Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Amazoneborg - big on rails

The Dutch general cargo ship Amazoneborg arrived last night, and this morning was unloading rails at pier 27. Generally the rails, which come from Spain or Poland, arrive on smaller Dutch ships from the Onego fleet, so this is a much larger ship than we have seen before. However judging by its draft it isn't carrying a large load.

Built by Hudong Zhonghua Ship Building Co in 2007, the ship measures 11,864 grt and 17,355 dwt. It is a multi-purpose ship, with a capacity of 962 TEU and is fitted with three 60 tonne cranes. Its box shaped holds are fitted with 14 removable tween decks, that can also serve as bulkheads for bulk cargoes.The holds are ventilated and dehumidified. The ship is ice class 1A, and rigged for the Great Lakes (note the stern anchor).
Owners Royal Wagenborg are another of the large Dutch companies that have grown exponentially in this century to cater to non-container cargo. Amazoneborg is of their "A" class of 21 ships. They have several other classes too, both geared an ungeared and are often seen on the St.Lawrence and Great Lakes carrying steel, grain and forest products.
The company has many other interests in the logistics chain, offshore and elesewhere. See their website at:


Monday, September 29, 2014

Also rans

Not an apology, but Shipfax does not post everything that happens in Halifax harbour. The amount of activity is such that I have to pick and chose what I post. Despite my well known ability to be in more than one place at a time, I do miss things too.
Today I photographed two ships for no other reason than I was there. With no particular reason to post them, they would normally be consigned to the archives. However, in the interests of fairness I will give them equal time.

Regular Holland America callers Maasdam and Veendam get short shrift here I am afraid, simply because they are in port so often. However their big fleet mate Eurodam is less common. With a passenger capacity of 2,104 and 929 crew, it is not the biggest ship to call in Halifax by any means, but it is free from the graffiti like hull painting on NCL ships, and wears a traditional livery - nice break from the kitchen appliance white favoured by most lines.

It also has two funnels - not that rare, but these are peculiarly stove-pipe like, reflecting the fact that it was originally intended to be a Costa Crociere ship (another brand within Carnival) and the stove pipes were something of a trade mark with them. The ship thrust itself off the dock at pier 20 most convincingly, using three bow thrusters and a couple more in the stern, despite a stiff breeze.
Just visible under the ship's bow is today's Autoport visitor Aniara.

Named for one of the opera world's lesser characters ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aniara_%28opera%29 if you are curious) the ship dates from 2008 and is one of the largest autocarriers to call in Halifax. Its capacity of 7,600 cars is just short of the 7,900 figure boasted by some other members of the W+W fleet.
We have just heard of a huge settlement by NYK for price fixing in the RoRo world. Apparently other lines have been charged too. http://www.ihsmaritime360.com/article/14760/k-line-pays-67-7m-to-resolve-us-anti-trust-allegations

Don't worry Shipfax has not spawned another offshoot -there is no Planefax - although that is all we publish here. But it was noteworthy to see a United States Coast Guard aircraft in the skies over Halifax harbour.
For plane aficionados, it bore the number 2309 and is an HC-144 Ocean Sentry medium range patrol aircraft.The Canadian Coast Guard did advise that it was carrying out large scale search and rescue exercises in Mahone Bay today, involving Canada, the US and France.

Meanwhile the CCG carries on its normal duties. Yesterday CCGS Edward Cornwallis returned to port with a landing craft lashed to its deck. These small craft are used to reach shallow water navaids and to service islands, attend to pollution incidents and carry out general service work.


BBC Kimberly - one lift and gone

The multi-purpose general cargo ship BBC Kimberley made the briefest of appearances in Halifax today. Docking at Fairview Cove shortly after 1300 it was due to sail at 1400.

