Sunday, August 25, 2019

CTMA Vacancier

A weekly passenger service between Montreal and Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone) in the Magdalen Islands is unique in eastern Canada where most regional ferry services are short distance / short duration. Catering to cruise passengers, it also carries cars (and bicycles), the C.T.M.A. Vacançier has served the route for 17 years and there are plans evolving to replace it.

For technical details see:

I see the ship every week when I am Quebec for the summer, as it passes my place on Thursday mornings on its upbound (westbound) leg. Actually I usually hear the ship before I see it, thanks to its pleasantly thumping Stork-Werkspoor engines. For the past two years the ship's passing time has been variable due to speed restrictions in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. Those limits are in place to protect the endangered northern right whales, and resulted in at least one cancellation of its Gaspé port call.

This week the ship was much later than usual and did not hove into view until nearly 1400 hrs. I was ready with my camera because I had heard it coming and it sounded a bit louder than usual. That was because the ship was sailing extremely close to shore. While there is deep water close to shore it is unusual for large ships to come that close.

As the ship passes, crew members are readying the FRC which is stowed just aft of the ship's bridge. Passengers line the rails.
It turned out that the ship stopped off the wharf at Cap-à-l'Aigle and sent its FRC ashore. This may have been to land a passenger who may have had a schedule to meet or possibly a medical issue.

Standing off the wharf, a sail boat from the local marina passes by. Note the FRC is away from the ship.

The whole operation took only a few minutes and the ship was soon underway again.

Owners C.T.M.A also operate the ferry Madeleine between Souris, PE  and Cap-aux-Meules. Earlier this month they brought in a new RoRo freight only vessel Clipper Ranger. It has been chartered for a year with a purchase option, to replace C.T.M.A. Voyageur. The new ship can carry 53 trucks with 53 foot trailers, and/or cars  versus 22 on the older ship, and entered service Monday August 19.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Albanyborg Update

Albanyborg got underway today at 1500, coinciding with high tide, and headed for Baie-Comeau. As per the previous post the ship was delayed by engine trouble and had to await a technician from Montreal.

Albanyborg underway. That is the Morin Shoal buoy just above the ship's anchor windlass.

According to shipping reports on line the ship experienced three momentary engine failures. However the reports I have seen are in error, reporting that the ship left the berth but returned for repairs. My own eyewitness account is that the ship never let its lines go and never budged from the pier. Line handlers were on the dock and the ship's deck crew were at their stations, but never touched the lines. There was significant smoke with each of the engine restarts, and after more than half an hour the crew members stood down and the line handlers left the dock.

Engine failures have become an all too frequent occurrence of late, with dozens of ships losing power in Canadian waters this year. On August 10 Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin lost power while leaving Quebec City, and returned to the dock, the bulker V. Sanderling lost power off the Ile d'Orléans August 11 and went to anchor, and Qamutik lost power off Betsiamites, QC on August 12 and was drifting for a time. In all cases the crew were able to effect repairs before the ship got into serious trouble.

There does not appear to be a single cause for these incidents, but it is worrisome trend. It is only a matter of time before some ship does become disabled and unable to help itself.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Summer REport- Pointe-au-Pic

The nearest commercial port to my summer roost is Pointe-au-Pic, located about 90 miles northeast if Quebec City, on the north shore of the St.Lawrence River. At one time it was renowned as one of the stops for the "white fleet" of Canada Steamship Lines. These passenger ships conducting sight-seeing trips from Montreal to the Saguenay River, also carried limited freight, and other passengers. They mostly supported the CSL-owned luxurious resort hotel Manoir Richelieu, sited high above the wharf.

Long a summer resort, the area also known as Murray Bay, contains the villages of Pointe-au-Pic, La Malbaie and Cap-à-l'Aigle (now all incorporated in the town of La Malbaie).  The Pointe-au-Pic wharf extends into deep water and is accessible at any state of the 15 foot tides in the area where most small ports dry out at low water.

Under the initiative of the Montreal hydroelectricity investment tycoon Sir Rodolphe Forget, a pulp mill was established in 1910 upstream on the Rivière Malbaie at Clermont, and a railway from Quebec City was started. Forget was also chairman of the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Co (R&O) and was responsible for building the resort hotel, and developing the cruise business. (Forget was also an elected Tory MP for the area in Sir Robert Borden's government, and was a major figure in the formation of the Dominion Steel Company. There were few conflict of interest rules in those days, but Forget was not admitted to Borden's cabinet due to his many business interests, many of which were in financial trouble.)

