Thursday, December 7, 2023

Conti-Courage Update

 Thanks to an alert reader, I have updated the December 5 post Algoma and MSC arrivals:

The container capacity of the ship Conti Courage is indeed 8084 TEU, but the reefer capacity is 700 TEU - not 7000 as orginally writen.

As expected the ship is headed for Suez. The situation in the Red Sea, off Yemen, is still a potentially dangerous one. The United States may provide escorts to protect shipping, despite warnings from Saudi Arabia.

For the recoard, Algoma Victory loaded for Tampa after CSL Tacoma cleared for Wilmington, North Carolina.



Wednesday, December 6, 2023


 Halifax Explosion Memorial Bell Tower

Fort Needham Memorial Park

December 6, 1917

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Algoma and MSC arrivals

 Among the arrivals and departures in Halifax today (December 5) there were two ships that attracted my attention.

A first time caller on the Mediterranean Shipping Company's INDUSA service to/from India is the Conti Courage. It is owned by the German company CONTI and apparently is on a charter to MSC. MSC is the world's largest container ship operator with about 790 ships and a capacity of more than 5.5 mn TEU. About two thirds of the ships are on charter - some for short term, where it is not practical to change their names. This ship is possibly one of those.

 The Conti Courage was built by Samsung, Geoje in 2005, as Hatsu Courage for charter to Hatsu Marine. The London, UK based container line Hatsu was merged into the Taiwanese Evergreen Marine Corp in 2007. The ship carried the Hatsu name and hull banner until 2017 when it became Conti Courage. (CONTI is the trading name for an independently operating company that has been owned by Claus-Peter Offen Container ships since 2017.)

The 90,449 gt, 106,984 dwt ship has a capacity of 8084 TEU including 7000 (700) reefers.It is now eastbound from US ports of Charleston, Savannah, Norfolk, Baltimore and New York. So far it is scheduled to sail via the Mediterranean, Suez and the Red Sea to India.

The second arrival is a ship that was once a frequent caller under its original name, but has not been seen here in several years. Built in 2000 by Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, it is a Panamax self-unloading bulk carrier of 41,428 gt, 70,037 dwt. It was built to the same design as two ships for CSL (Sheila Ann and CSL Spirit). The ship offloads via a 59m boom with a 20m telescoping extension that can slew 135 degrees from midships, It can move coal at a rate of 4,000 tonnes per hour and ore at 6,000 tonnes per hour.

Its first owners. the Egon Oldendorff Group, named the ship Sophie Oldendorff and it joined the CSL self-unloader pool, and was put to work carrying coal to Nova Scotia and exporting aggregates and gypsum to US east coast ports. 

The brand new Sophie Oldendorff at the National Gypsum pier in Bedford Basin. National Gypsum has since been rebranded as Gold Bond.

 In 2019 the Algoma Central Corporation acquired Oldendorff Carriers' interest in the CSL pool along with three ships, among them the Sophie Oldedorff, which they renamed Algoma Victory. The CSL pool was founded in 1993 and included the Torvald Klaveness Group, which left the pool in 2015. Following the Oldendorff transaction Algoma owned about 40% and CSL Americas the remainder of the CSL pool. 

Before arriving today the Algoma Victory delivered a cargo of coal from Columbia to Point Tupper, NS November 12-15, then loaded aggregates at Auld's Cove November 17-20. It delivered that cargo to Cape Canaveral, FL, November 29-December 1 and returned in ballast to Halifax to load at Gold Bond gypsum. It anchored in Bedford Basin today to wait for CSL Tacoma to complete loading. That ship was also in last week, sailing November 29, and made a quick turn around trip to Portsmouth, NH.


Saturday, December 2, 2023

Bridging the Gap

The two bridges spanning the Narrows of Halifax harbour have certainly proven to be successful. In the pre-bridge era (i.e. before 1956, if you don't count two short lived railroad bridges in 1885-1891 and 1892-1893 that were washed out and collapsed due to inferior design and construction) Halifax and Dartmouth were connected by passenger / vehicle ferries or a very long land toute around Bedford Basin.

Since 1956 and the opening of the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge [links to Wikipedia] the population of Dartmouth and the eastern side of the harbour has exploded, coupled with industrial and marcantile development to the point where a second bridge became necessary. With the A. Murray MacKay Bridge [Wikipedia link], predictably, as per the "if you build it they will come" adage, the trend continued and the population on the Dartmouth side continued to grow after the new bridge opened in 1970. Industrial and mercantile expansion accelerated too, and did not reduce usage of the bridges - only increasing the traffic between both sides of the harbour.

When a complete replacement of the span of the older Macdonald bridge took place from 2015 to 2017, the resulting traffic chaos inspired many to urge for a third crossing, which is still a topic for discussion, and maybe actual planning.

Recently we learned that two sections of the steel bridge deck of the MacKay bridge required urgent replacement due to fractures. This suddden discovery is a little worrying since the deck failure did not happen over night. The bridge has been closed for two consecutive weekends - during the busiest shopping days of the year - when weekend bridge traffic could be expected to be at its yearly peak. Two small sections of deck were to be replaced and paved over during Friday evening to early Monday mornings. Presumably the work had to be done before cold weather sets in.

The ensuing chaos and gridlock - (what would normally be a five munute crossing on the Macdonald bridge late Sunday morning stretched into half an hour.) The predictable "fender bender" at mid span occurred just before 12 noon November 26 when the directional flow of the centre lane was set to reverse from "to Dartmouth" to "from Dartmouth" irrespective of traffic demand. Police and fire response (due to spilled gasoline) was prompt and efficient, but could do little to alleviate the press of traffic. Fortunately the accident was a slow speed rear-ender and did not require closing the bridge altogether and there did not appear to be any injuries. Why eliminating tolls for the two weekends to speed traffic flow was not in the cards is a mystery.

The arrival this morning of the container ship NYK Remus, which had to pass beneath both bridges to reach the PSA Fairview Cove container terminal served as a reminder that planning for a new crossing is not a simple matter.

My photo was taken from the Africville Park boatramp. Built on grassed over construction debris and fill, with trees growing at random, it isn't much as parks go, but thanks to its name and the museum in the form of the orginal church, it can serve as a reminder that there was once a vibrant community there. It was destroyed to build the bridge approaches, with little thought given to the process.

As NYK Remus passes the Africville Park boat ramp, a construction crane is at work on replacing a section of bridge deck and the A. Murray MacKay bridge is closed to traffic for the second consecutive weekend.

NYK Remus is one of twelve ships of the Daedalus class, many of which call in Halifax regularly on a service operated by THE Alliance - a group of several independent shipping companies. This particular ship is on the AL5 service than runs between Europe and the Pacific coast of the US via the Panama Canal. It is a moderate size vessel (larger ships cannot squeeze under the bridges) of 55,487 gt, 65,981 dwt with a capacity of 4922 TEU (some sources say 4888 TEU) including 330 reefers. It was built in 2009 by Hyundai Samho.

Members of THE Alliance are Hapag-Loyd, HMM (former Hyundai Merchant Marine), Yang Ming, and Ocean Network Express (ONE - the amalagam of NYK, MOL and K-Line.) The ships on this route also call in Saint John, NB served by the newly formed CPKC rail, the arch competitor of CN Rail which serves Halifax.  These shipping alliances are under threat by the EU and the USA as they are seen by some to limit competition. One key EU policy that allows alliances or consortia, is set to expire in April 2024, and may Lead to reconfiguration of some of the lines serving Halifax, but is too early to tell how.


Friday, December 1, 2023

Naval Manoeuvres - UPDATED

 Today (December 1) there was some non-typical naval activity in the harbour. The HMS Kent F78 sailed after a short courtesy visit, after arriving on November 27, and tying up at Jetty B. It backed out into the stream and turned with the assistance of the civilian tug Atlantic Willow, and made for sea.

A type 23 Duke class frigate, it was built by Yarrow Shipbuilders and commissioned in 2000. While in port its AIS signal sometimes identified it as HMS Dauntless and once out to sea this morning it morphed into HMS Daring. It is certainly a revolutionary development in naval technology when frigates can be turned into destroyers by satellite.

 Update HMS Kent is due back in Halifax tomorrow (December 2) with possible mechanical issues.


 Once the Kent was clear Canada's Naval Memorial the Sackville left its summer berth at Sackville Landing, and returned to HMC Dockyard for the winter. It was under the control of navy tugs, and the pup tug Merrickville retrieved pneumatic fenders for redeployment at its winter berth.

While at HMC Dockyard, the Sackville will undergo routine maintenance. It is due to return to Sackville Landing and re-open to the public in May.

Named for the town of Sackville, New Brunswick, the vessel's summer berth in Halifax is coincidentally near the foot of Sackville Street. Both are named for a British soldier and politician of dubious repute, the First Viscount Sackville (once Major-General) George Germain (1716-17850. The main tributory river to Halifax Harbour is the Sackville River, which flows through the communities of Upper, Middle and Lower Sackville. Near the river's mouth in Bedford Basin, was Fort Sackville, built in 1749 to protect the settlement of Halifax, founded the same year. It was used as a base for many military operations against the indigenous Mi'kmaq population and later during the American Revolution. 

Sackville, the man, was widely vilified for the the loss of the Thirteen Colonies due to his bungling as Secretary of State for the American Department. He had previously been court martialed and discharged from the miltary for life, for his refusal to obey orders in the Battle of Minden in 1759, but he continued to interfere in miltary matters when in Lord North's cabinet, 1775-1782. Largely forgotten by history, his name, at least, lives on in Nova Scotia. (The town of Sackville, NB was amalgamated into the newly formed town of Tantramar in 2023, but the name is still used by the community.) 


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Morning Carol

 The proliferation of female names among shipping companies continues unabated with today's arrival of the auto carrier Morning Carol. The ship belongs to Eukor, the Wallenius-Wilhelmsen owned company, which has about eighty ships in its fleet, many with women's names.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company, MSC, also favours such names for most of the ships in its huge fleet. The company's website claims 800 ships - many chartered - but about one third are given other types of names. 

Yesterday's arrival, the tanker Silver Ginny is another exmaple. It is operated bythe Sinokor Petrochemical Co Ltd. 

Today's (November 29) ship poses a bit of a mystery, since some sources indicate that it is laid up, or has been, since January 16, 2020. At that time some autocarrier operators were parking their older ships due to diminished demand brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic. Things have changed however and now demand exceeds supply - particularly on Asian trade routes. Operators are assigning their largest ships to those routes, and the smaller and older ships, are now appearing in North America.

Many of Eukor's ships, and those of the Wallenius Wilhelmsen sister companies, were placed in cold layup in Norwegian fjords, close to their usual load ports for convenience when they returned to service. Morning Carol may have been laid up until earlier this year, as it underwent its most recent five year survey in April.

Eukor is rather coy about some information such as the capacity of individual ships. I can't find published details on this ship's actual capacity. From its tonnage, it would be in the 6200 unit range of size RT43 cars.


 Morning Carol was built by Hyundai Samho in Mokpo in 2008. It is a 57,542 gt, 21,044 dwt ship.  As with many of the older auto carriers, it is equipped with stern and side ramps. Following the usual Wallenius Wilhelmsen North Atlantic route it sailed from Bremerhaven November 14, Goteborg November 16-17,  and Zeebrugge November 19-20.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

East Meets West and All Around the Circle

 The variety of traffic in Halifax Harbour today (November 28) was not unusual, and so is a reminder of how vital the port is to a number of aspects of the Canadian economy. The amount of traffic was due in part to yesterday's stormy weather which caused the suspension of pilotage operations until early this morning when traffic began to arrive in a ,bunch.

HMCS Fredericton was outbound this morning and met the inbound CSL Tacoma in the Middle Ground area off Point Pleasant. The Canadian frigate is named for the capital city of New Brunswick and was built in Saint John, New Brunswick by Saint John Shipbuilding Ltd. It was commissioned in 1994 and is based in Halifax.

CSL Tacoma operates for CSL Americas and was named for the sister city to Seattle, WA, which occupies the southernmost reaches of Puget Sound. CSL operates ships on the Pacific coast also, often carrying aggregates from Canadian quarries to US cities such as Tacoma. Oddly there is a Tacoma Drive in Dartmouth, NS. How it acquired that name is not known to me, but it is in the Westphal area, which in itself is named for a pair of brother Royal Navy admirals, originally from Nova Scotia. One of the brothers, Sir George Augustus Alexander Westphal, served with Nelson (and was also wounded) on HMS Victory, and was the last surviving RN officer from the batle of Trafalgar when he died at age 90 in 1875.)

CSL Tacoma is a Trillium class self-unloading ocean bulker of 43,691 gt, 71,552 dwt, built in 2013 by Chengxi Shipyard in Jiangyin, China. It will load a cargo of gypsum at the Gold Bond Gypsum facility in Bedford Basin.

Also arriving to load gypsum was Algoma Integrity, also a self-unloader, built in 2009 by EISA-Ilha in Rio de Janeiro. It was built for the United States Gypsum Company's Gypsum Transportation Ltd, and named Gypsum Integrity, Designed to serve their Hantsport and Little Narrows, Nova Scotia export facilities, it measured 33,047 gt, 47,761 dwt. When USG's Canadian subsidury Canadian Gypsum Corp (CGC) closed the Hantsport facility in 2011 the ship was chartered out and in 2015 was sold to Algoma and renamed Algoma Integrity. CGC closed the Little Narrows mine in 2016, but earlier this year announced the re-opening, although it will be some time before they ship any product.

Algoma Integrity will remain at anchor in Bedford Basin until the CSL Tacoma sails.

Lingering waves from yesterday's storm brought out some hardy surfers off Point Pleasant as ship traffic made its way inbound.

Another of those early arrivals was the container ship BF Fortaleza for the first time for Melfi Shipping of Cuba. The ship stood by off Halifax most of yesterday and boarded its pilot for 0700 hrs AST this morning.

It tied up at Pier 42 and so had a view of a lobster boat working just off the pier. The lobster season in this region opened a day early, on Sunday November 26, in view of the predicted weather for the usual opening day - the last Monday in November. I was surprised to see the boat however as there is a newly imposed ban this year on lobstering in many areas of Halifax harbour close to industrial and port facilities.

BF Fortaleza was built by the famed, but now defunct, J.J.Sietas shipyard in Nuenfeld, Germany in 1996. It was launched as Partnership but renamed Yvette on delivery. It became Partnership again from 2003 to 2004 then City of Lisbon until 2005, Carla until 2009 and WEC Rubens until 2011.  The 6362 gt, 7202 dwt ship has a capacity of 700 TEU, and unusual for Melfi, it is gearless.

Another ship that spent yesterday standing by off Halifax arrived this morning for Imperial Oil. The oddly named Silver Ginny is an otherwise typical Mid-Range tanker of 29,460 gt, 49,746 dwt, built in 2014 by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan.

The ship is arriving from Good Hope -Norco, Louisiana, an area upstream of New Orelans on the Mississippi River, and home to two large refineries. Shell Oil's Norco refinery produces 250,000 bbl per day and Valero's St. Charles refinery produces 340,000 bbl per day. Both also produce a variety of chemicals. Since Shell and Valero are competitors of Imperial (Exxon Mobil) today's cargo is likely part of an elaborate trade off mechanism to meet a specific need.

The ship is owned by Sinokor Petrochemical Co Ltd which has several ships named "silver + woman's name".

Rounding off the arrivals was the westbound Atlantic Sky from Liverpool, UK.

Once again the weakness of Transatlantic trade is evident with the very light deck load. Most Atlantic ports are showing a decline in traffic after a few years of dependably steady traffic or slight growth. Halifax and Montreal are no excepetions to this trend. The Port of Halifax saw a 12.9% decline in container traffic in the third quarter of 2023 over last year. That gives a year to date total of 409,000 TEU versus the 2022 YTD of 448,000 TEU. The year 2022 saw a record 601,700 TEU throughput (import + export). This year's projection may be be in the range of an 8% to 10% decline.

There were some small craft at work in the harbour too. The Halifax Port Corporation's own workboat Maintainer I was spotted at Pier 23 working on the removal of inflatable fenders for the winter. The fenders, commonly called Yokohama fenders (which is a trade name of the Yokohma Rubber Co) are deployed at cruise ship berths to protect visiting ships from impact with the piers. The resilient surfaces sometimes attract marine growth which is removed before they are set out again in the spring.

Built by A.F.Theriualt + Sons Ltd in Meteghan River, NS in 1995 it is a 12 gt vessel with a 210 bhp engine driving a single screw. It is equipped with a substantial Palfinger knuckle boom crane with a lifting capacity of up to 3.3 tonnes.

Nearby was the Canadian Coast Guard boat Point Caveau a 31.9 gt aluminum hulled work boat built in 2003 by ABCO in Lunenburg, NS. The 14.6m (47.9 ft) vessel has reputed top speed of 30 knots.

I think the Pointe Caveau was displaced from its usual inside berth at the Bedford Institute by construction of the new section of dock. Also displaced from BIO was CCGS Jean Goodwill which has been tied up at Pier 9C for the last couple of days. (November 27 photo)

The ship took on stores today and sailed on SAR patrol as CCGS Sir William Alexander arrived.

With lobster season now underway from in Areas 33 and 34, from Halifax down the southwest shore and around the western end of the province to Digby, Coast Guard SAR patrols are stepped up due to the hundreds of small craft in coastal waters.