Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rio de Janeiro Express debut

First time caller Rio de Janeiro Express tied up at Cerescorp's Fairview Cove container terminal this morning. Slightly smaller than the usual Hapag-Lloyd ships we see, it is rated at 4250TEU with 400 reefer plugs. Built in 2007 by Samsung HI, it measures 39,941 gross tons and 50,500 deadweight. [The usual H-L's are 4864 TEU and about 33m longer]

One interesting aspect of the ship is that this is the first H-L ship to call that is part of the Seaspan Corp fleet. Built up since 2001 by the Washington marine group of Vancouver, Seaspan Corp and its operating arm Seaspan Ship Management Ltd, now have 65 ships in their stable, all long term, fixed-rate time chartered to the major container lines.

Seaspan Corp has an interesting web site, with an interactive position map of all their ships. Go to:

The name Seaspan is better known as the operators of the largest west coast Canadian tug fleet, and the Vancouver and Victoria shipyards. However since its acquisition by the Washington family, the name has been co-opted to other branches of the far flung shipping/ shipbuilding/ transportation empire.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Wishes

Bluenose II Tall Ships 2009

Thursday, December 22, 2011

CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, Novadock to BIO

CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent left the Novadock today, in control of two tugs, and moved to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO). The ship had to cut short its summer research work in the western arctic with a loose prop nut. The situation was detected about September 19, and the ship went to anchor off Cambridge Bay to attempt on site repairs. These were not possible, and the ship headed back through the Northwest Passage on two props, arriving Halifax November 9. It entered the Novadock the next day and has been there ever since. Last year there was a shaft bearing issue, and as might be expected of a ship its age, these problems may continue until a replacement arrives in 2017. (That replacement, to be named CCGS John G. Diefenbaker will be built by Seaspan in British Columbia under the new shipbuilding procurement program.)
1. Louis S. St-Laurent clear of the Novadock at noon time today, and headed for BIO.

2. Louis shows the shape needed to make way in the arctic.

But if you think we have problems, they are nothing compared to the US Coast Guard. They have only one operational polar class icebreaker, USCG Healy, which was working on the joint venture mission with Louis S. St-Laurent in September. It also had to return home. Both the USCG's other polar icebreakers are out of service. USCG Polar Sea had an engine melt-down in 2010 and will be decommissioned by the end of this year. Its sister Polar Star is in a life extension refit and will not be back in service until 2013. It will also cannibalize parts from its sister to complete the refit, meaning that Polar Sea will never be refitted.

3. USCG Polar Star in Halifax. She had to go east about to reach her Seattle base in 1988 due to heavy ice in the western arctic. The ship is powered with 6 diesel/electric units and 3 gas turbines. In gas turbine mode she develops 60,000 shp continuous, 75,000 demand shaft horsepower.

The USCG also has responsibilities in the antarctic, but Healy is not powerful enough to go there, so the USCG is in a pickle. They have apparently chartered the sister ship to CCGS Terry Fox, the Vladimir Ignatyuk for the arctic, but it is a light displacement ship and doesn't have the weight to battle through thick ice, so it won't be heading south.

4. USCG Healy in Halifax on her maiden voyage. Built in New Orleans, she took the northern route to reach Seattle. She can produce 30,000 shp with her 4 x diesel/ 4 x alternator/ 2 x electric motor system. That's good for 4.5 feet of ice continuous.

Even the Russians are having to spend big money to keep their fleet in service. As one commentator said, it's a great time to be in the icebreaker repair business. Halifax Shipyard has certainly been in the forefront of keeping Louis S. St-Laurent in service since it went into service in 1969 (built by Canadian Vickers in Montreal.) The multi-year mid-life refit project (1987-1993) saw the ship get a new bow, and a new propulsion system. Its original 3 steam turbine/9 generator*/ 3 electric motor system developed 27,000*shaft horsepower. The new system of 5 diesels/ 3 generators/ 3 electric motors gives something in the same range.
[* corrected after initial posting-see Comments. 110% = 29,700 shp]

Addendum: It is difficult to get the right info on power for icebreakers, as "Installed Horsepower" is often used, i.e. the total of all the bhps of the engines-but this is not the delivered horsepower at the shafts. Some sources do not distinguish between ihp and shp, but there is a loss, particularly in diesel-electrics or steamturbine-electrics , which should be accounted for. As with tugs, all horsepower ratings should be taken with a grain of salt.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Basin Doings

1. CSL Spirit, now a Canadian ship, has turned around in the Bedford Basin and is heading south toward Pier 9A. Her unloading boom has been slewed to the port rail to free up deck space.

2. Algoscotia in the Narrows, northbound in ballast, heads for an anchorage in Bedford Basin.

3. The lobster boat Oralee has checked its traps in the Basin and is tailed by hundreds of gulls waiting for a few morsels of old bait.