Eventually R+O became Canada Steamship Line, the newly formed Canadian National Railway took over the rail line and completed it to Clermont. (Plans to extend it to the Saguenay River and beyond never took place). The pulp mill evolved into a newsprint paper mill under the ownership of Donahue Bros. They exported the paper by rail and by ship from the Pointe-au-Pic pier.

Now, the rail line is a passenger only tourist line, the wharf is independent, and the newsprint mill is owned by Resolute and produces 225,000 tonnes per year. (The New York Times owned 49% of the mill until 2018.) The area is still a popular resort, but there is no longer any regular passenger ship traffic.

The wharf itself, with several expansions, now brings in wood chips and exports paper on a regular basis.

The wood chips arrive on the small Canadian flag bulk carrier Jean-Joseph.

Jean-Joseph unloads directly to trucks using is own mobile deck crane. The ship also transports chips to various other ports, including Port Hawksbury, NS. The ship carries gravel and other bulk cargoes when not doing chip work.

On dedicated service to Pointe-au-Pic and Baie-Comeau, Wagenborg's RoRo Oranjeborg is a frequent caller at Pointe-au-Pic loading paper for Europe.

Oranjeborg makes its careful approach to the pier (without tug assistance) in 2017. The buoy marks a notorious sand bar.

Oranjeborg loads newsprint rolls directly from the warehouse through side mounted elevator hatches, which work as weather protection awnings.

Several other Wagenborg ships also call at Pointe-au-Pic.

Albanyborg approaching Pointe-au-Pic streaming through the fog. It is a conventional open hatch tween decker and loads its box shaped holds through full width hatches, which offer no weather protection during loading.

Forklifts place newsprint rolls are placed in steel cribs (yellow frame between ship and signal tower) and craned onto the ship.

After a few days of delay due to rain, the ship completed loading August 12, but a rudder problem resulted in a cancelled sailing. A technician had to be called in from Montreal.No  ETD has been posted.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

New and not new

There was one new ship to Halifax today, and several return callers.
New to Halifax ship is the X-Press Makalu making its first voyage for Melfi Lines.

Built in 2008 by Stocznia Gdanska/Gdynia, it is a 2714 TEU ship with three 45 tonne capacity cranes. Built originally for the Peter Doehle company it was built as Arelia but immediately renamed Maruba Victory until 2010 when it became Arelia again. In 2013 it joined X-Press Feeders and took it present name. X-Press Feeders bills itself as the world's largest common carrier, with more than 110 ships of all sizes, and all chartered out to various shipping lines. The 32,161 gt, 38,629 dwt ship will load and sail tomorrow for Cuba.

Among the return callers is the tanker Elka Angelique, from Amsterdam for Irving Oil.

When it was here in 2013 it loaded some remainder cargo from the old Imperial Oil refinery.

At Autoport MSC Cristiana has been here many times. However since its first visit in 2016 it has received a new paint scheme.

Speaking of paint schemes, Wilhelmsen's Themis continues to fade. Built in 2016 by Hyundai Samho, the 75,283 gt, 23,783 dwt car carrier has a capacity of 8,000 cars. It is also one of the HERO class of environmentally advanced ships.

The normally bright Wilhelmsen red/orange colour is now only visible on some touched up areas near the waterline. This is surprising in a barely three year old ship.
Themis unloaded cars at Autoport yesterday and moved to pier 31 this morning to off load some other RoRo cargo.

Due to sail sometime tonight the French cable ship Ile d'Aix has been loading (or maybe unloading?) cable at 9B IT Telecom.

Cable is fed to or from IT Telecom's warehouse by means of a conveyor bridge, through a hatch in the ship's side.

Built in 1992 by Far-East Levingston (Keppel Fels) in Singapore, the 12,384 gt, 8,373 dwt ship has some of the classic cable ship lines with bow sheaves. Many new cable ships work only over the stern, but this ship maintains the traditional function.

The ship made the headlines last year after a lube oil spill in Halifax Harbour.

