Monday, April 30, 2012

Highlanders off to North Sydney, Salarium to go too

1. Tugs assist Highlanders out of the Novadock, but the ship is using its own thrusters to do most of the work turning south.

2. The ship has a broad stern ramp and bow doors.

The Marine Atlantic Inc ferry Highlanders left the Novadock floating drydock late this afternoon. After doing a compass swing south of George's Island the ship headed home to North Sydney to resume operations between North Sydney and Port aux Basques.
Her spot in the Novadock will apparently be taken by sister ship Blue Puttees in a few days.
The ship arrived in Halifax on April 10 after less than a year in service with MAI.
The ship was due to leave the drydock at 0800 hrs this morning. The harbour was fairly busy all day, so it may have been availability of tugs that caused that time to be changed to 1400. By 1400 however, with tugs standing by, and presumably a pilot aboard, why did it take until 1530 for the pilot to call for clearance, and 1600 before the lines were let go? One would hate to suggest that shipyard workers were looking for overtime, but it is an all to obvious conclusion.
The shipyard has come in for criticism (unjustified in my opinion) in the last few days for laying off eighty some workers on completion of work on the Highlanders and Salarium. The critics think that because the yard received government money that workers should be kept on even if there is no work for them to do. Sorry but the money was to improve the yard and carry out the defence work, not to provide featherbed accommodation.

3. Salarium is now ballasted down and was to sail this afternoon. It is now scheduled to go at midnight.

Odd ship at Gypsum (2)

Another odd ship appeared at National Gypsum today. In October the Heron loaded for the first and only time, see:
Today it is a similar kind of ship - an open hatch type (meaning its hatches are the full width of the cargo hold) and with two 30 tonne gantry cranes. Built to carry forest products primarily, it started off life in 1977 at Kawasaki Heavy Industries at Sakaide, Japan, as Hoegh Mascot. It has carried that name three times in its life. It has also been called Saga Mascot, Star Mascot and just plain Mascot (twice) depending on owners and charters.
It is currently registered in the Bahamas, but owned and operated by SMT Ship Management of Limassol, Cyprus, known for their operation of ancient bulk carriers.
If the pattern holds true this time, the ship is likely working its way to the scrappers. That is what happened to Heron. It arrived in Alang, India, March 26 and is being broken up.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Diamond Express - out; Chimborazo-in

Out with the old, in with the new, as two tankers passed in Halifax harbour. The timing of the departure of Diamond Express and arrival of Chimborazo was well planned today, so that the outbound ship could take the western (deepwater) channel and the inbound laden ship could take the main channel. The main channel is a straighter course and as the ship was slowing, it was much less easy to manoeuvre, even with an escort tug on a stern wire,
The outbound ship is the chemical/products tanker Diamond Express built in 2009 and measuring 27,976 gross tons/ 45,634 deadweight tonnes. It arrived in Halifax April 25 and sailed for Rotterdam. It flies the Panamanian flag and is owned in Japan and managed by Mitsui OSK Lines.
 1. Diamond Express outbound.
 2. As the inbound ship approaches Meagher's Beach, the outbound Diamond Express stears toward the western channnel. 

3. The inbound Chimborazo is loaded and has Atlantic Oak as tethered escrot on a stern line,

The inbound ship is interesting, not so much for its characteristics. Chimorazo is 35,770 gross tons and 66,138 deadweight, built in 1999 buy Hyundai in Ulsan, South Korea. A typical ship of those yards, it is relatively small for a crude oil tanker. We normally see crude carriers nearer 150,000 deadweight here. It is unusual in that it is owned by Flota Petrolera Ecuatorian (Flopec)-the state oil company of Ecuador. It is registered in Guayaquil and flies the Ecuadorian flag. It is not the first Ecuadorian ship to call in Halifax, but is certainly a rare sight. Oil is one of Ecuador's major exports, but I have no idea where its present cargo comes from.

