Monday, August 28, 2017

Ferbec - Quebec Report #11

Another ship that may be a familiar sight on the St.Lawrence for some time to come is the bulk carrier Ferbec. The largest ship in the CSL domestic fleet, it is also the second ship to carry the name for the comapny and is plying the same route as its illustrious predecessor.

The ship carries ilmenite ore from Havre-St-Pierre to Sorel-Tracy on a continuous shuttle operation for Rio Tinto Fet et Titane.

The current Ferbec entered service in May of this year when it was registered in Sorel May 18. It was previously sailing for CSL's international fleet as CSL Melbourne since 2010. Built in 2002 by Nantong Cosco KHI in Nantong, as Orientor and carried the name Orientor 2 from 2002 to 2010. It is a Handy Size bulker of 27,198 grt, 49,502 dwt fitted with four cranes and grabs to work cargo.

Its predecessor of the same name was a gearless bulker, built in 1966 by IHI, Tokyo as Fugaku Maru and acquired and renamed by CSL in 1977. Its sale for scrap in 2005 raised the ire of environmentalists, because it was known to contain hazardous materials. Renamed Michalakis under the Mongolian flag, it sailed to Alang, India where it was beached for scrapping March 24, 2005.

Havre-St-Pierre is the loading port for the ore, which is mined at Lac Allard 43 km inland and transporter by rail to the port. Established in 1950 by Quebec Iron and Titanium (QIT) the mine yields high grade titanium dioxide which is refined to development metal powders used as white pigment for paints, paper and numerous other commodities.

The mine has been operating at reduced capacity for some time and will only run for 24 weeks this year, however that may result in a sufficient stockpile to keep the ship running. However Rio Tinto has another mine, this one in Madagascar, that could potentially supply the Sorel-Tracy operation at lower cost.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

NACC Québec - Quebec Report #10

The cement carrier NACC Québec was upbound this afternoon on its second trip to the Seaway. On its first trip last week,it discharged at a new terminal in Cote-Ste-Catherine.  This trip it will be going to Oshawa.

Built by Tuzla Gemi in Tuzla, Turkey in 2011 as  Tenace, the ship was brought into Canadian registry this spring by NovaAlgoma Cement Carriers (NACC). A 50/50 joint venture between Algoma and Nova Marine Holdings SA of Luxembourg the company was established to carry cement in bulk form. This particular ship is in dedicated service to the new McInnis cement plant in Port Daniel, on the south coast of the Gaspé peninsula. It will also be making international voyages seasonally.

The ship started life as a conventional bulk carrier of 9286 grt, 14,600 dwt, but with a special cement loading and discharging system installed its revised tonnages are 10,243 grt, 14,906 dwt. Immediately recognizable by the forest of cargo handling pipes, and the outrageous funnel, the ship will become a regular sight on the river.

The ship was in Halifax briefly August 12.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Light Loads - Quebec Report #9

There has been lots of daytime shipping activity in recent days, but many of the ships appear to be lightly loaded.

Detroit Express with its ungainly cranes, and light draft is carrying a normal load. Built by Hyundai Heavy Industries and Construction, it was not however built in Korea, but at their satellite shipyard in Subic, Philippines.

Carrying no cargo at all the sailing vessel Mondango 3 made an impressive sight as it motored up river, on its way from Halifax to Quebec City. The skein of geese is an early sign of autumn.

Federal Mosel was also quite obviously carrying little if any cargo, but did sport a lone container on deck. The ship is new this for Fednav. Built by New Times Shipbuilding Co in Jingjiang, China, it measures 22,947 grt, 36,583 dwt, and is max-sized for the Seaway with its plumb bow and no bulb. It is destined for Hamilton, ON.

The tour boar Cabaret has been operating from Pointe-au-Pic this summer, with nature and sightseeing trips to the Gros Cap-a-l'Aigle area, usually twice or three time daily.

