Monday, December 28, 2009

Atlantic Huron- bound for the scrappers????? Update

In one of those strange ironies Atlantic Huron is also bound for the scrappers. She arrived in Halifax on Christmas Day and tied up at her usual berth at pier 26, but for the last time.
Canada Steamship Lines had the ship built as the conventional bulk carrier Prairie Harvest in 1984 at Collingwood shipyard. Demand for self-unloading ships was building at that time, and in 1989 she was converted to a self-unloader at Port Weller DryDock and renamed Atlantic Huron. The new name recognized the fact that she would be able to trade on the Atlantic as well as the Great Lakes, and she was soon put to work in a variety of trades. She frequently brought grain to Halifax - unloading at pier 26. The cargo was often loaded in Thunder Bay, ON, and then topped up with corn in Windsor, ON. The cargo was used for milling and animal feed in the Atlantic region.
In 1990 she was shifted to Nassau registry and traded under that flag until 1992, but was back under the Bahamas flag a short time later.
When the original Melvin H. Baker retired [see the story below] Atlantic Huron was renamed Melvin H. Baker II arriving in Halifax April 16, 1994 with that name. She took up the gypsum run from Dartmouth until 1997 when she returned again to Canadian flag and refitted at Lauzon, QC. She reverted to Atlantic Huron at that time, and was fitted out to carry magnetite slurry, with special pumping gear fitted on her bow. Most of the work was done in Dartmouth. The slurry, a mixture of water and heavy iron ore, was loaded in Newfoundland and taken out to sea to ballast down the Hibernia gravity base. The special pumping gear and pipelines permitted the material to be delivered precisely into the cells of the base. After this operation the ship came back to Dartmouth, where the gear was removed and the ship restored to her previous condition and trades.
In December 2000 she arrived in Halifax for bottom rebuilding in preparation for widening. That work was done at Port Weller starting in December 2002. Prefabricated hull sections were grafted to the ship to take advantage of new regulations on the St.Lawrence Seaway allowing ships to be 78 feet wide, an increase from the previous 75 feet.
And now, as they say on the Lakes she is "done." Sold to Chinese breakers, for the same price per tonne as her illustrious predecessor.
There will be a major exodus of ships from the Great Lakes (it has actually already started) reflecting a major drop in business in the past year. The demand for iron ore for steel making (and then for automobiles) has dwindled and many ships are no longer earning their keep. Most will be bound for the scrappers, either under their own power or under tow.
The aging Canadian Great Lakes fleet needs renewal, and the governments stated intention of dropping the duty on ships built overseas, will spur shipowners to rid themselves of older ships and buy some new or used vessels from abroad. However the numbers of ships needed will be small in comparison to the size of the present fleet. Many familiar names will soon be gone, and their likes will never be seen again.
Photos show:
Melvin H. Baker II, October 18, 1995 with black hull.
Atlantic Huron, July 8, 2003 showing her widened hull.
Atlantic Huron, December 28, 2009 in her present bedraggled condition.

Oldie from the shoebox....Melvin H.Baker

It had to happen eventually, but it was a remarkable record. The self-unloading bulk carrier Melvin H. Baker has finally gone to the scrap yard after a lengthy career of 53 years.

This pioneering vessel was built in 1956 by A.G. Weser of Bremen to a conceptual design by the visionary Ole Skaarup. Skaarup, a New York shipowner, conceived of a bulk carrier with an octagonal shaped hold, and a conveyor system, which would speed unloading. Although given credit for this concept, it was not original- Great Lakes ships had variations on it- as did the gypsum carriers of Fundy Gypsum (US Gypsum)- but Skaarup carried it off with his customary panache, and took credfit for it.

Melvin H. Baker was built to carry gypsum from the then new National Gypsum pier in Dartmouth to US east coast ports, and made its first call August 1, 1956, fresh from the shipyard. For the next 38 years it plowed a furrow up and down the coast with gypsum. Aside from two trips to Rotterdam with coal, it carried on in the gypsum trade until its last visit to Halifax March 9, 1994. Even then it took a full load to Baltimore. The ship was named for the founder of the National Gypsum Company and a native of Buffalo, New York, and was on long term charter to National Gypsum from Skaarup Shipping Corp through various intermediaries. Her 1400th call in Dartmouth was marked in July of 1987, so it is likely that she made well over 1500 port visits in her lifetime- a record for the port of Halifax for one ship.

Skaarup sold the ship in 1994, but maintained the management, as the ship sailed from New York March 26, 1994 for Rijeka where she had a refit. Her new owners, Hon Tai Shipping of Taiwan, put her to work in the far east and so she soldiered on until December 24, 2009 when she was delivered to ship breakers, still bearing her original name.

It was an unparalleled career for a ship.

Although the photo was taken on December 25, 1986 it could have been taken many times over. She is seen passing Seaview Park inbound for National Gypsum. The distinctive protuberence on her stern houses conveyors that would be extended out from the ship's sides when unloading. The system is still in use today on another Skaarup ship Georgia S (presently anchored in Bedford Basin) but has become something of a liability, as it restricts the ship to only certain unloading ports that are suited to those conveyors. The more typical deck mounted slewing boom, used by Great Lakes type ships, allows the cargo to be unloaded just about anywhere.

Nirint Pride returns

The container/cargo ship Nirint Pride returned to Halifax this morning after a serious accident in August.
The ship, which runs between the Netherlands, Halifax and Cuba/ Caribbean has a newly rebuilt bow after colliding with the container ship MSC Nikita off Hook van Holland on August 30. Nirint Pride survived the collision, which holed the MSC Nikita in the engine room, causing it to take on water. The damage was so severe that MSC Nikita was dispatched to the scrap yard.
Nirint Pride, which seems to have hit MSC Nikita square on, suffered a compressed bow, but her collision bulkhead held and the ship was able to sail for repairs on her own. Some containers also caught fire, but they were quickly extinguished.