That would only leave it time to open its hatches, make one lift, seal up the hatches again and depart. If it needed its own cranes to work the cargo, it was certainly capable. Each crane has a 250 tonne capacity, but they can work together to lift 500 tonnes.
The ship was built in 2009 and measures 8,750 grt, 10,340 dwt. It is operated by Jungerhaus-Heavy-Lift-Fleet, in the BBC Chartering pool. 


Seabourn Quest

Another new to Halifax this year cruise ship is Seabourn Quest. I finally caught up with it today, on its third visit this season.

Built in 2011 it is the third in a series (Seabourn Sojourn of 2009 and Seabourn Odyssey of 2010 are the other two) from the T.Mariotti shipyard in Genoa, Italy. Seabourn's ships are yacht like in appearance (Mariotto is first and foremost a yacht builder) and compared to other cruise ships, of yacht like size too.
At 33,346 grt, it carries a mere 450 passengers, catered to by a crew of 335, in very luxe form. Despite this the ship was refitted in 2013 to better accommodate its fleet of Zodiacs for Antarctic cruises. Although the ship is not ice-rated (yikes!) it will venture forth into those regions, but will likely never be too far from help -one hopes.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Legend arrives

Despite being something of a veteran amongst modern day cruise ships, Legend of the Seas had never called in Halifax until this morning's arrival. The ship was built in 1995 by Chantier de l'Atlantique in St-Nazaire, France as the first of six Vision class ships for Royal Caribbean.

Measuring a modest 69,742 grt, it carries 2,076 passengers, a crew of 720 and has eleven decks.

The ship had a particularly gracious stern, but like most first generation ships had a bustle added st the waterline for increased stability. This one is better looking than most, as the ship showed when it sailed this evening.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Conti Guinea brightens up the Basin

The product tanker Conti Guinea provided a bright red spot in Bedford Basin today. It arrived last night, giving New Orleans as its last port. Flying the flag of Liberia it also advertises the United Product Tanker pool, UPT, which operates out of Hamburg. The ship is also German owned, by NSB Niderelbe of Buxtehude.

UPT, also with offices in Stamford, CT, and Limassol, Cyprus  manages more than thirty similar handymax tankers, including five sister ships with Conti surnames. It was built in 2008 by the prolific Hyundai, Mipo of South Korea, and measures 23,403 grt, 37,554 deadweight. Its tanks are epoxy lined, allowing it to carry a range of petroleum products and chemicals.
There should be a clear berth at Imperial Oil as soon as tomorrow.

Ruby Princess - first timer

Under the watchful eye of Theodore Too, the Ruby Princess made its first appearance in Halifax this morning. Another product of Fincantiere's Monfalcone shipyard, the 1113,000+ grt ship has a capacity of 3,080 passengers and 1200 crew on 19 decks. Dating from 2008 it is one of Princess Cruise Line's "Grand" class, but modified, with the lounge just aft of the funnel.instead of hanging over the stern like a shopping cart handle. As Princess brings in new ships, it will be transferred next year to the Alaska route.

Outbound at sunset, the ship shows its abbreviated stern where the lounge would have been, had it not been moved.


Friday, September 26, 2014

HMCS Montreal - at moorings in the Basin

HMCS Montreal has been in and out of harbour countless times over the past few weeks, obviously working up after Life Extension  work. This morning she was mooring in Bedford Basin, with lines out to a number of navy dolphins, and a covey of tugs and other water craft attending.

From the lines going out it seems likely she will be there for the weekend.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Trials for Heros

The last two Hero class mid-shore patrol boats were undergoing trials today.
CCGS M.Charles M.B. set out from the Coast Guard base at the Bedford Institute and spent the day in Bedford Basin. Number eight in the series, it underwent builders trials in June and was handed over to the Coast Guard.

M.Charles at anchor in Bedford Basin, with a RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflable Boat) alongside.

Captain Goddard M.S.M., the ninth and final boat, was launched in May and has spent the summer in Halifax Shipyard, but moved to the trials berth at pier 9C September 19. This morning it also went to the Basin, then this afternoon put out to sea. Late this afternoon it headed inbound as far as Middle Ground, then put about for sea again.

