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 Navegaçeon 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.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

The 2006 ft long seawall, comprising berths 20 to 22, was well occupied today with two big ships, Caribbean Princess (951 ft long) which arrived yesterday and Serenade of the Seas (964 ft long) which arrived this morning.

Serenade of the Seas at pier 20-21, used the new bollard on the Tall Ships Quay for its headlines. The bollard was installed over last winter, just for occasions such this, so that the big ships do not have to tie up at the commercial piers which are about 1250 ft long.
With the ship's bow extending well north of the end of the seawall, passengers can enjoy the view from the forpeak and from the docking platform which has been left extended 

Caribbean Princess backed out of pier 21-22 and turned outbound in number one anchorage, heading for New York.
Serenade of the Seas sailed later in the evening for Charlottetown.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Splendid sight

A rare sight in Halifax is two cruise ships meeting each other. This evening that event took place as the departing Celebrity Summit met the inbound Caribbean Princess.

After several bursts of 5 warning blasts to clear pleasure craft out of the way, Celebrity Summit takes the western channel to give lots of room for the inbound Caribbean Princess. The Oceanex Sanderling also followed close behind the Summit.

Normally cruise ships arrive in the morning and sail in the late afternoon or early evening. Caribbean Princess's late day arrival means an overnighter in Halifax for its passengers and crew.
A no show today was Aidadiva originally scheduled on its run from Reykjavik and St. John's to New York.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Classic Visitor

Marco Polo outclassed the other two cruise ships in Halifax today (Veendam and Carnival Splendour) not only with its classic good looks, but also with its unique history.

It was built in 1965 by the Mathis-Thesen yard in Wismar (which was in East Germany at the time) for the Baltic Steamship Company of the USSR as Aleksandr Pushkin, one of five sister ships. They were built for liner and cruising service, but could also do double duty as troop ships and as such had large cargo capacity and other non-typical features such as multi-berth cabins, and facilities for 500 deck passengers. 

On April 13, 1966 it entered North Atlantic liner service running from Leningrad, via Finland and England to Montreal. With the upcoming Expo 67 world's fair in Montreal, and the USSR's imposing pavilion, the ship drew considerable publicity for the motherland, which was as much a goal of its operators as commercial success at first. The Russian-American Line had ceased service in 1917, and this was the first USSR liner on the North Atlantic.(The service was seasonal, with cruising in the winter.) It eventually became the last transatlantic liner on the St.Lawrence River and a sentimental favourite.  In later years it made more cruises including North Sydney and St-Pierre et Miquelon.

The ship was also much admired by shipwatchers for its good looks, as compared to the Cunarders and CP Empresses, which it outlasted.

The ship's graceful shear and stylish funnel was an excellent blend of classic and modern looks - still apparent behind North Sydney's old cargo crane.

The ship was sold in 1991 and over two years was extensively rebuilt in Greece. Its higher funnel and extended passenger decks (occupying former cargo holds) did not improve the ship's looks in my mind, but the total refurbishing of its accommodation ensured that it would have an extended life as a popular cruise ship.

Readying to sail this evening at dusk, the ship is still stylish.

Lifting off a gangway section, the ship is almost cast off and ready to sail, but the sun was gone when it came clear.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Liberty of the Seas

The Royal Caribbean International Freedom class Liberty of the Seas made a wide sweep around George's Island this morning on its approach to pier 20.

Built in 2007, the ship and its two sisters, Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas  held the title of world's largest cruise ships until 2009 when the even larger Oasis class ships came along.
Rivaling in size the container ships mentioned yesterday, this ship measures 154,407 grt and has a capacity 3,634 passengers and 1360 crew. With an overall length of 1,119 ft it makes remarkably sharp turns using a variety of thrusters, all without the need of tugs.
The ship is based in Port Liberty, in Bayonne, NJ, on the western side of New York harbor. After the autumn season it will transfer to Galveston, TX in November.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Big Day at Halterm

The official inauguration ceremony for CMA CGM's new service to Halifax took place at Halterm today. The CMA CGM Melisande arrived yesterday and after completing its work moved around to pier 36 for the event. Marquis tents were set up and tours arranged for dignitaries, many of whom would be in town for Port Days which starts later this week.

The ship, measuring 90,500 grt and 101,387 dwt was built in 2011 by Shanghai Jiangnan Changxing Heavy Industries for Danaos Shipping of Athens on long term charter to CMA CGM. It has a capacity of 8530 TEU (including 700 reefers).

If that was not enough, Halterm also hosted a Hapag-Lloyd ship today. H-L ships normally go to Fairview Cove, but that terminal's big cranes were working NYK Meteor. Halterm's big cranes were needed to work the even larger Colombo Express a  93,750 grt 103,800 dwt ship with a capacity of 8749 TEU (including 730 reefers). It dates from 2005 when it was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan for direct ownership by Hapag-Lloyd.

The trend toward larger ships coming in Halifax is due in part to the trickle down theory. As larger and larger ships enter the Asia-Europe trade, they are displacing ships of 6,000 to 10,000 TEU. Lines are shedding smaller ships to reduce the cost per box to carry containers.A reduction in cargoes from China is accelerating this trend as lines fight for market share.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Seabourn Quest tragedy

Some time after leaving Boston on September 11 a passenger was lost overboard from the cruise ship Seabourn Quest, 10 miles off Cape Ann. A large search was initiated and the Rockport harbour master's launch recovered a woman's body about two hours later 8 miles offshore. The ship continued on its trip to Bar Harbor.

