Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tanker Loss

In the aftermath of the tragic tanker fire last week off China in which all thirty-two crew members of the Iranian tanker Sanchi lost their lives, it is well to realize that no matter how up to date and state of the art we are, shipping accidents will happen. Halifax is no stranger to such tragedies, but since 1917 we have been mercifully spared another similar terrible event.

There have been numerous groundings, sinkings and other total losses in Nova Scotia waters, so we are not immune, but few have had any close connections to Halifax. I can think of the Gold Bond Conveyor mentioned previously in these pages and a search shows several references:

One that perhaps may not come immediately to mind occurred January 5, 1993 when the Liberian flag Braer ran aground and became a total loss in the Shetland Islands. It was loaded with 85,000 tonnes of crude oil, all of which spilled into the sea. It was a very light oil, called Gulfaks, which dispersed and did not create the widespread mess that the Exxon Valdez or the Arrow did, but nevertheless was responsible for the direct loss of thousands of seabirds and seals and unknown other longer term environmental effects.

Braer was at the time en route from Mongstad, Norway to St-Romauld, QC with its cargo for Ultramar, when a pipe rupture on deck allowed water to contaminate its fuel supply and it lost power. It drifted onto rocks which punctured its single hull. Recent recountings of the incident are at odds with the notes I made at the time, but it is clear that  towing the ship away from the rocks might have been successful but for an unfortunate lack of organization. Once aground it was struck by the most intense extratropical cyclonic storm on record, and was beaten to pieces. Fortunately the crew had been removed and there was no loss of (human) life.

All this is a reminder that I am still waiting for the federal government to deliver on its promise for Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs) on the Canadian Coasts. The government tender is supposed to close January 16, but it may be some time before we hear the results. All this when recent intense storms remind us that the worst weather of the year on this coast is late fall and winter, so there will likely be no standby vessel this winter.

Clever offshore operators have recognized that there are some great deals to be had acquiring modern tonnage due to the world wide slump. (See today's Tugfax). Davie shipyard in Quebec has even offered to acquire some icebreaking tugs at a bargain, but Canada seems determined to take its time to take responsibility for Guarding our Coasts. 

The other  reason that I mention the Braer at all is that it did visit Halifax, and I was on board tugs that docked the ship in October 1987. It was named Brae Trader at the time, although it had been built as Hellespont Pride for the Canadian company Papachristidis. Oshima Shipbuilding of Nagasaki built the ship in  1975 and it measured (by today's standards) a modest 44,989 grt, 89,730 dwt. Papachristidis sold the ship in  1985 when it became Brae Trader. In 1989 it was sold again when it was renamed Braer.

Aboard the tug Point Halifax I took this photo of the Point Vibert making fast aft.

Brae Trader poses against a vastly different Dartmouth skyline (as is the Halifax skyline in the upper photo.).

We do not need more oil spills, fires, groundings or loss of life (in its many forms) and despite all reasonable precautions, they are likely to happen due to force of weather or human error. However the effects can be reduced by providing timely and organized responses to emergencies. This includes vessels standing by and able to tow ships, with an overall organization set in place to mobilize resources.


Tirranna makes port

After a rough North Atlantic Crossing and a delayed arrival due to various weather bombs and storms, Tirranna tied up at Pier 27-28 today. It was originally scheduled to arrive earlier in the week, but spent at least two days jogging offshore until conditions permitted it to enter port.

Jammed in to pier 27-28, the ship monopolizes the area, and is almost as high as the grain galleries.

At pier 27-28 it begin unloading  machinery and other cargo that will be forwarded by truck or flat car. This afternoon it moved to Autoport to complete discharging autos.

 Rounding Indian Point, Tirranna makes it way into Eastern Passage for Autoport.
In the background CMA CGM Rhone works at Haterm.

Built in 2009 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in Okpo, South Korea, the 71,673 grt, 29,936 dwt ship has a capacity of 7,620 automobiles.

This is the fourth ship in the Wilhelmsen fleet to carry the name of the Albanian capital, (Wilhelmsen ship names begin with the letter "T").

