Friday, October 31, 2014

ACL's (almost) new names and some more history

Thanks to Halifax Shipping News for alerting us to the names selected for Atlantic Container Lines' new G4 ConRo ships. The names Atlantic Star, Atlantic Sail, Atlantic Sea, Atlantic Sky and Atlantic Sun will become familiar to Halifax as the new ships come into service next year. However one of the names is already familiar, at least to us old timers.

 Atlantic Star (i) March 3, 1970- a banner day.

The first ocean RoRo cargo ever delivered to Halifax was carried aboard the first Atlantic Star, a G1 (1st generation) ACL Con Ro ship. That cargo arrived March 3, 1970 and consisted of 200 crated Volvo car chassis for assembly in Halifax, and 200 finished Volvos for onward distribution to US markets. It landed at the newly built RoRo ramp at pier 36 (still in use today but now within Halterm). Halterm construction was still underway, and no container cranes existed in Halifax. It does not appear that the ship unloaded any containers on that trip.

Dutch flag flying, Atlantic Star has completed unloading the first RoRo cargo.

Ramp down at pier 36 - note the old freight shed - long since gone. The tarped pallet on the left is part of the RoRo cargo. The ship carries the original ACL logo and buff funnel.
Atlantic Star was built in 1967 by Atelier et chantier de Dunkerque et Bordeaux (France-Gironde) at Dunkirk, France for Holland-America Line, a founding partner in ACL. In 1976 the ship was sent to Japan and lengthened 25.8 meters by Hitachi Zosen, Innoshima. They also added hull sponsons for strength and stability.  Gross tonnage increased from 11,839 to 15,000 (sources differ) and deadweight from 18,500 to 20,400 (references differ due to changes in tonnage calculations methods, conversion to metric, etc.,). Its container capacity increased by 400 TEU to 1154. The ship had four cellular holds forward and carried 367/20 ft, 94/40 ft containers below deck and 191/20 ft, 204/40 ft on deck.
Ship's propulsion was by means of a single 9 cylinder MAN engine generating 20,700 bhp through a single controllable pitch prop. As built its speed was listed as 21 knots, but this was reduced to 20 knots after lengthening. The twin funnels allowed for a clear RoRo deck access amidships.

After lengthening - the hull sponsons were necessary, but unpopular with pilots, who had to board the ship just above a specially built notch.

Passing under the MacKay bridge in 1984, the long gone Navicula and E.E.Prince are among the boats tied up at BIO, along with a weather buoy on the dock.

ACLS's original partners, Holland-America, A/B Transatlantic, Swedish-America Line and Wallenius Lines were joined in 1967 by Cie Générale Transatlantique and Cunard Steamships. As ACL ownership evolved, Atlantic Star was transferred to Cunard in 1983, and they were the owners when it was sent to Kaohsiung for scrapping December 14, 1987. It went out flying the British flag, and registered in Liverpool.

Sailing from Halifax for the last time October 11, 1987, the ship still looked impressive, despite the sponsons.

Note the dimple in the sponson where the pilot had to board.

There were only four G1 ships: Atlantic Saga, Atlantic Song, Atlantic Span (later renamed Atlantic Service) and Atlantic Star.
The G1s overlapped with the six G2 ships Atlantic Champagne, Atlantic Causeway,  Atlantic Crown, Atlantic Cinderella, Atlantic Cognac, and Atlantic Conveyor (i) and the five (current) G3 ships Atlantic Companion, Atlantic Concert, Atlantic Compass, Atlantic Conveyor (ii) and Atlantic Cartier until they in turn were lengthened in 1987.

The mighty G2s raced across the Atlantic at 24 knots, carrying RoRo cargo and a modest 738 TEU and at great cost. Powered by four STAL-Laval steam turbines giving 35,000 shp to two screws, they were "gas guzzlers" extraordinaire, which meant a relatively short service life. Atlantic Cinderella (the Wallenius motto on the bow, explains the name choice - Wallenius uses operatic figures for all its ship's names) at pier 33-34, for repairs May 12, 1980. It did not sail until May 15.

