Thursday, September 29, 2011

Halterm and Fairview - changes coming

Work on the Halterm pier extension reached a milestone this week when McNally Construction drove the last pile. Much work is yet to be done to meet the April 2012 completion date, but progress is certainly visible. The new concrete deck structure now extends about one third of the way out to the end.
1. McNally's Canadian Argosy works on the end of the pier extension 2011-09-28.

2.McNally fleet tied up for the weekend 2011-09-25. One of the original Halterm cranes is on the left.

As we last heard in June, Halterm was seeking prices to add two new super post panamax cranes. Not a peep has been heard since, so perhaps they have had second thoughts after losing two lines and one half of another line's calls. To add new cranes they will almost certainly decommission the two oldest cranes that date from the 1970 opening of the pier (such as the one shown). Halterm is operated by Macquarie.

Meanwhile at Fairview Cove work has started on dismantling one of the oldest cranes on that pier. There are currently six cranes at Fairview Cove, 3 of 40 tonne and three of 60 tonne (or 65 tonne depending on who you believe.) No announcement has been made on replacements for these old cranes, but I find it hard to believe that this busy pier could get by with fewer cranes for very long. Fairview Cove is operated by Cerescorp.

3. One of the small 40 tonne cranes has been removed from the pier face and is being dismantled. The two remaining small cranes work the Ludwigshafen Express this afternoon.

4. All three super post panamax cranes work on the OOCL New York this afternoon.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bitu Sea

1. Bitu Sea is accompanied by the tug Atlantic Oak as it arrives at sunrise this morning.

2. Algoma Dartmouth transfers bunker fuel to Bitu Sea. (See Armchair Captain's photo from one of the buildings in the background.)

A ship that lives up to its name, arrived today to take bunkers on a trip to Brazil.

Bitu Sea is a specially built asphalt and bitumen tanker. Its cargo tanks and piping are heated to keep the cargo liquid, and thus the ship carries a large heating plant as well as the usual array of engines, generators and pumps.

Built in 2007, the ship is owned and registered in Singapore. Agents for this visit to Halifax were Kent Line.

Check Armchair captain for another photo of this ship.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Large Cruise Ship Day

As some Maritimers say, it was a large day (meaning beautiful, sunny and warm.)
It was also a large day for the Port of Halifax, with four cruise ships in port and about 10,000 extra people on the streets of town (passengers and crews included.)
Some of the ships were large too, but the interesting thing was that of the four, three were on their inaugural visits to Halifax.
1. Seabourn Sojourn, built in 2010, with a modest capacity of 450 passengers, arriving for the first time in Halifax this afternoon. It will stay in port over night.

2. Silver Whisper, built in 2001, backs out in to the stream and is dwarfed by the two big ships. Built in 2001 it is the smallest ship today, with a capacity of 382.

3. The one they all came out to see, Cunard's Queen Elizaberth is just a year old and claims a passsenger capacity of 2,092. It measures 90,901 gross tons.

4. Although it was built in 2007, Emerald Princess is also making its first call in Halifax. At 113,561 gross tons, it was the largest ship in port today. It sailed at dusk, making an impressive sight.


Note about errors

If you detect an error in my text - please send in a comment. I will rewrite the text, or acknoweldge the error ASAP, and publish your comment. Believe me, I do want this blog to be authoritative, that is why it is a Blog, so you can comment!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Traffic in the Narrows

1. Grand Manan Adventure has just cleared the Novadock and is heading to Bedford Basin for trials.

2. Off pier 9 (almost exactly where the Mont Blanc and Imo collided in 1917, and which resulted in the Halifax Explosion) she passes the outbound AFL New England.

Ships don't often meet in the Narrows, but if the ships are relatively small a meet off the site of the 1917 explosion is certainly doable.

Grand Manan Adventure left the Novadock floating drydock Friday afternoon for Bedford Basin and trials as AFL New England sailed from Fairview Cove for sea, and the meet was timed to allow the ships to pass safely.

The stubby Adventure spent two hours in the Basin, and trials must have gone well. At about 6 pm she could be seen idling off the shipyard as workers returned to the yard on a bright orange RHIB. The ship then sailed for her home port to resume service.

AFL New England is on her weekly round to Boston and Portsmouth. The line reports that cargo is building. However a report in the local paper stated that she loads at Fairview Cove and Halterm. To my knowledge she has never yet called at Halterm. If boxes come from that terminal, they must be trucked to Fairview Cove. [See comment - she called once while I was away]



Friday, September 23, 2011

Storied Laker piles up on Scatarie Island

1. As built, Maplecliffe Hall was a seaway max, gearless bulk carrier. Its distinctive wheelhouse forward was typical of lakers. Photo entering St.Lambert Lock, upbound.

