Saturday, November 17, 2018

Backlog clears

With the return of reasonable weather the large backlog of arrivals and departures began to move today. Pilotage operations had been suspended for about 24 hours and many ships had opted to stay in port before that. Arrivals began to trickle in too, as ships that had stood off were able to come in. Others had simply hove to or slowed at sea to avoid arriving too early.

The long list of departures included Oceanex Sanderling and Nolhan Ava heading east to Newfoundland and St-Pierre, would normally have sailed Friday evening. The tankers Jinan, and Nor'Easter, and the container ship Catherine Schulte, and cargo ships Augusta Unity amdf Baltic Leopard. The last named was delayed loading its grain cargo due to rain and snow, and after loading all day to today is due to sail this evening. USS Wichita also sailed, having sat out the storm in comfort at HMC Dockyard.

Jinan (centre) turns for the pilot station outbound, while inbounds CMA Medea (right) and Shanghai Highway (left) are spaced out for arrival.

Similarly arrivals included autocarriers Shanghai Highway, which went directly to Autoport and Porgy to pier 31. Container ships Brevik Bridge and Atlantic Sail for Fairview Cove. CMA CGM Medea arrived for Halterm, on its scheduled time.

CMA CGM Medea appeared well loaded on arrival, with all containers apparently intact despite having come through some of the worst weather of the year.

The 107,711 grt, 113,964 dwt ship, built in 2006 by Hyundai, Samho, has a container capacity of 9,415, including 700 reefers.  It used three tugs to berth at Halterm.

There was one surprise visitor yesterday - mostly unnoticed. Since it did not require a pilot its arrival was not posted on the usual sites. The tug Strait Raven, based in Port Hawksbury [ see Tugfax 2018-10-10 ]  arrived towing the newly built cable ferry Belle Isle Belle.

Belle Isle Belle (brown and white) and the Strait Raven (cream and charcoal) at The Cove (former Coast Guard) base in Dartmouth. Note the emergency towing line (blue) strung along the side of the ferry, to be retrieved in case the main line breaks.

The ferry is Hull Number 1 for the new Océan New Brunswick shipyard in Bas-Caraquet. The $6.5mn vessel has a capacity of 15 cars and will operate on Belle Bay between Route 124 and 850. It will replace the ferry F85 which will be transferred to the seasonal Kennebecasis Island service, in turn displacing a leased craft. The name, although sounding unimaginative at first makes sense because the ferry is a doulbe ender.

The Groupe Océan shipyard, is also constructing a floating drydock to be owned by the Province of New Brunswick. That $12.5mn project is to be completed in the spring of 2019 and the dock will then be leased to Océan for 20 years with an option to buy.


Friday, November 16, 2018

Container Change for Melfi, ZIM and Maersk

Perhaps by coincidence or perhaps with the coming of winter, both Melfi Marine and ZIM are changing out some ships on their Halifax routes.

Melfi, which trades between Europe and Cuba, with three ships on a 12 day rotation, has concluded charters for the ships Jona and Catharine Schulte


Jona, a 2007 TEU ship with 510 reefer spots, made its last call October 30. It was Voyage number 008 for the ship since December 2017. Built as Rio Stora in 2007 byZhejiang Yangfan Shipbuilding Co in Ningbo, and measuring 26,358 grt, 34,438 dwt. It was renamed CMA CGM Togo in 2007, Rio Stora in 2012 and Jona in 2013. Despite the similarity in names to the biblical character that was swallowed by a whale, the ship did not seem to have brought any bad luck to Melfi.


Its replacement is to be JPO Aries due on December 6, a larger ship at 2546 TEU. Both ships carry three 45 tonne capacity cranes.

Catharina Schulte, built in  2006 by STX Shipbuilding Co, Jinhae, with a capacity of 2602 TEU and four 45 tonne cranes, carried the name Cape Bon between 2006 and 2012. It arrived on Halifax on its Voyage 008 on November 14, but due to weather related congestion at Halterm, it moved from pier 41 to pier 36 to complete cargo work yesterday, then proceeded to anchor in Bedford Basin. A violent winter storm moving through the area was no doubt the cause.

Catharina Schulte

It will be replaced by the Artemis a 2546 TEU ship,  with no cranes. I understood that ship's cranes were needed to handle cargo in Cuba, but perhaps they have shore cranes available. It's first scheduled call in Halifax is December 20.

The third ship on the Melfi service is Julius S [ see October 16, 2018 ] which made its first call August 27. It appears to be remaining with Melfi, although published schedules do not run past year end.