Friday, April 27, 2012

American Feeder Line pulls the plug

American Feeder Line has packed it in, and will stop its Halifax/Portland/Boston service, due to lack of sufficient cargo.
The feeder line was set up to move Halifax containers to New England in competition with road and rail. Like several other lines that attempted to do this before, they were not able to generate enough traffic to make it pay. A promise of a loan from the Province of Nova Scotia was not enough to deepen the line's pockets (the loan was never used) and AFL states that potential investors have backed out.
The ship AFL New England remains at anchor in Bedford Basin. Its future is in doubt, and it will likely be returned to its owners- maybe with some debt load.

Nils B update

 1. A crew man makes his way forward to secure the foredeck.
2. A.P.A.No.1 makes a little spray on the way out.

Nils B got underway this afternoon bound for St-Pierre. The ship started pitching and rolling even before it got to Ives Knoll- it will be an interesting trip!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Verreault Dredging - latest news

The ownership of the former Verreault Dredging fleet was officially transferred to Le Groupe Océan of Quebec City today. Interestingly there have been no changes of name to the vessels from the Verreault fleet.  The prefix "I.V." has been retained for all the existing scows, hopper boats and dredges.
Three vessels in the fleet have been re-registered:
I.V.No.12 a small 16 gross ton scow built in 1994 as CPSM-08.
The 221 gross tons barge I.V.No.23 the former Rock General No.1., built in 1957 at MIL, Sorel for MIL a rock drill and pile driver. It last saw service about 1995 and has since been used as a temporary pier at Matane.
The dredge Rosaire has also been re-registered.
When Groupe Océan acquired the St-Maurice dredging fleet it was incorporated into Océan's construction division, also without change of name.

1. The dredge Rosaire arriving in Halifax in 1994 with the hopper boat I.V.No.13 acting as tug.

Footnote: The sole exception to the ownership transfer noted above is the trailing suction hopper dredge Port Mechins, which still registered in the name of Pricewaterhousecoopers, and as far as I am aware is till laid up in Veracruz, Mexico.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fusion - off for refit?

The Fusion, which runs a regular weekly service to St-Pierre et Miquelon, sailed a week ago for Ceuta, presumably for refit.
Her place is being taken by the general cargo ship Nils B. It has no RoRo capability, so everything must be lifted off and on. This will be a major nuisance for the month or so that Fusion will be away. Nils B was here in January 2008 with a heavy lift for the Shipyard, but as yet I have not managed a photo.
Fusion was built in 1977 and has carried 12 names in its lengthy career. It took over the St-Pierre service in 2007 (as Fort Ross) but was off the run for 2008-2010 when Dutch Runner was brought in.
When Fusion returned in August 2010 it was understood to be on a three year contract.

HMCS Preserver

HMCS Preserver sailed this morning-little noticed due to thick fog-one day after CBC News revealed the cost of recent repairs. The ship was turning in the Narrows in November when it alided with the Novadock floating drydock. Damage to the ship included mangled bulwarks forward and twisted frames. Repairs took place within HMC Dockyard, and CBC was not able to say who carried out the work. The total of $490,000 for the repairs must also be brought into question, since there were other associated costs that were not or could not be calculated, including loss of sea time.
The incident cost the commanding officer loss of command.
CBC News also had no luck in determining the costs to repair the Novadock. Damage to the dock included scuff marks, two companionways on the outer face (only one of which has been replaced) several dents and an actual perforation of the shell plating. Immediate repairs were necessary to keep the dock operational, and over the winter crews could be seen from time to time working from floats on repair and repainting. Granted much of the painting would have been done as part of regular maintenance, but there would still be many thous for the  actual repair work.
 Upper photos: the immediate aftermath- twisted stairs, scuffed paint indented plates and a puncture.

Lower photos: repairs underway in March-hole patched, dock repainted, one stair not replaced. The workboat Harbour Diver alongside a small scow, with staging used for repairs.

