Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ships named Chebucto

Before there was Halifax, there was  jipugtug  - the big harbour - in the language of the local Mi-'kmaq population.[ Here it spoken at: ]. The word was adapted by the settlers to become Chebucto, and has come to be used for the entire peninsula between St.Margaret's Bay to the east and Halifax harbour to the west.(Although the largest concentration of population in Nova Scotia resides on the Chebucto Peninsula, the land is largely a protected wilderness.)
Chebucto Head is the name given to the prominent cape that defines the entrance to Halifax and is marked by a lighthouse. The word has also been attached to a major street, an electoral riding and any number of businesses and schools.
Such an important local name has also been used, sparingly, on ships of various sorts too.

The first Chebucto was a ferry built in 1865, but not registered until 1878. It operated between Halifax and Dartmouth on Halifax Harbour until 1892.

A second Chebucto ferry was built in 1897 and was sold in 1951. It was built in Glasgow, Scotland by John Shearer + Son, Kelvinhaugh slip. A 125 ft loa vessel of 600 grt, it was a double ended ferry with screws bow and stern driven by steam engines built by McKie+Baxter of Govan. It arrived on its own, via the Azores, in 1898, having had to put back at least once in its first attempt in 1897.
 Chebucto (ii) laid up in 1950 at Dartmouth.

A typical double ender, it had passenger cabins on each side of its sponsoned hull, with two carriageways, one on each side of the funnel casing. It managed the transition from horsedrawn to self propelled vehicles, but was retired before the construction of the first permanent bridge across the harbour resulted in the withdrawal of vehicle ferries. It was also a coal burner.

When it was retired from ferry service it was towed to Montreal where it was used as a floating machine shop until about 1956.

The next Chebucto was a Fisheries Protection Vessel, built by Ferguson Industries Ltd in Pictou, NS in 1966. It was christened in May of that year by Mme Gertrude Robichaud, wife of the Minister of Fisheries Hon. Hédard-J. Robichaud, and was handed over December 21 after trails. It sailed the next day for Halifax where it was based at Queen's Wharf. The 179 ft loa, 563 grt ship was armed with a gun forward and had a suite of search and rescue equipment and a towing winch.
CGS Chebucto had a gun mounted forward.

Modifications to the ship over time included plating in a portion of her side alleys for more crew space, increasing grt to 751. At the same time the large fibreglass rescue launch / lifeboats were replaced with additional RHIBs. It was also disarmed.

Half the length of the side alleys were plated in when the large boats were removed.

In 1996 the Canadian Coast Guard  and Fisheries and Oceans fleets merged under the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the ship was repainted and re-designated CCGS Chebucto having previously been referred to as CGS Chebucto or FPV Chebucto.

It was also painted in CCG colours, although the process to time. For a while it sailed with white superstructure and grey hull.

The ship was laid up and decommissioned August 24, 1997 and lay idle until it was named 1998-03 in preparation for sale by Crown Assets.  That sale was completed by the end of the year and its register closed December 24, 1998. A sister ship named Cape Freels was built by Halifax Shipyard at the same time, but it was lost at sea in March 1975 due to fire.

The ship sailed from Halifax early 1999 as Lady Chebucto, classed as a yacht, under Antigua flag. In 2006 an attempt by the Sea Shepherd Society to buy the ship was blocked by the Antiguan government. It was reportedly dry docked in 2008 and has been listed for sale for several years.Last reported, it was in Chaguaramas, Barbados.

Eastern Canada Towing Ltd ordered a new tug in 1993. Initially the order went to East Isle Shipyard Georgetown, PE, but when the J.D.Irving group's Irving Shipbuilding Inc took over the yard, the construction was transferred to Halifax. Irving's Atlantic Towing Ltd was a competitor of Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (ECTUG), and that was given as the reason for the switch. Although Irving did not own the Halifax yard at the time, they were very much present on the site and in its management, in what some described as a creeping takeover.

 J.D.Irving equipment moves the hull of Point Chebucto to the launch way.

