Sunday, October 28, 2018

Weather - again

Last night's very high winds played havoc with ship arrivals and departures today as seas continued to run high, and pilots could not embark or disembark safely.

The cruise ship Insignia arrived this morning off Halifax from Saint John, NB, and after standing on and off for many hours was still not able to board a pilot safely by mid afternoon. The ship was determined to call in Halifax eventually so it steamed back and forth well offshore, until 1930 when the pilot was finally able to embark. The ship will take bunkers then head back to sea.

 Insignia as it appeared in 2015. The ship is due for one more call in Halifax on November 6.

ACL's scheduled arrival Atlantic Sky is also standing by offshore waiting for conditions to improve, along with the supply vessel Horizon Star. Another container ship, Maersk Patras, which would normally have called on Saturday is now due tomorrow.

At Halterm APL Vancouver [see yesterday's post] was able to start working cargo this morning when the winds died off, but its scheduled departure time of 1630hrs has been put off.

Dalian Express at Fairview Cove was also finally able to get away for 2100. Its original departure time was 0400 hrs, but that was delayed by a combination of high winds at the terminal that delayed unloading, and conditions at the pilot station that would not permit pilot disembarkation.

Autumn is the usual windy season here, but it seems that this year has been windier than usual, resulting in numerous delays and some skipped calls from cruise ships.


Saturday, October 27, 2018


The only cruise ship arrival today is Hamburg, a ship that has called here off and on since new in 1997. It was built by MTW Wismar for operation by HAPAG-Lloyd as c. Columbus. The small letter "c" was intentional and apparently denoted Christopher. With a modest tonnage of 14,903 as built, and dimensions of 472 ft x 72 ft, it is small enough to cruise the Great Lakes and has several features to accommodate that service, including retractable bridge wings.

Its last Great Lakes touring season was 2011 after which HAPAG upgraded its fleet. In 2012 Plantours took over operation and gave the ship its present name. At some point its cutaway stern was filled in and tonnage increased to 15,067, but passenger capacity remained at 394 to 420 (in 197 cabins, five of which are for families) with 170 crew. For some reason the ship is referred to as "MS Hamburg" but "MS" forms no part of the ship's name.

At almost the same time of day and time of year c.Columbus arrives in Halifax for the first time twenty-one years ago. Note the cut away stern, since filled in.

Starting in Greenland early in September, the ship has toured along the Labrador coast, Gulf of St.Lawrence and Saguenay to Montreal. It then made two trips inland as far as Milwaukee and Chicago. It is now headed for Bermuda, the Bahamas and Cuba. The ship sailed early this afternoon, no doubt to get ahead of some nasty weather that is due over night.

Hanseatic's squared off stern and small duck tail is not very attractive, but improves the ship's behaviour at sea.

A first timer arrived today on Maersk's / CMA CGM's Canada Atlantic Express. MMX (Med-Montreal Express). Maersk Niteroi is a geared container ship with four 40 tonne cranes - three forward and one aft of the superstructure.

Built in  2009 by Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan, it has a capacity of 2592 TEU (including 600 reefers) with tonnages of 26,836 grt, 33, 412 dwt. It is one of several short term replacements for the "P" class ships as they are drydocked and refitted. Although the ship carries a Maersk name it only carries Maersk funnel colours. It is a long term charter, one of six similar "N" class ships owned by Fair Hope Ltd, sailing with Hong Kong flag and managed by Anglo-Eastern Ship Management.

The Maersk CMA / CGM Columbus JAX service brought in APL Vancouver this afternoon. The 109,712 grt, 115,060 dwt ship, built by Daewoo SB + ME, Okpo in 2013 began calling here in June of this year but this time it arrived in broad daylight. It may sail in broad daylight too, since high winds tonight may prevent working the ship.

Stern tug Atlantic Bear begins to work the ship's stern around while bow tug Atlantic Fir is set to push as the ship approaches pier 42 Halterm.

APL Vancouver is one of seven 9200 TEU APL sister ships on the 17 ship Columbus JAX service, with a variety of CMA CGM ships of roughly the same size. At this point only one of the ships exceeds the "magic" 10,000 TEU mark. They run from Oakland and LALB, cross Pacific, various Asian ports, then direct from Colombo to Halifax via the Suez Canal. After calling at major east coast ports it returns back across the Atlantic direct to Port Kalang and eventually on to the US west coast. The 17 ships call at 17 ports on a 119 day rotation. 

