Thursday, December 12, 2019

Wallenius Wilhelmsen - new colour

The autocarrier Toscana exhibited the new Wallenius Wilhelmsen hull colour scheme  at Autoport yesterday and Pier 31 today before sailing for New York.

Signalling the 2018 combination of ownership between the once separate companies the new scheme owes little to tradition! Wallenius, of Sweden, pioneers in seabourn auto transport, traditionally painted their ships with green hulls and white superstructure. Norwegian Wilhelmsen, ConRo experts,  used orange for the hull and white on the superstructure. The new scheme consists of sea foam green signifying water and grey for land on the hull. Superstructure appears to be largely white, but some deck fittings such as fan hoods are grey. I could not see the new funnel mark, which consists of stylized "W" and "O".

In April 2018 the two companies created Wallenius Wilhelmsen Group, to operate the combined fleet under the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean name.   The Group also includes EUKOR and ARC operating under their own brand names.

Toscana, built in 2009 by Mitsubishi HI in Nagasaki, is a 61,328 gt, 22,250 dwt Pure Truck and Car Carrier, with a capacity of 6354 CEU. Owners are still identified as Wilhelmsen in on-line registry listings.

It appears that the new branding consists of the colour scheme, but not the ship names. Therefore it should still be possible to identify Wilhelmsen ships from their names beginning with the letter 'T" and Wallenius ships using operatic characters for their ships' names. Toscana also carries a Wilhelmsen monogram on the bow.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Cormorant - another chapter

Another chapter has been added to the saga of Cormorant the former Royal Canadian Navy diving support ship HMCS Cormorant ALS-20. The Canadian Coast Guard has apparently now undertaken to remove the ship which has been lying effectively abandoned, in Bridgewater, NS.

Thanks to Bernadette Jordan, MP for South Shore -  St.Margarets, legislation was finally passed in the last parliament to deal with abandoned vessels. Ms. Jordan is now Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Coast Guard in the new parliament.

Cormorant was seen as an unsightly addition to the shores of the La Have River.

Built in 1965 by Cantiare Navale Apuania, Marina-Carrera, Italy, as a factory freezer trawler, named  Aspa Quarto, it was acquired by the RCN in 1975. Davie Shipbuilding converted the ship to carry the SDL-1 submersible in a special hangar, and to support its operation using the stern ramp and gantry. There was considerable controversy at the time about the cost of the conversion which incidentally included facilities to accommodate the first women to serve at sea with the RCN.

The vessel was finally commissioned November 10, 1978, and served in a variety of roles for the RCN including the arctic (although it was once holed by ice in process.) Originally 1643 gt, it was listed at 2350 tons displacement following conversion. It was powered by three Mirelli-Deutz diesels, with electric drive to a single controllable pitch screw.

The ship was laid up in June 1997 and paid off July 2. In June 1998 the tug Churchill River (now Mister Joe) towed the ship to Shelburne, NS. Since then there have been several changes of ownership, some disputed, and perhaps some half-hearted attempts to convert the ship to other uses. Since 2000 it has been tied up in Bridgewater and in 2015 it took a 45 degree list. The Coast Guard stepped in at the time to right the ship. The cost of clean up and temporarily securing it was covered by the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund, but to be recovered from the owner.

In July 2019 the federal court refused permission to allow the ship to be sold, citing the lack of any evidence that there was a potential buyer, particularly one with the wherewithal to remove and dispose of the ship. The application to sell was seen as a ploy to avoid responsibility for clean up costs.

The ship stubbornly insists on listing due to uncontrolled ingress of water from faulty hull fittings and from rain water through other unsecured openings.

Now that the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act has been given royal ascent, the Coast Guard is stepping  up efforts to remove old wrecks. An ad appeared in today's papers for some more hulks in Prospect Bay. More on those in a later post.


New Arrival

The Handysize bulk carrier Ultra Lascar made it into port this morning after a weather delay. The ship tied up at pier 28, under the grain spouts, so it will be loading whatever cargo is currently stored in the grain elevators. Based on the recent truck traffic at the facility, I would say it is wood pellets. Now commonly called "biomass" the material is used as a fuel in power generation as a more sustainable alternative to coal or other hydrocarbons such as oil or gas.

The ship is operated by Ultrabulk, a division of Ultranav, the Chilean / German  shipping conglomerate. The bulk  carrier division's roots however are with Eitzen Bulk of Denmark, acquired by Ultranav in 2010, which in turn was founded as the (Danish) East Asiatic Company. That explains why Ultrabulk's head office is in Copenhagen.

Built in 2015 by Oshima Shipbuilding, Saikai, Japan, the 22,469 gt, 37,429 dwt ship carries four cranes and is fitted with a hold ventilation system.

The ship's name pays tribute to the thousands of sailors from east of the Cape of Good Hope (mostly from what was India, but would now included Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indian regions such as Goa, but also Malayans) who crewed British and other ships for centuries. Although largely displaced by seafarers from the Philippines, they still form a significant presence on the high seas. Their ranks include those working in the engine rooms, on deck, in catering, and nowadays include the officers in both departments.

The term "lascar" is not intended to be a pejorative or racist term, but if I have offended anyone by using it I apologize. Certainly many indignities were suffered by east Asian crews, including being banned from landing in Canada at one time, and being signed under different articles from European sailors.

A most shameful aspect of the history was that more than 600 seafarers from India served on Canadian Pacific ships during World War II. All were awarded service medals by the Admiralty, but none were actually presented.[Source of this report is Wikipedia]. I would be interested in learning more about this issue.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Big Blow

Mild temperatures mean high winds at this time of year and as the thermometer climbed to 13 degrees C winds clocked gusts of 100 kph along the coast. Naturally this meant that pilotage operations were suspended all day and will not resume until tomorrow morning at the earliest.

