Friday, December 31, 2010

Greenland Bound

The supplier Mariner Sea was the last ship to sail from Halifax in 2010. She arrived in Halifax on December 12 (in photo above) and fitted out for some specialized cable work, and returned to port December 26. Since then she has unshipped the cable gear, and this afternoon moved to Imperial Oil to take bunkers.

This evening she set sail for the port of Nuuk, Greeland.

For more on this ship, its history and her owners, see Tugfax :

Echo does a donut

Harbour watchers might well have been puzzled late this afternoon when the container ship Echo made a 360 degree turn in the Lighthouse Bank area of the harbour.

Echo had just left pier 42 for sea when the pilot discovered that the pilot boat was hors de combat. Faced with an all expense paid trip to the next port of call, he apparently opted to come back into port. (He could also have gone to an anchorage outside.) However just as he started into the turn, the pilot boat got under way, and so the ship completed the donut and headed outbound. So at least the pilot did not have to go to Kingston, Jamaica.

Echo was built in 1999 in Turkey as Selma Kalkavan, and acquired its present name in 2007. It is now Dutch owned and flagged. A vessel of 10384 gross tons, it has a container capacity of 1145 and sails for CMA/CGM. The "JR" on her funnel stands for JR Shipping of Harlingen, The Netherlands, which is also her port of registry.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chemul takes a Hit

The Port Authority workboat Maintainer I heads north in advance of the Atlantic Cartier, while TSS Chemul sits at anchor Monday December 27. Despite the rather serene looking scene, there was a brisk wind and a strong swell, the remnants of another major storm that passed over earlier in the day.

Bad weather on Sunday/ Monday played havoc with work on the offshore rig Chemul. After successful sea trials last week, the rig returned to Halifax Harbour and anchored on December 23. That was a tricky operation for the harbour tugs which had to connect up to the rig off the pilot station. However the rig was handed over by Halifax Shipyard to PEMEX, (Petroleos Mexicanos) on Friday December 24, following the multi-million dollar refit.

There is other work minor work to do in preparation for the rig's departure, which is scheduled before year's end. Two tugs (from Harms Bergung Transport) Centaurus and Pegasus are due December 29.

The storm that went through on December 26 and 27 prevented some of that work from being done (see Tugfax) but also prevented people from safely boarding the rig from boats. I also hear there were other issues, including station keeping (positioning) resulting from wind and seas during the storm.


Big load of Pellets

Whistler lies at pier 27-28, with the loading spouts working a far corner of the after hold.

The Cyprus flag bulker Whistler arrived on December 26 at pier 26, and prepared to load wood pellets. Built in 2007 in Tianjin, China, the ship measures 22790 gross tons and has a deadweight of 37,272 tonnes.

It is a member of the Canadian Forest Navigation (CANFORNAV) fleet, one of the biggest, and least known Canadian shipping companies. Owning no ships of its own, it charters in ships from a variety of owners, in this case Greek. See Despite the company's name, the ships frequently carry grain.

Their ships are painted green, with their own distinctive funnel marking, with tree symbols, and are named for species of ducks. Other ships in the fleet have names such as Wigeon, Bluebill, Ruddy, etc.,

These ship trade primarily to the St.Lawrence Seaway, and are built for efficient passage through the locks. That is why they have unusual enclosed bridges, with stubby wings, and forward and aft facing doors. These were obviously added to the standard design of the ship when it was built. Projecting bridge wings are not permitted on the Seaway due to potential damage from the lock walls.

Whistler is due to sail at midnight December 29, neatly fitting itself in between the Christmas and New Year's holidays, despite some rain and weather delays in loading.


Christmas Day departure

Wloclawek sails Christmas morning. Fusion is anchored.

There wasn't much activity in Halifax Harbour on Christmas Day. Longshoremen knocked off on Christmas Eve at 1100 hrs and returned to work on Boxing Day, so there was no work at the container terminals or the commercial piers. The last ship to get away was the St-Pierre RoRo carrier Fusion, which went to anchor in the lower harbour at 1100 on Christmas Eve.

But Christmas morning the RoRo carrier Wloclawek left her anchorage in Bedford Basin and went to sea, destined for Houston, TX. The ship has been on long term charter to the Canadian military - see previous posts. Her departure meant that the pilot boat crew and a pilot had to work on the Holiday.

The only other ship in port was Georgia S anchored in Bedford Basin. The offshore rig Chemul remained at anchor.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Shipfax will be taking a few days off over Christmas. Merry Christmas to all and Best Wishes for 2011.

