Friday, October 9, 2015

Flinterstar - nice ship, sad end

The Netherlands flag general cargo ship Flinterstar has been declared a constructive total loss after a collision in the North Sea off the Belgian coast near Zeebrugge in the busy Western Schelde Estuary.
There are scores of images of the wreck on line. e.g.:   Google Images

Nearly new in 2002, the ship sails into Halifax.

The ship, built in 2002 by Ferus Smit, Leer, of 6577 grt, 9122 dwt collided with the the gas carrier Al Oraiq, 122,000 dwt, and came off the loser. Flinterstar took a heavy list and grounded on a sandbank with its stern partially submerged. Leaking fuel oil, near a wildlife reserve, the ship set in motion a major Belgian/.Dutch rescue, cleanup and salvage operation. Smit/Multraship is engaged to pump out the remaining fuel, but the owners, Flinter Groep BV have stated that the ship has been damaged beyond economical repair. The ship's crew of 12 were removed without serious injury.

 After dodging some late season boaters, Flinterstar approaches pier 28 in Halifax.

Flinterstar was well known in  some Great Lakes ports, but was also a visitor to Halifax in November 2002 when it delivered a cargo of steel tire cores for Michelin. Typical of many versatile Dutch cargo ships, it has two box shaped holds with pontoon hatch covers and carries a pair of 60 tonne cranes that can combine for a 120 tonne lift.
From June 2006 to June 2011 it carried the name UAL Africa while on charter to Universal Africa Lines.
For more info on the ship and its owners, refer to the excellent Flinter web site:


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Monge and a flashback

The arrival on Monday October 5 of the French satellite tracking ship Monge brought back memorties of the cold war days in Halifax.

But first the Monge. Built by Chantier de l'Atlantique, Saint-Nazaire, it was launched in 1990 and in service by 1992 as a missile range instrumentation ship for submarine launched missiles, but also for satellite tracking. Its prominent radomes indicate its purpose at once, but it is a naval vessel (A601) and is lightly armed and can carry a helicopter. It carries a full naval complement of 186 and 15 civilian technicians.
A large ship, it is 225m long and displaces 21,000 tonnes and has a range of 15,000 n.mi. with a speed of 16 knots powered by two Pielstick engines driving a singe screw twin screws.
Often stationed in hot climates, its hull is painted white to aid in cooling its vast array of electronics.

 A very wide angle view of Monge at HMC Dockyard. The oil boom has been deployed as the bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouth was just about to come alongside.

Now for the flash back. In t dark days of the cold war the USSR also built a fleet of satellite tracking ships that were used to monitor the USSR's space program and to do upper atmosphere and outer space research. The ships also kept very close tabs on the US space program and were often to be seen in Halifax following major US rocket and spacecraft launches and re-entries.

Kosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was built by the Khersonskiy Shipyard as the merchant ship Genichesk in 1966 but was converted almost immediately for satellite tracking. Its huge radomes were enclosed in golf ball like housings. It measured 13,935 grt in 1967, and was based in Odessa and operated by the state owned Baltic-Black Sea Shipping for the USSR Academy of Sciences. It also had a large crew of over 200.

 Kosmonaut Vladimir Komarov at pier 21, with Halifax civilians getting a close up look. It may have been the Cold War, but there was unfettered access to the pier faces in those days.
(My apologies for the quality of this 1968 photo taken on a 620 fixed focal length camera - in deep shadow). 

Kosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin (also spelled Yuri in some places) was purpose built in 1971 by the Baltic Shipyard in Leningrad. A very large ship oif 31,300 tons it was steam turbine powered and also based in the Ukraine, operating ostensibly for the Soviet Academy of Sciences, with a largely civilian crew (with the usual quota of political officers).

A supremely dignified ship, despite its mushroom factory upper works. I needed my newly acquired 28mm wide angle lens (on my new to me Olympus OM-1) to get it all in.

Again, civilians getting a close up look at pier 26.

There were objections to the ships' presence in Halifax, as provocative, so they were banished to Sydney, but continued to call there for stores and crew R&R.

When the USSR collapsed, the ships were transferred to the Ukraine Academy of Science, but both were soon broken up.
Kosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was broken up in Alang, India in 1994. 

Kosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin was renamed Agar and sent to Bangladesh scrappers in 1996.

These were only two of several USSR ships with tracking capability, the others much smaller. Akademik Sergei Korolev  is another that comes to mind, that was fitted with large antennas (It was broken up in Bangladesh as Agar Alang, India as Orol in 1996). There was also a class of ships that were nominally fisheries, hydrographic or oceanographic researchers, but were probably doing a lot of underwater listening, such as Professor Vize.

Invariably painted white and attractively styled, they explained away the white colours as typical of research ships (Canada's Hudson and Baffin for example, but also Quest). But the white was no doubt helpful while stationed in the Caribbean down range of Cape Canaveral, in keeping the electronics cool.

Professor Vize had a lot more antennas and other strange devices than you would expect to see on a lowly hydrographic research ship. It was supposedly doing iceberg research and maybe it was.

Professor Vize built 1966, Mathias-Thesen Werft, Wismar, East Germany. Broken up 1999, Mumbai.

If you don't recognize the names of the men commemorated by these ships, here's a little refresher:


Oversight corrected - Craig Blake

Among the several oversights in the last few weeks, I neglected to mention that the newest addition to the Halifax harbor ferry service, Craig Blake entered service in September.

So far the new boat has been running mostly on the Woodside to Halifax run, with Christopher Stannix, but as with all members of the fleet, it could run on either the Woodside or Alderney route.

Craig Blake wears the latest colour scheme for the newly re-branded Halifax Transit (formerly Metro Transit).

To see some of those previous colour schemes refer to these posts:


Securing Novadock

Now that the first section of the Novadock is safely aboard the Boa Barge 33, work goes on to secure it in place. The work includes brackets to the underside of the Novadock where it overhangs the barge. Several small craft and barges from RMI Marine are employed in this work which will take several days. It must be very unpleasant work, with decades of marine growth built up on the hull and now exposed to the air.

Note the small craft working under the overhang. The drydock has been plated over where it was cut in two (The new steel is painted in red primer.) Note also the cross bracing wires on the drydock to ensure that it did not sag during loading.

As a non-powered vessel, the Boa Barge 33 must have a tug alongside at all times when at anchor in case it is required to move, or if it goes adrift. That is its companion tug Boa Odin at the stern.

There is also a Caterpillar packaged generator on the drydock to provide power for lights and pumps.

New owners, International Ship Repairs in Tampa, FL have several other drydocks, some of which can be coupled together when needed to take larger ships. It seems likely that they would do the same with Novadock , but it was necessary to cut it in two for transport anyway.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

We Have Lift On

NASA may have Lift Off, but today Halifax harbour had Lift On. The semi-submersible heavy lift barge Boa Barge 33 was put to the test and came through swimmingly.

The barge arrived September 27 in tow of the tug Boa Odin- see Tugfax and after some time at pier 27 and pier 28, it moved out into the harbour yesterday:

Tugs Atlantic Larch (at the bow) and Boa Odin near the stern, move the Boa Barge 33 past the Novadock yesterday afternoon. It is easy to see that the barge is easily large enough to carry each section with room to spare.

Despite drizzly weather this morning the barge was submerged and the first section of the former Novadock was floated over.

 This morning the barge is all but invisible as it is submerged in number 6 anchorage area in the lower harbour. 
(Princess of Acadia remains laid up at the former Coast Guard base in Dartmouth.)

 Early this afternoon, with the Novadock in place, the refloating operation continues for the barge.

Once the load is secured and there is a suitable weather window the long trip to Florida will begin. The second section of the floating drydock will follow in due course. It is a larger and heavier section and will also depend on very good weather to make the trip.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Glovis Century Returns

The autocarrier Glovis Century returned to Halifax yesterday and today reloaded its cargo of automobiles.
The ship called here on September 20 and discharged a thousand or so North American export cars to reduce its draft for the St.Lawrence River. The  Chrysler and Ford automobiles remained on pier 9C while the ship went on to Montreal and loaded a military cargo.

Some of that cargo was visible on the ship's main deck which is higher than the upper and lower car decks.

