Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Big and Small

 Halifax harbour can accommodate ships of all sizes.Today, May 21, there were ships at both ends of the scale and some in the middle. 

At PSA Halifax Atlantic Gateway there were two container ships. One "ultra" size and one standard size. The "ultra" ship (with a capacity of more than 10,000 TEU) was the ONE Cygnus of 146,694 gt, 138,611 dwt built in 2019 by Japan Marine United, Kure its capacity is usually quoted at 14,026 TEU. It was working at Pier 41 under the largest cranes (and not really visible from shore), while the more standard sized MSC Leigh was at Pier 42.

Built by Daewoo, Mangalia, it is a 50,963 gt, 63,420 dwt ship with a capacity of 4884 TEU including 560 reefers. Although launched as the Buxtime it was completed as MSC Leigh. Working on the CANEX2 Mediterranean service, the ship is en route from Montreal to Sines, Portugal.

Another Ultra ship, the 15,536 TEU CMA CGM Zephyr was scheduled to arrive this morning, but is standing by offshore until the ONE Cygnus sails. It is now due tomorrow morning, May 22.

An even larger ship made a short visit to number one anchorage in the lower harbour this morning. The NYK Canary is the second K-Line bulk carrier in recent days to put in for Canadian Food Inspection Agency clearance. Once inspectors had determined that there was no invasive species of LDD moth on board, the ship was cleared to proceed to Sept-Iles, QC to load iron ore.

The Cape Canary was built in 2009 by Kawasaki, Sakaide and is a 93,378 gt, 192,577 dwt gearless bulker. It deployed a conventional combination ladder at about midships for pilot boarding but also rigged an accommodation ladder farther aft, that would normally only be used when alongside. In consideration of the CFIA inspectors, it would be a much better way to board and disembark. A rather generous safety net was also rigged, which may have been a requirement of CFIA.

I noted the ship appears to have been retrofitted with an exhasut gas scrubber system which was appended to the ship's original funnel structure, and carries Kawaski Kaisen Kaisha's letter "K".

[As a footnote to the post of Saturday May 18 the other K-Line ship that called in Halifax for CFIA inpsection, the Cape Keystone, appears to have missed its scheduled slot to load at Port Cartier. That port is so busy there are usually several ships waiting at anchor to load, so missing a date may mean going to the end of the line. The ship is standing by off Sydney, NS in the Cabot Strait waiting for orders - it may be sent to another port to load.]

At the small end of the scale was today's arrival of the Royal Portuguese Navy submarine NRP Arpão measuring 1,700 tons surfaced displacement and 2,000 tons submerged, it is slightly smaller than the Royal Canadian Navy submarines which come in at 2,200 tons surfaced and 2,439 submerged.

It was met by two Ville class "pup" tugs from HMC Dockyard, Listerville (aft) and Granville (forward). Due to the sub's size, larger tugs were not needed, but also the commercial tugs of Atlantic Towing Ltd are not suited for working with submarines due to their underwater profile, and fendering. 

Arpão is a Tridente class atttack submarine built by Howaldswerke - Deutsche Werft and commissioned in 2010. As a "conventional" (i.e. non-nuclear) submarine it is preferred for use in naval exercises where finding the sub may be part of the task.

The sub's arrival was not the only naval activity in the harbour today as Canada's newest naval ship put out to sea.

HMCS William Hall AOPV 433 is the fourth ship of the Harry DeWolf class of Arctic Patrol Vessel built by Irving Shipbulding Inc at Halifax Shipyard. It was completed in August 2023 and has been undergoing trials and training, culminating in its official commissioning on Thursday, May 16.


Going, Going...

 When the NYK Constellation got underway from PSA Fairview Cove Monday afternoon, May 20, the sun was shining brightly in Bedford Basin.

NYK Constellation dates from 2007 when it was delivered by Hyundai Ulsan. It has a gt of 55,534 with a deadweight tonnage of 65,919 and a capacity of 4922 TEU including 330 reefers. 

 As the ship passed through the lower harbour it began to encounter some wisps of fog and by the time it passed the PSA Atlantic Gateway terminal, and Ives Knoll at the northern tip of McNab's Island, visibility was reduced and the ship began to use its fog signal.

And as it continued seaward it was gradually enveloped.

By the time it reached Mauger's Beach it was largely invisible from shore...

The ship operates on THE Alliance's AL5 service and is en route from Antwerp to Port Everglades, FL. That route will take the ship through the Panama Canal to the west coast. It will them retrace its path back through Cartagena, Boca Chica, Saint John, Halifax, Southampton, Le Havre, Rotterdam and Hamburg before starting westbound again from Antwerp. The ship was last in Halifax April 16-17 when it was eastbound.

With the annual fog season arriving, visibility will vary considerably depending on the on shore air temperature and the state of the tide, making photographs challenging until July or even August.


Monday, May 20, 2024

It was a dark, dank and drizzly May 20 morning for hellos and goodbyes for visitors to the Port of Halifax.


 An inaugural call from the Swan Hellenic vessel SH Diana was the first notable arrival.
Delivered by Helsinki Shipyard in March of 2023, the SH Diana is a "pocket cruiser" of 12,255 gt with beds for 192 passengers in 96 staterooms and a crew of 140. It is a Polar Class 6 ship with many amenities to make it suitable for arctic and Antarctic cruising.
After the ship's inaugural cruise to the Mediterranean last year it made its way to Ushuaia, Argentina, its base for Antarctic cruises. In March of this year it cruised northward up the South American west coast and in April called in Acapulco. After transiting the Panama Canal it stopped in Santa Marta, Santo Domingo, New York (May 15) and Boston (May 18-19).
As a smaller ship, it berthed at Pier 23. I noted the docking platform at the bow with several crew members set to send heaving lines to the pier. Also the steel plating at the anchor pockets, to protect the hull during the ship's frequent periods at anchor.
The SH Diana is now headed for Greenland, then Norway and eventually the Mediterranean again.


Good bye

Two German naval vessels that had been in Halifax since Friday, May 17 put out to sea mid-morning. (See Friday's post for details on the ships.)
The ships were tied up side by side at Pier 20, so the outside ship, FGS Baden-Würtemburg was first to go.

The civilian tigs Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Bear pulled the ship away from its companion and it was soon underway. It was then the turn of the Canadian Naval Auxiliary tug Listerville to move in and retrieve three "Yokohama" type inflated fenders from the inside ship FGS Frankfurt am Main.
Once the Listerville was clear, the same two tugs moved in to unberth the larger ship.
At some point it was decided to call for a third tug and the Atlantic Beaver "stormed in" from its berth across the harbour at Dartmouth Cove. Its job was the push against the ship at midships, to keep it alongside and reduce strain on the mooring lines until they could be let go. (A contingent of Canadian navy ratings was on the pier to let the lines go.)
FGS Frankfurt am Main carries two helicopters which were in view Saturday, but today they were tucked away safely in their hangars. (The ship can land larger helicopters of the Sea King class.)


Sunday, May 19, 2024

MSC Alyssa (again)

 I have noted the container ship MSC Alyssa half a dozen times since 2021 and as recently as April 7 and 16 of this month. There was nothing particularly noteworthy about its call today except that I only caught up with the ship on its departure.

Today, May 19, was the occasion of the 21st annual Bluenose Marathon, an event that ties up many of the city streets for the early part of the day, including my usual ship viewing spot at Point Pleasant Park. Since I live within the loop of the race route, it is difficult to get to the port, so I stayed home until the afternoon.

By the time MSC Alyssa sailed at 1645 hrs ADT, the race was long over and a steady drizzle had set in, but thanks to the magic of photo editing, the ship was made more visible.

 With the pilot boat Capt. E.T.Rogers keeping pace, the MSC Alyssa has cleared PSA Halifax Atlantic Gateway outbound for Montreal.

 A regular caller on MSC's CANEX1 service to/from the Mediterranean the MSC Alyssa usually calls westbound en route to Montreal to lighten up to St.Lawrence draft, and eastbound to add cargo. Today it is westbound from Sines, Portugal and is due in Montreal on May 22. Although the ship still appeared to be well loaded, its draft on sailing was reported to be 10.8 meters. That will increase when it reaches the freshwater of the Upper St. Lawrence River. Montreal's maximum allowable draft is usually quoted at 11 meters, however during spring run off it is 12 meters or more. (Salinity in the river decreases the farther one goes upstream, but the water is brackish as far as the eastern end of the Ile d'Orléans.) 

Built in 2001 by Hanjin Heavy Industry + Construction Co in Busan, MSC Alyssa is a 43,575 gt, 61,487 dwt vessel with a capacity of 4340 TEU including 150 reefer plugs. The ship is due for its 25 year classification renewal September 30, 2026, by which time it will likely be due for retirement. The large number of new and more efficient ships on order or to be delivered this year and next may spell the end for ships of its vintage, no matter how sound they may be.


Saturday, May 18, 2024

Saturday etc.,

 Today, Saturday May 18, was a  bit of a mixed bag in the harbour, with ships of various types in  view. (That it is also the Victoria Day holiday weekend seems to have had little effect on ship movements.)

An early morning arrival was the auto carrier Morning Lucy for Pier 9C to offload RoRo cargo. The 68,701 gt, 28,080 dwt ship was built in 2009 by Hyundai Samho in Mokpo and can carry 8,011 CEU. 

Having turned in Bedford Basin, the Morning Lucy makes its way back under the A. Murray MacKay bridge into the Narrows, and alongside Pier 9C starboard side to the pier.

Although part of the Eukor fleet, the ship also operates on the parent company Wallenius Wilhelmsen's routes. Since early March the ship has called in Incheon and Ulsan, South Korea, then in April in Brunswick, Charleston, and Philadelphia. It crossed the Atlantic and called in Zeebrugge May 2-3, Bremerhaven May 4-7, Le Havre May 9 and finally in Southampton May 9-10. Once it discharged its RoRo cargo it moved to Autoport mid-afternoon to unload cars.

 With RoRo cargo unloaded, the ship has raised its stern ramp and is preparing to move to Autoport. The cargo consisted of the usual collection of road rollers, JCB front end loaders, airport runway sweepers, and mining and forestry vehicles.

There were also two ships at anchor in the lower Harbour. Thursday, May 16's arrival, Elka Delos remains at anchor and is due to move alongside Irving Oil's Woodside terminal this afternoon. (The retired chairman of Irving Oil, Arthur L. Irving died on May 13 at age 93 and funeral services were held this morning in Saint John, NB. Irving facilities may have been closed this morning in remembrance. Mr. Irving was a son of the founder of Irving Oil, K.C.Irving.)

The Elka Delos is carrying refined product from Amsterdam for Irving Oil.

 "Delos" is an island in the Aegean Sea near Mykonos, and is a tourist destination due to its ancient ruins. "Elka" is the abbreviated named for European Navigation Ltd, parent of European Product Carriers.  Founded by the Karnessis family, the company has been in the news due to disputes within the ownerships and the February 2024 shooting death of the CEO, two others and himself by a disgruntled employee at the company's Glyfada (Athens) headquarters.

Dominating number one anchorage this morning was the bulk carrier Cape Keystone.  The ship is en route to Port Cartier, QC to load iron ore and stopped in Halifax for Canadian Food Inspection Agency clearance. The ship must be certified free of the invasive species LDD moth before docking at a Canadian port. It is hatching season for the Asian moth which can devastate trees if allowed to get into the environment. Ships that have recently been in places where the moth is native, must be inspected to ensure they are not carrying egg masses. Regions such as the area around Port-Cartier are heavily dependant on forestry, and must protect the valuable resource.

Built in 2011 by Hyundai Ulsan, the Cape Keystone operates under the K-Line banner. A 93,227 gt, 179,250 dwt ship, it is an impressive sight when in ballast. (I am sure the pilot, who has to climb the combination pilot ladder / accommodation ladder to get on and off may not be as impressed.)

Recent ports of call for the ship include Dalrymple, Australia March 2 (load coal), Port Louis Mauritius March 24 (bunkers),  Musel Arnao - Gijon, Spain April 26-30 (offload coal, load?), Wilhelmshaven, Germany May 3 -5 (offload?)

There was the usual container traffic too, with Atlantic Sun at PSA Fairview Cove and Volga Maersk at PSA Atlantic Gateway. Both ships are expected to sail in the afternoon.



Friday, May 17, 2024


 Ships visit Halifax for commercial purposes - to load or off load cargo. Ships also call for clearance from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure that they are free of noxious species. Occasionally they call for repairs and (more rarely) to disembark crew members for medical assistance or to change crew at the end of contract.

One of the more pleasant reasons for a visit - and one that is more noticed by the public at large - is  the arrival of cruise ships to give passengers time ashore in the area. There is another reason which may also include the public and that is what is commonly termed a "courtesy call." Today, May 17 there were both of these sorts of calls and they were all together at the "Seawall" commonly called Piers 20 to 22.


The mega cruise ship MSC Meraviglia arrived this morning for its second Halifax call this season. (The first was May 11). The 171,598 gt ship, was completed in 2017 by STX France at Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire. At full capacity it can carry 5,642 passengers (although at normal double capacity the total is 4,428) and 1536 crew on ten decks. It was the eighth largest cruise ship in the world when built, but now shares twenty-first place on the list of the largest cruise ships.

MSC, the Mediterranean Shipping Company, is perhaps better known as the world's largest container shipping company, but it is also owner of MSC Cruises, with a substantial cruise fleet of more than twenty ships in its stable and at least eight under construction or on order.

The Vista class, of which MSC Meraviglia is lead ship, is noted for having the highest number of passengers per available space of any other cruise ship.  One description states "the ship overall has less passenger space and more passengers onboard than other similar cruise ships." (Reports that the class was to be called the Sardinia class are untrue.)

MSC Cruises has gained its own notoriety, with this ship in particular making headlines several times. The most recent was on its arrival in New York May 4 with the corpse of a 44 foot long Sei whale draped on its bulbous bow. A necropsy revealed soft tissue injury to the 25 ton mammal, indicating ship impact.

Courtesy Call

Naval vessels make courtesy calls as part of normal diplomatic communication with other countries, often in connection with joint military exercises. Today's arrival of two German naval vessels is a little unusual as the ships berthed at Pier 20 (one outboard of the other) instead of at HMC Dockyard. This would indicate that they may be open to limited public visits.

The first Federal German Ship (FGS) to arrive was the Berlin class replenishment ship Frankfurt am Main A1412. It was met by three tugs from Atlantic Towing Ltd.


Passing east of George's Island, it swung round and tied up bows south at Pier 20, more or less "under" the bows of the MSC Meraviglia making something of a contrast.

The Berlin class of ships are the original pattern for the Royal Canadian Navy's adapted version of Joint Support Ships (JSS) or Protecteur class under construction at Seaspan. The Frankfurt am Main is the second ship of the class and was commissioned in 2001.

One of the pup tugs from the Dockyard (Listerville I believe) moved in and deployed some "Yokohama" fenders to the ship so that the next ship could tie on safely.

The second arrival was FGS Hamburg-Württemburg F222, a heavy frigate, - name ship of its class of four, and commissioned in 2019.

The two ships of the Deutsche Marine are on their Indo-Pacific deployment, which is in fact a round the world trip, starting earlier this month and extending to December. The trip will involve exercises with NATO partners Canada and the United States and other countries en route. German aircaft will also be participating.

The next port is New York, then it will transit the Panama Canal and go one across the Pacific with more visits in Asia, including Tokyo and exercises with Japan's Self-Defense Forces.

All three of the subject ships in the same photo this evening. Trivia time: The Ocean Sanderling in the background sailing on its weekly run to St.John's: Do you suppose anyone cares that the Sanderling was built for and operated  by D.D.G.Hansa in 1977 and operated under the German flag, with various names until 1987, when it became a Canadian ship?


Where have all the boxes gone?

 The PSA Fairview Cove container terminal has changed appearance lately. There seem to be many fewer containers stacked along the railway sidings. Maybe this is related to some railbed renewals and paving that is going on, or maybe making space in case there is a rail strike.

The union representing engineers, conductors and staff at CN Rail and CPKC Rail are eligible to strike May 22 although some negotiations may still be goimg on.

If there is a strike, ships will still be unloading here in hopes that the strike would be short-lived. Terminals would soon fill up, so removing empties would be a good idea. Re-routing to US ports or trucking are costly options for incoming boxes, and would only be considered for urgent cargo or in case of a lengthy work stoppage.