The new service started by ZIM in April, called Canada Florida Express (CFX) apparently does not call in Florida at all, but operates between Kingston, Jamaica, New York and Halifax as a feeder to ZIM's other services.  It has been operating two ships, AS Felicia and Arsos since it began. Both of those ships have now been replaced.

AS Felicia made the first call for CFX April 3 and its last call November 1. Built in 2006 by Zhejiang Ouhua Shipbuilding Co Ltd in Zhoushan, with tonnages of 15,375 grt, 18,291 dwt, it had a capacity of 1296 TE, including 390 reefers, and had two 45 tonne cranes. It was launched as Medocean but entered service as EWL Cribbean. In 2007 it became APL Managua and in 2014  Medocean and in 2015  AS Felicia.

AS Felicia

Its replacement, Jennifer Schepers arrived Thursday November 15 and sailed early November 16. A 21,108 grt, 25,775 dwt ship, it was built by Taizhou Kouan Shipbuilding Co (China Commerce Group). Taizhou in 2009 as Mistral Strait, but was renamed BF Copocabana on delivery, and carried that name until 2016. It has a capacity of 1795 TEU, including 319 reefers and has two 40 tonne cranes. [Weather did not co-operate with photo attempts.]

Its running mate Arsos dated from 2007 when it was also built by Zhejiang Ouhua, with similar measurements of 15,375 grt, 12,700 dwt and a capacity of 1296 TEU and a pair of 45 tonne cranes. Its first ZCX arrival was April 10 and last was November 8.
As mentioned in a May 22, 2018 post, Arsos also worked a short lived CMA CGM feeder serice here in 2010.


Its replacement will be RHL Agilitas due November 22, It has a capacity of 1732 TEU.

It appears that ZIM is increasing the capacity of ships on the service - a good sign, that perhaps as predicted, that there would not be a reduction in ZIM business in Halifax despite the loss of its traditional ZCS service, split between ZCX and slots on THE Alliance and 2M (MSC Maersk).


Not to be outdone in the replacement department Maersk Canada's Montreal Mediterranean Express (MMX) is also still bringing in short term charters. Jonni Ritscher was due yesterday but has opted to skip Halifax this time and is heading direct for Algeçiras from Montreal.

Speaking of skipping, Maersk / CMA CGM's Canada Atlantic Express (CAE) has also been skipping Halifax in recent weeks. Both the November 3 and November 10 ships were no shows, heading directly for north Europe, and no ship is currently scheduled for this weekend, as EM Kea was scheduled for November 18, and is en route directly to Europe. With Maersk Penang now due in Montreal on November 17 (it was anchored in the St.Lawrence until today) , it will now try to meet a November 24 target. Maersk Patras is in the eastern Atlantic, heading well south for the Azores to escape weather, and may still reach Montreal by November 26.

The extreme weather, now off Newfoundland will undoubtedly throw off a number of scheduled arrivals, and pilotage services are still suspended in Halifax tonight. A number of ships are also held in port awaiting clearance.

The bulker Centennial Harmony (92,752 grt, 181,338 dwt) heavily laden with iron ore from Sept-Iles for Port Talbot experienced flooding and main engine failure yesterday, 270 mi from St.John's. With seas of 18 to 20 meters and winds of 85 knots, there were fears that the ship would founder, and the crew even considered abandoning. However they were eventually able to make sufficient repairs to get underway again. A RCAF Hercules aircraft and CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell responded but there was little they could do to assist.

 Maersk Cutter

The tug / supplier  Maersk Cutter was 80 miles away standing by the FPSO Terra Nova and was prepared to assist if needed. However given the conditions it would have taken half a day or more to reach the ships, let alone make a towing connection or attempt to rescue crew.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018


It is often said that if Canadians did not have weather to talk about, conversations would grind to a halt. It is a more serious matter for mariners, who have to cope with all sorts of weather, some of it very dangerous. You will see from several recent posts here that weather can effect arrivals and departures and even vessels in the port. High winds for the last 24 hours, reaching the 90 kph range in Halifax have certainly delayed ships, but once the wind moved round from easterly to westerly, there was some lee created by the land and three ships were able board pilots and enter port, albeit later than planned.

Westerly winds blasting across Bedford Basin at times swept over the Bedford Institute pier.
 Cape Roger, moved to the lee side of the wharf.

