Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Veteran Tanker Sold On

A veteran tanker has been sold and has left Canadian registry for an as yet unknown flag of convenience.
Thalassa Desgagnés has been a fixture on the Great Lakes, St.Lawrence and east coast as a dedicated asphalt / black oil tanker since 1993, and thanks to its most recent owner, has outlived many tankers of the same vintage.

Built in 1976 by Ankerlokken Verft Glommen A/S in Frederikstad, Norway, as Joasla, the ship is ice strengthened and double hulled with cargo heating coils. It became Orinoco in 1979 for Swedish owners, then in 1981 it was renamed Rio Orinoco and flagged in the Cayman Islands.

On October 1990 while inbound in the Gulf of St.Lawrence with an asphalt cargo, it experienced engine trouble and anchored off Port Menier, Anticosti Island. It was unable to maintain the anchorage and drifted ashore October 16. The crew were evacuated by helicopter, and the ship was feared lost.

However the ever resourceful Desgagnés recognized an opportunity, and on a "no cure / no pay" basis salvaged the ship the following spring and summer. The asphalt cargo had solidified, holding the ship in place and preventing major pollution. Re-liquefying the cargo to lighten the ship for refloating was  accomplished using barge mounted boilers. The lightened ship was then towed to Quebec City arriving August 23, 1991 and laid up  until the salvage claim could be settled.

Still showing signs of recent distress, Rio Orinoco awaits its fate in Quebec City. Note the large tank on the upper deck adjacent to the funnel - part of the salvor's equipment.

 Numerous bangs, dents and scrapes appear largely superficial.

In early 1993 Desgagnés acquired ownership, renamed it Thalassa Desgagnés, and began the  process of rebuilding the ship. It went into service in early 1994 and formed the basis for the Desgagné subsidiary Pétro-Nav Inc. It was so thoroughly reconditioned that its life was extended dramatically.

It called in Halifax numerous times with asphalt, but also with Bunker C fuel for the Nova Scotia Power plant at Tuft's Cove. It also carried heavy fuel from Halifax when Imperial Oil's refinery was in operation.

Safely at anchor in Bedford Basin, Thalassa Desgagnés had arrived the day before in a storm. 
Due to its ultra low freeboard, the pilot could not board the ship safely until it was inside the shelter of Meagher's Beach. 

The Pétro-Nav fleet has expanded dramatically and is continuing to do so. The eight ship fleet will expand with four new multi-fuel asphalt tankers under construction in Turkey to be delivered starting this spring. The first, Damia Desgagnés, a 11,978 grt, 15,100 dwt ship will be able to use LNG, marine diesel or heavy fuel for its main engine.

Thalassa Desgagnés had been laid up in Montreal last year in anticipation of its replacement. It has now been renamed Asphalt Princess and at an age when most tankers would have been scrapped, it will resume service for new owners offshore. It was 17 years old when it was declared a total loss, but has put in an added 24 years of service since then - a remarkable story.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Wall to Wall Cars

Although Autoport has few walls, the title is indicative of the current situation in Eastern Passage. The facility is stuffed with cars, mostly European, and more are on the way.

California Highway has its ramp up and is preparing  to sail from at Autoport.

 Less than 24 hours after yesterday's photo, the ship is outbound again.

As mentioned yesterday, California Highway arrived in the afternoon and in a little less than 24 hours sailed again, depositing an unknown number of autos and perhaps other vehicles. All the shoreside space was jammed and there were cars as far as the eye could see in the hinterlands behind. It is also understood that other vacant land nearby is also in use. A normal unloading schedule wold be about 8 to 12 hours, so the extra time was likely needed to ferry cars to remote destinations in the port.

Arriving on the Halifax side at noon time another ship, Mignon, spent a few hours at pier 31 offloading some machinery, but was ready and waiting to move over to Autoport as soon as the berth was clear again.

Mignon is owned by Wallenius Lines AB of Sweden abd was built in 1999 by Daewoo Heavy Industres, Okpo, South Korea. Originally it measured 57,018 grt, 14,841 dwt. In 2005 it was taken in hand by Hyundai-Vinashin Shipyard Co Ltd in Ninh Hoa, Vietnam and lengthened 29 meters by inserting a new section amidships. This 12 deck structure increased tonnages to 67,264 grt, 28,126 dwt and the car carrying capacity from about 3,000 to 7,194 units (Lane length increased from 5700m to 6840m).


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Weeked Catch-Up

The port seems to have caught up after the many delays caused by Monday's and  Thursday's heavy snow falls and high winds. Almost every ship was effected, and at one time up to five ships were anchored in Bedford Basin awaiting berths.
Shipfax's mobility was hampered too, so it was not until Saturday that I was able to catch up, thereby missing most of the intense activity.