This morning's early arrival, Wisteria Ace also sailed in daylight after a stop at Autoport.

Owned by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) through Polar Express SA it is listed at 59,952 grt, 17,325 dwt and was built in 2007 by Toyohashi SB. It's capacity appears to be in excess of 5,000 cars.

This post does not cover the congestion at Fairview Cove that saw two ships berthed (Berlin Bridge and Alexandra with Dalian Express anchored most of the day waiting a berth.)


Friday, October 26, 2018

Mathew - maybe finally sold

CCGS Matthew while still in service.

The former Canadian Coast Guard survey vessel Matthew (now simply called 2015-03) may finally have found a buyer. The ship has been up for bids at least 6 times starting at a minimum of $1.9 mn in September 2016. That was reduced to $1.75mn then to $1mn in October 2017 and no sale was concluded. The latest tender call, which closed October 24, also wanted a $1mn minimum, but did state that if no bid was received above that amount, a lesser amount would be considered.
Apparently bidders weren't fooled by the minimum and a sale for $279,000 is now in progress.

 Until 1997 the ship carried proper hydographic survey ship livery of  white hull, buff funnel. A tradition which apparently started when survey ships were actually yachts.

The ship was built in 1990 by Versatile Pacific Shipyard Inc, North Vancoiuver, BC for seasonal hydrographic work, particularly in near coastal and shallow waters. After a short work up in PatBay it was transferred to BIO in May 1991. Despite an extensive, and costly refit in 2010 and a smaller one in 2011, budget cuts and policy changes resulted in it being retired at the end of  the 2011 season. If the ship had been sold then it might have fetched something like the original asking price. It certainly would have got more than the paltry price it has received now - and the ship would have been in better condition. Having now sat idle for more than six years it is a sorry sight.

2015-03 today.

One really has to question government disposal methods when a public asset is allowed to lose it residual value. Of course once it was surplus it came off the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' books and they no longer cared. However it took from 2011 to 2015 to actually decide to decommission it. I suppose whatever department is responsible for Government of Canada Surplus doesn't carry it as an asset of the people of Canada either. So no hurry - no stewardship.

If the ship truly was ever worth $1.9 mn as surplus, and is now worth $279,000 who will take responsibility for the loss of $1.6 mn of tax payers money?

So what would I have done you might ask? I would have found a way to re-purpose it (all that deck space which was used for survey launches could be used for passenger accommodation) it woould have made a great expedition yacht (but not for the arctic - it isn't really ice stengthened)  or found a nation that could benefit from it and give it away. We would certainly have been doing some good with it in the latter case.


A well remembered name has been re-used by the Royal Navy in their newest fleet replenishment oiler. Operated as a Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the second RFA Tidespring A136 has only recently entered service. Although ordered in February 2012, it was only delivered in March 2017 - 18 months late - by Daewoo Shipbuilding + Marine Engineering Co, Okpo, South Korea. It was then outfitted by A+P Falmouth and finally entered service in November 2017, but only performed its first actual mission in April of this year.

The ship measures 29,324 grt, 21,750 dwt and like similar ships, can fill a variety of roles including refueling at sea, and as a base ships for marines. It can house one Merlin / Wildcat helicopter but has a deck that can accommodate large helos such as Chinooks. In addition to Phalanx armaments, it has a published speed of 27 knots. (This is very fast for a supplier!)

At least superficially it resembles the Canadian Navy's newest ship Asterix, but similarities are deceiving. At least the RCN's ship was delivered more quickly. Asterix, built on a former container ship hull, now measures 23,136 grt, so is somewhat smaller but serves a comparable function. It could carry Phalanx weaponry (but doesn't) and may be able to carry two Cyclone helicopters and house Chinooks. However it is intended as an interim vessel, privately owned and leased to the RCN.

The first RFA Tidespring  A75, based on a World War II design shared with Australia and New Zealand, was a turbine steamer, built very quickly by Hawthorn Leslie. (It was laid down in July 1961, launched in May 1962 and commissioned in January 1963). Basically a fleet oiler, it was able to carry three helicopters, and although scheduled to decommission in 1982 it continued in service during the Falklands war in the same year and carried marines, participated in the capture of South Georgia, and was used to house prisoners. Continued supply requirements during the subsequent re-occupation meant that the ship lasted until December 1991. It was then towed to India for scrap in 1992.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Weather delayed

The windy weather continues, but abated sufficiently that the tanker FMT Knidos was able to arrive in port safely this afternoon. High seas accompanied the winds and made it unsafe to board pilots, particularly with low freeboard ships with decks nearly awash. FMT Knidos was originally due October 24, but remained at sea until this afternoon.