Captain Goddard turns to head outbound again and pours on the speed.

Both boats are to be stationed on the west coast, and will be dry transported there by heavy lift ship late this autumn.


Tanker Parade

Both of the tankers anchored in Bedford Basin made their way to Imperial Oil this morning. First in was the long-time resident Energy Pride. It arrived in Halifax September 3 and has been idle there ever since.

A 2004 product of STX Shipbuildiing in Pusan, South Korea, the ship is a large handysize of 30,095 grt, 51,319 dwt (50,000 is the rough upper limit for handysizes). Owned by South African Marine, it is managed by Enterprise Shipping + Trading of Athens, and flies the Isle of Man flag. It went to Imperial dock 4.

Next up was the recent arrival Blue Rose. It arrived late September 23 and took up its position a bit farther north in the Basin.

Built in 2007 it is at the small end of the range of  handysize tankers at 24,112 grt, 38,042 dwt. It flies the Marshall Islands flag and operates for  Schulte Ship Management of Greece. Its destination was Imperial dock 3.


Celebrity overniter

Another unusual sight today was Celebrity Summit sailing and Maasdam arriving.

Celebrity Summit was due to sail at 1745 yesterday to make way for Royal Princess, but instead went out to number one anchorage in the lower harbour. At about 2230, with assistance of the tug Atlantic Oak, the ship moved in to pier 33-34 for repairs. Once repairs were completed Port State Control (aka Transport Canada or delegated class society) cleared the ship to sail this morning at 0700.
Once outbound, a passing was arranged with the inbound Maasdam, with Celebrity Summit taking the deep water, western channel.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Royal Princess - first timer

Christened to much fanfare by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge at Southampton, UK, June 13, 2013, Princess Cruise Line's Royal Princess made an unusual late afternoon arrival in Halifax today.

Fincantieri built the ship at their Monfalcone yard, where it was launched August 16, 2012. Measuring 142, 714 grt it is slightly smaller than Queen Mary 2's 148,528, but exceeds it in passenger capacity, with 3600 vs QM2's 2620.  It is also slightly shorter at 1083 ft  vs. 1132, but considerably broader. Depending on how you measure it, Royal Princess is 155 ft. at its widest - at the "sea walk", and 126 ft. at the waterline. By comparison QM2 is 135 ft. wide.

Both ships are part of the Carnival plc family, but operating under different brands. Princess Cruise Lines for the Royal Princess and Cunard for the Queen Mary 2.

The quest for ever larger cruise ships shows no sign of letting up, with Carnival building two sisters, to be named Regal Princess and Britannia - but they are far from the largest ships contemplated.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Tanker change

The Panamanian flag tanker Challenge Paradise arrived in Halifax on September 17 and anchored in Bedford Basin. The next day it moved to Imperial Oil dock 3 and back to anchor on the 19th.
Yesterday her crew were hard at work painting a new name on the bow and a new port of registry on the stern, and the ship sailed today under the name Ridgebury Julia M, Marshal Islands flag.
 September 18: moving to Imperial Oil, likely to pump off slops.

September 21: back at anchor in Bedford Basin (at left in photo) getting a new name. That is Mare Di Genova at right, having just anchored, and disembarked pilot to Halmar.

September 22: sailing with hastily stenciled new name.


Surf's up - cruisers down - UPDATED

High winds and driving rain swept over Halifax last night and early this morning, resulting in power outages on land, and high seas in the harbour approaches.


It was great for early morning surfers, but it meant that three cruise ships that were due at the pilot station for 0730, 0745 and 0830 loitered offshore until after 1000. By that time conditions had calmed down considerably, but it meant that two of the ships were not alongside until nearly noon. This would certainly cut into the passengers shore time.

Regatta creeping along past the deepwater piers to make its turn into pier 23.

