Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Sprucing up for summer

Although there will be no cruise ship season in Halifax this year, there will be some tourism and apparently some harbour tours. Murphy's (owned by Ambassatours) has therefore placed one of its boats in refit to be ready when the time comes.

Kawartha Spirit has been lifted out at the IEL dock in Woodside, and has received a new blue hull paint, replacing the original white.

Kawartha Spirit is one of Murphy's two active large boats, along with Harbour Queen I . It replaced Haligonian III which was scrapped in 2018, but is unaccountably still registered.

Built by Hike Metal Products in Wheatley, ON in 1964, as Miss Muskoka, the Kawartha Spirit spent all its life in fresh water until 2016 when it made the long trek to Halifax. It was in much better condition than its newer sister Haligonian III which was built in 1972 and spent its entire career in salt water. See: Haligonian III

There has been talk that Kawartha Spirit will be renamed to something more relevant to this area, and this seems like a perfect time to do it.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Gotland for Nirint Shipping and possible News

Nirint Shipping B.V. is a Dutch company operating between Europe, the Caribbean and the north coast of South America. Its ships generally call in Halifax northbound  every two weeks en route from Cuba to Europe. They unload nickel sulfides from Moa, Cuba, for processing in Canada. 

Currently the company employs four ships, one of which is Gotland a general purpose / heavy lift ship, configured to carry containers, general and breakbulk. At 12,772 gt, 17,409 dwt the ship has a capacity of 834 TEU including 60 reefers. It also carries three cranes, two of 150 tonnes capacity (and combinable) and one of 80 tonnes capacity.

Generally the ship leaves one hatch free to work the breakbulk cargo, but on arrival Sunday, April 11, the ship appeared to have a full deck load, so will have to land some containers first to access the cargo hold.

The ship was built in 2011 by the Xinshun Shipyard Group Co Ltd in Yueqing, China as Rickmers Tianjin, one of more than 100 ships in the venerable Rickmers fleet. Dating back to 1834 and the age of sail, the Hamburg based, family owned company failed rather spectacularly in 2017.  However this ship had been previously sold in 2015 to Gotland Schiffahrts GmbH and renamed Gotland.

After unloading in Halifax, the ship will sail for Barcelona and Rotterdam before beginning another cycle.

Information in the port is that the nickel sulfides import operation will be moving to the Richmond Terminals at Pier 9B - 9C in the Narrows, between the two bridges.

The Nirint ships currently unload the material, which is shipped in "jumbo bags" and the bags are transported to the freight shed at Pier 30-31 or loaded directly into open gondola rail cars. The operation takes up considerable pier and shed space which PSA Halifax wants due to increased traffic from MSC and for future expansion. 

The Pier 9B and 9C area was expanded and the sheds rebuilt more than five years ago, but has been under utilized. The area is served by rail sidings which have not been used until the last few days when some box cars were spotted at Shed 9B. 

Word is that the Richmond shed will also be used to store paper, brought in by rail. If so we might expect to see dedicated paper carrying ships, such as Spliethoff's coming in to load.

It was always though that CN objected to switching in the area, but perhaps PSA Halifax has persuaded them that it is worth their while.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Where are they now

The "Where Are They Now" department of Shipfax has not been heard from in some time, but a recent Facebook post has inspired a revisit.

The history of the Halifax - Dartmouth ferry service is a long one. In fact from the date of the first charter in 1752, it is claimed to be the oldest salt water ferry service in North America, and the second oldest in the world after the Mersey ferry between Liverpool and Birkenhead, England. Before the first steam paddle ferry was introduced in 1832, there was even a "team" ferry where horses were used on a sort of treadmill to power paddle wheels.

Although this photo from my collection is dated 1959 it is almost certainly pre-1956.

 The service carried vehicles until 1956 when the Angus L. Macdonald bridge was completed, allowing cars, trucks and buses to cross the harbour at will. At that time a pair of little wooden hulled pedestrian only ferries, designed by William Roue and built by Smith+Rhuland in Lunenburg entered service (They bore no resemblance to the schooner Bluenose designed and built by the same team!). They were named Dartmouth II and Halifax II after much larger car carrying predecessors. They were "double enders" and with dual controls of rudders and props fore and aft, they did not have to turn or reverse to dock at each end of the run.

 The wooden ferries were given orange "speed" chevrons and wheelhouse bands in their later years.

As with all wooden hulled vessels, they had limited service lives and were replaced by the steel hulled vessels Dartmouth III and Halifax III in 1979. Built by Ferguson Industries Ltd in Pictou, NS, these unique craft were "side loaders" embarking and disembarking passengers to floating landing stages via short ramps on one side only. 

First day of service in 1979.


The landing stages had canopies to shelter passengers as they embarked or disembarked.

The "passenger" side of the ferry had a recessed, open vestibule with four small ramps that lowered to the landing stage. Steps lead to the open upper deck and there were doors to the main cabin.

The "off" side of the  boats had windows to the main cabin.