2. Canadian Miner at Quebec City, not far from where it was assembled, upbound with a cargo of iron ore.

Among the parade of old lakers going to scrap in recent years, few found much notice except among aficionados. Yes they were old, had interesting careers, but they were generally towed successfully to Turkey. A few broke loose of their towing tugs, but were soon reconnected and met their appointed fate in the scrap yards in Aliaga.

Now one reluctant old grande dame has taken an unfortunate turn and run ashore in a Provincial Wildlife Management Area in Cape Breton.

Scatarie Island, one of those desolate places that pokes out into the ocean has seen its share of wrecks over the centuries, but has never seen a ship this big on its shores. It remains to be seen how long it will be there.

Efforts to refloat the ship at high tide tonight may determine its eventual fate.

That makes this ship stand out from the others is that it the last of the line in several respects.

It was built for the Hall Corporation (Halco) once a prominent name in the Canadian Great Lakes shipping business. In fact it is the last surviving Halco laker, and its passing marks the end of an era. [NOTE: from received comment there is one other Halco laker left: Mapleglen ex Montcliffe Hall- my mistake!]

The ship was built in two sections. The after end was built in 1965 in Montreal at the now defunct Canadian Vickers Shipyard. Only one more laker was ever built at that yard.

The bow section (including wheelhouse) was built at the George T. Davie & Sons yard (little Davie) in Lauzon, QC, which at the time was also owned by Canadian Vickers, and is also now defunct.

The two hull sections were joined in the Champlain Dry Dock (owned by the Federal Government) in Lauzon.

On completion in April 1966 the ship was named Maplecliffe Hall, following the "-cliffe Hall" naming style of Halco.

With the failure of Halco in 1988, the ship was sold to Canada Steamship Lines and renamed Lemoyne, the second ship to carry that name for CSL. The ship was operated under the Great Lakes Bulk Carriers consortium, but that was wound up in 1994, when CSL sold its gearless bulkers to concentrate on self-unloaders.
At that time the ship passed to its third owners, Upper Lakes Shipping (ULS Corp) and received the new name Canadian Miner. It operated in the Seaway Bulk Carriers consortium until December 2008 when it was laid up in Toronto.

Earlier this year Upper Lakes sold most of its ships to Algoma Central Corp, but this ship was not included in the deal, as it was intended to send it for scrap.

On August 20 the ship was towed out of Toronto and down the Seaway to Montreal. There it was picked up by the Greek tug Hellas and set out for Aliaga on September 16. On Monday September 19 it ran into the tail end of a storm and its tow line parted. Unable to reconnect due to sea conditions and high winds, the ship drifted into a cove on Scatarie Island.

It is hoped that the ship is not severely damaged, and that it can be towed off and repaired for the continuation of its trip.

The ship's Canadian registration was closed on June 11, 2011, and its name was altered to Miner for the transatlantic trip. [Sentence removed] CORRECTION: The ship is apparently now owned by the scrappers and they are responsible for the salvage.

More news to follow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Shape of Things to Come

At 6:15 this evening:
1. Algoma Mariner rounds the end of the jetty to come alongside.

2. The ship glides intpo pier 26 using its thruster and main engine to stop on the mark.

3. An odd shaped transition plate may be a hint at the ship's interesting history.

With both of Canada's major merchant fleet operators in the building mode - and both in China- expect to see more brand new Chinese-built Canadian ships over the next few years. CSL (Canada Steamship Lines) and Algoma Central Corp have both ordered new Seawaymax sized ships to take advantage of the forgiveness on import tarifs, and to replace aged tonnage.

Today's arrival marks the first new ship to be built in China, but it is a "one off" and not part of the larger order of new vessels. Indeed Algoma Mariner is, at least in part, the result of an accident, rather than a plan, but it is nonetheless an important moment.

Algoma had originally planned to build a new forebody for two of its ships, Algobay and Algoport. The new forebody was grafted to the existing stern of Algobay in China, where the stern was also refurbished, including installation of a new main engine. It was redelivered in December 2009 and entered service in the spring of 2010 (its first call in Halifax was to load gypsum, September 11, 2010.)

Things did not go as planned with Algoport. The ship sank in tow en route to China September 6, 2009. With the new forebody under construction, it was decided to build a new stern section to attach to it. That ship became Algoma Mariner built by Chengxi Shipyard in Kiangyin, Jiangsu, China and delivered in June of this year. After its inaugural trip to the Great Lakes in August, it has carried iron ore, coal and grain.

