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.