Friday, September 30, 2016

Busy cruise day

Another four ship cruise day in Halifax had every bus with four round wheels on the waterfront to carry passengers to the surrounding sights Celebrity Summit and Serenade of the Seas lined the seawall from pier 20 to 22. Disney Magic was stern in at pier 31 and the smaller Azamara Journey tucked in at pier 23.
Ships are staying in port longer into the evening now and often leave after dark. They usually arrive in darkness of early light, so picture taking is a challenge.
I did manage to get some nice light on the Serenade when she sailed.

The 90,000 tonner (2,490 passengers) is not considered a large ship now, but when she came out of Meyer Werft in July 2003 she was the largest ship ever built in Germany. Royal Caribbean arranged for her August christening in New York by no less than Whoopi Goldberg. This was the ship's fourth of a schedule eight calls this year. (In 2003, its first year, it made twelve calls, including one storm induced over-nighter).

Royal Caribbean also had Azamara Quest in port, one of its exclusive small ships, at 30,277 grt and 702 passengers. Built in 2000 as R Seven for Renaissance it became Delphin Renaissance in 2003, and Blue Moon in 2006. It took its present name in 2007. I don't recall this ship ever calling in Halifax before.

Regular harbour activity included the arrival of the hardworking HMCS Fredericton. After a stint in Operation Reassurance in the Mediterranean from December 30, 2015 to July 5 of this year, the ship is now returning from operation Cutlass Fury with NATO ships off our coast.

The departure of the still shiny Oceanex Sanderling, was marred somewhat by all that unhealthy looking smoke. Although nothing has been announced, Oceanex must be planning on replacing the 39 year old veteran.

Built by Sasebo Heavy Industries in 1977 as Ravenfels for the lamented DDG Hansa, it became Essen in 1980, Kongsfjord in 1981 and Onno in 1983. In 1987 it became ASL Sanderling and has plowed its furrow between Halifax and Newfoundland - often bi-weekly ever since. When Atlantic Searoute morphed into Oceanex it kept up the same routine and was renamed in 2008. It has had some major refits over the years including at least one serious engine rebuild, but time must be catching up on the ship.
Its most recent three month re-do in Gibraltar completed in June of this year will certainly keep it going for a another few years. 


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Averting the unthinkable

The National Energy Board of Canada dropped a virtual bombshell September 22 when it ordered an immediate 10% reduction in operating pressure on Trans-Northern Pipeline's Ontario-Quebec line due to numerous over-pressure incidents and other management concerns. The line delivers product from refineries in Nanticoke, Oakville and Clarkson to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, and branches to Pearson International and Pierre Eliot Trudeau International airports.

According to producers, the reduction threatens fuel availability in the Greater Toronto area, and they are scrambling to find tankers to maintain supply.

With no Canadian tankers available to take on the extra work, they have turned to foreign ships available on the spot market. The tankers have to be small enough to use the St.Lawrence Seaway and thus are limited in capacity. (A coasting license may be granted to operate a foreign ship between Canadian ports by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (upon recommendation of the Canadian Transportation Agency) if no suitable Canadian flag tanker is available.)

Suncor wants to bring in the Duzgit Endeavour, a Turkish owned and flagged vessel of 10,276 grt, 15,995 dwt. It is to make four voyages between Montreal, Oakville and Sarnia carrying 10,000 m3 per trip.

Edzard Schulte on the St.Lawrence in August.

Algoma (working for Esso) has applied for Edzard Schulte, German owned, Isle of Man flag, 11,246 grt, 16,371 dwt to carry 70,000 bbl per trip for multiple trips out of Sarnia ranging between Thunder Bay and Montreal.

Both ships would make their trips between October 5 and November 3 to 5.
The Ontario Quebec pipeline normally delivers 172,900 bbl (27,500 m3) per day.

Meanwhile Pétro-Nav, which works for Valéro (Ultramar) is not effected by the NEB order, but it has also applied to use Harbour Pioneer, German owned, Portuguese Madeira flag, 13,239 grt, 19,122 dwt to make multiple voyages October 5 to November 3 carrying 10,000m3 to 14,000m3 out of Lévis to ports ranging from Thunder Bay to Corner Brook.

Harbour Pioneer also on the St.Lawrence in August.

This is the fourth foreign flag tanker that Pétro-Nav has chartered in this year. Their own fleet has been fully occupied on the St.Lawrence and in the far north.

This periodic shortage of Canadian tankers has been an issue for years, but apparently is not enough for Canadian tanker owners to increase their fleets. There never seems to be a problem finding foreign tankers when needed. Their low cost crews and rates are no doubt beneficial compared to Canadian flagged and crewed ships.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Anthem of the Seas stands out (an over)

The 4900 pasenger Anthem of the Seas towered over Halifax once again on its third call of the month. Its arrival in darkness precluded any photo, but once in port it certainly dominated the skyline and the 210 - passenger, Halifax - built, Pearl Mist.


On departure, with a tail wind, spectators in the "North Star" [SM] capsule not only enjoyed the view from 300 feet above sea level, but likely got a good snoot full of smoke. Oh well, all part of the "Quantum Crusing" experience. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Many of the product tankers that callls in Halifax show up once and never again as they go about their bueinsss around the world. Some become more or less familiar faces, making several calls. Such is  Energy Patriot, with its third calll in Halifax this year arriving at anchor this morning.

The 29,605 grt, 46,606 dwt ship was built in 2008 by Sundong shipyard in Tongyeong, South Korea. It is operated under the Isle of Man flag by Golden Energy Ship Management of Athens, Greece. After spending the morning at anchor it moved to Imperial Oil this afternoon.

Unfortunately the rain moved in at about the same time, marring the view of a much larger tanker arriving at number 1 anchorage.

Umlma flies the Qatar flag for owners Qatar Shipping Co SPC of Doha. It datres from 2006 when it was delivered by Hyundai's Samho yard in South Korea. The 57,243 grt, 106,005 dwt ship had discharged crude to Irving Oil at Canaport, Saint John and stopped in Halifax long enuough to take on bunkers before sailing for Whiffen Head, NL to take on some Hibernia crude.

Irving Oil has applied to use the tanker to make one trip from Whiffen Head to Canaport between October 18 and November 3 with 700,000 bbl of White Rose crude.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week's roundup

Several events were worthy of note in Halifax harbour this week (although I missed some of them).

The Irving Oil terminal in Woodside was recommissioned this week with the arrival of Acadian. The pier and all the lines running over and undergound to tanks high on the hill behind the terminal have been rebuilt in the past two years. 

Acadian at the Woodside terminal on September 21.

Irving had shared pier facilities with next door neighbour Imperial Oil for several years, but when Imperial ceased refining at that location and began importing all product, their two piers became too congested for Irving's liking. Irving thus rebuilt their old terminal for their own use. A pipeline connecting Esso to Irving's tanks was probably also removed.

HMCS St.John's was elevated on the HMC Dockyard synchrolift for some needed maintenance.

This is the first ship, other than a submarine, to be lifted in a long time.

Speaking of maintenance, Atlantic Container Line's new G4 LoRos are experiencing teething problems. Atlantic Sail has been anchored in Bedford Basin since Thursday September 22 with undisclosed mechanical problems. It has been restricted from sailing by Transport Canada until it has a clean bill of health.

For a time there was a tug alongside, indicating that its main propulsion engines were out of commission. This is the second delayed ACL recently, with G3 Atlantic Cartier hung up in port for several days awaiting parts earlier this month.

Atlantic Cartier sailing without indcident on September 22.

The cruise ship Arcadia was only one of 18 cruise ship visits in the last seven days as the season is in full swing.

Built in 2004 by Fincantieri, Porto Maghera, the ship was originally ordered by Holland America as a Vista class ship, but was transferred to Cunard, to be named Queen Victoria. However shortly before launch, parent company Carnival transferred it to P+O and it became Arcadia. The 84,342 grt ship has a capacity of 1952 regular passengers, but can carry 2388 maximum (the latter figure is used by the Port of Halifax, but I doubt she was carrying that many.)
The ship has been refitted twice, losing the traditional P&O buff colour on its funnel in the process and getting an exploded version of the union flag on her bow. The unfortunate implications of a such a design are too obvious to comment on here.

In 2014 the ship still had its traditional P+O funnel colour, even though the funnel was a Cunard style, less the cowl.

Despite the blue funnel, the ship has kept its attractive red boot topping.

The ship stood out at pier 31, with about 15m of its bow projecting out into the stream.

The expected arrival of Disney Magic at pier 31 tomorrow meant that Nirint Line's usual berth was occupied.

Helga arrived late Saturday night and berthed at pier 27. The 8999 gert, 12,944 dwt ship, was built in 2009 by Damen Yichang and completed by Damen Gorinchen, for Dutch owners Van Dijk Rederij of Westerbroek. Built as Helga, it was renamed Kent Atlas in 2010, Helga in 2012, Clipper Avalon in 2013, Thorco Tribute in 2014 and  reverted to Helga again in 2015.

Today's arrival for Hapag-Lloyd, Ningbo Express, was not deeply loaded, but had an ample quantity of containers aft of the superstructure. Many of these are likely to be empties, heading back to the far east. The 7506 TEU ship, built as Hong Kong Express in 2002 by Hyundai, Ulsan measures 88,493 grt and 100,016 dwt. It received its current name in 2012.

It was met by the tugs Atlantic Larch (filling in for Atlantic Willow which is getting some maintenance) and Atlantic Oak for its trip in to Fairview Cove. 

 The tugs turn the ship off Fairview Cove, where filing continues, presumably to enabel eventaul expension of the pier. Even though doubts have been expressed about the ability of Fairview Cove to continue serving large ships, Shipfax believes it will continue to serve ships up to and beyond the size of Ningbo Express.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Quest DX official

After nearly two years under the axe, it finally fell on September 2 when a DND memo revealed that in fact CNAV Quest will be decommissioned. Its civilian crew were notified at the same time. The navy's only research ship, built for hydrographic and other research missions, (and able to work in the arctic) will be "gone" by the end of the year and perhaps the employees too. 

Quest at her November Golf jetty, HMC Dockyard.
As covered here in February 2014 the RCN docked the ship until the end of the 2013-2014 budget year to slash costs. However there was no money to run it in subsequent years and it has been idle ever since.
Although no date has been announced it is expected that the official decommissioning will take place before the end of 2016 - likely without ceremony- and the ship will be prepared for disposal. At the rate government ships are actually sold it may be years sitting around the harbour until such time as a sale actually takes place.

I have covered Quest many times. If you care to re-read those posts here are some dates:
June 17, 201
April 4, 2011
April 13, 2001
June 3, 2011 
January 19, 2012
April 18, 2013
March 13, 2013
November 28, 2013

Quest was modified several times over the years to increase research space and to perform certain tasks. None of these alterations improved the ship's appearance. And of course there was the unforgivable lack of buff paint on the funnel.

In any even here are some photos of the ship in better times.

In Pictou, NS awaiting drydocking, Quest shows off her good side, before the hull sponsons were added in 2012.
The ship's port alley was partially plated over in her 1997-1999 mid-life refit. The work could have been done a bit more gracefully and saved the ship's deck line. 

Before that the ship had a more appropriate, yacht-like appearance:

Sailing into Halifax in 1992, in its more or less original appearance, the ship looked quite interesting. Its enclosed crows nest in the funnel structure gave it a distinctive profile. 

Launched by Burrard Dry Dock in North Vancouver July 9, 1968, Quest was commissioned August 21, 1969. A diesel electric ship, it has two 10 cylinder Fairbanks Morse engines (1775 bhp) driving two GE electric motors (1450 shp) on twin screws. It had a mid-life refit in 1997-1999 and extensive modifications in 1999. It was tied up again in 2009 to correct stability and deck subdivision issues outstanding since 1986 and unaccountably never dealt with in previous refits. It also had some engine problems in 2009 leading up to the 2010 drydocking pictured above.
In 2011 it was fitted out for Radar Infrared Electro-Magnetic Pressure Acoustic Signature [RIMPASSE] experiments and crossed the Atlantic to work with the German and Dutch navies.  At that time it was painted navy grey on one side only and fitted with side curtains and hull cooling.
In 2012 it reverted to its old self and conducted research in the arctic. Its only since that time that it has had the white funnel.
It is also to be noted that it is the last white ship in Canadian government service. We will soon only have CSS Acadia to remind us of the days when hydrographic ships were white!

Footnote: CCGS Matthew, formerly white also, was laid up in 2012 and renamed 2015-03 prior to disposal. It was offered for sale for $2.25 mn, but there were no takers on August 7. It was re-posted for sale for $1.9mn and that sale closed September 7.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

No encore at this concert

Another ACL ship has gone to the breakers.Atlantic Concert arrived off Alang, India September 15 and  was beached two days later. Scrapping likely began immediately. Its fleet mate Atlantic Companion was the first to go in September 2015, followed by Atlantic Compass in June 2016.

Last call.

The last time I saw the Atlantic Concert, it was sailing from Halifax July 23, 2016 for the last time and it was certainly obvious that no investment was being made in the ship except to keep it running long enough to get through its last few weeks of service.

Atlantic Concert in 1984

The first time I saw the ship it was brand new, in June of 1984. Fresh out of the Kockums AB shipyard in Malmo, Sweden it measured 25,435 grt / 36,500 dwt with a capacity of 2157 TEU and a huge RoRo capacity served by a massive stern ramp, it dwarfed most other ships calling in Halifax.
I was a less prolific photographer then, so it was not until August that I finally got a picture.

Atlantic Concert in 1986

The ship was then owned by Wallenius Lines, an original partner in ACL, and remained under their ownership when ACL began a joint service with HAPAG-Lloyd to Montreal in 1987. The ship was renamed Concert Express and sent to Hyundai Mipo to be lengthened 42m thus increasing tonnages to 57,255 grt / 44,988 dwt (later reported as 51,648) and container capacity to 2908. Its overall length was then 292.01m ( 958 ft).

Concert Express in 1989.
(as seen from the bridge of the tug Point Halifax and through tinted glass)

In 1990 Atlantic Container Line AB was formed in Sweden to own the ACL ships with Grimaladi Group as the owner and managers. In 1994 the ship reverted to its original name again and has been a predictable presence in Halifax ever since. With five G3 class near-sisters, ACLs were the most readily identifiable ships in  Halifax and that is why I chose one for the mast head photo (Atlantic Compass taken November 23, 2014).

Atlantic Concert docks at Fairview Cove Febraury 1, 1986, as the tug Point Vibert stands by to flush broken ice away from the dock. 
(Bedford Basin rarely freezes over, but ice does form or is blown into Fairview Cove.)

The two remaining G3 ships, Atlantic Conveyor and Atlantic Cartier will also be heading to India as the next G4 class ships come into service.

With the new ships ACL is expanding its capacity considerably and has expressed concern about the recent talk of moving Fairview traffic to Halterm and resultant delays in rail loadings. If Halifax cannot compete with New York for delivery of mid-west traffic, we may see the last of ACL ships.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Zuiderdam makes it this time, and more

As mentioned yesterday Zuiderdam's first scheduled visit to Halifax was scrubbed September 5 due to the storm Hermine. However the ship made it today and gusty winds and some intermittent mist and light showers didn't deter its passengers form their shoreside activities. It is on to Sydney, NS for tomorrow and then to the St.Lawrence.

 While in port the ship's fast rescue craft got in some training time and was re-embarked after the ship was off the pier.

Built in 2002 by Fincantieri Breda in Marghera, Itlay, the 82,820 grt ship normally carries1916 passengers, but it has a maximum capacity of 2272.

The FRC is being hoisted aboard as the ship sets out to round George's Island.

The Vista class ship received upgrades in 2015 adding new staterooms and "dining venues" thus increasing its grt from the original 81,769.

Also in port today Norwegian Gem  Dawn and Serenade of the Seas added to the crowds on the waterfront.

Serenade was well outbound before I could see it as Zuiderdam blocked the view - not to mention several intent mackerel fishers.

Number one anchorage was mostly occupied by the bulker Frontier Lodesman while it under went an Asian Gypsy Moth inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Such procedures normally take only a few hours, but the ship was in port all day.

Built in 2011 by Koyo Dockyard in Mihara, Japan the 92,752 grt, 191,338 dwt ship is one of the largest bulkers to call in Halifax. It is bound to Sept-Iles, QC to load iron ore.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Picking up - more or less- where we left off

Shipfax resumes its posts now that staff vacations are completed. It will still cover activities in Halifax Harbour - and elsewhere - but perhaps not with quite the the breathless urgency of before. We will see.

It seems like a good time to resume as Queen Mary 2 made another of its visits to Halifax - its third of four scheduled this year.

Always a draw for  onlookers, the waterfront was lined with visitors and residents as the ship got away this afternoon. The ship looks quite splendid now that its hull has been repainted and is still an impressive sight even if it is not the biggest ship to call here.

The holder of that title was the monster Anthem of the Seas, September 1. It is due back twice this month and in October. I may dare to take a picture then.

The cruise season seems to be going well, with only one cancellation so far. HAL's Zuiderdam passed up its September 5 visit and arrived in New York a day early to avoid Tropical Storm Hermine that was lingering over Cape Cod and possibly heading north. It is due again tomorrow.

Also in port was a substantial naval presence with USS Robert E. Peary, Bulkely, Gonzalez, Toledo, HMS Monmouth, FS Languedoc and ESPS Patino (for the RCN) all in port for the weekend after NATO exercises.

The handsome Arleigh Burke class Bulkely (DDG 84) and Gonzalez (DDG 66) against the backdrop of the hulking Robert E. Peary tied up at Jetty Bravo.

The ships are due to sail on Monday, which unfortunately Shipfax will not be able to cover due to conflicting assignments.