Sunday, September 30, 2018

Classic - redefined

When transatlantic liners were outmoded and various other long range passenger routes were rendered obsolete by aircraft, many of the older passenger and passenger / cargo ships were re-purposed for cruising, and went on to sometimes long careers. In my mind those ships were the classics.

Nowadays with most of them gone, there are still  'first generation" cruise ships sailing, sometimes under third fourth or fifth names, and they have now achieved the status of classics, Hard as it is for me to realize that I remember these ships when they were new, I do like seeing them again, still working. Most have far better lines than the new behemoths, which only adds to the enjoyment.

Today saw two classics and two moderns in port.

First arrival and first departure was the Fred Olsen Lines Black Watch, a ship that was part of the new wave of luxury world cruising as Royal Viking Star when it was built in 1972 by Wartsila, Helsinki.

Although it never called in Halifax as Royal Viking Star it was little changed when Olsen initially took over, including the all white colour scheme.
Lengthend by 27,77m by Seebeckwerft, Bremerhaven in 1981, and with other enhancements its orginal grt of 21,848 is now 28,670, with an increase in passenger capacity from 539 to 820. It also carried the names Westward from 1990 to 1994 and Star Odyssey to 1996.

By comparison the Royal Princess at 142,714 grt and 3600 passengers, appears to be a giant, even though it is far from the largest cruise ship in Halifax this year.

The shadows of several Halterm container cranes fall on Royal Princess as it sails early this evening.

It was built by Fincantieri, Monfalcone in 2013 and sponsored by no less than HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. It first called in Halifax September 24, 2014.

Another (modern day) classic arrived at pier 23 this morning and will spend the night in port,. Saga Sapphire started life as HAPAG's Europa at Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack in 1981.  It has changed hands several times and carried the names 99: Superstar Europa, 99: Superstar Aries, 94: Holiday Dream, 08: Bleu de France and finally in 2012 joining British-based Saga Cruise Lines as Saga Sapphire. From an original capacity of 600 passengers, the capacity swelled under French ownership to 1158 (counting upper and lower berths), but has now settled on 720.

Saga Sapphire at its customary pier 23 berth, takes fuel as Royal Princess towers in the background at pier 22.

Europa at pier 23, was often the last cruise ship of the season in Halifax.

For the record the other modern ship that called today was Norwegian Dawn, seen in this blog before.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

If you don't like the weather...

The old Halifax saying "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes" certainly proved true today (although it was apparently not in  effect Thursday and Friday.) A gray drizzly day greeted early arriving cruise ship passengers this morning. It didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the largely British guests from P+O's Aurora.

By noon time however there was a complete about face as a largely cloudless sky emerged with a balmy 20degree C air temperature. This was the greeting for an unusual mid-day arrival of AIDAviva.

Unlike the earlier arrival, the decks were crowded with passengers, one in particular occupying the "pulpit" position at the very tip of the bow, as the crew rigged heaving lines from the docking platform.

It was still clear for the departure of Crete I from Fairview Cove.

and for the arrival of the CMA CGM Elbe for Halterm.


Its bow pulpit was occupied by one solitary sailor - his shipmates likely busy out of sight with their headlines.

The departing Pearl Mist had perfect conditions too.

Cloud began to build in a bit as Aurora sailed, but that merely helped to reduce the glare off the whiteness of the ship.

The sun was also shining brightly on the dazzle painted Sackville as it sat on the Synchrolift at HMC Dockyard. It has finally emerged after several months in the submarine shed for replacement of wasted hull plates. The work should ensure that the last surviving World War II corvette can remain afloat for some time to come.

Since all the ships noted are familiar visitors to Halifax, I have foregone the usual technical info, as it has appeared in earlier posts.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Seeing Stars

The tanker Star N arrived September 23 as previously noted, and moved to Imperial Oil dock 4 to unload on September 24.

Star N at Imperial Oil dock 4 has offloaded its cargo from Milford Haven is preparing to sail this evening..

Then on September 25 the tanker Star I arrived for Irving Oil. Not only do the ships have similar names, but their tonnages are almost identical and they were built by the same shipyard, but two years apart.

Star I is unloading its cargo from Amsterdam at Irving Oil.

Star N dates from 2009 when it was built as Mekong Star by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan and measures 23,312 grt, 37,836 dwt. It was renamed in 2013. It is a MidRange 1 chemical / products tanker.
Star I was built as Acor by the same yard in 2007, and measures 23,348 grt, 37,900 dwt, and was also renamed in 2013.

That is apparently where the similarities end. Star N is registered in Panama by Alkmene Shipping Corp (likely based in Greece) and is under Navios Tankers Management Inc of Piraeus, Greece.
Star I flies the Maltese flag for Star Transportation LLC, and  is chartered to Scorpio Tankers Inc of Monaco (and other principal ports) until March 2019. (It was previously in Halifax in October, 2015, then under Turkish ownership.)


Ocearch tag boat

The research vessel Ocearch has successfully tagged a pair of great white sharks off Nova Scotia. The US flagged vessel, was in Halifax before going out on this latest operation .

Ocearch tied up at the Tall Ships Quay. Classed as a yacht, it did not have to dock behind the port's security perimeter.

Built in 1990 by Horton Boats of Bayou La Bâtre, AL, it was originally the Alaska king crab fishing vessel Arctic Eagle featured on several TV documentaries. In 2004 the US government bought back a number of king crab licenses and the ships was converted to a sport fishing mother ship named Ocean Discoverer, then simply Ocean. That is essentially what it is today, but instead of only catching game fish, it is now used to tag sharks, turtles and other sea life including seals as it travels around thw world. (The ship had a 16,000 mile range before it needed to re-fuel in its king crab days).

The controversial shark tagging process involves attracting the sharks with what is politely called "chum", then catching the fish with rod and real. A big  Contender 28T boat, with a pair of 300 hp Yamaha outboards, coaxes the fish over an elevating platform that hoists the fish aboard. It is very quickly tagged, measured and released. The well funded and media savvy Ocearch has its critics, who state that more passive tagging methods are less likely to disturb the fish in their normal habitat. I will leave that to the scientists to sort out.  


Ocearch It is likely the first ship to call in Halifax that is registered in Utah.



Bilbao Bridge at Fairview Cove for the AL6 service.

The ultra-competitive container shipping scene is about to change (again) for Halifax, with the announcement of another service cut. Despite gains and losses of lines, mergers and alliances, increased traffic flow has given the Port of Halifax a notable boost in the past two years. However in a sign of things to come, the recent announcement by ONE that it will cut Halifax out of its AL6 service must come as a major blow.

ONE was front and centre at the recent Port Days, with one of its bubble gum coloured containers parked at the entrance to the Cunard Centre venue at Pier 23.

It is especially stinging since ONE, the Ocean Network Express, operates the Fairview Cove container terminal through its ownership of Cerescorp.  In order to remain a player in the world, ONE was formed out of desperation by the three major Japanese container lines, NYK, MOL and K-Line. The last named owned Cerescorp which was folded into the ONE stable. K-Line also supplies the ships that serve the AL 6 weekly service.
 K-Line charter from Seaspan International carries boxes from AL6 partners HAPAG-Loyd, UASC (owned by HAPAG), Zim, and Yang Ming.

That will all end in December when the the AL6 partners, ONE, Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming and Zim concentrate on US ports and bring CMA CGM and COSCO (China Ocean) into the fold using larger ships, up from 4500 TEU to 8000 TEU.

The current 4500 TEU ships such as Brevik Bridge can pass under harbour bridges with ease. The 8,000 TEU ships could make it too, but would need two escort tugs.

ZIM has traditionally not joined alliances, but has recently changed its policy and has teamed up with the 2M Alliance (Maersk and MSC) and with MSC alone to rationalize some Asia-US East Coast and India-Med routes. This has been the shakeup that most lines were looking for since it cuts competition and reduces the number of ships needed. Bigger ships are cheaper to operate, so all these alliance imply larger ships.

Brotonne Bridge is one of the five sister ships on the AL6 service.

In order to remain a world player, ONE is building new and bigger ships, but at the same time it is shedding overhead costs by returning charters, and cutting elsewhere. ONE's commitment to Fairview Cove is certainly brought into question with this recent cut. Lack of new equipment and berth space pressure must have been a factor in the AL6 cut. Seeing ships anchored waiting a berth is never good news in the container business. This does happen from time to time when ships have been delayed.

 Lots of fill going in at Fairview Cove, but no expansion plans. Budapest Bridge well loaded.

The AL6 service was threatened before, when it announced in December 2017 that Halifax would be dropped, but they recanted in February of this year. The most recent announcement appears to be final however.

Berlin Bridge outbound.

The five ships that have been supporting the service were all built by Samsung Shipbuilding + Heavy Industries Co in 2010-2011, and have a capacity of 4526 TEU, measuring 46,444 grt, 58,200 dwt.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Akademik Sergey Vavilov

The research / expedition / cruise ship Akedemik Sergey Vavilov arrived this morning. It is not listed in the cruise ship schedule for Halifax, but does make yearly visits as it is repositioning from its summer arctic cruises to its winter antarctic cruises.

 Akademik Sergey Vavilov this morning.

Built in 1988 by Hollming, Rauma, Finland, it measures 6344 grt, and is a near sister to Akademik Ioffe, built a year later by the same yard. Akademik Ioffe made the headlines this summer when it went aground in the arctic. Fortunately for all, although the ship was holed, it was possible to evacuate the passengers and non-essential crew safely. In fact Akademik Sergey Vavilov was in the same area and was able to respond and take those people aboard. Akademik Ioffe arrived in Méchins, QC today for drydocking.

 Akademik Ioffe on an earlier visit to Halifax.

Both ships are ice strengthened to Lloyd's Ice Class 1-A and are owned by a Russian research facility, but their cruising is organized by One Ocean Expeditions of Vancouver. A third ship, and quite a different one, RCGS Resolute will be joining the One Ocean roster later this year. It was built in 1991 (One Ocean says 1993) by the same Rauma yard, is ice class 1AS and can carry 146 passengers.

Welders are busy patching up Hanseatic in 1996.

 As the Hanseatic it has its own history of grounding in the arctic, following a memorable incident in 1996 on King William Island. It was refloated and proceeded to Halifax where its punctured fuel tanks were patched. It was built as Society Adventurer, but was renamed in 1992. Its new name will include the initials of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Although now wearing HAPAG colours, Hanseatic carried the Bolten funnel mark in the 1990s.It weill adopt One Ocean livery when it is handed over in November.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Some weekend activity

Far from  a complete rundown of weekend activity - this will have to be a few glimpses.

On Friday the centre section of AOPS 2 (Halifax Shipyard Hull No. 104, future HMCS Margaret Brooke) was rolled out onto the hardstand. This is Megablock #2 of the three sections that will make up the ship, and is by far the largest.

 Workers are lowering the (red) transporters so that the (blue) cradles will rest on the ground.

Despite high winds and showers Megablock#3, the stern section, was rolled out Saturday morning and perfectly aligned with Megablock #2.

In the case of AOPS1, it was five months before the bow was moved into position.

The ship will likely remain in this condition for some time until the bow section, Megablock#1 is ready for assembly. In the meantime it is much easier for workers to access the innards of the ship.

It was still dark and blustery at 0800 hrs as CCGS Hudson arrived from sea, and it did not attempt to tie up at the Bedford Institute, instead continuing on out to anchor in Bedford Basin.

Hudson bypasses its berth at BIO.

 Those high winds caused some interesting moments docking the cruise ships Disney Magic and Adventure of the Seas on Saturday morning. The Disney Magic had tug assistance. However by sailing time conditions had changed considerably and it was a glorious sunny afternoon, although still windy.

Sailing in the late afternoon,  Adventure of the Seas made a large swing to starboard to create a lee for the pilot boat (which is barely visible alongside the ship).

The product tanker Star N was also due on Saturday, and it was planned that it would anchor in Bedford Basin until its berth at Imperial Oil was free. The Harbour Feature was due at the berth first. Instead Star N remained at sea until Sunday morning, then anchored in the lower harbour.

Unlike Saturday, Sunday was more or less dead calm - the anchor is straight up and down.

Star N dates from 2009 when it was built as Mekong Star  by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan. A handysize tanker of 23,312 grt, 37,836 dwt, it was renamed in 2013 and is managed by Navios Tankers for anonymous owners. Its last port was Milford Haven, UK.

For a compressed view of last Thursday's bustling harbour activity see:

Be sure to read the play by play commentary on the YouTube page.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Cruise ship day

The waterfront was abuzz this afternoon with four cruise ships in port and a fifth on the way. The earliest arrival this morning was Serenade of the Seas followed an hour later by Silver Spirit.
This is not the first call for Silver Spirit, but is the first visit since its $70mn (US) upgrade earlier this year.
 Silver Spirit is inbound, while Celebrity Summit makes its way toward the pilot station from sea.

 Now with a sort of swayback look, the longer ship looks unfinished.

Built in 2009 by Fincantieri, Ancona, the ship had a capacity of 540 passengers and 376 crew and measured 36,009 grt.  This past spring it went into drydock at Fincantirei Paleremo where it was cut in two and an already built 15m section was inserted just about midships. The new section, and other extensive renovations, increased the ship's tonnage to 39,444 and capacities to 608 passengers and about 396 crew.

 At noon  time the large Norwegian Escape made its inaugural call in Halifax. With a capacity of 4,266 passengers and 1733 crew, it easily dwarfs the other ships in port. The "Breakaway Plus" class ship  was built in a remarkably short 17 months by Meyer Werft, Papenburg. Its $1.5 bn price tag bought 165,157 gross tons.

The ship turned effortlessly in number one anchorage and backed in to pier 22.

The fifth ship to arrive today, will tie up in mid-afternoon. The Halifax built Pearl Mist, a regular caller, will remain in port over night.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Busy Port Day

Several hundred attendees at the Port of Halifax annual Port Days event were hardly noticed on the waterfront today amid about 7,000 cruise ship passengers and activities surrounding the G7 Environment ministers meeting at the Nova Scotian hotel nearby.

Aside from an increased police presence, it was pretty much business as usual in the southend of the port. Port Day attendees however were told that the future may look very different - more on that later.

Three cruise ships called in Halifax. As posted yesterday, there was the early arrival of Regal Princess. Since its first arrivals here in 2015 it has had "decorative" painting added to the bow.

After their usual day in port the regulars Rotterdam and AIDAviva had already sailed when Regal Princess backed out of its berth at pier 22. (This followed a nearly ten minute horn malfunction, that blasted the south end of the city and no doubt polluted the aural environment for the G7 representatives!).

The heavy police presence on the land side of the water front, including dozens of officers on bicycles, was also seen on the water with the Halifax Regional Police boat Garrett Cotter zipping back and forth.

Built in 2004 by ABCO, Lunenburg, NS the 710 bhp aluminum hulled vessels is registered as C07536NS./ Interestingly that registration shows ownership vested in the Halifax Port Authority. 
[Although not as famous as the Australian criminal of the same name, this Garrett Cotter was the first chief of Hailfax police, then called City Marshal, appointed in 1864.]

The RCMP was represented with a fibreglas Rigid Hull Inflatable dating from 2015 when it was built by Kantar Marine Inc of St.Thomas, ON. It is registered under C17083NL, a Newfoundland designation, but ownership is shown as RCMP "H" Division, Halifax.

Not to be left out the Canadian Coast Guard  landed a helicopter at George's Island late in the afternoon. However this may have been a normal technician run.

The autocarrier Goodwood was sailing form Autoport, in deep shadow.

 The RCN had HMCS Summerside and Glace Bay in the harbour, but this seemed quite incidental too.