As a side bar to the above, the ship was originally to have been called Canadian Mariner because it was to be delivered to Upper Lakes Shipping. ULS and Algoma were partners in Seaway Marine Transport, a company that operated the ships of both fleets. The rebuilt ship was to be assigned to ULS.

However during construction Algoma Central bought the ships of Upper Lakes Group, and is integrating them into the Algoma fleet. This ship never sailed as Canadian Mariner, and was delivered under its present name.

For more on the new shipbuilding programs see:

CSL's ships to be called the Trillium class:

Algoma's new ships, to be called the Equinox class:,%20July,%202011.pdf


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

End of the Line

1. Chiswick Bridge makes for pier 41 this morning.

Following the August 11 announcement, today's arrivial of Chiswick Bridge was the last call for the ships of the Green Alliance in Halifax.

Composed of K-Line (Kawasaki Kishen Kaisha), Hanjin, Yang Ming, Cosco and Mitsui OSK Line, the Green Alliance represents some of the most influential of the far eastern shipping lines. (Mitsui OSK joined last year, and prior to that the consortium was called the CKYH Alliance.) The loss of this line is a major blow to the Port of Halifax and Halterm container terminal. Coupled with the loss of one of Zim's legs, there will be a noticeable downturn in traffic at the southend pier.

As the first North American call for the Green Alliance, Halifax was certainly well positioned to take advantage of the trade coming from the far east via the Suez and Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the line has decided to skip Halifax and go directly to New York.

Will the traffic be picked up by other lines? That is the big question at this point, but the jury is still out. Canadain Tire was a major customer, but they can be served out of New York if the line keeps their traffic. The mid-west US traffic can go either way, so it is a worry.

The Green Alliance was served exclusively by ships of the K-Line, and Chiswick Bridge is typical of the post-Panamax ships on the run. Built in 2001 it measures 68,687 gross tons and is rated at 5610 TEU.

After today the only post Panamax ships calling in Halifax will be OOCL, and they use Fairview Cove. Halterm's pier extension and new cranes were aimed specifically at post Panamax ships, so it may be a while before this investmenet pays off.


Monday, September 19, 2011

A Ten?

In Greek mythology, Afrodite was the goddess of love and beauty. Therefore she would presumably rate as a "ten", just as her Roman counterpart Venus. The chemical/oil products tanker Afrodite would probably not score a "ten" in the beauty department, but because she is operated by Tsakos Energy Navigation [NYSE] she gets to carry TEN on her sides.

The ice class, double hulled tanker is owned in Greece and registered in the Bahamas. A Handymax ship, she measures 30,053 gross tons and 53,082 deadweight, and was built in 2005. Recent charters include delivering a year's supply of JP-8 fuel to the US base in Thule, Greenland in July for the US Military Sealift Command. The northerly base is only ice free from mid-June to mid-September, and must take on most of its yearly needs in that short time.

Trading on the spot market, the ship is en route from the Caribbean, and apparently has no cargo for Halifax. She is due to sail from anchorage this afternoon.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blade Runner

A major windmill project in Amherst, NS is the destination for another load of windmill blades. The first load arrived August 13 on SE Veridian [see Armchair Captain]
Today's load arrived on fleetmate SE Potentia a Singapore registered vessel of 9627 gross tons, built in 2009. This time there were not as many blades on deck, but no doubt the hold is full.
1. The tug Atlantic Larch approaches SE Potentia in the Middle Ground to help the ship back in to pier 31. This will allow the blades to be removed without being blocked by the ship's cranes.2. The problem with wind turbines (and sailing yachts too) - what happens when there is no wind?


Expeditions and Cruises

Mixed in among the numerous large cruise ships visiting Halifax each fall are several small, specialist cruisers, offering a variety of unique experience or "off the beaten track" cruises. These range from the fairly utilitarian to the height of luxury, and today's arrivals highlight these differences.
1. Akademik Ioffe and its sister ship Akademik Sergey Vavilov are considered to be among the finest of the expedition class vessels, for their ability to go into the highest latitudes (both Arctic and Antarctic) and for the scientific and exploration facilities provided. Accommodations may be somewhat spartan compared to hi-luxe ships, but they nevertheless have proven very popular over the years. The Vavilov works out of Spitsbergen in the eastern arctic, and Ioffe works in the Canadian arctic.
This year, as in past years, Akademik Ioffe received a coasting license for a cruise from Resolute to Kugluktuk and a return cruise from Kugluktuk to Iqaluit starting August 3. These cruises took the ship deep into what is known as the Northwest Passage.
Built in Finland in 1989, Akademik Ioffe is ice capable, stabilized, and designed for quiet running. It was built as a research ship, with passenger work an afterthought, and thus does not have the appearance of a typical cruise ship.