Veendam came west and northabout George's Island. Interestingly it took the tug Atlantic Oak to assist with the turn. It is rare for cruise ships to take a tug, and in this case it wasn't due to weather since the wind had died down. Perhaps it has a faulty thruster or the small space left for it to squeeze into pier 20 astern of Norwegian Gem which was the first to tie up.

The scheduled 1630 departure of Norwegian Gem was put back to 1830. There was still a light salty spume in the otherwise cloudless air and surf pounding in on Point Pleasant as she made her way outbound. Thank goodness for stabilizers, because I think there would be quite a swell farther out.

Veendam pushed its departure out to 1730, then opted to stay in port overnight and Regatta also remained in port. Both are due to sail at 0600 tomorrow.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Second lives for two trawlers

A trip to the south shore of Nova Scotia always turns up some interesting shipping activity. This weekend was no exception.

In Bridgewater the beautiful little Gaspé trawler Line-Guy was tied up at the public wharf.

Built by Chantier maritime de Gaspé in 1978 as Cap Blanc it has fished out of Caraquet for many years as Line-Guy. It is now owned in Pleasantville, Lunenburg County, and has found its home in fresh water up the La Have River. It is fitted with its paravanes for stability at sea, and is still carrying its trawl gear.

In nearby Lunenburg, the veteran former National Sea Products trawler Cape Race is back for a visit.

It was built for NatSea by George T. Davie + Sons in Lauzon, QC in 1963. It arrived in Lunenburg September 7 of that year and fished out of Louisbourg for most of its career. It was then converted to scallop dragging, which spoiled its looks somewhat, and transferred to Lunenburg. National Sea sold its fleet en bloc to Clearwater, which company ran her for a few more years.

During conversion for scallop dragging her side alleys were enclosed for shucking tables, and twin booms were rigged for the drags.

Its Canadian registry was closed 2005-09-02 and it was then converted as an expedition yacht, with a great deal of money lavished on its interior fittings for 12 passengers in 6 staterooms, and a salon on deck. It also received a Cat 3512 main engine, replacing its original KHD.  Somewhat less was spent on its exterior appearance, leaving some rough looking work, but retaining much of its original look.
Trawlers did not usually ship anchors in hawse pipe forward. There was too much risk of them damaging the hull in seas, or snagging trawl wires, but in her new guise, she now has port and starboard anchors. Her side alleys were re-opened, but the awkward looking remnants could stand to trimmed up a bit!

Now flying the United States flag, Cape Race is owned by something called 'Drifting Society Inc' of New York. In 2013 she made a trip north to Greenland and Baffin Island, and may have done the same this year.

There are several web sites (with questionable information about her history*) that show the interior fit up and have videos of her past and present. There is also a sketch of her rigged for sail. I suppose that is good advertising for an expedition yacht.


* among the clangers I noted:
 - she was built British - an old Lloyd's Register convention, where every ship in the British Commonwealth was considered British (by the British). She was most certainly built Canadian, and was christened at Lauzon by Mrs. Ron Smith along with Cape Aspy on May 25, 1963. Cape Mira was launched on the same weekend, sponsored by her daughter Judith.
  - she was the first steel trawler- She was the first all steel trawler built in Canada for National Sea Products. They had many UK and several Dutch built steel trawlers before these ones were delivered. And there had been all steel Canadian trawlers dating back to the early 1900s.

There may be other errors too, so don't believe everything you read - except of course on Shipfax.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Augusta Kontor - back again

The name Augusta Kontor is a new one to Halifax, but the ship bearing it has been here before. In today at Fairview Cove for Hapag-Lloyd, the Marshal Island flagged ship is one of a number of spot charters that H-L has been using for the past several months. Coming off a previous charter in January this year the ship had been operating as Charlotte C. Rickmers since 2009, and was renamed Charlotte briefly before taking on its present name.