Ships heading southwest were finding it hard going at sea and Qamutik anchored off Halifax at about 2200 hrs to get out of the weather.  The ship has had an adventurous summer. The last supply ship to call in Milne Inlet for the Baffinland iron mine project, its arrival was delayed by heavy ice. It then suffered a main engine failure October 19. Fortunately the icebreaker Botnica and the tugs Océan Tundra and Océan Raynald T were on hand ready to return south and they were able to get the ship out of the area, but it had another delivery to conduct before the two tugs could tow it home. The convoy also took shelter near Havre St-Pierre for a time and finally arrived Sept-Iles Bay November 5. It must have unloaded its return cargo of empty containers and the like while in Pointe Noire. It may also have loaded a cargo of aluminum.
The ship was apparently repaired in good order and it was able sail November 12 destined for Baltimore. The ship is bareboat chartered back to Spliethoff's until next summer. Built as their Edisongracht in 1994 it has a grt of 8448 and dwt of 12,760 and is fitted with three 60 tonne cranes. It has been chartered back to Spliethoff each winter since 2008 when the Logistec subsidiary acquired it.

When the ship was in Halifax in 2015 it was carrying containers, some breakbulk, including steel plate, and a shrink wrapped power boat - typical cargo for Spliethoff.

The question has been raised if there have been more weather related delays. This may be an unanswerable question, because there are several factors at work.

The first is larger ships. The big container ships, some up to 10,000 TEUs, and autocarriers, are much more subject to windage than smaller ships, and thus much more difficult to bring into harbour and berth. It the winds are too high there is greater risk of damage to the ship or the port facilities with bigger ships. 

The huge slab sides of big container ships make them much more susceptible to windage.

More critical however is the ability of pilots to embark and disembark in safety. The huge freeboard on these ships is a factor. Some are equipped with pilot doors set into the side of the ships, but most are not. Therefore the pilot must climb a ladder or step onto a platform from a wildly gyrating pilot boat.

Set low in the side of this autocarrier the pilot ladder and accommodation ladder are used in combination.

It is a long way up to the main deck on container ships.

That brings up the pilot boats themselves. Built for good speed to reach the pilot station quickly, they must also have good seakeeping ability (including maintaining a course). The current Halifax pilot boats may be a factor in recent delays, at least according to some, but I would not support this opinion as the sole factor.

The current pilot boats, Nova Pilot and Scotia Pilot (in yellow) certainly have low freeboard compared to the older boats such as A.P.A.No.18, in port for refit, and are somewhat smaller. They are also waterjet propelled.

Then there is the climate and the prevalence of bad weather recently. This may be related to the location of the jet stream that forces its way south causing high winds. A seasonal fluctuation in the location of  jet stream, caused by forces as far away as the Pacific Ocean can effect weather here. It may also vary from year to year. This may be one of those years.

Weather is a reality for shipping and port operations, and I am sure will excellent fodder for continuing  discussion.

Farley Mowat lives on

The former protest ship Farley Mowat that was in the news for years during its prolonged demolition process, is back in the news again. Bridgewater sculptor Brian MacNevin has preserved a portion of the ship on his front lawn. Despite complaints about the piece, Bridgewater town council has allowed the fragment to remain with some improvements for safety and accessibility.

The portion of Farley Mowat installed in Bridgewater.

The ship itself, built in 1958 in Norway  as a fisheries patrol boat, went on to a career in offshore standby before it was acquired by the Sea Shepherd Society in 1997. It carried the names Sea Shepherd, and Ocean Warrior before taking the name Farley Mowat in 2002.

In its early years as Farley Mowat the ship sported whale graphics.

The ship participated in numerous anti-sealing and anti-whaling protests, with the resultant brushes with authorities. It was finally detained in Sydney in 2008 and sold at auction in 2009. A plan to use it for ocean cleanup fell through and the ship languished in Lunenburg where it was sold at auction again, in 2013. The buyer began to scrap the ship but it was a stop and go process, with the ship ending up in Shelburne. The scrapper was fined and jailed and the ship sank at its berth. Eventually the government stepped in,  raised the ship and arranged for its tow to Liverpool where it was finally broken up in 2017.

Under tow for Lunenburg in 2010, the ship was wearing its black "stealth" paint job.

Farley Mowat himself, a noted Canadian author and early environmentalist, is well remembered by ship enthusiasts for a trio of engaging sea stories. Grey Seas UnderThe Serpent's Coil, and The Boat Who Wouldn't Float are classics on many book shelves. However his environmental and ethnological works were better known and influential. Mowat, never shy of controversy, was an appropriate namesake for a ship that sailed into issues at full steam.

