Thursday, January 20, 2022

"Can Overboard"

 Maybe not as recognizeable a cry as the legendary "Man Overboard", but it certainly is a common occurrence these days for containers (Sea Cans in popular parlance) to be lost overboard. Usually we hear of these losses from ships in the Pacific, such as the Zim Kingston off  Victoria, BC, in December. However the most recent case of loss overboard is a lot closer to home.

On January 7 the 13,900 TEU ship Madrid Bridge, owned by K-Line and operating for Ocean Network Express (ONE) reported a stack collapse "mid-Atlantic", with several containers washed overboard. Whether it was a case of underestimating by those aboard ship or a bit of news manipulation by the owners, the number of lost boxes seems to increase every few days. At first it was 30, then it was revised to 60 and as of the latest news 130 - certainly an exponential increase. It strains credibility to think that the ship's people could mistake 130 for 30! There are also reported to be a further 80 damaged containers still on board. Assurances that hazardous materiala are not involved should also be questioned. Once again the Zim Kingston comes to mind where fires continued to break out after the ship reached port. Its intial loss overboard of 109 boxes and damage to other boxes, caused hazardous cargo to ignite.

The Madrid Bridge was on ONE's EC4 service from Europe to the US East coast (Halifax is not on the route) and heading for New York at the time. After a few days standing by offshore the ship changed heading for Charleston, but has had to divert from a direct route to avoid weather. Presumably at least some of the damaged containers are still at risk of going overside or incurring further damage. Safe arrival in a port is a high priority for the crew, the ship and the cargo.

 Containers are rarely stacked five high - even empty - on land, but seven or eight high stacks are not uncommon on ships at sea. Most ships have very little support or protection, and lashing is impossible at these heights.

Ships of the Atlantic Container Line are the exception. They are quite rightly proud to say that they have never lost a container overboard since the line was started in 1965. Their ships have solid structural support and protection for deck cargoes.

Fires and container losses on container ships have apparently not reached the point where ship owners, insurers, cargo owners, classification societies, flag states or the IMO have decided to do something. These episodes are seemingly still part of the "cost of doing business".


Timing is everything

 A well coordinated departure and arrival this afternoon saw the two ships meeting in the Middle Ground area, where there was lots of room for two ships to pass. The light drizzle / rain did not impede their progress.

The departing ship was the autocarrier Boheme, a member of the large Wallenius Wilhelmsen fleet, and still wearing the traditional Olof Wallenius funnel marking (which looks a little incongruous with the new hull colour). The ship arrived in Halifax yesterday (January 19) at Autoport, later moving over to Pier 31 on the Halifax side of the harbour.

 Boheme was built in 1999 by Daewoo, Okpo. In 2005 the ship was lengthened from 219.3m to 227.9m thus increasing gross tonnage from 57,018 to 67,264 gt and deadweight from 22,619 to 28,360 dwt. It now has a capacity of 7194 cars. It can also carry other RoRo cargo.

The inbound ship was Tropic Lissette one of a pair of sister ships that maintain a weekly schedule for Tropical Shipping.

The Tropical Lissette took the western channel inbound, leaving room for Boheme to take the straighter main channel. The ship was built by Guangzhou Wenchong in 2019, and is 15,215 gt, 20,313 dwt. It has been serving Halifax since new, joining Tropic Hope built in 2018 with the same gt, but with 20,325 dwt. Both ships have a capacity of 1100 TEU, including 200 reefers and have two 45 tonne capacity cranes.

Tropical Shipping normally calls in Halifax on Mondays, so this late arrival is likely weather related.The line has been calling in Halifax since moving from Saint John, NB in 2017. It serves a variety of Caribbean ports directly or indirectly, from its home base in West Palm Beach, FL. Since 2014, Tropical Shipping has been part of the Saltchuck Family of companies which includes interests in logistics, air cargo, tugs (Foss, Cook Inlet, Young Bros), oil and the domestic US shipping company TOTE Services.


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

CCGS Hudson - axed

 The propulsion motor failure on CCGS Hudson reported here December 17, 2021 has proven fatal to the future of the ship. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced today that the ship will be retired and not repaired. This leaves the department without its principal occeanographic and hydrographic research vessel. Adding to the problem is the embarassing fact that another year has now been tacked on to the delivery date for the replacement ship, which may now be delivered in 2025 even with ballooning construction costs. The department will be forced to hire in ships, at great expense, if it hopes to complete research programs that are vital to ongoing science. 

Built by Saint John Shipbuilding and Dry Dock in 1963 and commissioned in 1964, the 3444 gt, ice classs 2 ship has had many achievements over the years. Circumnavigating North America in 1969 and the western hemisphere in 1970 are only the most noteworthy events in an unprecedented history.

Initially serving the Canadian Oceanographic Service, as CSS Hudson (Canadian Survey Ship) it carried the same traditional white hull and buff funnel of its predecessors such as CSS Acadia. With government re-organizations it came under the control of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Canadian Coast Guard in 1996. It then acquired the red hull paint and became CCGS Hudson. Its base remained the Bedford Institute Dartmouth (Halifax) and it was often seen sailing in and out of Halifax harbour.

As the years went on refits became more extensive and more lengthy and as more problems were "uncovered" and had to be repaired, more costly too.

The ship has a typical icebreaker diesel electric propulsion system consisting of four V-16 turbocharged Alco 251D diesel engines, built by Dominion Engineering Works under license, driving four generators feeding two electric motors. It has two fixed pitch props. This DC / DC arrangement gives an infinite variety of speed increments, which is ideal for slow speed survey work or working in ice. 

It is apparently one of the electric propulsion motors that failed, since the diesel engines themselves are virtually indestructable (despite being of 1951 design). Those engines are still available from current license holders Fairbanks Morse. The generators and electric motors may not be "off the shelf" however, which would explain the current situation. Replacement would likely take a year, for only a two to three year additional service life. Press reports indicate that the ship would also need other upgrades to meet current standards.

A particularly attractive ship, its graceful hull lines will be missed. Ships with hull sheer are rare these days!

It will take some time to decommission and de-store the ship, not to mention arranging for it to be scrapped in an environmentally acceptable manner, so it will be with us in some form for quite awhile yet, although non-operational.

The Hudson replacement, orginally due in 2017, but now with a price tag of $1 billion and rising, (up from $108 million), is to be built by Seaspan in Vancouver. Even the recently revised delivery date from 2024 to 2025 is not guaranteed.


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Waiting it out - or not

 A big wind and snow storm moved across the Atlantic provinces yesterday, January 14, through today and extending into tomorrow for northern areas. Interprovincial ferry services were cancelled and the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island was closed to all traffic. These legendary "nor'easters" are to be avoided if possible, and some ships sought sheltered anchorages and others skipped scheduled port calls altogether.

Waiting it out 1

Oceanex sent its ship Oceanex Avalon to anchor in Halifax last night rather than heading out to sea for St.John's. 

 The Oceanex Avalon in anchorage number one, just off the PSA Halifax terminal.

The ship has been temporarily assigned to the Halifax / St.John's route for alternate weeks while Oceanex Sanderling is in refit in Amsterdam. Fleet mate Oceanex Connaigra is sharing the duties, leaving Montreal with only one ship per week to St.John's during the month long refit period.

The Oceanex Avalon is now scheduled to sail this evening.

The ship may also be staying in port during foul weather because it is hatchless over most of its cargo space. It only has number one hatch covered. The rest of the hold is open to the elements and perhaps there are restrictions on when it can sail.

Waiting it out 2

Anchored in Bedford Basin, the bulk carrier Tanja also appears to be waiting out the bad weather as it heads south. Its last port was Grande Anse on the Saguenay River and it appears to be in ballast.

Tanja was built in 2016 by AVIC Dingheng in Yangzhou, China. It is a 19,104 gt, 27,674 dwt ship with box shaped holds and double skin, equipped with three 30 tonne cranes. It is also fitted to carry kaolin clay in slurry form and has a large slop tank near mid-ships.

Kaolin is used in paper making which explains its vists to Point Tupper, Quebec City, Grande Anse and other ports with nearby paper mills.


The ship had to call for a pilot this morning to re-anchor as it was dragging in high winds. Note the "bar taught" anchor line. Maximum winds speeds in excess of 65 kph(40 mph) and a maximum gust of 89 kph (55 mph) were recorded in the harbour today. Temperatures were in the - 12C (+10 F) range.

Waiting it out 3

The ConRo Nolhan Ava remained at Fairview Cove rather than sailing on its usual Friday departure for Argentia, NL and St-Pierre et Miquelon. It is a small ship and sailing in very bad weather risks damage to ship or cargo.