Atlantic Cinderella was built at Dunkirrk, in 1970 and measured 15,347 gt. It was laid up in Jacksonville, FL in December 1984 and left in tow in October 1985 for Kaohsiung. It arrived at the scrappers January 19, 1986, ending a very short life span for a ConRo ship.
It was stated that at the time when they were no diesel engines powerful enough to drive these ships at 24 knots, and steam was the only alternative.

When the G1s and G2s were scrapped ACL's services on its own ships were consolidated on the G3s and an arrangement was made with HAPAG-Loyd to also carry ACL boxes. After several iterations, Grimaldi Group became ACL's sole owners in 2007.

Back to 1984 for a minute - the G3 ships were brand new in 1984 and 1985, and had some teething trouble:

On April 7, 1984, Atlantic Companion was making its first eastbound transatlantic crossing when it had a supercharger breakdown shortly after leaving Halifax and was towed back in by Point Vibert and Point Vigour It was tied up at pier 33-34 for repairs. The ship was launched December 3, 1983 and made its maiden voyage to Halifax, arriving March 27, 1984. Celebrating thirty years of service this year, these ships have proven to be more durable and more reliable than the G2s and even the G1s.

The red reflection in the photo above is from Cavallo (a.k.a. Cabot in later life) - making its departure from - you guessed it- pier 36. Here's what she looked like in 1984:

Cavallo entering Eastern Passage en route to Autoport, May 28, 1984. It began its weekly sailings to Newfoundland in 1982. Renamed Cabot in 1988 it continued to operate on the St.Lawrence, but sometimes from Halifax, until earlier this year when it finally went to scrap in Turkey. Much more on this ship in earlier Shipfax posts.  (ASL stood for Atlantic SeaRoute, which through mergers, became present day Oceanex).

Addendum - to keep track of the G4s go to:



Athabaskan home again

HMCS Athabaskan returned to Halifax this morning after a 53 day mission in the Caribbean called Operation Caribbe (sic) during which it spent 53 days at sea, participated in six intercepts and recovered many tons of cocaine.
Canada's only operational command and control vessel, has returned to port just in time to see sister Iroquois paying off, likely before before Remembrance Day.
The ship's history is too well known to dwell on, but suffice it to say, it was laid down in 1969, launched in 1970 and commissioned in 1972. It completed a TRUMP refit in 1994 (roughly mid-life) and a refit in 2012. On return from the latter it was damaged in a collision with its towing tug. Workups following that refit started in April 2014.
Sister Tribal Huron was sunk as a dive site and Algonquin will not be repaired after it was rammed by another ship. With only one true destroyer in the fleet the RCN will be severely compromised for many years to come. Athabaskan is not likely to last much more that a year to eighteen months under the present plan. 

Back in 1984
HMCS Athabaskan was in its prime with its very racy twin canted funnels from its gas turbine propulsion system.:
Athabaskan is cold moved from November Alpha November (Bedford Magazine) back to HMC Dockyard by Glen tugs (see today's Tugfax for more on the Glen class.)

Meanwhile at HMC Dockyard steamers ruled the day:
HMCS Annapolis and probably HMCS Huron.

HMCS Saguenay

Steam crane YD 251 is connected to shoreside steam, but HMCS Sackville has been allowed to go cold. Its post war superstructure is being removed as it is restored to its war time appearance.

And visiting ships included RFA Sir Geraint L3027 a Roundtable class Landing Ship Logistic.

Built by no less than the Alexander Stephen shipyard it was commissioned on the glorious 12th of July 1967. It was just about to enter refit when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands April 2, 1982. The ship was very quickly returned to service, stored, bunkered and loaded with commandos, helicopters and other gear and sailed April 6. It arrived off Ascension Island April 14 transferring cargo to other combatants. From then until July it transferred bunkers from commercial tankers into the war zone, landing on several beaches to fuel and restore ground forces. It returned, unscathed, via the Ascension Island to the Marchwood, UK arriving July 23. Of the six sister LSLs in the war  Sir Galahad was lost  and three others were damaged.
The ship was finally decommissioned in 2003 and sold for scrap in 2005.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Left Behind

Are you feeling left behind?