One of the many container ships that was delayed was NYK Constellation. It was initially due on Tuesday February 14, but put off its arrival until Thursday and even then anchored in Bedford Basin until Friday morning. With Fairview Cove running flat out it was not until Saturday morning that it was able to sail. While I normally avoid wide angle lens photos, the only spot to get a fair picture (without wading into hip deep snow) demanded the 28mm setting.

The lens makes the ship look much large than it s 55,534 grt, 65,000 dwt. Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan built the ship in 2007 and it carries a modest 4922 TEU, including 330 reefers.
One ship that apparently did not experience a delay was Hafnia Malacca. It arrived at the Irving Woodside terminal on Thursday  and sailed Saturday morning for Saint John.

Built in 2015 by Hyundai Mipo, the 24,120 grt, 39,067 dwt ship is on the small size of Mid Range tankers in the Hafnia Handy Pool Management fleet, operating out of  Singapore for the Danish Hafnia company.

Not photographed, was Saturday's arrival of UASC Umm Qasr the first ship on Columbus Loop service in two weeks. The line has reduced winter sailings and is changing partners in the service effective in April. UASC (United Arab Shipping) has been bought out by HAPAG-Lloyd, and although this ship is only a charter to USAC, this may be its last call here as H-L will not be a partner in the service with CMA CGM.

On Sunday temperatures  soared into the plus 7C range, but there was still a heavy snow cover, reflecting a bright sun. George's Island looked spectacular - like a populated iceberg (it is neither).

There was quite a traffic jam in the lower harbour as California Highway arrived but stood by east of George's Island until the Autoport berth was clear. It has little time to work since the next ship, Mignon is due tomorrow. An autocarrier of 59,447 grt, 18,644 dwt, it was built in 2010 by Imabari Zosen in Marugame. It flies the Panama flag for Taiyo Nippon Kisen of Kobe and operates for K-line.

With two tugs on its port side, the ships sits waiting for its berth.

California Highway had been anchored offshore since Friday waiting for Autoport to clear its backlog of shipping. Starting on Monday, the Metis Leader was due, but had to wait Tuesday, it was followed by Oregon Highway on Wednesday, Boheme on Friday, leaving no time for Oceanex Sanderling to load.

Oceanex Sanderling outbound from Eastern Passage to sea.

Its normal departure time is Friday evening, but it had to wait until Saturday evening to get into Autoport, and finally sailed late this afternoon, clearing the way for Oceanex Sanderling.

Not long after, Califronia Highway and its two tugs sailed in toward Autoport.

Outbound for St.John's the ship catches some late day sun.

Also today the Cyprus flag Maccoa arrived for bunkers. Owned by Navarone SA of Athens, it is operated by Daphne Shipping Agency LLC of  Odessa, Ukraine and employs exclusively Ukrainian masters officers and crews. 

Algoma Dartmouth clears Maccoa after bunkering.

The diminutive tankers carries its fenders permanently to save time while coming alongside ships.

Maccoa dates from 2009 when it was built by Shandong Weihai Shipyard in Weihai China. A bulk carrier of 19,814 grt, 30,898 dwt, it carries three 30 tonne crane. It is one of about forty ships operating for Canadian Forest Navigation (CANFORNAV) of Montreal that are frequent Great Lakes and St.Lawrence River callers. The ship is giving Ilheus, Brazil as its next port of call.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

To PEI - Part 1, the hard way

The recent closure of the Confederation Bridge to all traffic during a blizzard, was one of the rare times that Canada has been cut off from Prince Edward Island in recent years. Since the 8 mile long bridge opened in 1997 there have often been traffic restrictions due to high winds, but only a very few actual closures.

In the years before the bridge there were long periods when there was no traffic at all. Ice boats, then ships attempted to make the crossing during ice season, and were often turned back or delayed.

It was not until almost mid 20th century that regular ferries became powerful enough to battle most conditions, but even then there were frequent delays.

I recently came across some old photos taken with a tiny Minox "spy" camera, and so the quality is understandably poor, but they are worth sharing. They appear to have been taken in the spring of the LATE 1950s, after most of the ice was gone, but I have no further information.

The rail ferry Scotia II steams across the Northumberland Strait.

The barge-like ferry shuttled rails cars, and the occasional locomotive for the CNR.
The photos were taken from the deck of the ferry Prince Edward Island, a rail and car/passenger ferry. CN adopted its famous "wet noodle" logo in 1961. Before that CNR ships had a blue / white / red funnel ( or in the case of this ship, four of them.).