See a subsequent post for Port Days coverage.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Regal Princess - early arrival

Of the three cruise ships due in Halifax September 20, one is expected very early in the morning.

Regal Princess will be arriving at the pilot station at 0230 hrs due to a medical evacuation. The transfer will take place at an anchorage in the harbour to avoid docking delays. The ship will move in to pier 22 at 0700 hrs.

Fincantieri Monfalcone built the 142,714 grt ship in 2014 for 3,560 passengers and 1,346 crew. It made its first call in Halifax September 24, 2015 (see photo), having missed its first scheduled call April 19 due to weather en route.

Rotterdam and  AIDAviva are also due in port. The landside of the port area will be especially busy since it will also by the Port's annual Port Days, with several events planned in the same area where the cruise ships berth.

Grandeur of the Seas - late arrival

Most cruise ships arrive in Halifax early in the morning (and often in the dark) to give passengers a full day in port. The arrival of Grandeur of the Seas at noon today was an opportunity to see a ship arriving in daylight.Granted there was not much daylight - it was overcast with periods of drizzle.

On the ship's last trip out of Baltimore, it was in Port Canaveral, FL when Hurricane Florence crossed its proposed route to Bermuda. Instead the ship sailed to the Bahamas and then put around and east of Florence, arriving back in Baltimore arriving on September 15 instead of September 15. That likely accounts for its later arrival today. The ship will spend the night in port and sail early tomorrow morning.

The ship was built by Kvaerner Masa Helsinki in 1997, and has a capacity of 2446 passengers and 760 crew, with a gross tonnage of 73,817. It had a major refit in 2012, and again in 2013 after a fire.

This was the ship's second two day extension to a cruise this year. In January a port side steering issue en route Nassau to Baltimore caused the ship to divert to Port Canaveral for two days of repairs.


Monday, September 17, 2018

The Ins and the Outs

Three cruise ships called in Halifax today, and all sailed in the late afternoon.

Disney Magic one of the more pleasing looking ships, mostly because  ships it is largely devoid of superfluous décor, but also because of its traditional profile with two funnels.

It was built in 1998 by Fincantieri Breda, Marghera (with bow built in Ancona). In 2013 it was "re-imagined" by Navantia, in Cadiz, Spain, and now measure a modest 83,969 grt. The build included a 20 foot (looks bigger) "duck tail" to improve stability.

Next sail was Holland America's Zuiderdam. Also built by Fincantieri Breda, Marghera, but in 2002 (and much refitted in 2015) it is also a twin stacker. However its pair of vertical cylinders are much less pleasing, especially since they are really a Costa trademark, another line in the Carnival stable.

The ship had been tied up, bows north, at pier 20, but likely due to the stiff breeze, opted to back out southward to number one anchorage, then turn for sea. It saluted fleet mate Veendam (not pictured) which sailed later, which was toed up at pier 31..

Moving within the harbour Glorious Leader shifted berths from Autoport to pier 27 to offload some non-auto cargo. The ship was built in 2007 by Stocznia Gdynia, measuring 57,692 grt, 20,999 dwt.

It is on long term charter by Ray Car Carriers to NYK Line.

The first of two arrivals was a ship for bunkers. Pantazis L is a 39,746 grt, 76,629 dwt gearless bulk carrier built in 2003 by Imabari Zosen, Marugame. It was briefly named Red Tulip, but was mercifully renamed soon after delivery.

The ship arrived in ballast from Gijon, Spain. Once it has fueled it will sail for Sept-Iles, QC where it is due September 20 to load at the Iron Company of Canada dock.

The last arrival may be a one time stand in for Nirint Shipping. Vega Virgo is arriving in the usual slot for the ship Hollandia.  Built in 2011 by Zhejiang Yangfan Shipbuilding Co Ltd, the 9999 grt, 11,768 dwt ship has a container capacity of 957 TEU and carries a pair of 45 tonne capacity cranes.

Arriving as it is today from Moa, Cuba with nickel sulfides, it must have had a wild trip through some portion of Hurricane Florence.