Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Vitagrace for vital nutrients

After biding its time in Bedford Basin since November 14, the bulker Vitagrace moved alongside pier 28 today to being loading grain. See also: November 15

The tugs Atlantic Larch (left) and Atlantic Willow (right) wait for Vitagrace to pass the Woodside ferry track. They will then scoot around to the ship's port side to assist it alongside pier 28.
All the export grain from Halifax this year has arrived by rail car and it has taken some time to accumulate this ship's full cargo. Last week's Gargeney also loaded some 30,000 tonnes.
The Halifax Grain Elevator has a capacity of  6.4 mn cu.ft./181,350 cu.m., although some of that is dedicated to wood pellets. It can load ships at up to 50,000 bu per hr.
 Badly in need of paint, the grain elevators are nonetheless an imposing sight at sunrise.

1 Imperial bushel = 8 gallons = 2219 cu.in. = 1.28 cu. ft.=.036 cu.m.
(US bushels are smaller, just as US gallons are smaller, and give different numbers.)
Canadian grain cars have a capacity of 128.8 cu.m, and a load capacity of 101,500 kg (about 100 tonnes).
Grain weights have been standardized, e.g. wheat is 36.77 bu /tonne (60 lb/bu, or 27.2 kg/bu). Corn and soybeans are similar in weight, while oats is much lighter.

Vitagrace has a capacity of 90,165 cu.m. of grain and a deadweight capacity of 75,921 tonnes. If it is loading wheat, then it will take 2.5 mn bushels. At 60 lb per bushel that is 68,306 tonnes (683 rail cars) . Therefore the ship's volume will be taken up by grain before it runs out of lifting capacity. On sailing it will not be at full draft, but will be within the safe margins for winter North Atlantic- the severest load line.requirement.



The political spin doctors are at work again, trying to find something positive to say about the Royal Canadian Navy.  Thus the press releases went out playing up the fact that four RCN frigates (two on each coast) have concluded their mid-life refits, and the first will "hit the seas" [where did this expression come from?] in 2015 when HMCS Fredericton will be deployed. HMCS Halifax on this coast should not be far behind.
The story, if there is one, is that the FELEX program is on schedule. Other than that there is really no news here. As ships emerge from Halifax Shipyard and Seaspan, they are handed over to HMC Dockyard where naval and defence contractors' crews complete the remainder of the work within navy territory, and then start work ups.

HMCS Montreal has been busily doing just that over the last several weeks, as it was today.
The FrigatE Life EXtensions will mean  that the ships will remain in service until the 2030s - at least - when their replacements [maybe] are ready.

HMCS Montreal was laid dopwn by Saint John Dry Dock and Shipbuilding February 9, 1991, floated up on February 26, 1992, handed over to the RCN July 27, 1993 and commissioned June 21, 1994.

 HMC Montreal fully operational in 1996.

I do give credit however to those reporters that saw fit not to just regurgitate the press releases, but also to include in their articles the unfortunate fact that we will still  be short two destroyers and two supply ships for up to ten years or more, and therefore no matter how up to date the frigates are, we will only have a half a navy.

This situation must be terrible for internal RCN morale. It is certainly an embarrassment on the world stage.

Perhaps the idea of NATO taking over Russia's Mistrals and loaning one to Canada will take hold ... again.........http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30190069

Vera D, Voyage 001 for Melfi

Vera D is on its first voyage for Melfi Lines. Although slightly smaller than the other new ships that have joined Melfi recently, it is similar in most respsects.

Chebucto Pilot accompanies Vera D outbound this afternoon. 
The ship will swing to port to take the western deep water channel, keeping the eastern channel free for the inbound HMCS Montreal (see later post)

Laid down by in 2004 by Daewoo Mangalia it was completed by the German Sietas shipyard. That probably means that the hull was built by Daewoo's yard in Romania and towed to Germany for completion. 
It measures 17,188 grt, 22,613 dwt and has a container capacity of 1719 TEU. It is fitted with three 45 tonne cranes to work containers or other cargo.

It is owned by Peter Doehle Schiffs. of Hamburg and has carried two previous names. Launched as Pyxis it was renamed Maersk Veracruz on delivery. On completion of a five year charter in 2009, the owners saved on paint by renaming it Vera D. Melfi does not appear to be entering into long term charters, so it is seems unlikely that the ship will be renamed this time.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Blue Star Ithaki a.k.a. Canada 2014

The new Digby-Saint John ferry Blue Star Ithaki, temporarily (we hope) renamed Canada 2014, is at this moment in Funchal, Azores  Madeira for fueling en route to Halifax. Once it arrives here next week, it will be refitted for Canadian service,  and given its permanent name.

The present ferry Princess of Acadia was given its name by the Canadian Pacific Railway, which had a longstanding naming tradition. Its deep sea passenger lines were Empresses and its coastal passenger ships (all but one of which were on the west coast) were Princesses. That Bay Ferries and the Minster of Transport kept the Princess of Acadia's name long after CP's involvement stopped was certainly laudable, but it is now time for some creative thinking. The CPR days are gone, and its time for something original.

The recent tendency to name ships based on contests and suggestion box entries relieves the operators of the responsibility for picking names. Similarly the government's tendency to name ships after politicians is self-serving and should not be tolerated. Continuously re-using the same name over and over or appending a "II" or "III" is also an easy way out.

The cruise industry's lamentable record in ship's names should also be an example of what not to do. A "brand" or a sponsor is a despicable excuse for naming a ship.

Prince Edward Island ferries were named after Fathers of Confederation, but some genius decided to part from that tradition and we got "Holiday Island" and "Vacationland" instead. These names had no local resonance and could have been anywhere on earth. Good sense returned when the name Abegweit was chosen for the last ferry to be built for the Cape Tormentine-Borden route (recalling also the name of a previous ship) and Confederation for the last ferry built for the Caribou-Wood Island run.

Now we have a chance to follow in that sensible direction, and I am suggesting something such as Loyalist  for the new ship. I would not be in favour of appending some descriptor to that such as "Fundy" since that weakens the impact. Saint John is known as the "Loyalist City" and I suppose the good residents of Digby might take exception to my suggestion, but there are good Loyalist streams in that area too.

Bottom line is let's have a serious name for the new ship. One that is thought out, appropriate and with serious intent.

I don't suppose the new ship will be making any 3 minute arrivals in Digby, but it is possible - see this You Tube video:



Sunday, November 23, 2014


Shipfax has reached another milestone with 1600 posts to date. It also received 1617 hits yesterday on the posting about HMCS Iroquois - another record.
Thank you for your support. Comments, corrections and additions are always welcome, but are moderated. That is, they are not added automatically, but are added only after I have reviewed them and found them suitable.
To commemorate the landmarks I have changed to banner at the top of the page. For years it showed a ship from the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia and the pilot boat A.P.A.No.1 arriving at dawn. The old Saudi ships have been replaced, and the company has been renamed Bahri. The pilot boat is still operational as back-up boat, but a newer boat Chebucto Pilot is now the primary boat. It is shown inbound this afternoon with Atlantic Compass passing Meagher's Beach light. Ships of the Atlantic Container Line are perhaps the most familiar sites in Halifax harbour, but not for much longer . A new generation of ACL ships is due next year.


CMB returns - if only briefly

Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) is one of the oldest Antwerp based shipping companies. Founded in 1895 it initially traded to Africa, but later became a general cargo and liner company.

CMB operated a fleet of cargo ships and bulkers. Built in 1962 Mol was a conventional cargo ship of 8943 grt. Sold to Greek owners in 1978 it was broken up in 1985. In the 1976 photo above it is carrying some containers on deck.