If you access this blog through another site, you may be misled as to the most recent posting. Some aggregators and other sites, do not seem to register the most recent posting. This is beyond my control!

The best way to find out what is going on with Shipfax and companion site Tugfax is to enter the sites in the "favourites" bar on your home page and check it daily OR receive an alert by e-mail as a member/follower. That way you will be sure to get the latest posting.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Woodside pontoon - ready to launch

A new floating jetty for the Woodside ferry terminal is under construction and it is built of concrete.
Waterworks Construction is building the new unit at the IEL pier in the Woodside industrial area in Dartmouth, and will be launching it over the next few days. Perhaps by coincidence Waterworks Construction already owns a barge made of concrete.

October 11: the pontoon under construction at Woodside.

The new structure relies on Styrofoam blocks for its floatation capability, and concrete for protection and wearing surfaces, so there is really very little mystery- it's just that the Styrofoam is not visible in the completed form.

The present jetty was built of steel in 1986 when the Woodside ferry was built, and it needs major repairs. To drydock and repair it would disrupt ferry service and it was determined that a new pontoon could be built an installed with minimum inconvenience to commuters.

October 29: workers erect the steel frame for the sheltered pedestrian area. A channel has been dug to allow the pontoon to be launched into a protected basin.

The new concrete unit, if Waterwork's existing barge is any indication, should be good for at least 75 years.
Construction is taking place mere meters from the terminal, which again coincidentally is right next to Waterwork's own base.

For more information on the pontoon see Halifax Regional Municipality documents:
 5 page RFP outline, with drawing:

The pontoon will be similar in appearance and function to the Halifax and Dartmouth terminals:

A hinged ramp connects the floating pontoon portion to the fixed shoreside structure.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels - one step closer (we hope)

The first traveling gantry was lifted into position into the top of the new Halifax Shipyard building today.  It wasn't the only point of interest at the yard however - read on.
After several days of working round the clock assembling the crane sections on the ground using a 412 tonne capacity crane,

 a second crane, of 300 tonne capacity was brought in. With slings rigged, the first gantry was lifted off,

and lowered through a slot in the roof, to sit on its orange coloured rails.

It will be rolled along on its dollies, leaving room for the subsequent gantries to be lowered in.

Construction on the first ships to be built in the new building, the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels, will begin next year.

Meanwhile Parliament was presented with the Budget Officer's opinion that Canada can't afford to build six arctic offshore patrol vessels, but maybe it could get four at the price in the estimates. The government vigorously denounced the report, as did the navy and Irving Shipbuilding. A contract will be signed before the end of the year, and it will be interesting to see how it will be managed. No warship known to man, at least in recent history, has been built for the original budget price - particularly, when the original estimate was based on a sketchy design with with few of the details worked out - whether it is an icebreaker or a warship or some delicately balanced product in between. The original mandate was to build six with an option for eight. May it will become four with an option for six.

Opposition parties of course will make hay of this talk as will others, but there is no doubt that four arctic offshore patrol vessels would be inadequate. If the role of these ships is to be realized, there is no point in halfway measures. Build the ships!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Transfer complete

The fuel transfer from the tanker Atlantic Muse to Travestern was completed late this afternoon.

Tugs Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Willow pulled Travestern away and while it recovered its fenders, Oak then went to Atlantic Muse and secured on her stern as tethered escort.

Travestern headed for an overnighter at pier 27. Its blue hull paint appeared gray in the low red sun.[As painters know from the colour wheel, Red plus Blue produces gray.]

Regrettably light had faded before I could catch Atlantic Muse outbound. It is headed for Montreal. As we near the end of daylight saving time, late afternoon photos will  become rarer and rarer until January.


Princess of Acadia replacement on the way

The ferry Blue Star Ithaki made its final visit to the island of Syros on October 25. It is now in Piraeus, making preparations to sail for Canada.