At daybreak this morning Nirint Pride was met off pier C by Point Chebucto and guided into pier 31.

There are a number of links to follow on the collision - but the best photos are found on

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Smallwood in Novadock

The Marine Atlantic ferry Joseph and Clara Smallwood reposes in the Novadock floating drydock at Halifax shipyard for refit. The 27,229 gross ton ferry was built by MIL Davie in Lauzon, Quebec in 1989 and entered servcie January 10, 1990. Hard to believe the ship is twenty years old!

She was built to service the North Sydney to Argentia run, and is thus provided with more overnight accommodation than her near sister Caribou. Because the Argentia run is a seasonal one, the ship does operate to Port aux Basques on the off season to relieve other ships for seasonal refits.

Named for the legendary Newfoundland premier and his wife, the ship is a very capable vessel, but along with Caribou (built at the same yard in 1985) is nearing the end of its service life. How much longer that life will be is the subject of much speculation.

Purpose built replacements seem to be out of the picture for now, due to cost.

The attraction of second hand Baltic tonnage may be too much for Ottawa to resist. No matter how unsuitable, how huge or how unwieldy they would rather deposit tax money overseas than risk the embarrassment of cost over runs in a Canadian shipyard.

The only yard remaining in eastern Canada that could built such a ship, is the same one the Smallwood was built in. The yard has emerged from borderline bankruptcy and has been limping along of late with some overseas contracts, hoping to revive itself. Wouldn't a nice government contract for three or even four replacements over a five to ten or maybe fifteen year period be just what the doctor ordered?

Lets hope.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Arrested in Spain

The former Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans vessel Parizeau was arrested off Spain on December 22 in a huge drug bust. According to the CBC, Spanish forces intercepted the ship 320 km offshore while bound from the Caribbean to Vigo, Spain. They found one tonne of cocaine on board, and arrested the crew (including one Canadian) and several more people on shore. The CBC quotes a Scotland Yard source, that they were part of a drug ring extending from Columbia to London.

Now called Destiny Empress , the ship was built in 1967 by Burrard Dry Dock in North Vancouver and worked as a research vessel out of Patricia Bay near Victoria.

In 1995 she was transferred to Halifax to replace the similar ship Dawson, which had been retired, and was based at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

When she arrived, she still wore the traditional white hull paint of survey ships. In September 1996 she was repainted in the red colours of the Coast Guard/ Fisheries and Oceans vessels.

Her career as a research ship ended in 2000 when she was renamed 2001-04 in preparation for disposal, which occurred in November 2003.

She then laid up at the IEL pier in Dartmouth and was renamed Destiny Empress in January 2005. She sailed June 14, 2005 and went to Shelburne. By October she was in in trouble 280 miles north of Bermuda when she was out of contact for several days. She then reported that she had experienced engine trouble, and was returning to Shelburne.

At that time she was supposed to have been sold to a US millionaire for $350,000, and that he would spend $1.2mn on a refit.

Reports reached Shipfax in April of this year that she had been sold to a Spanish millionaire.

These former government vessels, with no discern able value to anyone else, seem to attract strange owners, who then go on and do strange things with the ships. Is there a pattern here?

The current case would certainly indicate a very inept lot of smugglers, who do not even bother to change the ship's name for nearly five years, and sail right into the hands of the Spanish navy.

Incidentally the ship is still carried on the Canadian registry, under the ownership of The Empress Investment Group, c/o the Marler Law Firm, Oakville, Ontario.

RG III departs (finally)

The drilling rig Rowan Gorilla III finally got underway this morning after several false starts over the past few weeks. Bound for the Deep Panuke gas field off Sable Island, the rig will be working for 200 and some days for Encana.

Tugs Hebron Sea, Maersk Challenger and Ryan Leet will take 36 hours to tow the rig to position. Harbour tugs Point Chebucto, Atlantic Larch and Atlantic Spruce helped to turn the rig around and keep it on track as they sailed out of the harbour.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas to all.

Don't forget, you can comment on this site, by going to My Profile, and clicking on e-mail.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ferry Woes

Nova Scotia/ Newfoundland
Marine Atlantic's big new ferry Atlantic Vision is in the news again. On Tuesday morning at 7:30 NST, while berthing at Port aux Basques, a sudden gust of wind blew the ship's stern against the pier, causing a "puncture" in the hull.
Bad weather and the Christmas rush were already delaying crossings of the Cabot Strait, so this alision just added to the headaches.
Repair crews worked all night and repaired the hole, which was reported to be 4.5 meters above the water line, and the ship returned to service during the day Wednesday.
Fleet mate Caribou was held up by weather and Joseph and Clara Smallwood is firmly planted in the Novadock floating drydock in Halifax Shipyard.
Nova Scotia
Meanwhile the premier of Nova Scotia has re-iterated that there will be no subisdy for The Cat in 2010. Bay Ferries had earlier announced that they would not be offering the Yarmouth/ Bar Harbor/ Portsmouth service in 2010, and that the fast cat will be withdrawn.
There was a small glimmer of hope for the future however. The federal and provincial governments have said they will study ferry services in southwestern Nova Scotia, and the premier said he will urge the feds to speed up the study. He also said the province might make a one time contribution to a freight carrying service. This would seem to imply that the Digby/ Saint John ferry service might benefit if a plan for a new ferry can be cobbled together for 2011. That service, which is also operated by Bay Ferries, using Princess of Acadia is presently on life support.
The blame for all this grief is shrinking US tourism. A downsliding US dollar and an imploded US economy has knocked the bottom out of the tourist business. The passport issue must also be blamed. The reticence of US citizens to acquire passports to get back into their own country (inexplicable as it may seem) was the final straw for The Cat.
There is no doubt that the Princess of Acadia must be replaced. No ferry service can subsist without subsidy, so it remains to be seen if the governments can find money to a) subsidize construction of a ferry, b) subsidize a shipyard to build it and c) subsidize an operator to run it. Any takers?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The unusual looking Mina arrived at Halterm this morning. The Danish ship, measuring 2065 tons was built in 1979 and has carried a number of names in its career. She is classed as a palletized cargo ship - you can see the side elevator used to load and offload pallets. She also has a heavy lift capability, both with a conventional derrick and a crane.