In the spring of 1987 ice from the Gulf of St.Lawrence swept into Halifax (which never freezes over.) The tug Point Vigour was called in to divert ice from the propeller of the Russian ship Elton, loading flour at pier 22. The ice moved in an out with the tides and after few days disappeared out to sea.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Little Bit of Switzerland

A Swiss ship is anchored in Halifax harbour awaiting improved weather before sailing. Switzerland - even though it is an entirely landlocked nation- does indeed have a shipping register, and ships are registered there.

This ship, Andermatt (named for a Swiss town) is one of 8 ships of the Masseol Meridian fleet registered in Basel, Switzerland. The advantage of Swiss registry is apparently related to the Swiss tax regime. Their "don't ask, don't tell" banking policy may also be a factor.

Andermatt was built in Ulsan, South Korea in 2002 and is a Handysize bulk carrier of 20,200 deadweight tonnes. You can see the grab buckets on deck ready for use to load or unload bulk cargoes. It is fully loaded, and arrived yesterday to take on bunkers.

Interestingly this ship has been placed on the For Sale market and is reportedly available early in 2011 (presumably on completion of this voyage.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Grain for the Season

The last load of grain from the Great Lakes arrived on Atlantic Erie on Saturday. The ship completed unloading on Sunday and moved to National Gypsum to take on a return cargo. It is shown here at pier 26 discharging into the grain hopper. The grain is then conveyed to the storage elevator through the structure on the right.

The grain that arrives in Halifax is mostly for local use, and is stored in the grain elevator until needed. It is then trucked out to farms as far away as northern New Brunswick for feed, or milled locally for flour. Grain is a broad term and may include corn, wheat, oats and barley.

The ship was built in 1984 at Collingwood, ON as Hon. Paul Martin. In 1988 it was renamed Atlantic Erie and from 1989 to 1996 it operated under the Bahamas flag in worldwide trade. Since 1996 it has been back under the Canadian flag, and has been less widely travelled. A self-unloading bulk carrier, it can discharge at a rate of up to 5,4000 tons per hour, depending on the cargo. Its carrying capacity is 26,320 tons at Seaway draft and 37,411 at full 34 foot draft.

The St.Lawrence Seaway system will be closing at the end of this week until spring. Grain also arrives in Halifax by train, and some grain is exported, such as a small quantity to Cuba last week on the ship Nirint Canada.

Footnote: Atlantic Erie loaded gypsum for Valleyfield, QC, After unloading there on December 29, the ship left the St.Lawrence Seaway for Montreal and was the last commercial ship of the season.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

TSS Chemul sails

The rig TSS Chemul left Halifax Saturday for extended sea trials offshore. Despite the appearance of being towed by two tugs, the rig is self-propelled, and has propulsion units mounted in its pontoons.

The tug Ryan Leet shadowed the rig out to sea and looked after transferring the pilots onto the pilot boat, then returned to port.

On Sunday afternoon, the rig was south and east of Halifax moving about in the anchorages, well offshore. Ryan Leet went out to top off its fuel and water to allow for an extended stay at sea in case of bad weather.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Atlantic Sealion for drydock.

1. Atlantic Sealion ex ATL 2701 lying at Port Hawksbury November 12, 2010, showing some more recent signs of wear and tear.

2. ATL 2701 leaving Halifax March 20, 2001 bound for refit in Shelburne. She had been patched up and internally cleansed in drydock in 1996, but not repaired.

3. Irving Whale at pier 7, September 21, 1996 after her drydocking.

4. Irving Whale arrives on the Boa Barge 10 August 7, 1996. Stern damage, including punctures and bent skegs, was likely incurred when she hit the bottom in 1970.

It was a return visit to Halifax for the barge Atlantic Sealion this evening, when it arrived in tow of the tug Point Halifax. The tug [see Tugfax for more] returned directly to Port Hawksbury after handing off the tow to the tugs Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Larch, who wrangled the barge into the Novadock floating drydock.

Built by Saint John Dry Dock in 1966 as a tanker barge, it gained notoriety on September 7, 1970, when it sank off Prince Edward Ialand. If you guessed that her original name was Irving Whale - you win a prize! She sat on the bottom of the Gulf of St.Lawrence for 26 years, and reportedly oozed bunker C until it became imperative to raise her, at taxpayers expense. After a first attempt in 1995, she was raised in 1996 and arrived in Halifax on August 7 on a submersible barge. After refloating in Bedford Basin she was towed to Halifax Shipyard by the tugs Point Halifax and Point Vim, where she was drydocked to seal her hull and remove other pollutants.

It surprised many to learn, after the multi-million dollar effort to raise her, that she still belonged to J.D.Irving Ltd, who took possession.