The tanker Patras was also in ballast. It is returning from a delivery to Sydney, NS. The ship is working on a coasting license for Pétro-Nav, due to a shortage of Canadian flag tankers. Pétro-Nav sent two of its small tankers north this summer to refuel various outposts, and so were not available for St.Lawrence cargoes.\


Friday, August 25, 2017

Schedule disarray - Quebec Report #8

The temporary speed restriction in the Gulf of St.Lawrence is having an effect on the whales it is intended to protect and on ship schedules.

No ship strikes have been reported, and no dead whales have been found since the ban was instituted. The fallout for shipping has been predictable.

Some inane suggestions about helicopter escorts, special sonar and other speculations on how to speed up ships and save whales have been proposed by some in the shipping industry. If these geniuses would turn their minds to the environment instead of the bottom line for a few moments, they might realize that they and their customers will just have to pay for the privilege of sharing this planet with whales.

Oceanex Connaigra used to be a daytime Saturday sighting, now it passes at night.

The effect on domestic shipping has seen Oceanex introduce a temporary fuel charge to pay for the higher speeds required in other areas to make up for the five hours of slow steaming in the Gulf. Oceanex competes with trucks and Marine Atlantic on what is a far from level playing field, and any change of schedule or costs would certainly hurt them.

 CTMA Vacançier is back to early Thursday mornings.

C.T.M.A., which serves the Magdalen Islands, has curtailed stops in Gaspé in order to keep their cruise ferry CTMA Vacançier on schedule. After a couple of weeks of trying to maintain the schedule, the ship is now reaching Quebec and Montreal on close to the old timetable.

MSC Kim was hurry up then wait on Tuesday afternoon.

Foreign flag container ships are making up the time at sea, but there has been some increase in speed on the river too. I note reported speeds in excess of 18 knots, which is a pretty good clip.  Schedules however seem to be in some sort of disarray, as the MSC Kim, charged past my place at 18.6 knots, but then anchored off Pointe-au-Pic for about four hours. Perhaps they were overly enthusiastic about opening up the throttles and had to back off so as not reach Montreal too early.

 OOCL Belgium made up its time at sea, but was still moving at a good rate this afternoon.

Non-scheduled Great Lakes ships are effected too. Even though the speed reduction does not bother many of them, since they do not go that far into the Gulf (the zone extends as far west as the eastern tip of Anticosti Island) their speed would only be reduced by a knot or two.

 Algoma's newest ship, Algoma Strongfield does not venture far enough east to be effected by the speed limit.

However with a limited shipping season, they need to get in as many trips as possible. Salarium carries salt from the Magdalen Islands, right in the middle of the zone, and it would be difficult to make up lost time in its relatively short trips.

Salarium transits the zone on every trip with salt.

So far I have not heard of any violations of the speed limit.

To add the container shipping misery however, the container carrier Maersk Pembroke was disabled by fire west of the Lizard Point, in the Celtic Sea, August 21. It appears that the ship, which was en route from Antwerp to Montreal, will have to be towed to back to a European port. That will certainly throw a wrench in the weekly service operated by Maersk and CMA CGM.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Oranjeborg - back again, Quebec Report #7

The wharf at Pointe-au-Pic, QC sees on average two ships a month to load paper. The paper is produced by the Resolute mill at Clermont a few miles away and trucked to the wharf warehouse by a shuttle truck and drop trailers running weekdays.

The most frequent caller for the past few years has been Royal Wagenborg's Oranjeborg a multi-purpose RoRo, side loader, dedicated to the forest product trade. It arrived at noon today and began loading immediately.

The ship cuts close in to the K64 buoy as it lines for the wharf at nearly full tide.

A flotilla of forklifts bring the paper rolls out of the warehouse and load them through the side door onto ship's conveyors, whence they are moved by elevator to the appropriate deck where ship's forklifts stow the cargo. The ship's holds are climate controlled, since humidity levels are critical to protecting the paper.