The ship is here for Eimskip, the Icelandic shipping company. That company, and the entire Iceland economy are having a very rough time these days, and so it appears that they have downsized their shipping requirements. The Eimskip route usually takes the ship from Reykjavik, Iceland to Argentia, Newfoundland, Halifax, Boston/Everet, Richmond, Virginia, and back to Halifax, Argentia and Reykjavik.

You can see their (sometimes) interactive website at

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oldies from the Shoebox: Biban and Abeille 30

The cargo ship Biban arrived in Halifax December 21, 1979 in tow of the French tug Abeille 30. Biban was built by Marine Industries Ltd of Sorel QC in 1977 for the Algerian state shipping company. She often traded to the Great Lakes, and it was on one such voyage in June 1979 when she had a catastrophic engine breakdown at Duluth MN.

American tugs South Carolina, Maryland, and Superior, assisted by Lenny B towed the ship to Montreal, arriving July 29, 1979. She sat there until December 11 when she left for Halifax in tow of Abeille 30. The pair tied up at Halifax Shipyard over Christmas.

On January 1, 1980 they set out for Europe where the ship was eventually repaired. She was sold and renamed Mariam 1 in 2002 but arrived in Alang, India January 12, 2003 where she was scrapped.

The tug Abeille 30 had an interesting history, which I will add to this post in a few days.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dark and Stormy night

A stormy afternoon and evening shut down a lot of activity in Halifax on land and in the harbour. However there were ship movements. Zim Pusan sailed for New York at 4 pm - on schedule. The tugs Point Chebucto and Point Valiant assisted the ship away from pier 42. Just as the ship was off the pier Point Valiant parted a line, but the ship was far enough off the pier that she was able to use her own thruster to keep her in line.
The gypsum carrier Atlantic Erie remained in port during the worst of the wind in the afternoon and evening, but by 10 pm she was getting away with the help of Atlantic Spruce.
Update: Actually she went to anchor overnight and will sail in the morning.
The container ship Stadt Berlin, which is heading south, opted to stay in port yesterday when she completed loading, and is due to leave at 10 pm too.
The tug Atlantic Hemlock departed sometime Saturday night/ Sunday morning. If she was heading back to Saint John she would certainly get the worst of it.
Our port mascot Theodore Too returned home Saturday night. The pseudo-tug had been in Boston for the lighting of the Christmas tree there. The tree is an annual gift from Nova Scotia in thanks to the people of Boston for their assistance after the Halifax explosion in 1917.
The offshore pipelaying vessel Calamity Jane also put in this afternoon. She has been busy burying a gas pipeline from Deep Panuke, and probably had to hold off due to weather.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Farley Mowat back in town

The sealing protest ship Farley Mowat arrived in Halifax on Friday. Detained two years ago in a "run in" with the Canadian Coast Guard, the ship was detained in Sydney and eventually sold at auction. The sale may have fallen through however, but the vessel was on the move nonetheless.
It arrived in tow of the tug Atlantic Elm and is now tied up at the IEL dock, adjacent to the Woodside ferry terminal in Dartmouth. Her presence there has displaced the tugs Atlantic Larch and Atlantic Hemlock, which have tied up at pier 24.
Those lovable folks at the Sea Shepherd Society have put an interesting spin on the whole saga. The SSS claim that they deliberately set up the surrender of their ship as it had become a liability and they left it for the Canadian government to pay the cost of its disposal. In addition the ship built up a sizable bill for wharfage in Point Edward, which was not recovered by the auction sale.
Two Sea Shepherd members, the captain and engineer of the Farley Mowat, were convicted in absentia (they had already been deported) of interfering with the seal hunt.
The ship is painted in the now familiar all black, with symbols painted on the bridge signifying all the "kills" the SSS has claimed over the years in its anti-whaling missions. For some exciting photography on their activites against the Japanese whale fleet, go to their web-site.
Update: An article in the November 13 Halifax Chronicle Herald reported that the ship was sold for $5,000 to Green Ship LLC of Oregon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

BBC Spain back again

The cargo ship BBC Spain is due back in Halifax today. The ship departed Hartlepool, England in late November, heading for Duluth, Minnesota with windmill components. Very heavy weather delayed the ship and she put into Halifax on December 15 for fuel. She left later in the day.
It now seems she will not be able to make it to Duluth and get out of the Lakes before the Seaway system shuts down for the winter. She has therefore been diverted back to Halifax.
Update: The ship arrived about noon time, and berthed at pier 31. She sailed this evening giving Beaumont, Texas as her destination.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another new tug - Stevns Iceflower (ii)

