Tuesday, June 29, 2010

IFR small craft

A large variety of small craft attended the International Fleet Review vessel HMCS St. John's with HM the Queen and the review party on board. Boats from the Navy and RCMP provided a variety of close in escort, patrol and security functions.

1. RCMP Prevel

2. Unnamed RCMP rigid hull inflatible.

3. Scary guys (RCMP we hope) in Zodiac.

4. RCMP Zodiac with a cab.

5. RCMP in another RHIB.

6. One of dozens of navy Zodiacs, as St.John's rounds George's Island.

IFR a done deal

The International Fleet Review came off without any serious hitches today. The only disappointment was the weather - bright hazy/humid air in Bedford Basin and heavy overcast and impending fog in the lower harbour made photography difficult. Hence the heavy edits on some of the following. Read down chronologically.

1. Ships dressed for review in Bedford Basin,USS Boone USS Robert D. Bradley, and CCGS Edward Cornwallis.

2. USS Gettysburg monopolizes the foreground. RFA Fort George to the left.

3. Brazil's Indepencia ready for the review, with Spessart and Fort Gerorge.

4. HMCS Charlottetown salutes HMCS St.John's with the review party on board.

5. In the lower harbour, USS Wasp is at anchor, while small craft begin to clear the area.

6. After taking the final salute from HMCS Athabaskan east of George's Island, St. John's swept around south of the island and lines up for docking at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. HMCS Goose Bay accompanies, with a number of small craft for close in escort [see subsequent posting.]
7. Her Majesty gives Shipfax a close look.

8. Prime Minister Harper deigns to wave at Shipfax, while her Majesty examines us more closely.

9. Tugs come alongside for berthing at the Martime Museum of the Atlantic. Once ashore Her Majesty unveiled a plaque on Sackville, designating the last corvette as Canada's Naval Memorial.

10. By evening the ships started to return to their berths as fog edged in. HMS Ark Royal remains at anchor, but moves further south in the harbour.
As yesterday - refer to the multitude of other sites and blogs for more (and better) photo coverage.

Monday, June 28, 2010

IFR lining up.

All day, naval vessels proceeded from their berths to assigned anchorages in Bedford Basin. Regrettably fog and rain or drizzle obscured the view to some extent. By early evening the following lineup was visible from the western shores of the Basin.

1. USS Robert G. Bradley looms behind the pilot boat APA No.1

2. USCG Escanaba blends with the background.

3. HMCS Charlottetown is dressed for the occasion.

4. HMCS Shawinigan and CCGS Edward Cornwallis rest at anchor while the tug Roseway moves a barge. HMS Sutherland fades into the far shoreline.

5. USS Gettysburg looks sleek in profile, while picket boats perform patrols.

6. HMCS Montreal hoists her laundry.

7. Brazilian Independencia comes to anchor while the pilot boat awaits.

For more photos of the IFR and participating ships, see:

Busiest Day in Halifax since....?

Fog and drizzle greeted us as we gazed out on the harbour this morning. Aegir is turning to back in to Pier 42, Halterm.

In addition to the usual busy Monday in the harbour, preparations for the International Fleet Review mean that this will be the busiest day in Halifax harbour in this century.

Normal traffic: container ships Italy Express, Aegir, Zim Pusan and Atlantic Compass will arrive this morning and most will sail later in the day or in the evening.

break bulk arrival: Onego Merchant

autocarrier: Elektra arriving at pier 27, moving to Autoport and sailing this evening.

Naval movements: 13 foreign naval vessels will be moving from various berths to anchorage in Bedford Basin between 0900 and 2000. Numerous Canadian warships will also be moving to the Basin, to join the four or five already there.

US nuclear submarine Virginia will be arriving at Shearwater.

This activity will keep tugs and pilots fully occupied and it would be a harbour watcher's field day if not for these added factors:

1. the weather

2. traffic on the land side will be chaotic due the arrival of HM the Queen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

International Fleet gathers




Navies from several nations are gathering in Halifax for the International Fleet Review taking place next week. The Royal Navy and the US Navy are sending the largest contingents, but the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, France and Brazil will also be represented.