4. One wind surfer off the Bedford Institute dock (with Bedford Magazine in the background) tempts fate.

What little action there was today was mostly in the Bedford Basin. The newly Canadianized CSL Spirit arrived and went into the Basin to turn around before coming back alongside Pier 9A. This is now favourite spot for refits and repairs, since it doesn't tie up the south end piers, which see more commercial activity. [see also: ]

Algoscotia however had been at Pier 33 for repairs since December 14, but moved to the Basin this afternoon to anchor.

Also noted in Bedford Basin: one lobster boat, and one wind surfer. The stiff wind and below zero C temperatures didn't seem to bother either of them.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sunset for the Sanderling?

1. Oceanex Sanderling arrives at sunset this evening.

An announcement appearing in a recent edition of Marinelog may mean that a replacement for the Oceanex Sanderling is on the way.

An unidentified Canadian owner has booked an order for a Con Ro (Container RoRo) ship with the Flensburger yard in Germany.

Read the details here:

I can think of only one Canadian shipowner that would need a ship such as this, and it is Oceanex. The aging Oceanex Sanderling is still soldiering on, despite an advanced age, and has provided sterling service over the years, but its time must surely be coming soon.

Built in 1977 (!) by Sasebo Heavy Industries in Japan, it served the now defunct DDG Hansa as Ravenfels until 1980, then became Essen briefly for a Hapag-Lloyd subsidiary. In 1981 it was renamed Kongsfjord by S.E.A.L RoRo, a Norwegian American Line service in East Africa/ Indian Ocean. That only lasted until 1983 when it went to Amasis Rederei of Germany (Heyon-Janssen) as Onno.

It was under the latter name when it made its first appearance in Halifax as a substitute on the ACL Line service on April 12, 1987.

Later the same year Atlantic Searoute Ltd bought the ship and it became ASL Sanderling and a Halifax regular. It entered service January 10, 1988, running Halifax / Newfoundland, which it has done pretty much continuously ever since, aside from refits. Most recently those have been December 2008-March 2009 in England and January- February 2011 in Gibraltar.

It was renamed in Oceanex Sanderling in 2008, although Oceanex had succeeded ASL in 1991.

No delivery date was given for the new ship, and Oceanex has not made an announcement, but it would be at least a year if not more for a sophisticated ship such as this to be delivered.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Port Activity

After many quiet days in the port with mostly the regular container ships coming and going, there was a spike in activity today with three arrivals of note.
The heavy lift ship Daniella arrived to load boilers at Pier 9A. The ship was here in April when it loaded a power generation unit for Albany, NY. It was built in 1989 as Stellaprima but gave up that name in 1991 when a new Stellaprima was built.
It carries a 400 tonne crane and a 250 tonne crane and is operated by Jumboships of the Netherlands.

The Maltese flag tanker Sakaraya followed along soon after, tying up at pier 9. It has a cargo for Wilson's Fuels. An underground pipeline (newly refurbished) connects Pier 9 to tanks along Barrington Street. Built in 2008 in Turkey, it sails for Chemfleet of Istanbul. However its full width bridge, indicates a more northern trade, and its last port was Frederikstad, Denmark.

Third in was Reecon Emre, also Maltese flagged and owned in Turkey. The ship is under German management and is sailing for Nirint Line. It will unload a cargo of nickel sulfite at Pier 31. It was built in 2007, and can carry general cargoes, bulk cargoes and containers.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

GSF Grand Banks - big rig and a semi too

1. Safely alongside at Woodside, shore cranes are mobilizing to start repair and refit work.

2. The tug/suppliers have completed the tow and are taking a breather at pier 27.

Not all rigs and semis are trucks!

GSF Grand Banks is certainly a big (drilling) rig and a semi-submersible too. It has been working on the West White Rose field off Newfoundland for Husky Oil. On November 24 it was water injecting at well E18-11 when the supplier Maersk Detector made contact with the rig and tore a 5m hole in one leg. Fortunately for all involved, the hole was in a ballast tank and was isolated easily. Also the supply boat was not seriously damaged. No one had to be evacuated from the rig, and the work could be suspended without any serious consequences to the environment.

The incident does point out that the offshore is a dangerous place, and despite all the hi-tech marvel;s, such as Dynamic Positioning, accidents do happen.

The rig was scheduled for maintenance in January, and this date was moved ahead, and it arrived in Halifax today in tow of Atlantic Hawk and Maersk Chancellor. It was tied up at the Woodside dock in Dartmouth where repairs and refit will take place.

The rig is a semi-submersible, of the Aker H-3.2 type, which is a second generation rig (meaning essentially that the column legs sit on ship-shaped pontoon hulls). It was built by Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock in 1984 as Bowdrill 3 , but was actually completed in Halifax. This was long before Irving Shipbuilding owned the Halifax Shipyard, and it meant moving a workforce to Halifax to complete the rig, where the tide range is much more favourable. The rig can work in 1,500ft of water and can drill to 25,000 ft.

The rig was renamed Glomar Grand Banks when it was sold by Husky Bow Valley to Global Marine Drilling, and under that name was in Halifax in 2002 for refit.

It was renamed GSF Grand Banks after Global Marine and Santa Fe merged in 2001, becoming the world's second largest drilling contractor. In 2007 Transocean (which had already taken over Sedco and Forex) and was already the world's largest marine driller merged with GSF forming an even larger world's largest!

The two anchor handling supply tugs that towed the rig in are Atlantic Hawk, built at Halifax Shipyards, and operated by Atlantic Towing and Maersk Chancellor, operated by Maersk Supply Service Canada Ltd. Each tug generate 14,400 bhp. When working, the rig is anchored in position with eight huge anchors (set and recovered by the tugs) and is semi-submerged to 72 feet draft. When towing it is pumped up to 36 feet draft and can use its thrusters to assist in moving or to 23 feet draft. At the shallowest draft, the thrusters are no longer functional. When alongside for repairs it is generally at the shallow draft, and anchored to the shore.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pier 9C-Pier 9D

1. The dredge Cranemaster lifts a bucket load of muck from the Narrows.

Work has started on the new seawall at pier 9 D. It is interesting that work has started this week, which marks the 94th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, which was caused by the collision of two ships in the Narrows, a few hundred yards away.

The Halifax Port Authority has informed local residents that the work will be going on 24/7, and will involve dredging and construction of concrete cribs by slip forming.

It is all part of a $75 mn upgrade of the Richmond Terminals area, known as pier 9, 9A, 9B, 9C and 9D. Some of these pier faces date back 100 years according to the Port.

Once the home of a sugar refinery, a Dosco coal pier, a cement import terminal, the Volvo car assembly plant and Encana's supply base for offshore exploration, Richmond Terminals has been underutilized in recent years. The drilling mud storage tanks operated by MI-Swaco are still operational, and there is activity in several of the sheds, including Marener Industries' boat building operation and International Telecom.

Work to reinforce the faces of the existing concrete piers was completed this fall. The structure was being undermined, and it was a major job to pin the faces back and drive new sheet piles and build new cope walls. Work is also well advanced on rebuilding the internal roadway system within the terminal area. There have also been improvements to the sheds.

The Pier 9C extension (as the Port calls it) is really the installation of whole new pier face to the Pier 9D area, which up until now has just been fill. The work will allow ships to tie up there for break bulk and RoRo cargo, and the Port hopes to attract processing, transloading and distribution operations for export.

One would be free to wonder why, with low utilization of the deep water terminals, this work is needed. It seems to me that there are other plans for the deepwater terminals, and we just haven't heard what they might be - yet.

Use of this area would also remove truck activity from downtown streets - a real plus when it comes to large items such as windmill blades (but that is import work) or utility poles (for export.)

Today's activity involves the dredge Cranemaster, tug Swellmaster and mud scow HD8, operated by Harbour Development Ltd. They are forming a level base and removing loose material, so that a gravel mat can be installed. The new cribs will sit on that base to form the new cope wall. Filling behind the new wall will proceed once the area is tight.

It will be interesting to watch the progress of this work in the Narrows.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

USCG Thunder Bay-off to the Lakes

The diminutive US Coast Guard icebreaker Thunder Bay sailed a few minutes ago for the Great Lakes. The ship will spend the winter there breaking ice to extend the navigation season in Lakes Erie, St.Clair, Huron and Michigan and the St.Clair and Detroit Rivers. Since there are no locks in that region to freeze up, ships can keep running well into the New Year and beyond, given effective icebreaking.

The Bay class of miniature ice breakers are capable despite their size. At only 140' long, 2,500 hp on one prop, they can run continuously through 20" of ice and can break ice 8 ft thick by ramming. Of course Great Lakes ice is new ice - multi-year ice exists only in the arctic- but even so that is decent performance, and enough to keep ships moving.

The USCG and CCG co-operate in icebreaking in the Great Lakes region and it is not unheard of for these USCG boats to go into Canadian harbours and conversely for CCG boats to break into US waters.

Thunder Bay was launched in 1984 and commissioned in 1985. Its pennant number is WGTB 108, which indicates that the USCG classes it as a tug boat. As with the CCG, boats are multi-tasked, but towing is not this one's primary job. In summer it is based in Rockland, ME but does travel farther afield as warranted.