2. By contrast Le Boréal looks every inch the luxury cruise ship that it is. As mentioned in the post below it goes to out of the way ports that larger ships do not visit, and it is equipped with small boats for expedition type experiences. However it provides all the luxuries too.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Storm stayed

1 and 2 Pangaea flies the flag of Brazil, where it was built.

3. Nestled in next to Sackville, the Fundy Navigator takes a rest. A ramp is normally mounted on the ship's bluff bow, and a large reel houses nets for fish pens.

A pair of visitors at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic dock last night provided quite a contrast.

The 35m research sailing vessel Pangaea was on the north side of the dock, after completing a Northwest Passage. Sailing from Vancouver in June, it made it through the notorious Arctic route, which has become largely ice free at times in recent summers. Built of aluminum, in Brazil, the yacht can accommodate 30. It left new York September 10, 2008 and on a four year expedition, funded in part by Mercedes Benz. Sailor/ecologist Mike Horn is the brains behind the journey. I will not refer you to specific websites, because I think they may be corrupted, but there are several references to him and the trip on the web.

By contrast the utilitarian Fundy Navigator was tied up on the south side of the same pier. Featuring a huge open deck forward and a net reel, the vessel is used in fish farming. It is also equipped with a bow ramp, which during this trip was lashed down on deck. Once stormy conditions from the passing Hurricane Maria eased up, the ship sailed. It was built in 2003, measures 142 gross tons and is owned by Cold Ocean Salmon Inc of Black's Harbour, NB.


Thursday, September 15, 2011


Too foggy today for a picture, so we will reach back into last week's files for the luxury yacht Dardanella. Built in 1998 in the Netherlands, and having a major refit in 2006-2007, this trawler/expedition type vessel measures 121 feet by 27 feet, and is all aluminum. Two Cat engines give it power to cruise comfortably.

It is presently en route to Boston.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Le Boréal will be back

1. The vintage tug Gulf Spray and barge remove garbage from Le Boréal at pier 23 this afternoon.

I only had one chance for a photo of this one, and somehow managed to cut off part of the bow. Oh well, it will be back again twice on Boston/Montreal and Montreal/Boston cruises later this month.

The impressive Le Boréal is billed as a luxury mega-yacht by Cie Ponant SA of Marseilles, France. It has only 132 cabins (and 134 crew) and carries only 224 to 264 passengers. Built in 2010 by Fincantieri's Ancona yard in Italy (which is threatened to be closed due to lack of orders) the ship provides a superb cruising experience. It arrived today from France via the Strait of Belle Isle and St-Pierre et Miquelon.

On its next series of tours mentioned above, it will stop in numerous smaller ports such as Percé and Tadoussac, which are not usually visited by the larger ships.

I'll try for a better picture the next time.

In the meantime have a look at the website:

Ruby-T at pier 9

The Turkish owned, Maltese flagged Ruby-T arrived at pier 9 last evening. The chemical/oil products tanker is in ballast and is fresh from a trip to the Great Lakes (the ship was in Hamilton, ON then stopped in Montreal.) She certainly shows evidence of that visit - see the scratches and scars on the hull.

The ship is due to sail later today.


A pair of good looking ships

1. Arcadia - modern ship, respecting tradition. Arriving this morning with Theodore Too providing a welcoming escort.

2. HMCS Iroquois idles for a PAX transfer this morning. Sleek and powerful.

3. Iroquois makes a fast getaway after refueling Monday, September 12.

My preference is for traditional looking ships. Today's arrival of Arcadia and HMCS Iroquois remind me that there are still some good looking ships around.

P&O Cruises (part of Carnival) operates the 2005 built Arcadia. It successfully combines some modern touches with traditional P&O features, and resists the current trend of extraneous painted motifs on the hull.

Of course HMCS Iroquois cannot be beat for determined good looks. Despite her great age, and many refits, the ship's hull has maintained a crisp appearance of speed, even when standing still. The ship's motto "Relentless in Chase" seems most fitting. See its web site at:


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grand Manan(a) Adventure?

