Monday, December 31, 2018

Sunrise to Sunset and more on W. tankers

 Although it only shows as a pin point, just to the right of centre on the horizon - there is a ship out there. [0730 hrs AST]

To my surprise there were bright lights on the horizon at sunrise this morning - I wasn't expecting any ship arrivals, so it took time to realize that it was Qikiqtaaluk W.  anchored (again) outside the port. After repairs were completed yesterday at pier 31 the ship sailed, still giving Savannah as its destination, but instead appears to have made a short sea trial and anchored outside the pilotage zone. However early this evening the ship did get underway and last seen (on AIS) was headed south, still for Savannah.

After yesterday's speculation about sister ship Kitikmeot W. I see a pilotage order for 2200hrs this evening for the ship to move from Imperial Oil to pier 27. This may be for change of flag and crew change.

There was some ship activity in Halifax today, but mostly after dark and of familiar ships. After showing several sunrise photos, it is time for a sunset shot- this time taken from the excellent vantage point that was the once the Dartmouth Marine Slip Long Wharf, now turned over to residential development.

Looking straight across the harbour at HMC Dockyard, HMCS Sackville is dead centre. A lone sailboat remains at anchor in the new yacht basin created off the old shipyard.
To the left HMCS Halifax (stern to us) and all of the Halifax based Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels are tied up for the holidays.
The spire to the right is St.Patrick's church and just to the left of that is the bulk of the Halifax Armories, now under restoration.
[1630 hrs AST]

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Mostly Tankers - updated

Aside from tone container ship, and the mandatory autocarrier, there was a preponderance of tanker activity today.

Oregon Highway arrived with another load of autos. The K-Line ship dates from 2007 when it was built by Toyohashi Shipbuilding. At 57,147 grt, 17,699 dwt, it has a capacity of 6,135 cars.

The ship's last port of call was Portbury, UK and it is destined for Cristobal, Panama.

Imperial Oil wasted no time in sailing one ship and berthing another. Star I [ referred to as Star i , not Star one] sailed for Freeport, Bahamas.

It passed the inbound Kitikmeot W. at Middle Ground, which went directly to number 4 dock.

Kitikmeot W. appears to be shuttling from Montreal as is Algonorth, reducing the need for imported product. If so there is a chance it will be remaining under Canadian flag for the winter.

Meanwhile Kitikmeot W.'s sister ship Qikiqtaaluk W., which has been flagged out for the winter, is at pier 31 for repairs, but is expected to sail this afternoon evening. It has what was described as a "propulsion failure" after leaving Montreal December 23, and presumably another yesterday, when it had to be towed into port.
 Through fences and between poles, and over machinery - the fleeting glimpse of pier 31.

Trade to Cuba must be booming, as Melfi is bringing in larger ships all the time. Also the ships are gearless, indicating better container handling facilities in Mariel.

The lone container ship today is Artemis for Melfi Lines. The 26,358 gt, 34,439 dwt ship has a 2546 TEU capacity. Built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipyard, in Jiangyin, China in 2008 it has carried the names 08: TS Korea, 08: Artemis, and 17: Independent Venture and was renamed earlier this year under the management of Peter Doehle. It is due to sail later today.


Friday, December 28, 2018

STQ Ferry Woes: CTMA to the rescue - and a book

We have been accustomed to hearing about ferry cancellations due to weather. Marine Atlantic certainly has had its share of these during the autumn and early winter of 2018 as very high winds lashed the Cabot Strait. Northumberland Ferries Ltd had its share of cancellations too, but has shut down for the winter, and will not resume service until May 1, 2019.

Bay Ferries also had weather cancellations on its Digby / Saint John service but is showing its schedule running daily from January 6 to 31. Last year the ship was out of service for maintenance from January 27 to late April.

La Société des Traversiers du Quebec (STQ) it seems has a different problem - its major ferry is out of service. Pride of the fleet was to have been F.-A.- Gauthier built by Fincantieri, Castellamarre di Stabia, Italy, and which entered service in July 2015. It was removed from service December 16 due to "technical issues". STQ has now announced that the ship will have to be drydocked for two weeks starting January 16, for access to its props.

 F.-A.-Gauthier departing from Matane - something it won't be doing commercially for a while.

As the only ferry serving the lower St.Lawrence - it runs from Matane to Baie-Comeau and Godbout - it is an important service for cars and trucks to and from a large segment of the north shore. [ Transport Desgagnés' Bella Desgagnés serves the lower North Shore from Sept-Iles easward from Rimouski.]

STQ has no backup ship to operate the service, so travellers are faced with a very long drive west to reach the Rivière-du-Loup / St-Siméon ferry Trans St-Laurent. However that ship runs only until January 2 when it lays up for the winter It is usually down to one trip per day this time of year, but for now is making two trips. When that service closes the alternative is via Quebec City - two hours driving (plus in winter) west of Rivière-du-Loup, and nearer to three hours from St-Siméon.

