Friday, July 29, 2011

Harbour activity comes and goes as usual

Harbour traffic will continue to come and go during the month of August, but most of it will not be observed by Shipfax! Vacation ship watching will take me away from Halifax and my computer, but I will be back in September.

Oakland Express strides into Halifax this afternoon - on schedule - no vacation for ships!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

HMS Dauntless - ship of the future?

The Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dauntless DDGHM 33 was commissioned in June 2010 after a lengthy build and trials process.

It arrived this morning and may be the ship of the future in the sense that its components were built in two different shipyards and assembled in a third. This was a change in procedure by the British government to allow more competition between shipyards, and to keep more than one yard busy building warships.

That future will not be the RCN's however. Canada is taking a different approach as we have seen recently, where it will concentrate all shipbuilding activity for combat vessels in one yard.



The Maltese flag general cargo ships Friendship lies at anchor in Bedford Basin awaiting orders. The ship discharged a cargo of nickel sulfides from Cuba for Nirint Lines, but apparently was chartered in for that load only, since it was not carrying any other cargo for Nirint.

Built in 2007, the ship measures 4,258 gross tons and 6,105 deadweight.

It is a Greek owned vessel, managed by Aenaon Shipping Ltd, and carries their 'alpha' symbol on its funnel.


Super Yacht

The term SuperYacht seems to be bandied about a great deal these days, but perhaps Silver Shalis deserves the title. At 174 feet long and capable of 20 knots, it is certainly big and relatively fast-but of course not the biggest nor the fastest (that is a moving target.)

Not having been invited aboard just yet, I can't comment on the interior appointments, but there are several descriptions on the web which suggest that it is in keeping with the aspirations of the owners.

Built by Delta Yachts in Seattle in 2010, the boat is painted in what is called "duck's egg blue."The yacht is docked at Sackville Landing, with the former HMCS Sackville wearing a vaguely similar North Atlantic camouflage. It is certainly apparent that the blue colour, whatever it is, on Silver Shalis was not chosen to conceal it from view.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Scotia Dock II takes a trip

The floating drydock Scotia Dock II took a short trip today, with three Atlantic Towing tugs providing the motive power.
1. Tugs move the floating dock out of pier 6-7 into the stream.

2. A forlorn looking main deck, shows little sign of activity since it was raised a year ago.

3. Once turned, the tugs are now sliding it back into position alongside the large Novadock.

The Scotia Dock II floating drydock was built in 1964 by Canadian Vickers Ltd for use in their shipyard in Montreal, and was named General Georges P. Vanier.

That yard was eventually closed, and in 1998 the dock was sold to Irving Shipbuilding Inc and towed to Halifax. It replaced a previous floating drydock, named Scotiadock, built in 1933 as Prins Hendrik Dok No.4 in Rotterdam, and acquired and rebuilt by the shipyard in 1979.

Scotia Dock II lead an uneventful life up until May 8, 2011 when it sank in position while attempting to raise the tug Stevns Breaker for delivery inspection.

The tug was not harmed, but the same could not be said for Scotia Dock II. Whether in the initial sinking, or in the raising process, which took a month, there was considerable structural and water damage to the dock, which meant that it was no longer usable.

Since the dock was raised in June 2010 it has been sitting at pier 6-7.

In this morning's trip the tugs turned the dock end for end and moved it back to its customary position alongside the large Panamax drydock Novadock. Perhaps this means that the dock will be repaired and put back into service.


La Have Addendum

Thanks to an alert reader, I am able to update the previous post.
The former cable ferry La Have II, retired last year, has a new life in Shelburne. A sectional scow is spudded down off Shelburne Ship Repair shipyard building pedestals for the marine railway. La Have II is used to ferry materials out to the construction project, this time powered by the Dominion Diving tug Roseway.
The chief advantage of La Have II is its shallow draft and loading ramps, which allow trucks to drive right aboard from the beach or a simple shore ramp.

