Saturday, April 30, 2016

Veendam - first cruise ship and other business as usual

The 2016 cruise ship season began today with the arrival of the Veendam. Built in 1996 as a Statendam class ship, it was refitted in 2009 with the extension of two decks aft and a "duck tail". Now rated for 1295 passengers (maximum) and 568 crew, it is still one of the smaller cruise ships we will see this year.
A pair of hardy kayakers greet the ship as is arrives for the first time this year.

A regular caller since 1996 it will have different fleetmates this year with the reassignment of former sister ship Maasdam. Instead Rotterdam and Zuiderdam will do the honours. In 2014 it had propellor problems and had to cancel three October cruises when it went into drydock for three weeks.

Veendam rounded north of George's Island on its way in to pier 22.

Otherwise it was business as usual in the port: 

The Liberian flag Callisto followed and and anchored for Asian gypsy moth inspection. It is the third ship to arrive for clearance by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. (MSC Cristiana was first March 20, and Cap Lara was the second last Saturday)

Built in 2010 by Yamanishi in Ishinomaki, Japan, the 15,861 grt, 25,981 dwt ship carries three cargo cranes. It is owned by Heinz Corleis of Germany and is bound from Providence, RI for Montreal.

In the afternoon the Canadian tanker Havelstern anchored for bunkers and will remain in port over night.

There was Naval and Coast Guard activity as SAR crews (likely CG college students) exercised with CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell outside, on returning to port, it tied up at the old Coast Guard base.

HMCS Charlottetown and HMCS Shawinigan both sailed.

HMCS Charlottetown takes aboard several matelots from a RHIB as it sails. This was the mooring line party that let the ship go when it slipped its berth at HMC Dockyard.

HMCS Shawinigan builds up speed after passing George's Island.

See also Tugfax.


Friday, April 29, 2016

CSL Tacoma and Oceanex Connaigra - starboard to starboard


The simultaneous passing of the CSL Tacoma departing and Oceanex Connaigra arriving resulted in a rare starboard to starboard passing in the Middle Ground area between Meagher's Beach and Ives Knoll.

CSL Tacoma, a Trillium class self-unloading bulk carrier was built in 2012 at Chengxi Shipyard in Jiangyin City, China. At 43,691 grt, 71,552 dwt, the ship is too large to take a full load at National Gyspum due to limited draft alongside the pier.  However it did take a part cargo and was sailing for the US. After rounding George's Island it kept to the east of the main channel leaving lots of room for the inbound.

In the background the pilot boats exchange crews and boats at the end of a shift. Chebucto Pilot remains as the outside boat with the fresh crew, and A.P.A.No.1 returns to base with the off duty crew.

The inbound Oceanex Connaigra was heading for the Halterm container pier and it was more convenient for it to stay on the western side of the channel to make its approach to the pier, hence the starboard to starboard meet. It is a 26,786 grt 19,500 dwt ConRo built in 2013 by Flensburger Shiffbau in Germany.

Oceanex Connaigra has shifted from its usual St.John's / Montreal run to the St.John's / Halifax service to cover for the refitting Oceanex Sanderling. Starting March 31- April 1, it is expected to continue until May 13 when Sanderling returns from Gibraltar. Since coming to the Halifax route it has made two extra mid-week trips in addition to the weekend calls - with the exception of last weekend when it did not show up.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Masterpiece of timing

Halifax pilots performed a masterpiece of tining today -as they often do - when three container ships departed and one arrived within an short span of time.

First out was NYK Diana from Fairview Cove. Its pilot timed the outbound route to meet the incoming CMA CGM Cendrillon after the inbound had picked up its pilot.

Next off was Aeneas (sailing for Zim) which took the western channel to give CMA CGM Cendrillon lots of room.

Then the Zim Tarragona sailed, also taking the western channel as CMA CGM Cendrillon kept well to the east in the main channel, and would then tie up at the same berth - pier 41 at Halterm.

All this was also done with two tugs working from one ship to the other in turn from Aeneas to Zim Tarronga to CMA Cendrillon without any apparent delays.