The barge was renamed ATL 2701 and was laid up until March 2001 when she was towed out to Shelburne by Altantic Elm. There she was refitted for wood chip service to run from Nova Scotia to Saint John, NB. Since that service ended she has been used in a variety of barge services based out of Port Hawksbury.

Her most notable trip was the November -December 2007 load of pipe racks from Dartmouth to Toronto in tow of Ocean Delta. She got caught in very bad weather and ice and was delayed all along the way, requiring icebreaker assistance out of Quebec City . She reached Prescott, Ontario where McKiel tugs took her over and delivered her to Toronto December 26. She had to over winter in Toronto and was towed out to Quebec City in the spring of 2008.

In 2009, as part of a general renaming policy within Atlantic Towing, she was given the name Atlantic Sealion. This theme continues one started by Irving when barges were named after sea mammals and fish. There was an Irving Sealion at one time, and that mammal was picked this time rather than reverting to the whale.

Because she was preserved in the frigid water of the Gulf for over a quarter of a century, she really looks more like a twenty year old barge than a forty-four year old. The Shelburne refit was extensive as well, adding raised side walls and new deck equipment.

Tonight's arrival was in the dark, so no photos, but I found a few in the file.

Big tanker for bunkers

Kamari at anchor, bow to the wind. The bunkering tanker is hidden on her port side.

With the anchor down, Kamari has begun to swing in the wind. Atlantic Oak is tight under the stern recovering her escort line and A.P.A.No.1 has set out to disembark the pilot.

Kamari approaches the anchorage position with Atlantic Oak positioned to "put on the brakes."

The Greek flagged Kamari arrived for bunkers this morning. It is a Suezmax tanker of 83,545 gross tons/ 156,853 deadweight built in 2009 by Rongsheng Heavy Industries in China.

Its owners are reported to be Lilium Owning Co of the Marshal Islands, but this appears to be a paper entity. In fact the ship is controlled and operated by Heidmar Group of Norwalk, CT, USA. This company in turn is 49% owned by George Economou (of Dryships fame). He purchased his interest from Morgan Stanley in 2008, which still owns 49%, and management 2%.

Heidmar owns five tanker pools trading in Product, Panamax, Suezmax, Aframax and VLCC size ships. This ship works in the Blue Fin Tankers Ltd pool.

The ship arrived with Atlantic Oak on a stern line to provide braking and steering. It is a windy day and with the ship high out of the water, it presents a tremendous sail effect. Once its anchor was fast, the ship swung 180 degrees in the wind, and was facing outbound, but then settled down with her bow into the wind, but creatnig a bit of a lee for the bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouth on her port side.
Ships of this size usually use number one anchorage, south of George's Island, but that position is occupied by the accommodation rig Chemul undergoing trials.
Addendum: When the ship sailed, after dark, she went out west of George's Island - a very impressive sight in that narrow (but deep) part of the harbour.

Only in Canada You Say? RCN or CN?

HMCS? Summerside plows its way down Halifax harbour this morning on its way to sea.

Q: What nation on earth could possibly be debating what it calls its navy?

A: Canada, where else!

Yes in those dark days of the 1960s when Canada's military was unified, the once large Royal Canadian Navy became Maritime Command of the Canadian Armed Forces. All military members were issued green uniforms that made then look like Coca Cola delivery men and the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Navy all disappeared into one amorphous blob - or so we were told!

Ships lost their HMCS designation and became CFVs (Canadian Forces Vessels.)

Shipfax has steadfastly clung to the HMCS (Her Majesty's Canadian Ship) designation in its own form of civil disobedience even going so far as to continue calling Canadian Forces Base Halifax HMCS Stadacona and its adjunct HMC Dockyard.

Gradually the navy has eroded the unification thing by issuing distinctive blue uniforms, and now
our lobbying has finally paid off. No less a body than the Canadian Senate passed a motion on Tuesday to return to the designation Royal Canadian Navy. Not it seems in respect of tradition (the Navy is 100 years old in 2010) but because we still have such institutions as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Well Shipfax doesn't care about their reasoning, just about their sentiment. The proper name for the waterborne element of the Canadian military was and should always be the Royal Canadian Navy.

There I have said it in so many words. I have some out from behind my curtain of irony.

Shipfax must now get to work on the Minister of Defence who favours "Canadian Navy" and several namby pambies who continue to resist reality. The reality is that Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state. The navy (whatever it is called) is hers, and we are her subjects. I can't think of too many countries whose head of state is as benevolent, who allows her subjects to play in a large park without supervision, and who asks so little of them. Surely it is only good manners to ungrudgingly admit that she is our Queen? It is also very bad manners to swear a loyalty oath with one's fingers crossed and tongue in cheek.