Fully loaded the ship's main deck is very close to the water.
The ship was here as recently as July 14 [see details in that post]. On that trip it was carrying caustic soda from Freeport, Bahamas to Port Alfred, QC. On this trip it is arriving from Houston. It will remain in port to take bunkers.

Another ship with a delay is Victory I. It was arrived late afternoon Tuesday a day early, and was due to sail yesterday, but remained in port over night. It is now due to sail at midnight tonight..

Regal Princess in the background is apparently not effected by weather. However the yellow caution tape tells the tale about the wind.

Victory I has completed its summer season sailing on the Great Lakes and St.Lawrence and is headed south for the winter. Operators Victory Cruise Lines have announced that they will not charge a "singles supplement" starting next year. Having learned that many of their clients are single, they will now (effectively) base their fares on a per person basis.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Big White Ships, Little White Boats

While cruise ships (the big white ships) are still calling in Halifax there is still demand for harbour tour boats (little white boats). There are still two weeks left in the cruise season  - the last ship is scheduled for  November 6 - and so the tour boats carry on despite chilly temperatures.
Today there were three cruise ships in port, Norwegian Dawn, the giant Anthem of the Seas and the more modestly sized Seven Seas Navigator. (The Victory I is due late this afternoon).

Seven Seas Navigator at pier 23 with Anthem of the Seas looming at pier 22.
That's the tug Gulf Spray with a scow alongside removing refuse and blocking the view of the ship's stern sponson.

The Seven Seas Navigator ship started life in the Soviet Admiralty Shipyard in St.Petersburg as a naval support ship for satellite tracking, launched in 1991 as Akademik Nikolay Pilyugin. However it was bought "on the stocks" so to speak by Radisson Cruises and towed around to T.Marrioti SpA in Genoa and completed in 1999 as a cruise ship. It initially had 250 cabins and could carry 542 passengers but this was reduced to 490, but with a crew of 340 giving a very high degree of service for those travellers.
The 28,550 grt ship is strengthened for navigation in ice, but has had vibration issues. Its stern, including props and rudders, was re-built by Blohm+Voss in Hamburg in 2010 but that does not seem to have had much effect, and the ship is noted as "lively" at sea.
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises re-branded itself Regent Seven Seas Cruises in 2006 and in 2016 reportedly spent $40mn on a two month long refurbishment to bring it in line with Regent's décor standards.

Among the little white boats, at least two were busy today, Kawartha Spirit went out on a nature cruise beyond Chebucto Head - perhaps looking for whales or maybe even white sharks. Built in 1964 by Hike Metal Products in Wheatley, ON, the boat worked as Miss Muskoka then Kawartha Spirit until 2016 when it was acquired by Murphy Sailing Tours Ltd of Halifax. There has been talk of a name change, with  more local content,  but nothing has happened yet.

 Summer Bay (left) outbound for McNab's Island and Kawartha Spirit inbound with a number of hardy sightseers.

Summer Bay was on its way to McNab's Island to pick up hikers as the tow passed my vantage point. It was built as Gaffer IV by Gatheralls Boat Tours Ltd in Bay Bulls, NL. A twin screw vessel with RFP hull, it initially showed up in Nova Scotia working out of Lunenburg as Summer Bay, but came to Halifax in 2004.

Murhys also operate the faux stern wheeler Harbour Queen I (which is also white) and the three masted schooner Silva which is not - it's black.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sunday traffic jam

With ships arriving and leaving at the same time - normally at the end of the day shift for port workers - traffic can get janmed up a bit. Fortunately, there are two channels that ships can use to avoid close quarters meets.

Three ships - two  outbound in the western or deep water channel and one inbound in the main channel.

Today was a very minor jam, with one inbound and two outbound.

Outbound in the lead was the impressive Crystal Symphony. Now considered a classic - not only because it has no unsightly hull graphics - but also because of its graceful proportions and swooping bow. Remarkably unchanged in appearance since it was built by Kvaerner Masa, Turku in 1995, the 51,044 grt ship has a passenger capacity of 922. It has undergone three extensive refits, one in 2006, one in 2009 and another in 2012. During its long career it has cruised in many parts of the world, but only in this area in 2012 and 2013.