18:44 hrs: On the right, NYK Diana is outbound. At centre, Aeneas in the western channel outbound and at left, CMA CGM Cendrillon inbound in the main channel.

1847 hrs: Aneas (left) has made the 90 degree course change off Ferguson's Cove heading back toward the main channel as NYK Diana (right) bears toward the pilot station.

 1850 hrs: Zim Tarragona has worked its way off pier 41 and its tugs have moved on to the inbound CMA CGM Cendrillon.

1859 hrs: CMA CGM Cendrillon  makes its way, with tugs alongside, toward pier 41.


Monday, April 25, 2016

A lightly loaded Vera D arrived for Melfli Lines and tied up at Halterm this afternoon. The ship is en route from Italy, Spain and Portugal for Cuba. This is its 15th trip for Melfi - Voyage #1 was November 24, 2014.

The 17,188 grt, 22, 513 dwt ship can carry 1519 TEU. It was built in 2004 on a hull by Daewoo Managalia, Romania, and completed by J.J.Seitas in Germany.  Launched as Pyxis it was renamed Maersk Veracruz on delivery to Peter Doehle Schiffahrts of Hamburg. It became Vera D in 2009.

Federal Oshima completed loading its cargo of wood pellets and sailed for Immingham, UK this evening.

Surely there is a way that such cargoes can be loaded without creating so much dust.

CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell left port for SAR exercises offshore. The Newfoundland based Search and Rescue vessel has been seconded to Halifax for the last several weeks.

Sir Wilfred Grenfell sails with the old Coast Guard base in the background where the idled Jones Tide is tied up.

 Built in 1985 by Marystown Shipyard, it was originally a supply boat, ordered on spec by the Newfoundland government to keep the shipyard afloat. In 1986 the government of Canada acquired it and converted the ship for SAR duties.

The new SAR ships will have helicopter capability. A CCG helo laded service techs on George's Island this morning. 
A replacement for the ship is among five SAR vessels to be built by Seaspan under the  National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, but it it is several years off into the future, after Seaspan builds the Joint Support Ships for the navy, the Polar Icebreaker John G. Diefenbaker (to be renamed by the current government one expects-can you guess the new name?) and Ocean Research vessels.

Speaking of replacements there is still no word on how the navy plans to replace its Glen class tugs. Glenevis was going about its business in the harbour today, still in fine condition, but underpowered by today's standards.

 The new tugs will not be part of the NSPS program, and several Canadian yards have expressed interest in building the new boats.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Follow Ups

Following up from yesterday:

The heavy lift ship Palau was ballasted down by the bow this morning, which just bared the top control mechanism of the Becker rudder flap.

The flap was stuck at about a 45 degree angle to amidships, which would certainly be inconvenient for steering!

a.m.: rudder flap at a 45 degree angle

p.m.: rudder flap in line

By late afternoon the flap was back in line -whether repaired or just fixed in that position there was no way to tell. However blasting back to an even keel was underway and the ship is scheduled to sail later this evening, resuming its voyage to Hamilton, ON.

The ballast box is a pontoon which can be placed over side to counterbalance heavy lifts by filling it  with an appropriate amount of water.

Trimming the ship down by the bow was achieved at least in part by shifting the ballast pontoon (a box which can be floated overside) to well forward and slewing the cranes forward. Also some hatch covers were removed and stowed forward.

With the ship back on an even keel workers pack up their gear and the ship's crew is repositioning hatch covers and 'tween deck covers..

Another interesting feature of the ship was revealed when it was ballasted down. A very prominent ice knife is fitted above and abaft the rudder. Rudders can be jammed by ice, particularly when backing. I suspect the Becker flap rudder is even more susceptible, and thus needs even more protection.

The ship is also fitted with a stern anchor, a requirement for transiting the St.Lawrence Seaway, but also a useful appendage when loading or unloading at an anchorage. A large blister below the anchor is needed to keep it clear of the ice knife.

The tanker Doric Pioneer arrived last evening and anchored in Bedford Basin until this afternoon. On departure of the Irving Oil tanker East Coast it moved to Imperial Oil's number 3 dock.