The first Tirranna was the best known, a 7,230 grt general cargo ship with refrigerated cargo space and accommodation for twelve passengers, built by F. Schichau in Danzig in 1938. In 1940 it was captured by the German raider Atlantis off Mauritius. It was then sent back to Germany with captured ships' crews as prisoners. On September 29, 1940, while trying to run the Bordeaux blockade, it was torpedoed by HM submarine Tuna and sank in the Gironde estuary with the loss of 87 of the 292 people aboard. 

The second Tirranna was built in 1952 as the 5,463 grt cargo /reefer Taiwan but was renamed Tirranna in 1959. It ran aground and became a total loss near Tromso in 1966. The third was a 10,060 grt reefer /cargo ship built in 1967. In 1971 it was rebuilt with a new hull section inserted to carry 90 containers.Then 12,115 grt, it was sold in 1978 and renamed three times before being broken up in 1984.

The ship is expected to sail tomorrow.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Weather Bomb - Part 2

The so called weather bomb certainly brought high winds and the storm surge created havoc on coastal roads, with many washed out or washed over. Small ports saw wharf damage and more than half of all Nova Scotians were without electrical power for a least some of the time.

Halifax harbour however seems to have escaped relatively unscathed. By today some shipping had returned more or less to normal, even  though there were still gale warnings and freezing spray warnings in effect.

The multi-purpose general cargo ship Symphony Star arrived this morning after riding out the storm in St.Margaret's Bay since Wednesday night. One of six ships of the ECO Box design, it was built by Ferus Smit's Leer, Germany shipyard in 2015, and has a single box shaped hold suitable for bulk, general or heavy cargoes, and carries a pair of 85 tonne cranes that can work in tandem. It has a modest grt of 6749, and deadweight of 10,546.It can operate "open top" for oil field supply and similar work, and then has a deadweight of 7,120 tonnes.

The unusual house forward and reverse bow, make the ECO Box ships  stand out from the crowd. The ship was chartered out as Nordana Star from 2015 to 2016 when it returned to Symphony Shipping, a Dutch company. (Sister ship Nordana Sky was charted by Desgagnés in 2015 to carry salt out of Pugwash, NS.)

Once alongside at pier 28 the ship began refueling from tank trucks.

After weathering the storrm in the relative comfort of Bedford Basin the Canadian bulk carrier Radcliffe R. Latimer moved to pier 26 this morning and entered winter layup.

It is customary for Great Lakes ships to tie up for one to three months each winter for needed maintenance, and there have often been ships from Canada Steamship Lines laying up in Halifax. However it is rare that Algoma Central Marine ships lay up here.

The ship is no stranger to Halifax, sometimes bringing in grain and /or loading out gypsum. Built originally in 1978 by Collingwood Shipyard as Algobay, it was a "Nova Scotia" class ship, meaning that it could make limited sea voyages and was the maximum size allowed by the St.Lawrence Seaway locks.In 1987-88 it was upograded to "Caribbean class" allowing for deep sea work. After a time under foreign flag and a charter to CSL as Atlantic Trader from 1994 to 1997 it reverted to Algobay until it was laid up in 2002, in need of major repairs from years of wear and tear..

In 2007 it was announced that a new forebody would be built in China and connected to the existing superstructure. A towing operation that began in Hamilton, ON in May 2008, using a series of tugs, saw the ship arrive in China in December (via the Suez Canal) where the new forebody was connected, and the old hull sent for scrap.

After a re-engining and rebuilding its self-unloading machinery machinery, the ship returned to Canada (via the Panama Canal) under its own power and resumed trading in 2010. It was renamed Radcliffe R. Latimer in 2012 in recognition of the retired Chairman of the Board of Algoma Central.

After de-ballasting all morning, the crew then put out extra heavy weather lines and the ship was laid up. Some crew, mainly engine rooms crew, remain with the ship during the winter for maintenance work, and contractors come in to work on other repairs such as the inside of ballast tanks, and cargo holds.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Weather Bomb - Part 1

The huge storm that swept up the US east coast arrived in Nova Scotia this morning and in Halifax by late morning. Extreme high winds and driving rain last until early evening when it became eerily calm and the rain virtually stopped. Widespread power outages included Ship Central (home of Shipfax). A storm surge is expected at high tide 2300 hrs this evening.
Shipping activity ground to a halt as ships either held off the port or went to anchor or to safer berths. A brief roundup:

. NACC Quebec had been en route to Baltimore Providence from Port-Daniel, QC with cement, but after anchoring off Lockeport/Shelburne opted to come to Halifax for better holding, and anchored in Bedford Basin.