The second departure was Hoegh Bangkok built in 2007 by Uljanik, Pula, an autocarrier of 55,775 grt, 16,632 dwt, with a 6500 CEU capacity. It fell in behind Crstal Symphony and took the western channel.

The one inbound ship was Thermopylae operating for Wallenius Wilhelmsen, but owned by Wilhelmsen. Its company theme name, beginning with the letter "T" recognizes the Greek site of the 450 BC battle between Leonidas of Sparta (loser) and Xerxes (winner). The name means "Hot Gates" and it certainly was a hot time for the defenders in one of the most famous "last stands" of all time.  For ship lovers however the name is associated with the famous China tea clipper Thermopylae, built in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1868 and setting a never since broken outbound time to Melbourne and defeating the Cutty Sark in a homebound race from Shanghai.

Wilhelmsen ships' nmaes begin with "T" and thier hulls are apainted a red-orange colour. However someone needs to change the formula since this one was has faded dramatically in only three years.

This Thermopylae was built in 2015 by Hyundai Samho and measures 75,283 grt, 75,283 dwt with a capacity of 8,000 autos. A post-Panamax ship, it is a member of the HERO (High Efficiency RoRo) class, with significant capacity break bulk and non auto cargoes.

In the background the tanker Ardmore Encounter now at Imperial Oil (see yesterday's post) was continuing to unload and is now high out of the water.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

More wind more rain

More high winds and periods of rain are nothing new in recent forecasts, and typical for this time of year. The harbour was a little lumpy this morning as the pilot boat Scotia Pilot returned from the station off Chebucto Head. It had just embarked a pilot for the APL Houston and was returning to base for another pilot. 

Before the rain started in earnest APL Houston arrived on the CMA / CGM JAX service. The 109,712 grt, 108,000 dwt ship, built in 2014 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co Ltd in  Okpo  has a container capacity of 9500 TEU. Although not over the 10,000 TEU capacity that the port seeks to have established as the threshold for large ships, this one is big enough. Its very high sides and towering deck load make it very much subject to windage and requires careful handling.

The tug Atlantic Fir squares up at the bow and the Atlantic Bear on the stern are both braking and  starting to turn the ship. The busy pilot boat, with lots of wind driven spray, heads out to meeet the next ship.

It required three tugs to come alongside at Halterm, including Atlantic Bear, the largest of the tugs based in Halifax.

Amongst the other arrivals and departures today there are a couple of in harbour moves. One is a bit unusual. The tanker Ardmore Encounter will be moving from Irving Oil to Imperial Oil.

Ardmore Encounter has discharged a partial load at Irving Oil.

It is rare to see a ship with a split load, but again this may be due to Irving Oil's troubles after a fire at its refinery. Built in 2014 by STX Offshore + Shipbuilding in Jinhae, the ship was originally named Front Clyde for Frontline Tankers. Current owners, a single ship company, acquired the ship in 2016 and renamed it in line with the fleet operated by Anglo Ardmore Ship Management. A Medium Range 2 handysize tanker of 29,993 grt, 49,478 dwt, its last port of call was Beaumont, TX.

East Coast appears to be fully loaded.

Waiting at anchor, Irving Oil's tanker East Coast will move alongside immediately after the Woodside berth is clear. A Mid Range 1 tanker of 23,356 grt, 37,515 dwt, it was built by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Ulsan as Nor'Easter for long term charter to Irving Oil under the Marshall Islands flag. In 2014 it was brought under Canadian flag and renamed. Owners, associated with Vroon / Iver Ships of the Netherlands assigned other ships to the Irving work between Saint John and US east coast ports, but without renaming them or giving them Irving Oil colours.
As with the three other ships in the Irving fleet, it was fitted with an exhaust gas scrubber system in 2015.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Atlantic Sea - problems

Atlantic Container Line is still having trouble with its new China built ConRos. The latest to encounter a problem is Atlantic Sea, the third in the series of five, and completed in 2016 by Hudong-Zhenghua in Shanghai.

Despite being sponsored by Princess Anne in Liverpool the ship has been troubled with mechanical issues. On Christmas Eve 2016 it was held overnight in Bedford Basin and its March 26, 2017 sailing from Halifax was delayed. It also lost an anchor sometime in 2016. The only good luckk it has had was on October 5, 2017. Despite being in an unscheduled drydocking at Blohm + Voss in Hamburg, it was not struck by a shipyard crane that toppled over in high winds and narrowly missed the ship.

