NL. That company was also associated with the Clarenville Dockyard, and is better known as owners of the icebreaker Polar Prince ex Sir Humphrey Gilbert.
Built in 1974 as Nornan Fjord by D.W.Krmer Sohn, Eimshorn for Norwegian owners. The 1197 grt ship, with a single 22 tonne crane and stern ramp does not have a TEU rating listed in Lloyd's Register. It was renamed Sea Fisher in 1979 then in 1981 it was sold to Sharjah owners and renamed Strong Roc. Abdu Dhabi owners  took over in 1987 when it became  Transgulf for the first time. In 1966 the name Nada appeared on its bows.Owners were listed as Nada Shipping, with Canship Ugland as managers, and it was registered in the Bahamas.

The ship was running to Grand Manan Island when I saw it in Black's Harbour, NB in 2002.

It took Canadian registry in May 2003 and that was closed in November 2006, during that time it was renamed Trans Gulf (this time as two words).
In 2006 it was sold to Panamanian owners and renamed Pacific II. Then in 2013 it became Trans Gulf (also two words) under the Panama flag, but owned Sloman Shipping Line Inc and managed by the grandiosely named World Shipping Management Corp SA, both of Medley, FL.

Since question marks are not allowed in the titles of blog posts, the title Where Have All the Con-Ros Gone should have been phrased Where All the Con-Ros Went. In any event the preceding posts should have answered the question, if it was one.

Present day Con-Ro activity in this area, except for Atlantic Container Line, and Bahri (National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia) is confined to coastal traffic, and so we have the weekly callers Oceanex Sanderling to Newfoundland and Fusion to St-Pierre et Miquelon. Oceanex also operates its Oceanex Connaigra on the Montreal / St.John's weekly run.
Groupe Desgagnes has its Anna Desgagnes on arctic supply work. That ship, one of the Russian Astrakhan class may not be with us much longer. It used to pick up winter work under the Barbados flag, but has been laid up for the last two winters in Montreal. You may see more of her in this blog at a later date, since Desgagnes seems to be on an expansion program, replacing some of its older tonnage - both tanker and dry cargo.
Other than that the sight of a Con-Ro is becoming an increasingly rare one. There is limited demand for the mix since dedicated car carriers and car/truck carriers have taken a large slice of the RoRo traffic. The huge investment needed to build a RoRo compared to a simpler Lo-Lo (lift on - lift off) container ship is just not warranted for occasional use.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Casualty Updates

 Australian Spirit

The rudderless tanker Australian Spirit has arrived safely in Setubal, Portugal, in tow of the tug Janus. When leaving Halifax January 7, they gave an ETA of January 18 in Portugal. The arrival on January 21st is still not too shabby in view of the horrendous weather just north of the Iberian Peninsula, which no doubt slowed arrival somewhat.
Tugs assist Australian Spirit off the dock at pier 9C, and tug Janus prepares to take the strain:

Atlantic Companion

The disabled Atlantic Companion is still anchored in Bantry Bay, Ireland but is expected to sail for Halifax January 23. After losing power on Janaury 21, the ship was able to reach a safe anchorage after drifting for 12 hours.The crew is no doubt working feverishly on the repair to one cylinder. Sources have suggested that the switch from 30 years of burning heavy fuel has dislodged build up in the cylinders,. This is not the first cylinder problem ACL ships have experienced. In the last three years there were two if not three similar incidents, and one was on Atlantic Companion.
 Tugs assist Atlantic Companion to anchor after cylinder problem, March 20, 2013.


Let Me Count the Ways

The oddly named tanker Two Million Ways arrived this morning and berthed at Valero (Ultramar) in Eastern Passage. The Cypriot flagged ship is a sizeable one for a product tanker at 40,685 grt, 73,965 dwt, and was built in 2007 by Onomichi Dockyard in Japan. It operated as Eagle Hope until 2011.

