Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Glovis Century Returns

The autocarrier Glovis Century returned to Halifax yesterday and today reloaded its cargo of automobiles.
The ship called here on September 20 and discharged a thousand or so North American export cars to reduce its draft for the St.Lawrence River. The  Chrysler and Ford automobiles remained on pier 9C while the ship went on to Montreal and loaded a military cargo.

Some of that cargo was visible on the ship's main deck which is higher than the upper and lower car decks.

Last evening at sunset, the ship was secured but did not begin loading until today. with some of the loading completed. I suppose so that some of the vehicles on board could be shuffled around. By the same token, Work was completed by supper time today, but the ship was not scheduled to sail until 2130, allowing time for more shuffling within the ship and final lashing. It takes much longer to load these ships carefully than it does to drive the cars off.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Halifax and Hamburg, and weekend catch up

At the recent Port Days event in Halifax, much was made of the similarity between the ports of Halifax and Hamburg. In fact one of the keynote speakers at the event was the president of the Port of Hamburg. He emphasized that in addition to meeting the needs of  Hamburg itself, the port of Hamburg serves a vast "hinterland" of north and central Europe. Because the Alps block easy access to much of northern Europe to Mediterranean ports, Hamburg is a much more efficient gateway to those areas.

Similarly Halifax is positioned to serve the "hinterland" of (geographical) mid-America, bypassing the congestion of ports such as New York and even west coast ports. To bolster this point an executive of Loblaws, a massive food and retail conglomerate, said that his corporation has shifted some of its shipping through Halifax instead of the west coast ports. As an importer of myriad products from Asia, it found that the dependability of west coast ports did not meet its needs.

As if to support the Hamburg connection, today two ships bearing the name of that important port visited Halifax.

 Hamburg glides away from pier 20....

First in was the small German cruise ship Hamburg. After a season of touring the Great Lakes it is now repositioning. Built in 1997 as c. Columbus (yes the first "c", for Christopher,  was small), the ship sailed for Hapag-Lloyd until 2012, also visiting the Great Lakes with stops in Halifax.

 ...and threads the needle between numerous pleasure craft, some of whom remain oblivious to the consequences of getting in the way of a ship. (The motor boat off the bow did not change course or move off. The ship gave a whistle warning that it was turning to starboard, but the motorboat operator would have no idea how tight a turn the ship could make.) The kayakers and sailboat kept a respectful distance.

With a capacity of 420 passengers, it provides a very different kind of cruising experience, catering mostly to Germans.

Later in the afternoon OOCL Hamburg arrived and tied up at Halterm, berth 41.

Note how light the ship is laden, despite having a lot of containers on deck. Most of those are empty.

 The ship called here September 15 on its westbound leg (with import cargo) and went on to discharge at US ports. It is now on its eastbound, return leg to Asia. The woeful trade imbalance to that part of the world is evident by the ship's light draft. That draft is the reason the ship called at Halterm, because it would not have clearance under the bridges at higher tides. (We are having extra low tides this week, so it might have made it today).

The stern portion of the ship is loaded to the top with empties, and looks like an old time punchboard.

The ship has little connection with Hamburg, except to recognize the name of that port. It was built in Korea and is owned and registered in Hong Kong. At 80673 TEU (1400 reefers) it is among the larger container ships to call in Halifax, although it will soon be eclipsed by 10,000 TEU vessels.

On its westbond visit, September 15, the ship was still deeply laden despite unloading many boxes at Fairview Cove. 

Catching up with some other weekend activities in Halifax::

Perhaps to confirm some claims that Halifax is not the end of the world, but you can see it from here, we did see the "end of The World " on Friday. That is, we saw the end of an overnight visit from the residence ship The World. Built in 2002, it was a unique concept, wherein, like condos ashore, its suites (and the entire ship) is owned by the residents. There are 165 residences, and on average 150 to 200 people are on board at any time. There is a crew of 260.
The ship has visited Halifax several times, including in its first year of operation, and on October 5, 2012, after completing its record breaking Northwest Passage from Nome, AK, to Nuuk, Greenland. It was the largest passenger ship to have done so. It returned to Halifax on October 28 of the same year on an unscheduled call when it was diverted by Hurricane Sandy.

The (sharp) end of The World on September 25, 2015.

The (blunt) end of The World in 2002.

For those more interested in ordinary merchant ships, there was another visitor for bunkers on Friday. The Panama flag United Harmony, although a conventional bulker of 24,328 grt, 38,994 dwt, with four 30 tonne cranes, it is something new for its owners.