 NACC Quebec in more serene conditions. Operated by Nova Algoma Cement Carriers, operating out of the McInnis Cement plant in Port-Daniel, QC to US and Canadian ports. The unusual funnel houses a Pure SOx exhaust scrubber. Built as Tenace in 2011 by Tuzla Gemi Endustrizi in Turkey as a bulk carrier, the ship was converted in 2016-17 to carry cement.Tonnages: 9,286 grt, 13,800 dwt.

. Radcliffe L. Latimer arrived late Thursday and went directly to anchor instead of pier 25-26.
. Oceanex Sanderling anchored in Bedford Basin.
. CCGS Cape Roger arrived at BIO, CCGS Sir William Alexander remains alongside.
. Asterix was to move to an anchorage Wednesday, but found space at pier 9c. (Her huge superstructure would be subject to windage such that anchoring might not be feasible). During the day the tug Atlantic Spruce was tethered alongside, but was not needed by evening, and tied up nearby
. Offshore suppliers Burin Sea, Trinity Sea, Siem Hanne and Atlantic Condor are all tied on at pier 9c.
. Algoma Dartmouth moved to pier 9.
. IT Intrepid remains at pier 9A,
. Tug Atlantic Fir moved to pier 6 at Halifax Shipyard alongside the barge Atlantic Sealion
. The pilot boats Nova Pilot and Scotia Pilot moved to the inner face of Jetty November Lima in Dartmouth.[see below]
. Metro Transit cancelled all ferry and bus service.
. The Bridge Commission closed the A. Murray MacKay bridge for a time, then partially opened but kept it closed to high sided vehicles.
. Tugs Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Willow are tied on the inside of the IEL dock.
. Irving Oil tanker Acadian sailed at 0800 hrs - the last ship to arrive or sail for the time being.
. Nolhanava remains nestled inside pier 36.

The cargo ship Thorco Logos (a light ship, with only cable racks in its hold) opted to leave its anchorage position in Bedford Basin and head out to sea  late last night.

In St. Margaret's Bay, just to the south of Halifax the heavy lift ship Symphony Star anchored off Mill Cove. It arrived at the pilot station last night and went directly to the Bay. It has cargo for pier 27-28.
Also nearby is Bomar Rebecca. The Tropical Shipping container ship sailed from Halifax last night.

In the Bay of Fundy, the container ship Zim Constanza bound from Halifax for New York is hove to or slow steaming. It left Halifax late last night. (Numerous other ships are also in the mouth of the Bay, bound for Saint John).

. Two arrivals scheduled for today, Budapest Bridge and Atlantic Sky, have been held off, with no definite arrival time scheduled yet. Arrival times will depend on conditions being suitable for the safe boarding of pilots. This will be a test for Halifax's "new" pilot boats that are much lighter and have lower freeboard than the previous boats. There is some suggestion already that they may not be as capable as their predecessors.

Winds are predicted to build up again overnight tonight and remain high until mid-day tomorrow. Temperatures will also drop from the relatively balmy +5c of today to -9C.

Part 2 to follow tomorrow: 

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Tally

Since New Year's day is a holiday for longshoremen, it is usually fairly slow for commercial shipping and today was no exception, with only one arrival and one departure. For many years I have been  taking New Year's Day to search out every identifiable vessel in Halifax Harbour. When I scout the backwaters and coves I usually come up with about 70 names, excluding pleasure craft and fishing boats.

This year did not turn up anything very unusual, but it did take me places I don't often go.

Wright's Cove is an area on the southeastern corner of Bedford Basin, below the Burnside Industrial Park, and includes Navy Island Cove, home of one of the few remaining steel side trawlers of the 1960s.

Navy Island Cove, an undisturbed backwater, is frozen solid. The gypsum stockpile conveyor looms in the background.

