Thursday, October 29, 2020


 An unusual tow left Halifax harbour this afternoon,  but if you missed it you may have three more chances. 

Essentially it was the tug Lois M. and the barge Glovertown Spirit, but it was the barge's cargo that was unusual.

The cargo is in fact a bridge, built by Cherubini Metal Works in Dartmouth and loaded aboard the barge at their own dock in Eisner's Cove. The 340 tonne structure measures 57m x 21m x 10.21m high and is destined for Toronto. There it will be put to use as the Cherry Street North transit bridge linking the mainland to Villiers Island.

Cherubini Metal Workers Ltd has a contract to build four such bridges, all of which will be transported by barge to Toronto. 

The tug and barge owners, McKeil Marine Ltd of Hamilton, ON have a fleet of tugs and deck barges suitable for such work.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Yulia off to Thunder Bay

 The bulk carrier Julia sailed this evening after a day in port, arriving at 0730 hrs this morning.

The ship docked at pier 27 and may have taken on a tiny quantity of left over grain before buttoning up is number 5 hatches.

Launched in 2011 by Shandong Weihai Shipyard in Weihai, China as Harlequin it seems to have been intended for charter to Canadian Forest Navigation (CANFORNAV). That company operates a fleet of Seaway size ships named for species of duck. However it was delivered as Yulia. a 19,814 GT, 30,078 DWT vessel with three 30 tonne cranes it is a regular Seaway caller, although this is its first trip this year. 

It is now headed to Thunder Bay at the head of the Lakes, likely to load grain in the usual end of season rush.

Herring Cove Breakwater

 Just off the mouth of Halifax harbour is the settlement of Herring Cove. The sheltered inlet was long the home of harbour pilots and even now provides a drop off or pick up point for the pilots, saving at least a one hour return trip by boat to the inner harbour.

The scenic harbour, also home to several small fishing vessels, is protected by a concrete pier / breakwater.

The little jetty certainly did its job under normal conditions, but it took some serious damage during Hurricane Dorion, September 8, 2019. As owners of the structure, the Atlantic Pilotage Authority under took to repair the pier and a new design of armour stone was prepared. Extensive consultation was carried out with the community, all of which has been well documented on the APA's web site:

McNally Construction was awarded the repair contract and have now mobilised the crane barge Beaver Kay, dump scow Pitts No.1 and tug Jamie L. from Port Hawksbury and have set up a staging area at Pier 9C to load the armour stone onto the dump barge. 

Today, October 28, the Jamie L. moved the Beaver Kay to the site, and divers from Connors Diving are assisting in the process of removing old pilings.

Beaver Kay, is the former HMC Dockyard crane barge YDT 251, built in 1953 by George T. Davie + Sons Ltd in Quebec. It was acquired by Beaver Marine in 1995. They removed most of the superstructure, and employed the 115 ft x 60 ft hull as the working platform for a crawler type crane.  McNally Construction acquired Beaver Marine in 2001 and have continued to use the barge for a variety of projects in the Atlantic region.


Monday, October 26, 2020

Salarium to the scrappers

 A ship with a long connection to Halifax has been retired and designated for scrap.

Built in 1980 as Nanticoke the ship was among Canada Steamship Line's "salty lakers". These were ships of maximum size for the St.Lawrence Seaway, but also designed to make short forays into ocean waters. A self-unloading bulk carrier, it had a maximum capacity of 35,100 tons.

Nanticoke was built by Canadian Shipbuilding + Engineering at Collingwood, ON, and measured  21,870 grt, 35,686 dwt. It brought grain to Halifax from the Lakes, and usually loaded gypsum as a backhaul.

In the first years the Halifax grain elevator did not have a way for self-unloaders to unload. The grain leg was used until a hopper could be added to the unloading tower.

In 1997 the ship participated with two of its CSL fleet mates in a very unusual operation. The ships were fitted with special unloading gear to carry a heavy aggregate called magnetite from the quarry in Newfoundland to the offshore location of the Hibernia oil field. There the ships discharged the material, as a slurry, into the Hibernia gravity base, ballasting it down to its permanent location. The ships were fitted out in Dartmouth and returned to Dartmouth to have the gear removed.

Temporary unloading gear was mounted on the ship's bow.