Propelled by Voith-Schneider drives, they were highly maneuverable and could sidle up to the landing crab wise.  They also kept their engines running at efficient rpms at all times and varied speed and direction by adjusting the pitch of the vertical drive blades. In 1986 a third ferry of the same design named Woodside I entered service. A new terminal on the Dartmouth side of the harbour in the Woodside neighbourhood was built to serve the growing Dartmouth suburbs, however the three ferries were interchangeable and any one of the three could be found on either the main Halifax-Alderney or new Halifax-Woodside route.


The boats had a variety of colour schmes over the years. At cruising speed the boats created a small "rooster tail" wake.

In 2013 the Halifax Regional Municipality began the next fleet replacement program. Between 2014 and 2018 A.F.Theriault + Son Ltd in Meteghan River, NS delivered five new boats, improved versions of the previous design. Named Christopher Stannix (2014), Craig Blake (2015), Viola Desmond (2016), Vincent Coleman (2018) and Rita Joe (2018), they allow for efficient service of both routes at all times while allowing for one boat to be out of service for maintenance and refits.


The second generation ferries are quite similar to the first, but have a roomier wheelhouse and peculiar exposed exhaust stacks (and distinctive sound).

As the new boats were delivered the first generation boats were decommissioned then put up for sale. In the end all three were sold to Toronto Island Transit Services Inc, a private enterprise associated with an amusement park in Toronto. Dartmouth III made the long haul to Toronto on its own in 2017, despite having no sleeping accommodation or galley. Since arriving in Toronto it has apparently not entered service. 

The other two boats also remain idle, but closer to home, with Halifax III in Sambro, NS and Woodside I in Lunenburg, NS.

Looking somewhat uncomfortable amid the fishing vessels, Halifax III is tied up in Sambro, NS.

Woodside I is looking equally unhappy in Lunenburg, with patches of pealing paint.

There is no sign that either one of the boats will be going anywhere soon, which is unfortunate since they did have some useful service left when they were retired. However with no maintenance, and sitting idle that may no longer be the case.


Saturday, April 10, 2021


There were three arrivals of interest today. The early bird at 0600 hrs was the container feeder Ilios on ZIM's Canada Feeder Express service.The ship appears on ZIM's schedule for the next several weeks. It is taking up the slot vacated by Tampa Trader and recently filled by spot charters.

The ship is not exactly a stranger to Halifax, having called here starting January 8, 2017 under the name Vega Omega when it inaugurated Tropical Shipping's Halifax service after relocating from Saint John, NB.  See previous post (and better picture) here.

The ship was built in 2006 by Qingshan Shipyard in Wuhan, China. It measures 9940 gt, 13,639 dwt with a capacity of 1118 TEU (including 220 reefers) and carries two 45 tonne capacity cranes. It started life as Surinam River but was quickly renamed Eagle 2 then in 2008: Vento Di Maestrale, 2011: Surinam River, 2012: Vento Di Levante, 2014: Vega Omega, 2019: Ilios.

Another ship with many renames also arrived. MSC Annick has had seven previous names and has operated for several major container lines. Another of MSC's older ships, it was built in 1998 by Hyundai, Ulsan. A 40,306 gt, 52,329 dwt vessel it has a relatively modest (published) capacity of 3987 TEU. When the ship sails overnight it will  be loaded to a more efficient saltwater draft for its transatlantic crossing. (It also appears to be scrubber equipped - see previous post)

Arriving from Montreal to top up, MSC Annick is operating at freshwater draft.

 The ship has carried the names 1998: Mare Superum, 98: Elbe Bridge, 2004: P+O Nedlloyd Cartagena, 2005: Maersk Tirana, 2006: Dalian Express, 2006: Maersk Tirana, 2009: Mare Superum, 2013: MSC Annick.

According to some reports MSC may have recently overtaken Maersk Line as the largest container shipping line in terms of carrying capacity. Both lines have container capacity of just over 4 million TEUs. Maersk, with more than 700 ships has about 100 more than MSC.

The colorful Grande Baltimora arrived for Autoport late this afternoon.

The ship has a 6700 CEU capacity. Built in 2017 by Jinling Shpiyard in China, it is a 62,134 gt, 13,447 dwt vessel, equipped with a 150 tonne capacity stern ramp. Owners, the Grimaldi Group, of Italy, are in the midst of a major expansion with new PCTCs and CONROs under construction in China. They are also the parent company of Atlantic Container Line (ACL) a mainstay of the port of Halifax.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Tannhauser - first stop

The auto carrier Tannhausen made its first North American port call in Halifax April 8-9. The 73,358 gt giant was completed by CISC Tianjin  Xingang in China in September 2020 and arrived in Europe on its maiden voyage in December 8. It is the third HERO class of energy efficient post Panamax large car and truck carriers (LCTC) in the Wallenius Wilhelmsen fleet, joining Traviata and Titus.

Measuring  24,155 tonnes summer deadweight, ship has a capacity of 7656 RT43 size autos, and is equipped with  320 tonne capacity stern ramp. In common with many new auto carriers it has no side door and ramp.

Tannhauser off loaded machinery at Pier 31 on April 8, and discharged automobiles at Autoport April 9 before sailing at noon.