The spy camera was better at detail photos.
A view over the bow shows some ice. but also some interesting rivet work on the 1915 built bulwarks.

Laid up in Dartmouth for a time, the old ferry's looks were not improved by orange funnels with the white CN logo. It was later converted to be a dredge pumping station and finally scrapped in Toronto.
That is the sealer Arctic Endeavour alongside - also no stranger to ice, despite its wooden hull. The bulker Cavala is inbound for National Gyspum, and the CN pier at left, is a junk and scrapyard run by Leo J. Beazley, with several sunken hulks on the opposite side.

In 1983 I made a memorable crossing on the John Hamilton Gray and got a close up look of Abegweit (ii) making it look easy to work through the ice.

Although ungainly looking, Abegweit (ii) was built for the ice and did a superb job from 1982 to 1997.

In the spring of 1997 I made round trip on the Abegweit and saw (and heard) John Hamilton Gray putting on a good show as it worked its way through moderate ice.

The Confederation bridge in the background is two months from opening as John Hamilton Grey storms through heavy ice, her eight Fairbanks Morses singing a happy tune.

It was my last chance to do the ferry crossing, for as soon as the bridge opened in May 1997 the Marine Atlantic Ferry service was shut down.

If some of this seems familiar - see http://shipfax.blogspot.ca/2012/04/fifteen-years-ago-bargain-for-8.html

There remains the seasonal ferry service between Caribou, NS and Wood Islands PEI - but that will be part 2.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Waiting for the next blast

With one severe storm safely past, the harbor is bracing for the next onslaught due over the next few days.

Chebucto Pilot and backup boat A.P.A.No.1 wait for the next call. Even an hour after high tide, the water levels Are still high in the harbour.

All scheduled arrivals and departures are on hold, although there might be one arrival later this afternoon. Tropical Shipping's AHS Hamburg is still scheduled for 1700 hrs. Tropical's normal sailing day is Monday, so they will try to reduce the impact on their schedule.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Blizzard and Storm Surge

Halifax Harbour is hunkered down for a rip snorter of a blizzard that is now estimated to bring 25 to 70cm of snow, blown by sustained winds of 60 kph and gusts in excess of 100 kph (peaking at noon today), coupled with a storm surge on top of a high tide of 1.9m at 0934 hrs AST this morning.

The large ships in port appear to be holding their own. Two tankers anchored in Bedford Basin have not shown any signs of dragging anchor according to AIS.

Meanwhile at Fairview Cove the tug Atlantic Fir is alongside Atlantic Sail and Atlantic Oak is alongside Yantian Express, both tugs helping to keep the ships alongside. The third tug Atlantic Willow is stationed nearby at pier 9C in case of need.

Algoma Dartmouth is still at pier 36. Although it often moves to an alternate berth in a storm, this time it is staying put. Nearby at pier 25-26 the wintering Atlantic Huron has its AIS turned off, and likely only has a skeleton crew on board. However it has had heavy moorings out since it arrived for layup.

The cable ship Isaac Newton and supplier Atlantic Griffon and Atlantic Shrike are at piers 9B and A and likely in the most sheltered berths in the harbour for north easterly winds.

The supplier Atlantic Condor is perched on the Exxon Mobil dock in Dartmouth, to some extent in the lee of the Dartmouth shore.

Halifax Transit cancelled bus and ferry service today, so all the ferries remain at their docks. HMC Dockyard is "closed" (i.e. employees are not required to report to work), but there will no doubt be crews tending lines on the many ships alongside. Most worrisome would be Preserver, which is very high out of the water, but which will certainly have many extra lines out.

Winds will have diminished somewhat for the next high tide at 2204 hrs, but the water levels are again expected to exceed the normal due to the storm surge. Many low level docks were flooded this morning.

Numerous other vessels tied up in port will have paid extra attention to lines before the storm and will be monitoring them carefully until sometime tomorrow.

The few ship that were due today will have to wait outside until conditions improve. Even then it will take some time for crews to clear snow from the piers to allow unloading and loading.


Rekord in Lunenburg

A delightful little Norwegian built ex freighter showed up in Lunenburg this winter. Regrettably I could not get a good photo on my last visit (at least not without trespassing) so you will have to  go to  the following website and Youtube to see the boat in detail.


The boat was apparently sold in 2015 and spent some time in Yarmouth, NS, perhaps after a failed transatlantic attempt. It was reported to be for sale again at $89,000 but it was not in a safe location in Yarmouth and needed immediate attention. It looks like someone has rescued it (again).

I it will get some more restoration work to preserve what is now a 100 year old treasure.