Built for Rickmers Reederei  GmbH + Cie KG of Hamburg, by Hanjin Heavy Industries of Busan, South Korea, it is one of a large series of similar panamax ships (six for Rickmers) of 54,214 grt and 5060 TEU (454 refrigerated). They were all for charter, and this particular ship served from new in 2004 to 2009 as Maersk Douala. It was under this name that it arrived in Halifax April 30, 2004. It was the first of thirteen calls by Maersk ships that year during the crab season. Maersk was not a regular caller in those days but the lucrative shellfish were enough inducement to add Halifax to its port rotation for a several months. 
I was out of town for that visit, but  Ship-Pics was on scene: http://ship-pics.co.uk/npAUG08.htm
The ship was in full Maersk livery, and was still quite new and looking quite splendid. Its current paint job is not nearly so attractive, and far from spotless.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tanker time - again

After  a few days of little tanker activity, we again have three tankers in port.  Two arrived today, but the third has been here almost all month.

Energy Pride picks up some golden energy from the setting sun. It has been anchored in the Bedford Basin since September 3.See Shipfax from September 5 for more details..

Also in the Basin:

Challenge Paradise will be the next up to go the Imperial Oil in the morning. It appears to be in ballast, so it may here to load - not sure what. A member of the huge NYK fleet, it was built in 2007 and measures 28,603 grt, 45,980 dwt. It flies the flag of Panama, and has arrived from the St.Lawrence River.

Meanwhile in the lower harbour:

Apollon, predictably a Greek owned ship, part of the Tsakos Coumbia fleet of Athens, it is registered in the Bahamas. It was built in 2005, measures 30,053 grt, 53,148 dwt. Despite being anchored in the lower harbour, usually the place for short term visits, it has no orders to move yet.

Canadian tanker Algonova arrived September 13, bunkered, then moved to Imperial Oil to unload. It moved out to anchor September 15, then to Valero (Ultramar) in Eastern Passage where it loaded cargo, moving it to Imperial Oil early this morning.

It has been an eventful year for the Turkish-built tanker. Emerging from the now defunct Novadock floating drydock at Halifax Shipyard a year ago, the ship was soon reassigned when Imperial Oil stopped refining operations in Halifax. The ship continued to serve Imperial customers, but from the St.Lawrence, with only occasional calls in Halifax. Then on January 19, 2014 it suffered a serious engine room fire in the Gulf and came to Halifax eventually and under went repairs until April. Since then I believe the ship has been running uneventfully.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Seismic done - for this year

According to press reports, BP has completed it seismic exploration work for this year Starting in April, BP has been working almost without cease, south of Sable Island. To maximize sea days for the seismic ships, supply and picket boats worked out of Halifax to support the work.
The standby/supplier/support vessel Mainport Pine has been tied up in Halifax for several days now, since its extended coasting license expired September 15. Its work is now done and will wait for the next assignment.

Geco Diamond arrived this morning and tied up at pier 27, to demobilize. The rest of the fleet are dispersing to the four corners of the earth, and some will return next year for more.


Balmoral over-nighter

Few cruise ships stay in Halifax over night. The exception this year is Balmoral the veteran Fred Olsen ship. Built in 1988 as Crown Odyssey, it has been Norwegian Crown (1996-2000) and Crown Odyssey again (2000-2003) and back to Norwegian Crown (2003-2008).

The overnight stop allows for crew time off and interesting passenger experiences. In 2012 the ship was doing a Titanic  commemoration cruise when in arrived April 16.

As a footnote to yesterday's post: If cabotage laws are removed in Canada, then cruise ships will be able to board and disembark its passengers in Canadian ports, without having to go into international waters or foreign ports between. A Montreal-Halifax cruise (a virtual impossibility until now, except on small specialist ships) might actually be offered by some lines.