It would be surprising to me if the total cost for the whole incident did not reach closer to $ 3/4 million.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sedna IV - Earth Day visitor

The research/filming vessel Sedna IV arrived in Halifax on Saturday in time for Earth Day. This is most fitting as the schooner is embarking on year two of a three year round the world voyage aimed at documenting biodiversity.
As part of the UN's Biodiversity Decade (2011-2020) Sedna IV is carrying out a voyage entitled "One Thousand Days for the Planet." This is entirely in line with the vessel's recent history, but maybe a bit out of line for its original purpose.
Built in 1957 by Abeking & Rasmussen of Lemwerder, Germany, it was a trawler/drifter named Bielefeld, measuring 297 gross tons. Built of good German steel, it was, perhaps anachronistically, of riveted construction. While German post war shipbuilding had rebounded, some older techniques remained and this boat was built to tried and true standards. It operated in the North Sea until 1969 when it was sent to West Africa. It was found laid up in Tema, Ghana in 1970 and purchased by Danish owners and rebuilt, now measuring 297 gross tons, renamed Starfish. It went back to fishing for a few years when it was purchased for conversion to a sailing vessel in 1990.
It emerged in 1992 as Syscomp I for German owners, under the flag of Antigua & Barbuda. In 2000 they renamed it Saint Kilda (after the remotest outcrop of Scotland) before placing it up for sale.
In 2001 it came to Canada where it was further converted to a floating research lab and film studio for Jean Lemire the noted biologist and cinematographer and based in Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone) Magdalen Islands. Taking the name of sea goddess Sedna from Inuit legend, it has since ranged far and wide in a variety of projects that have resulted in award winning documentary films. Among the ship's achievements are a one season east to west Northwest Passage in 2002.
After an arctic trip again in 2011 the boat spent the winter in refit at Gaspé and has now embarked on the second stage of its 1,000 day voyage. This year it will visit Asia and Africa. Next year it will see Amazonia, the Mediterranean and the Arctic again.
Fitted out to extremely high standards, it is rigged as a 3 masted schooner with many labour saving devices unthought of in the time of Bluenose.  These include roller reefing of the sails and "hands free" trimming, controlled from the weather protection of a fully enclosed wheelhouse and navigating bridge.

New steel faring at the bow does not conceal the boat's orginal riveted construction.

The ship will sail this evening or tomorrow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Margaret Elizabeth No.1 is number one

1. Margaret Elizabeth No.1 tied up at the Sackville pier.
The first herring seiner to show up in Halifax this spring is Margaret Elizabeth No.1 out of Grand Manan, NB. While most other seiners are still in spring refit, Margaret Elizabeth No.1 got an early start after a quick two week drydocking, including fresh paint. So far the early start has not paid off. After an exploratory trip off Canso, the herring were still to deep to catch.
The boat is laying over in Halifax for a few days and may return to the Bay of Fundy.
Built by Ferguson Industries in Pictou in 1971 the boat has been owned by Vonndell II Fisheries Ltd for its entire career. Vonndell is an independent company (not one of the large processors), originally based in North Head, Grand Manan, but which now lists Fredericton, NB as its home. They have continually maintained and upgraded the boat, adding a bow thruster, and in 2008 installing a new Caterpillar engine (increasing power from 1125 bhp to 1141 bhp) gear box, etc., The seine boat has had a cabin installed and the ramp configuration was modified also.

2. The enclosed seine boat perches on the ship's stern. Much of the net pen and boat ramp have been replaced. The boat is now stowed on the ship's centreline.

3. In 1976 the radars and other nav gear were different and the seine boat was open. It was also stowed to the port side aft.

Dredge up date

The dredge Rosaire and hopper boat I.V.No.14 got away from Meteghan on April 18 in tow of the tug André H. By the time the flotilla reached the Strait of Canso they had been a problem with the hopper boat, which had taken on a severe list to starboard. (see also Tugfax.) Repairs were underway in Mulgrave on Saturday April 21.