Some Canadians do not wish to be reminded of this in any official way. If Quebec, Acadians and so many others cannot face reality, that is too bad. My Scots ancestors long ago got over the fact that Scotland did not have its own exclusive king and that it could not speak its own language officially. Talk about historic grievances- there are more people of Scots ancestry in Canada than any other "minority." (Present day Scots have reverted to some prehistoric condition without realizing that they never had it so good!)

But to get back to the Royal Canadian Navy. Calling it the Canadian Navy has no class! It is and always will be the Canadian navy (small "N") Capitalizing the "N" does nothing to make it a distinctive entity. We already sold off the state railroad which has appropriated the CN initials, in an attempt to disavow its Canadian ancestry as it conquers the US. Do we want ships called CN something?

Sure the United States Navy calls itself what it does, but "President of the United States Navy" doesn't work, particularly as its ships would have to be prefixed POTUSN.

As a mature and diverse nation, with a 100 year old navy (which is very young by world standards) it is only proper to recognize reality and tradition. It is the Royal Canadian Navy and it operates Her Majesty's Canadian Ships.

Do you want a second opinion? Read this excellent Wikipedia entry:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Georgia S sails

The self-unloading bulk carrier Georgia S sailed this morning with a load of gypsum. The ship has been idled off and on for a year or more, usually anchored in Bedford Basin, due to lack of demand for gypsum.

This view of the ship shows the unusual stern, which accommodates the self-unloading gear. Not all ports can accommodate this ship, which contributes to its idleness. The advantage of this system is that it keeps the cargo dry, but it lacks the flexibility of other ships which have the slewing boom type of gear. Built in 1981, the ship is registered in Panama. It is owned by Sunskar Ltd of Hong Kong and managed by Skaarup Management Ltd, also of Hong Kong, and carries a Chinese crew.

When anchored in the Basin, the ship has its complete crew on board, ready to sail when an order for gypsum comes in. On this trip she is headed for Burlington, NJ.

Back in Business-1000 hrs update

1. Pearl River I at pier 36 - the first arrival since Sunday.

2. Pearl River weighs anchor at 1000, and is the first piloted vessel to sail since Sunday.

By 1000 hrs AST the Port of Halifax was back in business, with ships entering and leaving. First to arrive was Pearl River I, a Zim container ship, bound for Halterm. It picked up its pilot about 0930.

First to leave was Pearl River, the CMA/CGM ship that has been in port since Sunday. It got underway from anchorage at 1000.

It is not unheard of, but certainly rare that two ships with such similar names would be passing each other in the harbour!

Pearl River I is a Liberian flag vessel, built in 2007 by Dalian New Shipbuilding in China. It is a 39,906 gross tons ship with a 4250 TEU capacity. It was built as Zim Vancouver, but adopted its current name soon after. It is owned by Ofer (Ships Holding) Ltd of Haifa- the principal shareholders in Zim. It is of the same class as other Zim ships that call here, but is the only ship on the rotation without a Zim name.

There will be a steady stream of ships coming in for the rest of the day, and pilots and tugs will be kept very busy.


Weather Watch continues 0800 hrs

As of 0800 hrs this morning the pilot boat was still on weather watch due to sea conditions at the pilot station.

The pilot boarding area is off Chebucto Head, and although it is not visible in the photo (it is around the point on the right hand side of the photo) what was visible from the shore this morning were seas still breaking over numerous shallows out on the horizon.

Also visible to the sharp eyed were four ships at anchor awaiting improved conditions. According to information received there are 8 ships due today. Four of them are container ships bound for Halterm (which has three berths) so even when they do get in there will be delays.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not So Fast! 2100 hrs update.

1. Peaceful conditions inside the harbour are deceptive. Big seas are still running outside. The accommodation rig Chemul rides at anchor, and the Port Authority work boat Maintainer I returns to berth at 4 pm.

All did not get back to normal in fact as swells and high seas off Halifax did not calm down as expected. The pilot boat attempted to board a pilot on the container ship Paris Express about 2030 hrs, but could not do so due to the sea state. The ship was turned back, and the pilot boat will now be off station until 0800 hrs in the morning.

Ships are stacking up outside, some at anchor. These include Aegean Pride, Summit Europe, Butterfly, Nirint Canada and Maersk Patras.

All that is not so say there is no activity in the port. The CCGS Earl Grey sailed this evening (but it does not require a pilot.) The supplier Trinity Sea fueled at Imperial Oil. It will not require a pilot when it sails, but both it and McDermott fleet mate Panuke Sea are in port for the time being since it is too rough to work off Sable.

The container ship Pearl River moved to anchorage inside the harbour after completing cargo work. The ship cleared the berth for incoming ships, whenever they may be able to get in.