The ship's controllable pitch prop and bow thruster allow it to come alongside without a tug.
Oranjeborg was built by Stocznia Gdynia in Poland in 2004 and measures 18,289 grt, 15,126 dwt.


Monday, August 14, 2017

CCGS Pierre Radisson - Quebec Report #6

CCGS Pierre Radisson has been conducting engine trials off my place since Friday. Ranging between Gros Cap-à-l'Aigle and Cap-aux-Oies, the ship has spent most of its time anchored off the Kamouraska Islands, in the south channel, directly across the river from my front door.

About 3 miles off Gros Cap-à-l'Aigle on Friday, the ship began its trials.

The ship is conducting propulsion trials, which seem to be related to a major Vessel Life Extension project (VLE) announced August 10, 2016. Verreault Navigation of Les Méchins was awarded an $8.6 mn contract for the majority of the work, which included hull re-coating, steel work, reconditioning the flight deck and hangar, and replacement of the windows. At about the same time Canadian Maritime Engineering was awarded a contract to replace the steering system.

ABB received a separate $3 mn contract to provide new hardware and software including eight new drives in the power distribution system. All this follows a 2011 project that replaced its six main engines and 3 generators.

 Last year I caught the Pierre Radisson heading for refit at flank speed.

The ship was decommissioned for the Verreault project, with the crew due to return to the ship in January 2017, with the shipyard work to be completed by January 31. The ABB contract was to be complete and commissioned by June 2017, but that my be what they are working on now.

The ship is propelled by six MLW- Alco (Fairbanks-Morse) diesel engines of 2,950 hp powering six General Electric Canada AC alternators which in turn drive two GEC DC shaft motors producing 6800 hp at 100% = 13,600 shp at the two propellers.

Built by Versatile Pacific Shipyards Ltd in Vancouver, CCGS Pierre Radisson was delivered to the CCG in June 1978 and conducted its trials and delivery voyage by the Northwest Passage. It is based in Quebec City. It is the lead ship of the Type 1200, Arctic Ice Class 3 Medium/River Icebreaker.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Speed limit - Quebec Report #5

A large swath of the Gulf of St.Lawrence is effected by the temporary speed restriction imposed by Fisheries + Oceans Canada in a perhaps futile attempt to reduce North Atlantic Right Whale mortality.

With up to ten whales of the endangered species found dead in the Gulf of St.Lawrence this year alone, there are fears that the surviving 500 or so whales may be beyond saving.

Ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements are thought to be the cause of the deaths, and some fisheries have also been curtailed, and an order has also been issued to remove phantom fishing gear.

The whales formerly inhabited the mouth of the Bay of Fundy where shipping lane re-routing appeared to have been successful in reducing strikes. However in recent years, for reasons yet unknown, the whales have left the Fundy area and moved to the Gulf. The animals feed on krill near the surface, and perhaps it is that the Gulf provides better feeding. As the western Atlantic warms up, the Labrador current still pumps cold water down through the Strait of Belle Isle into the Gulf and it is likely that the whales have moved to take advantage of better feeding.

That certainly appears to be the case for other whale species. I have seen more minke whales this year than any year I can remember. They feed on small fish such as herring and smelt, but the same water temperature issues may be a factor with them as well.

The effect on scheduled shipping is yet to be determined, but will obviously mean increased speed in other zones in order to maintain schedules. The reduced speed zone will result in cost savings for fuel, but the increased speed necessary to make up the time will more than offset any savings.

Right whales do not have "sonar" capability of some other species do, and thus cannot sense the presence of ships. They are so intent on feeding and so used to ships that they not distracted by their presence. Let's hope that the speed limits will work in saving this important species.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Louis S. St-Laurent and others - Quebec Report #4

The veteran Canadian icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent completed sea trials today and headed for St.John's.

 In mid-river, well out of the normal shipping channels, CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent conducts trials. The town of La Pocatière is to the left on the south shore.

