Monday, March 19, 2018

More dollars for research, and some tanker traffic

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is again hiring outside vessels to conduct research due to the unavailability of ships from their own fleet.

Mersey Venture fueling up at BIO today. The 2337 grt ship was built in 1988 and has been in the northern shrimp fishery.

Mersey Venture, owned by Mersey Seafoods of Liverpool, NS, is the latest hire. It will cost $290,000 to conduct an abbreviated  winter fisheries survey on George's Bank. The annual survey collects important data on fish stocks and usually takes five weeks. However the DFO's aging fisheries research fleet is unable to conduct the work this year due to problem refits.
CCGS Alfred Needler, built in 1982 was to have completed its refit in St.John's February 14, but more steel work was needed so it will not be ready before April 1. Last year when it was unable to complete the survey due to mechanical issues, the work was completed by Teleost (built in 1988). However this year that ship is also in refit, which has been extended from the end of February until at least March 30.

Both DFO ships are up for replacement but delivery dates for the new ships are still somewhat up in the air.  The first of three new ships, Sir John Franklin is fitting out in Victoria, BC after is was "launched" by Seaspan's yard in North Vancouver. It is expected to enter service sometime in 2018, followed by the next two ships in 2019 or even 2020.


Today the coastal tanker Algoscotia took a break from its routine of shuttle trips from Lévis, QC to Imperial Oil in Dartmouth. The ship moved to pier 26 - likely for some repair work.

The Algoscotia has been working through the winter and certainly shows signs of wear and tear on the hull.


Based in Come-by-Chance, NL. the 2985 grt, 3569 dwt  tanker North Atlantic Kairos arrived at pier 9 today with cargo for Wilson's Fuels. Built in 2008 in Tuzla, Turkey, to the same design as Algoma Dartmouth, it is primarily a bunkering tanker, but can also carry out coastal voyages

As North Atlantic Kairos approaches pier 9, the tug Roseway in the background, is towing a containment boom that will be placed around the ship while it discharges its cargo. An underground pipeline connects pier 9 to Wilson's tanks on Barrington Street.

Built in 2008 as CT Wicklow is was acquired by North Atlantic Refining Ltd in 2016 and arrived in Halifax July 9, 2016 for fitting out and renaming. It returned to Halifax in August of that year with a cargo for Wilson's.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

APL Salalah breaks the record

As per my earlier post APL Salalah became the largest container ship to call in Halifax when it arrived early this morning. Also as predicted, it arrived in the dark and is due to sail in the dark too, thus preventing photos of it underway.

Without scaling fences, climbing communication or electricity towers or trespassing on private property (for more than a few seconds), I did squeeze off a few photos to give an idea of the scale of the ship. 

The ship was alongside and tied up by sunrise, but the cranes had not started work yet. By my estimation the ship could have loaded another tier or more of boxes. 

Although using up all of berth 41 ( 333m / 1,093ft ) and stretching into berth 42 (same length) at  347.05m long (1138.45 feet) APL Salalahleaves room for a smaller ship at pier 42. Macao Strait is barely visible at the far right, loading for Melfi Lines. Thus only two cranes were available for the large ship - surely a less than desirable situation. 

If anyone needed a comparison in size between a 10,960 TEU ship of 128,929 grt and a "normal" container ship, there was this afternoon's arrival of YM Evolution a regular caller since last May on THE Alliance AL1 service. With a capacity of a mere 4662 TEU, the 47,952 grt ship is supposedly of a size that is threatened with extinction by the larger ships.

YM Evolution rounds George's Island heading for Bedford Basin. Its tethered escort tug Atlantic Fir is already made up astern and Atlantic Willow is just coming alongside for the trip through the Narrows. The irony in the ship's name is that evolution may spell its exctinciton.

In fact there are many trades, such as transatlantic that currently depend on frequency more than capacity. Being able to maintain a weekly service efficiently means that "smaller" ships of less than 5,000 TEU will still find niches, where the economy of scale that the giants provide is not a factor. The risk is that with ownership consolidations, there will be fewer and fewer (but bigger and bigger) ships and shipping lines, calling in fewer and fewer ports, leaving some ports out in the cold unless they can provide exceptional service.

It is only a matter of time before more bigger ships start coming. The extension to Halterm pier C, berths 41-42 was made to accommodate two large ships at once, but that was obviously not enough to work two 10,000+ TEU ships. When the next leap occurs to to the 13,000 to 15,000 TEU range, then not even smaller ships will be able to dock at Halterm when a big ship is in.

I have sighted drilling and sounding vessels working in the area over the last few days, so some plans are afoot - but they have not been revealed to the public yet.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

More signs of spring

With light snow on the ground and a few snow showers in the air, perhaps it was good to be reminded that spring is on the way.

One sure sign is the opening of Asian Gypsy Moth season. As of March 15, all ships entering Canadian waters that have been in the far east must provide a declaration that the ship is clear of the pests that threaten North American forests. Ships that have visited China north of Shanghai, Japan, Korea and the far east of Russia may be carrying egg masses of the invasive insect.

If they do not have a certificate they  must undergo an inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It takes a few hours to do this, and it is usually done at Halifax, Sydney or the Strait of Canso, before the ships get near any forested areas.

The regulations make no exceptions for ships such as autocarriers that are going no deeper into Canada than Halifax.Such is the case for Miraculous Ace and the reason that the rare sight of an autocarrier anchored in Bedford Basin.

Operated by Mitsui OSK Lines of Japan, the ship was built in 2006 by Imabari Zosen, Marugame, and measures 59,422 grt, 19,281 dwt. It has a capacity of 6,141 cars.

The ship will remain anchored in the Basin until Monday.

At pier 27 the Radcliffe R. Latimer was doing some hold cleaning after winter layup. They had swung the self-unloading boom out over the dock, and with an elephant's trunk extension were preparing to unload sweepings into trucks.

The ship is preparing to sail tomorrow, which will give it time to pick up cargo en route to the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway at the end of the month.


Friday, March 16, 2018

TEU record going to APL

The record for largest container ship to call in Halifax is about to be broken again with the arrival of APL Salalah early Sunday morning. The previous record holders were three ZIM ships, the first of which was ZIM Antwerp June 29, 2017, followed by ZIM Rotterdam (which was originally intended to be the first, and shown above in the masthead photo) and  ZIM Djibouti all just edging by the 10,000 TEU mark by 62 TEU. The ships measure 114,044 grt, 116,499 dwt. They are now regular callers here, with ZIM Rotterdam sailing today.

ZIM Antwerp the last record setter for the Halifax.

APL Slalah, operated by APL, which is owned by CMA CGM, was built in 2012 by Daewoo Shipbuilding + Marine Engineering Co Ltd in Okpo, South Korea. With a tonnage of 128,929 grt, 131,477 dwt, it has a capacity of 10,960 TEU. Not only does it set a capacity record, it is also the first boxship of more than 120,000 grt to call here. (Since its arrival will be in the middle of the night, there may be little chance for a photo)

It will be interesting to see how long its record stands, as larger ships have been docking at nearby US east coast ports for several months, and are now in the 13,000 TEU range.

To keep things in perspective however, this week the Port of Hamburg, Germany greeted its largest ship ever. CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Expury carries 20,776 TEU and beats the previous record set by  Munich Maersk of 20,568 TEU in August 2017. It took nine cranes to work the record breaker, offloading 7,000 boxes and loading 4,000 during its stay in the port. Hamburg is about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its entry into the container business, only a year ahead of Halifax.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Waiting it out - again

The third major storm to sweep through the area in as many weeks has once again disrupted arrivals and sailings. As today brightened up from last night's snow and rain, there was still very high wind and breaking waves in the harbour. Conditions outside are no doubt much worse.

0nce again a Wilhelmsen ship took up a position at pier 9C. Titania is a 2011 product of Daewoo, Okpo. The 74,255 grt, 30,907 dwt ship has a capacity of 7,934 CEU. It is also much larger, by about 1,000 cars,  than the last two Wilhelmsen ships, Tomar and Toscana that waited out weather at pier 9C.