Postscript: Halifax newspaper reports that Balmoral cancelled a visit to Shelburne, NS because a pilot was not available. Shelburne is a non-compulsory pilotage port, so the use of a pilot is at the discretion of the master. The master determined that he required a pilot, but since local organizers/agents had not arranged for a pilot in advance, none was available on short notice.
Licensed pilots generally work full time for the Atlantic Pilotage Authority and must arrange for non-compulsory pilotages on their own time off or take vacation days.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Cabotage Rant

It is time for another rant on the subject of cabotage. If you've been ignoring me on this topic, here is the gist of it. Cabotage is essentially trade between ports within the same country- also called coasting. Most nations have regulations on cabotage, often restricting such trade to ships belonging to that country.

Perhaps the most extreme form of cabotage law exists in the United States and forms part of the Jones Act. To trade between US ports, a ship must not only fly the flag of the US, it must be owned and built in the US and must have a US crew. There is much more in the Jones Act than that, which was originally enacted to protect US shipbuilding and ensure a sufficient number of ships and crews to respond to national emergency, in case of war, etc.,  Exceptions have been made, but generally it takes an Act of Congress.

Canada's cabotage law is fairly simple- to trade between Canadian ports, the ship must fly the Canadian flag.
Exceptions are made by the Minister of Public Security when no "suitable" Canadian ship is available. The result is that specialized ships such as those used in offshore petroleum work are routinely given coasting licenses since there are no Canadian ships that can do the work.  It does beg the question of whether suitable Canadian ships would be found if Canadian waters were closed to foreign ships. Would Canadian owners have the courage to get into the business and be competitive world wide?

Sophisticated applicants can tailor the type of work to ensure that even if a Canadian ship were available to do some of the work, no Canadian ship could do all of the work. A recent case in point was the coasting license given to the Russian ship Akademik Sergey Vavilov for a combined pleasure cruise and research voyage in the high Arctic. The Canadian icebreaker Polar Prince (ex Sir Humphrey Gilbert) could have done some or most of the work but. not the luxury cruise part, so the Russian got the coasting license.

Akademik Ioffe, sister of Akademik Sergey Vavilov in Halifax in 2011.

Tanker companies have also skilfully played the coasting license game by keeping the number of Canadian flag tankers to the economic minimum possible level, and calling in a foreign ship when all the Canadian ones are busy. This scheme ensures that no Canadian tankers are ever idle for want of work, and that is good for the bottom line. Since Canadian flagged ships are not competitive in international trade, they are kept at work within Canadian waters, and that is also good for the bottom line. However there is another line, and that is the fine line where the market could support another Canadian tanker. Algoma Tankers recently decided that the line had been crossed and brought the tanker Algoma Hansa under Canadian flag permanently. Built in the US, it had been trading internationally under foreign flag and could have been issued a temporary coasting license for short term work-even up to a year, but there was apparently enough longer term work that it was worth bringing the ship into Canadian registry permanently.

Not so clear is the case of  Espada Desgagnés. Earlier this year Transport Desgagnés' tanker subsidiary Pétro-Nav formed a new company with Valero (Ultramar) to transport Alberta tar sands bitumen from Montreal to Lévis, QC, starting in the fall of 2014 when the existing pipeline to Montreal is converted from gas to crude oil. They acquired two very nice foreign tankers and renamed them Espada Desgagnés and Laurentia Desgagnés. Since the ships were not needed until autumn, they were immediately flagged out to Barbados on a charter through an associated offshore entity. (Many Desgagnés dry cargo ships are flagged out foreign for up to half of the year when they are not needed in Canadian coasting work.)  

The handsome Espada Desgagnés heads north...

However, Espada Desgagnés, was granted two coasting licenses this summer to work as a depot ship in the high north, since no Canadian ship was available. Its work was to take fuel from Valero in Lévis to Diana Bay. At anchor there it would dole out the fuel to smaller tankers for delivery to northern ports. This would save the smaller tankers from having to return all the way to Lévis for each load. Having such a large ice class tanker available, which no other company had, ensured that a coasting license was readily available. However Pétro-Nav is a Canadian company, with (presumably) a fully qualified Canadian ship, but is allowed to have it working in Canada under foreign flag, primarily because it has figured out how (and perfectly legally I guess.)