There were very high wind gusts in the harbour and the tanker Avon moved from Imperial Oil jetty 3 to an anchorage in Bedford Basin.

Avon at Imperial Oil yesterday.

The ship is less than a year old. Delivered by Hyundai Mipo in January 2019, it measures 29,528 gt, 49,999 dwt.

Tugging at its anchor this morning in Bedford Basin.

The wind driven salt spray restricted visibility somewhat but HMCS Shawinigan was able to carry out some exercises in the same area. It was joined by HMCS Glace Bay.

Ships requiring pilots have been standing by off Halifax until conditions improve. The small container ship Tropical Lissette which sailed yesterday afternoon sought shelter overnight in St. Margaret's Bay, anchoring well up the bay off Fox Point all day today and likely all night tonight. The Bay, just west of Halifax, is not a mandatory pilotage area.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Strange Visitors

Most ships that call in Halifax these days are predictable to a degree. Many are "liners", assigned to a particular container line, and filling a scheduled slot on the rotation with regular calls in Halifax. Therefore today's arrival of MSC Eleni was an odd occurrence. MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) is not a regular caller in with its own ships, although it partners with others. The ship normally serves Montreal, and seems to be headed there next, so why it has called here is a question.

Partly hidden behind Tropical Shipping containers, MSC Eleni works cargo at pier 42, with a decidedly un-tropical foreground.

MSC Eleni was built by Hanjin Heavy Industries, Busan in 2004. It measures 54,881 gt, 68,254 dwt and has a capacity of 5060 TEU, including 400 reefers.

Ships calling for bunkers are also a rarity now that Halifax has no bunkering tanker. However Daisy tied up at pier 27 for that purpose en route from Baltimore for Grande Anse, QC.  

A cell phone, through the fence photo was the best I could do for the Daisy.

Daisy was launched as Beluga Constitution but completed as Beluga Constellation in 2006. The hull was built by Damen's Okean shipyard in Mykolayiv, Ukraine and towed to the Volharding Foxhol yard in the Netherlands for completion. The 10,899 gt, 12,767 dwt ship became HR Constellation in 2011 and Daisy in 2017. Current operators United Heavylift specialize in wind turbine transport, but there did not seem to be much if any cargo on board. Although they are not visible in the photo, the ship carries a pair of 240 tonne capacity cranes.


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Victorious Ace

Among the many Mitsui OSK Line aurocarriers with Ace names, Victorious Ace may be a first timer in Halifax. Built in 2011 by the Minami-Nippon yard in Shitanoe, it is 59,022 GT, 18,396 dwt ship with a capacity of up to 6,163 cars.

As Victorious Ace sails, the integrated tug/barge Leo A. McArthurJohn J. Carrick are visible at the McAsphalt dock in Easter Passage. 

Last night's snow fall was rapidly melting away, but there were a few patches in some places on the Dartmouth shore.

Captain E.T.Rogers working as pilot boat today, works its way outbound to disembark the pilot from Victorious Ace.

Victorious Ace is eastbound on this trip, giving Antwerp as its next port of call.


Friday, December 6, 2019

Boabarge to ground zero

On the 102nd anniversary of the great explosion that killed and maimed several thousand people and  laid waste to much of north end Halifax there were several quiet ceremonies commemorating the event, including in Fort Needham Memorial Park. The explosion shaped the future of Halifax in many ways, not least of Halifax Shipyard.

The memorial bell tower on Fort Needham, high above Pier 6.

In 1917 the Halifax Graving Dock Co was a small repair yard. The graving dock itself was an important facility, particularly during war time, where it was able to accommodate military and civilian vessels in need of drydocking. The fire and subsequent explosion that resulted from the collision of the ships Mont Blanc and Imo, took place only 300 meters from the Graving Dock in the area in the Narrows off pier 6 and has become known as Ground Zero.

Remarkably, Samuel L. Brookfield, owner of the yard, was able to get it back up and running within a month of the explosion despite most of the buildings being flattened and the equipment damaged or destroyed.

For his efforts the Canadian government, under Prime Minister Robert Borden (a Nova Scotian) expropriated the shipyard and essentially gave it to a group of Montreal speculators as part of a grandiose plan to built a Canadian merchant ship fleet. The repair yard soon became a fully fledged shipbuilding yard, one of the keystones of the British Empire Steel and Coal Co, and later the Dominion Steel and Coal Co (DOSCO) Canada's largest employer.

It took Brookfield nearly twenty years to have his compensation claim settled in court. The shipyard has off and on been a political pawn and its fortunes have also had many ups and downs ever since. Currently on a roll under the ownership of Irving Shipbuilding Inc, the pier 6 area is just a part of the yard's laydown area, with no special note being made of its importance.

The Narrows and Halifax Shipyard as seen from the Dartmouth shore. 
Pier 6 is in the centre of the photo, adjacent to the large building.

This morning, not long after the commemoration ceremonies on Fort Needham, tugs moved the Boabarge 37 from the IEL dock in Woodside to pier 6 9c.

The barge has been chartered by Irving Shipbuilding Inc (ISI) as a launch vessel for the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships built under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. Its deck currently carries a number of cradles that have been prepped for the roll out of the third vessel in the current shipbuilding program. That operation is expected early in the new year.

In view of the proximity of the explosion, and the loss of life in the shipyard due to the explosion, I hope ISI was able to make some sort of remembrance as part of its workday today.