The ship was spotted last week on the St.Lawrence River, where it likely unloaded some cargo at Valero's refinery in Levis, QC. Judging by its full width bridge structure, it seems likely that the ship is built for winter conditions, with a high ice class. This also suggested by the name of the owners, Nord Klaus Oldendorff of Hamburg, Germany.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Where Have All the Con-Ros Gone - Part 7

Large ocean going Con-Ros or Ro-Cons are much reduced in numbers, with Grimaldi the major operator in the field now. Their Europe /Africa / mid-East services are still using lots of the big ships, and as we keep saying Atlantic Container Line (ACL) will be taking delivery of its five new G4 ships every two months starting in May of this year.

Not all Con-Ros were large ships however, and we saw many in coastal trades or short sea work.

St-Pierre et Miquelon
After years of conventional cargo ships operating a coastal service between North Sydney and the French islands of St-Pierre et Miquelon, a Con-Ro took over in 1980. Built by Soc. Nouvelle la Rochelle-Pallice, the 800 grt ship ran from Halifax to St-Pierre coordinating with ACL's Con-Ro service from LeHavre.

 In 1989 the ship was sold to Puddister Trading of St.John's and worked as Northern Cruiser until 1999.It then went to Navigation Polynesienne and left Halifax for Papeete as Hawaikinui. where it is still in service. Its 50 tonne capacity stern ramp allowed for loading 25 cars or 15 trailers. I have never seen a TEU rating. Uniquely the ship had six twin berth cabins and did offer a passenger service.

Among the successors to Langlade  was a series of Danish built geared flush deck Con-Ros. 

 The first was Christina C., 1494 grt, built in 1988 by Orskov Christensens in Frederikshavn. It developed a history of engine trouble and in 1991 was lengthened and re-powered, coming out at 1814 grt. It served the SPM route until 1995, and carried a variety of RoRo cargo and containers.
In 1997 it was converted to a livestock carrier with a multi-tier deckhouse, and remeasured to 3228 grt. Deadweight remained the same at 1974 tonnes. Renamed Finola, under Danish International register, it still exists and was trading in Australia, New Zealand in the summer of 2014, and in the autumn moved to the Singapore and Indonesia area.
Similar ships such as Ocean Ady (not pictured) had two cranes but was of the same basic design. It was later converted to a wind farm installation vessel. 

Lisbeth C. came from the same shipyard, but in 1993, and measured 2881 grt. It operated as Pacific Peru from 1994 to 1998, and it was under that name that it made its first trip on the SPM service in January 1998. It soon reverted to its original name and carried on until 2001. It was then sold to Venezuela as Santa Paula, became Lisbeth C. again under Danish flag in 2003. In 2007 it was renamed Polar Sea and now works for a Norwegian seismic company.

A very similar ship to the Danish vessels arrived on the scene in January 20, 2001, fresh from Santierul Naval in Constanta SA, Romania.
Dressed up for its first arrival in Halifax, Shamrock was fresh from the shipyard. Both engines (which drove twin screws) ran their exhausts to the single funnel casing on the port side.

Shamrock's centre line stern ramp was framed by a goal post like mast. Its two 40 tonne cranes were offset on pedestals. There was lots of sea smoke in the Narrows as the ship returned from Fairview Cove.

Registered in the French Antarctic Territory of Kerguelen Islands, it carried on the St-Pierre service but also started a Halifax-Portland, ME feeder service. The whole operation collapsed at the end of June 2004, awash in debt, and the ship was eventually sold. It was acquired by CIS Shipping International Inc, owned in turn by Clarke Transport, and sent to work in the Caribbean under the management of Thien+Hyenga. 