By the 1960s it had a fleet of handsome general cargo ships, seen often enough in Halifax, but its owners saw the coming of the container age. In 1969 they joined with Charles Hill (owners of the Bristol City Line) and Clarke Traffic Services of Montreal to form the Dart Container Line. The new company built three large (for the time) container ships especially designed for the North Atlantic. CMB's contribution was Dart Europe built in 1970 by the Cockerill Yards in Hoboken, Belgium. The 33,400 grt ship had a capacity of 1556 TEU which was considered very large at the time.

The Dart ships had full width enclosed bridges and presented an impressive sight. Powered by a single 29,000 bhp Sulzer, they were capable of 21 knots.

Dart started its service with semi-container ships, calling in Antwerp, Southampton, Halifax, New York and Norfolk.Clarke, also operated the Halterm container terminal, and its opening coincided with delivery of the new ships, Dart America (Clarke), Dart Atlantic (Hill) and Dart Europe.

Halterm had only two cranes when it first started operations in 1970. *

Bristol City Line was acquired by Bibby Line, but Bibby sold its share to OOCL. In 1981 Dart ceased to exist when OOCL joined with CP Ships for a coordinated St.Lawrence River service. Dart Europe's last call in Halifax, under that name, was August 3, 1981. A CMB ship has probably not appeared in Halifax since.
CMB maintained a partnership in the OOCL/CP service and the ship was renamed CMB Europe in 1984. In 1985 it was renamed Canmar Europe, and was sold to Canada Maritime (CP Ships).

At anchor in Bedford basin as Canmar Europe it waits out a strike in Montreal with other CP ships.

It did however make two more appearances in Halifax under that name in 1995 when a longshoremen's strike in Montreal necessitated a diversion. It remained at anchor from March 15-23, 1995 then returned April 3-4, 1995 to pick up stranded containers that has been sent to Halifax by rail during the strike.
The ship was sold to Greek owners in 1996, briefly renamed Folly, then took up a short term charter as Zim Columbo.It was finally broken up in Alang India in 1998.

CMB had been building up its bulk carrier fleet in the meantime, acquiring Bocimar in 1962, and today's arrival , although carrying a CMB name, wears the Bocimar funnel and is owned by Bocimar International NV of Antwerp. Operation is entrusted to Anglo-Eastern Ship Management of Hong Kong.

CMB Maé flies the Hong Kong flag, and was built in 2010 by Samjin Shipbuilding Industries Co of Weihai, China. Of 23,432 grt and 33,694 dwt, it carries four cranes and clamshell buckets to handle its own cargo. It also has stanchions for deck cargo such as timber. The ship was in port for long enough to take bunkers and sailed this evening for Italy.

For comparison purposes: The Halterm container terminal in 1971:

Dart Europe - perhaps on its maiden voyage in 1971. Grading and paving are still underway. A stone cairn directly behind the park bench is the common factor.

In a comparable view this afternoon, but from slightly higher up the hill: the trees have grown up -as have the cranes! The park bench has moved, but the stone cairn has not. 


Saturday, November 22, 2014

CMA CGM Montreal sold

The container ship CMA CGM Montreal is reported sold to undisclosed buyers for $US 7.2 mn. One of five ships in the Maersk / CMA CGM TA4 transatlantic service, it was in Halifax last Saturday.

Built in 2002, the 32228 grt ship has a container capacity of 2732 (including 450 refrigerated). It only started on the TA4 service earlier this year, and carried the name Antje Wulff for its first cal in Halifax. Since built is has carried the names Antje-Helen Wulff, P+O Nedlloyd Dammam, CMA CGM Seagull and Ibn Abdoun. Owners since 2010 have been Herman Wulff of Glueckstadt, Germany.
It is too early to tell if the ship will continue with the joint Maersk/ CMA CGM service or will be replaced by another ship.It is currently the only CMA CGM ship on the run, the others are all Maersk.
The TA4 port rotation is Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Antwerp, Montreal, Halifax, Rotterdam. CMA CGM Montreal is due in Rotterdam November 24. It would be due in Halifax again on December 13.

Today's caller was Maersk Palermo which caught the last rays of the setting sun on departure. Several CMA CGM boxes are identifiable in its deck cargo.