Getting Back to Normal

After two days of high winds the port is gradually returning to normal. As of noon today the pilot boat was still off station on weather watch. There are ships wanting to leave and others wanting to arrive, but conditions at the pilot station are still not safe for pilot boarding. The situation is being monitored and I expect the boat will be back at work this afternoon.

As a precursor to more activity, the bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouth returned to her berth at pier 34 after anchoring in Bedford Basin since Sunday afternoon. A photo from her starboard side shows the fenders she carries around with her all the time and some rubber bumpers mounted on the accommodation decks. These allow her to stay alongside her customers without doing damage (and creating sparks.) Because these fenders are more or less permanent she always ties up starboard side to the customer ships.

Sydney Dredging - Follow Up

My rather jaded report on June 10 regarding the dredging of Sydney Harbour has proven to be, well- too pessimistic!

The Prime Minister visited Cape Breton last week for the first time in his life to announce that indeed the feds will kick in the $19mn balance to fund the $38mn dredging of the harbour by an additional 17 feet. The issue of dredging had become the hottest political item on "the island" in many a moon - with all and sundry in favour of the project. Nova Scotia's premier admitted that it would be political suicide to be against the project. Good thing I'm not a politician.

Of course the dredging is really just the soup before the main course- a $200 mn (in today's dollars) container port that will be the next political must. It will be built to compete with Halifax and Point Melford (which has now received backing from a private investor.)

The Port of Halifax in particular is owned by the taxpayers of Canada, so it is really a question of why the feds would want to build another port to compete with it. But that is an issue for the next election.

Among the statements made in the past to justify the dredging was the import of foreign coal for our power plants. Now that we stand to get Newfoundland hydroelectricity to wean us off coal, this point seems to have faded. It has been replaced by the export of Cape Breton coal. Of course Cape Breton coal is too dirty for us to burn, but it is fine to sell it to somewhere else in the world - if we ever manage to mine anymore.

Gee whiz I am cynical.

As to the dredging itself, the winning bidder for the main part of the work was Van Oord. However their price has likely expired, since the work cannot now begin until next spring when Sydney will be ice free again. My thinking is that the authorities will have to re-tender the work, because the other bidders will squawk. Van Oord (or whoever gets the work) will bring in a foreign flagged trailing suction hopper dredge and do most of the work. There is some clamshell dredging to do, and that will be done by local firms. There is least one wreck to remove and some rock outcrops to blast out. The work will probably be completed by the end of next summer.

Meanwhile southern US ports are tripping over each other to compete for the expected arrival of New Panamax ships when the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2014. Savannah and Charleston are at war over dredging funds, with Savannah at risk of undermining its historic waterfront if it makes its channel wider. New Orleans, Tampa, you name the port, they are clamoring for the business. Meanwhile Norfolk (and area) are grinning because they can handle the ships now. New York/New Jersey is dredging but they still haven't decided if they will raise or replace the Bayonne Bridge.

Halifax is extending its Halterm pier to accommodate two (current) post-Panamax ships, but so far hasn't revealed what it will do about the new Panamax era. (In fact they will be able to accommodate the new Panamax ships, but there is another generation of Post New Panamax ships on order now.)

Interesting times - stay tuned.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mattea in and Vinland gone

1. Vinland in Halifax November 8, 2001.

2. Mattea arriving Halifax December 9, 2010.

While remarking on the arrival of Mattea for maintenance on December 9, I was unaware that her fleet mate Vinland has left the Canadian flag and has now been registered in Norway.

Vinland was built in 2000 and sailed from the Ulsan shipyard September 10 of that year. On arrival in Canada she took up a ten year charter plus 15 year option to the seven owners of the Terra Nova oil field. The decision has apparently been made not to take up the 15 year option. Vinland's Canadian registry was closed November 10.

Reasoning behind this decision not to use a purpose built ship which is ably suited for the role, may be related to the current glut of tankers and low charter rates for foreign ships. Certainly oil production at Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose, have been below expectations recently, and that may also be a factor.

Another tanker which had Canadian crews, Catherine Knutsen, has also been reflagged.

Opinion seems to be that "second leg tankers" will be relied upon more and more. In other words Mattea and the remaining shuttle tankers will not be running to refineries in the US or Canada anymore. They will strictly shuttle to Whiffen Head or perhaps Point Tupper. Foreign flag (second-leg) tankers will then transfer the crude to refineries, at lower cost.

However my opinion is that current Canadian cabotage laws may also be behind the decision. Foreign tankers can be chartered in for shuttle work if no Canadian tankers are available. Get rid of the Canadian tankers and you have a loophole which allows for very low cost operation in Canadian waters, using non-Canadian crews. Don't be surprised to see applications for Vinland or similar ships to operate these shuttle services.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Storm moves

After Monday's violent storm, there is another on the way for this Monday. Several ships re-positioned in advance of the storm (see previous post on Pearl River.)

The bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouth went to Bedford Basin to an anchorage and the tanker Aegean Spirit at Imperial went out to sea.

Georgia S left her anchorage in Bedford Basin on Friday and moved in to the National Gypsum dock, even though she is not scheduled to load until Monday at the earliest.

The anchored tanker Butterfly went back out to sea, and the tanker Mattea, in for maintenance, will move to Bedford Basin this evening.

Out of Drydock Again

1. Holiday Island steams north under the MacKay bridge this afternoon. After a compass swing in Bedford Basin she will return to pier 9A to tie up. (This a view of the ship's stern)

2. Holiday Island in the Novadock yesterday morning. Zoom in and you will see her Voith-Schneider propulsion system. (This is a view of the ship's bow.) What appears to be a rudder is actually a fixed piece forming part of the guard plate under the V-S unit and which can act as an ice knife.

3. Holiday Island and Vacationland in winter quarters at Borden PEI, March 16, 1997.
(bow views)

The ferry Holiday Island was refloated in the Novadock this morning. She sailed to Bedford Basin for compass adjustment, then returned to the Narrows and tied up at pier 9A.

The ship was built at Port Weller Dry Dock in 1971 as William Pope, named for a Father of Confederation. Her sister was similarly named Thomas Haviland at launch. These names were thought to be too stuffy for a "fun" vacation destination such as Prince Edward Island, and so were "re-branded" Holiday Island and Vacationland before entering service. Prince Edward Island is neverthelss the Cradle of Confederation, since it hosted the 1864 Charlottetown conference that led to the union of Upper and Lower Canada and the Maritime Provinces to form the Dominion of Canada.

Owned by the Minister of Transport, the ships were initially placed under the management of Canadian National Railroad, later CN Marine, which was eventually spun off as a separate crown corporation, Marine Atlantic.

The pair ran as summer only ferries, between Borden PEI and Cape Tormentine NB. They laid up in winter at Borden, where their open car decks were tarped in to allow for maintenance. Originally painted all white, with an orange CN funnel. they adopted a blue and white paint scheme with Marine Atlantic.

The ships were laid up at the end of the 1996 season, and the Confederation Bridge opened the following year, bringing their ferry route to an end.

Holiday Island was allocated to Northumberland Ferries Ltd to run seasonally from Caribou, NS to Wood Islands, PEI, which it has been doing ever since. At first she operated with the blue and white paint scheme, but by 1999 was back to mostly white, with a large NFL on the side.
In May 2006 she made an unusually long trip to Hamilton, ON for drydocking. Other than that time, she has remained closer to home, usually drydocking in Halifax or Méchins, QC. This year she has had two drydockings in quick succession, a week apart. With bad weather predicted for tomorrow, she will sit tight this time and await for a run back around through the Cabot Strait to Caribou for the winter.
Ostensibly a double ender, the ship can load and unload from either end. However it is generally agreed that the bow end is the one with more superstructure on the top deck. There are wheelhouses at each end, which allows the ship to sail equally well in each direction. The ship is fitted with Voith-Schneider cycloidal propellers (one at each end.) These are vertical blades which rotate on a plate and can change pitch to idle or reverse. In addition, this type of prop permits the ship to slow or speed up simply by changing blade pitch, and without changing engine rpms. Power is provided by two V-16 Ruston engines, geared to drive the Voith-Schneiders, which are individually controllable. This allows for considerable maneuverability, without the expense of duplicate bow and stern thrusters.
As mentioned in an earlier posting, sister Vacationland was renamed Fundy Paradise for service to Grand Manan Island, but she was completely unsuitable for the run and in fact never left her layup berth at Point Edward (Sydney.) She is now lying in Quebec City for possible conversion to a dredge.
Holiday Island will likely go into winter layup on return to Caribou, as that service usually winds down by year end, with Confederation handling all the traffic in the fall and spring.

Black Pearl Starts Weekly Service

CMA/CGM announced last week that their Black Pearl service will sail weekly to the west coast of South America. When the servce started last year it was every two weeks.
The first ship was due Monday December 13, but it arrived today ahead of bad weather predicted for tomorrow.