Trans-St-Laurent will soon be laying up for the winter. 
It plies a shorter (20 miles) and calmer route, from April to January 2.

Fortunately for pedestrian travelers STQ is providing air service between Mont-Joli, Baie Comeau and Sept-Iles. But that is no comfort to drivers facing a 10 to 12 hour drive from Sept-Iles to Rimouski via Quebec City, for example.

[Two other ferry services operate on the Lower St.Lawrence, with smaller ships. The Forestville / Rimouski and Escoumins / Trois-Pistoles ferries are seasonal only and are shut down for the winter. There is a question if the latter will operate in 2019.]

C.T.M.A. Vacançier runs weekly for eight months of the year to and from Montreal and Quebec City to Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone).

Fortunately there is some relief at hand. The Magdalen Islands cargo and passenger ferry C.T.M.A. Vacançier will become available January 8. It normally runs between Montreal, Quebec City and the Magdalens, and will substitute on the Matane / Baie-Comeau route for a time. However it usually switches to the Souris PE- Grindstone service in winter because it has an ice class rating.

 Since the upper photo, the ship's banner has been changed to read "Croisières C.T.M.A." Here it is making a steady 15 knots as it passes the tanker Green Planet doing a more sedate 11.5 knots.

F.-A.-Gauthier has a capacity for 800 deck passengers and 180 cars on two decks.
C.T.M.A. Vacançier built in 1973 has a capacity for 1612 total passengers and 300 cars. It also has berths for 300 passengers, which won't likely be used on the 60 mile crossing.

C.T.M.A.'s other ferry, Madeleine is fully occupied running between Souris, PE and the Magdalen Islands, but usually lays from January to April during the heaviest ice season.

I received this wonderful photo of Madeleine as a Christmas card this year.

C.T.M.A. - full name Co-opérative de Transport Maritime et Aérien- also has a service using the C.T.M..A Voyageur running from Matane in winter. When it is activated, it will free up C.T.M.A. Vacançier.

 C.T.M.A. Voyageur making a good turn of speed on the St.Lawrence en route to Montreal. 
It has not operated up river in recent years. 

Shipfax has covered C.T.M.A. many times before, [ just enter CTMA in the search box and see what pops up] but for their connection to Halifax, see:


Speaking of the Magdalen Islands, I commend the author of a recently published book on a very thorough and interesting project. "The Pictou-Magdalen Islands Run 1874-1960 (The Days of the Coal Burners)." is an excellent history of a little known aspect of eastern Canadian shipping. Situated as they are in the middle of the Gulf of St.Lawrence, the Magdalen Islands are nevertheless part of the Province of Quebec. They are closer to the Maritime Provinces, so it is little wonder that the shortest connection to the mainland was through Nova Scotia. Mail, passengers and freight made their way through often harrowing conditions and sub-standard craft out of necessity. The book is the history of each of the steamships that operated the mail service.

The book is profusely illustrated, coil bound - 81/2 x 11- 84 pages - priced at $15.00 plus $5.00 shipping from:

Byron Clark (418) 985-2758 or e-mail: , or

Byron Clark 380 Principal Road, Grosse Ile, QC, G4T 6A8


Tanker visits

Two interesting tanker visits today will have to remain largely unillustrated for now, due to heavy snow reducing visibility and mobility.

The Qikiqtaaluk W., noted in a previous post, was anchored off Halifax for a time. Very early this morning it entered Halifax harbour, made a sharp turn in number one anchorage and returned to sea. (It may have rendez-voused with a launch.) However after disembarking its pilot it made a slow sweeping turn and anchored well offshore. 

Qikiqtaalulk W. as originally anchored, with Devils' Island to the left..
This morning the launch Eastcom went out to the ship, and later tugs were called to tow the ship into port, as a "dead ship". Atlantic Oak and Spitfire III were assigned to the task and brought the ship in, picking up a pilot on the way. Without the use of its engines it tied up at pier 31. Obviously some form of propulsion issue is at the root of problem. An update will be posted when available.

The ship is sailing under Marshal Islands flag, having been bareboat chartered out for the winter by Coastal Shipping Ltd (Woodward Group of Newfoundland) and was heading for Savannah.

Irving Oil's Woodside Terminal was a busy place - BW Lioness sailed this afternoon. As soon as the tugs Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Willow were freed up, they immediately went to the inbound Bro Agnes and berthed it. The ship is due to sail again in a few hours, indicating that it must have only a very small amount of cargo.