On arrival in Lunenburg in tow of Atlantic Spruce, the ship's port bow name plate appears in situ.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Twin Cities Part 2

The second of two new US Navy Littoral Combat Ships arrived in Halifax this morning despite reports that it had cancelled its visit. USS Wichita LCS-13 arrived just after sunrise, in much better conditions than its sister ship USS Sioux City that arrived in driving rain and fog November 6. (It sailed after dark on November 7).

Both ships were built by Lockheed Martin / Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin, and delivered to the USN on August 22. It is certainly unusual that two warships would be handed over simultaneously, particularly since their keels were laid a year apart.

Sioux City's keel was laid February 19, 2014 and it was not until January 30, 2016 that it was launched.
Wichita's keel was laid February 9, 2015 and it was launched September 17, 2016.
Commissioning for Sioux City is scheduled for November 17 in Norfolk, VA and Wichita in Mayport, FL January 12.

It is apparent from those dates that the latter ship still requires some work, but that it was important to get it out of the Great Lakes before freeze up. The experience with USS Little Rock last year when it was trapped in Montreal for the winter is apparently a "lesson learned".

Reports that Wichita would not be calling in Halifax may have had to do with its projected arrival date coinciding with Remembrance Day. However the ship made a leisurely tour down the St.Lawrence River, at a sedate cruising speed rarely exceeding 14 knots when I could track it. It then presumably performed some trials either in the Gulf or in the Atlantic, since it took five days to reach here from Montreal. (Sioux City took the more normal three days.)

The ships of this class have generally topped up on fuel in Detroit and again while in Halifax, despite having a cruising range of 3,500 miles at 18 knots ( = 21 days). Maximum speed is reported to be 45 knots, which would reduce the range substantially if they carried out speed trials while en route.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Look what the wind blew in

A first arrival for Irving Oil took place on Sunday November 1 with the arrival of the tanker Nor'easter from Ijmuiden, Netherlands. The ship is one of five on charter from Vroon BV of the Netherlands, but is the "odd man out" in that it was not one of the original four. Those four ships consisted of the Acadian to be Canadian flag, Nor'easter, Great Eastern and New England to be Marshall Islands flag.  All were built by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan in 2005 and were 23,356 grt, 37,515 dwt more or less.

After Esso closed its refinery and Irving Oil withdrew from the common storage facilities it shared with Esso, they had an increased demand for a Canadian flag tanker and transferred the first Nor'easter to Canadian registry. However the name was already taken by another ship and so it was renamed East Coast in 2014.

In the meantine Irving Oil had been using another Vroon ship, Iver Progress and in 2016 it was folded into the fleet as the second Nor'easter. Also a product of Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan, it was built in 2007 , and has tonnages of 23,421 grt, 37,412 dwt so is essentially the same size. It was also refitted with the same exhaust gas scrubber system as the other four ships, and in profile looks quite similar.
There are differences in its appearance however, most notable is the black trim around the wheelhouse windows. It also appears to have a slightly more raked bow.

Nor'easter anchored in the harbour yesterday, and will await the arrival and departure of Acadian (expected tonight) before unloading at Woodside. Interestingly the ship is carrying a cargo from the Netherlands. It usually trades along the US east coast.

A sixth ship, Iver Prosperity, a sister to Nor'easter is also dedicated to Irving Oil work, but has not been renamed. Also it has not been fitted with the SOx scrubber sytem.

A Friday arrival anchored in Bedford Basin due to high winds and remained there until yesterday when it moved to Imperial Oil #4 dock.

Jinan was last here in June ( see, ) and as noted then it is a rare Qatar flagged ship. On that visit is came from Port Neches, TX. Port Neches, Beaumont and Port Arthur are all ports on the Neches River, which at its mouth forms the border with Louisiana.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

CMA CGM Chennai -10,000 TEU

CMA CGM Chennai berthed this afternoon at pier 41-42 Halterm, a day and a half later than scheduled due to high winds. Serving the Columbus JAX service, it is the only ship larger than 10,000 TEU regularly scheduled to visit Halifax. The other ships on the route range from 9130 to 9953 TEU.

Delivered in May of this year by Jiangsu Yangzi Xinfu Shipbuilding of Jianjiang, China, it made its first call here July 14. The ship measures 112,967 grt, 119,000 dwt, and carries containers 19 wide at the widest part of the ship.

Even though conditions had improved today, with unlimited visibility, the winds were still gusty, and the ship used three tugs to berth.

The ship is owned by Seaspan and operated by them for CMA CGM on a long term charter.