Leaving Davie shipyard early this morning, it made its way down river past Cap-aux-Oies where the river widens out to about 12 miles, and spent a few hours doing evolutions as far downstream as Kamouraska, and upriver off La Pocatière.

It then returned up river as far as St-Joseph-de-la-Rive, where it disembarked a party of shipyard workers via the tug/workboat Ours Polaire.

With trials completed, the ship is met by the tug Ours Polaire and an outboard powered aluminum skiff, which seems to be on standby for lifesaving.

 Forced along by the tide, the ship is directly off the St-Joseph-de-la-Rive ferry dock.

Ours Polaire with a deck load of shipyard techs, heads in where a bus is waiting to take them back to Lévis. Since they were not wearing PFDs I assume the skiff was a precaution.

"The Louie" turns up the revs. The stern squat is real.

It made a very tight turn to port, and then took off, soon reaching 17 knots.

The ship had been on a $14 mn refit since February and really took the chance to kick up its heels. Perhaps it is moving with such alacrity because there is still time to participate in northern operations.

While awaiting the return of "The Louie"  there was more shipping to see from the vantage point of St-Joseph-de-la-Rive.

Upbound the HAPAG-Lloyd container ship Ottawa Express was getting a little boost from a powerful full moon tide.

Ottawa Express also making haste.

Built in 1998 by Daewoo SB+ME Ltd, Okpo, the 39,174 grt, 40,879 dwt ship has a modest container capacity of 2808 TEU. It was designed for year round St. Lawrence service to the restricted drafts of the time. It has carried the names Canmar Honour to 2005 then CP Honour to 2006.

A ship that is actually older (in part) than "The Louie" was creeping down river against the last of the tide. CSL's Cedarglen is an amalgam of the 1959 German-built Ems Ore. That ship was acquired  by Hall Corp  (with two sisters) and in 1977-78 Davie built a new forebody, and moved the island bridge aft. (That necessitated extending the funnel.) Renamed Montcliffe Hall it served Halco until 1988, when that company went out of business. It then went to N.M. Paterson + Sons Ltd where it served as their Cartierdoc. Paterson wound up their business after sister ship Windoc was badly damaged by a untimely bridge lowering in the Welland Canal. CSL acquired the Paterson fleet in 2002.

With a full load of grain, and against the last of the rising tide, Cedarglen makes no haste.

As Cedarglen the CSLer is one of the oldest cargo ships still operating on the St.Lawrence. It is headed from Montreal for Baie-Comeau, and at 6.4 knots was soon overtaken by the racing "Louie".


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Quebec Report #3

Sundays are often busy days on the river as ships aim to reach port on Monday. Today, despite some heavy showers, tide and time co-operated for a few photos of the dozen or so ships that passed my vantage point.

The speedy Maersk Penang overtook the slower Strandja as they made their way upriver early this afternoon.

Maersk Penang is a familiar sight in Halifax, one of five ships that maintain a Maersk CMA CGM transatlantic service.  Calling on Montreal Monday, westbound, the ships then stop in Halifax eastbound, usually on Saturday.

Strandja sails for Navigation Maritime Bulgare of Varna, Bulgaria, whose ships have been regular callers on the St.Lawrence for many years. Their tan superstructures make them easily identifiable from a distance. Launched in 2010 by Shanhaignan Shipyard in Qinhuandao, China as Eastward York, it was renamed on delivery Federal Yangtse, but almost immediately renamed Strandja.
The ship measures 19,865 grt, 29,9800 dwt and is a Seawaymax vessel.

As the showers cleared in the early evening a faint rainbow formed the background as Camilla Desgagnés passed close by upbound. The ship is returning from its first northern supply trip of the season.

A veteran of the Desgagnés fleet, the ship is the former Finnish newsprint carrier Camilla, that was salvaged off Newfoundland in 2003. Declared a total loss, Desgagnés bought the ship and installed a crane and carried out other modifications to suit it for work in the north.