The brand new ferry Grand Manan Adventure arrived in Halifax today for warranty repairs. Launched in December 2010 by the Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Florida, the 6580 gross tons vessel was to be delivered in May 2011. However overheating during builder's trials delayed delivery (hence the manana.) The ship arrived in Grand Manan on July 26, but still had to undergo owners trials, storing and certification. (more manana)

She finally made her first trip August 11, but on August 15 she had to be withdrawn from service for three days when both her bow thrusters failed during a docking. (mananas again)

She entered the Novadock floating dock on arrival today, and is expected to be in for a week (she is to be out of service for 10 days including travel time to and from Halifax.) Press releases indicate that one of the bow thrusters is to be repaired under warranty, but there will doubtless be other work to do.

The new ship is rated for 82 autos, 10 tractor trailers, 380 passengers and crew, and can travel at 14 knots.

The vessel she is replacing, Grand Manan V, is covering the Black's Harbour/ Grand Manan route in the interim. The "V" is now designated as the backup and summer season supplement.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11

September 11, 2001 started out as a normal day in the port of Halifax. Soon after the arrival of four cruise ships came the news of tragic events in New York. The four cruise ships in port that day, Norwegian Sea, Amsterdam, Victoria and Crown Princess carried many US passengers. The port increased security at dockside, and many shore excursions were cancelled. Also there were changes in routine aboard the ships, and with special memorial services in place of entertainment.

Halifax International Airport was coping with 40 foreign aircraft, and their passengers, who were stranded here for several days due to the closing of US air space, however all the cruise ships resumed their usual itineraries, three of them heading for Sydney, Norwegian Sea returning to a permanently changed New York.

On September 12, 2011, Crown Princess returns to Halifax.

Malmnes makes a move

1. Malmnes lies at anchor in Bedford Basin, with Bedford Magazine in the background.

The small self-unloading bulker Malmnes finally made a move this morning after a lengthy repair session at Pier 9A. The Norwegian flagged vessel arrived July 28 and during the last 6 weeks had a major overhaul, which included removal and reinstallation of the unloading boom.

A frequent caller in Halifax for bunkers and repairs, she was also in port for repairs in March.

The ship usually carries crushed stone out of Cape Porcupine, but has been known to carry some other cargoes, such as a load of wood pellets in 2005, and china clay in 2007.

The ship is now anchored in the long term anchorages in Bedford Basin, awaiting the next assignment.

See comment below: Malmnes may well be a victim of the problems at the New Page paper mill in Point Tupper (Port Hawksbury) The mill and its parent company in the US have received creditor protection fom the courts. Citing high power costs, and a depressed world market for fine coated paper, the Point Tupper mill will continue to operate for a time in hopes of finding a buyer. As the major industry in the area, there is grave concern about the future of the mill. The many creditors (which may include the owners of the Malmnes) may have a hard time collecting on their bills if no buyer is found and the mill closes.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fulmar flies in again

The French naval patrol vessel Fulmar arrived this morning and tied up at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The former trawler is assigned to St-Pierre et Miquelon and makes yearly courtesy calls to Halifax.

Last year's July 10, 2010 visit [see] was somewhat lacking in the courtesy department, when the vessel sailed without a pilot (perhaps on the basis of unofficial advice from someone in the Canadian navy.) I am sure there will be no repeat of that incident this time round.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Salt for grain for gypsum

1. Salarium completes unloading a grain cargo at pier 26, September 7.

2. Loaded to Seaway draft with gypsum, the ship sails out through the Narrows this morning.

3. Rust streaks around the ship's unloading gear show the damage caused by salt. The Mines Seleine logo has been superimposed on the CSL funnel.

The CSL self-unloader Salarium brought in a load of grain this week, and unloaded at pier 26. Last evening it moved to National Gypsum and sailed this morning for Côte Ste-Catherine, QC. Due to St.Lawrence Seaway draft restrictions of just over 26 feet, this was not a full load for the ship.

Salarium was built in 1980 as Nanticoke, even though its intended name was to be Gleneagles, a traditional CSL one. It was named instead for the new steel mill at Nanticoke, ON, which the ship would service. Built in Collingwood, ON, it is similar to other ships of its type, able to make coastal ocean voyages, but is smaller in tonnage than the Atlantic Erie and Atlantic Superior and Atlantic Huron.

In 2009 it was placed on a long term charter to Mines Seleines (part of Windsor Salt) to carry salt from the Magdalen Islands to Great Lakes and east coast ports, and renamed Salarium. It replaced Algoma's Saunière, which had finally succumbed to the ravages of salt exposure and has since been scrapped. The charter does not preclude the ship from carrying other cargoes, if it can keep up with the demand for salt.

As an older ship, with the prospect of severe service ahead, and the impossibility of protecting it from its salty cargoes, it is fair to wonder how long the ship can be expected to last. It is certainly a pretty hard looking case now.