1. The multi-section scow is spudded down off the slip, with a steel pedestal on deck.

2. La Have II is tied up alongside, with what appears to be a gravel truck on deck.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ferry Trip

1. The one year old Brady E. Himmelman approaches the La Have landing this afternoon. The elevated wheelhouse gives the operator a much better view over the raised ramps.

2. La Have II at La Have October 24, 2001.

3. The articulated tug Valerie H. pushing A. La Have strikes out for La Have August 15, 1970. The hydraulic lines for the ramps are slung from a davit, to give the tug operator control. The operator may in fact be Capt. Himmelman. The tug will swing round on its double bowline at each landing, without having to resecure.

One of the many well kept secrets of Nova Scotia is the highway ferry system. There are seven routes in all, three using self-propelled ferries and four using cable ferries.

The one I have used the most over the years is the La Have River cable ferry, operating between La Have and East La Have.

A new cable ferry was placed on the route last year. Brady E. Himmelman was named for the long time operator of the service (from 1948-1983). It is a 170 gross ton vessel, built by A.F.Theriault & Son Ltd of Meteghan River, NS, and christened July 29, 2010 by Capt. Himmelman's wife Ramona.

Today was my first trip on the new vessel and it is quite splendid. We whistled across at 5 knots and made a perfect landing.

The new ferry replaced La Have II, a slightly smaller cable ferry (12 cars versus 14 for the new boat.) La Have II was a step up however from the tug/raft combination Valerie H./ A. La Have. The tug was a wooden vessel built in 1962 in La Have and powered by a 130hp Cat. It was owned by Capt. Himmelman. The barge was named A.La Have and it was built in the same year at Meteghan, and measured 51 gross tons.

Eventually the service was taken over by what is now grandly called the Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal.


Friday, July 22, 2011

More on Davie Canada

It transpires that the purchase of Davie Yards Inc is more complicated than originally assumed. It may be some time before even the federal government can figure out what has actually happened.
The Monitor's web site for the yard has been unusually reticent in recent months. If you want a long read see their site at:
particularly the order issued yesterday:

What we do know from that order and press reports at this point:
The Federal Court (which controls the creditor protection of the yard) has accepted a $26.7 million proposal from 7731299 Canada Inc (some part of Upper Lakes Group) to purchase substantially all the assets of the yard. From this sum of money would come payment to the secured creditors ($26mn to the Province of Quebec) and the costs of administering the insolvency. Upper Lakes Group, which owns Seaway Industrial & Marine shipyard in Port Weller (St.Catharines, ON) sold its fleet of Great Lakes ships earlier this summer, so presumably has some cash for this deal.
The deal includes all the land of the yard and the three unfinished offshore vessels at the yard, and the yards debts. I see no mention of the untendered ferries, but I might have missed it.
The yard was previously valued at $6mn to $7mn, but with a potential $10mn environmental cleanup bill.
Also the deal does not include resolution of the dispute with Ocean Hotels, the company that ordered the three ships. They have paid $110mn, some of which may not have gone into the actual building of the ships. That deal has to be reached at some point, but will not hold up the sale as I read the court documents.
The court has given until July 29 to close the deal - so it technically may not be final until then.
Seaway was one of the short listed bidders for the national shipbuilding program, and so was Davie, but Davie was not solvent and could not bid.
Seaway had joined forces with SNC-Lavelin an engineering and project management firm with global reach, and Daewoo, a Korean industrial giant to put in a bid anyway, knowing full well that they could not build some of the ships in their yard. It seems likely that they had in mind partnerning with someone all along. They may even have assumed it would be Davie - who knows.
Last week Fincantieri pulled out of negotiations for the Davie yard. It would be interesting to know why, because $26.7 million is chump change for them. I think they only wanted the combat ships, and realized they couldn't put in a bid in time, so quit.
In any event the Seaway/ SNC-Lavelin/ Daewoo group swooped in. Seaway bought the yard, and the group presumably amended their bid at the last minute.
On the surface this would seem to give the bid a tremendous boost, particularly if they only want to build the non combat ships.
As I state in my latest rant only time will tell what happens, but keep watching the Davie insolvency web site for the latest reports-they will make interesting reading.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Well the Bids are In