The northern supply run is in full swing, with most ships back from their first trips and loading or sailed for the second. It is an especially busy year since the port of Churchill has been cut off by railway washouts and is no longer a staging point. In fact some lines are delivering cargo to Churchill for local use.

Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping, has added a fifth ship to its fleet. It was downbound this morning at the crack of dawn, too dark for a photo. Named Nunalik (meaning "community"), the ship arrived in Sorel July 30 and was registered Canadian August 4. As with the other ships in the fleet, it was acquired from Spliethof's, the Dutch carrier, which company operates the ships in the off season.
Nunalik has a somewhat different history however, as it was not for Spliethof's.
It started life in 2009 at Jiandong Shipyard in China, and was originally named Beluga Fairy, 9611 grt, 12,662 dwt and as a member of the Beluga F class, was fitted with  a pair of 180 tone cranes that can combine for extra heavy lifts. When Beluga failed the ship became HHL Amazon for Hansa Heavy Lift. In 2016 it was renamed Hemgracht by Spliethof's and used by them until needed by NEAS.

The other major northern supplier, Desgagnés has four former Beluga F class ships in its fleet, and has found them especially useful for their heavy lift capability.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Presever to the scrappers


File photo: Preserver in use as a fuel shuttle, relied on tugs to move it between the HMC Dockyard and Imperial Oil after it was withdrawn from seagoing in 2014.

Although I was not in Halifax to see it go, I followed yesterday's departure of the decommissioned HMCS Preserver on the internet.

The tug Lois M of McKeil Marine got underway on schedule at 1030 hrs, and with assistance of the Dockyard tugs Glenevis and Glenbrook they were soon off the berth. The latter tug was tethered aft as stern escort.

Once out to the Middle Ground area, inside Meagher's Beach, the ship pilot disembarked to Scotia Pilot while the pilot assigned to the tug remained on board until reaching the pilot station.
By this morning the tow was making good progress and was off Guysboro.

The ship was sold to Marine Recycling Corporation of Port Colborne, ON, and there was idle speculation that the ship would be towed to the Great Lakes to be broken up. This was never in the cards. Although the ship could fit into the Seaway locks, it would have been an expensive proposition to tow it all the way to the Welland Canal. There would also be the question of the many delays caused to commercial shipping with such an ungainly tow.

Despite protestations in the press that they are not in the ship scrapping business, Heddle Marine of Hamilton, ON, a company associated with McKeil Marine, was instrumental in having the ship broken up in Nova Scotia. McKeil and Heddle have leased the Sydport area in Point Edward, NS as a ship repair and staging base, with an option to purchase the entire facility. They have apparently sub-leased some of the space to MRC and that is where Preserver will be broken up.

MRC has also acquired the retired ferry Princess of Acadia, the research vessel Quest (and possibly the destroyer Athabaskan) all of which will also be cut up at the facility. Heddle was contracted by the federal government to provide shipkeeping services when the ferry was retired and laid up  at Sydport.

MRC will undoubtedly use the facilities of Heddle Marine to assist in the initial dismantling and removal of recyclables and re-usables from Preserver and the other ships. There is still a plan to remove the marine re-fueling gear from Preserver for re-use by the RCN.

File photo: Preserver in its role as a floating gas station allowed RCN ships to refuel within the Dockyard until permanent fueling facilities could be arranged after Imperial Oil shut down its refinery and became a deport only.

The last of the Canadian Navy's supply ships, Preserver was laid down built in Saint John, NB in 1967, launched in 1969 and commissioned in 1970. It is ironic that its arrival date in Sydney harbour will be very close to the anniversary date of August 7, 1970.

It was removed from seagoing service in 2014 with corrosion, electrical issues and other problems, and finally decommissioned  October 21, 2016. Its disposal for scrap has very rapid by Canadian standards, which is partly explained by the fact that instead of the RCN's own forces removing re-usables, the MRC/Heddle operation will do that work.

