Sunday, January 31, 2010

Zim Luanda

Zim Luanda sailed this afternoon after a call at Halterm. The ship is owned by Danaos Corporation, a Greek based shipping concern, but listed on the NY stock exchange. It charters its ships out to various major shipping lines, such as Zim.
Their web site has an interesting feature which shows the position of all their ships on a world map. See it at
Zim Luanda was delivered in June 2009 by Samsung Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries in Koje, Korea and can carry 4523 TEU of containers, including about 400 reefers. This is the typical size of ships on the Zim service which sails almost around the world.
Her next port of call is Tarragona, Spain.
In the foreground a small portion of the winter eider duck population of Halifax.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Patiently Waiting for Spring

Tall Ship Silva (official name Silva of Halifax) patiently awaits spring at her berth at Queen's Wharf this morning (upper photo). She offers harbour tours under sail during summer months and has become well known and well liked by her patrons.

Built in 1939 by Karlstads Mek.Verk. in Karlstad, Sweden, as 3 masted auxiliary schooner, she was built to operate on the Iceland trade, which she did for a time. In the 1960s she was converted to a small bulk carrier, without sails.

In 2000 she was acquired by Canadian Sailing Expeditions Inc. They towed her to Halifax with their trawler Hawk, which they had purchased in England. Both were to be converted to sailing vessels. Hawk and Silva arrived July 8, 2001 and over the next year was rebuilt as a 3 masted schooner. Hull work was done at Brenton Gray Shipyard in Sambro, and rigging done alongside in Halifax.The company Tall Ship Silva Inc was formed to be her owner and she was briefly renamed Silva 1. However in 2002 she received her present name Silva of Halifax. This name is in the Swedish tradition where ships have their home port appended to their name. [In Swedish she would be "Silva af Halifax".]

It had been Canadian Sailing Expedition's plan to convert Hawk (later renamed Hawk I) to an ocean going tall ship, however the chance came to buy what became Caledonia. The unfortunate result of that project lead to the bankrupcty of Canadian Sailing Expeditions, and the pending sale of Caledonia. Hawk 1 was scrapped, I believe at Sheet Harbour.

In the meantime Silva rest patiently for a few more months when she will be sailing the waters of Halifax harbour once more.

In the lower photo she is shown in the Tall Ships Parade of Sail in July 2009.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cat Fix

The government of Nova Scotia finally got around to admitting that there was a penalty clause for not renewing the subsidy on the Cat ferry.
In December 2009 when the government refused to extend the subsidy for another year, Bay Ferries closed the service. Presumably they are trying to find other employment for the ferry or to sell it. This can take a long time, based on previous sales of Incat type ferries. There is not exactly a huge market for this type of craft-they only pay for themselves when used in certain types of work where high speed makes sense.
In their 2008 deal with the previous government of Nova Scotia, Bay Ferries got a cancellation fee of up to $3mn if the subsidy was not continued. The amount of the fee will depend on whether and when Bay Ferries is able to sell the Cat. This makes sense-how could they be expected to run such a service with no future?
It is too bad that the present provincial government didn't put all these cards on the table in December, it makes then look very bad (if not stupid.) Had they put all the numbers out in December they wouldn't be in this fix now.
The president of Bay Ferries was interviewed by CBC News, from Australia. Incat fast ferries are built in Tasmania (part of Australia)(Tasmania:Australia=Newfoundland:Canada), so he is probably in heavy negotiations with Incat on redeploying/ buying back/trading the Cat. Good luck to him in this economy.
I don't know where the Cat is now, but why wasn't it fired up to get supplies to Haiti quickly - instead of waiting for a week to get warships there?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dock Work

Crews started work yesterday reinforcing the pilot dock. They will be driving sheet piles from a sectional scow using a Mantis crane. A small backhoe is working ahead of the sheet pile work, moving debris away from the face of the old timber piles.
Due to its prominent location between the tug dock and Sackville landing, there should be lots of sidewalk superintendents at noon hour. A portion of the waterfront boardwalk is closed, but foot traffic is only slightly re-routed through the Summit Place arch.
The scow is made up of Flexifloat truckable sections, locked together with add on spud mountings. Le Grow's Marine moved the scow in place yesterday with their tug Carly J and had their tug Harbour Diver on hand today (see Tugfax.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quiet Day in Halifax

An overnight storm with high winds forced the cancellation of all piloted arrivals and departures in the port of Halifax until late this afternoon. The pilot boat was off station until about 3pm when Georgia S was boarded and sailed in to anchor in Bedford Basin.

Several ships are holding off port until it is safe to board a pilot. Zim Haifa, Aegir and others are waiting outside.

Meanwhile the tanker Barents Sea, which had moved off Imperial Oil last night took bunkers in anchorage number 1, and Algonova, which also left Imperial Oil due to weather, was able to get back alongside this afternoon when the winds dropped off.

Atlantic Erie, loaded with gypsum awaits at anchor in Bedford Basin. She would have been heading into the storm, so elected to stay in port for an extra day or two.

Meanwhile the former protest vessel Farley Mowat was moved from the IEL dock to pier 9 this afternoon by the tug Atlantic Larch. The ship arrived late last year in tow from Sydney and has been idle at the IEL pier ever since. She was auctioned off by the government in the fall after being seized during a seal hunt protest. The all black ship, complete with "kills" painted on her bridge like a fighter plane, has apparently been sold to US interests, but is in no condition to sail on her own.

Ships working in port today include Atlantic Companion at Fairview Cove; Flintereems loading wood pellets at pier 28 and Onego Traveller unloading rails at pier 27.

Also in port is Atlantic Huron, in winter layup at pier 25-26, and the tug Ryan Leet and supplier Panuke Sea at pier 9c. Maersk Challenger is at the Exxon/Mobil dock. Halifax shipyard is still host to the Joseph and Clara Smallwood in the Novadock, Acadia in the ScotiadockII and HMCS Iroquois in the graving dock.
Update January 27: Farley Mowat was back at the IEL pier this morning after her little trip up the harbour yesterday. She must have been moved off the dock for some reason-perhaps for work on the adjacent rig Chemul, that Irving Shipbuilding is repairing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

RIP Port of Halifax?

If some figures on the Halifax political scene (elected and unelected) have their way, this may be the biggest container ship that will be seen in Halifax. It is their contention that the lands occupied by the Halterm Container Terminal, the grain elevator and the CN rail yards in the southend of the peninsula are too valuable to be wasted on port activities.
They claim that traffic congestion, caused by trucks carrying containers, is a bane on the downtown and should be eliminated. It is their opinion that the railway cut, which allows trains to get down to the south end port facilities (and to the VIA rail station) would be much better used for commuter traffic.
Their conclusion is that with the port eliminated from the south end of Halifax, then there could be development, which would include housing, thus increasing the density of the peninsula by some 15,000 people.

There are problems with their arguments:

1. If you think traffic is bad with container trucks- try adding 15,000 people and their 10,000 cars to the south end! What is the problem they are trying to solve?
2. Taking publicly held land (owned by the people of Canada, through the Halifax Port Authority) and handing it to private developers to enrich themselves, seems unattractive to this taxpayer.

3. The Halterm Container Terminal is presently able to handle very large ships. Unlike the Fairview Cove terminal, where the above ship, OOCL Hong Kong is headed, there are no height restrictions at Halterm. Ships wishing to enter Bedford Basin, for Fairview, must pass beneath two bridges, and are limited to about 150 feet air draft. So in fact their scheme would emasculate the port.
They claim that the world's largest container ships will never call here anyway, and that is so, but if we had port facilities in the right location they could come. Without capable facilities we are giving it away.

4. The port is one of the economic engines of Halifax. So the world economy is down right now, and will take years to come back. The proponents seem to think that other economic engines can replace the port, but their ideas are very vague. Service industries must have an employed population to serve. We can't survive taking each other's washing!

5. The grain elevators, deepwater piers and the Halterm container terminal are the heart of the port. Yes they are under utilized at present, BUT ONCE GONE THEY WILL NEVER BE REPLACED. No one is realistically suggesting an alternative location in the port of Halifax for replacement facilities. Unless the developers are prepared to pay for relocation, it will never be done. If developers were forced to pay for the real cost of replacing these facilities, the land costs would be too high to provide affordable housing. We do not need more housing for the wealthy.

6. If you move to the country should you complain that farms smell? If you live in Halifax should you complain about the port? I don't believe these people are big thinkers- I think they are misinformed. But since they have somehow attracted the ears of the people, they may prove to be extraordinarily dangerous.

7. If you get rid of the port, why not get rid of the refinery too - it really stinks! Oh and while you are at it, toss the shipyard out and the power plant and the navy-that should really help.

Let's have some realistic debate from informed people and lets have the Port of Halifax step up to the plate.
Over the history of Halifax the "Port Authority" or its predecessors has often been the weak link. Subject to political manipulation, they cannot speak out. Not paying taxes like regular landowners also weakens them. Their job is to run the port, but who has the vision?

The current locally governed corporation should have the vision. But do they? Their current activity seems to be concentrated on developing the core of their lands for non port activity, and attracting cruise ships. This of course puts therm totally at odds with private property owners, developers and even the Halifax Regional Municipality(HRM) and the Province of Nova Scotia. To be fair there isn't much they can do about attracting shipping business in this economy., and they are showing results. But is an art college, a farmer's market, a convention centre and a movie studio the best use of the port land? I fear that these developments are signalling to the world that shipping activities in the port are secondary.

The Future of the Port
What we really need now is real work on the future of the whole port. Not just the south end port lands, but all port and waterfront land. HRM By Design missed the boat on this, failing to realize that the port is the real heart of Halifax. The HRM has a lot to answer for. It hired out of town consultants from far inland who had no clue about ports.

The misguided efforts of the Waterfront Development Corporation, which has already put publicly acquired lands in the hands of private developers and condo owners, should not be let off the hook.

Canada Lands, the federal land disposal agency, has also played this game, and so we now have grocery stores and coffee franchises on once publicly held land.

The Power Corporation , which had a power plant on the waterfront, is developing their new corporate HQ in the old building while their operating power plant at the other end of the harbour continues to add to our carbon footprint daily. Will they want to import natural gas directly to their plant - you bet! Won't that cause a lovely reaction-right where the great Halifax explosion occurred-imagine the PR job they will need to do.

Halifax Shipyard is very constrained by its location- it cannot build the big ships needed by the Coast Guard and Navy-that work will go elsewhere, perhaps even offshore.

We really need to look at the big picture. We need to take this thing by the horns and really deal with it holistically- not piecemeal.

Oh and by the way if the sea level rises a couple of feet all those newly acquired lands will be underwater at high tide anyway.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

CSS Acadia

Acadia, pride of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, will be leaving her customary berth for a spell in drydock. The vintage former survey vessel was last in drydock in November 2003. She is scheduled to return to the Scotiadock floating drydock at Halifax Shipyard on Monday January 25 for hull work, which will keep her safely afloat for some years to come.

Built in 1913 at Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle-upon-Tyne (hull number 912), she first arrived in Canada July 8, 1913 and on the 29th of the same month sailed for Hudson Bay. She did survey work for the Port of York factory (which was eventually abandoned) and Churchill (which was built). She served in both world wars (the only surviving Canadian ship do do so) and had a distinguished career as hydrographic survey vessel (hence the initials CSS=Canadian Survey Ship) until November 28, 1969, when she was retired.

Acadia was reprieved from the scrapyard when ownership was transferred to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and was opened to the public in 1982.

Originally based in Pictou, Nova Scotia, she was transferred to Halifax when the Bedford Institute of Oceanography opened in the 1950s. However she spent most of the survey season elsewhere on Canada's coasts, particularly in the north and off Newfoundland

There is a lot more to be learned about the Acadia by visiting her at the museum during the summer, when she is open to the public, and at the museum's website.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nordic Apollo (again)

The crude oil tanker Nordic Apollo arrived Wednesday and sailed again tonight after a brief visit to Imperial Oil. Nothing particularly remarkable about the ship- built in 2003 as Euro Spirit, renamed Glyfada Spirit in 2003, and Nordic Apollo in 2006. Measuring 81,310 gross tons and 159,988 deadweight. Owned by Nordic American Tanker Shipping of Bermuda, managed by Gemini Tankers LLC of Stamford, CT, and registered in the Marshall Islands.

However she is not the first Nordic Apollo to call in Halifax. The first was more remarkable!
She was built in 1980 by Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans as El Paso Cove Point. Rejected by her owners due to hull cracks (and a down turn in the economy.) Two of her sisters, El Paso Columbia and El Paso Savannah were laid up in Halifax for a time in an uncompleted state.

By 1983 she was renamed Jade Phoenix and converted to an oil/bulk carrier and converted to burn oil or coal. Then in 1991 she was converted to an oil storage tanker named Coastal Jade. She arrived in Halifax in April 1992 as Nordic Apollo, managed by Nordic American Tankers, and was stationed on the Panuke Oil field as a storage tanker. She stored oil and pumped it off from time to time to smaller shuttle tankers.
She was in and out of Halifax during the life of the Panuke oil field (the oil was exhausted and the field decommissioned- a lower deposit at the same site is now being developed for gas, and is called Deep Panuke.)
Her most notable visit was in the fall of 1993, during which time she was anchored in Bedford Basin for repairs. On November 6, 1993 She started to drag anchor in a storm and blew all the way across the Basin to the Dartmouth shore and ran aground. It took the combined efforts of the tugs Breton Sea, Terra Nova Sea, Point Halifax, Point Chebucto and Point Valiant to drag her off. She was not seriously damaged, but there was a huge salvage claim filed.

In 2006 she was renamed Apollo Spirit and is still working as a storage tanker. Last heard from she in the Central North Sea. She is currently listed as 89,421 gross tons. However because of her gas tanker ancestry, she has very much more freeboard than a typical crude oil tanker, so she looks much bigger than the current Nordic Apollo.

Nirint Hollandia sails

Nirint Hollandia got away from pier 31 today while there was still sun on her. The hope for things to come- longer days- more photo taking.

The ship is one of the regular callers for the Dutch shipping line Nirint, and is sailing with a surprisingly large deckload of tank type containers. They can't all be full of Cuban rum! Because they are on deck, I suspect most are empty.

Built in 1997, she is operated for Nirint by Wagenborg Shipping CV of Delfzijl, and measures 8999 gross tons.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tofton for bunkers

Tofton arrived this morning and anchored in Bedford Basin for bunkers. The ship, built in Spain as long ago as 1980, as Pokkinen for Finnish owners, is heavily reinforced for navigation in ice. She was acquired in 1996 by B&N, one of the predecessors of the current Rederi AB Transatlantic, along with Gorthon Lines. She was later sold to Filon Co Ltd, but chartered back to Transatlantic, and still wears their funnel colours. She is registered in Gibraltar.
I believe she is under charter to Kent Lines (although this is difficult to confirm) and carries paper/ pulp and other forest products, as well as bulk cargoes. Due to her Lloyd's ice class 1A Super, she is able to navigate in winter conditions to ports in the Gulf of St.Lawrence, the Baltic and other icy spots. Two years ago she ran a regular year round run from Greenland to Newfoundland with ore.
She is no longer listed in Transatlantic's sailing schedule, and Kent Line no longer publishes a schedule (it has become more of an agency than a shipping company.) However the ship was most recently in the Baltic, and crossed the Atlantic with a visit to an unknown port in the Gulf of St.Lawrence.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Another load of pellets

The Dutch ship Flinterdijk arrived today for a load of wood pellets. This versatile ship, built in 2000, can carry a variety of cargoes, including containers (370 TEU, 25 reefer plugs) and bulk. She is fitted with hold ventilation which is necessary to keep the pellets in prime condition during what could be a very rough Atlantic crossing.
Flinter Shipping has quite a variety of ships of varying sizes, most in the distinctive grey and red colour scheme.
Their website is worth a squint-look for the photo taken from the bridge of the Flinterdijk while at sea in the North Atlantic.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Relief Mission

Two Halifax warships set out for Haiti this afternoon as part of a relief mission. The Caribbean country, with many ties to Canada, suffered a devastating earthquake yesterday and the two ships were scrambled to lend assistance. The frigate Halifax was reportedly 200 miles out at sea when she was called back, and the destroyer Athabaskan was carrying out gunnery exercises off Halifax.
Halifax tied up yesterday afternoon alongside Protecteur, where aid was already being stockpiled. Athabaskan had to go to the Bedford magazine to de-store ammunition, and arrived in the Dockyard late this morning.
The ships sailed promptly at 3pm to rendez-vous with their Sea King helicopters in the Middle Ground area between Ives Knoll and Meagher's Beach.
Athabaskan is lead ship, with Halifax following in the photo above.
It was an interesting experience to watch the ships leave port. Athabaskan made no audible sound, despite the fact that her engines were obviously working hard. There was no engine noise from Halifax either, but as she accelerated extremely quickly the rush of water past her hull was quite loud, and she left a wake of two to three feet.
The ships are due in Haiti in five days or so.

The United States navy will also have a significant presence in Haiti. The aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was diverted to Haiti and the hospital ship Comfort and numerous other vessels will be providing immediate assistance.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Reecon Wolf

Nirint Shipping's Reecon Wolf sailed this afternoon - the first ship to sail in sunshine for a week! Built in Turkey in 2008, the 10,135 ton ship can carry 1024 TEUS of which 314 can be reefers.

Nirint serves Cuba, sailing from Holland and other European ports. It also makes return trip calls from Cuba, carrying nickle sulfides. When she sailed the ship gave Casablanca as her next port of call.

The ship is owned by Daimon Shipping and managed by Furtrans Ship Management- both companies are based in Hamburg.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pier Extension

Work will soon start on the extension to pier 42. The Halterm container terminal will be extended southward (to the right in the picture) to allow two large ships to berth at the same time.
On Tuesday evening Beaver Marine's tug Mister Joe and the scow Beaver Kay arrived and on Wednesday morning they offloaded a crawler crane, a pile driver and several other pieces of equipment to begin the work.
The crane is visible in the photo, which I fear may be the closest we may be able to get to the best shipspotting, ship photographing spot on the waterfront until construction is completed.The extension will be quite wide, allowing for the extension of the container crane rails and a landing area for the boxes and room for trucks to turn. We live in hope that the Port Authority will include a viewing area at the end of the pier, as there is now.
Frequent progress reports will be posted here.


Last fall the Port Authority indicated that the pier would be extended 85 meters to the south (seaward) so that two post-Panamax ships could be berthed simultaneously. The extension would be 45 meters wide, allowing for crane rails and pick-up/drop off zone. The extension will be built using sheet piles (the original pier and its previous extension were built of concrete caissons.)
See upper image taken January 8, with my impression of the size of the extension.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Return to normal

It was a steady stream of ships leaving Halifax today. Three container ships were finally able to leave after last night's storm kept them in port. The last to go was the container ship OOCL California from Fairview Cove. The 66,046 ton ship, built in 1995, and owned by Orient Overseas Container Line of Hong Kong, left port with the assistance of the tug Atlantic Larch. The sky was very gloomy, but the rough seas had completely subsided inside the harbour, although there was still a swell running outside.

Clean up

Last night's storm was accompanied by a storm surge, which washed over several low docks at high tide. It also washed debris from the shore line into the harbour, causing numerous navigational hazards. The Port Authority's work boat Maintainer 1 has the chore of retrieving all such loose objects, and was hard at work this afternoon.

The boat was built by A.F. Theriault of Meteghan River especially for this kind of work and is equipped with a knuckle boom crane. When not cleaning up debris, her main job is maintaining the fenders at the various piers. These consist of large industrial tires fitted around timbers and slung from the pier faces by chain. They also carry away in storms, and need to be rounded up and re-secured.
Maintainer 1 is fitted with a towing bitt, so that she can tow large objects, including fenders and flotsam of all sorts.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Stormy Day

A major storm with high winds, snow and rain, has slowed Halifax shipping activity. Several ships are at anchor awaiting better conditions to berth or to take bunkers. Others will remain in port until they can sail safely.
Bedford Basin has three ships at anchor, the idled Georgia S, which was in port anyway, the coastal RoRo Dutch Runner on her weekly run from St-Pierre et Miquelon and the bulk /cargo ship Federal Schelde in for bunkers. The container ship OOCL California is idled at the Fairview Cove container terminal due to high winds.
In the lower harbour the tankers Bow Tone and Chemtrans Oste are at anchor, but will not berth at Imperial Oil until conditions improve. Container ship Astoria Bridge is idled at Halterm pier due to weather.
At the deepwater piers Vossborg is at pier 27 waiting to load wood pellets and Atlantic Huron is at pier 25 in winter layup. Saudi Diryah remains at pier 31, waiting to complete her loading. She has been in port since December 31.
Since a storm surge is also predicted, conditions on the waterfront are less than ideal for ship watching.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Abeille 30 from the shoebox

On January 1, 1980 the tug Abeille 30 sailed from Halifax with the Algerian cargo ship Biban in tow. [See previous post]

More info on the Abeille 30:

She was built in 1944 by Levingston Shipbuilding of Orange, Texas as LT 538 one of a large number of standard Large Tugs [LT] for the US Navy. These were ocean going, 2250 bhp vessels intended for towing anywhere in the world.

Following the war she was acquired by Moller Towage of Hong Kong and renamed Margaret Moller.

In 1951, the famous French towing outfit Société de Remorquage et Sauvetage "Les Abeilles" [the bees] bought her and she worked for them as Abeille No.10 until 1972. At that time she was completely rebuilt and repowered, with 5400 bhp, and renamed Abeille 30.

She was a single screw vessel with a Towmaster propulsion system and bow thruster.

Following her transatlantic tow with Biban, she remained with Les Abeilles (now known as Abeille International) until 1983 when they sold her to Spanish owners, Biscay Towing Inc. and she was renamed Biscay 30 under the Panamanian flag.

In early 1985 she was sent to the Mississippi River to tow the vessel Master Petros 22,391/69 , but something went wrong. She was towing the ship downbound on the Mississippi on January 14, 1985 when the tow overran the tug, sinking her, with the loss of one life.

Although she was raised, she was broken up in October of 1985.

A variation of this post will appear on my new blog Tugfax, which will from hereon cover tug events in Halifax. Shipfax will continue to cover shipping in general with some tug info from time to time.