Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Shipfax will be taking a vacation during the month of August - postings, if any, will be few and far between, and e-mails will not be acknowledged.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

APL Pearl, G-6 first timer

As the G-6 Alliance continues to roll out its roster of ships new to Halifax, APL Pearl became the latest arrival at Fairview Cove. Sister to the other former Neptune Orient Line ships in the rotation, APL Pearl is a 1998 product of the Samsung Shipbuilding & Heavy Industry yard in Koje, South Korea. At 65,475 gross/ 64,156 deadweight, 5020 TEU, the ship is also typical of those displaced from former routes by ever larger  ships.
The ship is registered in Oakland, CA flies the US flag, and carries the APL Eagle on her stack.
APL Pearl arrived in thick fog this morning - her fog horn waking up half of south end Halifax-and will sail after dark this evening.

Havelstern - back again

Unlike last month's visit, Havelstern was greeted by fog and intermittent rain when it arrived this morning for bunkers.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

National Gypsum - on the upswing

1. Pioneer glides into Halifax this morning, as the fog begins to burn off.

Despite my dark prediction the other day*, it appears that National Gypsum is experiencing an upswing in business. In fact the company has assured me that there are no plans to close the Milford Station Quarry. Other observers have noted that there are now daily trains from the quarry to the Burnside storage area and loading pier.
Today's arrival of Pioneer is its third arrival this month, and with Atlantic Huron's one trip that makes better than one load a week in July alone. That means that the US construction industry is improving, and there is more demand for the mineral, which is most prolific in Nova Scotia.

2. Atlantic Willow comes up alongside Pioneer to assist in turning the ship to go stern in at National Gypsum.

Although built on the Great Lakes by Port Weller Dry Dock  in 1981, as Canadian Pioneer, the ship has sailed under the Vanuatu flag since 1988 as Pioneer, and has now become the most frequent caller at National Gypsum.

* My July 12 posting has since been revised.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Berlin Express - another new one for Hapag-Lloyd

1. Berlin Express, broadside to, readying to turn around and back in alongside Farview Cove.

Another new name in Halifax for Hapag-Lloyd, Berlin Express, arrived July 16 and sailed early July 17. At 88,493 gross tons and 100,019 deadweight, it is among the heavyweights assigned to Halifax as part of the new G6 Alliance. Built in 2003 by Hyundai, Ulsan, it has a capacity of 7506 TEU. Although not on the original list of G6 ships, it is a sister to Dalian Express and Yantian Express, which have already put in appearances. The ship is carrying numerous containers from G6 partners APL , MOL and Hyundai.

2. Inbound, just past the MacKay bridge, stern tug Atlantic Oak moves to starboard side, while forward tug Atlantic Larch exerts some additional braking.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Atlantic Huron - celebrations, but not all good news.

 1. Atlantic Huron inbound for National Gypsum this morning The lower portion of the hull was widened in 2002 to the new Seaway maximum size.

The arrival today of Atlantic Huron for a load of gypsum is a reminder that Canada Steamship Lines is doing a double header celebration this year. 2013 is the centennial of the formation of the CSL with the consolidation of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company (dating back to 1845) and  James Playfair's Inland Lines and others. Under the figurehead of the enigmatic W. Grant Morden, with capital sourced by Lord Furness of Grantley, CSL became the colossus of Canadian shipping one hundred years ago.
Its ups and downs and its influence on other events (including its principals' later involvement in the founding of Halifax Shipyards) make for fascinating history - much too complex to recount here.
2. Atlantic Huron flies the traditional black barred house flag with red maple leaf and the 2013 centennial/ Trillium flag.

The second celebration is the delivery its new Trillium class ships. The first of the Chinese built ships, Baie St.Paul, was delivered late last year and opened the Seaway this spring. The second, Whitefish Bay arrived in Montreal this week and the third, Baie Comeau, is on the way. These state of the art ships will begin to displace older ships in the fleet, but it is early days to speculate on which ones, but Atlantic Huron is likely to be on the short list. Built in 1984 and converted to a self-unloader in 1989, it was extensively rebuilt in 2002 when its mid-body was widened. However its "after end"  - meaning engines and mechanicals are original. Its years in salt water and some nasty cargoes, have accelerated deterioration.  
3. The ship is looking pretty rugged up forward. The transition to the widened hull is taking a lot of abuse from locking though the Seaway, and will likely need some serious repair work.

Adding to the uncertainly of the future of this ship are questions about the future of Nova Scotia's gyspum industry. The ship was on charter to National Gypsum and carried the named Melvin H. Baker II (the founder of the company) from 1994-1997. Now we hear that National Gypsum may follow US Gypsum in closing down its mainland Nova Scotia operations*. USG permanently closed its mine near Windsor and loading facilities in Hantsport, NS. It seems that NSG may do the same unless conditions improve in the US building market. It operates the world's largest open pit gypsum mine near Milford Station and ships the product out through Halifax. Shipments have been drastically reduced due to the US economic woes, and the increase in synthetic and by-product gypsum. It is producing well below capacity and may well be closed or mothballed within a year or two.
* Revision: a nasty rumour - denied by National Gypsum - see posting of July 20. 