It's last assignment as far as I can tell was in the Irish Sea where it was doing early work for a new cable linking the US to Europe.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

A new Rosborough Roughwater

Locally based Rosborough Boats dates back to 1955 when the founder began to refit then build custom wooden sailing yachts. In the 1970s the company found that there was an untapped market for semi-custom vessels for government agencies to be used for enforcement, patrol and survey work.  They have since produced a wide range of craft from open RHIB types (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats) to hulls with solid walls and decks and RHIB type D collars, called Wings.

The company now does business world wide, but is still family owned and based in Halifax.

On Friday, July 26 I noted a newer model of Rosborough's "Roughwater" [TM] series operated by Canadian Border Services. While the cabin looked familiar, the bow was much shorter, and the collar did not extend the full length of the rigid hull. There is no boat that looks like this on on Rosborough's web site:

The unnamed and unnumbered boat was giving close escort to Queen Mary 2. (Note the "Azipod" symbol on the big ship's side - also the large blotches of scaled steel.)

Rosborough also builds conventional looking craft such as the survey boat pictured earlier this year doing a bottom profile survey at the Fairview Cove containment basin.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

October-November Launch for AOPV 2

Irving Shipbuilding Inc has applied for a coasting license to use the semi-submersible Boa Barge 37 to launch the second of the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels. The license period is from October 18 to November 19, 2019.

Halifax Shipyard has no floating drydock anymore, and has instead chartered the big Norwegian barge for use as a launch platform. As a foreign flag vessel, it is required to have a coasting license to work in Canadian waters. Coasting licenses may be issued by the government of Canada if no suitable Canadian vessel is available.

AOPV #2, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke is currently assembling on the hard stand at pier 6 -8 while AOPV #1 (future HMCS Harry DeWolf) is fitting out alongside. It was launched from the same barge  in September 2018. The barge has the capacity to lift the ship, along with its cradles and the 232 line axle SPMTs used to transport the ship from land to the barge. The estimated weight is 7,129.5 metric tonnes.

Although no statement has been made about last year's launch I think there were ballasting issues, as the barge did not submerge evenly. It will be interesting to see if this year's launch goes differently.

Last year's launch of AOPV #1 in Bedford Basin.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Big Show Today

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth arrived this morning, to tie up at adjacent piers 20 and 22. It is always an impressive sight when Queen Mary 2 arrives and sails, but there will be a special treat this evening when both ships leave port at the same time.

Starting at 6 pm when the ships begin to let go their lines, there will be a complex maneuver as the ships meet north  of George's Island and sail outbound in tandem. It takes some time to get away and move slowly, so the entire operation is expected to take 90 minutes (or more).

Cunard, now part of Carnival, still pays tribute to its founder Samuel Cunard, a Halifax businessman, with special events, awards and now this sail past.



On schedule, Queen Elizabeth got away first, moving south around George's Island, then northbound on the east side.

There were lots of spectator craft in attendance including the harbour mascot Theodore Too.

Meanwhile the tug Spitfire III was assisting Queen Mary 2 to get off pier 20 and head north of George's Island.

Once Queen Mary 2 was well underway, the tug scooted ahead and began a water display as Queen Elizabeth made its turn.

With its turn completed the two ships met at the ferry track and exchanged whistle salutes.

The tug fell in behind Queen Elizabeth and accompanied it outbound west of George's Islands, saluting at several locations en route.

Queen Mary 2 completed it turn and followed. Aside from a small Border Services patrol boat, it was unaccompanied. I thought this was a breach of etiquette. As senior ship, and flagship of the fleet, it deserved better. I guess the cost of two tugs was too much for Cruise Halifax.

Although it is an imposing looking ship, Queen Elizabeth is the smaller of the two. Due to the higher freeboard of the transatlantic liner, Queen Mary 2 has fewer open and exposed decks, and this greater gross tonnage.

Queen Elizabeth 90,901 grt, 294m x 32.3m, 2,092 passengers (lower berths only).
Queeen Mary 2 149,215 grt, 345m x 45m, 2,695 passengers (lower berths only).

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Ships named Halifax part 4

I have had several occasions to mention ships named Halifax or with Halifax in the name. Now another ship has been added to the list, but unlike the previous ships, this one unlikely to call in its namesake port.

The ship achieved world notice March 6, 2018, when, as Maersk Honan, a fire broke out in the forward section of the ship and soon spread to the accommodation block and bridge located forward of amidships. It was 900 nautical miles off Oman in the Arabian Sea, and a total of five crew members lost their lives.

Firefighting proved to be difficult and it was not until April that the fire was extinguished. Nevertheless there was little damage aft of the superstructure, and the engine and machinery space and a good portion of the 7960 containers aboard were untouched.

A Goggle search reveals many imagesof the fire and its aftermath:

The ship was towed to Dubai where the forward section including bow and superstructure were broken up. The remainder of the hull was loaded onto a semi-submersible ship and returned to Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, South Korea where it was joined to a newly built bow, forward holds and superstructure. In a recent ceremony the ship was renamed Maersk Halifax.

It is now reported that the ship will re-enter service August 9 on the joint Maersk / MSC AE11/Jade service between Asia and the Mediterranean.

The original ship was one of nine ships of the "H" class, of 153,153 gt, 162,051 dwt with a nominal 14,000 TEU design capacity. (Actual capacity has been variously reported as 15,226 and 15,282 TEU.) The rebuilt ship has a newer bow design and therefore tonnages may be adjusted. It will still be significantly larger than the largest container ships that call in Halifax, and its better suited to the heavy traffic lanes between the far east and Europe.

For info on some of the ships with Halifax names see:

So far to my knowledge no container ship has been named after Halifax from new.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Harbour Round up

Before setting out upon a road trip to Quebec, I did a final look round the harbour today.

At Imperial Oil's number 3 dock the Largo Mariner was at work unloading a cargo of refined product from Antwerp.

This is the second ship recently that was built by the Hyundai Vinashin Shipyard in Ninh Hoa, Vietnam (High Challenge was here on July 14- [qv]). This one dates from 2018 when it was built as Desert Mariner but was renamed on delivery, with a double change of ownership on the same day. This is a reminder (if we needed one) that ships are commodities, much like their cargo, and can be traded or sold for business reasons. Mid Range tankers, such as this one at 20,407 gt, 49,992 dwt are the work horses of the "clean" (i.e. refined) product business and are operating more profitably than other shipping sectors at this time.

Current owners, listed are Meridian 15 Ltd, but interestingly managers are Cargill Ocean Transportation, the shipping arm of the giant grain trading business. With about 570 dry cargo bulk carriers under it control, it also has a small position in tankers. Cargill expects to have some twenty tankers (all chartered) in its fleet by next year.

A familiar ship appeared at National Gypsum today, but in a new guise. Algoma Verity is the new name hastily applied to the former Alice Oldendorff, one of three ships recently acquired by Algoma when Oldendorff Carriers withdrew from the CSL self-unloader pool. Klaveness exited the pool a few years ago, leaving only CSL Americas and Algoma as members.

Algoma Verity alongside National Gypsum with the ship's 65.5 meter long self-unloading boom swung way out over land to give the traveling ship loader room to work.

Algoma does not stand on much ceremony when it takes over a ship, with funnel marks and hull paint to follow - sometimes years later.

The ship was built in 2000 by Shanghai Shipyard as a typical bulk  carrier with four cranes. However when the Asain economic crisis  ment a change of plans and a series of hoppers, and deck mounted conveyors and a long boom were added to permit the ship to unload to a stockpile. The cranes bucket the cargo out of the hold into the hoppers. It then runs along the conveyors to the boom which deposits the material on land.
Self-unloaders with conveyors in the bottom of the hold (gravity fed) are more expensive to build and sacrifice carrying capacity due to the sloping sides to the holds. They make up in speed of unloading to compensate.
This ship at 28,747 gt is able to reach 48,000 dwt, where a similar tunnel type self-unloader might only make 35,000 to 40,000 dwt. It is not a particularly fast unloader. It can only manage about 750 tonnes per hour, whereas the tunnel types can reach 3500 to 5000 tonnes per hour depending on the cargo.

Autocarriers were particularly present in the harbour today with Tombarra at pier 31 unloading Canadian military vehicles and other non-auto RoRo cargo.  At Autoport the first ship in was Olympian Highway in the flashy new K-Line livery.

It was carrying import cargo, and sailed mid-afternoon for Baltimore. Its place was soon taken by Columbian Highway, which I did not see, but suspect was still carrying the old plain gray hull colour. It was not in port long either, and sailed for Emden, Germany, with some export cargo.

There was also activity at pier 42 as the second crib for the pier extension was coseyed into place.

The painfully slow tow from Pier 9C with Sandra Mary pulling full and with its towing line bar taught, and J.F.Whalen pushing took about three hours.

It was then nudged into place with the crane barge Idus Atwell holding it. The crane barge Derrick # 4 was then moved to the outer face to secure it for the night.

Once in final position the crib will be sunk in place, by admitting water through valves in the bottom.

The tender notice for structural fill was advertised in today's paper, with a closing date of August 1. It is the third phase of the project to extend Pier 42 to accommodate two large container ships at the same time.

Extending the pier is only part of the work needed to accommodate 10,000 TEU+ ships. Back-up land to store the boxes will have to double in size also, and that will necessitate filling in the spaces between the current finger piers if the South End Container Terminal is to remain the port's only facility for the large ships.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, traveling during the next month or so will mean sporadic postings here, and some of those will not be from Halifax.

Bandura for cable baskets

The Dutch general cargo ship Bandura arrived this morning and tied up at Pier 9C to be fitted with cable baskets. The prefabricated steel structures will be fitted in the ship's holds to enable it to carry fibreoptic cable.

Once the frames are in place the ship will likely sail to Portsmouth / Newington, NH to load the cable. Halifax is a popular spot for this type of work, with several ships loading the baskets, also known as tanks, in recent years.

Bandura is one of many ships built by the Damen company. Its hull was built by Zaliv in Kerch, Ukraine and delivered to Damen's Bergum yard in the Netherlands for completion. The 5425 gt, 8217 dwt ship is fitted with two 40 tonne capacity cranes.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Easter Passage - something new for Autoport and more asphalt- UPDATED

Instead of the behemoth 6,000 to 8,000 car capacity auto carriers we usually see, today's caller at Autoport is the relatively tiny Viking Constanza, with a capacity of 2,000 cars.

Ships of this size are usually found on short sea routes within Europe or Asia, and it seems that this may be a short sea voyage also. The ship's last call was Vera Cruz, Mexico, indicating that it has a cargo of Mexican made cars, and possibly some buses.

The ship was built in 2010 by Sumitomo at their Kyokuyo Shipyard and has tonnages of 20,209 gt, 5496 dwt. It is equipped with one hoistable deck and can carry some "high and heavy" cargo in addition to typical cars.

Owners Gram Car Carriers, and managers OSM Ship Management Pte Ltd of Singapore have the ship time chartered to an unnamed line.

Meanwhile at the adjacent dock, owned by McAsphalt Industries, the integrated tug/tanker barge Leo A. McArthur / John J. Carrick * is unloading a cargo of asphalt.

Modernization of the former Dook's dock is still underway and the Municipal Enterprises Ltd barge, the former cable ferry La Have II is tied up inside the dock.

Built by Penglai Bohai in China in 2007 the pair are built for ocean work, but are more usually found working in the St.Lawrence Seaway between Tracy, QC and Sarnia, ON and numerous ports between. The barge has a capacity of 70,000 bbls and is equipped with a heating system to keep the cargo pumpable.

Named for the founders of McAsphalt Industries (in 1970) the pair are also ice strengthened, and have been known to work through the winter on the Great Lakes. They arrived in Canada for the first time September 9, 2009. and went into service for McAsphalt Marine Transportation.

The tug is connected to the barge by an Articouple system that allows it to detach, but rarely needs to do so.

The tug was initially named Victorious when it was managed by ULS Group (Upper Lakes Shipping) but was renamed when McAsphalt took over direct management with McAsphalt Marine Transportation Ltd. McAsphalt acquired the Miller paving company in 1977.

McAsphalt also operates another tug/barge combo, Everlast/ Norman McLeod which also works the Great Lakes / St.Lawrence.

* Transport Canada's ship registry shows a period after the initial in the tug's name, but not in the barge's name. However there is a period on the barge itself.

Bonus Round
On departure this afternoon Viking Constanza revealed another unsual aspect of the ship that was not obvious from the previous photo.

The ship has two stern ramps, one straight ramp and one on the quarter. This feature allows the ship to dock at a variety of facilities, and in some circumstances might even allow the ship to use both ramps at once. Also of note, the ship's bridge is aft of midships.

The ship seems to be a bit of a speedster, as it was making a lot of engine noise, and throwing up a bit of a rooster tail. Once clear of the harbour and heading south (destination New York) it was clocked in excess of 18 knots.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Nordic Wolverine

Not the usual product tanker, Nordic Wolverine made a short visit to anchorage in Halifax over night and sailed early this afternoon. The ship is a specialist chemical tanker with stainless steel and zinc tanks. It delivered a cargo of linear alkylbenzene (a detergent component) to Bécancour, QC and sailed directly to Halifax where it remained at anchor. Its next port is to be Altamira, MX.

Nordic Wolverine made a smoky departure from number 5 anchorage this afternoon.

The ship was built in 2006 with construction starting at the Aker Tulcea yard in Romania, and completion at the Aker Aukra yard in Norway. Launched as Nina the ship was delivered as Vaagen then renamed Northern Wolverine in 2010 and Nordic Wolverine in 2014.

The ship is owned by Bomar Four LLC and managed by Borealis Maritime Ltd. The latter is a 75 ship company based in Norway that manages ships for private and institutional investors.

Another Borealis managed ship is a regular caller in Halifax. Bomar Rebecca was in port yesterday sailing for Tropical Shipping. Its charter was recently extended by three months at $7,000 per day.


That period should see delivery of the sixth and final new ship for Tropical Shipping. When it is delivered, Tropical is likely to assign one of the new ships to the Halifax run, joining Tropic Hope, the first in the new build series.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Summer Hiatus - a High Challenge

This week marks the start of my usual summer travel time and thus there may be limited posts for a while, and many of them will not be made from Halifax.

As one of the few ships in port today, perhaps High Challenge's name will indicate the difficulty of keeping track of Halifax port activity while I am many miles away.

High Challenge is part of the d'Amico International Shipping SA fleet. According to the company website [  ]  d'Amico owns 27 tankers and has another 30 under various types of charters and management agreements. Sixteen of the owned tankers are of the Mid Range size (45,000 to 51,000 dwt) and a further 27 MRs are under their control.

High Challenge unloads a cargo from Houston at Imperial Oil's number 3 dock.

This ship was built in 2017 by Hyundai-Vinashin Shipyard Co in Ninh Hoa, Vietnam, a shipyard established with the assistance of the Korean tanker specialists to take advantage of lower labour costs and government subsidies. d'Amico has been a major customer.

 Measuring 29,957 gt, 49,990 dwt, High Challenge is  owned outright by d'Amico, and is a typical Mid Range type.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

CCGS Frederick G. Creed

A rare visitor has been working in and out of Halifax for the last week or so. CCGS Frederick G. Creed is a hydrographic survey vessel, normally based in Rimouski, QC. However it works the length and breadth of the St.Lawrence River and Gulf and makes occasional forays into the Atlantic.

It is a SWATH vessel (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull), a hull form patented by Nova Scotia native Frederick G. Creed. Read more about it in this previous post:

Despite its diminutive size (152 gt) the vessel provides an extremely stable platform for the delicate work of charting. Built in 1988 by SWATH Ocean Systems Inc in San Diego, CA, the ship appears to be holding up extremely well for its age. It has certainly received numerous upgrades, some of which are apparent by comparing today's photo with the 1994 and 2013 photos on the previous post. It appears to have a larger stern gantry now, not to mention numerous satellite and other communication devices.


Friday, July 12, 2019

HMCS Halifax back to port

After an overnight sea trial HMCS Halifax crept back into port late this morning and tied up at HMC Dockyard.

Wearing the NATO badge on its bridge wing, HMCS Halifax re-enters its home port at a very slow speed late this morning.

I speculated yesterday that repairs to an oil seal in one of the turbine compartments had been repaired, but apparently it is not yet ready to join its NATO mission in the Mediterranean. Certainly things happen on ships, but this must be a bit of an embarrassment for a ship that has been working up for this operation for some months.

Navy sources have given no time line for completion of repairs, but I am sure after recent publicity about the 2004 fire aboard HMCS Chicoutimi that they are taking extra precautions. The cause of the fire was determined to be the crew's failure to follow standard operating procedures by leaving hatches open. The resulting ingress of water caused an electrical short and fire that gutted much of the interior of the boat.

HMCS Chicoutimi, on the heavy lift ship Tern April 5, 2009 for transfer to the west coast and rebuilding.

That fire aboard the ex RN submarine Upholder on its delivery trip to Canada resulted in the loss of one life and serious long term health consequences for most if not all of the rest of the crew. Since repaired and rebuilt, HMCS Chicoutimi is based on the west coast.