The new tug was a big one, at 4100 bhp, driven by two azimuthing stern drives. It was launched October 25, 1992 as Point Chebucto (ECTUG already had a Point Halifax) and the name was entirely fitting as the new tug was built to serve Halifax harbour.

Point Chebucto as delivered in ECTUG colours.

Through a series of ownership changes, Eastern Canada Towing Ltd's parent company Cory Towage of England was acquired by the Dutch Wijsmuller Group which in turn was bought by Svitzer of Denmark. Svitzer Canada Ltd was formed  to operate the ECTUG fleet.

 Point Chebucto in Svitzer Canada Ltd colours.

 They found themselves in competition in Halifax and  the Strait of Canso with Atlantic Towing and eventually formed a partnership to cover the two ports. As a result the former Eastern Canada Towing Ltd tugs were transferred to Point Tupper, NS, and Point Chebucto continues to work out of that port.

Reported by crews to be a fine sea boat Point Chebucto has also been dispatched to outports such as Liverpool. NS, Sheet Harbour, NS and Sydney, NS.

The Atlantic Canada Pilotage Authority, is a crown corporation responsible for providing piloting services in a number of ports in eastern Canada. To do this it operates a small fleet of pilot boats (in some ports the boats are provided by private contractors) Halifax being one such port.
In 2012 it commissioned its newest pilot boat, Chebucto Pilot, launched in May by Abco (the Atlantic Bridge Co) of Lunenburg. The 17 m boat is capable of 20 knots and operates from a berth on the Halifax waterfront.

 At harbour cruising speed Chebucto Pilot moves past the Tall Ship Quay.

 Once opposite pier 20, the boat digs in and puts on some speed, where its wake will not cause any harm.

It embarks and disembarks pilots off Chebucto Head at the entrance to Halifax harbour.

Newer APA boats have adopted a high visibility yellow hull, with a very fine blue line at deck level. A black finish around windows and tinted glass reduces glare. The decks are covered with a non-slip coating and there are numerous railings and tie off points. The boat is also fitted with a man-overboard recovery ramp at the stern.

CP (Bermuda) Ltd was the large shipowning arm of the Canadian Pacific Railway. In the 1980s it built a fleet of chemical and product tankers in Japan, one of which was named Fort Rouge dating from 1980. In 1989 they sold it to Livanos and it became Courageventure L. In 1998 it was passed on to other owners as Courageventure. For a brief time between 2002 and 2003 the ship was renamed Chebucto. In 2003 it became Fair Rainbow and was broken up in Chittagong in 2006.
To my knowledge it never appeared in its namesake port.

Another tug took the name in 1994. Built in 1957 by Saint John Dry Dock + Shipbuilding for the Royal Canadian Navy, it was named St. Charles. One of three sister tugs, it was a seagoing vessel, intended for towing large naval vessels. Modestly powered with a 1950 bhp Fairbanks Morse engine, with a single screw, it was not adequate for towing large ships. Except for an aircraft carrier, the RCN had few large ships, and the tug was generally underutilized, although it did accompany the fleet south for winter exercises.
Most of its work seemed to involve towing gunnery targets. It operated as a naval auxiliary vessel, with civilian crew until 1994.

 St.Charles returns from sea towing a gunnery target.

Secunda Marine Services, a local operator of offshore supply vessels saw an opportunity for tug and barge work, and bought the tug. It received a complete refit at Dartmouth Marie Slips and was renamed Chebucto Sea. (All Secunda's vessels had the word "sea" as part of their name.) It operated towing a barge carrying pulpwood and gravel generally in the Gulf of St.Lawrence.

As Chebucto Sea the tug carried Secunda's red hull stripe.

The tug was bareboat chartered in 1998 and in 1999 broke its tail shaft, and it returned to Halifax where it was laid up while an insurance case worked its way through the courts. When that was resolved in Secunda's favour in 2005 the tug was refitted and put up for sale. However its controllable pitch propellor function was no longer operational.
A new owner acquired the tug in 2009 and it was towed to Newfoundland. Renamed Matterhorn it was never made operational and its registration was suspended in July 2014.
[For more on Chebucto Sea see Tugfax]

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