Bro Agnes was built in 2008 by Tukter, Tuzla and registered to Brostrom Tankers Singapore, but under the Dutch flag subsidiary Bro A BV. In 2009 AP Moller-Maersk acquired Brostrom AB, and owners became Maersk Tankers Singapore Pte. To add to the confusion BTS Tankers Pte Ltd (a JV of Integra Holdings and CLdN Cobelfret) acquired Maersk Tankers Singapore Pte, but kept the company name.
Therefore you had ships with the Brostrom name and Maersk ownership, but owned by neither!  It appears nonetheless that the ship is operating in a Maersk Tanker pool under some form of charter.

In 2017 Maersk Tankers A/S, the tanker operating arm of AP Moller-Maersk, became independant when members of the Moller family trust APMH Invest A/S acquired the company. [AP Moller-Maersk is divesting various divisions to concentrate on container ships, but the AP Moller family is buying some of those divisions.]

But back to Bro Agnes. Since July 2018 the ship has had three coasting licenses to operate in Canadian waters. Two for Pétro-Nav and one for Algoma. It may have had ealrier licesnes as several were issued to unnamed tankers.
In all cases it was carrying "dirty" or "black" product, that is to say Heavy Fuel Oil (DPP) material that is a byproduct in refining gasoline and diesel, for which there is littlke demand, and is sent to Tracy, QC where it is stored for resale.
The ship's last trip is interesting however. It was anchored off the Escoumins pilot station for a time, then sailed up the Seaway to Sarnia, ON, arriving December 13. It then made its way to Nanticoke, ON for December 19, then sailed directly for Halifax.
Since its last coasting license expired December 10, this trip must have been to carry some other product imported from abroad, possibly and additive, which was in demand by Imperial Oil (Sarnia and Nanticoke) and Irving Oil in relatively small quantity.
The ship measures 12,162 gt, 16,791 dwt and is classed a a chemical and product tanker.

Pictures may be possible in the next few days. If so, this post may be updated or replaced.


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Early morning in Halifax harbour can be quite spectacular....

At 0800 hrs the sun began to show above some cloud behind Macnab's Island.

However it does make it nearly impossible to photograph inbound ships from the Halifax side of the harbour. Nevertheless I made an effort to catch Jennifer Schepers as it made its way to Halterm for ZIM. It is one of the line's two feeder ships that make a weekly run from Halifax to the Kingston, Jamaica hub to connect with other ZIM services.  

Distortion and refraction makes the ship's hull appear higher than it is.

Jennifer Schepers was launched in 2009 as Mistral Strait by Taizhou Kouan Shipbuilding Company in Taizhou (part of the China Commerce Group.) It was immediately renamed BF Copocabana, and carried that name until 2016.  The 21,018 grt, 25,775 dwt ship can carry 1795 TEU (including 319 reefers) and carries a pair of 45 tonne cranes. In 2016 owners became HS Schiffahrts of Ems, Germany and the ship was renamed Jennifer Schepers. The Schepers family has operated in shipping since ca. 1858 when Capt. Heinrich Schepers acquired his first vessel. The fourth and fifth generations of the family run the concern today.
Earlier this year they combined with five other companies to jointly market their container feeders under the Arkon Allied Container (AAC) brand, but the owners remain independent.

 A construction crane is set up to work on the McAsphalt jetty adjacent to Autoport.

An earlier arrival was Wilhelm Wilhelmsen's Tiger at Autoport. Arriving before sunup, it required a trip to Dartmouth to catch the ship in more favourable light. The 74,255 gt, 30,140 dwt ship, built by Daewoo, Okpo in 2011 is a 7th generation autocarrier of the 7800 CEU class, but capacity is quoted as 7,934 cars.
Irving Willow pushes up on the bow to bring the tanker alongside Irving Oil's Woodside terminal with a cargo loaded in Amsterdam..

Staying with the large African feline theme, BW Lioness arrived with the sun behind it at Irving Oil, and could only be photographed decently from Dartmouth. It is a fairly typical tanker of 29,737 gt, 49,999 dwt, built in 2014 by SPP Shipbuilding Co in Geosong and originally named Elandra Lion.

It changed owners (and gender) in 2014 when the BW Group acquired ten product tankers from the Elandra Tankers fleet and in 2016 formed BW Tankers as a separate product tanker company within the BW Group, with financial partner PAG.

BW was formed in 2003 when World Wide Steamship Company (founded in the 1960s by Sir Yue-Kong Pao) acquired Bergeson d.y. ASA of Stavanger, Norway and formed Bergeson Word-Wide , abbreviated to BW. The result is a conglomerate of companies in tanker and drybulk shipping and offshore floating structures. BW Tankers alone has more than 50 product tankers, but the total BW fleet includes about 300 ships, many of which are crude oil and gas tankers operating in their own fleets such as BW LPG and BW LNG.

 The Bergeson Word-Wide initials are prominent on the funnel and hull stripe.

