The US flagged container ship Sealand Champion [or Sea-Land Champion according to some sources] came racing in towards Halifax at 21 knots this morning. It rendez-voused with the tug Atlantic Willow off Chebucto Head, turned and headed off toward the east, reaching 21 knots again in a matter of a few minutes.
Its last port was Norfolk, VA and according to AIS its next port is to be Halifax on February 13. This is likely an error, since its present course would have it headed for Europe.[AIS has since adjusted to give Rotterdam as next port.]
Sealand Champion is a Maersk ship, and part of its small US flagged fleet. Flagging in the US allows it to carry US cargo, but since the ship was not built in the US it is not a Jones Act ship, and therefore can't trade between US ports.
The ship seems to have very recently returned to the US flag from the Chinese flag.
Possible explanations for its surprise visit (all guesses):
- transfer of sick or injured crew man or take on/take off crew member for other reason
- pick up charts that will be required for subsequent port
- pick up repair part(s) or lube oil barrels that were too big to be carried by launch
- pick up ice advisor (the ship however is not scheduled for the St.Lawrence River)
- delivering Prime Minister Harpers pandas [probably not]
We may never know!
Sea-Land Champion was built by IHI in Japan in 1995, measures 49,995 gross tons, carries 4,065 TEUs and has a maximum speed of 24.5 knots. It carried the name Rumpeng for the past year or so under Chinese flag.