Thanks to comments from readers, it should be noted that I.V.No.9 and I.V.No.10 remain in Meteghan River at the time of writing and will probably form a second transport later on.
These unique hopper boats have an extremely interesting history.
They were built to carry newsprint from Quebec to New York City via the Richelieu and Hudson Rivers. The Richelieu canals dictated their size, including water draft and air draft due to low overhead clearances. The brain child of a man named Guy Toombs, they rejuvenated a long dormant form of transport between the two countries. The fleet was built in 1936-37 by G.T.Davie & Sons Ltd in Lauzon, QC and operated by a subsidiary called Davie Transportation. They were built in two lots. The first for their own account and the second for Quebec Paper Sales & Transportation. They loaded paper in such places as Donnacona, QC, but also on the Ottawa River. They then sailed along the St.Lawrence to Sorel where they took the Richelieu River south to Lake Champlain, joining the Hudson River via the New York State canal system all the way to New York.
By the late 1960s they had become outmoded and Verreault Navigation acquired at least six of the boats. In the end they converted five of them and remarkably all are still in service.
The conversion involved all new accommodation and propulsion, and rebuilding of the cargo hold to hopper space for dredging spoil. The bottom of the hull was fitted with hydraulic doors which could open to dump the spoil. Side tanks and bow space became buoyancy chambers which ensured that the boats remained in balance at all times. It is apparent from the photos of I.V.No.14 that there has been a failure somewhere, likely brought on by deterioration after several years in layup.
It is quite amazing that these 75 year old hulls, now more than 40 years after rebuilding, are still going.

2. to 6. A series of photos taken at Meteghan River April 14, 1971. The boats had completed working at Yarmouth and were refitting before going on to Saint John.
See the excellent coverage on for more current photos, in the same area.

I have many photos of these craft at work, most often at Rivière-du-Loup, QC, where sand is washed in to the ferry dock every year by the spring freshet. Snow melting in the Laurentians floods down river well into summer and dredging can't begin until it eases down in July. The sand is dredged up, and moved to a dumping ground downstream, where it will not wash back in. But there is always fresh sand next year!   

7. Loaded boat gets away as empty comes alongside Rosaire.

8. Loaded and empty

9. Deck washed down, loaded boat gets away.

7. to 9. Working off Rivière-du-Loup, July 4, 1994.
10. to 12. Same place, July 1, 2004.

10. The boat's hold is loaded with sand. Some sand has spilled onto the foredeck.

11. A bucket full of water is dumped to wash down the deck..

12. Boat gets away for the dumping grounds

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dredging Shakeup

1. On Tuesday April 17 the dredge Rosaire and hopper boat I.V.No.14 are lying at Meteghan, NS, with the Groupe Océan tug André H. (in the background) preparing to tow then to Quebec.

Another of those monumental shakeups that seem to follow the Canadian dredging industry has passed beneath the radar of the English language press, since it appears (on the surface) to be a Quebec story - but don't be so sure.

In 1956 Verreault Navigation of Les Méchins, QC entered the dredging business. A local entrepreneur and ship's captain Borromée Verreault built his own little dredging fleet with unique self-propelled hopper boats. As the lucrative business base, it was able to expand its shipyard into a large enterprise. When the founder died his wife, and then two daughters took over and ran the company.

In 2000 the Verreault daughters decided to split the enterprise, with Denise Verreault keeping the shipyard selling the dredging business to her sister Claudette. Among the contracts that went with it was the lucrative North Traverse maintenance dredging. A yearly channel clearing project that used the trailing suction hopper dredge Port Méchins, originally J.P.Porter's Lockeport, which had been based in Halifax. Claudette Verreault discovered that the fleet was in poor condition and that Port Méchins would not meet Transport Canada standards. Verreault had also gobbled up a lot of old DPW plant, but it had not been used much and was also in bad shape. As a result there were lawsuits between the two family members and and the newly formed Dragage Verreault took on a large debt to keep the company going. One frequent contract for Verreault was Saint John, NB harbour dredging, but this was eventually won by Harbour Development (through Atlantic Towing Ltd, a J.D.Irving company.) Verreault also lost the Traverse work because Port Méchins could not be upgraded. It was sent to Veracruz, Mexico where it may have found some work.