 ... proudly flying the flag of Barbados.

So Canada's cabotage laws may not be perfect and they may be dodged by skilful operators and they may perpetuate high operating costs. That's not to say that they couldn't be improved, or that Canadian ship owners couldn't become much more competitive worldwide if given sufficient regulatory encouragement at home. 

Now we are faced with a new development. Our federal government, which has any uncanny nack for enacting policies that no one has asked for (need I mention the elimination of the long form census among the hundreds of others?) has suddenly decided that Free Trade with the EU is essential to our future. This is largely a matter of spite for the US not granting us a route for another oil sands bitumen pipeline. Also famous for throwing out the baby with the bath water, the negotiators have apparently decided that cabotage is a bad word (if they understood it) and that it can be sacrificed to make the politically important deal.
Ships of any nation - no matter how disreputable are able to trade freely between and within EU countries - so that should be good enough for Canada.

If this comes to pass what could it mean?

1. Overnight, Canadian shipowners will flag out their ships to flags of convenience if they want to remain in business.
2. Owners will fire hundreds of Canadian seafarers, with the loss of well paying jobs (and a source of Canadian income tax) and hire third world crews at a fraction of the cost.
3. The Canadian shipowners will also re-incorporate offshore and will not have to pay a cent of Canadian corporate tax.
4. New foreign operators will appear on the scene with sketchy ships and sketchier lines of responsibility.
5. Canadian ports will begin to host substandard ships that have been detained for deficiencies to safety standards or even abandoned - including their third world crews. Expect more accidents and groundings too - see recent European history where undermanned and substandard ships figure in most shipping incidents.
6. Canadian shipbuilding, which was sacrificed at the altar of defense procurement, is largely dead anyway, but this will ensure that resurrection is never possible, short of a miracle.
7. The cost of transporting goods between Canadian ports may go down, but not much, since incoming foreign operators will only have to compete with each other. Can you imagine the reaction from the Longshoremen when the first foreign flag coaster arrives?

Is this what anyone wants?

Why not instead bring Canadian shipping into a more competitive position world wide?
It is impossible to level the playing field, but why must we try? Just because the EU allows it why must we? It is too much to give up sovereignty of our own waters.Our government is obviously just buying its way into the EU, not negotiating as equals and playing hardball.
To make Canada more competitive would require some clever thinking about a Canadian offshore registry (we are close to having it with Barbados now), and some creative work with seafarers and immigrant workers.
Some other Canadian sacred cows such as dairy marketing boards (pun intended) and inter-provincial barriers would be far better things to give up, than gutting Canadian cabotage laws.    

Watch this story because it is flying well under the radar of most Canadians and most politicians who are geographically challenged by distance from navigable waters.


Small tugs for Big Ships

Two small tugs went to work this morning to serve two big ships. The cruise ships Maasdam and Norwegian Gem did not need tugs to berth at pier 21 and pier 22 respectively, but they did require servicing once they did tie up.
First alongside Maasdam was Dominion Diving's Big Steel, working as a dive tender:

Built in 1955 for the RCN as YMU 116 and later renamed YMU 116. It has a compressor and hose rack on deck to support diving. The boat has also worked as a pilot boat, line boat and tug.

Meanwhile working its way across the harbour, Gulf Spray with the barge D/B Gavin David and the assist boat Harbour Runner:

Gulf Spray was built in 1959 and extensively rebuilt in 2007. Last March its house and bulwarks were seriously damaged in a storm, but the boat has been repaired and is back in full service. (See Tugfax of March 28 and March 31 for details on the damage.)
Sister blog Tugfax normally covers tug activity in Halifax.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Trailblazer gone to the beach

The recent parade of gypsum carriers to the scrap yard isn't over yet. With CSL International and its pool of ships upgrading with new or newer ships, the old familiar faces are fast disappearing. In recent months Ambassador and  Pioneer and others have been sent to the scrappers.

 Gold Bond Trailblazer

The latest to go the beaches of Alang, India, is CSL Trailblazer, familiar to older Halifax shipwatchers as Gold Bond Trailblazer, however its story is intertwined in an interesting way with the better known Colon Brown.

Built in 1974 by Sasebo Heavy Industries in Japan, Colon Brown was the second generation of the revolutionary deep-sea self-unloaders pioneered by Ove Skaarup, starting with Melvin H.Baker in 1956. Built as gypsum carriers, they were chartered to National Gypsum, and were frequent callers to Halifax in the boom years for gypsum. Colon Brown was less than a year old when it sailed from Halifax in April 1975, fully loaded, and heading into extreme weather. Just off Halifax, the decision was made to come about and return to port. In doing so however, the ship was severely damaged and began to take water.

It was a near thing, but the ship made it inside Meagher's Beach and was purposely run ashore in Macnab's Cove to prevent it from sinking entirely. With decks nearly awash, and the hull severely twisted, the ship was saved along with all aboard her.

 Colon Brown in the floating drydock Lionel A. Forsyth at Halifax Shipyard for temporary repairs following the intentional grounding. The ship's bow and stern extend beyond the ends of the dock.

Remarkably the ship was patched up enough to return to Japan to be rebuilt. When it got there, a new mid-body was installed and the ship sailed again in 1976 as Gold Bond Conveyor. With the original bow and stern, the ship returned to service carrying gypsum out of Halifax.

 Gold Bond Conveyor ex Colon Brown

On March 13, 1993 it sailed fully loaded from Halifax and headed into the "storm of the century" and was soon in trouble again. Heavy seas collapsed hatches forward and it began to take water. Although aircraft and ships were dispatched to assist, the weather prevented them from aiding the beleaguered vessel and the erstwhile rescuers watched helplessly as it disappeared from radar March 15, 180 miles south of Cape Sable Island, with its entire crew of 33.

The mid-section of the former Colon Brown, although damaged in 1975, was rebuilt and  used in the construction of another ship, named Gold Bond Trailblazer which was completed in 1978. Some design changes were made in the new ship however, and its superstructure was built with one less deck. Later ships, such as Georgia S . (also now gone to scrap) were built with a higher bow to shelter the number one hatch. 

All the Skaarup ships had a totally enclosed self-unloading system, discharging through the stern by means of extendible conveyors from side doors.

The large projection on the stern housed the transverse unloading conveyors, which were concealed behind doors while at sea, but extended outboard for unloading in port. Could uplift from following seas, or damaged doors have been a factor in the the loss of Gold Bond Conveyor?

When CSL took over the National Gypsum contract from Skaarup Shipping, they bought Gold Bond Trailblazer which had become surplus, and renamed it CSL Trailblazer in 1998. Although I don't believe it appeared in Halifax under that name, it  worked for CSL on the west coast carrying aggregates and in the Caribbean/Gulf region with sand and phosphate rock.

Now the Trailblazer is history, and with it, part of the Colon Brown, which survived its ill-fated "parent" by 21 years.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

HMCS St.John's from the graving dock

Tugs moved HMCS St.John's from the graving dock to the Machine Shop wharf at Halifax Shipyard this morning.

Her upper works still shrouded with scaffolding, the grey ship emerged from the first phase of her FELEX upgrade program on a grey day. The first part of the upgrade is done in the graving dock, the second stage alongside the shipyard and the third in HMC Dockyard itself. The process is about 19 months in duraton.
HMCS St.John's is the fifth east coast ship into the FELEX program  - Halifax, Fredericton, Montreal, and Charlottetown preceded. If  the schedule I have is correct, HMCS Ville de Québec will be next followed by Toronto.