 United Harmony airs it holds as it takes bunkers on a windy Friday afternoon.

The improbably named Hiong Guan Navega├žeon Co Ltd of Hong Kong, provides ships to the better known Dowa Line America Co Ltd, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, and carrying the Balsa and Century names. Previously specializing in small bulkers of under 10,000 dwt, its ships trade mostly in eastern North America and the Caribbean. This ship is much larger, and was delivered earlier this year by Shin Kurushima, Toyohashi, Japan. The bulker market is in the doldrums, but Dowa Line has carved a niche for itself. The ship sailed for Port Cartier, likely to load grain.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Shipfax unveils its defence policy

My posting on the subject of Mistral class ships for the RCN ( September 22 ) brought in several comments - both agreeing and disagreeing with my opinion - all well reasoned and all civilized. Thank you for that - they were very informative.

Nevertheless I am not publishing any of them, since most were anonymous.

Shipfax is not a forum for discussion - sorry I don't have the temperament to be a moderator, nor the time to reply to comments in any sort of timely manner. There are other places for all that.

Shipfax is a way for me to show some pictures and tell about some ships that interest me. I always welcome correction on facts and will endeavor to update posts that contain errors.

So now that I have published my defence policy, here is a picture.

HMCS Athabaskan storms out of Halifax harbour September 14 - what a great sight - and no outward indication of what a heroic job the crew and Dockyard do to keep the old jalopy running.

P.S. France has sold the two ex Russian Mistrals to Egypt. Bullet dodged.

Regal Princess plus one makes it a big ship day

The Regal Princess finally made it to Halifax today. It was originally due April 19 to inaugurate the Halifax cruise ship season, and it was to be the ship's first visit to Halifax. Weather en route prevented that from happening, so today was the ship's first call here.

Built by Fincantieri, Monfalcone, Italy, it was delivered in 2014.A truly big ship, at 142,714 grt, it carries 3560 passengers and 1346 crew and is 330m long. Nevertheless it only ranks 14th largest cruise ships. (Liberty of the Seas, which was here September 15 is number 6 - and so far the largest to visit Halifax.)

When the ship visited St.John's NL on September 22, it was reported to be the largest ship ever to enter that port. It sailed from Halifax for New York.

The other big visitor here today, perhaps not so spectacular, was the bulker Ocean Cygnus of 89,603 grt and 176,996 dwt. It was built in 2006 by Namura, Imari, Japan for NYK Line.

After bunkering the ship sailed for Port Cartier, QC to load iron ore.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oh will they never learn...........

Canada's current federal election campaign may have, inadvertently, helped the country to dodge a bullet, aimed squarely at the Canadian navy.

Press reports state that a behind the scenes negotiation between Canadian politicians and France has been put on hold until after the election. The deal was to acquire one or both of the Mistral class helicopter carrying amphibious assault ships that France was building for Russia. That deal was canned when Russia misbehaved in Ukraine and Crimea. The lead ship was complete and ready for delivery when the cancelation order was finalized, and settlement has been worked out with Russia.

Some bright spark in Ottawa detected a bargain on the horizon, and another used ship deal was in the works. The ships are now for sale, but Canada may be too late when the election is over - let's hope so.

Pigs in Pokes

HMCS Windsor July 31, 2015.

Canada's history with buying used ships has not proven to be very happy. The Upholder class subs are now in service, but at a huge cost and years of delays. These were bought used, with apparently very little due diligence. and have not only been a political embarrassment, but placed the RCN at a real disadvantage in capability and drained away funds.

The Mistral deal, perhaps to be brokered through NATO with one ship operated by the RCN for NATO, and one for the RCN alone, looks to me like a solution looking for a problem. And one that could divert funds for the current ship replacement program, which is apparently underfunded anyway. Adaptation and follow on costs for Mistrals would be huge - and would require a re-orientation of Canada's naval and air forces, that are already stretched too thinly over too many mandates already (e.g. arctic patrol, coast guard). Typically the politicians never get their numbers right and grossly underestimate all costs.

Copters, Fighters and Frigates
Military procurement is a favourite election topic, and history is littered with wrecked helicopters and other materiel. The current election now has proposals to cancel fighter jets to pay for frigates.

Best Hope
Our best hope is that the next government will feel obliged to carry through the present ship replacement program of frigate and replenishment ships, will find a way to fund destroyers, will find a way to get useful helicopters flying from those frigates and acquire some proven, fighter jets.
They would also "depoliticize" the procurement process and develop a military strategy that suits the needs of the nation and fund it without reservation.