Sir William Alexander - crane refit

At the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, CCGS Sir William Alexander is in the midst of a crane refit. The ship was built in 1987 by MIL Sorel and is one of the many Canadian Coast Guard ships that will be getting a life extension refit in the next few years. Its crane however dates from 1998 when the ship was also given a major refit. Sister ship Edward Cornwallis has a conventional derrick for buoy handling.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

APL Agate - the latest G6

The latest ship to arrive for the G6 Alliance, APL Agate tied up at Fairview Cove this morning. The ship is the second of  APL's (formerly American President Lines) five contributions to the new schedule. At 5,020 TEUs, it is not among the largest ships to call in Halifax, but it is impressively large nonetheless.
See Capt' Ken's photo on Ship's Nostalgia for a "bow on" view.
Built in 1997 by Samsung in Koje, South Korea, it comes in at 65,475 gross tons, and is an example of the type of ship now being displaced from former routes by even larger ships. This trickle down effect. will be exacerbated by the opening of the new Panama Canal locks next year (they are talking about even large locks already!) and by the glut of ships in the struggling container trades. Further mergers, rationalizations and scrappings will alleviate this situation somewhat. Mass scrappings are really the only solution, but then there would be a dearth of ships if the world's economy suddenly turned around. Shipping lines are therefore absorbing huge losses in hopes of recovery. Inevitably there will be some that will not be able to hold out, some lines may go under. 
The ship is expected to sail after dark tonight.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Atlantic Cartier - bloodied but unbowed

 1. Atlantic Cartier lines up for the MacKay bridge as it heads for sea this evening.

The veteran ConRo ship Atlantic Cartier returned to Halifax today after a fire in Hamburg on May 1 put the ship out of commission for a time. The fire, on the ship's car deck, destroyed many cars, and because it was fought with water and foam, damaged electrical and other ship's services, which had to be replaced. It is thought that had the ship's CO2 system been used, the fire could have been smothered with less damage.
External cooling by fire tugs apparently limited structural damage. Also, heroic efforts by longshoremen to unload containers from the deck during the fire, meant that several hazardous cargoes, such as explosives and ammunition, were removed before the fire (or heat) could reach them.

The ship sailed this evening for New York.

2. A crew member rigs the pilot ladder amidst huge rusty streaks on the ship's side. These are the reminders of the vast amounts of water thrown at the ship during the fire, which then washed over the decks.
3. Atlantic Oak works as stern escort as the ship lines up for the Macdonald bridge-the second of two bridges it must pass.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Japanese defence force training vessels

The first of three Japanese naval training vessels arrived in Halifax yesterday. JS Kashima TV-3508 and JS Shirayuki TV-3517 anchored until this morning when they moved alongside HMC Dockyard, The third ship, JS Isoyuki is due tomorrow.

Kashima was built as a training vessel  and was commissioned in 1995.
 Shirayuki, was built as a small destroyer, DD-123 and commissioned in 1982, it was converted for training in 1982.

The ships will be open to the public during their stay in Halifax.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sichem Beijing - perhpas to become a common sight

The tanker Sichem Beijing arrived last evening and tied up at pier 9A where it is unloading fuel.There is a pipeline from pier 9 to Wilson's Fuels' tanks on Barrington Street.
With the scheduled close of the Esso refinery in Dartmouth by year's end, Wilson and other independent fuel distributors will likely be buying more gasoline, diesel and furnace oil from offshore and will be bringing it in by tanker, so this will perhaps become a common sight.
Sichem Beijing was built in 2007, and measures 8,537 gross tons, 13,086 deadweight. It is part of the large Eitzen Chemical Singapore fleet. Its tanks are epoxy coated allowing for the carriage of a variety of chemicals and oil products.It is a frequent visitor to the Great Lakes and Halifax.

René Descartes to make a cable repair

1. Using its thrusters, René Descartes gets away from pier 9, where it was tied up alongside IT Interceptor. The ship works off the stern only and has no bow sheaves.

The cable ship René Descartes sailed this morning to repair a subsea cable. The ship was in port to load replacement cable from IT Telecom's base at pier 9.
Built in 2002 by Hanjin Heavy Industries in South Korea, the ship measures 13, 864 gross tons. It is based in France, and covers most of the North Atlantic in its work for France Telecom orange. The ship's actual operation is entrusted to France Telecom Marine (FT Marine) the owners of the world's largest cable ship fleet.

2. Turned southbound for the sea, René Descartes heads for a position off the Flemish Cap.

Western Pride - more seismic

Another seismic ship arrived today. Western Pride flies the Panama flag, and is part of the large Western Geco fleet of seismic ships. Built in 1991 by Ulsteinwerft, it betrays its Norwegian roots with the blacked paint around the bridge windows. Applied to cut down glare, it seems most prevalent in Norwegian ships.