Sea Transit Direct
In December 2003 a competing service to St-Pierre et Miquelon was established by Sea Transit Direct. 
The first ship on that service was CEC Daisy, a LoLo only ship of 2815 grt. It was replaced by the Con-Ro
Askania from June 2004 to July 2007.
Built in 1983 by Werft Nobiskrug of Rendsburg, Germany, it carred the name Seacrest Askania from 1991 to 1992. It had a capacity of 278 TEU and two cranes of 25-35 tonne capacity. It was operated by Scheepvaart Skadis NV of the Netherlands and registered in the Netherlands Antilles.
In 2012 it became Andrea under the Sierra Leone flag for owners in Tanzania, and is still operating.

The service was continued in 2007 by Fort Ross which is still running, as Fusion from 2010. Even though it has had several "off-hires" for repairs and even a major rebuild, it soldiers on, providing the weekly link with St-Pierre et Miquelon. Built in 1977 it is remarkable for its longevity.

UM Shipping 
A feeder service between Halifax and Boston from Halterm and serving OOCL, NOL and K-Line ran several small Lo-Lo container ships such as Nordbay and Lux Baltic from May 1987. In February 1988 until June 1990 the service was carried on by Colon, flying the Ecuadorian flag.

The gearless flat decker rarely if ever used its RoRo capability when working from Halifax. Built by Baatservice of Mandal, Norway in 1979, the 2033 grt ship had a 300 TEU capacity (54-40' below deck) including 30 reefers. Its original name was Seatrain Libertad and in 1984 was renamed Ambar. It became Colon in 1984.
In 1990 it was replaced by a conventional container vessel and in 1993 it was moved to Panamanian flag and renamed Colon III. On May 4-5, 1994 it capsized while on a voyage from Puerto Limon to Cristobal. It sank May 5 with the loss of three crew members.

Odd small Con-ros would show up in Halifax from time to time, usually carrying non-RoRo cargo. Their flat decks and cranes were usually more suitable to containers or project cargoes, and the visits here were usually one-ofs. Of course their were many heavy lift ships with stern ramps, but they could not be considered Con-Ros.
 The German owned, Antigua flagged Stephan J. came from the Cassens shipyard in Emden, Germany in 1982. It had tow 25 tonne cranes,, could carry 403 TEU and had a stern ramp. At 3326 grt, 6166 dwt, it was a moderate sized vessel, and seems to have spent most of its life in feeder of general cargo work. It was renamed several times: 89: EWL Curacao, 91: Stephan J., 94: Lian Sha, 98: Ariadni, 05: Safina, and 10: Marden. It arrived in Alang January 20, 2012 where it was beached and scrapped the next week.

 Next posting (and last in this series) will be Canadian Con-Ros.


Atlantic Companion - engine problems

The Atlantic Companion suffered an engine breakdown January 20 off the Fastnet Rocks and was adrift for about twelve hours. The ship was en route Liverpool, UK to Halifax, and drifted with the current until the crew managed to restart the engine and make for Bantry Bay, Ireland.

Atlantic Companion sailing beneath the MacKay bridge February 19, 2014.

The ship was built by Kockums shipyard in Malmo Sweden in 1986 and lengthened by Hyundai, Ulsan, South Korea in 1987.  From 1987 to 1994 it was renamed Companion Express for a vessel sharing agreement with Hapag-Lloyd, when it was assigned to the St.Lawrence River route for time.
It made it first call in Halifax March 27,1984, and aside from the brief spell mentioned above, the ship has been a monthly caller in Halifax ever since. 
On February 20, 2012 it lost power in one cylinder while arriving in Halifax and anchored for a time for repairs.

Atlantic Companion (in the background) in number one anchorage as fleet mate Atlantic Conveyor arrives.February 20, 2012.

All five ships in the ACL fleet are due for replacement starting this year. The first hull, to be called Atlantic Star has been floated out of the building dock and is due in service in May. The remaining ships will arrive at two month intervals thereafter. Called the G4 series, they are even bigger that Atlantic Companion and the other G3 series ships. At 30 years of age, the G3s have reached the end of their service lives, and more of these sorts of breakdowns might be expected. 
Fortunately this latest one has not resulted in any injuries or pollution.