Early in 2019 a merger with Hafnia Tankers is expected to be finalized. Hafnia based in Denmark by former Torm exectives, has 37 product tankers in its fleet. The resulting 86 ship product tanker fleet will be one of the largest in the world. At the same time BW may be selling off its 15 chemical tankers.

BW's chemical and other tankers have green hulls. Bulkers and some product tankers have blue.
BW Osprey seen here on the St.Lawrence is one of 22 Medium Range (49,999 dwt) tankers in the fleet. The colours of the hull strip are reversed blue for green.

BW tankers are noted for their elaborate colour scheme, unlike many other tanker operators in the word. A case in point is Star I which arrived last night for Imperial Oil.

Star I , operated by Scorpio [see the recent takeover of Nordic American Offshore by Scorpio Offshore, thwarting Horizon Offshore's bid] , is a 23,248 gt, 37,900 dwt product tanker from Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan. Built in 2007 as Alcor for Turkish operators, it was renamed in 2013. The ship has been in Halifax several times since 2015 bringing in refined product for Irving Oil and for Imperial Oil. On this trip its last port is given as Baton Rouge, LA.


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Outer Anchorage

The tanker Qikiqtaaluk W. arrived today at the outer anchorages, but is so far not scheduled to enter port. According to most sources it is en route from Montreal to Savannah.

With Devil's Island to the left Qikiqtaaluk W. rides high at anchor. Frozen spray on the shoreline hints at the frigid air temperature.

The ship was built as Icdas-11 in 2011 and is an ice class vessel measuring 13,097 grt, 19,984 dwt, fitted with twelve tanks and fourteen manifolds. One of two sister ships acquired by Coastal Shipping Ltd this year, it is named for the eastern portion of the Nunavut region. (The former Icdas-09 named for Nunavut's western region is now Kitikmeot W. It is currently loading in Come-by-Chance, NL).

After supplying arctic settlements during the northern navigation season, it went off to Europe, and was spotted in Ijmuiden November 8. It then had a stint in drydock and Blohm+Voss, Hamburg from November 12 for prop and shaft work. It was then spotted in Emden November 23.
On December 16 it was upbound in the St.Lawrence Seaway for Oshawa, arriving December 18. It sailed again the next day and was out of the Seaway again December 20, sailing directly for Halifax.

At some point it took up its winter bareboat charter and was reflagged to the Marshal Islands, possibly while in Europe.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

I saw three ships come sailing in

Despite the obscurity of the reference to ships, the Christmas carol "I saw three ships come sailing in on Christmas Day in the morning" has been a favourite for many years. As some spoil sport observed, Bethlehem is 20 miles from navigable water, and to see even one ship would require extraordinary visual acuity.

Sharp vision was not necessary this Christmas morning as three ships did indeed come 'sailing" in, although none were secure before noon.

Picking up its pilot at 1100hrs (AST) the self-unloading bulker Algoma Integrity (ex Gypsum Integrity) made its way through to Bedford Basin anchorage.

The ship will wait at least a day before it moves to National Gypsum to load. The ship has become a regular recently making one or two calls a month.

There was a stiff northerly breeze blowing and when the pilot boat returned it was bathed in spray.

A little behind the scheduled 1130 hrs at the pilot station, as it moved from an outer anchorage,, CMA CGM Orfeo had plenty of time since it was not to tie up at Halterm before 1300 hrs. The tug Atlantic Bear met the ship well out and tucked in astern as tethered escort. Atlantic Fir also went past the Beach to take up position on the port bow, ready to turn the ship to back into berth 41 at Halterm.

The ship is carrying boxes from all the partners in the Columbus JAX service: CMA CGM / APL, COSCO and Evergreen. As mentioned yesterday, the ship is chartered from Claus-Peter Offen interests, and that company's symbol is posted below the bridge, even with the top row of containers (Santa's gloved hand added by me).

Last in, and self piloted, was Oceanex Sanderling returning from its weekly trip to St.John's.  It tied up at pier 36, filling the last berth at Halterm. (Asian Sun is still at pier 42 - see yesterday's post.)

On deck is one of Canadian Tire's 53 foot containers. These are not normally "seagoing" since they do not fit normal container ship cellular cargo bays, but Sanderling can accommodate them either on skeleton trailers or lift on/ lift off.
The ship will off load tomorrow, then move to pier 34 for maintenance. Its next scheduled sailing is not posted online, so may well be in 2019.


Merry Christmas


Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve

The day before Christmas can be a busy one in the port, since Christmas Day and Boxing Day are 'no work' days for longshoremen. Ships do not wish to sit idle in port for two days, so they try to get their work done and get away to sea.

There are several ships working to get away today. The sister ships Asian Moon and Asian Sun are in port - but for different lines. Asian Moon is busy unloading its nickel concentrate cargo at pier 31 (regrettably no longer photographable due to Halterm expansion) for Nirint Lines. It will sail late morning.