Preserver's twin fleet mate Protecteur has been scrapped by R.J.MacIsaac in Liverpool, NS which has left the RCN in an awkward position of being unable to refuel its own ships at sea.

The fueler to be named Asterix Resolute is expected  to come into service this fall. It was recently unveiled at Davie in Lauzon, QC. A converted container ship hull, that ship has been contracted to serve the RCN until 2021 (at the earliest) when the RCN takes delivery of the second of two Queenston class fleet replenishment ships. It is not clear at this point how the fueling gear will be transferred to the Asterix  Resolute, but if it is done, McKeil / Heddle have lots of tugs and barges to do the work.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Quebec Report #2

More ideal weather and tides = more photos.

First up this morning was the tanker Las Cuevas from Norfolk for Quebec City in ballast.

Built in 2000 by Minami Nippon, in Usuki, Japan, the ship measures 27,955 grt, 45,299 dwt. It flies the British flag - now a flag of convenience (how times have changed).

It was followed not long after by Montreal Express doing a strong 20 knots as it stretched to follow the tide. Although bearing a HAPAG-Lloyd name, it is a lease from Sea Spirit Leasing Ltd and also flies the flag of Great Britain.

The ship is in itself a bit a of a history lesson, as it was built in 2003 as Canmar Spirit following the naming style of the successful Canada Maritime (a joint venture of CP Ships and Cie Maritime Belge, although CP had bought pout CMB in 1993). In 2005 the Canmar brand was dropped and CP Ships renamed it CP Spirit. Through several acquisitions, CP had become the 7th largest container line. But that position seems to be a curse, and it was swallowed up  by TUI AG and merged into HAPAG-Lloyd in 2005, and in 2006 the ship acquired its current name.
Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering built the ship in Okpo, to carry 4402 TEU (including 311 reefers) on 55,994 grt, 47,840 dwt and it was intended for year-round St.Lawrence River service.

Following up at a more sedate speed, Reestborg is bound for Trois-Rivières from Vlaardingen, Netherlands. The ship features a reverse camber bow, and a very small superstructure for a ship with a surprisingly large tonnage of 14,141 grt, 23,249 dwt.

Downbound, mid-river is Dara Desgagnés.

Reestborg was built for Royal Wagenborg by Ferus Smit at the Leer Shipyard in 2013.

Once the tide had crested it was time fir the downbounds. To avoid upbound traffic, most downbounds stick to mid-channel or even use the south channel from time to time, however with no other ships in the area Alkyonis opted for the north shore to gain a little from the tidal backwash.

Just above the number two crane is the Morin Shoal buoy, marking a seamount in mid-river. 
The telephoto lens shortens the distance considerably.

A comparatively new bulker of 23,2676 grt, 37,418 dwt, Alkyonis was built in 2016 by Imabari Zosen, in Imabari, Japan and is mostly used to carry coal. Its next port is listed as Norfolk, VA.

Rounding up the day with the incoming tide was another container ship, MSC Rochelle. It flies the Liberian flag, and as is common with many MSC ships on the transatlantic route, it has a long history.

Built in 1997 by Hyundai, Ulsan, it was originally Pugwash Senator named in honor of the Nova Scotia village where Cyrus Eaton founded the Pugwash Thinkers Conferences.  Senator Line was a German company, in which Hanjin acquired a majority ownership in 1997, with Laiesz in the minority. Laeisz was once the owner of the famous Flying P line of clipper ships, and all its ships were named with the the letter P. Although becoming a major container line Hanjin-Senator was also a victim of the curse of 7. Even though it was the 7th largest container line, it ceased trading in 2002.

In 2007 the ship found other charters and became CSAV Appennini, 2012: Pugwash, 2013: MSC Curitiba, 2014: Pugwash and in the same year MSC Rochelle.