The latest tug from the East Isle shipyard arrived in Halifax and conducted trials over the weekend. This afternoon the tug was christened at a ceremony at pier 23. Named Stevns Iceflower, this is the second tug of the same name built for Nordane Shipping of Denmark by East Isle at Georgetown, PEI. The first named came back to Canada last year when Nordane sold the vessel to Rio Tinto Alcan for use at La Baie (Port Alfred), Quebec. It was renamed Fjord Saguenay.
The new Stevns Icflower will be leaving shortly for Denmark. Nordane will use the tug on their own account, but if they get a sale offer they will probably let her go as well. There seems to be continued demand for these 5,000 bhp ice class fire fighting tugs.
East Isle has two more orders for tugs from Nordane as well as two for Ocean Group of Quebec City to be delivered May 2010, October 2010, March 2011 and June 2011 respectively.
Since Irving Shipbuilding started this tug building program at East Isle they have built 31 tugs, all based on the same pattern, but with continued evolution to suit various owners.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter Ducks

It's time for the winter ducks to show up in the harbour again. The American Wigeons have been away since May, but they are back for the winter. Female (top) male (bottom).

Scrub the rig again!

It looked like a perfect day for the rig Rowan Gorilla III to sail, but it was not to be. After several days of very high winds, it dawned bright and sunny, with a light wind. Pilots were called, the tugs Maersk Challenger, Hebron Sea and Ryan Leet were called. The harbour tugs Atlantic Spruce and Atlantic Hemlock (called in from Saint John to cover for the Atlantic Oak, which has gone to Bull Arm) all showed up at the rig.

Something went amiss however and the departure was called off. The tugs recovered their gear and returned to their berths.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Zélada Desgagnés on trials

The Canadian cargo ship Zélada Desgagnés made a brief trials trip this morning and returned to pier 9B. The ship was damaged in a grounding in the late summer (see September 10 posting below) and had been in the Scotiadock floating drydock until Monday for bottom repairs.
Her grounding and Point Halifax's encounter with ice are reminders that sailing in the north is still a risky business.
A third ship, Avataq had an engine failure while heading north, and needed a tug to tow her around to various northern Quebec ports to unload her cargo.

Update December 11. The ship apparently passed its trials and sailed early this morning for parts unknown.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Point Halifax back in town

Point Halifax returned to port this evening after lengthy repairs to her thrusters. She was damaged in ice in the Strait of Belle Isle last summer and has been out of service since late August.

In the black and white photo she is shown on February 8, 1987- almost brand new.

The upper photo is one of her thrusters under repair - note the size in comparison to the truck.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rig on the Move

The jack-up drilling rig Rowan Gorilla III will be leaving this morning for work off Sable Island. The mammoth unit will be drilling for 200 days on the Deep Panuke gas field.
Maersk Challenger, Hebron Sea and Ryan Leet will tow the rig out.
Pilots are called for 0900.
Update: The rig move was cancelled and tugs returned to the dock. A weather system moving in on the weekend is likely to blame. High winds and snow are predicted.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Canadians buy British Ports

Despite the economy and the downturn in shipping port may still be a good investment. According to the Maritime Journal

"PD Ports goes to Canadian owners
25 Nov 2009

The Middlesborough UK based ports and logistics business PD Ports confirmed last Friday that it is under new ownership, following the sale of 100% of its equity to Canadian based Brookfield Asset Management.

PD Ports plans to spend more than £300m on the Northern Gateway Container Terminal.
The sale was part of a broader transaction with Babcock & Brown Infrastructure (BBI) in which Brookfield, as the cornerstone investor, led a recapitalisation of BBI.

Brookfield formed a new holding company, Brookfield Ports (UK) Ltd to complete the purchase of PD Ports. BBI was the previous owner of PD Ports from early 2006 until last Friday.

PD Ports is involved in three business sectors. Port operations is split into two business streams, bulks and unitised cargoes. This includes Teesport, which is a top three UK port, with flows of containers, bulk traffics and finished cars, handling over 40m tons of throughput per year. PD Ports also owns and/or operates ports on the Humber estuary, Rivers Trent and Ouse, and at Medina Wharf, Isle of Wight. Service offerings include ships’ agency, chartering and stevedoring services. PD Logistics offers warehousing and distribution services at UK locations throughout the North East, Humberside & East Anglia, including at Felixstowe.

Development plans for port operations include the Northern Gateway Container Terminal, a major new deep sea container terminal planned at Teesport on the South side of the River Tees. The £300m+ development will have a capacity of 1.5m TEU and is anticipated to deliver over 5,500 jobs to the Tees Valley when fully operational.

Portcentric Logistics is a new concept promoted by PD Ports for locating the storage and distribution of imported goods close to the point of arrival at a UK port. This concept avoids the slow handling and return of empty containers as well as eradicating unnecessary UK road mileage, which occurs when delivering to a traditional inland import centre, such as in the Midlands.

Property includes port land at Hartlepool docks, which is highly attractive to the growing renewable energy sector, including offshore, windfarms, and biomass plants. PD Ports’ long term strategy is to further develop Hartlepool docks as a centre of excellence for the offshore support sector.

Commenting on the purchase, PD Ports’ Group CEO David Robinson said, ‘I am pleased to confirm that PD Ports is now under the new ownership of Brookfield. This is very positive news and will enable PD Ports to move forward and focus on growing our business. As a result of the sale, PD Ports has a new financial structure, which will provide a stable platform to support our future growth and development.’ "

Does this sound like any Canadain port you ever heard of?
No big goverment hand outs are mentioned (although there may be ones.)
This appears to be a private industry initiative.
Note also how they are reducing truck traffic.

Rig Activity

No photo this time, but there was a major flurry around the oil rig Rowan Gorilla III at noon time. Maersk Challenger, Hebron Sea and Ryan Leet all gathered round the rig for a few minutes. Shortly after they returned to their bases.
The first two are tug/ supply vessel and Ryan Leet is a standby/ emergency towing tug.