Hydra Mariner, the former Cape Mira was built in George T. Davie+Son in Lauzon (Lévis), QC and launched May 27, 1963. Its sponsor was Judith Smith, daughter of Ronald G. Smith, one of the founders and head of National Sea Products. The boat began fishing out of Louisbourg in October of the same year. In 1976, following the upheaval in the Newfoundland fishery, it was moved to Natlake and worked out of Burgeo. Eventually it returned to National Sea and was converted to a scallop dragger working out of Lunenburg. 
In 2001 it was renamed Hydra Mariner with a plan to convert it to a "chase boat" for seismic operations. I suspect this never happened and the boat kicked around various berths in Halifax for several years. In 2009 it found its spot in Navy Island Cove and has not moved since, except for a brief excursion in February 2014. It parted its mooring lines and drifted ashore, but was soon refloated and resecured by the RMI Marine tug Belle-D.. There does appear to be some activity on board from time to time, in the summer, perhaps as a sometime liveaboard/summer camp. It is now considered to be a "yacht".

At the other end of the harbour, at Eastern Passage, the above mentioned RMI Marine has its base.

Its tug Belle-D and one of its landing craft and two dive tender /workboats await the next assignment.

In the background, at the government wharf, the former Province of Nova Scotia cable ferry LaHave 2 and the former HMC Dockyard fire boat Firebird sit idle.
The ferry has been fitted with spuds and has been used for a variety of construction projects since 2010 when it was acquired by Municipal Enterprises. The fireboat on the other hand has not found a new occupation since it was sold as surplus last year.

Just to the north is the Valero dock, (also known as Ultramar, and the former Gulf Oil refinery dock.) It sees very little tanker traffic, but is home to the barge John P. Oxley.

Built in 2001 by les chantiers Verreault in Les Méchins, QC, it  is a pollution control and oil recovery barge, operated by the Eastern Canada Response Corp.(ECRC). Since its arrival in tow of the tug Océan Foxtrot on Christmas Day 2001 it has left port only once, for refit in Shelburne, NS in 2011.

One of the only working parts of the harbour today was Autoport where another car carrier was busy unloading. Hoegh Sydney arrived yesterday just after Viking Queen departed (see previous post)

The Japanese shipbuilders Tsuneishi, built the ship at their Cebu yard in Balamban, Philippines in 2007. It carries 5400 autos and measures 51,7631 grt, 17,311 dwt. Operators Hoegh Autoliners is majority owned by the Leif Hoegh group with Maersk as a minority shareholder at 38.75%.

One of the more colourful spots in Halifax harbour, now partly concealed by the King's Wharf development, is the home of Dominion Diving in Dartmouth Cove.

Its fleet of nine workboats and several scows and barges all wear the unique company colour. Located at the mouth of the Sawmill River (which is being daylighted), the recreation of a portion of the Shubenacadie Canal's inclined plane, and the cconflunece of the Shubenacadie Trail and the Trans Canada Trail, one has to wonder how long this prime site will  be able to hold out against the inevitable pressures of development.

As mentioned above, there was very little commercial activity in the harbour. Oceanex Sanderling arrived early at Halterm  pier 41 but appeared to be taking a day off.

At Imperial Oil the Torm Louise completed unloading and moved out to anchorage number 1 to take on bunkers. Once that operation was completed it sailed for Sept-Iles, QC. [Later info: the ship is instead headed for Quebec City.]

Atlantic Bear (see Tugfax) returns to base after assisting Torm Louise to move off Imperial Oil dock #3 to nearby anchorage to take on bunkers.

Of typical Mid-Range size - 29,283 grt, 49,999 dwt, it is markedly different from the Korean built tankers we usually see. It dates from 2009 and Guangzhou International, in Guangzhou China, and is one of Torm Lines' Super Ice class. Its heavy bow and full width bridge are sure indicators that it was built for harsh weather.

There was also activity at the Coast Guard Base at Bedford Institute. The patrol vessel CCGC Corporal McLaren M.M.V. sailed early in the afternoon, but did not get far before returning to base. It was destined to Cow Bay where a whale stranding was reported. However the whale was "refloated" and lead back out to deep water in very short order by a group of hardy volunteers.

 Corporal McLaren M.M.V. outbound, but soon to turn back. The new pier at HMC Dockyard is taking shape in the background.

Meanwhile sister vessel CCGC G. Peddle S.C. arrived from seaand followed the McLaren in to BIO.

That was not the only CCG activity. CCGS Sir William Alexander arrived earlier from the Sydney area, well encrusted with ice, and carrying a very icy buoy on deck.