Ships are berthing in the Dockyard and at public and Port Corporation piers. Naval small craft are providing security patrols, boom maintenance and many other duties for the visit.

1. The Dutch Amsterdam is inbound for the Dockyard.

2. USS Bradley and USS Gettysburg are tied up at pier 20. Orange buoys mark an exclusion zone around the ships. USS Boone is inbound in the distance.

3. Yard craft 127 is used to deploy oil booms during fueling operations.

HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will review the fleet on June 29.

more information at: http://halifaxifr.ca/en/Home/tabid/61/Default.aspx

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Kamsarmax bulk carrier calls on Halifax

The bulker Iron Fuzeyya made a brief call for bunkers today. The Marshall Island flag vessel is owned by Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd, an AMEX/NASDAQ listed company that operates 48 ships and has five more on order. The company is based in Greece.

This type of bulk carrier is called a Kamsarmax, which is a Panamax vessel, but with extra length (229 meters), which is the largest vessel to be able to load bauxite in Port Kamsar, Equatorial Guinea. This gives the ship a deadweight tonnage of 82,209. She was built in Japan in 2006.

Iron Fuzeyya is on a long term charter to Bunge Corp, a grain company, but the ship may carry many different commodities depending on demand. Her itinerary suggests that she sailed as light ship from Rotterdam to Pointe Noire QC to load iron ore. She then sailed to Halifax for bunkers before setting out again for Rotterdam. Her agents were listed on the Port of Halifax website as Wabush Mines Vessel Agency.

For an especially good view of the ship at anchor in Halifax, go to Shipspotting.com and see Capt. Ken's photo:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Carnival Glory sails

A regular visitor this cruise season will be Carnival Glory. Flying the Panamanian flag, and built in 2003 by Fincantieri in Monfalcone, Italy, the 953 foot long ship will call every two weeks until October. Her first call was on June 17.

It is marginally bigger than fleet mate Carnival Triumph, which was a the regular Carnival ship for several years. Triumph was built in 1999, and is 893 feet long. It carries 2,758 passengers, versus Glory's 2,974. Carnival Triumph is now working in the Caribbean.

Carnival Glory features economical five night cruises out of New York, visiting Halifax, and or Saint John and New England ports.

Carnival Glory is a member of the Conquest class of five ships, whereas Carnival Triumph is a member of the two ship Triumph class.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Winter, but it's summer

The chemical/oil product tanker Winter rests at anchor in Halifax on a summer day. It will reach the high twenties here, and so the ship's name may seem a bit incongruous. Built in 2009 and registered in the Marshal Islands, the ship is Greek owned, and managed by NGM Energy SA. (Named for its founder Nicholas G. Moundreas.)
Fortunately he owns a sister tanker named Summer!
She is one of scores of small tankers (she's 8,539 gross tons) built during the recent boom, to specialize in carrying chemicals and various petroleum by-products.

Pearl Mist...... no good news.

Pearl Seas Cruises has once again changed its schedule for the Pearl Mist. The beleaguered Halifax-built ship still sits in Shelburne as far as I know, awaiting resolution of problems between owner and builder.

Her 2011 season is now shown starting May 17 at Halifax. This recently published version lops five months off the previous one, which had her sailing in January in the Caribbean.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sophie Oldendorff fire

A fire broke out on the bulker Sophie Oldendorff while she was unloading crushed stone in Tampa yesterday. According to various reports, the unloading belt on the conveyor boom ignited, causing billowing black smoke.
It took 100 firefighters several hours to extinguish the fire, in part because of the 100 degree Fahrenheit temperates in Tampa. Firefighters had to work in shifts, and even then several suffered from heat exhaustion.
Damage was confined to the boom and conveyor belting and did not spread to the ship. All the ship's hatches were closed and water used to fight the fire flowed overboard. Cost of repairs may reach $1 million.
The ship is part of the CSL International /Oldendorff/ Klaveness pool and loaded her cargo in Canada. (Cape Porcupine on the Strait of Canso at Auld's Cove.)

Ole Skaarup Dies at 94

Ole Skaarup dies at 94 extracted from Marine/Log and other sources
Industry icon Ole Skaarup died June 15 at 94.

Mr. Skaarup established Skaarup Shipping Corporation in 1951, following several years of commercial shipping employment in New York. In 1954, he conceived, designed and contracted for the construction of the first ocean-going bulk carrier, which became the prototype for today's bulkers. Later, he designed the gravity-type self-unloading bulk carrier. [see this blog for Melvin H. Baker, Georgia S and June 4, 2010]
Born and educated in Denmark, he served in the United States Army from 1941 to 1946 as an officer in the Transportation Corps where he gained extensive experience in ocean transportation. His move to Greenwich, Connecticut, in the 1970's was the seed that was to grow into the Connecticut maritime cluster. He was a pillar of the Connecticut Maritime Association, which published this tribute:
Ole Skaarup, Chairman of Skaarup Shipping in Greenwich Connecticut, was an industry icon. In business, politics and entertaining, Mr. Skaarup was frequently larger than life, always original, and deeply patriotic.
It was Mr. Skaarup's move from New York City in the early 1970s that gave birth to the now enormous Connecticut Maritime cluster. Mr. Skaarup chose Connecticut for its proximity to New York but, more importantly, for its schools and charm as he and his wife Gerda Emilie raised their three girls.
But that is only a small part of his legacy, which included service in the U.S. Army, where he was instrumental in loading the ships bound for France during the invasion, a task he often referred to as his most fulfilling achievement. He concluded his military service as a Major. After the war, he designed and built what many call the first modern dry bulk carrier with the Wallenberg family as partner.
He built Skaarup Shipping on a model he held true in his heart and mind, on the principles of delivering transportation service to the customer, to the shipper. His best deals were long term charters where ships were built to serve specific trades and commodities and then reliably delivered for decades. He took enormous care of his ships and their crews. Once he invited former Congresswoman Helen Bentley, an outspoken critic of open registry shipping aboard his Liberian Flag Melvin Baker, then a 30-year-old vessel, which was finally scrapped at age 53, after moving over 38 million tons of cargo in her lifetime. He gave Congresswoman Bentley white gloves as he toured her through the spotless engine room. They became mutual admirers even if neither changed the other's thinking.
But he could also be an astute market timer, and was a trusted business colleague to numerous banks, expending and contracting his fleet of ships as markets moved.
His passion for solving charterer challenges helped fuel his equally strong passion for designing ships and cargo systems. His self-unloaders were only one example. Following the fall of the former Soviet Empire, when the peace dividend turned towards revitalizing U.S. shipyards, he combined his design concepts with another passion, begging and preaching and lobbying Washington to take U.S. shipping and shipbuilding seriously. He believed strongly that a nation should have a vital shipping industry and that U.S. yards could compete on an international stage.
He would visit Congressmen whenever he was in Washington and testified before presidential commissions. His was frequently a lone voice of reason telling Washington that shipping is important. But Mr. Skaarup never tired of the fight and, at one point, had both the former Director of the US Shipbuilding Council, John Stocker. and former Federal Maritime Commissioner and articulate Washington insider, Rob Quartel, on his staff and team.
For many in the shipping community, Mr Skaarup will be remembered for his enormous talent at public speaking, music and joke telling -- a powerful skill he would use to cheer large or small crowds. He would commandeer a piano at a small taverna on Hydra and sing ribald songs with a crowd standing around the piano. Or he would play a recital at his home in Greenwich for a fortunate few, his fingers moving with his love of music across the keys.
And then, of course, there were his tour de forces at the CMA annual Gala dinners, where he would hold a crowd of nearly 1,000 in rapt, frequently hysterical, attention as he poked fun at his dear friends from the maritime community. He was the CMA's first Commodore, a role he took on in his generous way to assist the fledgling community's growth. He always demanded the Association do more, and would threaten not to attend the annual conference and Gala Commodore dinner. But then he would make a grand entrance, French horn in tow, or dressed as an Admiral, or ready to be jump started by Richard duMoulin following what Ole always called D1, referring to the time at an ABS meeting during which he did, in fact die, a first time, only to be resuscitated.
There appears to be no second resuscitation and so we are all left with a terrible hole where a man for whom life was truly rich and special once spurred us on to be better than we might otherwise have been..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wloclawek back again

The Polish owned RoRo vessel Wloclawek is back in Halifax again. This ship is on charter to the Canadian military and has been used to carry supplies to Haiti and to work in military exercies. Between times it has long periods of idleness in Montreal and in Halifax.