Monday, November 23, 2009

NT Dartmouth off to Newfoundland

We will soon be bidding farewell to one of the fixtures of Halifax harbour. The bunkering tanker NT Dartmouth, which was taken out of service during the summer and has been laid up ever since, will be leaving for Newfoundland, probably this week.

As a single hulled tanker, she only has four more years to go before the requirements for double hull come into force, at which time she will be obsolete.

For more on this interesting vessel, built in 1970, see earlier posting of May 25.
Not mentioned in that post is a piece of 'non-original' equipment, fitted to her deck. Mounted just forward of the wheelhouse is a grey coloured derrick, which is in fact a hydraulic ladder, salvaged from an old fire truck! The ladder can be used by the crew to reach the deck of a ship if they need to get aboard. I don't believe it has seen much use, but it replaced some very long rigid ladders once carried for the same purpose.
The main derrick, mounted farther forward is used to raise the fueling hoses to the ship's manifold.
In the photo above NT Dartmouth is in the midst of the Tall Ships Parade of Sail July 20, 2009. She managed to get a ringside seat in the event when she was returning to her berth at pier 34, but was held in position for a few hours for the tall ships to pass by.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rowan Gorilla III

The suppliers Hebron Sea (seen here) and Maersk Challenger have been constantly shuttling back and forth to the Rowan Gorilla III this weekend. The jack-up rig has been spudded down in Halifax preparing to conduct a four well devlopmental drilling project for Encana's Deep Panuke gas field off Nova Scotia, at a reported rate of $285,000 (US) per day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Terra Nova gone

Poised and ready though I was for the departure of Terra Nova this afternoon, atmospheric conditions did not cooperate for photography. A pall of fog drifted into Halifax in the early afternoon, and by 4 pm, just as the sun was setting we were subjected to large patches of "black thick" fog.

The sorry excuse above is much enhanced by computer magic, and shows much more of the ship than my eyes were able to see.

HMCS Terra Nova was launched in 1955 by Victoria Machinery Depot in British Columbia, and commissioned in June 1959, a member of the Restigouche class of destroyer escorts, and assigned pennant number 259. She was upgraded in 1967 (IRE) and 1985 (DELEX) and was hastily refitted in 1990 to participate in Operation Friction, part of the Desert Storm Operation of the (first) Iraq war.

On July 11, 1997 she was decommissioned and laid up. Aside from one brief interval, she has spent most of the time since at Jetty Lima. That interval was during the filming of the movie K-19:The Widowmaker, where she somewhat improbably portrayed a US destroyer.

With one of the most distinctive possible warship profiles, which was not altered, (a US type pennant number "942" was painted on her hull ) Terra Nova was still most decidedly not a US destroyer!

So this afternoon at 4 pm she sailed off into the fog, in tow of Atlantic Elm, bound for the nackers yards in Pictou.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

40th Anniversary of Hudson 70

On this day in 1969 CSS Hudson (Canadian Survey Ship) set out from Halifax on a record breaking scientific cruise. The ship circumnavigated the Americas, by sailing south in the Atlantic, around Cape Horn, north in the Pacific to the Bering Sea and through the Northwest Passage, back to Halifax. Along the way scientists carried out numerous studies, recorded reams of data and did pioneering work in many fields.

The trip took 11 months, and when the ship returned to Halifax on October 16, 1970 she had achieved many firsts and at least one notable second.

On the southward trip she carried out oceanographic stations from the equator on the 30 degrees west longitude line as far as 55 degrees south. She retraced the Beagle Passage, only the second ship to do so since Darwin's voyage 132 years before. She measured current flows in the Drake Passage for the first time. She was the first, and only ship ever to sail the longest possible straight line at sea, on the 130 degree west longitudinal line from 55 degrees south to the Gulf of Alaska, performing oceanographic stations every 2 1/2 degrees.

Her pioneering surveys of the Pacific Plate off Vancouver Island added considerable knowledge to the then infant science of plate tectonics.

Her surveys of the southern Beaufort Sea recorded sea bed scours made by ice, which proved to be a revolutionary discovery.

In company with CSS Baffin, she was only the 6th ship to complete a Northwest Passage (Baffin was circumnavigating North America on this trip.) They were beset by ice in the Prince of Wales Strait and were broken out by CCGS John A. Macdonald, and escorted through Viscount Melville Sound to Baffin Bay. From their studies they determined that Baffin Bay was really an ocean.

After passing to the east of Newfoundland (so that they could truly say they circumnavigated the Americas) they arrived safely at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, the ship's home base.

Hudson has since become CCGS Hudson (Canadian Coast Guard Ship) through government reorganisations, but is still Canada's premier ocean research vessel. Built in 1963, she is still going strong, although her trips are now much shorter.

In the photo above she is shown returning to Halifax July 14, 2008.

Statsraad Lehmkuhl

The Norwegian naval training vessel Statsraad Lehmkuhl arrived today for a visit. The tall ship is on her way back to Norway, and will tie up at the Cable Wharf (Murphy's) for a few days. Unfortunately she did not sail into port.
Built in 1914 as Grossherzog Friedriech August, as a German training ship, she was taken over by Britain following World War I. In 1921 she was purchased by Norway and given her present name (which means cabinet minster Lehmkuhl, after her sponsor.)
During World War II, when Germany captured Norway, she was renamed Westerwarts for a time, but reverted to her present name after the war. She is currently owned by a foundation and used for various tall ships programs, including the Royal Norwegian Navy's officer training.
The photo above was taken on her first pass. She then made a 360 degree turn around George's Island and came back up the harbour, much closer to the shore, and with her yard arms manned (or personned) for a more formal arrival.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Canadian Sailing Expeditions folds

The Halifax Chronicle Herald reported today that Canadian Sailing Expeditions will cease operations on Friday November 20. Plans to reorganize the company and sell its tall ship Caledonia to a Florida based firm have apparently taken longer to put in place than expected. CSE was under creditor protection and was expected to have a plan in place December 4. This has been delayed due to the current credit crunch.

Passengers who have booked for the winter cruise season will be refunded according to the report.

Caledonia made an impressive sight in this summer's Tall Ships event in Halifax - we hope to see her sailing again.

Updates to follow:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adieu Gatineau

The once splendid Canadian warship Gatineau left Halifax this morning on the end of a tow wire. The sadly bedraggled vessel is bound for Pictou in tow of the tug Atlantic Elm, where she will be cut up for scrap by Aecon-Fabco.

Gatineau and fleet mate Terra Nova have lain idle in Halifax since they were decommissioned by the RCN. They are the last surviving members of the Restigouche class, and only the Fraser from the RCN's steamer days remains afloat.

The snarled up towing bridle didn't look too happy to me, and the ship was going sideways for a time, looking like a reluctant dog on a leash. It will be a slow trip to Pictou.

Maersk Denver

As Maersk Denver pulls into Halifax on November 16, there was more bad news from the container line owned by A.P.Moller-Maersk. The Danish shipping company, the largest container shipping company in the world, is suffering from the economic downturn, and low freight rates.

A 31.7% drop in container shipping revenue will result in the loss of $1 billion (US) for the year 2009.

The company operates 500 ships.

Maersk has been an on and off caller in Halifax for many years. It is calling now primarily for refrigerated fish cargo, on a seasonal basis.
The tug Point Valiant, operated by Svitzer Canada (a Maersk subsidiary) assists the Maersk Denver in turing off the Halterm container pier.

Monday, November 16, 2009


The icebreaking tanker Tuvaq anchored in Halifax for bunkers today. Although the ship was built in 1977, it still appears very modern. This can be attributed to its Finnish designers who still cared about the appearance of ships, not just their functionality.

The ship's impressive icebreaking bow is much in evidence when she is in ballast.

Built for the tough winter conditions of the Baltic Sea, the ship now works for Coastal Shipping of St.John's, Newfoundland, an offshoot of the Woodward Group. The ship delivers fuel to far north locations.

The name Tuvaq is Inuit for "shore fast ice" one of a dozen or more terms in that language to describe the various stages of arctic ice.

She is shown in this photo with the bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouth alongside.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Maersk Challenger

The giant Danish AP Moller Maersk company is best known as owners of the largest fleet of container ships in the world. They are also a major player in the offshore oil construction and supply business. Their Canadian arm, Maersk Supply Canada is based in St.John's, and has an extensive fleet there.

One of their Canadian ships is Maersk Challenger, built in 1986 in Denmark. She has been in Halifax for the last few weeks supporting the rig Rowan Gorilla III while it is spudded down in the harbour. Maersk Challenger runs back and forth from the Exxon Mobil dock in Woodside to the rig with such stores as fuel, water and supplies. The trip is so short, she just backs away from the dock and backs out to the rig in number 6 anchorage. That is what she is doing in this photo taken November 14.

The launch/tug Halmar also stands by when the Challenger is doing her work.


One of the big shuttle tankers, built to transport Newfoundland offshore oil, put in for a brief maintenance session. Mattea was built in 1997 in Koje, South Korea by Samsung and measures 76,216 gross tons and has a deadweight tonnage (carrying capacity) of 124,365 tonnes.

She has several special features adapting her to the shuttle work. The large loading apparatus on the bow, permits her to load from offshore installations using a floating monobuoy and underwater pipeline. She is also fitted with twin screws, allowing her much greater maneuverability than conventional single screw tankers.

She arrived November 14 for a two day intensive work session, and tied up at pier 31.
She can run from Hibernia to the Whiffen Head or Point Tupper storage facilities or directly to US refineries.


Algoma Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario became a major player in the domestic tanker business, when it took over the coastal fleet of Imperial Oil in 1998. Since then they have replaced most of the aging fleet with newer vessesl. One of the first they acquired was Algosea, ex Aggersborg -05, 11290/98. Built by the Alabama Shipyard to a European design, the tanker worked for the important Danish firm Dannebrog. When purchsed by Algoma in 2005, she was brought under Canadian registry and modified for use on the Great Lakes. A sister ship, Amelienborg also joined the Algoma fleet but trades internationally.

Algosea is shown here passing pier 20 on November 13, bound for pier 9 where she will layover for a few days. She would normally have berthed in the deep water piers, but was displaced by the big tanker Mattea (see above.)


The small Norwegian bulk carrier Malmnes is visiting pier 9. The ship is a self-unloader, specializing in carrying stone. It often loads on the Strait of Canso and heads for the Caribbean. On its last trip to Halifax in October it headed to Brazil. The ship's own conveyor system is capable of discharging its cargo quite precisely, so it is often used to deliver the stone directly to a new wharf or pier or other marine structure.

Built in 1993 she measures 5,883 gross tons, with a deadweight tonnage of 9,891.

Usually when she stops over for a few days she takes bunker fuel and ties up at the deep water piers, however this time she is at pier 9 because pier 31 will be occupied by Mattea (see above.)

She is shown arriving on November 13.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cruise Finale

The last cruise ship for the season pulled in this morning. Crystal Symphony at 51044 gross tons, carries 992 passengers, but very few were visible on deck at 0730 hrs. Although the ship was built in 1995 it has received two major upgrades, including a $25 million do-over from September 17 to October 1 in Boston.

Consistently scoring as the best large cruise line in the world, Crystal is not afraid to spend big money on this "six star" vessel which features more than 60 butler served penthouse cabins and suites. This ship has been #2 in the list of best cruise ships in the world for two years running (her sister Crystal Serenity has been first.) It also scored a perfect 100 in a recent Centres for Disease Control inspection.

When she sails this afternoon that will be it for the 2009 cruise season in Halifax. Final figures are not in, but it seems that the year met expectations despite the economy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oldies........ Halifax II and Dartmouth II

From 1956 to Sunday September 9, 1979, these two ferries plied the route between Halifax and Dartmouth. They replaced car ferries when the Angus L. Macdonald bridge opened for traffic, joining the two sides of Halifax harbour for vehicles, including trolley busses.

These wooden hulled sisters were built by the Smith & Rhuland yard in Lunenburg. The only similarlity they had to their illustrious yard-mate, the schooner Bluenose, was their designer, William Roue.

The chevron/arrow head designs were added not long before their retirement, and were intended to give a trendy look to the aging boats. The designs did not do much for their well worn interiors (two cabins - one for smokers and one for non-smokers) featured linoleum deckcovering and varnished slat benches, resembling church pews in appearance and comfort, and wood panelling.

The delightfully grubby ferry terminals, built in ancient times, were also replaced in 1979 when new ferries came into service.

It is hard to believe that these vessels only served for twenty-three years whereas the current boats have been in service for thirty.
The boats are shown laid up on September 23, 1979.

Metro Transit

Metro Transit, the transit authority for the Halifax Regional Muncipality has recommended to HRM council the addition of two new ferries to the Halifax-Dartmouth route. This would allow expanded hours for the Woodside ferry route, which now only operates during commuter hours.

Having a spare ferry would presumably allow repairs and upgrades to the 1978 vintage Halifax III and Dartmouth III. Halifax III has just returned to service after a lengthy refit, which, according to press reports was mandated by Transport Canada. The third ferry, Woodside I is somewhat newer, built in 1986.

With five ferries, it should be possible to schedule serious upgrades without disrputing service and to bring the original trio up to modern standards.

The new third Seabus, which has just gone into service in Vancouver in preparation for added traffic during the Olympics, was supposed to provide this benefit also. However it now transpires that one of the orginal two vessels will be laid up after the Olympics, due to lack of funds, and will not be rebuilt.

Therefore some caution should be expressed in Halifax, where two new ferries may mean retirement of two old ones and no improvements in regular service.

While the current ferry docks imply a certain bow form for new ferries there is still some lattitude in the rest of the design to allow for speedier loading and unloading of passengers. Unfortunately the double sided Vancouver Seabus would not work in Halifax due to the design of the terminals with a common ramp.

Spending money on new ferries for the Halifax-Dartmouth and Halifax-Woodside routes makes much better sense than the various proposals for high speed craft running to the Bedford Basin.

The photo shows Dartmouth III decked out for the Tall Ships Parade of Sail in July, with Woodside I in the background. The three identical ferries were built by the now defunct Ferguson Industries shipyard in Pictou. They are fitted with Voith Schneider propulsors, fitted forward and aft, allowing them to sail in either direction and to move sideways as required, into their docks.
Another word of caution - the transit authority's master plan called for the two new ferries to be in service by 2012. In view of the shortage of shipyard space and late delivery of some recent vessels, that does not leave much time for a decision.
For more information on Metro Transit see the excellent Wikipedia entry.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Queen Mary 2

The glorious Queen Mary 2 eased in this morning for her last visit of the season. Is she a worthy replacement for QE2? Aesthetically- yes!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Standard Time again

The change back to Standard Time is much later in the year now (thanks Mr. Bush), but even so, it means a change in photography habits. Late afternoon photos become a lot more dodgy, so these shots of Atlantic Conveyor may be the last for a while. Sunday afternoon ship departures are generally at 4pm or later and it will soon enough be dark by then.

Atlantic Conveyor is one of five ships operated by Atlantic Container Lines on a constant transatlantic shuttle. We usually have two of these ships a week, one westbound and one eastbound.

Atlantic Conveyor was built by Swan Hunter on the Tyne and launched July 12, 1984. She arrived in Halifax on her maiden voyage February 1, 1985, and was lengthened in 1987. They are the largest ships of their class in the world, but they are getting quite old. There has been talk of replacements, but the Grimaldi Group (current owners of ACL) have been quiet about that recently.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Antonis G. Pappadakis

The Maltese flag bulk carrier Antonis G. Pappadakis exAtlantica-07, Atlantic Crown-00, launched as Atlantic Rose, 39017/95 Hyundai, Ulsan anchored in Bedford Basin on Thursday Ocotber 29.

The ship was en route Baltimore to Rotterdam when she diverted to Halifax for repairs. The tug Point Chebucto escorted her in from the pilot station. At 73,538 tonnes deadweight, and over 13 meters draft she is certainly one of the largest loaded (non-container) ships to anchor in the Basin.

With this draft, and a mechanical problem that forced her to steam at reduced speed, the tug, tethered to the stern to provide steering and braking assistance, was certainly a wise precaution.
Update: Because of high winds the tug Point Valiant was called in to stand by the ship all night Saturday/ Sunday, while engine repairs were completed. The ship sailed late Monday afternoon, November 2.

Friday, October 30, 2009

From the Shoebox........Drift

Back in October 1969 there were still several working fish plants in Halifax. They and their lingering aromas are long gone. (Although on a foggy night I can still conjure up the unique delights they contributed to Halifax.)

One plant, the 40Fathom division of National Sea Products was located at pier 29. Although new stern trawlers had come into service, side draggers were still operating there. Two of my favouties were the twins Calm and Drift dating from 1941.

They were built by American Shipbuilding at Lorain, Ohio and served the US Navy during World War II. Drift was YP416 until 1945 when she was picked up by National Sea Products. She fished out of Halifax until the end of 1975. Atlantic Salvage purchased her intending to convert her to a salvage vessel, to be named Atsal Five, but the work was never completed. She languished at the Cable Wharf, until eventually expended as a naval gunnery target.
In the background a German trawler lies at pier 28. She is Fritz Homan BX-689.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Senator Greene ...

Senator Greene has dropped his personal bombshell on the port of Hailfax. Promoting Point Melford and Sydney as replacements for Halifax's container piers in order to improve downtown street traffic in Halifax makes as much sense as his support for converting the present railway cut into a truck corridor.
If the container piers are gone, who would need a truck corridor? The port of Halifax would not have enough non-container traffic to warrant such a hugely disruptive project.
Senator Green, a minor cog in the defeated former Tory provincial government, has been named to the Senate. Predictably his agenda is muddled, his facts askew and and his credibility is zero.
He has apparently concluded that a large increase in Halifax container traffic would result in traffic grid-lock in Halifax. Does he think that all those additional containers would be loaded onto trucks? Apparently so, but that would require a massive increase in locally generated traffic. Traditionally the vast majority of Halifax container traffic is sent on by rail to central Canada or the US mid-west. So a big increase in container traffic in Halifax might well result in some increase in truck traffic, but there are other solutions to Halifax traffic problems.
Railways in the US are now carrying containers on realtively short hauls, keeping more trucks off the highways. Who is to say that this would not happen in Halifax?
Short-sea shipping has been promoted for container transfers. Such services would transship containers right at the container terminal, without clogging city streets.
As for Point Melford or Sydney, they should be allowed to sink or swim as container hubs on a purely business basis, all on their own, without his or any other government's interference.
My advice to Sentor Greene is to take the big pay cheque, wait for the big pension and keep quiet. Nobody actually expects him to do anything to earn either.

From the shoebox... Douglas Reid

Another oldie.

The tug Douglas Reid pictured on Octber 2, 1969 during construction of the Halterm container pier. The tug was built in 1914 at Cleveland, Ohio, as Racine for Great Lakes Towing. In 1940 A.B.MacLean & Sons of Sault Ste.Marie, Ontario bought her. They in turn sold her to McNamara Construction Ltd of Whitby, Ontario in 1950.

McNamara rebuilt the tug, converting it from steam to diesel power and giving it the name Douglas Reid.

McNamara were contracted for the marine construction portion of the Halterm pier, and in this photo workers are doing some repairs on a day off.

The tug was removed from the register in 1978, by which time she had been broken up.

For more on the A.B.MacLean companies, see the new book "A.B. MacLean & Sons Ltd" by Buck Longhurst and Skip Gillham, published by Glenaden Press, 3750 King St, Vineland, ON, L0R 2C0 (ISBN# 978-1-926744-01-8)

If you were wondering why there is no pier 40 in Halifax (berth numbers skip from 39 to 41) this photo is part of the answer. The tug's bow is pointed at berth 40, which was filled in during the Halterm construction.

Svitzer Bedford Fire

The Halifax based tug Svitzer Bedford was abandoned on fire off Quebec City on Wednesday October 28 at about 10 am local time. The tug had sailed from Quebec City for Becancour, towing the barge Transport 1 when the fire broke out. The master decided to abandon ship when the engine room fire could not be brought under control and requested that the Coast Guard vessel Cap Tourmente take the crew off.

The tug has been away from Halifax for several months towing supply barges from Quebec to Hudson's Bay. It was pressed into service when the tug Point Halifax was damaged in ice.

The tugs are owned and operated by Svitzer Canada Limited of Halifax (formerly Eastern Canada Towing Ltd)
Update 1: The fire was brought under control quickly by the Quebec Fire Department and was confined to the engine room. There was a lot of smoke, and the exent of damage is still to be determined.
Awaiting updates.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oldie from the shoebox... Federal Pioneer

If you've seen Piet Sinke's newsletter he often concludes with an "oldie from the shoebox." Firmly believing that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I will do the same from time to time. I have posted lots of old stuff on Shipspotting, but the photos I will post here will not be the standard ship portraits.
I took this October 15, 1969 from Barrington Street, looking down into the Graving Dock at Halifax Shipyard. It shows FEDERAL PIONEER (ex Brazilian Prince -58, Outremont Park -56) 7158/44 United Shipbuilding, Montreal.
She spent her last years lying in Halifax until needed for northern supply work in the summers.
In 1970 she was sold for scrap to China. She sailed there on her own via Honolulu (December 19, 1970) and arrived in Hsinkiang January 21, 1971 where she was broken up.
The photo also shows a swanky looking vehicle pulled up at the front gate - perhaps a Jaguar.

Cruise countdown

The cruise season is winding down, and Crown Princess sailed this afternoon after her fifth visit to Halifax this year.

Only two ships to follow - Queen Mary 2 on November 2 and Crystal Symphony on November 5.

That's Pearl Mist in the background - still undergoing corrective surgery at the Woodside dock of Halifax Shipyard/ Irving Shipbulding.

A painted ship upon a painted ship upon a painted sea...

Perhaps a little poetic liberty here, but it was a beautifully calm afternoon on Tuesday, October 27 when the lift boat Seajacks Kraken (painted red), on the deck of Swan (painted orange) sailed for European waters.