Sunday, February 28, 2010

Contradictory notice? and more proof reading

As one of the world's worst typists I should be more sympathetic I know, but it is hard not to gloat when someone else does a typo. Particularly when the message has obviously been heavily sifted through the PR department so as not to give too much away and to provide as little information as possible while seeming to be informative.

I speak of course of the newly erected signage at the breakwater alongside the Halterm container pier. I show above the English version only.

A little more proof reading would have been in order (1st red X)

The second red X has a contradiction in it - the walkway may be closed from time to time to facilitate work BUT it won't be re-opened until the work is done. Do we have a choice?

The breakwater is certainly closed now - because sheet pile work is going on very close to the end - fair enough.

Will it re-open when sheet pile work moves far away to the other end of the pier? Who knows.

When will construction work actually be completed? Who knows.

Will they start building the pier extension now or in year's time and will there still be a viewing area at the end? Who knows.

Regrettably the Port Authority does not see fit to tell us anything we really want to know. Just about everything on the sign would be obvious anyway, or has already been divulged in press releases or in new items.

Would it hurt to publish a drawing of the newly extended pier? It might surprise a lot of people if they actually knew how big is was to be and how the view to Eastern Passage will be blocked.

Would it hurt to give a timetable for the construction? If the walkway is to be closed all summer, say, that would not be good news for tourists and shipwatchers.

Most businesses, when undergoing renovations make some effort at apologizing for inconvenience but give reassurance that it will be better in the end for the customer. I fear that in this it will not be better in the end, that the new pier extension may have no provision for a viewing area, and may well be worse for the public rather than better in the end. The public, whose taxes after all pay for at least some of this work - are not the customers. Reading between the lines of the sign should be a subtle reminder of that fact.


The storm did surprisingly little damage despite its high winds. Terre were no marine casualties that I am aware of. However the tugs Point Chebucto and Svizter Bedford pushed against the tanker Cap Felix for about 22 hours. Starting at 0800 on Friday when they left the tug dock, until they returned to their dock ay 0700 hrs Saturday. Fortunately tyhe crews were relieved on Friday afternoon - the normal crew change time- when Point Valiant took the fresh crews over them.
There were indeed four ships anchored in Bedford Basin for the worst of the storm. Dutch Runner went out and joined the others Friday afternoon.

Sunday afternoon: another storm is predicted for tonight with almost as high winds. The 100+kph from Friday will not be repeated, but gusts will certainly approach or exceed 90kph.
This time the tanker Cap Felix has put to sea. She will loaf around outside the zone until this storm passes. The tanker Acadian has gone to anchor in the Basin and is joined this evening by Algoma Dartmouth. Two container ships and an autocarrier that would likely have been here over the weekend will now be arriving tomorrow, once the worst of the weather has passed.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wild Day in the Harbour

High winds, driving rain, storm surge - today has it all for those who love really rotten weather. No ship movements are scheduled until later in the day when things may have calmed down. However the tugs Point Chebucto and Svitzer Bedford are standing by the tanker Cap Felix at Imperial Oil dock 5, holding the ship onto the dock.
Usually these big tankers put out to sea before a big storm, but in this case the ship remained alongside. The winds are so strong and the seas so high that the ship could part its lines. The tugs will remain alongside as long as needed to prevent the ship from going astray.
Meanwhile there are three ships anchored in Bedford Basin. All are probably steaming up on their anchors to hold position.
It is now late afternoon and the wind has not died off one whit. The rain has let up a bit. Point Valiant has also been called out to assist in keeping a ship alongside. Not sure which ship, since I am inside where it is warm and reasonably dry.
High tide is 18:16 hrs and storm surge is expected to flood some docks and low shoreline.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tarang on the Move

The bulk carrier Tarang arrived in Halifax on February 20, but it was too dark for a photo. She tied up at pier 25-26 and sat pretty much idle, with hatches open. Last night she moved around to pier 27 and this morning a big shore side truck crane was working in her after hold (No.7).
The ship is no spring chicken- built in 1989 she measures 35,549 gross tons, and was named Malaya briefly, becoming Havbor shortly thereafter, then in 1995 becoming Ispat Tarang. She became Tarang in 2005.
She is operated by Anglo-Eastern Ship Management and was headed for Sept-Iles to load 75,000 tonnes of iron ore. She sailed directly from Poland and north of the Orkneys, in ballast, so it is likely she sustained some damage on the crossing. She was due in Sept-Iles on February 23.

Concordia Follow Up

Many opinions have been formed about the loss of the Concordia and the subsequent rescue. A whole range of folks from landlubbers to old salts have weighed in with their opinions- some ludicrous, some thoughtful.
For a very interesting discussion-and a long one-take a glimpse at this thread. Caution: it may take a half hour to read it all-but it is very interesting nonetheless.

Most of commentators are experienced sailors or naval architects, and their views are very informative to a 'angashore such as I. [ 'angashore = hang a shore, an old Newfoundland term to describe those don't go to sea.]

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sneeky Pete

Can't resist a pun, so here it is.
The Dutch flagged Frisium arrived at pier 31 today to load utility poles. This super low airdraft vessel is more at home sliding up European rivers, but remarkably here it is. At only 1786 gross tons, this is one of the smaller ships we will see in Halifax this year.
Oh yes - the pun. The ship was built by Peters Kampen Shipyard and is registered in the port of Sneek. Sorry.
Built in 1992 she was formerly named Thalassa until 1998, and is now part of the Boomsa fleet:

Peters Kampen is the yard that was involved in the ill-fated deal that brought down Port Weller Dry Docks, and Boomsa operates the one ship that was completed and the one that was partially built at Port Weller before it became bankrupt.
Update: The Frisium sailed at 8 am Tuesday February 23 giving her destination as Droheda (Drogheda) Ireland.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Aqua Leader in for fuel

The Aqua Leader put into Halifax this afternoon and tied up at the Tall Ships Quay. She was met shortly after by an Irving Oil truck, and refueling began.

Built in Blenheim, Ontario in 1989, the boat is the former Jean-Jordannie and is presently owned by The True North Salmon Co of St.Andrews, NB, where she is registered.

Although built on the lines of a fishing vessel, she is fitted for farmed salmon operations. The large enclosed house on the after deck and other gear, indicates that she doesn't do fishing in the conventional sense!

She was also flying a Newfoundland flag on her mast. Many of these fish farm vessels work back and forth between Newfoundland and the Bay of Fundy.

North Fighter fights the ice - the ice wins

The chemical tanker North Fighter limped into Halifax early this morning for propeller repairs. The ship has apparently been tangling with Gulf of St.Lawrence ice and incurred some damage.

Built in 2006 the 11662 gross tons vessel is registered in Panama but is operated by the Singapore based Ems Ship Management.
Update: Repairs were made in quick time and the ship sailed at 6 pm. Since her visit to Halifax February 4, for bunkers, the ship had been to La Baie and Grande Anse, Quebec, on the Saguenay River, where there is lots of ice.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Concordia Lost!

The Canadian owned sail training vessel Concordia sank off Brazil Thursday night. All 48 persons on board were reported safe after they abandoned the vessel to rafts. The Brazilian navy rescued them this morning, 500 miles offshore.

The 3 masted vessel, based in Lunenburg, left that port in September. At the time of the loss (apparently a capsizing) they were en route from Brazil to Montevideo, Uruguay. Many of those on board were high school or college students participating in the West Island Class Afloat program.

The photo above was taken July 20, 2009 when Concordia participated in the Tall Ships Parade of Sail in Halifax.

Very bad weather was reported in the same general area a few days ago when the Holland America liner Veendam encountered 11 to 12 meter sea and near hurricane winds. She had to evacuate an injured passenger to the Falkland Islands before continuing on to Cape Horn.
Update 2010-02-20:
More details have emerged on the actual rescue. The wood chip carrier Hokuetsu Delight picked up some of the survivors, and of these 11 were transferred by Helicopter to the Brazilian frigate Constituicao before flying conditions became too dangerous. The remaining 18 survivors were taken aboard another wood chip carrier Crystal Pioneer. All three ships will be arriving in Rio since conditions are still not favourable for airlifting then from the merchant ships.
If you want to see what the rescue ships look like, follow these links:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oldie from the Shoebox..........

A sight, perhaps forgotten, and never to be seen again. This is the little lighthouse that used to grace the end of the breakwater at Halterm. When Halterm was built, the lighthouse survived for a time, but Halterm was eventually extended and this was removed, leaving the little "look out" spot overhanging the water.

The breakwater walkway, a favourite for many, especially ship photographers, is now closed during construction of the sheet pile reinforcing on the Halterm pier face.

The ship passing is Ontario Power, built in Port Weller, Ontario in 1965, to transport Cape Breton coal to Ontario. She was the second self-unloader built for Upper Lakes Shipping for this work, the first was named Cape Breton Miner.

Ontario Power operated deep sea in the winter.

In 1983 she was transferred to ULS International, and wearing the yellow seahorse on blue funnel, she was renamed Thornhill, and operated deep sea flying the flag of Vanuatu. In 1984 she was sold and renamed Akalli Seri and in 1986 became Kalli. She arrived in Kaohsiung June 9, 1987 and was scrapped.

I took this picture in April 1975.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wet Feet?

Residents of Halifax may have very wet feet by the end of the century if sea levels continue to rise and Nova Scotia continues to sink as expected.
Particularly in storm surge conditions, much of the waterfront will be under water.
A presentation to City Council recently is shown on the following (it is a large file, so be patient)

Although the study does not show the commercial port, one can imagine the effects on container piers, shipyards and other installations if sea levels rise as predicted.
Solutions: a Thames Tidal Barrier type of gate system seems out of the question due to the exposed harbour entrance and the size of ships we expect here.
A lip around the edge? Maybe, but there will be places where that won't work. For example container cranes will need to be raised to reach the top of ships.
Floating landing stages? We have those at the ferry terminals but the land side will still be under water.
It looks to me like a massive undertaking to raise sea walls, elevate certain areas and rebuild many others.

And off they go again

The big clear out at Halterm today saw all three ships leaving. Venice Bridge at noon time, Zim New York (see above) at 4:30 and Melfi Iberia at 5 pm.

A 24 hour stay for Zim New York was perhaps a little longer than planned (she had been due to leave at noon.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Traffic Jam at Halterm

Who says the port of Halifax isn't busy (at times.)

There was a real traffic jam at Halterm late this afternoon as Venice Bridge and Zim New York arrived and had to wait until Cala Paguro and Zim Barcelona finished loading and departed. Melfi Iberia was also in at pier 42.

First in was Venice Bridge. She was met by the tug Atlantic Oak in the Middle Ground area and swung out into the harbour off pier 31 to leave room for Cala Paguro to leave, assisted by Point Chebucto.

Meanwhile Svitzer Bedford had met Zim New York at Middle Ground and was turning her off pier 41. When Point Chebucto had finished with Cala Paguro she went in to assist Zim Barcelona to leave.

Unfortunately there was no vantage point to capture all this on film.

The photo above shows Venice Bridge and Zim New York arriving.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A sign of Spring?

Withe this past week's unseasonably warm weather, perhaps spring is on the way.

The Norwegian tanker Bow Spring arrived yesterday and is certainly a good sign!

She is anchored awaiting a berth at Imperial Oil. later today when the crude oil tanker SCF Byrranga sails.

Built in 2004, she flies the flag of the Norwegian International Register, and is operated by Odfjell Ship Management of Bergen.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

HMCS Charlottetown

HMCS Charlottetown arrives in Halifax after several days of exercises off Halifax and at the sound range.
She came in west of George's Island to allow the loaded gypsum carrier Atlantic Superior to take the east side of the island, and the easier course.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Algoma Discovery

In anticipation of the elimination of duty on foreign built ships, and in view of their ageing fleets, some Canadian shipping companies have purchased ships from overseas. CSL (Canada Steamship Lines) and Algoma Central Corporation are at the forefront of this movement, picking up a half dozen ships in recent years.
Both companies acquired ships built to transit the St.Lawrence Seaway, but which can work deep sea. They have also laid up several of their domestic ships as a consequence, and we can expect to see a parade to the breakers when scrap prices warrant.
Regrettably (in my opinion) these acquired ships are far from new, and have been operating under flags of convenience, in some cases, for several years. At this time Algoma is running their ships under Bahamas flag.
On such ship is Algoma Discovery, which has not exactly distinguished itself in Algoma ownership, having been aground twice within the last few months. Most recently this morning she discovered the bottom of the St.Lawrence River off St-Laurent, Ile d'Orléans, just east of Quebec City.
What the screen grab above does not show is that the river is 100% ice covered, the ship had a list to port of 5% or more, and she was about 200 yards off shore.
Fortunately she did not plow in too hard, and found soft bottom. With the assistance of two tugs she was refloated at high tide and returned to Quebec for inspection.
The location is just down stream of the power cable crossing. One hates to think what might have been had she plowed into one of the supports.
In September she was hard aground on the River Weser in Germany and had to be lightered off to free her.
To add insult to injury she ran ashore opposite Beaumont, the site of a proposed LNG port, which has raised considerable opposition in Quebec. The foes of the LNG port were out in force following this incident spinning fantastical stories about LNG disasters- great fun! The St-Laurent wharf and marina, near the grounding, are accessed through a church and school yard, which added a dramatic backdrop to their protest.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Where is Marine Atlantic going?

Marine Atlantic's Joseph and Clara Smallwood exited the Novadock floating drydock yesterday and after a short trials trip tied up at pier 31.
Marine Atlantic is under the gun to upgrade its service, including replacement of an aging fleet and shore establishment.
After a report by the Auditor General in September 2009, which found that many of the 2004 observations had not been followed up, Marine Atlantic agreed to try to pull up its socks. However, dependant as they are on federal government funding, it remains to be seen if changes are on the way.
Issues - replacements for Caribou and Joseph and Clara Smallwood, built in 1985 and 1989 respectively. Urgent need to plan for this. With the removal of the federal duty on imports it is almost certain that replacements will be built abroad. Lets hope they are new built and designed for this service.
At the end of her 5 year charter Atlantic Vision will probably be purchased and brought under Canadian flag. The ship is too big for the service, yet does not carry the number of cars or passengers that she was expected to. This is what happens when you try to find a used ship.
Terminal upgrades - badly needed.
Security- Pedestrians walking from one side of North Sydney to another are now escorted by commissionaires because they would be violating port security by walking across Marine Atlantic's waiting area. Waiting passengers can't exit the area and re-enter. This hurts North Sydney merchants. Solutions needed.
Marine Atlantic has suffered for years from political manipulation- this is unlikely to change, but perhaps the current government will be in power long enough to arrange for stable funding for 25 years, and get Maine Atlantic on a good path for the future.