Meanwhile Groupe Océan of Quebec City, an aggressive marine construction and tug operator was expanding, and was extremely well capitalized. In 2004 it acquired Dragage St-Maurice and never looked back. With its own shipyard, and ability to built its own modern dredging plant and adapt existing equipment for dredging use, it became a powerful force. It gradually wrested away the majority of the St.Lawrence work from Verreault, leaving the company with very little work after about 2009.

In 2011 Océan won the North Traverse dredging contract and now have their own dredge under construction at their own shipyard. It may be in service this year.

In December 2011 Verreault's creditors had enough and forced the company into bankruptcy. On March 29, 2012 its entire fleet was put up for auction - and in a bit of a coup Groupe Océan acquired the whole lot. Valued by some estimates at up to $15mn, they probably paid a lot less, but whatever they paid, they overnight became the major player in the Canadian dredging business.

As this is written Océan is gathering up the Verreault assets at its Shipyard in Ile-aux-Coudres, QC. This includes a dredge and three self-propelled hopper boats that had been laid up in Meteghan, NS for three years. Two of the boats sailed on their own, but Ocean's tug André H. (ex Point Valiant, ex Foundation Valiant) has the dredge Rosaire (ex J.P.P.No. 530, ex P.W.D. No. 21) and hopper boat I.V.No.14 in tow. They passed Halifax late this afternoon.

There are only a few other players in the dredging business. McNally Construction, which was taken over the US firm Weeks Marine in 2011, seems to be more concentrated on marine construction than dredging, but does maintain a large, if aging plant.

Harbour Development is rather a small player, and has not replaced the dredge Shovelmaster which sank in 2008. It is currently working on dredging at the pier 9C extension in Halifax and still has the contract for Saint John.

I expect that we will see Océan expanding out over a wider region beyond Quebec and continuing to grow.


The dredge Rosaire was built by the Saint John DD Co in 1952 for the Department of Public Works. It was later acquired by the now defunct J.P.Porter Co. That company was brought down by the 1970s price fixing scandal and it was acquired by Verreault. Fitted with a 20 ton American crane , it has accommodation for 12 and is loaded with equipment.

I.V.No.14 is one of five self-propelled, self dumping spoil hopper boats converted from newsprint carriers. Originally built in the 1930s, they were rebuilt 1969-72 and are unique in the Canadian dredging business. All other operators use tugs and barges.
There are four other barge type dredges in the former Verreault fleet and a couple of scows.
The future of the Port Méchins however is in question.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Balmoral and Juniper, Titanic visitors

1. Passengers crouwd the forward deck as Balmoral arrives, accompanied by the pilot boat APA No.18.

2. USCG Juniper squeezes into Sackville Landing.

Two more ships in volved in commemorative events at the site of the Titanic sinking put in to Halifax todfay. First to arrive was USCG Juniper. The ship had been tasked to attend the site on April 15 and drop rose petals overboard - one for each victim of the sinking. A USCG C-130 Hercules aircraft was sent to St.John's for a flyover to drop wreaths. However it was called out for a rescue mission to assist a distressed yacht and had to cancel.

Second to arrive was the Fred Olsen cruise ship Balmoral. It's arrival was slow and stately, mainly to avoid a lot of harbour traffic, but it tied up at pier 22 later than scheduled.

It exchanged a single whistle salute with the autocarrier Porgy as the two passed in the Middle Ground area.

Blamoral will stay overnight and all day tomorrow, allowing its passengers to see Halifax and many of the exhibits and places associated with the Titanic. Other events (mostly in good taste) took place in Halifax on Saturday night and Sunday as a tribute to the large loss of life in 1912.


Rhea Leader and Porgy meet

The header might have read "12,000 cars cause traffic jam in Halifax Harbour." But here's what really happened:
1. Rhea Leader begins to pick up her tugs at Middle Ground.

2. As she rounds Ives Knoll, Porgy has cleared Eastern Passage.

3.By the time Rhea Leader reaches Indian Point Porgy has passed Ives Knoll and is outbound.

One autocarrier leaving and another arriving and passing each other in the harbour, with a cruise ship inbound (see following) and a big tanker plunk in the middle of anchorage number one created quite a potential traffic jam in the harbour this afternoon. All was handled adroitly and no incidents resulted, but it was a pleasant change to see so much activity at once.

First inbound was Rhea Leader picking up her pilot about 1700 hrs and making her way up to the Middle Ground where she was met by the tugs Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Larch.

Meanwhile the Porgy was getting away from Autoport with assistance from Atlantic Oak.

As Porgy cleared Indian Point Rhea Leader was making her turn around Ives Knoll. Due to the Jasmine Knutsen at anchor, Porgy headed north about the ship and headed outbound. with Atlantic Oak standing off her quarter to assist in the turn.

While all this was going on Balmoral, took her pilot at 1715 hrs and was inching her way inbound, meeting Porgy at Middle Ground.

Neatly done!
The punch line of course is the capacity of these two large autocarriers:

Rhea Leader 63,004 gross tons, built 2008, capacity: 6,324 cars.

Porgy 58,752 gross tons, built 2009, capacity: 6,284 cars.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

RMS Titanic

The sea will not be conquered..............

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hoegh Maputo - another new car carrier

1. Hoegh Maputo raises its 120 tonne capacity stern ramp as it prepares to leave Autport late this morning.

The steady stream of car carriers coming into Halifax speaks to an increasing market for imports in Canada. The number of new Audis alone is staggering.

Hoegh Maputo is a 47,266 gross ton ships, built in 2011. It was delivered in July last year by Xiamen Industries in China and named at a ceremony in Mozambique in Ocotober. It can carry 4300 cars, and other RoRo cargo using its 120 tonne capacity stern ramp.

Owned by the legendary Leif Hoegh & Co, the ship is just one of the huge Hoegh Autoliners fleet.

If you go to fleet list, then look for "fleet over time" you will see particulars on the 291 ships the company had owned from 1928 to 2008. They have added several new ships since then!

The ship arrived before dawn this morning and sailed by noon, leaving more new Audis on the dock.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Azamara Journey - first of the season

It's awfully early for a cruise ship in our waters, but Azamara Journey is on a Titanic themed cruise out of New York, and so arrived today to take in several Titanic related sites (and sights) in Halifax. It sailed this evening bound for the site of the sinking, which will also be visited by Balmoral on the day/night of the 100 th anniversary of the famous incident.

Azamara Journey was built in 2000 as R.Six one of similarly named vessels. If memory serves, the owners went broke before the ships were completed and they were put up for sale.

This ship became Blue Dream in 2005 and took on its present name in 2007. It is managed by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Azamara is considered a boutique cruise line, offering specialized cruises, with relatively small numbers of passengers (694 in double occupancy) but only 440 on this particular trip.

The only other ship in the Azamara fleet, Azamara Quest (ex Blue Moon, Delphin Renaissance, R. Seven) made headlines when it experienced an engine room fire March 30 off Malaysia. It arrived safely in Sandakan April 1. The crew received high praise from passengers for their professional handling of the situation which left the ship without propulsion for 24 hours.

Not only is Azamara Journey the first cruise ship of the season, it is also the first visit to Halifax by this particular ship.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

HMCS Windsor - afloat once again

1. In February the cocoon that covered the sub all winter began to come off.

2. Once afloat in the synchrolift slip there was a fly past by a Sea King helicopter.

3. Tugs gingerly moved the sub around the end of the synchrolift to bring it alongside its fitting out berth.

4. Despite my secret camouflage vantage point, there was no avoiding power lines and wires.

After an age on the synchrolift HMCS Windsor is back in the water again today. The former HMS Unicorn, acquired by the RCN in 2001 and commissioned in 2003 has been in refit at HMC Dockyard, and out of the water, since 2007.