The schedule for replacement of Princess of Acadia was to have the selected vessel in Canada by July 31, 2014 and have it fully refitted and ready for service by December 31, 2014. Allowing the early spring for training and handover to operators, it was to enter service March 31, 2015.
That schedule slipped, due to availability of the replacement vessel, and it is now due in Halifax in November. It will tie up at pier 9 for an estimated four month refit, which will include a heads-off engine rebuild. It has four Wartsila engines, and the manufacturer has a major service depot here.
The Blue Star Ithaki, flies the Greek flag, and is owned by Blue Star Ferries SA of Athens. Built by Daewoo Heavy Industries in Korea, it has a capacity of 1500 passengers, and has been running Piraeus to Tinos, Syros and Mykonos for fourteen years.
Meanwhile Princess of Acadia passed Halifax (which no longer has drydock capacity) October 19 en route Méchins, QC for repairs to its bow thruster. The thruster has not been operational for many months, but the ship has been able to berth without too much difficulty, although a miniature tug has been stationed in Digby just in case. However with winter coming on, it will need an operational thruster.

Sunday, October 26, 2014



Halifax is noted for its spectacular sunrises. Since those often coincide with ship arrivals, I see the sunrise on many mornings of the year. Today's was particularly impressive, even though it meant that the ship had to take second place. Perhaps sailors took warning, from the red sky. Certainly passengers on Ruby Princess were treated to quite a sight for their arrival, although it did rain most of the afternoon.

By departure time however the sun reappeared.

Passengers on Seven Seas Navigator got the same treat on arrival, but they sailed in driving rain.

Once up the sun cast a wonderful glow, making the gypsum carrier Barkald almost luminescent.

Meanwhile in Bedford Basin there was an explanation for the tanker Travestern's stay at anchor. Last night the Hong Kong flag Atlantic Muse arrived and once it was anchored, Travestern came alongside to take off cargo.  We can probably expect more of these floating transfers since there is no point in offloading to storage tanks if the delivery tanker is immediately available.

Built in 2009 by STX Shipbuilding in Jinhae, Atlantic Muse is a typical handy size product tanker of 29,753 grt, 51,149 dwt. It is operated by Hyundai Merchant Marine.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bunkers, Passengers and a New Name

It was active in Halifax today with ships arriving and departing at all hours.
Arriving for bunkers, Vectis Falcon showed off her unusual bow.

Owned Carisbrooke Shipping of the UK, but built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang in China, the 6190 grt, 8555 dwt general cargo ship boasts better seakeeping and fuel economy with the innovative bow form and other green features.

Also with a distinctive bow, Havelstern sailed after bunkering.

The Canadian flag, former German ship has an icebreaking bow, and sees extensive use in the high north during the shipping season there. Based in Newfoundland, it is owned by Coastal Shipping Ltd, part of the Woodward Group.,

There were hardy passengers from cruise ships in Halifax today too. With cooler fall temperatures and rougher weather, it has been quite an experience for some.

Pearl Mist is off schedule due to weather, and has adjusted its port call rotation and dates as a result. It is in a day Halifax early, and will stay overnight. but sailed this evening.

Maasdam is on schedule, but met high winds and ten foot seas on its trip down from Sydney last night. It should have a pleasanter night tonight on its way to New York if conditions in the harbour are any indication..

Melfi Lines' caller today is Tasman Strait. This is its first call here with that name since it was applied last month. When it first called here in May it was bearing the name  Ocean Emerald see also


Friday, October 24, 2014

Heroes at Rest

It seems fatuous for this blog to comment on recent events not related to shipping, but it is a time for everyone to remember that this country has many heroes whose deeds allow the rest of us to carry on a very normal life.

As two Canadian Coast Guard Hero class patrol boats, M.Charles M.B. and Captain Goddard M.S.M., rest quietly at the Bedford Institute this evening awaiting assignment, harbour traffic carries on as normal. The  CCGS Sir William Alexander stands by at her berth, and the tug Gulf Spray and barge return from a stores delivery to the bulker Atlantic Erie loading at National Gypsum.

Paralleling events in Ottawa, Quebec and Halifax, the calm harbour conditions follow almost three days of turbulent seas that prevented most ships from entering or leaving Halifax. The weather induced "lockdown" was eerily similar to the situations when many Canadians found themselves locked out, or as in my case, twice, locked in when familiar, and usually placid places were barricaded.