Pearl River flies the flag of Cyprus, but it is Dutch owned and managed (by Universal Marine BV.) A vessel of 9940 gross tons, it carries 1118 teu, of which 220 may be reefers. It also has two 45 tonne cranes.
The ship will sail from Halifax to Jamaica, Columbia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. The return leg will call in Miami, Philadelphia and New York before returning to Halifax. It is a 41 day round trip.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tanker Maintenance

1. Atlantic Larch and Atlantic Fir turn Mattea to line up for pier 25-26.

The big Canadian tanker Mattea arrived this afternoon for maintenance at pier 25-26. Halifax is a convenient place for inwater maintenance and repair work, since the ship can tie up at a pier where cranes and other equipment can be brought to the ship.

Mattea is one of the Newfoundland shuttle tankers, serving offshore oil facilities. These ships seldom enter a port other than an oil terminal, and are too big for ports such as St.John's.

Mattea was built by Samsung Heavy Industries in 1997 and measures 72,126 gross tons, 126,360 deadweight. She is owned and managed by Penney Ugland, a joint Canadian-Norwegian company.

Back for More

The ferry Holiday Island just left Halifax last week after a month of repairs. (She arrived November 1 for drydocking and repainting, plus other work and sailed December 3.)

Today she marched back in and went directly to the Novadock again.


Svitzer wharf takes a hit

1. Commdive II and Waterworks 1 on scene.

2. Damage from Monday's storm.

3. Tending to damage from the September storm.

Monday's storm did some more damage to the Svitzer Canada wharf. The pier extends well out into the harbour and has suffered damage of various sorts over the years. It has been hit by ships (more than once) and was severely damaged in Hurricane Juan.

Following that strike it was completely rebuilt to the present configuration. It accommodates Svitzer Canada's office on the top floor and the pilot's office on the ground floor.

Originally it was the called the 'cook house' in the Foundation Maritime days. Its ground floor contained a full galley and mess room for tug crews. A cook and helper prepared three meals a day for up to four tug crews. This included bread, rolls, pies and cakes. The mess room itself had separate seating for officers and crews.

Upstairs was the dispatch office for the tugs. It was manned 24 hours a day, and had radios for communicating with tugs at sea.

An earlier storm in early September damaged some of the piles under the 'cook house' and these were further damaged Monday.

Waterworks construction arrived on scene yesterday to start repairs. Their miniature tug Waterworks 1 (a converted seine skiff) and the barge Commdive II will be used for the work. Commdive II is the only concrete barge in Halifax. Built in 1942 by T.C Gorman for Commercial Divers Ltd, it was built of concrete because steel was needed for the war effort. The barge has survived remarkably well, and has served a variety of purposes, including use as a dwelling.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Halifax Visitor in Trouble

The small cruise ship Clelia II, reported the loss of one engine while heading for Antarctica in heavy weather. Dramatic footage from another ship shows her pitching in very steep seas, and making a very heavy time of it.

The ship called in Halifax on October 9, 2010 (see post from that date) after completing a summer on the Great Lakes. I am sure she would be a fine ship for that type of work. Taking her to Antarctica seems to me to be nothing less than foolish. Her bridge is very low to the water and quite exposed to seas over the bow.

Late reports indicate that the ship and passengers are safe, but I doubt they are having much fun.

See Globe and Mail article and newsclip:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Icons take a beating

All ships suffer wear and tear and deteriorate over time - even such icons as Bluenose II and HMCS Sackville.

Today's Chronicle Herald newspaper has a front page report on the schooner Bluenose II. That Nova Scotia ambassador and Canadian icon (a similar vessel appears on the back of the Canadian 10 cent coin) is in Lunenburg for a major rebuilding, which according to the paper, has resulted in scrapping the boat's entire hull-keel, frames and planking. The deck has somehow survived, but may also be scrapped. Mast and rigging have been set aside to be re-used. Much wringing of hands has ensued since all the wood was sent to a chipper to prevent it falling into the wrong hands.

Instead of building a new Bluenose III - as had been planned, this rebuilding was organized. It turns out however to in fact be a new Bluenose II, since little if anything of the original will survive. She will get an entire new hull, engines, mostly new deck and will be re-rigged to sail again. Of course Bluenose II was a replica to begin with, and was not strictly true to the original Bluenose, built as a fishing schooner.

As a wooden vessel, nearing forty years of age, it would certainly not be expected to survive in any event, so the hand wringing seems to be a little odd, particularly for replica.

Of more concern is the deplorable condition of Sackville, Canada's (and the world's) last surviving World War II corvette. Not a replica, she is the real thing. Built under wartime emergency conditions, and not intended to survive World War II, Sackville has hung on, thanks largely to voluntary contributions and the navy's own limited resources.

Her condition is perilous - her frames are so wasted that she could not survive drydocking - they are too weak to support the hull except in water. She is leaking badly, and there is no hope in sight for a swift rescue. Plans for a permanent home on the waterfront have been put on hold, and there is no real plan in place to do more than apply bandaids.

Sackville will almost certainly be lost if action is not taken soon. She is more than worthy of a complete rebuilding, but of course with that most of her heritage value would be lost. She was built from 'barn steel' - not high grade warship steel, and she was riveted- an almost lost art. Although she has been much patched and repaired over time, she is still, at least for a short time, intact. Nevertheless as Canada's Naval War Memorial Sackville deserves at least as ambitious a plan as Bluenose II and certainly better - including a permanent indoor home where at least the last vestiges of the ship can be preserved for posterity. Restoration still seems to be a possibility, but much replication is inevitable if she is to survive.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rare Day - Ferries Cancelled

1. Storm surge at the Halterm breakwall this morning.

2. Ferry Dartmouth III in more pleasant conditions, November 15, 2010.

It is a rare day indeed when the Halifax harbour ferries are shut down due to weather. High winds and seas this morning resulted in the cancellation. Sustained winds of over 60 kph and gusts over 100 kph were recorded, combined with a storm surge.
No ships are due to arrive or depart today, but there is still activity in the harbour. The port's work boat Maintainer I was sent out to retrieve a drifting fender. The tugs Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Larch were dispatched to HMCS Preserver at the Shipyard to hold her alongside in the high winds. Reports are also coming in on damage to several timber wharves.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Preserver move

On Saturday morning HMCS Preserver was moved as a dead ship from behind the Novadock at Halifax Shipyard, to the Machine Shop Wharf. The Navy's sole east coast supply vessel is undergoing a massive refit - the third in ten years - to allow her to remain in service until a replacement is built.

There is still no definite word on that - it will be next year at the earliest -when the shipyard is selected to build such a vessel and its west coast twin. No third ship will be built, even though one is needed. There are now rumblings that a used UK ship might be available - HORRORS!
If the RCN believes it was only used by a little old lady to drive to church on Sundays they will believe anything.

Yesterday's move went well, with the tugs Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Willow moving the big ship on a flat calm day. She is pretty tender however, with no ballast and extremely high out of the water. She took a pretty good lean when turning, even at a very slow speed.

She still looks quite capable despite her age. She was laid down October 17, 1967, launched by Saint John DD May 29, 1969 and commissioned July 30, 1970. Her west coast counterpart, Protecteur was laid down in Saint John on the same day, launched July 18, 1968, and commissioned August 30, 1969.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Unhappy Saga continued

1. Pearl Mist returning from trials.

2. The ship was built in two sections that were joined on the launchway.

Pearl Seas Cruises has removed the 2011 schedule from their website. Until recently it had shown a July 2011 start up of the ship Pearl Mist, sailing from Halifax. That schedule has now been taken down, and in its place is a note that says "Under Revision."

Recent press reports detail some of the issues regarding the dispute between Pearl Seas and Halifax Shipyard, so I won't deal with them here.

However, the bottom line is that Pearl Seas is not accepting delivery of the ship, and it remains laid up in Shelburne, NS. Pearl Seas is apparently suing the yard, so the matter is far from resolution.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shipyard crane truck tips

1. This afternoon. Slings have been attached to the outriggers of the crane in preparation to raise it from the water.

2. November 28, the yellow crane truck sitting on its wheels.

A crane truck at Halifax Shipyard tipped over this morning while lifting a fork-lift off the ferry Holiday Island. The forklift ended up on the harbour bottom, with the crane truck nose down over the edge of the pier. The crane driver escaped with bruises.
According to press reports there was no damage to the ferry, and retrieval operations are underway.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ferry subsidies extended

1. The 39 year old Holiday Island is curently in refit at Halifax Shipyard. November 28, 2010 photo. (She is a double ender, so the half that's not in the photo is the same as the half that is.)

A short life line has been thrown to three Atlantic Canada ferry services with a three year, $51 mn announcement from Ottawa.

The Atlantic Canada premiers wanted a much longer 15 year deal, which would allow planning for new ships, but this stopgap at least allows some breathing room, and perhaps earnest planning for new ships will start.

The three services that have been funded are:
- Digby, NS to Saint John, NB (needs new ferry)
- Caribou, NS to Wood Island, PEI (needs one new ferry)
- Souris, PEI to Cap-aux-Meules, Magdalen Islands.

The Minister of Transport owns both Princess of Acadia and Holiday Island which must be replaced with new ships. These should be purpose built and need to be in place, or at least ordered by the time the current subsidy arrangement ends.

The subsidy for the Magdalen Islands operation also extends the service to year round (it used to stop in February and March due to ice) The ferry operator, CTMA owns the ship in question there, but that company should be looking for newer tonnage fairly soon too.

See the full press release here: