Saturday, January 19, 2019

Weather Bump

Always a factor at this time of year, weather will have a bearing on shipping activity Sunday January 20, as storm passes up the Bay of Fundy, with snow and or rain and high winds.

One ship will be leaving port because of the storm. Thorco Liva, which has been anchored in a very light condition in Bedford Basin since January 8 will put to sea to ride out the weather. During the last day of high winds, January 9, the ship dragged anchor at least twice and had to take a pilot to re-anchor. The ship will sail at 0700 hrs Sunday morning.

Photo taken one week ago shows very placid conditions - unlike what is expected in the next 24 hours.

The Irving Oil tanker East Coast is scheduled to sail at 1015 hrs Sunday, but that is tentative. It is docked at Imperial Oil, and will have to leave that dock if conditions get rough, and would likely then anchor in the harbour.

Among the arrivals scheduled for Sunday is Salarium at 0500. After discharging a cargo of salt in Saint John during the week it is en route back to the Magdalen Islands. It also anchored in Halifax during the last storm on January 1.

Maersk Penanag arriving from Montreal is due at 1615.

Algoma Integrity is due at 1900. The plan is to anchor until the storm has blown itself out, then take on a load of gypsum.


More Algoma in Halifax

Algoma Central Corporation is on the move again with more acquisitions.

The Algoma Tankers division's Algonorth arrived again today on its shuttle run from the Valero refinery in Lévis, Quebec for Imperial Oil. In view of impending bad weather - including high winds tomorrow - the ship tied up at Pier 9C to wait it out. Since the ship arrived from Sweden at the end of November it has been dedicated to the Halifax run.

Algoma got into the tanker business when it acquired the remnants of the Imperial Oil fleet in 1998. When Imperial closed its Dartmouth refinery, Algoma tankers became rare sights in Halifax. Imperial began to source it refined products in the US or Europe, but has now apparently done a deal with Valero. Most of what Valero refines is now sourced from western Canada, via pipeline to Montreal. Shuttle tankers transfer the crude to Lévis where it is refined. At one time the product was sold under the Ultramar label, but labels don't mean much anymore as far as origin is concerned. (For example, under cover of darkness tonight, Irving's East Coast will shift from the Irving Oil dock to Imperial dock 4 to discharge some cargo.)

Inbound in the Narrows, the ship's colour scheme fits well with the surroundings. I will be sorry to see it repainted in Algoma's deep blue. I will also miss the distinctive white stripe..

The ship's last name, Ramira is still visible above the new name. Due to the stenciler's spacing it looks like two words, but is one.

The ship went into Bedford Basin far enough to turn around.  Although accompanied by the tug Atlantic Fir from the lower harbour it was not until the ship had turned that the tug came along side and made fast.
Back under the A.Murray MacKay bridge again it headed for Pier 9C.

Built in 2008 by Tuzla Gemi Endustrisi in Turkey, he 12,164 grt, 16,8979 dwt tanker was named Gan-Gesture until 2009 when it was acquired by Alvtank Rederi AB and renamed Ramira under the Swedish flag. A DNV Ice class 1A vessel it is well suited to a winter shuttle service between Lévis and Halifax. The ship was registered in Halifax November 9, 2018, but did not arrive in Canada until November 30. Its first arrival in Halifax was December 11, 2018.

Algoma's deep sea fleet will also be growing as they announced Friday that they had made an offer to acquire the Oldendorff Carriers GmbH + Co interest in the CSL International self-unloader pool. In 2016 CSL and Algoma divided up the Klaveness ships in the pool which will now have only CSL and Algoma ships. In this transaction they will acquire three Oldendorff ships.

The three ships in alphabetical order are:

Alice Oldendorff, built in 2000 by Shanghai Shipyard, measuring 27,825 grt, 48,000 dwt. It is called a hybrid self-unloader. A conventional bulk carrier with four cranes and clamshells it was then fitted with a complex hopper, conveyor and swing boom arrangement. All the gear is above deck, which allows for greater hold capacity, and could be retrofitted with minimal modifications to the ship. Unloading rates are dramatically slower than the "built in" systems. Alice Oldendorff unloads at 750 tonnes per hour versus 5,000 tph or more for the other ships.

Alice Oldendorff  in Bedford Basin with a less than full cargo of gypsum.

Harmen Oldendorff dates from 2005 when it was built by Damen Okean in Mykolayiv, Ukraine. It was then completed as a self-unloader in 2006.  Measurements changed from 41,790 gt to 42,033 and 66,500 dwt to 66,187 dwt with the conversion.

An (old) Panamax size ship, the self-unloading gear is mounted forward, where it takes up less cargo space in the hold.

 Sophie Oldendorff also an (old) Panamax, was built by Jiangnan, Shanghai in 2000 to the same design as two CSLers in the pool, Sheila Ann and CSL Spirit.  The largest of the three ships, its tonnages are 41,428 gt, 70,369 dwt (or 70,034 according to CSL).

Seen here at National Gypsum in Dartmouth on its first call, the ship has a midships mounted self-unloading system, with an articulated boom.

Algomna will thus have a 40% interest in the CSLI pool, which numbers 18 self-unloaders. When the transaction is finalized in 2Q 2019 Algoma will have eight of them. One, Algoma Integrity, is due in Halifax tomorrow (weather permitting) for another load of gypsum.

Purchase of these ships for a reported $100mn was made possible by the refund of deposits on four ships that were to be built by Uljanik's 3 Maj shipyard in Croatia. The yard has been closed due to financial issues, and could only deliver one of five planned ships. The refund amounts to $115mn.
Algoma has also extended options for three ships with the Yangzijiang shipyard in China. These ships may join the domestic or ocean fleets.

On the domestic front Algoma's Great Lakes fleet is shrinking (temporarily at least) as two veteran lakers have been laid up ready to go for scrap next year. However with one new delivery last year and another in February the number of ships will remain the same year over year.

The ships that have been retired are:

 Capt. Henry Jackman (ex Lake Wabush -87) built in 1981, and converted to a self-unloader in 1995-96.

Capt. Henry Jackman, before conversion to a self-unloader, in the US Seaway between the Eisenhower and Snell locks.

Algowood, also built in 1981 was a self-unloader from the beginning.
Algowood approaching the Iroquois lock dressed all over to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Algoma Central.

Both ships were confined in their travels to the Great Lakes / St.Lawrence system and did not venture into the ocean.

Algoma also has interests in cement carriers and smaller ships through other allliances.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Elegant Ace - background check

Another of Mitsui OSK Line's car carriers arrived today. The company has a fleet of 120 of these ships, so it is little wonder that I have not seen this one before. Operating as Auto Carrier Express, MOL  farms some of the ships out to various other lines, and charters some in.  Although managed by MOL, this one is owned by Polar Express SA and registered in the Cayman Islands, suggesting that It is actually owned by someone else.

The former cable ferry LaHave II is now a spudded work barge for Dexter Construction.

As Elegant Ace tied up in the background at Autoport, work continues on a major upgrade to the adjacent McAsphalt pier. Formerly Dook's dock, the pier is a series of dolphins joined by a catwalk that carries the insulated pipeline.

For all the world like Wile E. Coyote, sawing off the tree limb from the wrong side, a concrete breaker demolishes the old dolphin at the end of the McAsphalt jetty.  The new, much more substantial dolphin is on the right in the photo.
It will be interesting to see how the machine is removed when it has finished its work, since the dolphin is connected to land only by a light catwalk.

The work is being carried out by Waterworks Construction, since 2017 a division of the Municipal Group of companies that includes Dexter Construction, a major road builder, and a competitor of McAsphalt in the paving business.

Elegant Ace also appears in the background as Mister Joe tows the dredge Derrick No.3 from Halterm to pier 9. The dredge began work this week and is knocking off for the weekend, and relocating to  Pier 9 due to a forecast of bad weather on Sunday.

At pier 25 Bomar Rebecca catches the last rays of afternoon sunshine. It works for Tropical Shipping, where the shade canopies over the bridge wings are of some use some of the time, but seem somehow out of place in January in Halifax. In the background the moon rises over the port bridge wing.

The ship is apparently sitting out a couple of trips for Tropical, as it did not sail this week, and its newest fleet made Tropic Hope is due again for next week's trip.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Ferries - controversial and political - amended

For some reason ferries in this country almost always have some controversy associated with them, and they become political issues.

Quebec is no exception. As previously reported,[ ] the Matane to Baie-Comeau and Godbout ferry F.-A.-Gauthier was withdrawn from service before Christmas due to technical issues with its propulsion system. It was finally towed to the Davie yard in Lévis last week. Original estimates were that it would take two weeks in drydock to determine the problem. It seems now that correcting the problem may take even longer. A recent move by the Société des Traversiers du Québec [STQ] confirms that suggestion.

STQ came under heavy criticism for having no back up ship , and many other unfair comments about their service. Certainly the F.-A.Gauthier's problems (and this isn't the first) have caused huge inconveniences for travellers and truckers, but STQ has managed to cobble together an alternative, and has even agreed to compensation. Expecting them to have a back-up ferry available on short notice seems to me to be a bit much.

STQ was able to secure the interim services of CTMA Vacancier, but that will end February 1* [see addendum]. Now STQ has announced the purchase of Apollo from Labrador Marine Inc [Woodward Group] for the bargain basement price of $2.1mn. Expected to be a candidate for the scrappers, Apollo, dating from 1970, is likely the best and only option open on short notice.

Woodward's replacement ferry for the Apollo on the Strait of Belle Isle service from Blanc Sablon, QC to St.Barbe, NL  is now due in St.John's January 20. It is steadily making its way across the Atlantic at 10.6 knots, having stopped in Pta Delgada, Portugal on January 13.

The Qajaq W. is a two deck ferry, with one deck open to the weather. Built in 2010 as Muhumaa in Lithuania it measures 5233 gt. There have already been doubts expressed about its ability to service the demanding year round route, but it has been operating in the Baltic for all these years. It is an ice class 1A ship with a capacity for 300 passengers, 120 cars and 8 trucks. Apollo can carry 240 passengers, 80 cars and 6 tractor trailer.
To add insult to injury the Apollo had a fire in its starboard engine on January 15, one mile off Blanc Sablon and returned to port on one engine. Reports indicate that the damage was confined to the engine only, so it may be possible to repair it before February 1.

Canada's aging ferries on both coasts certainly are a cause for concern, and several new ships will be needed in the next very few years. It is unlikely however that many of them will be built in Canada.

The latest problems with the Nova Scotia - Maine service, where Portland had to be changed to Bar Harbor as the US port have been complicated by State of Maine and USA politics. If Nova Scotia agrees to pay for US border services in Bar Harbor, maybe they should pay them directly as they are getting no other pay right now.

A new ferry for Pelee Island in Lake Erie has still not entered service despite being delivered from Chile in June of 2018 (and that was a few months late). Red tape from Transport Canada is blamed, but I am sure there is more to it than that. Chile is a free trade partner with Canada, but apparently there are still problems since the ship was not classified or surveyed by Lloyd's Register before its arrival. It may enter service in the spring.

Several other ferries are due or overdue for replacement including the Northumberland Strait ferries. That is likely to resolved with a pre-federal election promise sometime this spring.

Also the previously mentioned Trans-St-Laurent is still soldiering on after 56 years in service. Davie is eager to build a new one, but there is demand for year round capability, so that may be an expensive proposition as Rivière-du-Loup is very shallow and not exactly ice free. It may have to dock in Cacouna in the winter - possibly with icebreaker assistance.

On it goes.

* Addendum
In a surprise move the Quebec provincial government cancelled the permssion given by the previous government to seek a replacement for CTMA Vacancier. Madelinots are aghast that after many consultations with the ancien regime, that the new government would reset the process to zero.
It's always political.

More Yantian

One reason I shifted from my paper version of Shipfax to a blog nearly ten years ago, was that I could reduce the amount of correspondence required to answer questions. All that letter writing took away from valuable ship watching time!

But the questions keep rolling in - now by e-mail. However I can also answer those via the blog.

1. The mysterious arrival of the crew.

Press reports announced the arrival of the Filipino crew of Yantian Express in Halifax on January 14. They were welcomed in Halifax by the Mission to Seafarers, and were flown home. Glad to be alive no doubt, but sadly out of work at least for a time.

However there was no mention of how they actually got to Halifax from mid-ocean. We know they were evacuated from the Yantian Express by the SMIT Nicobar but that tug was on scene until recently (it has since been relieved and is en route to Veracruz, Mexico).

The only explanation I can offer is that the sister ship Dalian Express, en route to Halifax, must have deviated slightly from its normal course and conducted a mid-ocean transfer. Dalian Express arrived in Halifax on Sunday January 13.

Why this operation was not explained by the press is certainly mysterious. However news is controlled this days, so we only learn what we are meant to learn.

The ships officers were not included in the evacuees that landed in Halifax. They have remained with the ship - mostly to control machinery I would say, to preserve refrigerated cargo and perhaps to steer  the ship.The officer alone would not able to rig a long distance tow line - that would be the work of the salvors.

2. Why is the ship's position always referenced to Halifax

Yes the ship may be closer to Bermuda but Halifax was the destination  of the ship and some proportion of its cargo. Salvors and shipowners, not to mention cargo owners, would like the ship to land at its destination port if only to simplify matters. Landing the ship and cargo in Bermuda would be a massive headache, if only due to the space and equipment needed to unload.

Ships in distress often want to get into the nearest port before they breakup or sink, but in this case there is not the same sense of urgency as far as we can tell. The first concern is to control and contain the fire. When that is done, the ship will be safe to tow anywhere.

Looking at prevailing winds and currents, and the effort required to tow a very big ship, a decision may be made to go to a port other than Halifax but that decision may not need to be made for a while. As long as the ship is generally headed northwest (that is toward eastern North America) they are making progress. It does not take much course deviation from that far out to shift to New York or Halifax.

3. What is with the tugs?

This what I know:

Atlantic Enterprise is en route back to Newark. I have no explanation of what its role might have been. If the plywood over the winch control house windows indicates damage to the winch controls themselves, that damage was not repaired in Halifax, and it returned to sea still with the plywood panels over the windows.

SMIT Nicobar was en route to Mexico when it was called in to assist. It has been released to continue on its way now that fleet mate Sovereign has arrived.

Maersk Mobiliser has exceptional capabilities and as the most powerful tug would be the most likely tug to tow the ship, but it is hired at a daily rate. Sovereign on the other hand is a SMIT company tug, and might be more economical. Then Maersk Mobilizer could use is greater  firefighting capability and be a base for firefighters, salvors, etc., There might also be less expensive resources available or if Mobiliser has other commitments, it could be relieved.

Horizon Star has additional resources aboard to assist. Its helicopter platform might be of use when it is closer to land, but as of now they are way beyond the flying range of any shore based helicopters.

Firefighting is the primary effort now. That would be followed by controlling drift if the wind is hampering fire fighting. Only then would towing to destination become a priority.

As I stated in the first post on this topic, fires on container ships are notoriously difficult to fight - particularly if they are deep seated within the ship.

End of Question Period.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Yantian Express - endless speculation - updated

People are eager to learn how how things are going with the fire fighting and salvage of the ship Yantian Express. This can result in speculation which spreads and is reported as fact. Regrettably this does little except to keep the situation on the front page. [I plead guilty].

Here is what we know for certain:

The Fire
HAPAG-Lloyd's press release of January 10 stated that the fire was under control.
That does not mean the fire is out.

The fire apparently started with containers on deck, but H-L warns that there is likely direct or consequential damage to containers below deck. [see previous posts]

The tugs SMIT Nicobar and Maersk Mobiliser have very good firefighting capability. However they would have limited quantities of foam on board, and if they were using foam, they may have exhausted supplies by now. If Maersk Mobiliser was towing the ship, it would be difficult for it to fight the fire at the same time. However it also has superior accommodation for evacuees. It is likely it brought fresh supplies of food, etc., from St.John's

As the more powerful tug on scene, it would make sense for it to tow the ship. It is also Canadian and presumably has been hired for the duration of the operation, and thus would be best to tow it to Halifax.
SMIT Nicobar was en route to Mexico when it was called in, so would likely be the first to be relieved of duties if it has contractual obligations elsewhere.

Sovereign (the former Union Sovereign), also a SMIT / Boskalis tug was due to arrive on scene today. It would be bringing fresh supplies as well as more firefighting capability. It is a slightly more powerful tug than SMIT Nicobar, with 178 tonne bollard pull versus 120 tonnes.

Atlantic Enterprise set out from Newark on January 7, but encountered bad weather. It did receive some damage too, so put back to Halifax, the nearest safe port where the damage could be repaired. It is sailing from Halifax at 1800 hrs this evening. Its exact role is certainly a question. It may have been carrying more fire foam, and it does have firefighting capability, though much less than the other tugs.

>>Update Atlantic Enterprise sailed from Halifax this evening giving its desintaiton as Newark, NJ.

Horizon Star another Canadian supply tug has also been dispatched to the scene. It sailed from Halifax early this morning. Also a very large vessel it is equipped with numerous resources, including a helicopter deck. Although well out of any helo rage now, that might change depending on weather and direction of the tow.
It also has survivor accommodation and would have stocked up in food, etc., Since Yantian Express's crew has been fed and watered for nearly two weeks on SMIT Nicobar, grub must be running low

The Tow
In most salvage contracts the destination port is designated. Halifax is the logical one, however weather and the safety of the ship is also a factor, so the actual destination of the tow will not be known for certain for a while.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Acivity north and south

There was activity at both ends of the harbour today.

In south end off Halterm, McNally Marine began to mobilize for its dredging contract. The tugs Mister Joe and J.F.Whalen moved the Derrick No.3 into position off the end of pier 42. One of the mud scows has also been moved from pier 9 to pier 23, which will be the operational base for the work.

The dredging is the first phase of the pier extension and is expected to take at least two months. A second phase is to build the concrete cribs that will be sunk in position to form the pier.

Rounding Ives Knoll in the southend the autocarier Siem Cicero headed inbound for Autoport.

The tugs Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Larch shepherd the ship around Ives Point.
(Atlantic Larch is temporarily assigned to Halifax while Atlantic Bear is in Saint John assisting with the LNG tanker Pan Europe.)

The ship has been calling here since its maiden voyage. See Shipfax July 21, 2017
With a capacity of 7,000 cars,  it is one of the larger autocarriers.

Moving from the southend piers to anchor in Bedford Basin, Onego Rio passed in and out of the late afternoon shadows from waterfront buildings.

The ship arrived January 6 and unloaded a cargo of rails at pier 27. This what I said in my January 7 post:
 " Onego Rio  is a 7576 grt, 10,300 dwt ship built in 2003 by Damen Okean in Mykolayiv, Ukraine. It carries a pair of 80 tonne capacity cranes."
Since there is no severe weather in the immediate forecast, the ship is likely waiting for orders. 
It will join another ship that is waiting for orders, although the orders may be well known:

Thorco Liva rests at anchor in a very frigid Bedford Basin Sunday morning.

Thorco Liva will likely be heading for Newington, NH to load fibreoptic cable, and is just waiting for the a date to be there.

At pier 9C in the north end, beside the usual crop of suppliers, Trinity Sea at 9C and Horizon Enabler fueling at 9, the tug Atlantic Enterprise appears to be getting some repair work to a window in its winch house. A piece of plywood has been hastily applied.

Atlantic Enterprise picked up a coating of frozen spray on its trip up from New Jersey, and perhaps a broken window in its winch control house.

For more on the tug, see: Tugfax January 13

What its role will be in the Yantian Express is a bit of a mystery. SMIT has dispatched another tug from Rotterdam. Sovereign is due at the ship Tuesday, joining fleet mate SMIT Nicobar and Maersk Mobiliser. Sovereign is well equipped for fire fighting with dual water/foam monitors.