Wednesday, April 23, 2014

G6 - time to clean up your act

Not that my saying so will make any difference, but someone needs to step up to the plate and tell the G6 Alliance to clean up its act.

In addition to the usual array of well found HAPAG-Lloyd and OOCL ships, the G6 Alliance has been sending in some junkers recently - almost every one of which has had some sort of incident while in Halifax.
After today's episode - which may or may not make the news - it is time that the G6 was put on notice that they are taking too many risks with these ships.

My sources tell me that the MOL Paramount had a control issue near the Macdonald bridge and HMC Dockyard. From what I can determine, it seems that the ship strayed off into the Dockyard's security zone and was only brought under control by the forward tug pushing its bow back on course. Had the security fence been in place it would almost certainly have got tangled up in it.

Even the best of ships occasionally have issues, but the older the ship and the less well maintained it is, the more likely it is to have problems. One prominent container line that does not presently call in Halifax certainly exemplifies this. Its older ships are frequently in the news with disastrous consequences.

I fear that with the trickle down principal in full swing, bigger, older ships are being supplanted on major trade routes, and bumped down into ports like Halifax. The post Panamax types are particularly likely to be bumped by the new super ships, and these are exactly the type that we have been seeing lately, in the junker category.

There is a vast over supply of container ships today, due to reduced trade. Owners are running close to the bone to try to save every penny, and stay in business. They are slow steaming to save money on fuel, but ruining the ship's engines as a result. Desperate measures will certainly lead to more accidents and incidents.

The first thing that must be done its to force all post-Panamax ships to have tethered stern escorts in bound and outbound (which they generally do) and to have the bow tug tethered also, from checkpoint 9 to 10 (that is the ferry track to Bedford Basin, thus all the way through the Narrows - inbound and out. 

Secondly, the inspectors need to be all over these junkers and detain them for deficiencies. Container lines hate to lose time, and nowadays they are just trying to survive. Having a ship detained for several days might get the message out.

Thirdly, the lines should be put on notice that sub-standard ships, or ships that had incidents will be banned from future calls in Halifax. This may sound extreme, but there are lots of ships to chose from in the world, and well maintained ones should be rewarded by getting the work. The sooner the junkers are sent off to the scrap yard the sooner the glut of ships will be reduced.

So what happens when trade picks up and new ships will be needed and we won't have enough? My answer:  Safety First - Greed Second.

Mainport Pine

A new type of ship will be making its first appearance in Halifax today. Built along the lines of an offshore supply vessel, it is specially fitted out to support offshore seismic research.
Named Mainport Pine  it will provide fuel, stores, and crew changes for seismic ships. It can also  perform a variety of other chores that will allow the seismic ships to remain on station for extended periods, without costly returns to port.
Due to today's delightful fog, photos are unlikely to be too revealing, but the ship's owner has provided a great spec sheet, which can be found at:

Recently delivered from a shipyard in Malaysia, the ship is arriving via Capetown and Walvis Bay, South Africa.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bahri Jeddah

Delivered to the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia on January 9, 2014 by Hyundai Mipo in Ulsan South Korea, Saudi Jeddah is number five of six new ConRos for the line.

It arrived in Halifax for the first time this morning, tying up at pier 31 and dwarfing the surrounding sheds at pier 33-34. I was not an early enough bird to catch it on the way in, but hope for better luck when Bahri Jazan arrives in May. It is the fourth of the series, and was delivered October 29, 2013, but has yet to make an appearance in Halifax.
The last ship in the series, expected to be called Bahri Diriyah is to be delivered by June. The other ships in the series, in order of delivery, Bahri Abha, Bahri Hofuf and Bahri Tabuk have all made visits here. Of the new ships, all except Bahri Jazan share the names of the previous generation of ConRos, which had the prefix Saudi to their names. 


Queen Express

Not a Hapag-Lloyd ship, today's arrival Queen Express was certainly not built for speed, as a container ship would be. It is a typical handy size product tanker, one of the scads of similar ships we are seeing in Halifax now. The only unusual thing about it is that it was built in Japan instead of Korea as the majority of ships of this type. it is also built to a similar appearance as much larger tankers. The flared bow, anchor nacelles, and bridge wing props are typically found on large crude oil tankers.

Queen Express came from the Shin Kurushima Onishi Shipyard in Imabari, Japan in 2009. Its tonnages of 28,054 gross and 45,565 deadweight place in the slightly smaller end of the category which usually has deadweights nearer 50,000 tonnes. It flies the Panama flag and is owned by Fuyo Kaiun of Osaka.
Anchoring in the lower harbor usually signifies a short term stay, so it will likely move alongside soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Quiet day in Halifax

There was an eerie calm about Halifax today, with no commercial shipping in the port, with all the piers devoid of working ships.

A quiet Halterm just before Easter Sunday sunrise.

In fact there were only two ships in port (aside from tugs that are based here, and the supplier Scotian Sea in lay up). The research ship Coriolus II lying at the Svitzer Canada  dock and the tanker Algonova peacefully anchored in Bedford Basin.

 Algonova in Bedford Basin, between shuttle runs from Valero to Imperial Oil.

The only arrival scheduled for this date is Oceanex Sanderling for Autoport at midnight to load cars for Newfoundland and due to sail early tomorrow morning..


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cabot to sail tonight

The ConRo Cabot is being pressed back into service after being laid up and sold for scrap. A persistent problem with the new Oceanex Connaigra's controllable pitch prop means that the new ship must be taken out of service again for repairs.
Cabot at pier 9A yesterday, with a provisions box on the dock ready to load supplies with her stores crane.

There has been a flurry of activity aboard Cabot in recent days, including fueling yesterday. This must have been done by truck, although I did not see the operation.
Cabot flying the fueling flag yesterday. A new Canadian flag also appeared, replacing the tattered one that had been on the ship since it last arrival February 3.

It is an amazingly complex process to bring a ship back into service after layup. All its inspections and certifications must be renewed,  the crew must do fire an life boat drills, and scores of other tasks, not to mention storing up supplies and grub. I did hear them test their whistles yesterday. There were also divers down on the ship today and a number of inspectors of various sorts scurrying around. Despite the sale for scrap and a reputed Indian crew on board at one time, the ship's Canadian registration was never closed. It now appears that the sale has been postponed indefinitely.

This evening Cabot is flying the "Blue Peter" signifying an intention to sail. She is due to sail at 2330 HRS.

Oceanex has posted a notice on its web site that after Oceanex Connaigra's April 18 sailing it will be removed from service again, and Cabot will sail from Montreal on April 22. She will certainly have to make good time to get to Montreal that quickly!


NYKCOS auto carrier

NYKCOS is a joint venture between the Chinese state owned COSCO Shipping (COSCOL) (51%) and NYK Line (49%), as the exclusive shipper of Chinese vehicles and machinery. Although rarely seen in North America, China manufactured cars and trucks are exported to many parts of the world.
NYK of Japan has a fleet of 120 vehicle carriers, and the NYKCOS has four ships Read more at:

Today's visitor at Autoport, Yu Heng Xian Feng was built in 1998 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard and Engine Works as Alioth Leader. It was assigned to NYKCOS and renamed in 2013. It measures 53,240 gross tons and has a capacity of 5,140 cars.. It appeared to be unloading Audis this afternoon.

Autoport is still full to overflowing with new cars, but somehow they find room for more, and are continually sending out trainloads.