And arriving appropriately at sunrise this morning was Asian Sun for Tropical Shipping.

There is no posted sailing time for it, so it may be here over Christmas.

Meanwhile the CMA CGM Orfeo anchored offshore early this morning. The 11,249 gt, 120,986 dwt ship was originally due yesterday, and is now slated to arrive in port tomorrow. Linehandlers (members of the Longshoremen's union) will get a hefty paycheck to tie the ship up if in fact it does berth on Christmas Day.

Built in 2008 by Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan, the ship has a capacity of 9658 TEU, including 700 reefers. Normally these CMA CGM ships called on Saturdays, but for the last month they have been in port on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

Also due at Halterm tomorrow, Oceanex Sanderling will berth at pier 36. It often takes time off over Christmas.

ACL's Atlantic Sail departed late morning. At first it was into a dead calm and gloomy Bedford Basin.

By the time the ship cleared the Narrows there was bright sun as the ship passed west of George's Island bound for Liverpool.

Also sailing this morning was Atlantic Huron. The CSLer has a load of gypsum for Cote-Ste-Catherine, QC.

With the St.Lawrence Seaway set to close December 31, it is expected that the ship will just manage to unload then move to Montreal for winter layup. Last year it laid up there from January 14 to March 17.

Last winter Radcliffe R. Latimer laid up in Halifax from January 6 to March 18. This year it sailed from Halifax December 14 with a load of gypsum.

It reached Goderich, ON on Lake Huron, loaded salt and sailed yesterday for Johnstown, ON, just above the Iroquois lock. It is also likely to leave the Lakes before the close of the season.

The oil docks normally work on Christmas, as their shore workers are not members of the ILA. Irving Oil's Acadian is due this evening, so may be in port Christmas Day. So far there are no scheduled arrivals at Imperial Oil.

Also arriving today, Troms Sirius from Bay Bulls, NL. It accompanied the oil rig West Aquarius when it completed work on BP's (unsuccessful) exploration well on the Scotian Slope.

It likely has equipment to land from the rig, and then will probably layup as it has no other scheduled work. Fleetmate Lundstrom Tide is already laid up at The Cove. Both vessels, on charter from Tidewater to Horizon, will likely be unemployed for a time.


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Maersk Sched

Maersk's Canada Atlantic Express has a gruelling weekly schedule to maintain, particularly in winter when westbound ships must battle the North Atlantic then face varying ice conditions on the St.Lawrence River en route to Montreal. The return eastbound leg of the trip via Halifax to Bremerhaven is no less onerous, with Saturday the normal sailing day from Halifax.

 To celebrate the arrival of longer days, Shipfax braved the elements to take a photo at 0752 hrs (Atlantic Standard Time) this morning.

Maersk Penang arrived at dawn this morning - one day behind schedule - but will likely be able to pick that up on the transatlantic leg. The ship had a good refit earlier in the autumn and still looks quite fresh. It will be interesting to see how it looks after another brutal winter.

Built in 1998 by Kvaerner Warnow Werft, Warnemunde as P+O Nedlloyd Jakarta, the ship was renamed in 2006 after Maersk took over P+O Nedlloyd. The 31,333 gt, 378,842 dwt ship has a capacity of 2890 TEU, including 400 reefers. It has been calling in Halifax since 2011, so apologies if you have seen all this before.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


Halifax pilotage operations were suspended again today for a  time due to weather. That weather consists of high winds and seas. There is also sometimes near zero visibility in rain and heavy fog, the latter brought on by unseasonable high temperatures.

Time therefore for some more deep background.


 The name Stena has become synonymous with ferries world wide. They always seem to be building and selling ferries, and Stena has become one the great success stories in the shipping world.

Stena was named by its founder Sten Allan Olsen when he started his ferry service between his native Sweden and Denmark in 1962. Already well established in the scrap metal business, since 1939 and in a small way with cargo ships since 1946, Olsen entered the market when road transportation really took off. Trucks, containers and trucks carrying containers became the preferred means of transportation and more and more people were travelling in their own cars.

Bigger and bigger ferries on more and more routes, catering to freight and passengers created an almost insatiable demand, and Stena was there to cater to it. Eventually Olsen's business spread to tankers, offshore supply and drilling and investments in non-shipping companies, making Stena and its various subsidiaries, known as Stena Sphere, one of the largest corporations in Sweden.

Stena developed and perfected what are now called RoPax ships: Roll On/ Roll Off Passenger ships, but also RoLo: Roll On / Roll Off - Lift On / Lift Off, that could carry containers and trucks / cars. Some of the ships catered to cars, trucks and passengers, and others to trucks only, with limited accommodation for their drivers.

When other operators saw the success of Stena, Olsen was ready to charter out or sell his ships, giving him leverage to build more and better vessels.