It arrived this morning with navy RHIBs in attendance, and anchored in Bedford Basin. Although it came from Montreal, it may have participated in some NATO exercises on the way.

Lighthouses endagered

Lighthouses are a species at risk in Canada. The federal government has suddenly decided to finally dump 976 lighthouses across the country- they have been edging up to it for years.

These iconic structures are costly to maintain and so the government has decided to give up doing it.

They apparently expect citizen groups to band together and maintain them. This has been done with some success in several communities-with lots of hard work over a long period of time. To expect that 976 more groups will form overnight and step up to the plate is dreaming. Of course the feds don't care what happens to lighthouses. They are inlanders, far removed from any seriously navigable water and have no apparent cultural sensitivities and no imagination.

Sure the Coast Guard has developed more efficient aids to navigation (in some cases) and have eliminated fog signals, another reason lighthouses were built, and yes they may no longer fulfil their original purpose.

Nevertheless lighthouses speak about our maritime past and are important landmarks no matter whether they are aids to navigation now or not.

George's Island light, plunk in the middle of Halifax Harbour is one of those that is threatened as are 138 in Nova Scotia alone. Meagher's Beach, shown in the background of the Blog Header may not be threatened, but if 976 go, how many will be left?
It would be a shame to see then go, and our government is trying to dodge the responsibility to keep them. Citizens groups have shown what it takes to preserve them, so surely any sensible government could learn from that and develop a program to save at least the most important structures and to assist local groups.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Office Window Shot

Algoma Tankers coastal tanker Algonova rests at anchor this afternoon as the Woodside ferry charges past into a stiff head wind on its return trip to Halifax.

Monday, June 14, 2010

NYK Line again

Named for a constellation in southern sky which resembles a flying fish, Volans Leader arrived in Halifax late this afternoon. This allowed for an "arriving" shot as opposed to the usual "going away" shot. The tug Point Valiant has just made up alongside, on a hull bollard, showing just how massive these car carriers have become.

Volans Leader was built in 2007 and is registered in Panama. The ship is arriving from Zeebrugge, Belgium and other northern European ports.

Sun shines for Absalon

Most of the visiting NATO fleet and Canadian warship Toronto and sub Windsor sailed this morning in foggy and damp conditions. The Danish Absalon left at noon time, and by then the sun was shining.

Semester at Sea

The Semester at Sea program for summer 2010 includes today's visit to Halifax before going on to the Mediterranean and returning to Norfolk, VA on August 21. The ship Explorer left Fort Lauderdale on June 11 and will sail from Halifax tomorrow.

This is one of the few cruise ships that will remain in port over night. Built in 2001, and flagged in the Bahamas, the ship measures about 25,000 gross tons and among other things is fitted with stabilizers.

The Semester at Sea program, which usually includes a 100 day round the world term, has adjusted its itinerary in the past two years to avoid the high risk piracy zone off Somalia.

More info on the ship and its programs at:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Okhta Bridge for bunkers

The Liberian flagged Okhta Bridge moved out to anchor this evening to take bunkers. The chemical/product tanker arrived on Wednesday at Imperial Oil, and on completion of loading and unloading is refueling before setting out for Rotterdam. The 2004 built tanker is owned by the Cyprus based Wonderful Transport Co (sometimes these company names are picked from a hat!) and managed by Unicom Management.

These are merely the front line operators for the largest Russian shipping company, and the fifth largest tanker operator in the world with 143 tankers in its fleet. The notice on the bridge "Safety Comes First", neatly uses the initials SCF which stand for SovComFlot-her real owners.

Much, much more info is available on their extensive web site:

The ship's name comes from the Great Ohkta Bridge in St.Petersburg, Russia.

Cable Ship at anchor

1. Swinging round on her anchor.
2. Dominion Diving's Halmar comes alongside with the boarding agent

3. Stern mounted cable sheaves, and plow gear, to trench, lay and bury the cable.

The distinctive looking Tyco Responder arrived at anchor this evening. Her last port was Baltimore, where she is usually stationed however the ship does work anywhere in the world that she may be needed, laying and repairing undersea communication cable. She is operated by the Tyco subsidiary Transoceanic Cable Ship Co LLC of Baltimore, but is regisatered in the Marshal Islands.
Tyco, the multi-national conglomerate with interests in security, telecom, electronics, healthcare and flow control, was in the news when its top executives were sentenced to jail for fraud. They looted the company of hundreds of millions of dollars, but unlike Enron, the other large corporate fraud case, Tyco has survived.
Built in 2001 for Tyco's ever expanding fibreoptic cable network, Tyco Responder is a highly specialized vessel. Unlike older cable ships, she works over the stern only, and has no sheaves on the bow.
As she anchored she swung around 180 degrees with her anchor cable working over her bulbous bow. That will be good for a few scrapes to be touched up next time the painters are over side.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another Car Carrier

Wisteria Ace, another of those unlovely car carriers, left Autoport this afternoon. Built in 2007, measuring 59,962 gross tons, Wisteria Ace is part of the mammoth Mitsui OSK Lines of Japan.
A pure car and truck carrier, she can carry 6400 standard passenger cars, but usually carries a mixture of cars, trucks and rolling machinery.
This one makes some attempts at streamlining, if you examine the bow closely. The deck house is rounded and canted inboard, and has a some graceful plates and probably efficient hull shape.
This does little however to dispel the thought that she is a large floating garage.
Perhaps Mitsui's car carrier website will add some more info:
or their home page, showing their many other shipping interests:

NATO ships visit

1. Danish vessel Absalon
2 German frigate Karlsruhe

Four NATO warships arrived this morning. Due to the "rising sun" effect, I have only two to show.
The four ships are: Absalon (Denmark), Karlsruhe (Germany), Boone (USA) and Spessart (Germany). Toronto accompanied them into port for a weekend stayover and break from NATO exercises.
Absalon L16 is a flexible support ship and is flagship of the Danish navy.
Karlsruhe F212 is a Bremen class frigate.
Boone FFG 28 is an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate
Spessart A1442 is replenishment tanker.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thar She Blows!

They were singing Yo Ho and Up She Rises at Halifax shipyard this afternoon after the floating drydock Scotia Dock II broke the surface after a month on the bottom.
The dock sank May 8, and since then the shipyard has been working with divers to make the structure tight and rigging pumping gear.
Once all the gear was in place they forced air into the compartments to displace the water.
Late this afternoon the main deck broke the surface, and water was blasting out of several manholes in the main deck as well as a large outlet on one side wall.

1 The main deck is clear of the water and at normal draft. Water under pressure spews from manholes in the deck.

2. A large stream of water water is forced from an outlet at the top of the west sidewall.

3. The main deck just breaks the surface as air is forced into the tanks displacing water.

This was a major salvage operation, brought to a happy conclusion. Much work remains to be done to ensure that the rig remains afloat, and of course there will be repairs to damage caused by the immersion and sinking. It may be some time before the drydock is back in operation, but it is good to see that it is back on the surface.

Dredging Sydney Harbour

The government of the Province of Nova Scotia announced that it would support dredging of Sydney Harbour up to $15 mn if the federal government kicked in the balance. The provincial government apparently made this announcement for political adavantage, putting the feds in the position of being the villains if they do not come up with the balance of the $38mn., and thus killing the project. [ The Cape Breton Regional Municipality that includes Sydney will chip in $2mn and Nova Scotia Power $1mn]

Tenders have aleady been received for the work, and the bidders are holding their prices until funding is found.

One wonders where the rose tinted glasses are coming from. First the dredging may have some benefit to coal imports for the power plants-larger ships will be able to deliver coal. [No one seems to be concerned that we are still burning coal and contributing to one of the largest carbon foot prints per capita in the western world!]

Second, and most relevant, is that the dredging is called for to make Sydney into a container port. This smacks of the worst form of grabbing at straws to find something for an economically depressed area to look forward to as another saviour. I can't imagine that there is a business case for a container terminal in Sydney even if the cost of dredging is not factored in. However proponents seem to think, despite winter ice conditions, and a long, slow and torturous railway route to the mainland, that a container port would bring riches untold to Sydney and Cape Breton island. Even if the province and the feds combine to make a deep water port where there isn't one now, will there be business to support a container port? Will there be private capital available to build the port or will the government(s) be on the hook for that too?

Another proposal to build a container terminal in Melford, on the Strait of Canso, has the advantage of abundant deep water (deeper than Halifax), no bridges and very little ice in most winters. Huge infrastructure costs are still present for roads, rail link to the main line and the port itself on a "green field" site. Lining up private investors for this project has proven challenging.

There is also the issue of the rail line from Sydney to Truro. The line has deteriorated since CN sold it off to short line operator Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia. Upgrades will be costly and money will have to be "up front." The CB&CNS is not likely to finance improvements on the hope of more business.

Both ports have said that they also plan to use feeder ships to distibute containers to other ports. They are hoping that the huge post Panamax super ships, which can't enter US east coast ports due to their size, will be attracted to the new ports.

Halifax currently has a viable container port. Despite the downturn in the world economy, all the container lines that were here before the recession are still here. Volumes may be down, but the port is still doing business with all the same players, and has capacity for volume growth.

The rail connection from Halifax provided by CN has been open to criticism for years. CN does little to allay this by trying to run a scheduled railroad with trains of equal length every day. This might work if the volumes of containers to and from Halifax were equal every day - they aren't.

The effect is that the Port of Saint John has priority over the Port of Halifax with CN. The way this works is that the train leaving Halifax must be short enough so that it can pick up the Saint John traffic in Moncton. To keep the train short enough, containers are left in Halifax to go the next day or the next day. The reverse also happens, that containers destined for Halifax from Toronto or Montreal and the US mid-west can be delayed by days due to train length limitations.

CN will always be an irritant for Halifax, because its objective is to be the most profitable railroad it can be. More container traffic coming to Halifax will in fact improve the situation, because CN will have to move larger volumes and will add trains to handle it.

If Melford and Sydney become container ports, there will be an unholy jam up of cars in the Truro area, and Halifax will again be at the end of the list, since the trains leaving Halifax must be short enough to accommodate at least some of the loads from Melford/ Sydney. Eastbound trains will have the same problem.

Sydney and Melford may also chip away traffic from Montreal, since there are size restrictions on ships to that port, and ice issues in winter. Again, the time delays caused by transshipment-either by feeder ships or by rail-makes one wonder if there will be any significant traffic generated.

In conclusion-for now-these proposed container ports may take away volume from Halifax and Montreal. Why would the various governments want to promote that? The ports will have to find private capital- if there is any to be found, and they will also have to find "new" business if there is any to be found. They will also have to deal with rail issues. In short, a questionable area for government to dabble in, and one that should be left to private business to find the capital and take the risks.

BF Esperanza

The German owned and built container ship BF Esperanza arriving this morning for Melfi Marine. The ship is flagged in Antigua, and carries 862 TEU.

She was built in 2003 by the J.J.Sietas yard in Hamburg. Sietas have been noted as innovative builders, with a history dating back to 1635. In all that time a member of the Sietas family was always in charge of the yard until 2009. Several order cancellations put the company into insolvency. However it was rescued and has some orders for specialized heavy lift ships, but is no longer controlled by the Sietas family: http://www.sietas-werft.de/
That is the tug Atlantic Oak coming out to assist in berthing.

Melfi Marine is a Cuban operation and has no web site. It is represented in Halifax by Protos Shipping: http://www.protos.ca/