Built by Hyundai Mipo of Ulsan, South Korea, the 29,622 grt, 51,565 dwt ship is operated by Chios Navigation (Hellas) Ltd of Piraeus, Greece and flies the Liberian flag.

The only recorded arrival today was the Skandi Flora, returning from the Stena Icemax foe another load of drill riser. The supply boat has been conducted a constant shuttle of the new riser out to the drill ship transferring the replacement riser sections.

Skandi Flora at pier 9C, ready to load the remaining riser sections for the Stena Icemax.

Even when the new riser sections and other related gear are all aboard the drill ship it remains to be seen when it will resume drilling for Shell. The Offshore Petroleum Board has been quiet on when that will be allowed to take place.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Saturday Sampling

There was such a variety of activity in Halifax that shipwatchers could have spent the entire day keeping track of it all.  Perhaps I can be excused for missing some of it - real life does intrude from time to time.

The early morning sun posed a challenge to catch the arrival of Atlantic Huron without deep shadows on the Halifax side. As the ship came up harbour it had to sweep out an around HMC Dockyard's  so called Force Protection Barrier. (More implied than real in winter, most of the floating fence is removed to prevent weather damage.) As the ship then swung back on course to pass under the Macdonald bridge, there was a chance to see the sunny side.

Some of HMC Dockyard's security fence - mostly the anchor buoys - shows on the right side of the photo. In the background the tanker Citrine finally unloads at Imperial Oil after idling at anchor in Bedford Basin since April 14.

The veteran Atlantic Huron has been threatened with retirement several times in recent years, but after a winter layup and drydocking it is back in service once again. Built in 1984 as a conventional gearless bulk carrier, it was converted to a self-unloader in 1989 and was rebuilt in 2003 by widening its hull 3 feet.

Citrine finally moved in the early hours of the morning. After a week at anchor, there was finally room in Imperial Oil's storage tanks for its cargo.

A second CSLer arrived later in the day, also destined for National Gypsum, and passed up west of George's Island permitting a close view on its way to anchor in Bedford Basin.

A regular in Halifax now, CSL Metis has been mentioned here often before. On its last visit April 12, it took a major bite out of the gypsum stockpile in Dartmouth, which has since been replenished.

Vanishing gypsum.

The reason that CSL Metis passed west of George's Island this afternoon was the presence of the loaded crude oil tanker Cap Lara in number one anchorage, effectively blocking the eastern channel.

The 81,324 grt, 158,826 dwt Greek tanker, built in 2007 by Samsung, Koje, is en route to Quebec City with its cargo, but put in to Halifax for Asian gypsy moth clearance by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

It's rare to see a crude tanker now that we don't have a refinery anymore, so its arrival was a bit of a treat. The ship apparently passed the test and sailed at about 1800hrs.

Another unexpected arrival was the heavy lift ship Palau.

Operated by Harren Ship Management's Combi-Lift fleet, the Malta flagged 11,473 grt, 9,962 dwt ship is fitted with two massive 450 tonne derricks capable of a 900 tonne combined lift. It has its bridge and accommodation forward to allow for unobstructed visibility when carrying large loads. The ship was built in 2010 by Taizhou Kouan Shipbuilding Co in Taizhou, China.

Secured on deck is this massive spreader rated at 850 tonnes (the spreader's own weight must be figured into the combined lift capacity)

Once alongside pier 25 the ship shifted its ballast box forward to allow for work on its rudder.
The ship is fitted with a Becker rudder, which is a rudder with a steerable flap on the trailing edge to improve maneuverability. That flap has malfunctioned, and the tug Atlantic Oak was called upon to provide steering assistance as the ship made its way into port.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fednav calling

Fednav ships were once common sights in Halifax, but they have become rare in recent years for a number of reasons. They rarely call here for bunkers anymore, so that ceretainly cut down on numbers.
They also used to bring in coils of steel tire cores for Nova Scotia's three Michelin tire plants. That cargo now comes in containers, rather than in bulk.
Despite being Canada's largest shipping company, all but a handful of its ships are foreign flagged, and they are on dedicated services, so we would rarely see any domestic calls.
On Friday morning Federal Oshima will be arriving at pier 28. The last record I have of it calling here was in 2004, and it then anchored in the harbour from August 27 to September 6, awaiting a cargo in another port.

1994 photo

Federal Oshimna was built in 1999 by Oshima Shipbuilding in Oshima, Japan. It is a bulk carrier of 20,659 grt, 36,563 dwt and carries three cranes, but no grabs. Its primary cargo is finished or semi-finished steel. However on this visit, since it is arriving from Montreal and tying up at pier 28 I assume it will be loading wood pellets.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

CMA CGM - the shakeup begins

CMA CGM has announced the formation of a proposed new alliance with China COSCO, Evergreen and OOCL. The Ocean Alliance, as it will be called, will include some 350 ships on 40 service loops. It will inevitably shakeup a number of established alliances serving Halifax, but it will take time for the full impact to be felt. A lengthy approvals process is needed as regulators in the EU, China and the US among others, will have to rule on the proposal.

Following on the heels of the Port of Halifax's release of 2015 results, which show a large increase in container traffic - largely thanks to CMA CGM's current Columbus loop (another alliance with CSCL and UASC)- one has to wonder what the effect will be on Halifax.
The opening of the upsized Panama Canal this summer may be an almost equally important event, not to mention the acquisition of Maher Terminals in New Jersey by Macquarie, the operators of Halterm.

CMA CGM states that the new Ocean Alliance would cover almost all the major trade lanes, with the exception of South America, namely:
Asia-Red Sea
Asia-Middle East
Asia- North America East Coast

Currently CMA CGM serves Halifax as part of an Asia-North American East Coast route, via the Suez Canal, called the Columbus Loop, using ships that are too large to transit the old Panama Canal. That could change however with the larger canal, when ships could serve east coast North America via a transpacific service. That would put Halifax as the last port of call (instead of the first as it is now with the Suez route) - certainly a disadvantage.

CMA CGM also serves Halifax on a joint transatlantic service with Maersk Line. That weekly service also serves Montreal. I would not expect that service to survive the Ocean Alliance, particularly since OOCL also participates in another alliance that serves the St.Lawrence. Even that long standing service may change as a result .

OOCL currently services Halifax as part of the G6 Alliance with HAPAG-Lloyd and others. That alliance will also be shaken up. It was due to expire at the end of 2016 anyway after CMA CGM acquired one of the partners, APL (American President Line, owned by NOL, Neptune Orient Line).
The other partners in the service are Hyundai Merchant Marine, MOL and NYK.

COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Co) was forced by its Chinese government owners to merge with CSCL (China Shipping Container Line) forming China COSCO. CMA CGM formed the Ocean 3 alliance with CSCL and UASC, and how it will fare with the new alliance remains to be seen. It is that alliance that operates the current Columbus Loop service to Halifax.

Evergreen,  a  Korean Taiwanese* company, is not currently serving Halifax, although it once had an independent service that called in Halifax.
The history of these shipping alliances, if they even survive the regulatory process, is that they have a limited shelf life. They can be hugely disruptive to customers, and are obviously meant to serve the interests of the shipping companies, some of which are on life support.
Mergers and the like are usually more permanent. The Macquarie acquisition of Maher in New Jersey will be an interesting one to watch. Is see Halterm (served by CN) and Maher (served by CP and CSX) as both competitors and as healthy rivals, each challenging the other to provide better service. That sort of competition within a common ownership may or may not lead to good things for Halifax. It will certainly encourage the rail lines to perform if nothing else.

* Footnote: Thanks to those who pointed out that Evergreen is based in Taiwan, not Korea.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Oriental action in south end: Asian Moon, Macao Strait, then to the Alps

Most of today's harbour activity was concentrated in the south end. Two of the ships had decidedly oriental names, but Caribbean connections.

At pier 42 Macao Strait was in port for Melfi Lines. The ship has been a regular since November 2014, and is now on its 11th trip to Cuba.

The ship is owned by Carsten Rehder of Hamburg, but registered in Madeira, a Portuguese offshore registry. It was built in 2008 by Taizhou Kouan in Taizhou, China. Its two 40 tonne cranes are swung out over the port side while it is in Halifax where shore side crane do the work of loading and unloading conrtainers. The 21,018 grt, 25,903 dwt ship has a container capacity of 1795 TEU, including 319 reefers.
The ship sailed from Naples March 30, with stops at Livorno April 1, Genoa April 2, Barcelona April 5, Valencia April 6, Lisbon April 9. It is due to sail tomorrow destined for Mariel, Cuba April 24.

At pier 31 Asian Moon is in port from Cuba, for Nirint Lines. It arrived at about midnight last night with another load of nickel sulfides. It was last here September 8, 2015 with a similar cargo.

The ship was launched as Alianca Inca in 2006, but was renamed Asian Moon on delivery by Jiangdong Shipyard in China. The 9956 grt, 13,670 dwt ship can carry 1118 TEU and has two 45 tonne cargo cranes.

The third ship has a more Alpine name, although with an unfortunate connection to Halifax. The ship Mont Blanc and the Belgian relief ship Imo collided in Halifax in December 6, 1917 resulting in the Halifax explosion.

NB A recent book by Janet Maybee, "Aftershock: The Halifax Explosion and the Persecution of Pilot Frances Mackay" [Nimbus] goes a long way toward clearing the name of Mont Blanc's harbour pilot who was unfairly blamed for the accident.
The book has been nominated for two Atlantic Book Awards. The author will be presenting a talk on myths and truths about the Halifax explosion at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Sunday April 24 at 2 pm.

BBC Mont Blanc was a late afternoon arival. The 8255 grt, 9363 dwt ship dates from 2011 when it was built by Tianjin Xingang in Tianjin, China. With a nominal container capacity of 660 TEU, it is more often used for general cargo and heavy lifts using its two 350 tonne capacity cranes, which can work in combination for a 700 tonne lift.

The ship took two tugs in order to squeeze into pier 30 just ahead of Asian Moon. Its cargo appears to be more equipment for the new McInnis Cement plant in Port Daniel, QC. The Bombardier Corporation project has been using Halifax to deliver large steel fabrications that are then trucked to the plant site.

BBC Mont Blanc is registered in Antigua for Briese Schiffahrts, operators of BBC Chartering.

Tomorrow will be a busy one at pier 30 and 31 with both ships working.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Clover Ace, CMA CGM Almaviva - big car boat, big box boat and other doings

The autocarrier Clover Ace arrived at Autoport this morning. Its 6400 car capacity puts it among the largest size of ships in the Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) fleet.

The already crammed Autoport will somehow find room for all the cars it is likely carrying.

Built in 2008 by Toyohashi Shipbuilding in Japan the 60,065 grt, 17,280 dwt ship flies the Liberian flag for Osaka Fleet Co Ltd.

Halterm also hosted a large ship this morning. CMA CGM Almaviva is one of the 8465 TEU ships on regular rotation on the Columbus Loop service.

It was built in 2011 by Samsung Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries in Koje, South Korea. Its tonnages are 96,817 grt, 109,000 dwt.

It appears to be carrying more boxes than it did on its last visit, December 12, 2015, confirming in my mind at least, an uptick in cargo volumes for the port.

It was a pretty quiet Saturday in the harbour with the only other ship of any size, the oft photographed Maersk Pembroke also at Halterm.

HMCS Shawinigan arrived from some sea time, make a sharpish turn to avoid George's Island.

This is the time of year that the naval reserves ramp up their activities and the Kingsyton class ships return to service.

And in Bedford Basin CCGS Earl Grey did some calibration trials in preparation for a return to service after a mid-life refurb.

As with most shipyard visits, Davie Quebec painted the ship's hull up to deck level. leaving the upper works for the crew to attend to as part of regular maintenance.

There are still some traces of Friday's snow fall, such as the roof of the Burnside water tank, but it is rapidly disappearing as daytime temperatures rise.