Last evening at sunset, the ship was secured but did not begin loading until today. with some of the loading completed. I suppose so that some of the vehicles on board could be shuffled around. By the same token, Work was completed by supper time today, but the ship was not scheduled to sail until 2130, allowing time for more shuffling within the ship and final lashing. It takes much longer to load these ships carefully than it does to drive the cars off.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Halifax and Hamburg, and weekend catch up

At the recent Port Days event in Halifax, much was made of the similarity between the ports of Halifax and Hamburg. In fact one of the keynote speakers at the event was the president of the Port of Hamburg. He emphasized that in addition to meeting the needs of  Hamburg itself, the port of Hamburg serves a vast "hinterland" of north and central Europe. Because the Alps block easy access to much of northern Europe to Mediterranean ports, Hamburg is a much more efficient gateway to those areas.

Similarly Halifax is positioned to serve the "hinterland" of (geographical) mid-America, bypassing the congestion of ports such as New York and even west coast ports. To bolster this point an executive of Loblaws, a massive food and retail conglomerate, said that his corporation has shifted some of its shipping through Halifax instead of the west coast ports. As an importer of myriad products from Asia, it found that the dependability of west coast ports did not meet its needs.

As if to support the Hamburg connection, today two ships bearing the name of that important port visited Halifax.

 Hamburg glides away from pier 20....

First in was the small German cruise ship Hamburg. After a season of touring the Great Lakes it is now repositioning. Built in 1997 as c. Columbus (yes the first "c", for Christopher,  was small), the ship sailed for Hapag-Lloyd until 2012, also visiting the Great Lakes with stops in Halifax.

 ...and threads the needle between numerous pleasure craft, some of whom remain oblivious to the consequences of getting in the way of a ship. (The motor boat off the bow did not change course or move off. The ship gave a whistle warning that it was turning to starboard, but the motorboat operator would have no idea how tight a turn the ship could make.) The kayakers and sailboat kept a respectful distance.

With a capacity of 420 passengers, it provides a very different kind of cruising experience, catering mostly to Germans.

Later in the afternoon OOCL Hamburg arrived and tied up at Halterm, berth 41.

Note how light the ship is laden, despite having a lot of containers on deck. Most of those are empty.

 The ship called here September 15 on its westbound leg (with import cargo) and went on to discharge at US ports. It is now on its eastbound, return leg to Asia. The woeful trade imbalance to that part of the world is evident by the ship's light draft. That draft is the reason the ship called at Halterm, because it would not have clearance under the bridges at higher tides. (We are having extra low tides this week, so it might have made it today).

The stern portion of the ship is loaded to the top with empties, and looks like an old time punchboard.

The ship has little connection with Hamburg, except to recognize the name of that port. It was built in Korea and is owned and registered in Hong Kong. At 80673 TEU (1400 reefers) it is among the larger container ships to call in Halifax, although it will soon be eclipsed by 10,000 TEU vessels.

On its westbond visit, September 15, the ship was still deeply laden despite unloading many boxes at Fairview Cove. 

Catching up with some other weekend activities in Halifax::

Perhaps to confirm some claims that Halifax is not the end of the world, but you can see it from here, we did see the "end of The World " on Friday. That is, we saw the end of an overnight visit from the residence ship The World. Built in 2002, it was a unique concept, wherein, like condos ashore, its suites (and the entire ship) is owned by the residents. There are 165 residences, and on average 150 to 200 people are on board at any time. There is a crew of 260.
The ship has visited Halifax several times, including in its first year of operation, and on October 5, 2012, after completing its record breaking Northwest Passage from Nome, AK, to Nuuk, Greenland. It was the largest passenger ship to have done so. It returned to Halifax on October 28 of the same year on an unscheduled call when it was diverted by Hurricane Sandy.

The (sharp) end of The World on September 25, 2015.

The (blunt) end of The World in 2002.

For those more interested in ordinary merchant ships, there was another visitor for bunkers on Friday. The Panama flag United Harmony, although a conventional bulker of 24,328 grt, 38,994 dwt, with four 30 tonne cranes, it is something new for its owners.

 United Harmony airs it holds as it takes bunkers on a windy Friday afternoon.

The improbably named Hiong Guan Navega├žeon Co Ltd of Hong Kong, provides ships to the better known Dowa Line America Co Ltd, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, and carrying the Balsa and Century names. Previously specializing in small bulkers of under 10,000 dwt, its ships trade mostly in eastern North America and the Caribbean. This ship is much larger, and was delivered earlier this year by Shin Kurushima, Toyohashi, Japan. The bulker market is in the doldrums, but Dowa Line has carved a niche for itself. The ship sailed for Port Cartier, likely to load grain.