Atlantic Sea peaks out from the east berth at Fairview Cove, idled by some unidentified problem.

The latest misfortune has held the ship in port in Halifax since Monday, with no departure time scheduled yet. Losing that many days on the tightly run transatlantic schedule must be resulting in a lot of hair loss for someone.

Probably unrelated, but ACL has announced that it will concentrate its office functions in Virginia Beach and close its Halifax office, with a  loss of 15 jobs. Cost cutting is all the rage these days in the shipping world, where competition is intense. ACL is now a part of the Grimaldi Group, but began calling Halifax in 1969. Then it was the joint venture of several prominent shipping companies - some of which are now only memories: Wallenius Lines, Swedish American Line, Rederi AB Transatlantic and Holland America (in 1965) joined by Cunard and Cie Generale Transatlantique in 1967. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Melfi's revolving door

Melfi Marine, a company that trades between Europe, Halifax and Cuba, has chartered many ships for short, medium and long terms over the years. Each time a new one comes along it seems to be bigger than the last and so it is with Julius-S. which arrived today on its second trip. (I missed the first on August 27.)
Julius-S. at pier 42 using one shoreside crane to finish off loading.

Now flying the Antigua and Barbuda flag, it is owned by the Rudolf Schlepers GmbH + Co KG and was built in 2004 by Volkswerft, Stralsund. The 25,672 grt, 33,742 dwt ship has a capacity of 2474 TEU, including 420 reefers and is equipped with three 45 tonne cranes.

The ship began life as CMA CGM Brasilia for Navigare Gmbh+Co but was immediately acquired by Schlepers and renamed Julius S. That name was reconfigured with the addition of a hyphen in 2010. It was reflagged from Germany in 2014. 

Prior to its stint with Melfi it worked for Maersk's WAF1 running from Tanger and Algeciras to the West African ports of Pointe Noire, Libreville, Cotonou, Takoradi and Nouakchott.


Silver Wind - lives up to its name - supplemented

The cruise ship Silver Wind brought high winds to Halifax today. In fact the wind picked up last night, hastening the arrival of the Serenade of the Seas which came in around mid-night and tied up immediately to avoid conditions out at sea. Silver Wind arrived at its scheduled time but used two tugs to get alongside pier 23.

Silver Wind at pier 23, with the Serenade of the Seas at pier 22 in the background.
Connors Diving's work boat and drill barge in the foreground are not working due to the wind. *
Note Silver Wind even used its anchor to slow its speed as it came in, even though it had two tugs.

The ship was built back in 1993 and has the streamlined Italian look of the time. Builders were Visentini, Porto Viro, a yard that normally builds ferries and smaller ships. Silver Wind has been cited as one of the most luxurious ships afloat. Its 294 (or 296) passengers are hosted by 222 crew. Current grt is listed as 17,400, up from 16,927 when built.

All has not been smooth sailing for the ship recently. In March 2018 it initially failed a rigorous US Public Health inspection, but was cleared after it was sanitized and Silver Seas cruises promised to re-educate crew on sanitary practices.

On October 12 of this year the ship had an escort tug when it sailed from Montreal to Quebec City. There were concerns about the reliability of its steering and the Océan Arctique followed close behind the ship for most of the way.

Although the ship underwent a major refurb in December 2016, it seems to have been largely cosmetic. There were also complaints a few years ago about the anchor slamming in high seas. The noise in some cabins, including crew quarters, was very loud and disconcerting to many passengers.

I am not sure if this may not be the ship's first call in Halifax. I do not recall seeing it before, but it is not listed as one of the inaugural calls on the Cruise Halifax website. Fleet mate Silver Whisper has been here many times since it was built in 2000, but its sister ship Silver Shadow has not.

High winds and steep seas may have been the reason for two cruise ship cancellations in the past week. Pearl Mist skipped its call September 13 and Victory II skipped October 10. Both are small ships and likely sought shelter for the comfort of passengers.

* Connors work boat and the drill scow had a bit of a rough ride at times late yesterday afternoon when they returned from a coring operation in Dartmouth.

This afternoon when it was time to sail, the wind had died down almost completely, but the ship called for two tugs. They assisted the ship to back out from pier 23.


Once out in the stream the tugs let go and the ship appeared to turn on its own without difficulty. It set out smartly for sea and looked handsome despite the dying sun.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Miraculous Ace

The autocarrier Miraculous Ace made a normal visit today, unlike its last appearance in March. On that call, the ship had to undergo an Asian Gypsy Moth inspection before docking at Autoport. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency carried out the inspection at an anchorage in Bedford Basin, which gave the rare glimpse of an autocarrier transiting the Narrows. See:

Today's view shows the starboard only side ramp, and also the three tug markings on the flat of the hull.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Up close

Ship watchers had another rare treat in Halifax today as the container ship YM Enlightenment entered the harbour and sailed up west of George's Island heading for Bedford Basin. The reason for going west instead of east of the island was that the bulk carrier Marsden Point was leaving port at the same time and YM Enlightenement's pilot decided to give the outbound ship a wide berth. [See yesterday's post for info on the Marsden Point with an update made today.]

The water is actually deeper east of George's Islands, but it is narrower there, especially when there are cruise ships tied up at pier 20 (Norwegian Dawn) and 21 (Norwegian Gem).

It took an 18mm wide angle equivalent lens to get the whole ship in.

The tug Atlantic Oak was the tethered escort with a line up to the ship's stern, and Atlantic Willow came along to accompany the ship through the Narrows. 

YM Enlightenment serves THE Alliance's AL1 service. A 47,952 grt, 56,500 dwt ship with a capacity of 4662 TEU it was built in 2015 by China Shipbuilding Corp in Kaohsiung (Taiwan).

The new  Ocean Network Express (ONE) containers are gradually becoming more common.

Repainting and perhaps even renaming the ships will be a much longer process as MOL, K-Line and NYK  blend their container operations. Old containers will likely not be repainted and so will be around for many years to come.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Saturday activity - Updated

The port was unusually busy for a short spell this morning with arrivals and a departures - some before sunup such as the container ship APL Santiago and the cruise ships Adventure of the Seas and Viking Star.

After sunrise there was a departure that had been anticipated for several days, but in view of Hurricane Michael's proximity, they were likely wise to stay in port. USS Hué City CG-66 arrived October 4 from exercises  off Nova Scotia. It is a Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser based in Mayport, FL. Several Canadian naval vessels returned to port at about the same time, including the submarine HMCS Windsor.

The pilot boat is alongside to disembark the pilot off Portuguese Cove.

While alongside navy Jetty Charlie, one of the ship's helicopters was rolled out for work. The ship can carry two of the Sikorsky Seahawks adapted for naval use with a folding tail. Hué City was commissioned in 1991.

As Hué City was disembarking its pilot, the container ship Alexandra was inbound for THE Alliance's EC5 service.

The pilot is already aboard as Alexandra passes Portuguese Cove.
 The 71,021 grt, 80,274 dwt ship has a capacity of 6900 TEU (including 800 reefers) and dates from 2013 when it was built by Hyundai, Samho. It carried the name Safmarine Boland from 2014 to 2016.

It was a mid-morning arrival for Seabourn Quest. The ship left Bar Harbour late last evening and was able to maintain a pretty steady 15 to 16 knots on the trip. Sea conditions were still a bit boisterous over night as the remains of the hurricane passed to the south of us.  Built in 2011 by T. Marrioti in Genoa it is a yacht-like vessel of 32,348 grt and a passenger capacity of 450. In September it had an air lock in its cooling system, resulting in an overheated port engine. It had to anchor in the St.Lawrence River for time until the problem could be rectified.

Another arrival is worthy of note. The bulk carrier Marsden Point arrived from Churchill, MB. Now that the federal government has agreed to buy and spend $117 mn to repair the Hudson Bay Railway and the port operation, a cargo of wheat has been released after three years in limbo. The wheat, belonging to the Providence Grain Group of Fort Saskatchewan, AB, arrived in Churchill by rail in 2015. When the port operators shut down the operation in 2016 the wheat was stranded. During that time a certain amount of it had deteriorated, and the remainder was likely to be spoiled if it was not shipped out by the end of this year.

Since no Canadian ship was available, Providence hired Marsden Point to carry the grain to a southern Canadian port. A foreign sale was not possible as the condition of the grain could not be determined fully until it was unloaded. According to Providence's Coasting Trade Licence application for Marsden Point, the plan was to ship the grain to Port Cartier, Baie Comeau, Sorel, Quebec City or Montreal. My opinion is that those elevators were fully booked, and since Halifax has a huge elevator that is well below capacity the grain may be off loaded here. The Halifax elevator is also not owned or operated by one of the large grain buyers and is thus not a competitor of Providence.

Update: The grain must have been of acceptable quality to be sold abroad. When the ship sailed on Sunday afternoon, its destination was given as Vercruz, Mexico.  In Providence's coasting license applicaiton they stated that a sale to Mexico had fallen through.

Marsden Point is a 21,185 grt, 35,107 dwt bulker, built in 2002 by Shin Kurushima, Onishi, Japan as Green Hope. In 2014 it acquired its current name and is operated by Pacific Basin Shipping Hong Kong Ltd.The ship carries four 30 tonne cranes and grabs.

As a footnote, this is only the second grain cargo ever to be received in Halifax from Churchill. The first was delivered for Dover Mills (now P+H Milling) and was the first domestic grain cargo ever shipped from Churchill since it opened for business in 1929.

The load was delivered September 30, 2007 by the now notorious Kathryn Spirit. That is the ship that was finally broken up this year at taxpayer expense (estimated at $11.5 mn) in Beauharnois, QC. Permission to scrap the ship in that location was denied in 2011 and when a sale to Mexico fell through the ship became a threat to sink. The government paid a huge sum to stabilize the ship then hired the original scrapper to break it up anyway.

 Kathryn Spirit as it appeared in 2016 with Groupe Océan's blue stabilizing barge alongside.
Demolition was completed in September of this year.

Friday, October 12, 2018

New England for Irving

In an unusual move the tanker New England arrived today in Woodside from Saint John, NB.The 23,519 grt, 37,515 dwt ship usually runs from Saint John to US ports, and is flagged in the Marshall Islands, permitting international trade only. Built in 2005 by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan, it is one of several sister ships on long term charter to Irving Oil. Four sister ships wear Irving Oil livery: Acadian and East Coast ex Nor'easter are Canadian flagged, Great Eastern and New England are foreign flag. Altough possibly owned by single ship companies, they all belong to the Vroon group of the Netherlands and are managed by their Iver Ships BV subsidiary. 

New England arriving in Halifax for the first time since 2006 by my records.

The ship appears to be loaded, so if it has cargo for Halifax, it must have received a special dispensation or very quickly transferred to Canadian registration.

I suspect that the ship's appearance here is related to Monday's fire at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, that disrupted normal production. Irving Oil spokespersons indicated that they had product in storage and other sources for fuel, so shortages are not anticipated.
If there is an extended shut down of all or part of the refinery, they will have to bring more refined products in from elsewhere, but that may take time. In the meantime they may be re-distributing stored product to meet demand.


Thursday, October 11, 2018


ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd has re-jigged their ZCA Mediterranean - North America weekly service with some different ships and different ports. Effective September 1 such familiar ships as ZIM Alabama and ZIM Texas were removed from the rotation and transferred to other ZIM routes.

The ships that remain on the rotation are ZIM Tarragona, ZIM QingdaoZIM Luanda. ZIM Constanza, and today's caller ZIM Monaco.

A 40,030 grt, 50,829 dwt ship with a capacity of 4253 TEU, it was built in 2009 by Samsung, Koje.

Two "new to Halifax" ships have joined the rotation, ZIM Yokohama made its first call September 26 and ZIM Shekou will bypass several ports and will not call in Halifax on the regular day of October 17.
Both ships were built by Dalian New Shipbuilding in Dalian, China in 2007 and are 41,482 grt, 52,000 dwt with a capacity of 4250 TEU.

In December this ZCA service will include THE Alliance's AL7 services, which until now has been run separately. The new port rotation will be Mersin, Ashdod, Haifa, Izmr/Aliaga, Piraeus, (Livorno will be dropped), Barcelona, Valencia, Algciras (added), Halifax, New York, Norfolk, Savannah, Valencia, Tarragona, Mersin.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Anthem of the Sea - unscheduled arrival

It was wall to wall cruise ships today as five ships visited Halifax at the same time. The fourth arrival, AIDAdiva tied up at pier 33-34, displacing the bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouth from its usual roost at pier 34. It went off and bunkered Norwegian Dawn at pier 20 and on completion returned to pier 27 instead. Norwegian Jade used pier 31 and Seabourn Quest fitted in nicely at pier 23.
The final arrival (in more ways than one) was the very big Anthem of the Seas. It initially tied up at pier 22 after an 0945 hrs arrival at the pilot station.

Anthem of the Seas then sailed at 1930, but not long after clearing the pilot station it turned and headed back in. AIDAviva was astern and continued outbound - with the unusual situation of two cruise ships meeting. After boarding a new pilot at about 22330 hrs, Anthem of the Seas proceeded inbound and tied up at pier 22 for just long enough to disembark a guest. It called for clearance at 2355, and headed for Saint John, NB with no change in its ETA.

Normally a cruise ship would return to port only in the case of a medical emergency.

 Anthem of the Seas was delivered in 2015 by Meyerwerft, Papenburg, and at 168,666 grt, it is the largest ship ever to cruise Canadian waters. Its quoted passenger capacity is 4180, based on double occupancy.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

LR1 tanker - more than meets the eye

Tankers come in all sizes, but the ones we usually see in Halifax are Handysize or Mid-Range chemical / product tankers in the 15,000 to 55,000 dwt size. Today however a LR1, arrived for bunkers. A Long Range 1 tanker measures between 55,000 and 79,999 dwt. There are also LR2 tankers which come in at 80,000 to 120,000 dwt.

Typically tankers of this type are employed in long voyages, since the cost of carrying cargo is less per tonne using larger ships. They are fitted to carry petroleum products and the tanks are epoxy coated to permit easy cleaning between cargoes. They carry petroleum products, as opposed to crude oil. Unlike chemical tankers, that can carry many different types of cargo, this ship can carry a maximum of three different cargoes. Although there is nothing visible from a distance, it is fitted with devices to enable it to load over the bow at offshore, single point moorings.

According to AIS today's arrival is coming from Fujairah, UAE and headed for the St.Lawrence River - certainly a fairly long trip.

At anchorage number one at sunrise with Algoma Dartmouth alongside.

The ship carries an unusual name, FPMC P Eagle. The unique naming system is that of the Formosa Plastics Maritime Corp, a division of the Formosa Plastics Corp, hence "FPMC". It has a large fleet of tankers and some bulk carriers. Their MR product carriers are numbered (e.g. FPMC 25, which was here in  2015.) The LR tankers have the letter "P" - designating "Product", inserted after the FPMC.

 Bunkering completed, the ship begins to weigh anchor in a light drizzle.

FPMC was established to carry the company's own cargoes when they found discriminatory rates applied due to Taiwan's isolation by some countries. Now well established with 37 ships and six more MRs on order, they also participate in charter work for other shippers.

FPMC P Eagle was built in  2009 by STX Shipbuilding Co in Jinhae, South Korea, and measures 42,340 grt, 74,863 dwt. Despite Taiwan ownership, the ship is flagged in Liberia and has multi-national officers and crew managed from Singapore. The ship is on a time charter to Hafnia Tankers of Denmark and operates in their LR1 Pool of about 60 ships, called Straits Tankers, run from Singapore.


Katmai Bay

The United States Coast Guard cutter Katmai Bay got away this morning heading back to the Great Lakes. The veteran 140 foot class icebreaker has spent the last year off lakes undergoing a service life extension in Baltimore.

The USCG operates nine of these small vessels for use on the Great Lakes, the Hudson River and other east coast locations. They are powered by a pair of 1250 bhp Fairbanks Morse engines driving a single electric motor delivering 2500 shp to a single screw. They are also equipped with a bubbler system that creates a film of air around the hull to reduce ice adhesion.

Built in 1979 by Tacoma Boat in Washington state, Katmai Bay is the lead ship of the class, bearing pennant WTGB-101, and is based in Sault Ste.Marie, Michigan. In April 2017 the boat left the Lakes for its refit. That work must have been extensive, since the boat looks almost new.

Several of this class of boat have stopped in Halifax over the years coming and going from the lakes.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Moderation in all things

YM Moderation sailed from Fairview Cove - in daylight, unlike most ships from now on to fall and winter.

Yang Ming's three M class ships help to maintain THE Alliance's 11 ship EC5 rotation. Sister ship YM Modesty was in yesterday on the westbound leg, headed for New York, and YMovement sailed eastbound September 30 and is off Algeria en route to Suez.
YM Moderation was built in 2014 by Koyo Dockyard, Mihara. The 71,821 grt, 72,700 dwt vessel has a capacity of 6250 TEU. A few of those are the new ONE boxes, in their distinctive colours.

I noticed today that some of these are 45 footers.