Saturday, July 28, 2012

No to Maersk (again), Zim says yes

1. Maersk Patras arriving this morning from the St.Lawrence River.

In a ruling delivered on July 18 the Canadian Transportation Agency has again declined Maersk Line Canada's request to transport 200 empty containers from Montreal to Halifax on the Maersk Penang (a foreign flag ship). The Agency's finding was that the transfer falls within the definition of coastal trade and that suitable Canadian ships are available for the work.
Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping Inc offered the two ships Avataq and Umiavut, which were found by the Agency to be suitable.
Maersk has been trying to get the boxes to Halifax by sea on their own ships for some time, with no luck. CN Rail has a program to deliver empties to Halifax by booking their own cargo in the boxes (essentially renting them to defray haulage costs) and other shipping companies offered ships last year, so it would appear that Maersk is stymied.
With decreasing water levels on the St.Lawrence seeing more traffic diverted to Halifax, Mersk is in a tough spot. It does not have space on its ships to take the empties back to Europe and it needs them in Halifax.
On the other hand Zim has opted to add a ship a week to Halifax as mentioned previously. This week's arrival was the Zim Tarragona a Liberian flag vessel built in China in 2010, operated by Rickmers, with a capacity of 4256 TEU. It is also carrying essentially transatlantic traffic inbound, which will certainly boost Halifax's recently declining container numbers.
2. Zim Tarragona arriving on Thursday.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

USS Scranton sails

USS Scranton a Los Angeles class attack submarine (pennant number SSN 756) sailed from Shearwater this afternoon after a five day port visit. One of 46 subs of her class, she was laid down at Newport News in 1986, launched in 1989 and commissioned in 1991.
Subs of this class are rated for 33 knots dived, and can carry a variety of weapons. In March 2011 this particular boat launched cruise missiles into Libya as part of the NATO lead operations.
It sails with a crew of 133, almost none of whom were visible on the tiny bridge located atop the sail. A harbour pilot and one of two others were all that were visible from my vantage point.
1. Making the turn around Ives Knoll.
2. Close escort was provided by a patrol boat and a team of divers.
3. Ther tug Glenbrook also accompanied the boat on its outbound course.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Archimedes - 23 hour stop in Halifax

Add Archimdes to the list of superyachts that have visited Halifax. This 1,100 gross ton behemoth was built in 2008 in the Netherlands  to a Feadship design and measures a cool 67.75 meters overall length. Its two Caterpillar engines move it along at a stately 16 knots.
The yacht left Newport, RI on July 20 and made a stopover in Port Jefferson, NY before arriving here yesterday afternoon, just after completion of the Tall Ships Parade of Sail. It left at noon time today giving Gros Morne, NL as its destination.
There are lots of better photos and more detailed descriptions elsewhere on the internet.

1. Archimedes gets away from the dock.
2. Using its twin screws and powerful bow thruster, the ship makes a quick 360 to head out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tall Ships highlights

This year's Tall Ships Festival was more related to the festival than the ships in my opinion, simply because there were not a large number of significant (i.e. large, Class A) tall ships.
Nevertheless it was still a splendid sight to see the Parade of Sail today.
Minus Bluenose II (which is not in the water yet) it appears that today's parade was lead by Theodore Too, followed by USCG Eagle.
The following is a quick show of thre major participants in no particular order. 
1. USCG Eagle, always looks splendid.
2. Picton Castle.

3. My favourite, Gazela, still looking like a working ship.

4. Larinda rebuilt after her disastrous sinking in Hurricane Juan. Bounty on the left and Theodore Too on the right -two wildly different products of Nova Scotia shipyards.

5. Unicorn looking very ship shape.

6. The rakish Pride of Baltimore II always a favourite.

7. Roseway also a lovely looking schooner.

8. Bounty perilously close to George's Island, managed to claw off the lee shore.
Most of these vessels have been picture on this site before.

Ville de Quebec leads Dewert and Hurricane

Although Canada and the United States of America can't agree on who actually won the war of 1812-14, they have agreed that it is worth celebrating, so have assembled three naval vessels to  make a two month long trek from Halifax through the Great Lakes. Many important battles of the war took place in that region, and so it is fitting that remembrances take place there. 
The three ships are HMCS Ville de Quebec, a Halifax class frigate that appears to have been re-armed to a certain extent.
USS DeWert an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate commissioned in 1983 (and built at Bath, Maine)
USS Hurricane a Cyclone class coastal patrol vessel, comissioned in 1993.
The three left Halifax this morning, each in turn unfurling a huge national flag as they got underway.
1. Ville de Quebec has backed out into the harbour and started to turn for sea.
2. DeWert is clear and the tugs are casting off.
3. Hurricane brings up the rear. The large Canadian flag showing amidships is actually on the Dartmouth shore, and not on the ship itself.

This was not the only naval activity in Halifax this morning, The French tug Malabar also sailed- see Tugfax for that one.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

HAM 318 - giant dredge in for a pit stop

The giant deep sea dredge HAM 318 is making a pit stop in Haifax for fuel and stores. The ship, measuring 33,515 gross tons and 67,471 tonnes deadweight was built in 2001 and flies the Dutch flag. It is owned by Van Oord and operating under a coasting license issued to Van Oord Marine Contractors Canada Ltd, because there is no Canadian flagged vessel able to do its type of work.
Its permit allows it to dredge an excavated drill centre in the Hibernia oil field off Newfoundland between May 14 and September 14. It makes monthly trips into port for fuel and stores (it was in St.John's in mid-June) but is otherwsise self sustaining while it is at work.
Van Oord is one of the largest dredging concerns in the world, and HAM 318 one of the largest trailing suction hopper dredges. Read more at (click on Activities then, Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger for a spec sheet on this ship.)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

DS Crown in rescue mission

The VLCC (very large crude carrier) DS Crown that changed names in Halifax last week and sailed for Falmouth, UK on July 7 was the nearest ship to another vessel in distress.
The container ship MSC Flaminia a post-Panamax vessel of 6,732 TEU capacity experienced an explosion in one of the container stacks. The ensuing fire caused the crew to abandon ship in mid-Atlantic, reportedly 1,000 miles from any coast based helicopters, and thus well beyond range.
Of the 25 crew aboard the ship, one is reported missing and four are injured. They have been (or will be) transferred to MSC Stella which will land them in the Azores.
Other details are scant at this time, but it would seem unlikely that sufficient fire fighting resources could be found in time to save the container ship.
One can only imagine the difficulty in assisting small boats from the VLCC with its immense freeboard. The liferaft and lifeboat used by the MSC Flaminia crew would be smaller than the two pleasure craft shown in the following picture. It was also reported that there were 1 meter high seas and significant wind at the time of abandoning ship. The ony advantage would be that the giant ship could create a very good lee (wind break) for rescue operations.
1. DS Crown in Halifax July 6.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thor Heyerdahl

The newest frigate in the Norwegian navy's Fridtjof Nansen class arrived in Halifax this morning for another visit. The ship, which was commissioned January 18, 2011, was here on June 5 of this year.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Esbern Snare - off home, USNS Grapple-going where

1. Esbern Snare sets out from the Dockyard. Passing downtown Halifax its various antenna stand out against the office buildings.

2. The ship's double hangar, stern doors and side ports are more visible from astern. Interesting wake pattern. 

Among the naval ships arriving yesterday, along with HMCS Preserver and HMCS Iroquois, was the Danish Absalon class Flexible Support Ship Esbern Snare. It was built in the period 2002-2004, commissioned in 2005, but was not fully operational until 2008 [you think the Canadian navy is slow?]
As a support ship, it can accommodate troops, landing craft and helicopters. It sailed for Denmark this morning.
Also with the group was the USNS Grapple a salvage tug, which sailed yesterday, giving its destination as Longue Pointe Mingan, QC.  The well known whale watching and ecological area seems an odd destination for such a ship. The location of a couple of unarmed atomic bombs dropped by the USAF in the 1950s is some distance from there, but perhaps there are more we don't know about. 
3. Grapple has heavy lifting gear to recover stuff from the sea floor-among other duties.