File photo from June 24, 2016.  The ship carries a range of containers, trailers and RoRO.



Skips and misses

 I noticed the ConRo ship Atlantic Sky by passing Halifax today en route from Liverpool, UK to New York. The ship did not appear on the Port's schedule for today, so this appears to have have been a planned "skip"  - it is due back on the eastbound leg January 22.

Another odd movement is MSC Lucy which arrived in Halifax January 13 and sailed early in the morning of January 14. Since then it was seen idling in the Gulf of Maine in a position roughly on a line between Bar Harbor, ME and Yarmouth, NS. It is now heading back toward Halifax and is due tomorrow January16. The ship is on MSC's Indus 2 service from North India via the Mediterranean.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Aurviken follow up

The crude oil tanker Aurviken, subject of yesterday's post (January 12) is due to sail this evening (January 13) for Point Tupper, NS to offload at the NuStar terminal.

Aurviken arriving in Halifax January 12 with light snow in the air, and some frozen spray on deck.

I have learned that the ship called in Halifax to take on some fuel for its cargo heating boilers. Temperature maintenance for crude oil cargoes is a very complex topic, which is well beyond my mandate here, but is critical both to maintain the integrity of the product and to ease the pumping off at terminals.


Bow Wow- part one of several

 My post a few days ago showing the impressive bows of the Royal Viking cruise ships is another reminder that ship design has changed over the years. Modern computer programs allow for ship's hulls to be maximized for such factors as cargo capacity (including passengers) or speed through the water. Graceful appearance is not always the end result. Even cruise ships, supposedly the most stylish of vessels, are quite rightly criticized as resembling "blocks of flats".

I recall as a youth reading in Sea Breezes the letters from crusty old salts barking about the degradation of standards in ship design. Such horrors as engines aft were cited as the first steps to perdition. I have long since entered the age range of those old gaffers and can see their point. Ship's appearances have changed, and not necessarily for the better aesthetically.

Elder Dempster's Lithgows- Port Glasgow built Fulani of 1964 was considered by many to be typical of the epitome of ship design (although the bi-pod masts were criticized as a modern affectation by the oldsters), but at 7689 gt and 8115 dwt its cargo capacity was limited by today's standards. Its hull dimensions were a sleek 141.7m x 19.0m. and it had a decent turn of speed of 16 knots. In its defence, it was designed for west African trade, which was slow, and often had to handle cargo to or from lighters or surf boats at anchorages, with ittle support from shore. It was equipped with an astonishing 16 derricks: 1x80, 2x30, 4x15, 2x12 1/2, 4x71/2, and 6x5 tons.

(The epitome may not yet have been reached in car design as an inspection of the longshoremen's vehicles may reveal.) 

The incoming at 11 o'clock high appears to be an RCN "Tracker" aircraft heading for Shearwater. TheASW planes flew off the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure which was still in commission in 1969.

 Ships like the Fulani were overtaken by the container revolution and were soon broken up or consigned to remote trades. It was sold twice, renamed 1976: Cam Azobe, 1981: Cotton Trader. After an explosion and fire in the Gulf of Oman July 13, 1983 it was broken up on Gadani Beach in May 1985.

By comparison, a ship of similar size (but vastly different appearance) arrived in Halifax on January 11.

Augusta Unity's hull dimensions of 143.2m x 22.8m give 12,993 gt and 17,451 dwt - the latter nearly twice that of the Fulani. The more box shaped hull is compensated for in part by a bulbous bow. It also requires only two cranes as most of its mixed cargo consists of containers which can also be handled from shore.

The Augusta Unity carried the name Federal Pioneer from 2007 to 2011, inviting the inevitable comparison to the wartime standard ship of the same name.

United Shipyards of Montreal delivered the Outremont Park to the Canadian government's wartime shipping company Park Steamships in 1944. One of hundreds of similar ships built in Canada and the US during World War II, it was considered large for its time at 7158 gt, 10,000 (approximate) dwt with hull dimensions of 134.6m x 17.4m. It became Furness' Prince Line's Brazilian Prince in 1946 and Federal Commerce and Navigation's Federal Pioneer in 1958. Used for northern supply for many years (with the hope that its bottom would fall out in the arctic somewhere) it managed to survive until 1971 when it was broken up in Hsinkiang, China after having sailed on its own hull from Halifax.

But back to Bows...

One overriding aspect of ship's designs applies to those built to break ice. On January 12 I could see two icebreaker bows from the same place. The heavy reinforcing was quite visible on the CCGS Jean Goodwill. It was tied up at Pier 9 due to a space shortage at BIO.

Nearby at Halifax Shipyard, AOPV3, the future HMCS Mac Burnays, was bows on.

Thicker plating at the bow is clearly visible even at a distance.

What happens when you don't have a reinforced bow has been seen in Halifax from time to time.

In June 1974 the bulker Ivory Star struck a growler in the Strait of Belle Isle and suffered a giant hole in the bow. The CCGS Montcalm removed 33 of the 43 persons aboard and the ship made for Halifax. Workers from Halifax Shipyards reinforced the collision bulkhead and the ship sailed cautiously to Europe for permanent repairs - still with the gaping hole. (Note the enclosed crow's nest from where someone might have spotted the growler in time to avoid it.)

Quite remarkably the ship was back in Halifax in October of the same year - good as new. Note the lack of bulbous bow - they were still uncommon in the 1960s.

For the record the ship was built in 1963 as the Norwegian Jarosa by Frederikstad MV. In 1972 Greek owners purchased and renamed the ship Ivory Star. Its gross tonnage was adjusted from 16,321 to 14,336 with deadweight of 24,790 tonnes. It was sold and re named Turicum in 1975 and Iapetos in 1979. 

On December 8, 1983 it was abandoned by the crew after it came under rocket and machine gun air attack off Bandar Khomeni while en route from Immingham. It was apparently at least partially repaired, but on March 29, 1984 it was again attacked by air, this time with bombs and missiles, in the Khor Mussa channel while en route to Piraeus. 

The ship was towed to Dubai and later sold for scrap. It was then towed to Chittagong where it was broken up in January 1985.

 The Ivory Star could have used some ice reinforcing such as that of the Danish Lauritzen ships which pioneered winter navigation on the St.Lawrence in the early 1960s. Helga Dan, built in 1957, reached Quebec City February 13, 1959 and Montreal January 4, 1964, setting new records and establishing Montreal as a year round port (for some kinds of ships).

Despite the jolity of the linehandlers, many thought that winter navigation on the St.Lawrence would be the death knell for the Port of Halifax.

The 4040 gt, 5050 dwt ship, built by H.C.Stulcken Sohn in Hamburg also carried an array of cargo handling gear, consisting of  1x35, 4x10, and 6x5 ton derricks. 

Renmaed Mitsa K. in 1974, it was wrecked April 4, 1982 and broken up in nearby Laurium, Greece. The high crowsnest must have been a challenge to reach in bad weather. (The ladder is just visible on the opposite side of the foremast.)

Containers saved the day for Halifax as the harbour was able to accommodate larger ships than Montreal could, and most container ships were not reinforced for ice, but that is for a later post.

More bow wows another time.........

Wednesday, January 12, 2022


 It is unusual to see a crude oil tanker in Halifax these days, since there is no refinery here to process the commodity.  Therefore today's arrival (January 12) of the Liberian flag Aurviken is notable.

On a gloomy day, threatening snow, the Aurviken makes its way in the Narrows toward Pier 9C. The ship has quantities of frozen spray on its anchors.

The ship dates from 2019 when it was built by Samsung, Koje. At 62,372 gt and 112,802 dwt it is considered to be "Aframax" size, although at the small end of that type (upward limit is 160,000 dwt). Owners Viken Shipping AS of Bergen, Norway operate about 20 ships of various sizes. Formerly bulk shipping operators, and frequent visitors to the Great Lakes, Viken has now shifted entirely to tankers with about a dozen Aframax, one Suezmax and five product tankers. All its ships are placed under the technical management of Wallem Ship Management of Singapore.

The ship is equipped with an exhaust gas scrubber system, with a large stack just aft of its funnel structure.

The ship appears to be loaded, and it is carrying the red hazard flag on its signal mast above the bridge. Its last port seems to be Es Sider, Libya. Canada has some trade sanctions with Libya, but whether that would apply to this ship's cargo is not known to me, nor is its ultimate destination. I see a large backlog of tankers off Saint John, NB, so it is possible the ship is headed there eventually.