It will now arrive in Halifax Sunday September 13 as scheduled.

This loss of another life follows on the crew member lost overboard from Queen Mary 2 August 14 while 750 km east of Newfoundland.

Queen Mary 2 arrived in Halifax August 1, just as I was leaving for Quebec.

The cruise ship Norwegian Gem, also bound for Halifax and due September 14, had a medical emergency off Nantucket September 13. The passenger was evacuated by helicopter for hospital treatment at Cape Cod.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

BIG Changes

It is a time of big changes in Halifax's port and on many other fronts.

To pick up where I left off, the veteran ferry Princess of Acadia was laid up in Saint John after its replacement Fundy Rose came into service. After de-storing by operators Bay Ferries, and their corporate symbols were painted over, it was handed over to owner, the Minister of Transport.

Saint John is not an ideal layup port, due to its high tides, requiring a lot of line tending. On September 11, it arrived in Halifax where it tied up at the old Coast Guard base in Dartmouth. That unused facility is still government property, so presumably there are no berthing fees, and Halifax's feeble tides require very little line tending.


Still handsome, but looking bare without its Bay Ferries markings, and still wearing storm shields over the lounge windows, Princess of Acadia awaits its fate. A sale for scrap is almost certain, but it may take a while.

 Halifax Shipyard finally rid itself of the decommissioned Novadock floating drydock. Its Canada registry was closed August 18 and it has been renamed F.D. Novadock under an undisclosed foreign flag, likely St.Vincent and the Grenadines. As reported in Halifax Shipping News, a flotilla of McKeil tugs moved the dock to the IEL pier in Dartmouth, where it has since been cut into two sections.

Novadock was originally built in two sections (not the same two sections which it now appears) by Marine Industries Ltd in Sorel and Ferguson Industries in Pictou, for the government of Nova Scotia. It was intended to bring Panamax ships to Halifax for repairs. It certainly did that, and when Irving Shipbuilding took over the yard, they also gained ownership of the Novadock.

Following award of the  National Shipbuilding contract for naval vessels, Halifax Shipyard rapidly lost  interest in ship repair in Halifax. (Irving Shipbuilding Inc still operates its smaller repair yard in Shelburne.)
With demolition of its older facilities and during construction of the new assembly building, the yard had no facilities available for ship repair anyway. The Novadock will not be replaced per se, but a new launching dock will be required for the new construction. No announcement has been made on where it will be procured or when.

With Novadock gone from the Shipyard, the full extent of the mammoth new building is revealed in all its splendour.

Steel has now been cut for the first hull under the new shipbuilding program and the first module is underway.

More work remains to the roll out area to the north, where the new Pier 6 cope wall is now under construction, and work has started on the huge roll out pad.

Changes are also underway at the Angus L. Macdonald bridge where the deck replacement project is about to begin in earnest.

Atlantic Cartier [see below] passes beneath the bridge, denuded of its walkway and bike lane and fitted with a traveler for the work, the bridge is ready for its first new deck section starting next weekend.

 The Cherubini dock is all set up to transport the sections with their giant crane and chartered barges.

Atlantic Container Line has started the process of retiring its G3 ships, with Atlantic Concert the first to go. It arrived off the Bhavnagar anchorage in India September 5. The first new G4 ship, Atlantic Star, was registered in England September 1. It is still at the shipyard Zhonghua Shipbuilding in Shanghai, but is due for imminent delivery, followed every two months by is four sisters.

ACL'S schedule still shows Atlantic Concert's next call in Halifax on October 18, so that is the likely arrival date for the first new ship.

A sight soon to be no more, Atlantic Cartier  clear of the Narrows and heading on a course to pass east of George's Island.

More big ships are coming. Ships of the size of  Ningbo Express and OOCL Southampton are joined by CMA CGM ships as lines try to increase efficiency and as the "superships" displace the merely big or not so big on the main trade routes.

Some other changes noted after my return from my August vacation:

McNally Marine has started work on the new HMC Dockyard Jetty under the Macdonald bridge, to accommodate the Arctic Offshore patrol vessels.

Work continues on the new Irving Oil dock in Woodside, also by McNally. Irving Oil has taken delivery of the refurbished Acadian now fitted with an exhaust gas scrubber, just like sister East Coast, both under Canadian flag. As soon as the new dock is completed, Irving ships will  no longer call at the Esso docks.

Of the Marshall Islands pair of the Irving quartet, Great Eastern has now gone to Gibraltar for its similar refit and New England has a Canadian coasting license until September 26.

The navy has revealed the desperate condition of the Athabaskan (no surprise) but it has gone to sea again in recent days.

With no operational supply ship to support its fleet, the RCN is turning to Davie to rebuild a container ship as an interim supplier. Preserver is now a floating feul depot in the Dockyard, no longer moving under its own power when it shifts from one berth to another.

There are other changes too, but perhaps the more relevant here is the upcoming change to Shipfax as I transition to a more relaxed format, but more on that later.