DS Crown - underway

1. The ship's massive size is impreessive from any angle.
The VLCC DS Crown got underway this morning after a period at anchor, during which it was renamed. The former Front Crown left port for the English Channel, giving its destination as "Falmouth for orders". Meaning that the ship has no fixed destination, and could be diverted anywhere if orders come in before it reaches Falmouth. Its owners have decided that heading east is the best bet for the unemployed ship at this point. If no work comes about by the time it reacheds Falmouth, it will be put to anchor somewhere in North Europe.
2. Underway its huge rudder is turning the ship to head outbound. No wonder pilots have to be able bodied-it's a long climb up that ladder and gangway.

Nordic Sprite - another good sized tanker

Although it looked puny in comparison to DS Crown [see subsequent and previous postings] the tanker Nordic Sprite is still no sprite! It arrived yesterday at Imperial Oil to pump off slops after tank washing (It unloaded earlier in the week).
It then moved to anchor to pump off some more noxious material into a barge with the tug Roseway alongside.
Built in 1999 as Seasprite by Samsung Heavy Industries, Geoje yard, it measures 80,688 gross tons, 147,188 deadweight. Nordic American Tankers has operated since 2009 under it present name. It is enrolled under the Norwegian International Register, and lists Sandefjord as its port of registry.
Nordic American operated the shuttle tanker and storage tanker for the old Panuke oil field when it was still in service, and so the funnel markings on this ship are familiar in Halifax. It may also have called as Seasprite-the name rings a bell.
The ship sailed this afternoon for West Africa.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

DS Crown - Frontline taking a bath

Frontline, the world's largest tanker owner, with something like 40 Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) has been experiencing the roller coaster ride of all time with huge losses, last minute bailouts and more huge losses. Its majority owner, John Frederiksen (Norway's richest man-but now a resident of Cyprus-at least on paper) owns the majority of the ships through another of his companies and bailed the company out last year by agreeing to reduce charter rates. This has apparently not been enough, and we are now seeing an example of what is happening.
The VLCC Front Crown (built in 1999, 157,863 gross tons, 311,168 deadweight tonnes) has been sold and renamed while sitting at anchor in Halifax harbour. Now called  DS Crown the ship came off a lucrative charter in late 2011. Without that charter, the ship's value plummeted to less than book value and has now been sold (at another  loss one assumes.)
Somehow Frederiksen, who is a supreme speculator, manages to come out with most of his fortune intact - he pledged $500mn of his $13bn to rescue Frontline in December.
Meanwhile the giant ship, with its funnel mark painted out and its name economically changed, awaits orders, and may sail at any time.

Private Robertson VC- in from sea trials; Montreal- into drydock, Fulmar-outbound for sea

The first Hero class patrol boat, Private Robertson VC, spent the day off Halifax on sea trials. Unofficial indications are that they went well, but as with all new builds, it will still be some time before the ship is handed over.

At the same time HMCS Montreal entered the graving dock at Halifax Shipyard for her FELEX refit. The ship was in the news today because of the delays to the navy's new Sikorsky Cyclone helicopters. The ship was refitted to accommodate the helicopter, but as a result cannot handle the existing Sea Kings. This will not be an issue if the ship is in refit! However sister ship HMCS Regina had to be un-refitted to take up her duties in the Far East with the Sea King. The Cyclones continue to be delayed, with no firm delivery date in sight.

The French patrol vessel Fulmar left port after her annual courtesy call. This time she took a pilot, avoiding the potentially disastrous incident of a previous visit when the ship was incommunicado while attending the start of a sailing race, with major harbour traffic in the vicinity. One hopes that heads rolled after that episode.