A number of those charters and sales were to Canadian operators, particularly to what has become Marine Atlantic. Its mandate is to connect Newfoundland with mainland Canada by sea. That role was defined in the terms of Newfoundland Confederation when it joined Canada in 1949. The Newfoundland Railway, and its ferry service, was taken over by the Canadian National Railway in 1949. In 1977 CNR formed its CN Marine division as the ferry operator. In 1986 that operation, which also included Northumberland Strait and Bay of Fundy ferries, was spun off as a separate crown corporation and named Marine Atlantic. A crown corporation is to be run as a business, with the government of Canada (the Crown) as sole shareholder. The Crown also names the Board of Directors, and in the case of Marine Atlantic, also subsidizes the operation with tax payer funds.

Marine Atlantic's main service to Newfoundland was between North Sydney, NS and Port aux Basques, NL. [The official name of the province is now Newfoundland and Labrador - abbreviated hereinafter as Newfoundland or NL]. Freight had traditionally been carried as break bulk, then in rail cars, laboriously converted from standard to narrow gauge at each crossing. As roads in Newfoundland improved the demand to carry trucks exploded. The rail road did adapt to containers, but never did convert to standard gauge and was closed down in 1988.

To keep up, Marine Atlantic chartered and purchased ships to supplement those it had built domestically. As the cost of Canadian built ships increased over the years, it has relied on charters and purchase of second hand tonnage, almost exclusively from Stena.

Stena Trailer,  Jarl Transporter

The first Stena ships that CNR used were two small cargo only RoRo vessels. Stena Trailer and Jarl Transporter (launched as Stena Transporter). Built on 1972 and 1973 respectively they measured a modest 1306 grt. They carried truck trailers exclusively.
In February 1974 when ice was particularly heavy in the Sydney Bight they operated from Halifax for two trips each. Normally when ice was heavy CNR moved its ships to Point Tupper, on the Strait of Canso, but that port had no RoRo or container handling facilities.

Stena Trailer in foreground is still loading.\

Jarl Transporter appears ready to sail. The ships look like miniature versions of ships built 20 or more years later.
Both ships were built by Akers Tronhhjems in Norway, with Jarl Transporter sold on delivery to Det Nordenfjelske, and soon after reacquired by Stena, without change of name.
The ships were used for a year by CN Marine and returned to Stena. They later carried several names each either under charter or for new owners.
Stena Trailer became 74: Nopal Sky, 77: Stena Tailer, 78: Kirk Trailer, 80 Caribbean Trailer and was delivered to Aliaga for scrap in August 2009.
Jarl Transporter was renamed Stena Transporter in 1975 then 76: Leon R.E., 83: Weymouth, 84:Nusa Dharma for Indonesian owners. It may still be operational. 

While satisfying a short term need, the two RoRos were a stop gap until more ships could be brought in or converted to carry trucks. Then began a long series of larger Stena RoPax ferries, most of similar design.

Marine Nautica

Still in Stena colours, but renamed Marine Nautica the ship is berthed stern in at Port aux Basques in this photo.
In 1974 CN was pressed for additional capacity and chartered Stena Nautica and immediately renamed it Marine Nautica. The ship was just out of the Rickmers, Bremerhaven shipyard, the second of four sister ships built by Stena for charter work. With effect in 1980 CN Marine acquired the ship through a bareboat charter arrangement with Roylease (the leasing arm of the Royal Bank of Canada.)

Marine Nautica diverted to Halifax due to ice in March 1980. It had been repainted in CN Marine blue hull with gold stripe, but was sadly worn from service harsh winter conditions.

 Winter traffic was mostly freight, and trucks lined both sides of the piers waiting to load.

Bow in at the North Sydney marine terminal, the ship forms a backdrop for two wooden trawlers, Jean Coleete and Mario G out of Caraquet, NB.
The ship ran year round between North Sydney and Port aux Basques until 1986 when it was sold to Tourship Co and operated between Livorno and Bastia as Corsica Marina II, later renamed Corsica Marina Seconda. The ship is still in operation.

Marine Atlantica

Marine Atlantica arrives off North Sydney.

Also in 1974 CN chartered another sister ship, which was launched as Stena Atlantic, but renamed Marine Atlantica on delivery. In 1979 CN Marine acquired the ship through financing in the form of bareboat charter from Roylease. In 1986 when Marine Atlantic was formed the ship was sold to Italian owners and became Corsica Vera and in 1987 Sardinia Vera. Although it was chartered for work on the English Channel for a time, it continues to operate between mainland Italy and Corsica.

