Saturday, September 12, 2015

BIG Changes

It is a time of big changes in Halifax's port and on many other fronts.

To pick up where I left off, the veteran ferry Princess of Acadia was laid up in Saint John after its replacement Fundy Rose came into service. After de-storing by operators Bay Ferries, and their corporate symbols were painted over, it was handed over to owner, the Minister of Transport.

Saint John is not an ideal layup port, due to its high tides, requiring a lot of line tending. On September 11, it arrived in Halifax where it tied up at the old Coast Guard base in Dartmouth. That unused facility is still government property, so presumably there are no berthing fees, and Halifax's feeble tides require very little line tending.


Still handsome, but looking bare without its Bay Ferries markings, and still wearing storm shields over the lounge windows, Princess of Acadia awaits its fate. A sale for scrap is almost certain, but it may take a while.

 Halifax Shipyard finally rid itself of the decommissioned Novadock floating drydock. Its Canada registry was closed August 18 and it has been renamed F.D. Novadock under an undisclosed foreign flag, likely St.Vincent and the Grenadines. As reported in Halifax Shipping News, a flotilla of McKeil tugs moved the dock to the IEL pier in Dartmouth, where it has since been cut into two sections.

Novadock was originally built in two sections (not the same two sections which it now appears) by Marine Industries Ltd in Sorel and Ferguson Industries in Pictou, for the government of Nova Scotia. It was intended to bring Panamax ships to Halifax for repairs. It certainly did that, and when Irving Shipbuilding took over the yard, they also gained ownership of the Novadock.

Following award of the  National Shipbuilding contract for naval vessels, Halifax Shipyard rapidly lost  interest in ship repair in Halifax. (Irving Shipbuilding Inc still operates its smaller repair yard in Shelburne.)
With demolition of its older facilities and during construction of the new assembly building, the yard had no facilities available for ship repair anyway. The Novadock will not be replaced per se, but a new launching dock will be required for the new construction. No announcement has been made on where it will be procured or when.

With Novadock gone from the Shipyard, the full extent of the mammoth new building is revealed in all its splendour.

Steel has now been cut for the first hull under the new shipbuilding program and the first module is underway.

More work remains to the roll out area to the north, where the new Pier 6 cope wall is now under construction, and work has started on the huge roll out pad.

Changes are also underway at the Angus L. Macdonald bridge where the deck replacement project is about to begin in earnest.

Atlantic Cartier [see below] passes beneath the bridge, denuded of its walkway and bike lane and fitted with a traveler for the work, the bridge is ready for its first new deck section starting next weekend.

 The Cherubini dock is all set up to transport the sections with their giant crane and chartered barges.

Atlantic Container Line has started the process of retiring its G3 ships, with Atlantic Concert the first to go. It arrived off the Bhavnagar anchorage in India September 5. The first new G4 ship, Atlantic Star, was registered in England September 1. It is still at the shipyard Zhonghua Shipbuilding in Shanghai, but is due for imminent delivery, followed every two months by is four sisters.

ACL'S schedule still shows Atlantic Concert's next call in Halifax on October 18, so that is the likely arrival date for the first new ship.

A sight soon to be no more, Atlantic Cartier  clear of the Narrows and heading on a course to pass east of George's Island.

More big ships are coming. Ships of the size of  Ningbo Express and OOCL Southampton are joined by CMA CGM ships as lines try to increase efficiency and as the "superships" displace the merely big or not so big on the main trade routes.

Some other changes noted after my return from my August vacation:

McNally Marine has started work on the new HMC Dockyard Jetty under the Macdonald bridge, to accommodate the Arctic Offshore patrol vessels.

Work continues on the new Irving Oil dock in Woodside, also by McNally. Irving Oil has taken delivery of the refurbished Acadian now fitted with an exhaust gas scrubber, just like sister East Coast, both under Canadian flag. As soon as the new dock is completed, Irving ships will  no longer call at the Esso docks.

Of the Marshall Islands pair of the Irving quartet, Great Eastern has now gone to Gibraltar for its similar refit and New England has a Canadian coasting license until September 26.

The navy has revealed the desperate condition of the Athabaskan (no surprise) but it has gone to sea again in recent days.

With no operational supply ship to support its fleet, the RCN is turning to Davie to rebuild a container ship as an interim supplier. Preserver is now a floating feul depot in the Dockyard, no longer moving under its own power when it shifts from one berth to another.

There are other changes too, but perhaps the more relevant here is the upcoming change to Shipfax as I transition to a more relaxed format, but more on that later.


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