1. HMCS Halifax in refit at Halifax Shipyard.

Today was the deadline for bids on the giant Canadian shipbuilding procurement process. A dramatic last hour rescue of Davie may have shifted the odds a bit, but if you have the patience to read by latest blurb on the topic, punch My Latest Rant (at left).


Zim changes underway

As announced earlier in the month Zim Container Service will be reducing port calls in Halifax from 104 to 52 per year, by eliminating direct Transatlantic calls. Zim ships calling in Halifax will be from the Transpacific service only. Atlantic traffic will come via Zim's hubs in Kingston, Jamaica or New York-presumably by being transshipped to the Transpacific ships before they reach Halifax.

Leading up to this changeover, which is scheduled with the August 10 arrival of Zim Beijing, there is a apparently some juggling going on - today's arrival being an example.

Zim Texas, a new ship built in 2011 called in New York in March on its maiden voyage. Built by Jiangsuyang Zijiang Shipyard in China, it is a 40,542 gross ton ship with a container capacity of 4,256TEU. This is noticeably smaller than the (nominal) 5,000 TEU ships Zim states will be calling here on the Transpacific service.

Presumably Zim Texas is one of the Transatlantic ships, that will not be calling here after August 10.

The jury is still out on how much traffic Halifax will lose as a result of this cut. Halterm is putting a positive spin on it by stating that this will free up one berth a week to market to other lines.

The Port of Halifax is also trying to be positive. A reported 10% increase in tonnage over last year was cited in today's press as a positive sign for the port.

However it does seem unfortunate that as Halterm has announced the purchase of new cranes and work continues on its pier extension, that a major (and I believe longest continuous) customer decides to cut back at this time.

Zim returned to profitability in 2010 after massive losses in 2009, partially through re-organization and streamlining, so perhaps this latest move will eventually payoff for Halifax as well as for Zim.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Earl Grey sets out

The Canadian Coast Guard navigation aids vessel Earl Grey sailed this afternoon after a maintenance period at the Bedford Institute.

One of two Type 1050 navaids vessels in the CCG (the other is Samuel Risley, based on the Great Lakes) it was built at Pictou, NS by Ferguson Industries in 1986. Its launching sponsor was the grandmother of the current minister of National Defence, Peter McKay.

Designed by Robert Allan Ltd of Vancouver it was a departure for Canadian vessels, following the pattern of platform supply vessels, with the working deck aft. It is fitted with a crane, mounted near the port rail, instead of the traditional derrick of its predecessors.

Fondly known as the "Early Grave" by some of its past and present crew members, the ship works from Halifax and tends to buoys all over Atlantic Canada. Its second home is Charlottetown, where it is also a familiar sight. It also carries out light icebreaking in winter.

It is the second ship in Canadian service to honor the popular former fourth Governor General of Canada 1904-1911, and donor of the Grey Cup for the Canadian football championship.

The first ship named Earl Grey was built in 1909 by Vickers Son & Maxim and was for its time a powerful icebreaker. During the First World War it was sold to Russia and lasted until about 1959.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Amazin' Amazon

The word classic may be overused, but in the case of the yacht Amazon, it is really the only appropriate adjective. Built in Southampton, England in 1885, the craft has been restored to its original form. Although its steam plant was replaced in 1937 by diesel, there is little outward sign of the fact. She still carries her tall funnel - in glistening white.

Based at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut since 2009, the boat showed up in Halifax a couple of days ago, possibly in connection with the Marblehead race.