It may re-enter service by the end of 2012.

The slow process of lowering the boat down into the water and easing it out and alongside a jetty took all morning, and was ably handled by three Dockyard tugs.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Highlanders makes Halifax debut

1. Highlanders lines up to pass under the Macdonald bridge with tugs in attendance.

2. Passing HMC Dockyard, with HMCS Iroquois in the background.

3. As seen from pier 9 - this is a large ship!

After less than a year in service for Marine Atlantic Inc (MAI), the ferry Highlanders arrived this morning for drydocking at Halifax Shipyard.

Built in 2007 in Russia and completed in Norway as Stena Traveller, for Stena Rederi AB of Sweden, the ship initially ran under the Dutch flag between Hoek van Holland and Killingholme, UK. That service ended in 2009 and in 2010 Marine Atlantic chartered the ship and its sister Stena Trader (renamed Blue Putees) for five years with options to extend.

Over the winter of 2010-2011 the ships were modified at Bremerhaven for service as Seabridge class ships for the North Sydney-Port aux Basques route. Work included shortening the ships by 12 meters, adding a third bow thruster and more accommodation for passengers.

As completed the ships have 96 passenger cabins and 500 recliner chairs.

Highlanders arrived in North Sydney for the first time March 3, 2011 and entered service April 21. Both ships seem to have settled in well to the service and have been generally well received by travellers. With much increased capacity now, Marine Atlantic seems to have resolved the wait times issue.

This morning Highlanders was met by two tugs and backed in to the Novadock at Halifax Shipyard. It is scheduled to return to service on May 2.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Fifteen years ago - a bargain for $8

On March 14, 1997 I made a little excursion to Prince Edward Island - my last trip through the ice on a ferry. The Confederation Bridge was to open in June of that year and the Marine Atlantic ferry service from Cape Tormentine, NB to Borden PE would shut down when the bridge opened.
I boarded Abegweit as a foot passenger and made the round trip for the grand sum of $8.

Quoting from my Shipfax newsletter of the March 1997 "John Hamilton Gray left Borden at the same time and appeared to be bobbing and weaving more than we were. Several times we crossed each others' bows as the two ships sought leads in the ice. With a mile or so to go [before we met] both vessels straightened out for a clear port to port passage.
" As the Gray drew abreast the thrum of her eight 12 cylinder Fairbanks-Morses [total 16,000 bhp] was audible in the cold air and her funnels were pumping hazy streamers of hot exhaust."
The return meet was equally exciting as more ice had built in and I can still almost hear the Gray's engines humming.

On a previous winter trip in 1983 I crossed on the Gray and got similar photos of the Abegweit. Her six Rustons totalling 18,000 bhp did not sound nearly as good, but it was an equally impressive crossing with lots of crunching ice.

Both ships were sold off and eventually scrapped despite efforts to find other work for them.

John Hamilton Gray 11,260 gross tons, built by Marine Industries Ltd in Sorel in 1968. Carried 165 cars and loaded and unloaded through a stern door. It was sold to Contessa International Cruise Line, renamed Contessa I, but plans to convert to a cruise ships fell through. Sold to Texas Treasure Casino in 2001 and renamed Texas Treasure for conversion to a casino-also failed. Remarkably the ship sailed on its own from Texas to Alang India, arriving June 29, 2004 where it was broken up. It was renamed Treasure for the delivery trip. Abegweit 13,483 gross tons, built by Saint John Shipbuilding & Dry Dock in 1982. Carried 250 autos and originally fitted with rail tracks for 20 rail cars. Had bow and stern doors. Sold in 1999 to Accrued Investments of Houston, TX and renamed Accrued Mariner for use as a casino in Galveston. In February 2004 it was also sold for scrap, renamed Mariner and also sailed on its own to Alang.