Also at pier9C, Stellaprima unloaded the Multicat Dominion Warrior. See today's Tugfax.

At pier 27  BBC Ganges in from Baie-Comeau for a brief stopover - and no cargo work - is stuck in port until conditions improve outside.

Built in 2010 by Tianjin Xingang it is a 12,974 grt, 16,943 dwt ship has two 250 tonne cranes and one 80 tonne crane. The big cranes can work in tandem for a 500 tonne lift. The ship originally intended to stay in port for only a few hours yesterday.

At the adjacent pier 31 Hollandia had completed unloading nickel from Cuba for Nirint, and is waiting its turn to leave port.

On February 19 in Oranjestad, Aruba, while hoisting a mobile truck crane from its hold a sling parted and the unit was dropped on the tween deck and heavily damaged. Apparently the ship incurred minimal damage, but the truck crane was in a sorry state.

Once again at anchor in the lower harbour Nolhanava is repeating its performance of the past few weeks. On arrival from its St-Pierre et Miquelon run, its normal berth is occupied by Oceanex Sanderling and it will await its time either at anchor or at pier 9B.

The ship was registered in Canada September 1, 2017.  The Canadian registration show its name as Nolhan Ava and that is how it will be shown here. For some reason the ship's registration is still shown in Transport Canada's online listings, but is also shown as closed, and the ship still carries Briidgetown (Barbados) on its stern. I understood that it was moved to Canadian flag to allow it to call in Newfoundland as well as St-Pierre on its weekly trips, but whether this has happened yet I am not sure. I believe it does carry a Canadian crew. 

In Bedford Basin CSL Tacoma is waiting out the weather with its cargo of gypsum bound for the US.

Also at anchor is the tanker Silver Millie Built in 2015 by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan, it is a typical mid-range (MR) product tanker, of 29,327 grt, 49,642 dwt.

When conditions improve, it will dock at Imperial Oil. Interestingly its last port was Vondeling, Netherlands (within the port of Rotterdam). It is the first foreign tanker at Imperial Oil in several weeks - ever since Algoscotia began shuttling product from Lévis, QC. Prior to that Imperial was getting refined product from the US Gulf.

 Harbour ferries were battling it out against wind and some swell as they maintained their regular schedules.

Woodside I was doing some rolling as it lined up for arrival in Halifax from Woodside.

Craig Blake was doing some splashing on its way to Halifax.
And at Fairview Cove, YM Epress moved under the big cranes to work cargo after Dalian Express had finished. Dalian Express then moved to the east end of the pier to await an improvement in sailing conditions.

Wind driven salt spray in the Narrows almost blots out the Dartmouth shore, despite bright sunshine.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Haligonian III bows out

A long time fixture in Halifax harbour will be seen no more. Canadian Maritime Engineering (CME) is breaking up Haligonian III at their shipyard in Sambro Head, NS.

In later years, the boat had a steady following of gulls.

As one might suspect from its name this is the third "Haligonian" tour boat in the harbour. Haligonian and Haligonian II were a pair of wooden vessels and the only harbour tour boats in the port. Remarkably Haligonian II, built in 1968, is still running, but in Percé, QC.  It was extensively rebuilt in 1997.

Haligonian built in 1964 was the first harbour tour boat to carry the name.

The term "Haligonian" applies to a resident of Halifax and seems to have been coined in its namesake town in West Yorkshire and brought to Nova Scotia in 1749. The new settlement of Halifax was named for George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, President of the British Board of Trade at the time. I guess we should be happy we are not known as "Dunkers".

In 1948 a T-2 type tanker, built in 1943 as Fort Donelson was quite delightfully re-named Haligonian Lad by Acadia Overseas Freighters, managed by I.H.Mathers of Halifax, but it only carried the name for a year. The moniker has otherwise seldom appeared on ships or boats.

Haligonian III was originally painted all white. 
It is seen here passing the old Halterm breakwater, that had a lighthouse at the seaward end.

Haligonian III was built by Hike Metal Products Ltd in Wheatley, ON in 1972 to a standard design developed by the yard in the early 1960s, and repeated several times for various ports. When it arrived in Halifax it added a much needed degree of comfort to harbour tours, thanks to its stability.

 The boat has had a relatively uneventful life, with only one serious accident. On September 15, 1990 it was in collision with the small container ship Mathilde (bound for Cuba) off Halterm on a stormy day. The container ship was having a hard time getting off the pier due to the wind, but when it finally did get away, Haligonian III was in the way and the two vessels made contact. One passenger was injured - but there was minimal damage to the boat. I almost witnessed this incident, but did hear it unfold on VHF radio, and was able to get a photo shortly afterward.

After the collision, Halgonian III returned to base. It carried the light blue hull colour until 1992.
No wonder the ship had a visibility issues, with a an obstructing deck load and a truck on top.

Once more harbour tour boats began arriving in Halifax, the traditional route from downtown to the Northwest Arm and back was transferred to Harbour Queen I and Haligonian III was able to do extended tours out towards the harbour mouth for nature watching and fishing trips. Whale watching had become popular, and although Halifax is not noted for large numbers of whales, it was promoted with a large banner on the boat's side and there were numerous whale sightings.

An awning was added to the boats upper deck about the year 2000.

At the end of the 2015 season Haligonian III was laid up for the winter at Mill Cove, Bedford Basin and offered for sale. It then moved to Sambro Head where it was drydocked by CME. It seems likely that this was more for survey than for repairs, as the boat was then moved to long term layup in Sambro harbour.

On Christmas Day 2015 the boat made a painfully slow move on one engine to layup in Mill Cove.

Scrapping the boat seems to have started recently, and at the rate it is going, will likely be completed in the next few days or weeks.

Haligonian III has been replaced by Kawartha Spirit a vessel of the same basic design, also built by Hike Metal Products, but in 1964. Even though nearly a decade older than its predecessor, it has spent all those years in fresh water, and so was in excellent condition when purchased in 2016. I hope its oddly inappropriate name can be changed to reflect its new home.

Kawartha Spirit has essentially the same hull form and lower cabin.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Stellaprima - return visit

Many heavy lift ships have called in Halifax, some multiple times, however to my knowledge this is only the second visit of the Jumbo Shipping vessel Stellaprima. It was last here in the year 2000 when it picked up a cargo of locomotives destined for the UK.

The unusual aspect of the visits is that they have occurred on virtually the same dates. March 10 to 14 in the case of the first visit and today for the second. It is also unusual that the same ship would make calls so many years apart since ship lifespans are relatively short.

However heavy lift ships are a rare breed and very expensive to build, so they must last much longer in order to justify the cost. In fact Stellaprima was built in 1992, which would put it at near the end of its useful life for a typical merchant ship-particularly under one owner.

However with the usual meticulous care that the Dutch usually provide for their ships, it appears still to be in top condition. There are other factors that make the ship of interest and that is the unusual cranes. One 250 tonne and one 400 tonne capacity, that can work together for a maximum 650 tonne lift. The ship has a large single hold and therefore can carry unusually large or heavy cargoes. The ship is fitted with a special ballast system that compensates for the weight that the cranes can carry. It also has pontoons that can be floated overside as counterweights (these are the yellow boxes perched on the ship's after deck.)

For more detailed information on Stellaprima see Jumbo Shipping's fleet list and under the "E650" class, find the particular ship's spec sheet:

The reason for Stellaprima's call in Halifax today is to deliver a special service vessel for Dominion Diving Ltd. Called a Multicat, it is a multi-purpose workboat/cargo/tug named Dominion Warrior - see Tugfax for more information on this unusual boat. Stellaprima loaded the craft in Gibraltar and sailed directly to Halifax.

By coincidence, as Stellaprima was still securing at pier 9C another Dutch ship departed Fairview Cove outbound. Spiegelgracht operates for Spleithoff's, the parent company of a competing Dutch heavy lift operator, Big Lift Shipping. It is beyond coincidence that "spiegel' means star, as does "stella".