The cargo ship Zeelandia was held off Halifax for two and a half days due to weather, and finally made port this morning, and will now unload. The Swiss flagged ship works for the Dutch Nirint Shipping Co, carrying nickel ore cargo form Cuba, to be processed in Canada and sent on to Europe.

That Canada is able to carry on trade in this manner, with many nations, is thanks largely to heroes - sung and unsung - who have made possible the things we take for granted.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dawn to Dusk (and 1984)

At this time of year, many ships arrive at dawn or before and sail at dusk or after. I call the 8 to 10 weeks of the year when this happens the dark ages, because photogrpahy is a challenge. However some ships just squeeze it close enough that I can get a photo.

This morning, with three cruise ships arriving in misty/rainy weather, it was not going to be a pleasant day for passengers or harbour watchers.

A brightly illuminated Crystal Serenity picked up its pilot at 0715, and it was well after sunrise when it reached the inner harbour at 0755 - but the sunrise wasn't visible!

Silver Whisper and Royal Princess were due for their pilots at 0730 and 0800 and were both some distance off by 0800 when I had to be elsewhere. Both these ships are remaining in port for the night, having jiggled their schedules due to weather.

At the other end of the day, two Zim container ships passed each other at Middle Ground.

 As Zim Haifa left Halterm it met the inbound Zim Texas, which held quite far to the east in the channel. Tugs met it and prepared to swing the ship round to back into the Halterm berth.

Note the lightly loaded Zim Haifa with a huge stack of empties on the stern, and the deeply laden Zim Texas. Nothing speaks so clearly to the trade imbalance than heavily loaded ships inbound from the orient, with little to go back except empties.

Meanwhile back in 1984
I have been asked to show more pictures from my deep archive, and what better than the following, which begs the question- why can't we have more days like this? A beautiful white ship against a dramatic black sky.

The cruise ship Mermoz sails from Halifax May 24, 1984, with tug assistance. Built in 1957 as the French cargo passenger ship Jean Mermoz by Chantier de l'Atlantique (Penhoet-Loire) in St-Nazaire, it ran between Marseille and West Africa. With capacity for 854 passengers (144 first class, 140 second class, 110 third class and 460 troops) it also carried mail and significant quantities of cargo. It was one of the last ships built for this type of trade, and lasted longer than many. Finally in 1970 it was rebuilt by T.Mariotti in Genoa, with a new funnel, and accommodation for 750 (later reduced to 580) cruise passengers in one class, and renamed Mermoz . Jean Mermoz (b.1901 - d. 1936) was a legendary French aviation pioneer.

 Although it changed hands from Paquet French Cruises to Costa Cruise lines it retained its name until 1999 when it went to Louis Cruise Lines of Greece, becoming Serenade, then in 2008 Serena for its trip to the scrap yard in Alang.

The rebuild retained the ship's elegant sheer and cleverly reused its cargo derricks to handle shore excursion boats.

 Not seen in the photo is the Point Vigour with a tremendously long bow line. Point Vibert stands by the stern, with orders not to touch the ship unless needed - her tire fenders would leave nasty black marks on the white hull.

Over the course of the next few weeks I will be flashing back to 1984 regularly. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Queen Mary 2 rules

The world's biggest ocean liner (but not the world's biggest cruise ship) always attracts attention. And when it is tied up at pier 22 in Halifax it dominates the waterfront. Unfortunately its before dawn arrival and after dark departure prevent any underway photography. However during daylight hours it seems to be in view from every corner.

 Seen from nearby Barrington Street, with the Via Rail train in the foreground,

Seen from the Young Ave bridge, it looms over the grain galleries.

Seen from Inglis Street, it tops an apartment building.

Even from the Dartmouth side of the harbour Queen Mary 2 dwarfs George's Island as the harbour ferry Christopher Stannix makes its way to Woodside.

It also tends to overshadow other cruise ships in the port, displacing them to the commercial piers.

Grandeur of the Seas at left at pier 30-31 and Brilliance of the Seas at right at pier 33-34 play second fiddle, and compete with overhead wires for a clear view.

This is Queen Mary 2's third and final visit of the 2014 cruise season. Its next call is in Quebec City October 24.