Thursday, March 5, 2015

HMC submarines at strength

The news earlier this week that HMCS Victoria was operational and had fired a test torpedo in February, and that HMCS Chicoutimi was also back in the water - both on the west coast- and frequent sightings of HMCS Windsor on this coast is the first good news on the subject for some time.
The story of Canada's ex Royal Navy subs has not been a happy one generally, but now that three of the four are up and running that focuses attention on the fourth sub. HMCS Corner Brook is probably facing a total rebuild or possibly scrapping after it grounded while submerged. Politically, scrapping would not be good news, so expect that it will be rebuilt - unfortunately draining needed resources from other navy activity.

HMCS Windsor sets out past snow covered Mount Hope, the site of the Nova Scotia Hospital.

For now at least we can enjoy seeing Windsor working out in the Halifax area, as it was this morning putting out to sea.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Brandal - a first, but Tem more popular

The first stern trawler built in Canada was launched at Halifax Shipyard March 18, 1965.
[There is a caveat here - there were wooden stern trawlers, but they are called "draggers" in local parlance and thus are not (always) considered to be trawlers.]

The launch took place without the customary champagne ceremony. The bubbly was placed in reserve until June 5 when the vessel was completed and handed over to its owners. Mrs. Karl Karlsen, wife of the owner of Karlsen Shipping and more specifically M.V. Tem Ltd, the nominal owner, christened the trawler Brandal.

Brandal was originally delivered in white paint. Here it is fitting out for the 1967 seal hunt, as a helicopter pad is installed on its deck. 
[Apologies for a 1967 photo taken on 127 film, but it is the only photo I have of Brandal in white.]

Stern trawlers were more efficient and safer than the traditional side trawlers because they could keep their head up to the seas and thus keep a dry deck. The deck crew could be more productive and many of the dangerous wires were clear of the working area.

Rigged as a trawler, Brandal soon adopted Karlsen's red hull colour, for high visibility in ice.

Brandal was a bit of a prototype for a small run of similar vessels, but it was also a unique vessel to suit the owners' particular needs. Karlsen Shipping, associated with a parent company in Norway, was involved in fishing, sealing and whaling, but also found work for their ships in the off seasons by doing research and oil exploration. While Brandal was fitted out for fishing, it was also equipped with a crow's next, and was reinforced for working in ice.

Brandal is the name of a small village in northern Norway, noted as the ancestral home to the Norwegian seal hunt, both in the White sea, and off Newfoundland. Brandal is also a family name, and at least one of Karlsens skippers was a Brandal. Brandal was also the home of Karl Karlsen, patriarch of the Norwegian and Canadian companies,  later based in nearby Aalesund, Norway.
The Canadian company, Karlsen Shipping, had a plant at New Harbour on the Blandford Peninsula, southwest of Hailfax, and a building and pier in Halfax.

In the summer of 1966 Brandal was sent to the Great Lakes for hydrographic research. On return it may have refitted for fishing, but in the spring of 1967 it was fitted with a helicopter deck and set out on the annual seal hunt. In the summer of 1967 it was sent back to the Great Lakes for more research. 
In 1968 it concentrated on fishing and did not participate in the seal hunt.

In 1973 it was a support vessel for Shell Oil's exploration program and worked as a supplier for the drill rig Sedneth I.

Later the after bipod mast was removed, and it acquired several derrick and a platform built above the stern ramp. It retained the crow's nest and polar bear crest on the bow.
Preparing to sail as Granchio the deck is filled with crab traps.

Over the subsequent years it did less and less fishing and was often unemployed for long periods.
Finally in 1995 it was fitted for crabbing and renamed Granchio. (Italian for crab, but also slang for mistake) but was laid up in Bridgewater, NS, under the Barbados flag.
In 2001 it was sold to new owners in Namibia. The delivery trip was interrupted when the ship was arrested in Bermuda. Thew same owner bought it back at a sheriff's sale but ran out of food and water 700 miles short of its destination. Finally after paying in advance for a tug, the owner delivered the boat to the port of Luderitz, Namibia.
No record of the boat being laid up or scrapped has reached me, but that is more than likely after all this time.

The Karlsen's shipowning company m/v Tem Ltd was named for the veteran side trawler Tem.

 Karlsen's wharf was populated with sealers, whalers and research ships of all sorts. Left: Brandal, right: Tem; background left: Martin Kalrsen, right: Arctic Endeavour; foreground: unknown drifter.

The old Tem was originally a trawler, but also became a sealer with Karlsens. It's canvas crow's nest must have been a pleasant spot.

It was built in 1931 by Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME as Illinois for General Seafoods. In 1940 it was requisitioned by the US Navy, renamed USNS Albatross and given pennant number AM-71 to 1944 and IX-171 until 1945, when it was returned to its owners.

The Canadian subsidiary of the Norwegian company A/S Thor Dahl, Christensen Canadian Enterprises, bought the trawler in 1948 and registered it in St.John's, NL and placed it under the management of Karlsen Shipping of Halifax. It went out on the 1949 seal hunt, still carrying the name Illinois, but was renamed Tem later in the year, and registration moved to Halifax.

On its way to the scrappers in 1981 Tem had been damaged by a small fire in the wheelhouse.

In 1957 the company M/V Tem Ltd was formed and became owner of the ship. It continued fishing, sealing, research and even some whaling,  but by the 1970s it was largely idled. A wheelhouse fire in 1979 finally prompted Karlsen to sell the ship to a local scrapper.

The new Tem had the graceful lines of a whaler.

There was another Tem in the Karlsen fleet. It took that name in 1984 when they renamed their standby and rescue vessel Rescue K. It was built in 1957 by Haarlemsche Scheepswerft Maats. as the whaler R4. That was a short lived occupation and in 1966 it was converted to a patrol ship named Senja. In 1982 it was reconfigured by K/S Remoy Standby A/S of Norway as an offshore standby vessel named Rescue Kim. Karlsen's acquired the vessel in 1983, and shortened the name to Rescue K.  

On March 13, 1985 Tem (ii) took in tow the vessel Meta when it broke down off Beaver Harbour and towed it to Halifax. The 384 grt Meta was built, coincidentally, in 1954 in Trondheim, Norway as Namsos, but had spent from 1969 as Galway Blazer and since 1977 as Meta for the Canadian company Stephenville Shipping Ltd. It seems to have been used for research (it was seen at the Bedford Institute in May 1978), and some cargo/passenger work on the Newfoundland coast. The same copmany had previously owned the former Lady Grenfell posted here:

Directly behind Meta is Brandal again, bristling with antennas, a satellite dome and refitted with its after bipod mast. It was doing seismic work.
On arrival in Halifax Meta was soon under arrest and sold to Mission Possible Co Ltd, flagged in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and renamed Sonship 1. In 1989 it became Ebenezar Express under the Honduran flag for Ebenezer Naviera. It is still in service as of June 2014 according to online sources.

Tem continued as a standby boat off Nova Scotia until 1989 when it was chartered out and renamed CAM Vigilant under the British flag and returned to the North Sea. In 1993 it was renamed  St.Lucia and in 1995Viking Standby. In about 2003 it was sold to BUE Viking Ltd but arrived in Grenaa Denmark in September 2004 where it was broken up for scrap.

Karlsen's wharf was always a colourful sight. Right to left: Tem (ii), Brandal, and the research / sealer Chester. In the background the former CCGS Edward Cornwallis, renamed Edward. (It was not associated with Karlsen's in any way but was well colour coordinated.)


Halterm berths big ships

Halterm was the hot spot in the harbour today with four ships working. With only three available berths, that took some doing. Oceanex Sanderling was occupying pier 36 and remained there all day.
Zim Constanza arrived late morning and tied up at pier 42.
Macao Strait (Melfi Lines) arrived Monday and was at pier 41. As with its fleet mate from last week, Tasman Strait, the ship was waiting for rail cargo, and at noon time it moved out to harbour anchorage. That left pier 41 clear for the arrival later this afternoon of Ernest Hemingway (Zim).

Partially loaded Macao Strait waits at anchor.

Macao Strait made its first visit for Melfi on November 8, 2014 and is chartered from Carsten Rehder of Hamburg.

Still in Maersk blue, but loaded for Zim.

Ernest Hemingway made its first call for Zim on July 10, 2014. Owned by Norddeutsche Reederei, it is still wearing the colours of Maersk Line, where it was chartered as Maersk Davenport from 2005 to 2013.

Meanwhile at Imperial Oil the tanker Seamuse sailed this morning and its place was soon taken by Kourion Built in 2012 by SPP Shipbuilding Co of Sacheon, South Korea, it is a handysize tanker of 29,930 grt, 50,290 dwt. It is operated by World Tankers Management of Singapore, but flies the Panama flag.
The ship anchored for a few hours in the inner harbour awaiting its turn.

Passing the foot of Sackville Street, Kourion leaves anchorage for Imperial Oil.

One of the great things about Halifax is the glimpses of ships from odd vantage points. Unfortunately new buildings are going up to block many of these views.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Marine Atlantic gets relief

Ice conditions had improved somewhat in the Sydney Bight but high winds are now packing in the ice. Ferry service has been suspended again today.

I have been taken to task for suggesting that Marine Atlantic's ferries are icebreakers in their own right. Since I have never made that claim, I should clarify what I did say.
Marine Atlantic's largest ferry,  Atlantic Vision also has the fleet's highest ice rating. Built for service in the Baltic, it is classed by the American Bureau of Shipping as Ice Class 1A Super. This means that certain characteristics of its construction, cooling systems, and propulsion, mean that it is capable of navigation in certain ice conditions without the services of an icebreaker. However when conditions reach the proportions that they have in the Gulf and Cabot Strait this winter, the ice pressure is such that only an icebreaker can clear a path. Even then conditions may prove to be so tough that there are long delays as ships continually get stuck and need to be freed.

When CN Marine began to cater to truck trailers, they initially chartered two small RoRo ships from Stena AB of Gothenburg Sweden. Stena Trailer and Jarl Transporter measured 1306 grt and were built by Akers Trondhjems of Norway in 1972. In the spring of 1974 ice was particularly heavy and delays caused a huge backlog in North Sydney. Both ships relocated to Halifax in February and March.

Jarl Transporter has arrived from Newfoundland . It is waiting at pier 37 until its fleetmate sails. Meanwhile while the Mexican Japala loads conventional break bulk cargo at pier 34.
Stena Trailer in foreground shows the wear and tear from working in ice. The ships were on CN's drop trailer service ( truck tractors did not accompany the trailers.)

At the same time CN's fleet of half a dozen or more chartered coastal freighters were dividing their time between Halifax and Mulgrave as loading ports. The ferries Lucy Maud Montgomery and Leif Ericsson were also using Mulgrave.

Ice was also heavy in 1980 when one of  CN Marine's large ships was diverted to Halifax.
Marine Nautica was one of two ferries built in by Rickmers, Bremerhaven for Stena AB of Sweden.

Stena Nautica it was built in 1974 and had a capacity of 1200 passengers and 480 cars. It was soon renamed Marine Nautica when it took up a five year bareboat charter to CN Marine. Sister ship Marine Atlantica built in 1975, was built with a similar charter but went directly to Marine Atlantic. In 1980 Roylease Ltd financed purchase of the two ships by Newfoundland businessmen and continued with another five year charter. The ships always flew the Bahamas flag to evade Canadian duties - a privilege extended to crown corporations. 

Both ships were reasonably ice capable, but the spring of 1980 was particularly severe. The two icebreakers CCGS Labrador and Louis S. St-Laurent were having trouble keeping a clear a track into Sydney for the two car/truck ferries and the rail ferry Frederick Carter, all of which were continually getting stuck and delayed. There was a major traffic jam at the North Sydney terminal and to ease the backlog, Marine Nautica came to Halifax  March 28, 1980.

 A rather ragged looking Marine Nautica tied up stern in at the pier 31 ramp.

Part of the lineup of trucks (and one camper van) waiting at pier 25.

Sister Marine Atlantica was quite accustomed to normal ice conditions too, and is seen here making her way out of North Sydney in March 1983- a more normal year.

The charters were not renewed for 1986 and the ships were sold for service in the Mediterranean.
Marine Nautica became Corsica Marina II in 1986 and is still running under the same name.
Marine Atlantica, was sold to the same owners and initially renamed Corsica Vera but in 1987 became Sardinia Vera. Both ships are based in Livorno.

The St-Pierre et Miquelon feeder Ile de Saint Pierre which ran out of North Sydney in those days was also diverted to Halifax in March 1980, but that was not unusual. It came to Halifax every spring when ice was bad.

Built in 1957 by Henry Robb Ltd in Leith, Scotland, for the British company General Steam Navigation as Sandpiper, it measured 1324 grt.  With engines amidships it was a miniature version of the typical freighter. It worked cargo fore and aft with traditional derricks. Paturel Frères of St-Pierre operated the ship for the French government from 1967 to 1981. It then went to Greek owners as 81: Alinda, 82: Katia K. then moved on to Saudi Arabia, where it was laid up in 1983. Eventually it reached Gadani Beach in 1989 as Voyager II and was broken up.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Sisters not sisters

One of the largest Canadian bankruptcies was that of the Come-by-Chance refinery in Newfoundland. Developed by Shaheen Natural Resources Ltd of New York, with the input of massive amounts of public money from all levels of government, the project was fraught with political controversy from the beginning. The brainchild of Newfoundland premier Joseph R. Smallwood, and John Shaheen, the project (and many others too numerous to mention) was intended  bring industrial wealth to an impoverished province, but its $500 mn failure threw hundreds out of work and uncovered questionable dealings by those in positions of responsibility.
As with several of these Newfoundland projects there were ships involved, and they were also displaced and some had to be sold at a loss.

Most impacted by the shipping losses was the British company Common Bros. of Newcastle. They had built three tankers and two cargo ships to serve the refinery and its spin-off, Newfoundland Pulp+Chemical Co.
Common Bros was founded as the Hindustan Steamship Co in 1893 when J.W.Squance and F.J.Common acquired a ship called the Hindustan. When Capt. Squance retired the sons of  F.J. Common renamed the company. Their ships thereafter usually carried "stan" names.However to provide ships for charter to the Shaheen Natural Resources project, they were obliged to recognize the influential politicians of the province.

The first two tankers were named Joseph R. Smallwood and Frank D. Moores (the premier of Newfoundland and his successor respectively) . With the failure of the refinery project they were re-deployed by Common Bros. The Smallwood becoming the Afghanistan and the Moores the infamous Kurdistan.

A third Common Bros tanker Strait of Canso was more associated with the simultaneously built Gulf Oil refinery at Point Tupper.

The two cargo ships built by Robb Caledon, in Dundee Scotland, were mainly to be newsprint carriers. The names selected for the ships were also freighted with political significance, but there was a problem. The cargo ships were to be named after the spouses of the premier and former premier, but  as recounted by Roy McMurty in his autobiography, Premier Moores was "between wives" and it was not possible to name one of the ships for his spouse, since he currently did not have one. It would never do therefore to name the other ship after former premier's Smallwood's wife if there could be no balancing "first lady." It was then decided to name the ships after the wives of the premiers' top advisors.

The first ship was therefore named Ida Lundrigan for the wife of Arthur Lundrigan, a Newfoundland contractor and industrialist and important adviser to former Premier Smallwood. (Mrs Lundrigan (née Johnson) was not related to Mrs. McMurtry, but the two ships were sisters.) It was christened in Dundee March 14, 1972 and completed November 17, 1972.

Premier Moores decided, at the last minute, when the shipyard yard was pressing for a name that the second ship should be named after the wife of Ontario Tory politician Roland "Roy" McMurtry a political mentor of premier Moores. The ship was christened October 24, 1972 by 14 year old Janet McMurtry daughter of Ria Jean McMurtry (née Macrae) and completed May 11, 1973.

Of course Mrs. Smallwood was given another chance when a new Marine Atlantic ferry was built for the Sydney-Argentia service. It was, at the insistence of the former premier, named Joseph and Clara Smallwood. Mr. Moores was reputedly not "lucky in love", though not for want of trying, and so no spouse of his was honored as namesake of a ship.

Measuring 7100 grt the ships were fitted with two pairs of large deck cranes of 12.5 tonnes capacity each,  that could each swivel, but so could the base, so they could serve the holds singularly or together. The ships' dwt varied slightly, with the Lundrigan coming in at 9,792 and the McMurtry at 9,637.

Ocean Challenger sails from Halifax following repairs.

Following the bankruptcy of the refinery project, Common Bros found other charter work for Ria Jean McMurtry, and it was renamed City of Pretoria in 1976 and Simonburn in 1977. They sold the ship in 1979 to Vast Shipping and it was registered in the Jersey Islands, becoming Gomba Challenge in 1979. In 1980 it changed owners again, to Challenge Shipping Ltd (Greek flag) and was renamed Ocean Challenge. moving soon after to Panama flag. It was under that name that it arrived in Halifax again, this time in tow of the tug Pointe aux Basques, assisted by Point Valiant (i) April 16, 1985 and tied up at Halifax Shipyard for repairs.It was able to sail on the 27th for La Guaira, Venezuela.

It then went through a bewildering array of subsequent names 85: Fernao Gomes, 94: Fusaro, 95: Gido, 96: Kianda, 97: CEM Pumper, 00: Sofia G., 02: CEM Adriatic 03: CEM Rol, 09: Adriatic Arrow. As the last few names imply, the ship was converted to a cement carrier. This involved removal of the ship's cranes and installation of an unloader mounted on deck amisdhips. It was while loaded with bulk cement on May 28, 2010, outbound from the port of Khor Al-Zubair, Basra, Iraq that the ship ran aground and became stranded. Declared a constructive total loss it was eventually salavaged and taken to Gadani Beach, Pakistan for scrap, arriving March 3, 2011.

 A.C.Crosbie lost its pair of foreward cranes through some mishap and operated with out them for a considerable time.

Ida Lundrigan however was sold immediately after the bankruptcy to Chimo Shipping Ltd in 1976. Chimo was the shipping arm of the Crosbie family, and the ship was renamed A.C.Crosbie after Andrew Carnell Crosbie. (He was the brother of John Carnell Crosbie, a Tory politician who had disagreed with Joey Smallwood over the Shaheen deal, crossed the floor of the legislature and sat as a Liberal. He then moved on to federal politics holding many Liberal cabinet posts, and after retirement was named Newfoundland's Lieutenant Governor.) Brother Andrew however remained loyal to the Tories, and good thing too since Chimo had important shipping contracts with the government and was also active in the offshore supply business.

In 1980 the ship was sent to the Versatile Vickers shipyard in Montreal for a $1.5 mn conversion to a fully cellular container ship to operate on Chimo's Montreal-St.John's service. Unfortunately Chimo chose August 1981 to go bankrupt and Vickers was never paid for the work.

The ship was sold by the receivers, becoming 82: Barken, 97: Baltwind, 88: Barken, 91: Vigo Stone (under which name it did call at St.Lawrence ports in 1993) and 93: Red Stone. It was delivered to shipbreakers in Mumbai February 4. 2000. 

Common Bros was not the only marine company to suffer from the bankruptcy of the Come-by-Chance refinery. Smit+Cory International Port Towage provided four tugs at Come-by-Chance and they were out of work as of December 1976, and were sent to Halifax.
It was wall to wall tugs at ECTUG when the four Come-by-Chance tugs  were laid up. Six other tugs were also using the dock.
l. to r. Point Vigour, Point Valiant (i), Point Vibert, (Point Vim - not visible)  Point Victor , Point Viking, Point James, Point Gilbert, and  Point SpencerPoint Valour and Point Carroll were absent. See Tugfax for more on this.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

BBC Ohio for a big lift

BBC Ohio tied up at pier 31 where a rail car was waiting with large object, likely a transformer or packaged boiler. The ship is part of the large BBC Chartering fleet of W.Bockstiegel Reederei GmbH + Co of Germany that specializes in over size and heavy cargoes.

Built in 2009 by Jiangdong shipyard in Wuhu, China, the ship measures 9618 grt and 12,708 dwt and is strengthened for heavy cargoes. It carries a pair of 150 tonne capacity cranes that can work in tandem to lift 300 tonnes.

Cranes at the ready, and hatches open, the ship is ready for work.

Nounou - again

Nounou rides high after unloading. In the foreground a typical Halifax horizontal surface-mostly a skating rink.

The intriguingly named Nounou completed unloading at Nova Scotia Power, [see yesterday's post] and will move out to anchor tomorrow to take bunkers. I have searched high and low for an explanation of its name and nothing I have found makes sense to me.

The first Minerva Nounou riding high as it arrives for bunkers in 2002.

This is not the first "Nounou" to call in Halifax. In the early 2000s there was a crude oil tanker called Minerva Nounou that called here for bunkers in 2002 and with cargo for Imperial Oil in 2003. It was built in 2000 by Samsung, Koje and measured 80,870 grt, 147,080 dwt and was also Greek owned.

It has since been sold to India and was renamed Jag Lateef in 2007 by Great Eastern Shipping Co Ltd. Another Minerva Nounou joined the Minerva fleet  in 2011. The former Urals Princess was built in 2006 and is a crude oil tanker of 63,619 grt, 114,850 dwt.