Sub tow underway

1. Tug, tow and sub underway early this afternoon.

2. While lashings are completed on Olympus, a crew is at work preparing Okanagan. In the right background the sail of the Ojibwa is just visible.

The towout of the first submarine got underway at noon time today. It turns out that the first submarine to go is the Olympus, bound for the scrappers at Port Maitland, ON.

Olympus was acquired from the Royal Navy in 1989, and was used for alongside training only. It never went to sea for the RCN, but did perform a valuable role while other subs of the Oberon class were in refit and not accessible for training purposes. The sub was loaded on the Heddle Marine Services floating dock HM Dock 1 yesterday afternoon. After completion of final securement at noon time today, the tow got underway with the tug Evans McKeil. A small deck crew aboard the barge when it got underway, were removed by the naval auxiliary tug Merrickville before leaving the harbour.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Nordhavn invasion

Two Nordhavn yachts have called in Halifax in the last few days.
Today it is the Norhavn 68 Migration, a miniature version of last week's Nordhavn 86 Cary Ali.
1. Migration tied up at Sackville Landing today.

2. Cary Ali is a much lareger and more luxurious vessel, also at Sackville Landing, on July 15. See more at:

Both boats are registered in Bimini, Marshall Islands. That is the Marshall Island flag flying on the yacht's stern.)

Nordhavn yachts are built for serious cruising in comfort. See:

Sub transport arrives

The floating drydock HM Dock 1 arrived this morning in tow of the tug Evans McKeil (see also Tugfax.)
The dock barge will be used to transport three Oberon class submarines to Ontario, one at a time.
As per previous posts, since the individual subs are difficult to identify, I am assuming that the first to go will be Ojibwa, which will be preserved at Port Burwell, ON. The other two, Okanagan and Olympus, will be going for scrap, likely in Port Maitland, ON.
HMCS Ojibwa was laid down as HMS Onyx for the Royal Navy, but was purchased by the RCN before completion by HM Dockyard in Chatham, England and renamed. It was commissioned in 1965 and carried the pennant number SS 72. In 1994 the sub was cut in half and had newer engines installed from HMS Osiris. It was decommissioned in 1998.

In 2001 the sub was borrowed to use in the movie K-19: The Widowmaker. Its distinctive bow mounted radar dome was removed and the number 270 was applied to its sail. It was supposed to represent a US sub, even though the US never had subs like it. On completion of filming the sub was returned to its layup at Jetty Lima. [Photo taken 2001-06-02, with tugs Baie Ste-Anne II, Atlantic Hemlock and Mister Joe.]

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Latvian owned Jurkalne

The Latvian Shipping Company of Riga, Latvia is not unheard of in Halifax - its cargo ships do stop for bunkers from time to time, but their tankers are rarer sights.

Yesterday's arrival of the fine looking product tanker Jurkalne is one of those.

Built in 2006, and measuring 30,641 gross tons, and 52,622 deadweight tonnes, the ship is a product of the 3 Maj yard in Rijeka, Croatia. As with many tankers these days it is registered in the Marshall Islands.

The ship is due to sail this evening.


More Toronto - ready for prime time

There are two Torontos in Halifax - the more familiar being HMCS Toronto. It is in the graving dock at Halifax Shipyard in the midst of a major refit. Last week the upper works were stripped of their paint, and a new gold coloured prime paint applied. The hull from the main deck down is still showing its orginal gray.

HMCS Halifax is also completing a refit at the shipyard - it is back in the water at the Machine Ship dock, and is partly visible in the background.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Toronto in Halifax

The Pure Car and Truck Carrier Toronto arrived last evening at pier 27. The British flag vessel is a member of the 31 ship strong Wilhelmsen Line of car carriers and operates within the even larger Wallenius Wilhelmsen group. It measures 61,321 gross tons and depending on your source was built in 2004 or 2005.