Stena Nordica

In 1975 CN Marine chartered the newly built  Stena Nordica, the first of four vessels built by Rickmers, Bremerhaven for charter work. CN Marine used the ship during the peak summer seasons from 1975-1979 and again in 1981. The ship was renamed Hellas each winter for service in Greece. When CN wanted the ship back for 1982 Stena declined. CN Marine then took Stena to court over the terms of the charter and CN was awarded ownership of Stena Jutlandica. [see below]
Stena Nordica was renamed Stena Nautica in 1981 then sold in 1983 to the Government of Belgium and renamed Reine Astrid for cross-Channel service. In 1997 Onorato Overseas Transportation bought the ship which became Moby Kiss, but was chartered to Moroccan owners, Cie Marocaine de Navigation,  the same year, then purchased by them in 1998. Renamed Al Mansour it ran between Algeçiras and Tangier until 2015 when it arrived in Aliaga where it was broken up in August.

Stena Normandica

In 1976 CN Marine took up a brief charter with Stena Normandica, built by Rickmers, Bremerhaven, another of the four sister ships that Stena built for charter work, but also used from time to time on their own ferry routes as relief vessels. The ship made only one call in Halifax according to my records. It loaded some Atco mobile buildings in February 1976. The ship went on to a long career with Sealink as Saint Brendan. In 1990 it was sold to Moby Lines for service as Moby Vincent running between Italy and France. Except for a charter out in 1993-94 as Wasa Sun the ship has served Moby Lines up to the present day.

Jutlandica / Bluenose

When Stena Nordica was not available for North Sydney - Port aux-Basques service in 1983, Stena provided Stena Jutlandica, which was renamed Jutlandica. At the end of that summer, CN Marine took ownership of the ship for use in another of their services - the Yarmouth, NS to Bar Harbour, ME run across the mouth of the Bay of Fundy.

Built in 1973 in Yugoslavia it originally ran on Stena Lines' Goteborg-Frederikshaven service. In 1977 it was rebuilt with a second trailer deck, making the ship look even boxier than before, and necessitating the addition of hull sponsons for stability.

Alongside the Machine Shop Wharf, workers are repairing rust and and spot priming Jutlandica
It is already carrying the CN Marine funnel mark.

Refitting continues in the Graving Dock, with the new name Bluenose already applied.

Emerging from the Graving Dock, the hull sponsons are visible, as is the extra steel inserted when the second truck deck was added - it appears as a slightly darker band below the line of portholes on the original truck deck.

Refitted at Halifax Shipyard it became the second Bluenose, replacing a ship of the same name built in 1955. In 1979 CN Marine became Marine Atlantic and ownership was transferred to the Minister of Transport, with Marine Atlantic as operators. In 1997 Marine Atlantic gave up the route to Bay Ferries and they bought and operated the ship for the 1997 season only.

Despite being slightly boxier because of the extra truck deck, the ship still made a good impression as its sailed into Yarmouth harbour. When the hull was painted blue the painter gave the ship a bit of shear which did not actually have.

After layup in Shelburne and a renaming to Hull 309, Bay Ferries sold the ship and it sailed to Spain in the spring of 1999. Becoming Euroferrys Atlantica it ran between Algeçiras and Tangiers. In 2010 it was renamed Ace II when sold to Indian breakers. It arrived at Alang December 22, 2010.

Scotia Prince

Scotia Prince started life as a sister ship to Bluenose, but was lengthened and did not get the extra car deck. It was a better looking ship as a result, but never as elegant in white and faded denim stripes.

Another ferry service operated from Yarmouth, NS to Portland, ME, also acquired a Stena ship, Stena Olympica, built in 1971 in Yugoslavia, for Goteborg-Keil service for Stena Lines. Renamed Scotia Prince for the seasonal operation starting in 1982 it ran under the 'Prince of Fundy Cruises' banner.  In 1986-87 it was lengthened 18m. With more cabin space it was then marketed more as a cruise ship than a ferry.
It found winter work running between Tampa, FL and Tampico, MX, and in 2002 -2003 from Tampa to the Yucatan as the 'Yucatan Express'.
At the end of the 2004 season, the Portland Terminal was found to be contaminated with mold and the Yarmouth-Portland service was discontinued.
The ship was used by the US government's Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] in New Orleans in 2005-2006, then went to the Mediterranean where it served a variety of routes and carried out humanitarian evacuations from Libya in early 2011. It finally arrived in Colombo in March 2012, renamed Prince, and the next month arrived in Chittagong where it was scrapped.

For more photos of these Stena ships see:

Stena Grecia / Atlantic Freighter

Still in Stena livery, alongside at North Sydney, the future Atlantic Freighter loads cargo in its first season with CN Marine.

CN Marine's needs also extended to freight only and they again turned to Stena in 1986, chartering Stena Grecia. a 5465 grt RoRo with capacity of 75 drop trailers/ 110 TEU , it was built as Tor Felicia by Hyundai, Ulsan in 1978 and ran as Merzaro Grecia from 1978 to 1983 until acquired by Stena Gulf Line Ltd. CN Marine chartered the ship for 150 days from April 1986 for its drop trailer service.