If there is to be a new military direction for Canada, it will require a lengthy discussion with Canadians. Lets hope that happens too - but not during an election campaign.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Norwegian Gem

Even though it was only built in 2007, the cruise ship Norwegian Gem is now considered to be "older" and so will be getting a substantial redecoration/refit in October, with upgrades to dining facilities and accommodations.
Built by Meyer Werft, Papenburg Germany the 93,530 grt ship has a capacity of 2384 passengers with 1154 crew.

Norwegian Gem, north of George's Island heading for its berth this morning.

It is also planned that starting in 2016 the ship will shift its base from New York to San Juan, so we may not be seeing too much of it in Halifax after this year.

It made the news (again) in September when a helicopter evacuated a passenger 56 miles south of Nantucket. This followed the May 2015 drowning of a ten year in the ship's swimming pool.

Deaths, injuries and illness aboard cruise ships may make the news, but are they more common than in any other comparable population?


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday round up: Autoport's safety valve, ACL's substitute, and please take a bow - any bow

With four autocarriers due in Halifax in the space of two days, Autoport needed congestion relief. As it turned out there was relief in sight.

Cattleya Ace ready to sail from Autoport, with tug alongside.

While the larger Cattleya Ace  took up the usual Autoport berth, Glovis Century made the transit up to Pier 9C  where it quickly began to unload a dock full of Italian built Jeeps (Fiat owns Chrysler owns Jeep) North American export cars including Fords, Chryslers, and Jeeps.

 Glovis Century ties up at Pier 9C. It is the first autocarrier to use the multi-functional pier, which was just completed this year. The pier face is 1640 ft long and has a minimum 45 ft depth of water alongside and 450,000 sq ft of open area.

 A portion of Pier 9C is already filled with cars after 4 hours of unloading.

Glovis Century has a phantom crew member posted adjacent to the stern ramp control house.

It will be interesting to see how these cars will be shipped on from Halifax. They may well be transported overland to Autoport for prep work before leaving by rail. The cars are to be stored at Pier 9C while the ship goes to Montreal to load a military cargo. The fully loaded ship would draw too much water for the St.Lawrence River, so it was decided to offload here where there was available space. The ship will return for the cars in ten days or so.

Glovis Century 58,288 grt, car capacity 6,000 units, built 2012 by Hyundai, Ulsan for Hyundai Glovis, Panama flag.

Cattleya Ace 60,975 grt, car capacity: 6400 units, built 2011 by Shin Kurushima, Toyohashi, for Mitsui OSK Lines, Cayman flag.

With Atlantic Container Line transitioning into its new fourth generation ships, it is using the conventional container ship Northern Delegation to cover a spot in the rotation. It does not carry RoRo cargo, and appeared to be lightly loaded on departure today.

As it made the sweeping turn past the knuckle between Pier 9 and Pier 9A, it set up a miniature standing wave with its bulbous bow. The tug Atlantic Oak is providing tethered stern escort by regulation.
Ships details: http://shipfax.blogspot.ca/2015/07/northern-delegation.html

Featuring a different kind of bulbous bow, that began to makes its first appearance in the past year or so, Equinox Star shows a non-projecting bulb. This is similar to the original bulbous bows of the 1940s and 1950s, and is more suitable for bulkers and tankers that do not require great speed.

After bunkering, the ship sailed in ballast for Lower Cove, NL to load aggregates. It carries four 30 tonne cranes and four 12.5 cubic meter capacity grabs (they are the yellow objects lashed on deck) for discharging cargo.

Equinox Star 33,232 grt, 58,600 dwt, built 2011 Nantong COSCO KHI, Nantong for Equinox Maritime Ltd, Athens, Cayman flag.

Speaking of bows, the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir William Alexander sailed this afternoon. Equipped for buoy laying it also has an icebreaking bow and is classed as a light icebreaker.

Also sailing today was the United States Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay. It is also classed as an icebreaker and was built to serve the USCG on such bodies of water as the Hudson River and the Great Lakes. It was already pitching as it left the harbour. Its bluff bow and egg shaped hull are not built for deep sea work, but each year one or more of these craft sail to and from the Great Lakes. They often stop over in Halifax for a day or two en route.
Although its AIS gave its destination as Boston, I believe it is headed to the Lakes to replace USCGC Bristol Bay, which exited the Lakes in August.