Although capable of carrying 6350 cars, the ship can also carry project cargoes and containers in its specially constructed internal decks.
The ship did not go to Autoport as mighty be expected for a PCTC, so may have some special cargo on board.

Friday, July 15, 2011

USCG Eagle

The US Coast Guard training vessel Eagle arrived in port yesterday, and spent the night at anchorage#2 in the harbour. This morning it got under way and tied up at the Cable Wharf, assisted by the navy pup tugs Granville and Merrickville.

A regular caller in Halifax over the years, the ship will be open to the public during its stay in Halifax.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sub on the move

1. Dominion Diving's Westport Ferry attends Ojibwa [?] at Jetty Lima this morning.

The decommissioned RCN submarine Ojibwa* was on the move yesterday, shifting berths at Jetty November Lima. The sub has been laid up at the jetty since May 1998, but is about to put out to sea again -with a difference.

This time the sub will be riding on a barge and will be headed for Port Burwell, ON to be preserved as a tourist attraction.

The tug Evans McKeil and the floating drydock HM1 are due this weekend, and after suitable preparations, will set out for the Great Lakes sometime next week.

The remaining two subs Okonogan [corrected] and Olympus were recently put up for sale for scrap.

Update: It is reported that they too will be towed to Ontario by the same tug/barge combo.
Since all three subs have no names posted on them, I only assume the above photo is Ojibwa, but it has also been reported that it is the Okanagan.


Pier Contractor Takeover

McNally Construction, contractor for the Halterm pier extension, and most other major marine construction projects in Halifax over the last several years, has been purchased by the US marine construction firm Weeks Marine, Inc.

McNally, based in Hamilton, ON, but with an important branch in Sorel, QC (it owns the former MIL shipyard site) and its regional office in Halifax (the former Beaver Marine) did about $150mn in business in the year ending April 30.

Weeks Marine, Inc., based in New Jersey, and was involved in the new Irving/Repsol gas terminal in Saint John, did $500mn of work in 2010.

According to a press release from Weeks, dated July 8, McNally will continue to do business under its present name, and will be a wholly owned subsidiary. McNally has a major presence in the US with its tunnel boring operation based in Cleveland, OH., which will also continue to operate under that name.

The takeover will therefore have no visible bearing on the operations at Halterm. However it may mean that McNally's access to capital will be improved and thus an investment in new plant may be expected. Like many marine construction firms in Canada its fleet of work barges, scows and tugs is aging and renewal did not seem probable. Weeks on the other hand is noted for its first class plant and excellent tug fleet. [see also Tugfax]

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Atlantic Erie

1. Atlantic Erie looms out of the Halifax fog as it approaches pier 25-26 this morning.

2. The indented knuckle area of the hull shows up in bright sunshine.

3. Atlantic Erie surges downstream passing Cap Charles last Saturday.

The self-unloading bulker Atlantic Erie arrived this morning with another load of grains from the Great Lakes. This is the second time I have seen this ship is less than a week.
The first time was with a group of shipspotters at Cap Charles, QC last Saturday.
It was from that look-off that I first noted the damage to the ship's port bow, at the "knuckle".
As with most ships that transit the St.Lawrence Seaway they do not drive directly into the locks. Instead they come alongside the approach wall at a slight angle, allowing the "knuckle" (that portion of the hull where the curve of the ship's bow transitions into the flat side of the ship) to slide along the wall, guiding the ship into the lock. This behaviour of course causes wear and tear on the hull, and removes the paint quite effectively.
However it appears that at some point Atlantic Erie gave the wall a real slap as she came along, causing a few deep impressions and hull plate distortion. No hull perforation appears to have taken place, so the ship carries on, but repairs will be needed at some point.
Atlantic Erie was built in 1985 in Collingwood as Hon Paul Martin, and became Atlantic Erie in 1988. it flew the Bahamas flag from 1989 to 1996.
In 1998 it became very distinctive by posting the owners web address on the side of the ship - possibly a world's first.