Streams of vapour were blowing off her forepeak as ice melting was underway prior to tying up at BIO about noon time. The ship had obviously been in the ice recently as the wear on her boot topping indicates.

Another far reach of Halifax harbour, well outside the normal confines of the port, is at the harbour's entrance. Sambro is home to numerous fishing vessels and is the base for the lifeboat CCGC Sambro.

One of ten Arun class boats in service with the CCG, it was built in 1996 by Hike Metal Products, in Wheatley, ON and is due to be retired. Its replacement, Pennant Bay is currently undergoing trials and training in Dartmouth and will soon be in service. That Sambro was not tied up at her normal dock may signal that this move may be very soon.

Nearby at Sambro Head, Canadian Maritime Engineering operates the former Brenton Gray's boatyard.
Currently it has the harbour tour vessel Silva on the cradle for refit.

Silva (whose official name is Silva of Halifax) dates from 1939 when it was built as a three masted trading schooner by Karlstads Mek. Verk. in Sweden. Working the Icelandic trade it was converted to an auxiliary motor vessel, then a bulk carrier before it was "rescued" by Canadian Sailing Expeditions and converted to a harbour tour boat, closely resembling its original  design.  Passing through Tall Ship Silva Inc to Murphy Sailing Tours Ltd, the boat is a popular waterfront attraction (in summer). Its fleet mates are also in winter layup in various parts of the harbour, although former fleet mate Haligonian III, retired in 2016, remains tied up in Sambro.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Viking Queen - finally arrives

In the serene surroundings of Eastern Passage, Viking Queen (and its crew) are taking a well earned break from the high seas.

It must have been a relief to the crew when Viking Queen finally tied up at Autoport this morning. The ship had been holding off Halifax since about December 23 in some of the worst weather we have seen this year. Its wanderings took it as far south as Liverpool, NS - but well out to sea. It must have steamed hundreds of miles in the four or five days it was offshore..Once the port re-opened after the Christmas Day shut down, it had to wait its turn after Otello which unloaded at both Pier 31 and Autoport.

Viking Queen is making a small contribution to the thousands of new cars in Autoport

It is a wonder there wasn't some damage to its precious cargo, but from what I could see today, it safely delivered a number of BMWs loaded in its last port, Emden, December 13.

Viking Queen was built as Hoegh Delhi by Uljanik, Pula, Croatia in 2007. A big ship of 55,775 grt, 16,870 dwt, it has a capacity of 7,000 cars.It became Viking Queen earlier in 2017.

The ship's owners, Gram Car Carriers, lists the ship's next port as Houston, with an ETA of December 29.  That schedule has obviously been thrown into disarray - it will be a week late at least.

For more on the ship, see Shipfax June 18, 2017


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Augusta Sun - new name

The Augusta Sun arrived this afternoon for Nirint Lines and tied up at pier 31. This is the sixth name for the ship built in 2003 as Atlantic Progress. It was renamed BBC Russia the same year, then in 2008 became Federal Patriot. In 2010 it became HAL Patriot and in 2013 Atlantic Patriot.
During 2017 the ship took up a charter with Nirint Lines and called in Halifax July 7 and November 1, both times with nickel concentrates from Cuba.
Shortly after the last visit it assumed its current name.

 Some frozen spray forward acquired on the way to Halifax in -14C weather.
Tug Atlantic Fir has also acquired some frost while working ships in the cold weather.

Builders of the 12,993 grt, 17,471 dwt ship were New Century Shipbuilding Co of Jingjiang, China. They fitted her out with a pair of 45 tonne cranes. Although mostly a bulk and break bulk ship, it can carry 1118 TEU.

Current commercial managers MTL (Marine Transport + Logistik of Duisburg, Germany) also manage two sister ships. Augusta Unity was until last October Atlantic Pioneer. It visited Halifax ealry in 2017 in service with Atlantic RoRo Carrier.
Atlantic Power was recently photographed in Curaçao on Nirint Lines service, carrying containers. So far at least it has not been renamed.
Before the recent name change, managers were the Hartmann Group. Another Hartmann subisidiary, Intership is recorded as owner of these vessels. This explains the stylized lower case "h" on the funnels.