Sunday, November 11, 2018

CMA CGM Chennai -10,000 TEU

CMA CGM Chennai berthed this afternoon at pier 41-42 Halterm, a day and a half later than scheduled due to high winds. Serving the Columbus JAX service, it is the only ship larger than 10,000 TEU regularly scheduled to visit Halifax. The other ships on the route range from 9130 to 9953 TEU.

Delivered in May of this year by Jiangsu Yangzi Xinfu Shipbuilding of Jianjiang, China, it made its first call here July 14. The ship measures 112,967 grt, 119,000 dwt, and carries containers 19 wide at the widest part of the ship.

Even though conditions had improved today, with unlimited visibility, the winds were still gusty, and the ship used three tugs to berth.

The ship is owned by Seaspan and operated by them for CMA CGM on a long term charter.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Survey boat retirement

Two Canadian Coast Guard survey vessels will be retired this year now that replacements have been delivered. One of the retirees, which was considered state of the art when built, worked from Halifax for a time.

It was named CSS (Canadian Survey Ship)  F.C.G. Smith for the late Dominion Hydrographer Frederick Clifford Goulding Smith. Born in 1890, and educated at Acadia University, he was responsible for much of the charting in Hudson's Bay. He died in Annapolis Royal, NS in 1983.

In traditional hydrographic vessel livery of white hull and buff funnel, CSS F.C.G. Smith works in Pictou Harbour.

The boat, measuriung 430 grt,  was completed  in 1985 by Georgetown Shipyard Inc in Georgetown, PE and was initially based at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) in Dartmouth. With twin catamaran hulls, and retractable booms, it was able to chart much wider swaths of seabed than a monohull, with the added benefit of greater stability. The vessel measures 33.22m long x 13.99m wide (plus sweeps)

In Coast Guard colours, CCGS F.C.G Smith works downstream from Trois-Rivières, QC.

In 1995 the boat was transferred from the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to the Minister of Transport and assigned to the Coast Guard, and was moved from BIO to the St.Lawrence River. It was then assigned to the main shipping channel between Trois-Rivières and Ile-aux-Coudres.

When not in use for sweeping, the booms are swung inboard and secured. There are aslo sensors mounted between the hulls to ensure a continuous track.

Another survey boat based in Quebec will also be retired. Named G.C.03 It was built in 1970 by Fercraft Marine Inc, Ste-Catherine d'Alexandrie, QC. It is 17.8m long x 6.19m wide and 57 grt. Originally named S.L.03 by the Minister of Transport, it was later renamed G.C.03 and transferred, along with all Coast Guard functions to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Under the National Shipbuilding Strategy [NSBS] the government established a small vessel construction program, and - cynical though I may be - this program was not only to replace older vessels, but to replace bigger boats with smaller or fewer boats. Such has proven to be the case, as the replacement survey boats are11.9m long x 6m wide, i.e. smaller than the boats they replace.

The contract for the construction of the new boats was announced in December 2016 and Kanter Marine of St.Thomas, ON recently delivered Jean Bourdon and Helen Irene Battle. To be nominally based in Mont Joli, QC, they will work between Montreal and Ile-aux-Coudres.

Certainly they are too small to work in the Gulf of St.Lawrence, but there has been no indication so far how the Frederick G. Creed (built in 1988) which does that survey work now, will be replaced.

The small vessel replacement program is also delivering:
- 12 new CCG lifeboats, some already delivered, $89.2 mn, with an option for up to 4 more.
Builders: Hike and Forillon.
- channel survey and sounding (as above) - two boats $5.4 mn, by Kanter Marine.
- hydrographic survey vessels - 7 trailerable boats, all delivered, with option for 3 more, $5.5mn - Kanter Marine.
- coastal research vessel - (Great Lakes) 1 vessel 11.5m , $1.2 mn, Kanter Marine.
- RCMP coastal patrol boats - three monohull 25m long - not yet awarded

- naval large tug project (4 new tugs to replace 5 harbour tugs and 2 fireboats) - not yet awarded.

Large vessel replacements are all assigned under NSBS to Seaspan as part of the non-combatant portion of the program. These include the offshore fisheries and science and offshore oceanographic science vessels.

Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax has the combatant portion. 


Friday, November 9, 2018

Bunkering in Halifax -another chapter

With the sailing on November 8, 2018 of Algoma Dartmouth for Saint John, NB to start a new bunkering operation in that port for Irving Oil, Halifax is without the services of a such a vessel for the first time.

It is probably impossible to say exactly when bunkering services were first introduced in Halifax, but it was likely early in the age of steam when ships arrived to take on coal as fuel. Coaling took place alongside, but also at anchor and barges or self-propelled vessels took coal out to the ships. That service lasted until the 1960s when oil became the fuel of choice.

During World War I Imperial Oil established a refinery on the eastern side of the harbour in the South Woodside area which came to be known as Imperoyal. The refinery produced fuel for many uses, including ship's fuel and was critical to the war effort, particularly in World War II.

Imperial Oil operated its own fleet of tankers and tank barges and used some of them to refuel ships in the harbour. In the early days of this century Imperial sold off its tanker fleet, including eventually the bunkering tanker Imperial Dartmouth. It was sold to Northern Transportation Co Ltd and operated in Halifax as NT Dartmouth from 2006 to 2009.

When NTCL took over Imperial Dartmouth and renamed it, they repainted the ship green. However in its last few months in Halifax, from May 2009 it was painted red.

In 2009 Algoma Tankers acquired the Turkish built bunkering tanker Samistal Due and renamed it  Algoma Dartmouth. Built in 2007 by Yardimci Gemi Insa SA of Tuzla, it was to be called Crescent Bardolino, but was delivered as Clipper Bardolino and carried that name until 2008 when it was sold by Clipper Wonsild Tankers (UK) Ltd to Samistal Shipping Ltd of Turkey.

It was reported at the time that Algoma and Imperial Oil had a three year agreement. As of August 1, 2009 Algoma operated the tanker with a coasting license as a charter, but under the Canadian flag as a "non-duty paid" vessel until July 31, 2010. However by January 2010 Algoma had purchased the ship.

On the same day as the previous photo, Samistal Due was tied up at pier 25 being prepared to take up its duties. It was registered in Canada, the next day, July 21, 2009, under its new name.

Specially built as a bunkering and chemical tanker with heated tanks to carry heavy fuel, and twin screws for close quarters work, it measured 2999 grt, 3569 dwt. 

In September 2013 Imperial Oil shut down the refinery, eliminating a local source of bunker C, the heavy fuel oil used by many ships. In January 2014 Sterling Fuels of Windsor, ON, part of the McAsphalt / Miller group of companies took over the charter. Sterling provides bunkering facilities in Hamilton, Windsor and Sarnia, ON and McAsphalt has an asphalt depot in Eastern Passage, and supplemented these facilities to store heated heavy oil for marine fuel.

They apparently maintained a source of diesel fuel with Imperial Oil, which continued to store and distribute refined product from its Imperoyal location. However they have also found fuel in Point Tupper, the United States and even from Irving Oil in Dartmouth.

My post of November 29, 2013 was made before the contract with Sterling Fuel had been announced, and gives an overview of bunkering in Halifax up until then:

Interestingly the last refueling conducted by Algoma Dartmouth appears to have been on Oceanex Sanderling on October 31, 2018, just as it was in 2013 before the Sterling charter.

Now just weeks short of five years later we are in the dark as to the future of bunkering by barge or ship. Several companies do provide marine fuels in Halifax by truck, but that requires ships to tie up at a pier.

In this 2014 photo the Algoma Dartmouth had moved its fenders to the port side but they would usually be on the starboard side.

Since 2009 Algoma Dartmouth has been a fixture in Halifax harbour and perhaps it was taken for granted that it would be here indefinitely.

A typical scene, with Algoma Dartmouth alongside and refueling a tanker.

Times change, ships change.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Baltic Leopard - non- endangered species - updated

Despite the somewhat exotic name, the bulk carrier Baltic Leopard is one of a large class of ships generally referred to as Handysize. These are bulk carriers between 40,000 and 60,000 dwt. The class is subdivided in Handymax, less than 50,000 dwt and Supramax, between 50,000 and 60,000 dwt. Generally around 200m in length and fitted with four 30 tonne cranes, they can be used for a variety of bulk cargoes, and are thus considered to be "handy" or versatile.

Baltic Leopard arrived this morning and anchored in the upper reaches of the harbour and appeared to be undergoing hold cleaning / inspection. This would normally take place before loading a sensitive or food grade cargo such as grain.

It was built in 2009 by Yangzhou Dayang in Yangzhou, China as Borak for Turkish owners, flying the Malta flag. In 2010 it was placed under the management of Genco Shipping and Trading Ltd flying the Marshal Islands flag. Among about 60 or so other bulkers in the fleet, some are prefixed with "Genco" and others with "Baltic". Some of the latter are named for animals of all sorts including mammals and insects, resulting in some as yet undiscovered species, such as the Baltic leopard.

The former Baltic Trading Company merged into Genco in 2015, and the ship carries the letter "B" on its funnel. Genco is a publicly traded company based in New York.

At 31,117 grt, 53,447 dwt it qualifies as a Supramax and has four cranes with grabs and five holds. It arrived from Wilmington, DE , but its next port has not been published. I suspect it carried salt on that last voyage, hence the need for hold cleaning before loading and inspection before loading again.
The ship is scheduled to move to pier 27 tomorrow to load.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Finale 2

Finale 2
It has been revealed by Halifax Shipping News that Algoma Tankers and Sterling Fuels, part of the McAsphalt / Miller Group, have not renewed their contract for the tanker Algoma Dartmouth. The deal, signed in January 2014, saw Sterling take over harbour fueling from Imperial Oil using the Algoma tanker.

Algoma Dartmouth coming alongside Hamburg for refueling at pier 23.

Sterling has a bunkering tanker operation in Hamilton, ON and fuel depots in Windsor and Sarnia, ON. It also provides fuel by truck in those regions and in Halifax and that seems likely to continue. However not all ships that refuel here would be willing to pay for berthage and tugs in order to take fuel from trucks. Many of the ships are too large or too deeply laden to berth at Halifax piers. By my estimation about 30 ships took bunkers at anchor since January 1, 2018.

It is particularly awkward for cruise ships, where not all berths are set up for truck access. Fueling by tanker from the water side, also eliminates any cross traffic with passengers.

It is understood that Algoma Dartmouth will be moving to Saint John, NB, where it will work for Irving Oil. It will then be able to refuel many of the passenger ships that would have taken fuel in Halifax. It would also provide fuel for ships that had to come from Saint John to Halifax just to take fuel.

Other companies, including Irving Oil, provide bunker fuel in Halifax, and thus compete with Sterling. Irving Oil uses trucks and its Woodside marine terminal to deliver bunkering fuel, but likely only diesel fuel, not heavy fuel.

Wilson's Fuels has a pipeline to pier 9 from its storage tanks on Barrington Street and has been refueling the support ships that BP has been chartering for its oil exploration work. The pipeline is also used to bring in fuel, most recently from Come-by-Chance, NL, which would not include heavy fuel oil, but refined product.

Occasionally trucks from Quebec show up to fuel ships, likely from the Valero refinery in Lévis. However since the trucks are not marked for Valero, there is no way to be certain where the fuel comes from. Similarly the local tank truck operators Seaboard also deliver ship fuel, again anonymously.

Algoma Dartmouth has hardly been busy since it arrived here, sometimes sitting idle for many days  at a time. Recently I have noted the coaster Nolhan Ava - berthed at pier 36 - less than 100 feet away from Algoma Dartmouth is now taking fuel from a McAsphalt tanker truck. Other users include the Canadian Coast Guard and some naval ships. Other Canadian navy ships appear to be refueling at Irving Oil Woodside these days, so cruise ships have been the main customers this fall. With that season now ended, there will be a major drop off in business.

As a "full service port" Halifax has benefited from the waterside delivery of fuel, without the service it seems like another, albeit small, factor in making Halifax less attractive to shipping.

No announcement has been made by Imperial Oil or Sterling on whether they plan to acquire another tanker. My thinking is that if they had such plans something would have been said by now. However, their web site, at least as of today, continues to show Algoma Dartmouth and advertise fueling by tanker and by truck.

Since the takeover by Sterling the Algoma Dartmouth has been sourcing fuel from several locations. At first it was making trips to Point Tupper, NS to load fuel there and even made a trip to New York /New Jersey in early 2014.

Recently however Sterling gets its MDO (Marine Diesel Oil) from Imperial Oil at its terminal in Dartmouth. Imperial imports most if its refined product from Europe. Heavy fuel comes from Sterling's parent company McAsphalt, and is loaded at their dock in Eastern Passage. That material is mostly produced by Irving Oil at their Saint John refinery.

Since January 1, 2018 Algoma Dartmouth has refueled about 112 ships. Of those 44 have been cruise ships. The slowest month this year was February with only four calls for bunkers. September saw 24 and October had 26 refuelings. Of these 18 were cruise ships for each month. The average is one refueling every three days from January 1 until the end of October 31.

All of the cruise ships, 44 refuelings in all, with several ships refueling more than once, took bunkers while alongside.

My unofficial analysis indicates that the next largest source of work, after cruise ships, is from:
- ships sailing to or from Quebec ports such as Sept Iles, La Baie (Port Alfred) and the St.Lawrence River ports (about 19 ships), all taking bunkers while at anchor.
- tankers form a large part of the business with more than 25 vessels served, a few of which have already called in Saint John or are destined for Saint John. Others are St.Lawrence related and are included in the number above. Again all these were while the ships were anchored.
- container ships account for a small part of the work, with only four serviced, and these were relatively small spot charter ships.  Oceanex Sanderling has been served, but may also be refueling from trucks.
- miscellaneous ships in the breakdown include three CSL bulkers, and two cable ships.
It should be noted that these numbers are only approximate and are based on my own personal observations and records which are not exhaustive.

Larger shipping companies, particularly the container lines, working fixed routes, have long term fuel contracts with suppliers and usually take on fuel on pre-arranged schedules. Ships that are more or less tramping (no fixed routes) or are spot chartered, are more likely to need fuel before or after transatlantic trips. Halifax is well positioned for that business, but apparently there is not enough of it to justify the expense of a full time bunkering tanker. I reckon only about a dozen of the calls since January would fall into that category (aside from cruise ships).

It will also be interesting to see how operations in Saint John work out, since many of the ships calling there are anchored in an open roadstead, and conditions may make it difficult to service them.

Although Saint John has about half or less the number of cruise ships calls that Halifax does, they are almost all the same ships. So many of those that customarily bunker in Halifax could presumably do so in Saint John. Those that only call in Halifax could probably make do with truck delivery, depending on their berth.

It would seem that the basis for this move is that Algoma Tankers needed to find more work for its vessel, since it was sitting idle too much. Irving Oil perhaps felt that selling its heavy fuel directly to a user would be better business. However with new regulations regarding fuels, Marine Diesel Oil must be used by more and more ships. That could be another reason for the move, since Imperial must import all that fuel from abroad, whereas Irving has the capability to produce it locally (at least until the recent fire.)

 With fenders permanently deployed on the ship's starboard side, it returns from a bunkering assignment.

When Algoma Dartmouth (perhaps to be renamed?) sails, I will provide a potted history of bunkering in Halifax. It is currently at pier 9B undergoing some modifications for its new job. Due to its age (built in 2007) it must also be due for a drydocking. The last one was in January 2012 so perhaps this will be done at Shelburne en route to Saint John.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Twin Citieis Part 1

The cities of Sioux City, Iowa and Wichita, Kansas may not have much in common, and as far as I know are not twinned, except in the names of two new ships for the United States Navy.

Both ships, USS Sioux City LCS-11 and Wichita LCS-13 have been completed by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin and are on their delivery trips. Both are scheduled to visit Halifax en route, and the first arrived today.

Today's fog and rain added to the ship's stealth characteristics.

USS Sioux City was laid down February 19, 2014, launched January 30, 2016 and delivered to the USN on August 22. After acceptance trials, it sailed from Marinette October 23. After a stop in stop in Detroit it made its way through the Welland Canal, escorted by the Hamilton, ON based tug Océan A. Gauthier and the St.Lawrence Seaway with the assistance of the tug Océan Henry Bain. After a stopover in Montreal it sailed November 3.  It is another in the Freedom class of Littoral Combat Ships built at Marinette, all of which have stopped in Halifax on their delivery trips.

Next week the next in the series USS Wichita is due in Halifax*. It was laid down February 2, 2015, and launched September 17, 2016.  After acceptance trials it was also handed over to the USN on the same day as Sioux City, August 22, 2018. It sailed from Marinette November 1 and following the same route, with the same escorts, arrived in Montreal yesterday, November 5.

Both ships have thus avoided last year's fiasco when LCS-9, USS Little Rock was beset by early forming ice in the St.Lawrence Seaway and had to spend the winter in  Montreal. Instead of arriving in Halifax over Christmas, it did not arrive until April 3.

The latest arrivals are not the last we will see.  A total of fifteen ships of the class have been built or are on order, with Marinette Marine, with eight still to come our way.

Update: As you will see from the comment below, someone is reporting that the USS Wichita visit will not take place.


With the arrival today of two ships, the Halifax cruise season for 2018 has come to an end. Insignia tied up at pier 22 and Silver Wind at pier 23 on another day of high winds and driving rain. The last few weeks have been plagued by wild weather, and one wonders if lines will continue to come so late in the season where weather can be an issue. It is not just the missed or delayed port arrivals, but conditions at sea between ports must be less than idyllic too.

An uninviting looking pier 22 and pier 23 greeted the last visitors of 2018.

Insignia had an abbreviated visit October 29 - which was late at night and only long enough to take on needed fuel - and dropped its Sydney call altogether to head on to Quebec City. Silver Wind was also late arriving October 16 due to weather and sea conditions. Once again, as it did then, it used two tugs to berth. Remarkably I counted only two outright cancellations due to weather this year.

The ship Victory II that was late entering service from its refit and had to change its itinerary. That resulted in the loss of several calls. It, along with Pearl Mist,  each cancelled a late season call, likely due to weather. There was the abbreviated call mentioned above and some unplanned overnight stays that likely resulted in cancellations at other ports.

Halifax has experienced a continued growth in the cruise business this year, and will likely do so again next year.  A second berth in Sydney, NS next year is expected to mean more and larger ships in that port. It will also mean that fewer ships will have to tender passengers ashore from anchorage, making a Sydney call more attractive. The ports of Saint John, Sydney and Charlottetown see many of the same ships as Halifax, and improvements in one port will benefit all.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Value Added

The self-unloading bulk carrier Algoma Value arrived this morning and tied up at pier31. I noted some tank trucks waiting, so it is likely to be bunkering, but may also have some maintenance work to do.

CSL Value "puts on the brakes" as it reverses engines to slow down before turning into pier 31. Two tugs are on the ship's starboard side.
This is the ship's third name - at least for part of it. As re-counted here in  Shipfax March 7, 2016 
the ship was built as the tanker Polysunrise in 1981 then converted to a self-unloader with a new forebody in 2006 and renamed Baldock. When owners Klaveness decided to exit the CSL self-unloader pool, Algoma picked up the ship and hastily renamed it Algoma Value as of January 1, 2016. Now that the ship has been in Algoma service for a couple of years, they have had time to repaint it in Algoma colours.

 Still with remnants of its Klaveness colour scheme, Algoma Value bunkered at anchor in March 2016.

Its last port of call is listed as Montreal, but I can't confirm that (AIS is sometimes mistaken).


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sunday containers

After a very stormy night, with high winds wreaking havoc with power lines ashore and regional ferry services, shipping seemed to return to normal this morning, even though it was still windy, with the arrival of three container ships. Regular callers Atlantic Star and Bilbao Bridge, one after the other for Fairview Cove had all four harbour tugs in Bedford Basin at one time.

However before that happened a first time caller tied up at Halterm. CMA CGM Amazon arrived on the Columbus JAX service. Although similar in size to the other 18 or so ships on the rotation, it is not owned by CMA CGM or their wholly owed APL. Its owner is listed as Dias Container Carrier SA c/o Capital Ship Management of Piraeus, Greece. With 60 plus ships of all types totaling over 7mn tonnes deadweight under its control, Capital is one of the larger Greek shipping companies. Most of its ships' names begin with the letter "A".

Built in 2015 by Daewoo Mangalia, the 96,424 grt, 115,145 dwt ship has a capacity of 9288 TEU including 1500 reefers. It has open bridge wings unlike the recent APL ships that have full width enclosed bridges.

When CAM CGM Amazon arrived at Halterm, it squeezed in astern of San Adriano, yesterday's sole arrival, but which could not work last night due to fierce winds.

San Adriano, sailing on the Maersk Montreal Mediterranean Express (MMX) service, completed loading and sailed late this afternoon (and in daylight, thanks to the switch back to Standard time.) It is one of five ships on the service, that seem to be changing out from the original callers that started calling here in August, so this is likely its last call.

Owned through the Claus-Peter Offen interests of Hamburg, the ship was launched in 2008 under its present name, but was renamed Ibn Qutaibah for a year before reverting back. It is a product of Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan and at 22,914 grt, 28,300 dwt, has a capacity of 1819 TEU including a large reefer component of 462. It is also equipped with three 45 tonne cranes.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

More Boister

Another boisterous day on Halifax harbour, and there was only one commercial arrival and no departures. Some ships that were due today have delayed arrival until tomorrow when things are expected to calm down.,

In the harbour traffic was limited to the usual ferry crossings between Halifax and Dartmouth, with Halifax Transit's newest vessel Rita Joe doing the honours. The boat was completed by A.F.Thériault in late September and arrived in Halifax ca. September 30. Although it entered service about October 22, it was not officially welcomed into the fleet until a ceremony on October 26.

Passengers enjoy a splashy trip from Dartmouth to Halifax. 
It is the last of the five boat replacement fleet built since 2014, and means that Woodside I, built in 1986, has been removed from service. Both Dartmouth III and Halifax III have been sold to Toronto Island Transit Services Inc, with the first named delivered to Toronto last year, and the second still sitting in Sambro, NS awaiting delivery. 

In the murky reaches of anchorage number 2, at the entrance to Eastern Passage, CCGS Sir William Alexander and CCGC Sambro, with a number of CCG RHIBs were conducting a Search and Rescue exercise, well beyond clear camera range from Halifax.

At HMC Dockyard HMCS Windsor was enjoying shore leave so to speak, on the synchrolift. The sub was away from Halifax all summer and is no doubt in need of some maintenance.

A white tent structure erected astern may be related to prop work.

Today's one arrival, San Adriano appears to have moved up a day, to allow for tomorrow's arrival at Halterm, CMA CGM Amazon, a 9288 TEU ship that would be unwieldy to berth in today's windy conditions.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Now We Are Six

As children of a certain era will recall, A.A.Milne's collection of poems for young readers was entitled "Now We Are Six".Today the minister of defence read from a sort of juvenile script - meant to reassure Halifax shipyard workers that all is right in the world and there is nothing to fear.

He managed not to sound embarrassed to announce that Halifax Shipyard will be building a sixth Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS). He sounded very complimentary to Halifax's shipbuilders, and promised them that there would now be continuity between completion of the AOPS work and the start of the frigate replacement program. Six AOPS had always been planned, but only five were contracted, with the sixth held out as a plum for good behaviour. Now that they have been good little boys and girls (and not messed up any welding) they are being rewarded with something that they had already earned and are entitled to.

As paternalism goes, this has to be one of the most blatant sops that government has made in recent memory.

In exchange for giving away millions of dollars of refit work to the existing Halifax class frigates, the government got off cheap, and relatively unscathed - so far. The timely start up of the new frigate program is hardly certain, and if it is delayed at all, then the promised continuity will be lost.

The recent announcement that half of those Halifax class life extension upgrades would go to Davie, a shipyard with no naval experience in recent memory - was totally political. Just because Halifax shipyard currently has only one drydock does not mean that a way can't be found to refit two frigates at once. But that was the excuse given for the giveaway. Instead, why not give Davie the job of building a new floating dock for Halifax. [This was how the late lamented Novadock came to be built mostly in Sorel and partly in Pictou - not for Halifax Shipyard, but for the Province of Nova Scotia. That floating dock was sold out from under our noses, and maybe Irving Shipbuilding's nose is being tweaked for that.] Davie benefits from a federally owned graving dock, so maybe a federally owned floating dock for Halifax is not a bad idea.

So spreading the soft SOAP (AOPS re-arranged) fell to the Minister, and he may have pacified some objectors. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how Davie can be expected to survive on handouts, and maintain any consistent level of expertise if the only work it can find comes as political crumbs. Davie risks becoming a chronic welfare case, always having to beg and never satisfied with what they are getting. They will always be playing the political card and will always drain off work from Halifax to get it. It remains to be seen if the refit work will give Davie sufficient expertise to force themselves in on the frigate construction.

It is virtually impossible to form a federal government in Canada without a majority in Quebec as any politician knows, but rather than be so blatantly political, surely their skills could be put to work in finding other work that Davie can do and provide them with some bankable expertise. I can think of no better way than to make them the go to yard for new conversion, rebuild and new construction for the Coast Guard.


White on White

As the penultimate cruise ship day for the 2018 season, Halifax greeted the Seven Seas Navigator. The last day of the season will be November 6 with both Insignia and Silver Wind scheduled. However for today visitors were "treated" to a good old pea souper that developed as the morning wore on. Passengers were seen emerging with complimentary blue brollies and boarding buses for sites that may also be almost invisible.

Essentially the same scene as my October 23 post, minus the wind - plus the fog 
(and a supervising gull.)

The late days of this season have brought frightful weather which goes some way to explaining why there have not been many posts lately.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Weather - again

Last night's very high winds played havoc with ship arrivals and departures today as seas continued to run high, and pilots could not embark or disembark safely.

The cruise ship Insignia arrived this morning off Halifax from Saint John, NB, and after standing on and off for many hours was still not able to board a pilot safely by mid afternoon. The ship was determined to call in Halifax eventually so it steamed back and forth well offshore, until 1930 when the pilot was finally able to embark. The ship will take bunkers then head back to sea.

 Insignia as it appeared in 2015. The ship is due for one more call in Halifax on November 6.

ACL's scheduled arrival Atlantic Sky is also standing by offshore waiting for conditions to improve, along with the supply vessel Horizon Star. Another container ship, Maersk Patras, which would normally have called on Saturday is now due tomorrow.

At Halterm APL Vancouver [see yesterday's post] was able to start working cargo this morning when the winds died off, but its scheduled departure time of 1630hrs has been put off.

Dalian Express at Fairview Cove was also finally able to get away for 2100. Its original departure time was 0400 hrs, but that was delayed by a combination of high winds at the terminal that delayed unloading, and conditions at the pilot station that would not permit pilot disembarkation.

Autumn is the usual windy season here, but it seems that this year has been windier than usual, resulting in numerous delays and some skipped calls from cruise ships.


Saturday, October 27, 2018


The only cruise ship arrival today is Hamburg, a ship that has called here off and on since new in 1997. It was built by MTW Wismar for operation by HAPAG-Lloyd as c. Columbus. The small letter "c" was intentional and apparently denoted Christopher. With a modest tonnage of 14,903 as built, and dimensions of 472 ft x 72 ft, it is small enough to cruise the Great Lakes and has several features to accommodate that service, including retractable bridge wings.

Its last Great Lakes touring season was 2011 after which HAPAG upgraded its fleet. In 2012 Plantours took over operation and gave the ship its present name. At some point its cutaway stern was filled in and tonnage increased to 15,067, but passenger capacity remained at 394 to 420 (in 197 cabins, five of which are for families) with 170 crew. For some reason the ship is referred to as "MS Hamburg" but "MS" forms no part of the ship's name.

At almost the same time of day and time of year c.Columbus arrives in Halifax for the first time twenty-one years ago. Note the cut away stern, since filled in.

Starting in Greenland early in September, the ship has toured along the Labrador coast, Gulf of St.Lawrence and Saguenay to Montreal. It then made two trips inland as far as Milwaukee and Chicago. It is now headed for Bermuda, the Bahamas and Cuba. The ship sailed early this afternoon, no doubt to get ahead of some nasty weather that is due over night.

Hanseatic's squared off stern and small duck tail is not very attractive, but improves the ship's behaviour at sea.

A first timer arrived today on Maersk's / CMA CGM's Canada Atlantic Express. MMX (Med-Montreal Express). Maersk Niteroi is a geared container ship with four 40 tonne cranes - three forward and one aft of the superstructure.

Built in  2009 by Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan, it has a capacity of 2592 TEU (including 600 reefers) with tonnages of 26,836 grt, 33, 412 dwt. It is one of several short term replacements for the "P" class ships as they are drydocked and refitted. Although the ship carries a Maersk name it only carries Maersk funnel colours. It is a long term charter, one of six similar "N" class ships owned by Fair Hope Ltd, sailing with Hong Kong flag and managed by Anglo-Eastern Ship Management.

The Maersk CMA / CGM Columbus JAX service brought in APL Vancouver this afternoon. The 109,712 grt, 115,060 dwt ship, built by Daewoo SB + ME, Okpo in 2013 began calling here in June of this year but this time it arrived in broad daylight. It may sail in broad daylight too, since high winds tonight may prevent working the ship.

Stern tug Atlantic Bear begins to work the ship's stern around while bow tug Atlantic Fir is set to push as the ship approaches pier 42 Halterm.

APL Vancouver is one of seven 9200 TEU APL sister ships on the 17 ship Columbus JAX service, with a variety of CMA CGM ships of roughly the same size. At this point only one of the ships exceeds the "magic" 10,000 TEU mark. They run from Oakland and LALB, cross Pacific, various Asian ports, then direct from Colombo to Halifax via the Suez Canal. After calling at major east coast ports it returns back across the Atlantic direct to Port Kalang and eventually on to the US west coast. The 17 ships call at 17 ports on a 119 day rotation. 

This morning's early arrival, Wisteria Ace also sailed in daylight after a stop at Autoport.

Owned by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) through Polar Express SA it is listed at 59,952 grt, 17,325 dwt and was built in 2007 by Toyohashi SB. It's capacity appears to be in excess of 5,000 cars.

This post does not cover the congestion at Fairview Cove that saw two ships berthed (Berlin Bridge and Alexandra with Dalian Express anchored most of the day waiting a berth.)


Friday, October 26, 2018

Mathew - maybe finally sold

CCGS Matthew while still in service.

The former Canadian Coast Guard survey vessel Matthew (now simply called 2015-03) may finally have found a buyer. The ship has been up for bids at least 6 times starting at a minimum of $1.9 mn in September 2016. That was reduced to $1.75mn then to $1mn in October 2017 and no sale was concluded. The latest tender call, which closed October 24, also wanted a $1mn minimum, but did state that if no bid was received above that amount, a lesser amount would be considered.
Apparently bidders weren't fooled by the minimum and a sale for $279,000 is now in progress.

 Until 1997 the ship carried proper hydographic survey ship livery of  white hull, buff funnel. A tradition which apparently started when survey ships were actually yachts.

The ship was built in 1990 by Versatile Pacific Shipyard Inc, North Vancoiuver, BC for seasonal hydrographic work, particularly in near coastal and shallow waters. After a short work up in PatBay it was transferred to BIO in May 1991. Despite an extensive, and costly refit in 2010 and a smaller one in 2011, budget cuts and policy changes resulted in it being retired at the end of  the 2011 season. If the ship had been sold then it might have fetched something like the original asking price. It certainly would have got more than the paltry price it has received now - and the ship would have been in better condition. Having now sat idle for more than six years it is a sorry sight.

2015-03 today.

One really has to question government disposal methods when a public asset is allowed to lose it residual value. Of course once it was surplus it came off the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' books and they no longer cared. However it took from 2011 to 2015 to actually decide to decommission it. I suppose whatever department is responsible for Government of Canada Surplus doesn't carry it as an asset of the people of Canada either. So no hurry - no stewardship.

If the ship truly was ever worth $1.9 mn as surplus, and is now worth $279,000 who will take responsibility for the loss of $1.6 mn of tax payers money?

So what would I have done you might ask? I would have found a way to re-purpose it (all that deck space which was used for survey launches could be used for passenger accommodation) it woould have made a great expedition yacht (but not for the arctic - it isn't really ice stengthened)  or found a nation that could benefit from it and give it away. We would certainly have been doing some good with it in the latter case.


A well remembered name has been re-used by the Royal Navy in their newest fleet replenishment oiler. Operated as a Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the second RFA Tidespring A136 has only recently entered service. Although ordered in February 2012, it was only delivered in March 2017 - 18 months late - by Daewoo Shipbuilding + Marine Engineering Co, Okpo, South Korea. It was then outfitted by A+P Falmouth and finally entered service in November 2017, but only performed its first actual mission in April of this year.

The ship measures 29,324 grt, 21,750 dwt and like similar ships, can fill a variety of roles including refueling at sea, and as a base ships for marines. It can house one Merlin / Wildcat helicopter but has a deck that can accommodate large helos such as Chinooks. In addition to Phalanx armaments, it has a published speed of 27 knots. (This is very fast for a supplier!)

At least superficially it resembles the Canadian Navy's newest ship Asterix, but similarities are deceiving. At least the RCN's ship was delivered more quickly. Asterix, built on a former container ship hull, now measures 23,136 grt, so is somewhat smaller but serves a comparable function. It could carry Phalanx weaponry (but doesn't) and may be able to carry two Cyclone helicopters and house Chinooks. However it is intended as an interim vessel, privately owned and leased to the RCN.

The first RFA Tidespring  A75, based on a World War II design shared with Australia and New Zealand, was a turbine steamer, built very quickly by Hawthorn Leslie. (It was laid down in July 1961, launched in May 1962 and commissioned in January 1963). Basically a fleet oiler, it was able to carry three helicopters, and although scheduled to decommission in 1982 it continued in service during the Falklands war in the same year and carried marines, participated in the capture of South Georgia, and was used to house prisoners. Continued supply requirements during the subsequent re-occupation meant that the ship lasted until December 1991. It was then towed to India for scrap in 1992.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Weather delayed

The windy weather continues, but abated sufficiently that the tanker FMT Knidos was able to arrive in port safely this afternoon. High seas accompanied the winds and made it unsafe to board pilots, particularly with low freeboard ships with decks nearly awash. FMT Knidos was originally due October 24, but remained at sea until this afternoon.

Fully loaded the ship's main deck is very close to the water.
The ship was here as recently as July 14 [see details in that post]. On that trip it was carrying caustic soda from Freeport, Bahamas to Port Alfred, QC. On this trip it is arriving from Houston. It will remain in port to take bunkers.

Another ship with a delay is Victory I. It was arrived late afternoon Tuesday a day early, and was due to sail yesterday, but remained in port over night. It is now due to sail at midnight tonight..

Regal Princess in the background is apparently not effected by weather. However the yellow caution tape tells the tale about the wind.

Victory I has completed its summer season sailing on the Great Lakes and St.Lawrence and is headed south for the winter. Operators Victory Cruise Lines have announced that they will not charge a "singles supplement" starting next year. Having learned that many of their clients are single, they will now (effectively) base their fares on a per person basis.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Big White Ships, Little White Boats

While cruise ships (the big white ships) are still calling in Halifax there is still demand for harbour tour boats (little white boats). There are still two weeks left in the cruise season  - the last ship is scheduled for  November 6 - and so the tour boats carry on despite chilly temperatures.
Today there were three cruise ships in port, Norwegian Dawn, the giant Anthem of the Seas and the more modestly sized Seven Seas Navigator. (The Victory I is due late this afternoon).

Seven Seas Navigator at pier 23 with Anthem of the Seas looming at pier 22.
That's the tug Gulf Spray with a scow alongside removing refuse and blocking the view of the ship's stern sponson.

The Seven Seas Navigator ship started life in the Soviet Admiralty Shipyard in St.Petersburg as a naval support ship for satellite tracking, launched in 1991 as Akademik Nikolay Pilyugin. However it was bought "on the stocks" so to speak by Radisson Cruises and towed around to T.Marrioti SpA in Genoa and completed in 1999 as a cruise ship. It initially had 250 cabins and could carry 542 passengers but this was reduced to 490, but with a crew of 340 giving a very high degree of service for those travellers.
The 28,550 grt ship is strengthened for navigation in ice, but has had vibration issues. Its stern, including props and rudders, was re-built by Blohm+Voss in Hamburg in 2010 but that does not seem to have had much effect, and the ship is noted as "lively" at sea.
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises re-branded itself Regent Seven Seas Cruises in 2006 and in 2016 reportedly spent $40mn on a two month long refurbishment to bring it in line with Regent's décor standards.

Among the little white boats, at least two were busy today, Kawartha Spirit went out on a nature cruise beyond Chebucto Head - perhaps looking for whales or maybe even white sharks. Built in 1964 by Hike Metal Products in Wheatley, ON, the boat worked as Miss Muskoka then Kawartha Spirit until 2016 when it was acquired by Murphy Sailing Tours Ltd of Halifax. There has been talk of a name change, with  more local content,  but nothing has happened yet.

 Summer Bay (left) outbound for McNab's Island and Kawartha Spirit inbound with a number of hardy sightseers.

Summer Bay was on its way to McNab's Island to pick up hikers as the tow passed my vantage point. It was built as Gaffer IV by Gatheralls Boat Tours Ltd in Bay Bulls, NL. A twin screw vessel with RFP hull, it initially showed up in Nova Scotia working out of Lunenburg as Summer Bay, but came to Halifax in 2004.

Murhys also operate the faux stern wheeler Harbour Queen I (which is also white) and the three masted schooner Silva which is not - it's black.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sunday traffic jam

With ships arriving and leaving at the same time - normally at the end of the day shift for port workers - traffic can get janmed up a bit. Fortunately, there are two channels that ships can use to avoid close quarters meets.

Three ships - two  outbound in the western or deep water channel and one inbound in the main channel.

Today was a very minor jam, with one inbound and two outbound.

Outbound in the lead was the impressive Crystal Symphony. Now considered a classic - not only because it has no unsightly hull graphics - but also because of its graceful proportions and swooping bow. Remarkably unchanged in appearance since it was built by Kvaerner Masa, Turku in 1995, the 51,044 grt ship has a passenger capacity of 922. It has undergone three extensive refits, one in 2006, one in 2009 and another in 2012. During its long career it has cruised in many parts of the world, but only in this area in 2012 and 2013.

The second departure was Hoegh Bangkok built in 2007 by Uljanik, Pula, an autocarrier of 55,775 grt, 16,632 dwt, with a 6500 CEU capacity. It fell in behind Crstal Symphony and took the western channel.

The one inbound ship was Thermopylae operating for Wallenius Wilhelmsen, but owned by Wilhelmsen. Its company theme name, beginning with the letter "T" recognizes the Greek site of the 450 BC battle between Leonidas of Sparta (loser) and Xerxes (winner). The name means "Hot Gates" and it certainly was a hot time for the defenders in one of the most famous "last stands" of all time.  For ship lovers however the name is associated with the famous China tea clipper Thermopylae, built in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1868 and setting a never since broken outbound time to Melbourne and defeating the Cutty Sark in a homebound race from Shanghai.

Wilhelmsen ships' nmaes begin with "T" and thier hulls are apainted a red-orange colour. However someone needs to change the formula since this one was has faded dramatically in only three years.

This Thermopylae was built in 2015 by Hyundai Samho and measures 75,283 grt, 75,283 dwt with a capacity of 8,000 autos. A post-Panamax ship, it is a member of the HERO (High Efficiency RoRo) class, with significant capacity break bulk and non auto cargoes.

In the background the tanker Ardmore Encounter now at Imperial Oil (see yesterday's post) was continuing to unload and is now high out of the water.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

More wind more rain

More high winds and periods of rain are nothing new in recent forecasts, and typical for this time of year. The harbour was a little lumpy this morning as the pilot boat Scotia Pilot returned from the station off Chebucto Head. It had just embarked a pilot for the APL Houston and was returning to base for another pilot. 

Before the rain started in earnest APL Houston arrived on the CMA / CGM JAX service. The 109,712 grt, 108,000 dwt ship, built in 2014 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co Ltd in  Okpo  has a container capacity of 9500 TEU. Although not over the 10,000 TEU capacity that the port seeks to have established as the threshold for large ships, this one is big enough. Its very high sides and towering deck load make it very much subject to windage and requires careful handling.

The tug Atlantic Fir squares up at the bow and the Atlantic Bear on the stern are both braking and  starting to turn the ship. The busy pilot boat, with lots of wind driven spray, heads out to meeet the next ship.

It required three tugs to come alongside at Halterm, including Atlantic Bear, the largest of the tugs based in Halifax.

Amongst the other arrivals and departures today there are a couple of in harbour moves. One is a bit unusual. The tanker Ardmore Encounter will be moving from Irving Oil to Imperial Oil.

Ardmore Encounter has discharged a partial load at Irving Oil.

It is rare to see a ship with a split load, but again this may be due to Irving Oil's troubles after a fire at its refinery. Built in 2014 by STX Offshore + Shipbuilding in Jinhae, the ship was originally named Front Clyde for Frontline Tankers. Current owners, a single ship company, acquired the ship in 2016 and renamed it in line with the fleet operated by Anglo Ardmore Ship Management. A Medium Range 2 handysize tanker of 29,993 grt, 49,478 dwt, its last port of call was Beaumont, TX.

East Coast appears to be fully loaded.

Waiting at anchor, Irving Oil's tanker East Coast will move alongside immediately after the Woodside berth is clear. A Mid Range 1 tanker of 23,356 grt, 37,515 dwt, it was built by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Ulsan as Nor'Easter for long term charter to Irving Oil under the Marshall Islands flag. In 2014 it was brought under Canadian flag and renamed. Owners, associated with Vroon / Iver Ships of the Netherlands assigned other ships to the Irving work between Saint John and US east coast ports, but without renaming them or giving them Irving Oil colours.
As with the three other ships in the Irving fleet, it was fitted with an exhaust gas scrubber system in 2015.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Atlantic Sea - problems

Atlantic Container Line is still having trouble with its new China built ConRos. The latest to encounter a problem is Atlantic Sea, the third in the series of five, and completed in 2016 by Hudong-Zhenghua in Shanghai.

Despite being sponsored by Princess Anne in Liverpool the ship has been troubled with mechanical issues. On Christmas Eve 2016 it was held overnight in Bedford Basin and its March 26, 2017 sailing from Halifax was delayed. It also lost an anchor sometime in 2016. The only good luckk it has had was on October 5, 2017. Despite being in an unscheduled drydocking at Blohm + Voss in Hamburg, it was not struck by a shipyard crane that toppled over in high winds and narrowly missed the ship.

Atlantic Sea peaks out from the east berth at Fairview Cove, idled by some unidentified problem.

The latest misfortune has held the ship in port in Halifax since Monday, with no departure time scheduled yet. Losing that many days on the tightly run transatlantic schedule must be resulting in a lot of hair loss for someone.

Probably unrelated, but ACL has announced that it will concentrate its office functions in Virginia Beach and close its Halifax office, with a  loss of 15 jobs. Cost cutting is all the rage these days in the shipping world, where competition is intense. ACL is now a part of the Grimaldi Group, but began calling Halifax in 1969. Then it was the joint venture of several prominent shipping companies - some of which are now only memories: Wallenius Lines, Swedish American Line, Rederi AB Transatlantic and Holland America (in 1965) joined by Cunard and Cie Generale Transatlantique in 1967. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Melfi's revolving door

Melfi Marine, a company that trades between Europe, Halifax and Cuba, has chartered many ships for short, medium and long terms over the years. Each time a new one comes along it seems to be bigger than the last and so it is with Julius-S. which arrived today on its second trip. (I missed the first on August 27.)
Julius-S. at pier 42 using one shoreside crane to finish off loading.

Now flying the Antigua and Barbuda flag, it is owned by the Rudolf Schlepers GmbH + Co KG and was built in 2004 by Volkswerft, Stralsund. The 25,672 grt, 33,742 dwt ship has a capacity of 2474 TEU, including 420 reefers and is equipped with three 45 tonne cranes.

The ship began life as CMA CGM Brasilia for Navigare Gmbh+Co but was immediately acquired by Schlepers and renamed Julius S. That name was reconfigured with the addition of a hyphen in 2010. It was reflagged from Germany in 2014. 

Prior to its stint with Melfi it worked for Maersk's WAF1 running from Tanger and Algeciras to the West African ports of Pointe Noire, Libreville, Cotonou, Takoradi and Nouakchott.