In 2009 Nanticoke entered into a long term charter arrangement with the operators of the Magdalen Islands salt mines. It then took the distinctive name Salarium. In ancient times salt was used as currency, and a payment in salt was termed "salarium", from which our present day word salary is derived. By that time CSL's self-unloading bulk carriers in domestic service were repainted in CSL's traditional red. (Self-unloaders had previously been painted black, which was thought to be more serviceable because of the amount of coal they carried.)

As Salarium the ship then spent most of its time carrying salt to ports in the Great Lakes / St.Lawrence, but occasionally ranging as far as Saint John, NB. It still carried gypsum or other cargo from time to time as a backhaul, but its grain carrying days were over. 

Salt is a notoriously destructive cargo, and despite maintenance it will take a toll on metal. And so eventually time caught up with Salarium. In December 2019 it was laid up in Toronto for the last time. In April if 2020 it was moved to Montreal but did not re-enter service.

Salarium taking its last load of gypsum at National Gypsum's dock in Bedford Basin.

On October 15, 2020 the ship was due to leave Montreal for the last time in tow of the tug Thor 1 for Turkey where it was to be broken up. Interestingly the tug has a Canadian and Halifax connection - as it is the former Maersk Challenger.

However Transport Canada's ship safety inspectors denied clearance for the ship to go to sea. It is thought that corrosion was so severe that the ship might break up at sea. Perhaps the inspectors recall some previous incidents where ships in tow for the scrappers have been lost or run aground with huge costs to scrap in place.

Some sort of repair has apparently been made to allow the ship to go and it is now scheduled to depart Montreal in tow on October 27.

For more photos and history of the ship see:


Sunday, October 25, 2020

CMA CGM Amerigo Vespucci at PSA

 CMA CGM brought in another large ship on its Columbus JAX service, and as usual the ship's name commemorates a discredited explorer.

The ship was built in 2010 by Daewoo, Okpo and is a 152,991 gt, 156,887 dwt vessel with a capacity of 13,880 TEU (including 800 reefers). It features the isolated "island" superstructure and engines aft design of the larger container ships.

Tugs Spitfire III, Atlantic Fir and Atlantic Oak turn the ship into an offshore breeze to come alongside PSA Halifax.

The ship's namesake (b.1454-d.1512) was actually Italian (unlike Columbus who was born in Cuba, Portugal, southeast of Lisbon)  but lived in Spain and may have made two to six visits to the New World. His letters describing the voyages led to the continents of the Western Hemisphere being named for him (not to mention their current occupants). While much is unknown about the man, and much of the contents of the letters is in doubt, it is a fact that he took slaves from Hispaniola and had violent encounters with indigenous peoples. He is credited with determining from his exploration of the Brazilian coast that South America was not part of Asia, but a separate continent.


PSA Halifax - bigger but not yet better

 The Port of Halifax and southend terminal operators PSA Halifax celebrated the expansion of the facility in a ceremony on Friday, October 23 with a ribbon cutting. The pier extension is now fully operational and capable of handling two "Ultra" class container ships (10,000 TEU and larger) at once according to a press release from the Port Authority.

Regrettably the Port missed the opportunity for public engagement in the project by leaving access to the breakwater walkway padlocked. The walkway was a gift to the people of Halifax in return for the  construction of the deep water piers, which cut off traditional access to the waterfront.

The Port will need all the good will it can muster if it does not soon show results for various truck diversion options for downtown. Surely the walkway (which was pressure washed in advance of the ceremony) would be one way to do so.

Pressure washing underway,  but .....

- access gate padlocked, 

- explanatory sign faded to illegible,

-PSA interpretive poster inaccessible and thus unreadable.

-Customs zone warning sign highly visible.

Pedestrians are greeted with faded and now illegible interpretive signage and rusty padlocks - very unwelcoming.


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Lois M back again

 A sometime visitor, Lois M has made another arrival in Halifax. It arrived October 24 with the flat deck barge Glovertown Spirit to take away a heavy load.

Both vessels are owned by McKeil Marine of Hamilton, ON, but generally work in the Nova Scotia / Newfoundland region - last port was Sydney, NS.

The Japanese-built Lois M dates from 1991 when it was built as Lambert for service in Australia. A 4800 bhp ASD, it was acquired by McKeil and renamed in 2014.  For more see:

The barge will load a bridge built by Cherubini Metal Workers, which should be well within its 4800 tonne capacity. The barge was built by Damen, Gorinchem, Netherlands in 2012.