Monday, January 27, 2020

Basin Watch and new for MOL

The shipping alliance conveniently called THE Alliance, consists of HAPAG-Lloyd, Yang Ming and Ocean Network Express (ONE). The latter is the combine formed by the merger of the Japanese container lines NYK, K-Line and MOL. As with most of these alliances, the various members provide ships according to some sort of  complex formula. THE Alliance, for example has more than 425 ships to call upon to serve the various routes it maintains.

Recently THE Alliance has started to use MOL "M" class ships, and today's arrival of MOL Maneuver is the second of those.


The ship was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kobe, in 2011 and carries 6724 TEU (including 500 reefers) with measurements of 78,316 grt and 79,423 dwt.

Mine were not the only set of eyes keeping watch on Bedford Basin activity this afternoon when MOL Maneuver sailed.

A bald eagle perched in a tree in Africville Park kept a wary eye on me too, but we stayed well out of each other's way.

Also out in the Basin is the tanker Navigare Pars in from Baton Rouge, and likely destined for Imperial Oil. 


Built as Miseno in 2012 by STX Offshore in Jinhae, South Korea, it is a 29,840 gt, 51,034 dwt product tanker.  It acquired its present name in 2017, and now flies the Danish flag, and is enrolled in their International register.

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Throwback Thursday - New Feature

I began taking photos around Halifax harbor very soon after moving here in 1966. It was not until 1969 that I began to take pictures using 35mm film. By 1970 I was "on a roll" so to speak and on hand to document the birth of container shipping and the slow death of break bulk in the port. In this new feature I will mark another decade by showing some photos taken in 1970 and before.

Nova Scotia arriving off pier 23 with the assistance of the tug Foundation Valiant.
(Built in 1963, the tug was renamed Point Valiant in 1973 and André-H. in 1995, and is currently owned by Groupe Océan, but has been in cold layup for several years in Quebec City.)

Although they did manage to hang on for a few more years, the writing was on the wall for Furness Withy's handsome pair of ships, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The third pair of ships to carry the names, they were built in 1964 and 1965 respectively, for the Liverpool / St.John's / Halifax / Boston  (and return) liner service, replacing the 1947 pair, which in turn had replaced the 1926 pair (both lost in World War II). Since the ships carried mail they were entitled to use "RMS" [Royal Mail Ship] before their names. At that time "surface" mail traveled much more cheaply than air mail and the bulk of transatlantic mail went by ship. The ships no longer carried passengers as their predecessors did.

Among the many good looking ships built by Burntisland Shipbuilding, they measured 6,600 grt in closed shelter deck configuration, and 7,500 dwt. Their holds were served by one 15 ton, one 10 ton and four 5 ton derricks and four 5 ton cranes. The 6 cylinder, 7150 bhp B+W main engine (built under license by Harland and Wolff) gave a speed of 16 knots. Also fitted to carry some refrigerated cargo (like Nov a Scotia apples) and vegetable oil, they were rated as Ice Class 3.

Newfoundland was renamed Cufic in 1973 then re-renamed Newfoundland in 1974 when it was transferred to Johnson Warren Lines Ltd (Furness Withy remained as managers).  They renamed it Cufic again in 1976, but sold it off in 1977. Renamed Gaiety by Golden City Maritime, under Panama flag, it was broken up in Shanghai in 1986.


Newfoundland (left) at Pier 23.
Nova Scotia (centre)at Pier 26. Note the grain loading gallery - since replaced by the pier 28 gallery. Note also the tiny figures on deck clearing frozen spray from the hatch covers.

Nova Scotia became Johnston Warren's Tropic in 1973. After a 1978 sale to China fell through it was sold to Booker Line and became their Booker Valiant running between Liverpool and the Caribbean. The Shipping Corp of Saudi Arabia bought the ship in 1980 renaming it Arab Dabbor and then Arab Hind in 1986. It lasted until 1998 when it was scrapped in Alang.


Newfoundland and Nova Scotia together in Halifax for the first time. Winter weather apparently delayed one of the ships on its return leg.

Furness Withy, a giant in British shipping, eventually morphed into Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), which was taken over by China Ocean (COSCO) in 2017.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wait time

It was bumper to bumper traffic at PSA Halifax today with a 10,000 TEU ship at pier 41-42 and another ship anchored waiting its turn.

APL Dublin was built in 2012 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, Okpo. The 128,929gt, 131,204 dwt ship has a capacity of 10,960 TEU and has only recently joined the Columbus JAX service. Its normal arrival day would have been Saturday, but likely delayed its arrival due to weather.

Two cranes are in the up position but APL Dublin takes up most of the berth space at PSA Halifax, pier 41 and part of pier 42.

Until the pier 42 extension is completed and the new crane arrives later in the year, only one large ship and one small ship can be accommodated at Pier C.

Zim Tarragona is a medium sized ship, and so had to anchor until APL Dublin sailed.


At 40,542 grt, 50,089 dwt, it has a capacity of 4256 TEU. The ship was  built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang in 2010.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tropic Lissette

Tropical Shipping's Tropic Lissette arrived this afternoon instead of the usual Monday morning arrival. No doubt the frightful weather offshore over the last few days kept the ship away, however it was calm and sunny today.


The tug J.F.Whelan and dump scow Pitts No.11 had just dumped another load of rock for the Pier C extension and held off until the ship passed.

Since moving from Saint John to Halifax in January 2017, Tropical has expanded its business and brought in new larger ships. Tropical Hope (first call in January 2019) and Tropical Lissette (first call in September 2019) are 1100 TEU (including 200 reefers) vessels newly built by Guangzhou Wenchong.

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sherman Zwicker

The Lunenburg-built former Banks schooner Sherman Zwicker is in for a major refit / rebuild at Mystic, CT. Built in 1942 by Smith and Rhuland it fished until 1968.


Saved and maintained by a series of US owners, it now operates as an oyster bar in Manhattan (!), which it will continue to do in the summers but will return to Mystic each winter for several years as the rebuild continues.

When last seen here in a Tall Ships event in 2007, the schooner had kept its original appearance ( bald headed = no topsails; knock about= no bowsprit) including the typical wheelhouse of the auxiliary schooners. The engine occupies what was the main cabin aft. Let's hope no one tries to "improve" on this classic appearance, and concentrates instead on taking the hog out of the hull and replacing deteriorated components.

This was never a racing schooner like the Bluenose but a hard working money maker fishing the Grand Banks from dories. and that is how it should be maintained - oysters aside.

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Sir William Alexander - back on the job

Yesterday's post stated that CCGS Sir Wiiliam Alexander had not returned to service following a lengthy refit. I stand corrected. The ship sailed this morning, apparently in working order, bound for St.John's, NL. Whether that destination has anything to do with the extreme weather event there in the last days, it certainly means that the ship will not be servicing the Halifax buoys any time soon.

If navaids in Newfoundland have been blown out by hurricane force winds. the ship may be needed there more urgently.


Amid vapour from the Nova Scotia Power Inc gas fired generating plant and traces of sea smoke, from its cooling water discharge, CCGS Sir William Alexander puts out to sea this morning.

I do not have a date for the ship's return to service but it apparently occurred within the last week or two.
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Friday, January 17, 2020

Buoy oh buoy

Due to the many rocky shoals and shallows, navigation into and out of Halifax harbour requires skill and knowledge. Harbour pilots have this in abundance, and coupled with their use of radar and satellite technology, they make hundreds of safe transits every year.


However not all mariners using the port have that skill and local knowledge. And surely there are times when the radar and Satnav may not be working. In such cases finding the channels and maintaining a safe course may have to rely on such centuries old devices as buoys and lighthouses.


Unless of course that century is the 21st and the year is 2020 and the time is right now.
I have it that at least three buoys and one lighthouse are currently unlit and have been so since before Christmas. Although these failures were reported to the CG nothing has been done to make repairs.

The Canadian Coast Guard has the responsibility for maintaining what are known as NAVAIDS (Aids to Navigation) and has its base right in Halifax harbour, at the Bedford Institute.

Under the jurisdiction of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Bedford Institute is also the Canadian Coast Guard base.
The buoy maintenance and repair facility is right here in the port and is to the left in the photo.

The buoy yard at the old Coast Guard base in Dartmouth (seen here in 1977) was relocated to the Bedford Institute when the old Coast Guard base  was shut down.

Even though the CCG is responsible for maintaining the buoys and lights in Halifax harbour (and throughout much of Nova Scotia and beyond) I cannot place all the blame for this on the CCG. Thanks to government policy (or lack of it) they have been chronically underfunded and under resourced for years. With aged ships constantly in need of repairs and the others stretched thin, it is no wonder there is a waiting list for work. Nevertheless working Navaids should be essential in a busy harbour.

There are three Navaids ships based in Halifax, but with multi-tasking required of CCG ships these days all are also expected to do Search and Rescue and icebreaking, so are only part time Navaids vessels. So where are these ships now?

CCGS Sir William Alexander has been undergoing a lengthy in water refit at the Bedford Institute, that included rebuilding its crane. Despite some sea trials recently, the ship has not yet returned to service.



CCGS Edward Cornwallis 

In December the ship was sent to the Great Lakes to cover the closing of the St.Lawrence Seaway. Presumably this was to break ice and prevent a recurrence of late season blockages, or maybe to lift some summer buoys.  This trip must have been to cover for a ship in the Central Region that was unavailable.

The Edward Cornwallis was then sent to the Gulf of St.Lawrence for ice breaking and is currently in Sydney., NS.

CCGS Earl Grey

The Earl Grey has been at work icebreaking in Newfoundland, as far north as the Strait of Belle Isle and now in Botwood. Again it is probably covering for a ship from the Newfoundland region that is unavailable. CCGS Ann Harvey, which ran aground in 2015 and was extensively rebuilt afterwards may or may not be in service.

The federal government has finally decided on how they will get around to building replacements for these three ships (and several others including heavy icebreakers) by going with Davie Shipbuilding in Quebec. In one way this was a good decision - Davie has the physical capacity  to build the ships and a very thin order book. However they have no recent experience building icebreakers and no track record of building multi ships orders, quickly. Yes they should be building two or three (or four or more) big icebreakers but that is it.
In order to re-equip the CCG quickly with smaller ships, there needs to be at least one more shipyard brought into the equation. There is the skeleton of a shipyard in St.Catharines, ON, the former Port Weller Dry Dock. To re-equip it to build ten to twelve new navaids ships would be worth the investment if a suitable operator was selected. (The federal government already owns the drydock and land). Heddle Marine thinks they are capable of operating such a yard,but a proper selection process is still needed. Particularly if it is a build / maintain contract, a dedicated CCG shipyard might be worth considering.

But back to Halifax. There is no doubt that the CCG is in need of many replacement ships, but is that the reason why Halifax harbour navigation aids are being neglected?

Perhaps the old question could be asked - how many Coast Guard ships does it take to change a light bulb?

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