 In Marine Atlantic colours, and renamed, the ship sits out most of the winter season in North Sydney. Other ships can carry the traffic until the busy summer season. However the ship was brought out of layup from time to time to clear backlogs.

During that time CN Marine became Marine Atlantic, and at the end of the charter Marine Atlantic purchased the ship renaming it Atlantic Freighter. Although it had capacity for 12 passengers, it did not normally carry any.
In December 1990 the ship was chartered to the US Military Sealift for Persian Gulf war service. It was returned in April 1991 having made the one trip, spending the rest of the time on standby in Italy.
Plans to replace the ship had been in the works since 1998, but the ship was kept in service, even though it was laid up over the winter of 2007-2008 for asbestos removal, then refitted at Halifax Shipyard.
It was finally sold in 2010 and renamed Pelagitis first for Panamanian, the Greek owners. It is reported to be still in service.

There has always been competition with CN Marine and later Marine Atlantic for freight service between the mainland and the island of Newfoundland. Since the advent of containerization and RoRo the competition has intensified, with the resulting company Oceanex as the last remaining competitor. It is in fact the result of various consolidations and mergers among some of the earlier shipping companies. It has three ships, two running from Montreal and one from Halifax, each on a weekly basis. When those ships are out of service for any prolonged period, Oceanex has to find substitutes.
It has used used two Stena ships to fill in. Stena Foreteller and Stena Carrier are similar ships with large stern ramps accessing several enclosed decks and an open cargo deck.

Stena Foreteller

An enlarged, but more attractive version of its 1970s predecessors, Stena Foreteller glides into Halifax for Oceanex.

Stena Foreteller was built in 2001 by Dalian Shipyard in China and also operated as Cetam Massilia from 2002 to 2003. A large ship of 24,688 grt, and 12,640 dwt, it has 3,000 lane meters of capacity. Following service with Oceanex from June to July 2004, when it operated weekly between Halifax, CornerBrook (since dropped as a port of call by Oceanex) and St.John's, the ship returned to the Baltic where it is still working. It has been reported sold however, but the new owners have not yet been revealed.

Stena Carrier

Equally as impressive, Stena Carrier sails up the St.Lawrence toward Montreal on a breezy day. It still bears the banner of a previous charter.

Stena Carrier was built in 2004 in Italy and is a 21,171 grt, 12,350 dwt RoLo. It was used by Oceanex in 2016 when Oceanex Connaigra was refitting. It has also since been sold, and since August has been operating as Mexico Star for Baja Ferries.

Leif Erikson

In 2000 Marine Atlantic purchased the ten year old Stena Challenger, built by Fosen MV in Rissa, Norway. Although normally used for commercial vehicles only, the ship does have capacity for 500 un-berthed passengers and 300 vehicles. There are berths for 92 truck drivers.

Marine Atlantic took delivery in 2001 and renamed the ship Leif Erikson to observe the anniversary of the arrival (perhaps) of the first European to North  America.

Leif Erikson passes the MacKay bridge in Halifax to take shelter in Bedford Basin while Tropical Storm Ophelia passes. It then went to drydock at Halifax Shipyard.

In 2010 Marine Atlantic announced an $18mn mid-life refit for the ship . That would indicate it may be replaced as soon as 2020.

When it became time to upgrade the passenger fleet Marine Atlantica turned to Stena again, and chartered two sister ships for year round passenger and freight service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques. The ships were built as Stena's Seabridger class by AO Baltijsky Zaved in St.Petersburg, Russia with final completion at Fosen MV in Rissa, Norway.

Before they were ready for service in Canada each was modified by taking the unusual step of shortening the ships by 12.5m and adding accommodations in the form of 96 more cabins in addition to the 100 already provided, and lounge space with 500 recliner seats. Also a third bow thruster was added by MAI in Bremerhaven.

One year before expiry of their five year charters, Marine Atlantic exercised its purchase option and bought the ships outright in 2015 for a reported total price of $100 mn.

Blue Puttees

 Blue Puttees in drydock in Halifax.
First to be taken over by Marine Atlantic  was the former Stena Trader, built in 2006. Renamed Blue Putttees after the World War I  Newfoundland Regiment, it entered service in March 2011.


Sister ship Stena Traveller, had operated between Hoek van Holland and Killingolme, England from 2007 to 2009. After modification it was renamed after the Cape Breton Highlanders regiment  and entered service for Marine Atlantic in April 2011.

Impressive ships, capable of 22 knots, and built for severe Baltic ice conditions, both have acquitted themselves well for Marine Atlantic.


What the future holds for Marine Atlantic is always a subject for speculation. Their flaghisp Atlantic Vision (never a Stena ship)  may be up for replacement as early as November 2019, and as stated above Leif Erikson may have as little as two years left in service. Will Marine Atlantic turn to Stena again?
Stay tuned.