The merged Wallenius and Wilhelmsen fleets have adopted the new common livery, but have also merged their naming traditions. New ships are named for operatic characters (Wallenius) whose names start with the letter "T" (Wilhelmsen). (Tannhauser was a fictional medieval poet in the Wagner opera of the same name.)


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Mersey Phoenix

 Although the commercial fishery is a major component of the Nova Scotia economy, we see few fishing vessels in Halifax these days. At one time the waterfront was lined with fish plants and trawlers were coming and going all the time. Foreign fishing vessels were also regular callers, particularly from the Communist countries.

All that is changed now after overfishing depleted the resource. The fish plants are gone and so it is rare to see a trawler in Halifax. On April 3 the trawler Mersey Phoenix put in to Halifax -not with fish to process, but for engine maintenance.

Mersey Phoenix is a stern trawler with on board processing. Its hull was built the Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad, Russia, but the ship was completed in 2002 by Umoe Sterkoder AS in Kristiansund, Norway. Designed by Konsberg to its NVC-371 type, it is a 3423 gt vessel, specialized for North Atlantic cold-water shrimp (pandalus borealis). It carries a crew of thirty and generally fishes north of Labrador in the Baffin Strait between Baffin Island and Greenland. Although owned by Mersey Seafoods of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, the boat is based in Country Harbour, NS and sometimes puts in to St.John's NL for stores and fuel.

When the cod fishery was closed some fishing companies re-focused on the northern shrimp, which has  proven to be a sought after delicacy, since it is far superior to the southern varieties and farmed shrimp.

"Those were the days"

The stern trawlers Cape Alert  (right), Cape Howe and Cape Nelson and an older side trawler at National Sea Products "Forty Fathom" fish plant at Pier 29. The building with a water tower in the background and the ones on the left were part of the National Harbour Board's freezer plant where frozen fish could be stored for later shipment domestically or overseas. 


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Tankers and Scrubbers

 Product tankers of the Medium Range size (35,000 to 55,000 deadweight tonnes) are frequent callers in Halifax as they are used to transport "clean" / refined products throughout the Atlantic Basin stretching from the US Gulf and East Coast, Canadian East Coast, and Caribbean to Europe. Therefore to see two in port at one time is not all that unusual. Today there was one such tanker at Imperial Oil and one waiting for Irving Oil.

High Trust arrived April 5 at Imperial Oil.

The ship at Imperial Oil is the familiar High Trust, a ship that was last here as recently as January 29. Built in 2016 by Hyundai Vinaship in Vietnam, it is a 29,935 gt, 49,990 dwt MR tanker operated by the Italian d'Amico group. It arrived from Antwerp with its cargo.

Awaiting its turn at the Irving Oil Woodside terminal Elka Bene arrived at an inside anchorage last evening after a period anchored outside the port.

It is a 30,770 gt, 45,467 dwt ship built by Brodosplit in Split Croatia in 2002. It was launched as Asirat, renamed Bene on delivery and renamed Elka Bene in 2004 when it took up its present charter to European Product Carriers Ltd. Its last port was Amsterdam where Irving Oil has a terminal.

A third tanker, the slightly smaller (Intermediate size) Acadian arrived at Irving Oil this afternoon from Saint John. The 23,552 gt, 37,515 dwt ship was built in 2005 by Hyundai Mipo for the long term charter to Irving Oil. Owners have been variously listed over the years, but are part of the Vroon company, based in the Netherlands. They also manage the ship through Iver Ships BV. However as an Irving Oil "company ship" it apparently had berthing priority.

Irving Oil's five tankers, all sister ships, three under Canadian flag and two trading internationally under Marshal Islands flag, are immediately recognizable by their unique hull colour (some call it "biscuit") and the prominent exhaust gas scrubber fitted abaft the original ship's funnel. The scrubbers allow the ship to burn heavy fuel which is banned from use in ships without scrubbers.

A fourth "tanker" sailing from Halifax today is also worth noting. It is the Asterix the Royal Canadian Navy's chartered supply ship.

Always an impressive sight, the ship carries fuel for Canadian naval vessels, which it took on board from Irving Oil last week. It also carries a variety of other supplies which can be transferred at sea.

Also in port today was the container ship MSC Brianna en route to Montreal. The oft renamed ship was built as far back as 1996 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, Okpo, South Korea.

It is also fitted with an exhaust gas scrubber, which was obviously in use as the ship sailed. The byproduct of the scrubbing process is water vapour, and scrubber equipped ships often leave a vapour trail reminiscent of jet aircraft. It is interesting that the owners were willing to invest in a scrubber system to get a few more years out of an older ship. (The ship is owned by NSM Brianna Shipping Co Ltd and on charter to MSC).

The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) was built on working with older and nearly obsolete ships from other companies. MSC Brianna is typical in that sense. Built originally as OOCL Germany it was renamed APL Germany in 1998, Germany in 2002, P+O Nelloyd Caribbean in 2002, Maersk Doha in 2003, MSC Columbia in 2013 and finally MSC Brianna in 2013. At 51,931 gt, 60,200 dwt it has a container capacity of 4168 TEU, and is just about maximum size for St.Lawrence service.