Western Geco is owned by Schlumberger, one of the largest oil field companies, and was formed in 200 when Western Geophysical merged with Geco-Prakla. Schlumberger, owners of Geco-Prakla, bought out Baker Hughes' 30% share in 2006.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

OOCL Vancouver - back to OOCL

1. OOCL Vancouver weaves its way up the Narrows with the tugs Atlantic Larch and Atlantic Oak.

After three years as Italy Express the post-Panamax container ship OOCL Vancouver has reverted to its original name. It was renamed as part of a branding exercise to identify ships in the OOCL/Hapag-Lloyd service to Halifax, but has been updated again with the advent of the G-6 Alliance.
The ship always carried its OOCL funnel marking and hull colour, and therefore only has its name repainted. As Italy Express, the letter "Y" in Italy was painted with a slanting tail, indicating a rather quick redo. 

Mount Everest - another day, another ship

Yesterday's occupant of anchorage #10 in Bedford Basin sailed in the evening and early this morning another similar ship arrived to take up a nearby station. Both ships are products of the Hyundai Mipo shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea, and are chemical/product tankers.
Today's visitor is Mount Everest, registered in Liberia, and owned by Frisia Dortmund KG of Germany, but managed by Donnelly Tankers of Limassol, Cyprus. Built in 2010, it is a ship of 23,313 gross tons and 37,817 deadweight tonnes.It operates in the United Product Tankers pool of Hamburg, Germany. That fleet consists of nearly 50 tankers, of which 31 are of the "handy" size of Mount Everest
The purpose of its visit is for hull cleaning, which is estimated to take two days. The work is being done by divers.

HMCS Athabaskan - returns from sea

1. HMCS Athabaskan creeps back into port this afternoon, in hot hazy weather. She seems to be missing a lot of gear on her main mast.

Over the past week or so HMCS Athabaskan has been seen in Bedford Basin and putting out to sea. This may signify that she is nearing the end of the refit that started in the spring of 2012 when she sailed to St.Catharines, ON. When that work expanded in scope so that it could not be completed before freeze up, the decision was made to have the ship towed to Halifax  - in December. The wisdom of that tow was immediately brought into question when delays with the tug put the ship in way of some very bad weather. The tow line parted more than once, during which the tug and ship made contact, resulting in the ship's hull being holed in several places. All this only added to the time needed to get the ship back to sea and for its sister HMCS Iroquois to go into its refit.
Was there any time saved by bringing the ship back to Halifax in December instead of  leaving it on the Lakes over the winter? In view of the original April completion date of the refit, one would have to say no. 
If the RCN wants to have refits in St.Cathareines that is OK with me, but they should be prepared to leave the ship there long enough to complete the work. The problem was that the shipyard in St.Catharines had scheduled work on other ships over the winter and couldn't accommodate Athabaskan at the same time. Unlike a shipyard on the coast, it has no water alongside in winter when the Welland Canal locks are drained. The ship could have been moved to Hamilton or Toronto or other convenient port for the three months of freeze up, and returned to Halifax in early April, but would have limited the work that could be done on her. So as far as the RCN was concerned the only alternative was to get the ship back to Halifax, no matter what.
In looking at the ship's main mast it appears that a lot of communication/navigation/detection gear has yet to be installed, so perhaps the refit is not complete even now.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Juniper 2 in for bunkers (oh and Queen Mary 2 was here too)

In from Point Tupper, the tanker Juniper 2 arrived overnight and anchored in Bedford Basin for bunkers. She did not anchor in the lower harbour, giving Queen Mary 2 lots of room to arrive this morning, turn north of George's Island and tie up at pier 20 , bows south. 
Juniper 2 is registered in the Marshal Islands and was built in 2006. It carried the name Adonis until 2007, and Omega Princess until March of this year. It is owned in Hong Kong. It measures 23,270 gross tons and 36,660 deadweight tonnes. It was to sail this evening.

This lens filling view of the Queen Mary 2 was taken in 2007, from the old Halterm viewing platform - now gone. The new chain link fence and shortened end platform make this picture an impossibility these days. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

MITIQ - now official

Emmagracht upound on the St.Lawrence River on Friday following a stormy passage through the Gulf of St.Lawrence.

Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping (managed by Logistec) was quick off the mark to register their newest ship, shortly after its arrival in Valleyfield QC on the weekend.  The former Emmagracht from Spliethoff's became Mitiq officially today when it was registered in Montreal.   [Mitiq means common eider]
It will begin loading for the far north immediately and will sail on July 7 according to the latest NEAS schedule.
The ship was built in 1995 in the Netherlands and can carry 730 TEU. It has three 60 tonne cranes and has 17 removable pontoon type tween decks.Measuring 8,448 gross tons, its deadweight is 12,760 tonnes.
The Spliethoff E-type data sheet can be found here: