Thursday, February 28, 2019

Michigan again

There seems to be some sort of attraction between ships named Michigan and the port of Halifax. As per my post on February 9 a ship named Lake Michigan called here in 1989. Read more at:

In 1990 another ship, also called Lake Michigan, with the same owners as the previous one also called here. Although owned by a one ship company called Seaweed Maritime Co Ltd, of Limassol Cyprus, it carried the same funnel marking with a large blue/green "A".

On February 4, 1990 the second Lake Michigan ship lost power 10 miles off the Cuban coast, on a trip from Caletta Patillos, Chile to Baltimore. Remarkably, Cuba permitted the US Coast Guard to send a plane into Cuban air space to assist the ship. It was then towed into Bahia de Nipe, February 7. Repairs must have been accomplished relatively quickly, since the ship  arrived in Halifax March 6. Initially it tied up at pier 22 where it loaded bagged flour.  It then moved on March 23 to pier 28 where it topped up with bulk  grain, finally sailing on March 29. I did not record a destinaiton, but based on the previous Lake Michigan's itinerary of 1989, Egypt would be likely.

Tied up at pier 22, the ship loaded a part cargo of bagged flour using its own derricks.

Ordered as Unitramp for Danish owners at Tirrento e Riuniti, Ancona, Italy, it was delivered to Fratelli d'Amico as Mare Piceno in 1968. In 1981 it passed to the first in a series of Greek owners as Giovanna II, in 1983: Vanna, 1988: Capetan Manolis and finally in 1989 Lake Michigan. A bulk carrier of 15,720 gt, 27,898 dwt, it was fully fitted with no less than fourteen 8 ton derricks for working cargo.

 The tugs Point Vigour and Point Halifax moved the ship to pier 28 to load bulk grain on top of the bagged flour. The grain would stablize the bags and prevent then from shifting, but unloading would be particularly labour intensive. 

It cannot have carried many more cargoes after leaving Halifax, because it arrived in Alang, India for scrap July 21, 1990. Twenty-two years was considered to be about the end of the line for a ship operating in marginal trades.

BBC Michigan returns

It was a return visit for the multi-purpose / heavy lift/ general cargo ship BBC Michigan this morning. After its first brief call here on February 8 (see my post, this one will be brief too, with the ship sailing tomorrow morning.

While its last visit was in driving sleet and rain, this time it was sunny and clear. In the intervening weeks the ship continued on from its last port of New London, CT to Sorel, QC. While upbound on the St.Lawrence it experienced heavy freezing spray, to the point that it reported one of its anchor windlasses unserviceable due to ice build up. It was allowed to proceed on to Sorel where repairs were to be made. It then sailed from Sorel February 24 giving Halifax as its destination. Again it does not seem to be here to work any cargo, so perhaps more repairs are needed.
It certainly accumulated more frozen spray on its way to Halifax.

A hardy crew prepares mooring lines as the ship approaches Pier 9C.

Even if the crew does not spend the day chipping ice, the ship will soon be free of the encumbrance, since it will head out from Halifax on its way to Port Everglades, FL. From Port Everglades the ship is expected to head for the Panama Canal, US west coast and Far East.

As mentioned in the last post, the ship was laid down by Jiangdong Shipyard in 2007, launched in 2008 but not delivered until 2010. The reason for this appears to be that it was part of the large order of ships from Beluga Shipping, which was cut short when Beluga collapsed under a heavy debt load, amid allegations of corruption. This is in fact a Beluga F-Class ship, but was never delivered to Beluga. 
Instead W. Bocksteigel took delivery as technical manager, for a limited partnership and placed it in the commercial pool of BBC Chartering, operated by Briese Schiffahrts of Leer, Germany.  
Bocksteigel manages about 90 ships and BBC Chartering operates about 150 ships.


Reefer addendum

Not included in the previous article about reefers, is the one ray of sunshine for the reefer trade. Despite cautionary advice from nutritionists, orange and other fruit juices are still immensely popular. Partly because they have been marketed differently from carbonated sugar drinks, they still form part of the daily diet for North Americans and Europeans, despite their high free sugar content.
Since 25% or more of the world's supply of orange juice originates in Brazil, and the rest from other tropical countries (not forgetting Florida), the juice has to travel a long way before it reaches the consumer. This is where reefer ships come in.

It was long ago determined that shipping juice in concentrated bulk is more efficient than shipping it packaged for consumers - especially over long distances.  Savvy reefer owners devised a way of building special stainless tanks into reefer ships, that can be sterilized and refrigerated to maintain the integrity of the product until it reaches the US or Europe. There it is pumped ashore and goes to blending plants and packaging facilities, where the concentrated juice is made into orange juice, other orange flavoured soft drinks, or converted to compounds for other products such as marmalade. After packaging it is transported by truck or train to retailers.

However for the ocean leg, the juice reefers (mistakenly called juice tankers) can keep frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ), and other juices such as frozen concentrated pineapple juice (FCPJ) at -10C  or fresh juice not from concentrate (NFC) at -1C or whatever temperature is dictated, using the brine system that reefer ships carry. The tanks are also kept aseptic for NFC by nitrogen - pumped from shore and / or generated aboard ship. Oxidation must be prevented to ensure purity.

The major juice carriers of the world now operate more than two dozen ships that have juice tanks built into some holds, but can also carry reefer containers in other holds and /or deck.  Some juice can be carried by "bag-in-box" reefer containers or even in drums, but the latter are not recyclable or re-usable so are less popular.

Among the pioneers in juice "tankers" was the Dutch Seatrade Groningen, which operates from South and Central America to North America and Europe with conventional reefers. They converted one of those ships to carry juice in tanks in 1999.

  Although it does not look very different from many smaller type reefers, Joint Frost was a pioneer in juice transport.

Joint Frost operated for a joint venture between Seatrade and Tampa Juice Inc and brought juice from as near as Costa Rica to Florida for blending or forwarding. The ship was built in 1979 by Brattvaag Skips in Norway, and measured 2595 gt, 2854 dwt. It had a capacity of 1300 tonnes of FCOJ in tanks, and carried reefer containers on deck and in some holds.

Recently Seatrade had a new juice tank carrier built called Juice Express and Joint Frost may have been demoted - it hasn't reported a movement since December of 2018, when it was in Cuba.

Other companies have much more massive ships, which, needless to say have never been seen in Halifax. They are not tankers, but are reefer ships with some tanks fitted in the holds. Such companies as Atlanship, Aleuropa, and Citrosuco are investing in more ships as the juice trade is apparently thriving.

Reefer ships used to be frequent callers in Halifax for two reasons. The first was delivering fresh fruit, but almost as important was picking up boxboard, manufactured in Canadian paper mills. The ships would divert on their way back from Europe to South America to pick up the cargo for use to package bananas, oranges and grapefruit. Nowadays the box board is more efficiently carried by scheduled container ships.

Dole Europa, arriving in Portsmouth UK in the "bananas for Britain" trade, is a modern reefer/ container ship It can carry non-refrigerated containers too..

So maybe there is still hope for those sleek white ships, unless people swear off OJ with breakfast.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Frosty morning

On the coldest day of the year so far, and possibly the longest period of sustained winds, the chemical tanker Sichem New York made port this morning, and anchored.  The ship was built in 2007 by Samho, Tongyeong, South Korea and has epoxy coated tanks for carrying a variety of products. It measures 8,4555 gt, 12,945 dwt. Owners, Team Tankers, incorporated in Bermuda, but trading on the Oslo stock exchange, has jumped to fifth on  the list of  the world's chemical largest tanker fleets, now with 52 ships. (38 owned and the rest leased).

Nova Scotia Community College Waterfront Campus forms a backdrop to Sichem New York at anchor.

The ship is en route from Saint John, NB to Trois-Rivières, QC and made considerable ice so far. It seems likely the crew are clearing a lot of that ice today before proceeding.

The Gulf of St.Lawrence is nearly 90% covered with ice, and coupled with the recent high winds and frigid temperatures, it may be wise to wait for better conditions.

Sustained winds of about 40 mph (35 knots) and gusts of more than 50 mph (46 kn) were recorded in the harbour approaches in the last day and a half. Air temperatures dropped form the -7C to -14C range at the same time.  Water temperature remains at 0C. Seas ranged in the 2.9m  (9.5 ft ) range.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Fundy Rose - back to work

Refit complete, Fundy Rose sailed from Halifax early Saturday evening and is expected in Digby this afternoon. It therefore appears likely that the ship will resume service on the Digby / Saint John service February 25 as planned.

Fundy Rose at Pier 9C.

The ship arrived in Halifax January 29 and underwent an extensive refit. The bow doors were removed and reconditioned as per previous post. They were reinstalled by Friday. New framing was installed around the passenger entry doors, and no doubt other work was done that was not visible from shoreside.


Friday, February 22, 2019

Drive Green Highway

All the world's auto carrying companies are jumping on the environmental band wagon and the Japanese shipping giant Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, better known as K-Line, is no exception. They took a major step in upgrading the design of their car carriers in 2015 when they began construction of a series of new ships. One factor in the design was the planned opening of the enlarged Panama Canal, which would allow for larger ships and thus reduce the cost per car to operate autocarriers. Carrying  up to 1,000 more cars per ship is a major upgrade.

Equally important however was to reduce the emissions of these ships as they delivered automobiles around the world.

The first ship in K-Line's series, Drive Green Highway, arrived in Halifax late Wednesday and sailed today. Built in 2016 by the Japan Marine United shipyard in Ariake, Japan, the 76,387 grt, 20,034 dwt ship is a full 200m long and 37.5m wide, allowing it to carry 7,550 cars. It also has a dramatically different paint scheme form the usual dull gray favoured by K-Line. In fact the scheme is an enlarged version of their red funnel with black cap and large white letter K.

To achieve their emission goals, K-Line uses a combination of exhaust gas recirculation and scrubbers to reduce nitrous oxide output by 50% and sulphur dioxide by 90% over conventional engines. Engine performance is such that the ship can steam efficiently at 20.5 knots. They also added a thin film solar panel array on the top deck, above the accommodation, to capture enough solar energy to power the LED lighting on the car decks.  Numerous other novel materials, controls and power saving devices have also been fitted.


Tugdock - new owner

Develop Nova Scotia, the provincial crown corporation previously know as the Waterfront Development Corporation, has purchased the property commonly referred to as the tug dock. Svitzer Canada Ltd owned the two timber pile wharves and water lots as successor to a string of companies stretching back into the early 1900s.

Most famous of those companies was Foundation Maritime, operators of local tug services and a wide ranging deep sea salvage company. They had acquired the property when they became established in Halifax in the mid-1930s, taking over some small tugboat operators.

Barely recognizable today- this photo, taken in about 1956, shows some of Foundation Maritime's complex of buildings. 

Another photo, taken in September 1957, shows the salvage shed, advertising ship repairs. The slipway at the left, called Hogan's Slip, was not part of Foundation's property.  The large building in the centre of the photo is the now vacant Ralston Building, then brand new. Most of the other buildings in the photo are now gone.

Under Foundation ownership the area was developed not only as a dock for tugs, but as a repair yard for their marine construction plant and for equipment sales. 

In the 1970s Foundation sold its business to the Quebec based Marine Industries Ltd, but it was soon re-sold to a Dutch/British consortium Smit and Cory International. They had established tug services at Point Tupper, NS and Come-by-Chance. NL, and acquired Foundation's harbour tug business in Baie-Comeau and Sept-Iles, QC and in Halifax.

Eastern Canada Towing, known as ECTUG, sometimes had six or eight tugs alongside at one time.

Smit and Cory formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (commonly known as ECTUG) and eventually as a result of a number of international mergers Smit left the partnership and Cory was taken over in turn by the Dutch company Wijsmuller group then by Svitzer, the Danish tug operator owned by AP Moller Maersk. Although the name ECTUG remained in use for a time, the company became Svitzer Canada Ltd.

In 2003, Svitzer formed a partnership with Atlantic Towing (a J.D.Irving company) to provide tug services in Halifax and the Strait of Canso. The three Svitzer tugs based in Halifax transferred to Point Tupper. Atlantic Towing then provided all the tugs for Halifax, and berthed them at the IEL pier in Dartmouth, which was leased by J.D.Irving.

Svitzer maintained its offices and dispatch centre in the building at the end of the main pier, and kept the secondary building, the salvage shed. Halifax harbour pilots had long used the ground floor of the office building as its "crow's nest" for pilots and installed a fueling station for pilot boats.

The current  building was reconstructed on the foundation of a previous building, known as the "cook house".  It had a galley and dining area for tug crews on the lower level and a dispatch and crew management office on the upper level. Senior Ectug management had office in the Commercial Equipment building closer to Water Street, now home to Tug's Pub.

On January 22, 1989 the tanker Eva Cob. loaded with jet aviation fuel, and en route to Lewiporte, NL (for Gander) rammed the end of the pier and cook house, causing extensive damage. It was repaired, but  Hurricane Juan in September 2003 finished the job by flooding out the lower floor.

The tug crews had long since been providing their own meals aboard the tugs, and the Halifax pilots were using the ground floor, so a new building was constructed to house all of Svitzer's admin and dispatch functions on the upper floor. 


Aside from the occasional visiting tug, the wharves remained largely unused.  In 2018 the Atlantic Pilotage Authority leased space on the main pier, to berth and service their pilot boats.

The piers are in poor condition, with many timber piles deteriorated, and the salvage shed, although interesting historically, is an eyesore and its pier is, if possible, is in even worse condition. One hopes the DNS will see fit to remove the salvage shed and old pier, and reconstruct the main pier.

The salvage shed, seen here with the ocean going salvage tug Foundation Vigilant alongside, was used to store pumps, rope, anchors and other gear needed for salvage work. It also had a machine shop for repairs to the tugs, wire splicing equipment and a variety of other support functions. It has long been vacant and many of the old artifacts were donated to the Maritime Museum.
On the right, Bluenose II sits at Oland's Wharf.

One of the few remaining privately held commercial properties on the downtown Halifax waterfront, the tug dock did give some connection to the waterfront's history. The comings and goings of the tugs made the area a point of interest. However with the tugs gone it really became somewhat boring. The pilot boat activity has given it a little life, but it could stand to be improved considerably.

An interpretive plaque at the head of the wharf is barely noticeable, but does recognize the activities of Foundation Maritime in its prime. Unfortunately since the glory days of Ectug, Svitzer has retrenched and now operates only in Point Tupper. An attempt to break into the Montreal tug business was short lived, and Svtizer no longer manages the tug in Baie-Comeau nor operates in Sept-Iles, QC.  It has become a minor branch office of Svitzer's other North American interests, run from Florida.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Fireboats - controversy flares up again

Fireboats have been a controversial topic in Halifax for at least eighty years if not more.  The debates have erupted periodically over those years, but there has been a lull for a while. I guess it is inevitable that the topic has arisen again, in view of recent shipboard fires - one of which was in Halifax in January.

To go well back in time, the Royal Canadian Navy has provided fireboat services, primarily for HMC Dockyard and other DND properties, peaking during World War II when the navy was a full strength with scores of ships in Halifax. They were never reluctant to fight fires on civilian ships and waterfront properties when called out. They have also maintained a specialized firefighting force, trained to deal with shipboard fires. Also one of the navy's two firefighting schools is located near Herring Cove at the mouth of Halifax Harbour. The school trains navy members about firefighting aboard ships, so that each ship can be capable of dealing with a fire on board when it is away from port.

The January 28 fire on the tanker Kivalliq W. while docked at Imperial Oil was extinguished by military firefighters, trained to fight shipboard fires.

Until recently the navy has maintained a full time fireboat in Halifax, however it was retired in 2014. However the three large dockyard tugs are fitted with fire monitors. Dockyard firefighters will board the tug as needed to respond to fires. The military also maintains a fire department and firetrucks within HMC Dockyard and it will respond to fires in other military installations including Windsor Park. There is also an aviation firefighting capability at Shearwater.

The controversy always seems to centre around the City of Halifax, and its sense of responsibility for fighting fires on the waterfront.

During World War II, the City of Halifax and the National Harbours Board, had a disagreement on the topic and it ended up that for a time, both maintained fireboats, but there was a great deal of controversy about who was to pay and what were the areas of responsibility. As it turned out there were a number of shipboard fires in the port, but also a number of shoreside fires in the City itself, and  both fireboats responded.

The City of Halifax acquired the former City of Toronto fireboat Rouille in 1941. The 100 foot long coal burner was built in 1929, and had, for the time, a prodigious pumping power of 450 gpm using 3 "fire guns" (monitors) and had 16 hose connections on deck. In its short time in Halifax it did respond to several notable fires, some on ships and some on land.

In 1943 the National Harbours Board assigned the fire tug James Battle to Halifax,. It had been built in 1900 for the City of Detroit and was purchased in 1941 by Quebec tug operators and chartered by the NHB. It was also quite powerful and fully equipped.

In August 1945 the NHB ended the charter of the James Battle and returned it its owners and took over the Rouille.  The City had used 15 crew members with 13 fire crew, and it was spending $1,000 month to run it, exclusive of crew costs, which amounted to almost $70,000 a year.

The NHB found the costs onerous too, and in April 1946 returned the tug to its owners, the J.P.Porter Company. However both boats were in service in August 1945 and fought the Bedford Magazine, averting a potential second Halifax explosion.

Meanwhile the navy had been making do with a series of rebuilt tugs as fire boats, until wartime shipbuilding had been wound down. It took delivery of FT-1 Fox (YTM-556)  in 1946. It was an enhanced version of the steel TANAC standard tug, with enlarged hull to accommodate pumps and an array of fire monitors and hose connections. With its presence in the harbour, and the well  trained naval firefighters, both the City and the NHB no longer felt an obligation to provide fireboats.

FT-1 Fox served as the navy fireboat in Hailfax from 1946 to 1978.

Fox served until the delivery of the Firebird in 1978. It was fortunately, rarely called on the respond to serious fires, but did attend to other duties such as security rounds and rescue/recovery calls. It was manned and operational 24/7 until early 2014. Its station, immediately under the Macdonald bridge, meant that it was usually first on scene when there was a suicide.

Firebird was called in to extinguish a fire aboard the former CCGS Tupper at Dartmouth Marine Slips in 2008.

By the time Firebird was retired most of the civilian harbour tugs had also been fitted with firefighting equipment. This was at the behest of oil terminals and refineries world wide, and Halifax at any time always has at least two if not three or more civilian tugs with substantial firefighting capability. Under the direction of navy firefighters, and using the navy tugs, there is now more fire protection  / fire fighting capability in Halifax than ever before.

In 2008 the Halifax Fire and Emergency Services contracted for construction of a small (25 foot long) outboard +inboard fireboat. Unfortunately the builders were not quite up to the job and it capsized and sank while doing trials in Halifax, and was never accepted by the department. The five Halifax firefighters on board at the time were lucky to have survived.

It now transpires that the current fire chief feels the need for a more substantial boat than the current Zodiac type trailerable boats. I am sure he can make a good case for it, presumably to fill some sort of gap not filled by the present situation. It is bound to be controversial however, since its usefulness would be quite limited.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Up very close and personal

The rush to have new cars on the lots by spring is bringing many car carriers to Halifax these days. No sooner was Primrose Ace (see yesterday's post) underway from Autoport late this afternoon than the next ship was maneuvering in the harbour to take its place.

Glorious Leader inbound close to the Halifax shore.

Glorious Leader took a  long swing around to the west and north of George's Island to give the outbound ship lots of room. This gave opportunity for a fairly close up look at the ship, despite the long shadows from buildings on the Halifax shore.

The ship began its turn just off the Svitzer Canada / pilot dock.

Glorious Leader has made several trips to Halifax, the most recent just a month ago. It is owned by Ray Car Carriers, but is on charter to NYK Line, the largest autocarrier fleet in the world, now numbering 120 ships - some owned, some chartered.

Built in 2007 by Stocznia Gdynia in Poland, the 57,692 gt, 20,999 dwt ship has a capacity of 6700 CEU, but can also carry other wheeled cargo.

I have always been curious about the name, since it was a term of sarcastic disrespect in my experience, and nowadays seems to apply specifically to the ruler of North Korea. Why the name was chosen for this ship is a mystery.


Monday, February 18, 2019


It is a little early in the year for flowers, but that seemed to be the theme in Halifax today. The auto carrier  Primrose Ace  arrived at Autoport this morning.

Primrose Ace has just lowered its 100 tonne capacity stern tramp at Autoport. 
Despite the ship's calls in Halifax in December 2017 and December 2018, I was not able to get a photo before now. Built in 2007 by Toyohashi Shipbuilding, the 59,952 gt, 17,339 dwt PCTC has a capacity of 6400 cars according to the MOL ACE (Auto Carrier Express) website. Of the 120 ships in the fleet, the largest has a capacity of 6800 cars, so this is one of their larger ships.

Parent company Mitsui OSK Lines is a huge conglomerate of more than 400 subsidiaries. Even after hiving off their container line last year to form Ocean Network Express with K-Line and NYK Line it still has a large interest in bulk  carriers, tankers, passenger ships, terminals on onshore logistics.

The other botanical presence in Halifax today presents an apparent contradiction, at least at first glance, combining Swiss mountains with tropical flowers. Alpine Hibiscus arrived at Imperial Oil dock number 4 late Saturday from Baton Rouge, LA.

Alpine Hibiscus goes with the basic black and white colour scheme, unlike the other tanker in port - see yesterday's post.

The actual owners of ships are often hard to determine. This one is no different, however it is managed by the Singapore-based ST Shipping and Transport Pte, the shipping arm of the controversial multi-national Glencore Inc. Possibly the tenth largest company in the world, Glencore (which merged with Xstrata in 2013) is headquartered in Switzerland. That would explain the "Alpine" prefix.
Of course like most tankers these days, the ship was built in South Korea, and the hibiscus is the national flower of South Korea, which may explain the choice, and the contradiciton.

Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan, delivered the 23,313 gt, 37,857 dwt ship in 2010 as Megacore Hibiscus. The name was changed to a more modest one in 2011 when Glencore needed to spruce up its image somewhat after a number of scandals - "Megacore" was just too close to reality. 


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Orange is the new black

Tankers do come in all shades these days. The traditional black hull, that might show the least staining from spills, tug fenders and  dock scrapes, has not been abandoned totally. Now however you are likely to see just about any colour in the rainbow. Today's arrival at Irving Oil's Woodside terminal is certainly a case in point.

Isolde, a Liberian flagged chemical and product tanker operated by NSB Niederelbe of Hamburg, carries a vivid orange hull colour. The ship was built in 2008 by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan as Conti Equator and measuring 23,403 gt, 37,527 dwt. 

The ship only recently changed hands and was renamed with effect January 1, 2019. However NSB continued as technical and commercial managers. It loaded petroleum product in Amsterdam and cleared the Ijmuiden sea lock February1. It arrived off Halifax February 14, but had to await better weather and a clear berth before tying up at mid-day today.

This ship is not the only one with the name Isolde that has called in Halifax. The Wallenius autocarrier, built in 1985 was a regular here, sailing under the Swedish flag. It was broken up for scrap in China in 2016. 


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Fundy Rose Refit

While the rest of the harbour was playing catch up after stormy weather took the pilot boat off station over night and this morning, work continued full bore on the Fundy Rose refit.

The Digby/Saint John ferry arrived at  Pier 9C in Halifax January 29 for a refit expected to take almost four weeks. The ship is expected back in service on or about February 25.  On Thursday the ship was turned at the dock, allowing work on the ship's port side to proceed from shore. There is new framing going in around the passenger ramp doors, just aft of the funnel, and on the main passenger deck.

However the big job appears to be reconditioning the bow doors, which have been removed, and landed on the pier. They are under a temporary tarped structure for blasting and painting.


The former Greek ferry Blue Star Ithaki,  it went into service on the Bay of Fundy in 2015. It has since undergone a series of upgrades, but there appears to be much work left to be done. Last year it was in Halifax for refit from January 25 to April 24. There is a lot of unsightly surface rust on the superstructure. Typical of ships built in temperate climates, where chipping and painting can be done all year long, little care was taken in proper preparation for painting. They get seedy looking quite quickly when they arrive in our environment. The only solution is better surface prep by blasting down to bare metal, priming and recoating with durable paint - and in the summer time.

Fundy Rose was built in 2000 by Daewoo Heavy Industries in Okpo, South Korea as Superstar Ithaki, but was delivered as Blue Star Ithaki. It was temporarily renamed Canada 2014 for its delivery trip from Greece to Canada in November 2014. After its first refit in Halifax, it was registered as Fundy Rose April 8, 2015. Because it is owned by the Crown by way of the Minister of Transport, it is registered in Ottawa. Bay Ferries Ltd is the operator and responsible for maintenance. 


Friday, February 15, 2019

Tanker after Tanker

Two tankers arrived an hour apart this afternoon, both from the St.Lawrence River.
First in was Irving Oil's Acadian. Built in 2005 by Hyundai Mipo, the 23,356 gt, 37,525 dwt ship is owned by TB Tankship I Inc and managed by Iver Ships BV on a long term charter to Irving Oil.

Acadian carries a coat of frozen spray on deck from bow to nearly midships.
The ship's last port was Montreal where it loaded at Norcan Terminal. At last report Irving Oil was a part owner of the facility along with La Co-op Fédérée and MacEwan Petroleum Inc. The terminal has pipeline access and can store 1.3mn bbl of gasoline and distillate.

The second arrival is primarily a chemical tanker, built in 2008 by Yildirim, Tuzla, Turkey. Originally named Selay-S. it traded under the Turkish fag until 2017. Current owners Lasse Shipping CV, are Netherlands based, as are managers South Ends Tanker Management BV. They renamed the ship in 2017.

Although traveling essentially the same route, Selasse appears to have much less frozen spray than Acadian. Its covered forepeak may be responsible for some of that. Note however that the vessel's port anchor is lowered away and ready for use.

The ship measures 7776 gt, 11,796 dwt and is bound from Trois-Rivières, QC to New Haven, CT. It tied up at pier 27 and is not loading or unloading cargo.

More tankers are due. The Isolde has been anchored off Halifax since yesterday awaiting its turn at Irving Oil. Algonorth, on the Lévis shuttle, sailed from Imperial Oil dock 4 this morning. (Berth 5 - the former crude oil pier has been decommissioned, and berth 3 is no longer used. It was once primarily the export berth.) and the Alpine Hibiscus is due tomorrow from Baton Rouge for Imperial.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Miscellaneouis Updates

There are updates on a number of previous posts, so I have lumped then all together in one post.

Yantian Express

The ship was finally allowed to enter the port of Freeport, Bahamas and to tie up at the container terminal. It was held off the port from January 30 to February 3 until authorities were sure that there was no risk of a flare up, and that there was a plan in place for cargo clearance.
By February 13 investigators had determined that 198 containers were to be considered a total loss and will be removed and contents sent for destruction. Another 460 containers are likely to have damage of one sort or another, and will require inspection by insurance adjusters.
No date had yet been established for removal of the containers, and proposals are still being received for disposal.

 The tug Sovereign was still standing by the ship. This may be a necessary form of reassurance to port authorities that any flare up can be contained quickly. It may also just be a means of the salvors maintaining their claim on the ship.

The Canadian tug Maersk Mobiliser was released about January 31 and returned to St.John's NL. It was delayed by bad weather, but arrived in its home port February 12.

Captain Jim 

After the tragic sinking, with loss of a life January 29, the boat was quietly raised from its position in about 12 meters of water off Devil's Island. Apparently the Transportation Safety Board needed the boat to be raised to determine the cause of the sinking.
The boat appears to be reasonably intact, but it is unlikely to be rebuilt, since most of components would be ruined by immersion in salt water. I am not publishing a photo of the boat in its current condition.

CCGS Hudson and other Coast Guard issues

A $10mn contract has been awarded to Newfoundland Dockyard for the latest life extension refit of the hydrographic ship. Davie Shipbuilding declined to bid on the work. Citing the vessel's age and condition, it was their opinion that another refit is a waste of money.
My opinion is that the ship is on life support, rather than life extension, and the $10mn is a desperation move the keep the ship working for at least five more years. Since Seaspan hasn't begun to build a  replacement, even that figure may be optimistic.

The current CCG maintenance schedule shows the Hudson to be out of service from December 2018 to the end of March 2019. Since the ship will not arrive in St.John's until February 25 at the earliest, it is clearly impossible to spend that much money in a month - maybe in six months or a year?
In any event the ship will be out of service again, during the peak research season, and DFO will have to hire in other ships again this year to do some of Hudson's work. Ching Ching.

Newfoundland Dockyard currently has CCG Teleost and CCGS Terry Fox in drydock. Teleoest (fisheries research) is also due for replacement. Its refit is to be completed by the end of March.
Terry Fox (icebreaker) has gone well beyond its December 1 refit completion date, and should have been at work in the Gulf by now. However it got a bit of a reprieve since the newest CCG icebreaker Captain Molly Kool has gone into service in the Gulf after a quickie refit/conversion by Davie. It is the first of the three Swedish icebreaking supply vessels acquired last summer through Davie.

Newfoundland Dockyard also refitted CCGS Ann Harvey in a combined life extension repair after the ship ripped a hole in its bottom in 2015. (That work was supposed to be finished in September. Although the ship has left the NDY, the ship; is not in service yet.)

As per the last post, the inshore patrol vessels have issues with their seakeeping ability. The Coast Guard brass claims it is an issue of comfort not stability - a fine point, but likely correct in terms of  rolling, but does not address the Zodiac launching issue. 

Although there are four of these vessels in Halifax now, it appears that only one is in service. Corporal Teather C.V. is operational in place of Corporal McLaren M.M.V. which on the slip at CME in Sambro. It was recovered after being set loose by vandals, and is now undergoing repairs for that incident in addition to the two month planned refit it was there for originally.  The Teather is actually from the Central Region and would normally be laid up for the winter. It is to go back into refit In March.
 The other locally based boat, G.Peddle is supposed to be in a January/February refit, which may be occurring alongside at BIO. The fourth boat, A.Leblanc is also from the Central Region, and is to be in refit from January to the end of March, which may also be underway at BIO.

CCGS Sir Willima Alexander was supposed to enter Vessel Life Extension (VLE) in November, but it is at BIO and appears to be operational after icebreaking in the Gulf.
Edward Cornwallis was to be drydocked in January and February but it is operating in the Strait of Canso.
Alfred Needler (fisheries research) has completed an alongside refit at BIO and did sea trials last weekend.

Exceptionally heavy ice on the St.Lawrence River and Gulf is keeping the heavier icebreakers fully occupied. There have been shipping delays due to ice (and high winds and generally bad weather)  but all the CCG ships appear to be working withou mechanical issues.

APL Vancouver

A fire on this ship February 4 received a quick response from Vietnamese authorities, and was extinguished. After survey and declaration of general average it was cleared to carry on to Singapore with tug escort on February 12. It is due there February 15. Damage to cargo is expected to be significant.
I only mention this incident because the ship once called in Halifax. It was not en route to or from Halifax at the time of the fire.

Kivalliq W

The fire in the generator compartment on board the tanker while unloading at Imperial Oil on January 27, may have been more serous than originally thought. After naval fire fighters put out the fire in quick order, the ship moved to pier 9B for assessment and at least temporary repairs. After some delays due to berth availability, it returned to Imperial Oil briefly on February 5. When it sailed later that day it was to go the Lévis, QC to load again for Halifax. However that destination was changed to Las Palmas , Canary Islands. It arrived there February 14. That would certainly be a dramatic change of course (and weather) however it is expected that more repairs will be done to the ship there.
No substitute ship has appeared yet on the Lévis / Halifax shuttle, leaving Algonorth to make the run.

St.Lawrence Ferries

Although a temporary solution has been found to the Matane /Gobout/ Baie Comeau service there is still some doubt as to the future. The Société des Traversiers du Québec suddenly acquired the ferry Apollo from the Woodward Group. It had been due to retire from the Blanc Sablon / Ste. Barbe service and was apparently available on good terms. However STQ ran into criticism for buying it sight unseen!

It arrived in Matane for STQ upgrades and  modification to allow it to use the docks on the service. Meanwhile the CTMA Vacancier did complete its runs as per plan, and its fleet mate - really just a truck ferry now - CTMA Voyageur has been filling in  for the last few weeks, but Apollo has now entered service.
Problems with the F.-A.-Gauthier may be more serious than originally anticipated, and it is now out of service indefinitely.

To add to the problems, the Matane dock has also been plugged by ice. Someone - STQ or maybe CCG hired Groupe Océan's 8000 bhp icebreaking tug Océan Tundra to clear the ice in the enclosed port basin to allow the Voyageur and CN's train ferry Georges A. Lebel to maintain schedule. However it has now returned to Quebec City.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Hard Ride for Patrollers

A CBC investigation has revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the sea performance of the Canadian Coast Guard's Hero class patrol boats.  The boats roll so uncomfortably at sea that crews are unable to carry out patrol duties in all but calm conditions. The boats are tasked with patrolling the coasts, particularly when there is fishing activity, but they can't always do so even though fishing vessels are able to put to sea in similar conditions.

 CCGC Corporal Teather C.V. is one of tow Hero class boats based in Halifax.

The problem comes down to the lack of stabilizers on the boats. These hydraulically operated  retractable fins are used on all sorts of passenger ships and high speed craft to compensate for the vessels' tendency to roll.  Boats and ships built for speed are normally long and narrow, and thus more likely to be subject to rolling.

It is quite fascinating that the Canadian government wants proven designs when it acquires new vessels (warships, tugs, icebreaking patrol ships, supply vessels, etc.,) but then they modify the designs to such an extent that the proven characteristics are deleted.
The Hero class boats are no exception to this unfortunate habit. They were to be built to the Damen Stan Patrol 4207 standard design - a 42m long x 7m wide, high sped patrol vessel, designed by the Dutch builders Damen.

Well proven they have been built for the Netherlands, the UK, Honduras, Jamaica, Barbados, Albania, Mexico, Bulgaria, Venezuela, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago. Those countries it seems had sense enough to keep to the standard design which includes retractable fin stabilizers.

Canada however added so much other gear to the boats that in order to save weight they deleted the stabilizers. Now if stabilizers have to be fitted as an afterthought, it will involve other design modifications to bring the weight down and possibly a reduction in cruising range due to loss of fuel capacity, since some of the design modifications can't be reversed.

There are also reports that the Zodiac Hurricane rescue boats carried by the patrol boats can't be launched in rough weather either. That system is also a departure from the Damen standard design. In the standard design the Zodiacs are launched by means of a stern ramp.

Let us hope that in the process of acquiring new dockyard tugs, new warships, and new supply ships, that the desire for a "proven design" can be adhered to more closely.


Monday, February 11, 2019


Zodiac Maritime, the ever expanding London-based ship management company operates 100 ships of all types, including 15 autocarriers (PCTCs). Some bear the names of the charterers, but some like today's visitor Donington follow a naming scheme unique to Zodiac.

 Stand-in pilot boat Capt. E.T. Rogers heads outbound as Donington rounds McNab's Island.

Donington is one of five ships carrying the name of British auto racing tracks. Donington Estate is a large facility near Derby that also hosts motorcycle races and concerts. Like all good race facilities it has a huge parking area for the spectators. Speaking of huge parking areas, the ship Donington has over 63,900 sf of parking space, resulting in a capacity for 7,429 cars (nominal intake.)

Built in 2017 by Shin Kurushima Dockyard Co Ltd in Onishi, Japan, the ship has a gross tonnage of 72,700 and 18,241 deadweight tonnes. Owners are listed as Mizuho Sangyo Co Ltd of Imabari, Japan.

Most autocarriers arrive in Halifax directly from Europe, but this one is heading eastbound for Bremerhaven. It apparently sailed from the Mediterranean to US east coast ports before arriving here.


The future of Reefer Ships

New reefer containers at Halterm, ready to go into service for Tropical Shipping.

Back in April 2015 I posted a series on refrigerated cargo ships, featuring some of the attractive, generally white painted, ships that used to call in Halifax. See
They are rarely seen here now because most container ships can carry refrigerated and temperature controlled containers that can be sent anywhere that the regular trade routes serve.

A recent article by Dynamar NV, a shipping consultancy, reports on the precipitous decline in refrigerated cargo ships and their possible demise. They state that there was a growth of 5% in refrigerated container traffic in 2018, representing a total of 116 mn TEUs.

The 1962-built Cap San Diego preserved in Hamburg, may soon join the ranks of the square rigger behind it, as a relic of an extinct species.

They state that pure reefer ships carry only about 18% of reefer cargo - the rest is carried on container ships, in 2.9mn TEUs of refrigerated containers. (Most are 40 foot high cube, so the total number of boxes is well under 2mn ).In 2018 there were 120,000 TEUs of new refrigerated boxes built, a 12% growth over 2017.

There are apparently only 574 sizable conventional refrigerated cargo ships left in the world (that is, ships with more than 100,000 cu ft of capacity). They predict a reefer fleet of  fewer than 310 ships by 2030.

Salén's Rio was a fine example of the reefer ship. Built in 1960, it was broken up in 1983. Powered by steam turbine machinery, it was a relatively slow ship, capable of 19 knots.

Adding to the pressure of refrigerated containers are stringent fuel emissions standards that will come into force in 2020. As reefer ships were highly capital intensive to build, they were intended to last a long time, but because of their age are not likely to justify the fitting of scrubbers or conversion to lighter fuels. They will likely head for the scrappers instead.

Another research organization reported that in 2017 there were about 15,795  dry cargo ships (not including bulk  carriers) in the world, and around 5,000 container ships. Dedicated reefer ships then are but a tiny part of the world's shipping inventory. 
(Just to complete that inventory they reported 11,592 bulk carriers, 7,183 crude and product tankers, and 5,000 chemical tankers.)

 Hamburg-Sud's Polar Paraguay, built in 1969 and broken up in 1993 cruised at 23.5 knots.
Pier 23 was the favoured berth in Halifax.

Some traditional refrigerated cargo ship owners have switched to container ships, or to ships that carry refrigerated cargo in temperature controlled holds and refrigerated containers in holds and on deck.

Emerald was built in Japan in 2000 and is a much more prosaic looking ship, but capable of a good turn of speed, doing 21 knots. It is classed as a refrigerated cargo ship-equipped to carry containers.

With the large numbers of refrigerated containers passing through Halifax, do not expect to see any reefer ships here any time soon.

Artemis for Melfi

A sunny but blustery and cold day greeted Artemis this morning as it arrived for Mefli Lines. This is only the ship's second visit to Halifax, but is the third voyage for Melfi.  The usual port rotation for the line is Genoa, Barcelona, Valencia, Lisbon, Halifax, Mariel (Cuba). At this time of year they allow about ten days for the transatlantic crossing, to maintain a 12 day interval between calls in Halifax.

Not visible in my December photo, the ship has a turtleshell up forward that protects the foredeck from waves, and in this case also from freezing spray and ice buildup.

The picture posted in December on the ship's first visit.

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. Renamed Artemis in October 2018, it is under the management of Peter Doehle.


Saturday, February 9, 2019


Yesterday's unmemorable photo of the BBC Michigan reminded me that there have been several ships with Michigan in their names that have called on Halifax over the years. Surrounded by and spanning water it is no surprise that the state has been involved in water born commerce since time immemorial.  Particularly since the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway in 1959 when it became accessible to large ocean going ships, its name has been used on a variety of vessels. There are a couple of memorable ones as far as Halifax is concerned.

Thirty years ago a ship called Lake Michigan made a minor ripple in the news of the day. The ship arrived in Halifax January 4, 1989 - although it had been expected on December 31, to load a cargo of bagged flour.
The ship had been carrying the remnants of a sugar cane cargo, and had wanted to dump the offending material in Canadian coastal waters. Environment Canada "caught wind" of the plan and refused permission. Left with little alternative the ship proceeded out to sea, beyond the 200 mile limit, and discharged the cargo there, thus explaining its tardy arrival.

 The tug Point Halifax assists in turning the ship.

Despite all this it was a very interesting ship. Built in 1971 by the renowned Doxford and Sunderland Shipbuilding + Engineering Co Ltd's Pallion yard in England , it was among the last (and some would say epitome) of general cargo ships of the pre-container era. It was designed for traditional general trade routes, where cargo was laboriously loaded and unloaded with derricks, in loose or break bulk form.
The first owners were Lineas Interoceanicos SA, a joint venture between the Greek Lyras and Fafalios families. They named the ship Faeton and it was one of six sister ships of the same design.
Measuring 11,502 gt, 17,072 dwt, it had five holds and five hatches (one aft of the superstructure) and carried a host of derricks - one rated at 35 tons and sixteen at 10 tons.

The container revolution caught up with the ship however, and it was outmoded well before its time. It was then shifted to lesser paying and out of the way trades, and allowed to deteriorate on low paying routes. It was sold in 1988 and placed under the Panama flag and renamed Lake Michigan.

After loading its cargo of flour - the bags were stacked on pallets and painstakingly loaded and secured aboard using all those derricks - it sailed on January 28 for Alexandria, Egypt. Soon after arrival there it was sold to Philippine owners and renamed Kota Molek.

Surprisingly perhaps the ship lasted until 2000 when it was scrapped in China, having had a pair of North Korean owners that renamed it in 1995: Myo Hang 3 and 1998: Sangwon. Its longevity was owed to North Korea's isolation, dependant on trade with China, and lack of technological development.

The port maintenance boat Port Authority scoots by the ship as it is turned to berth stern in.

The general cargo ship had reached the pinnacle of its development most would say, and British shipyards too, when containerization revolutionized shipping. Although some owners continued to need ships of this type, this one was among the last of the line. British shipyards also lost their world domination and their closure caused massive social upheaval in Britain. When Doxford and Sutherland (and other nearby yards that had been merged together) was forced to close under British shipyard nationalization in 1988, 6,000 people lost their jobs.


Friday, February 8, 2019

BBC Michigan

The cargo ship BBC Michigan  made a brief call at pier 27 today. The ship is en route from New London, CT to Sorel, QC and appears to be in ballast, or very lightly loaded.  A member of the large BBC Chartering fleet, it could be carrying a special project cargo, since it is equipped for heavy loads. Its two cranes, rated at 150 tonnes each, can be combined for a 300 tonne lift.

Neither rain nor sleet nor gloom... all of which were present for the BBC Michigan's departure... kept the ship from sailing, nor a navy? fast craft from whizzing by. 
Photo editing actually shows more than I actually saw.
The ship was completed in 2010 as BBC Michigan by Jiangdong Shipyard, Wuhu, China even though its keel was laid in 2007 and it was launched in 2008.
From 2014 to 2015 it carried the names Industrial Sabre and from 2015 to 2016 Michigan. The 9,618 gt, 12,780 dwt ship is owned by a German investment group and managed by Bockstiegel Reederei.

Its visit to Halifax was not to load or unload as far as I could tell. However Logistec has operations in New London, Halifax and Sorel, so there is likely some tie in such as re-securing cargo.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Biggest yet or just big

The latest big ship to arrive in Halifax is CMA CGM Thalassa that put in this morning, before sunrise and will sail in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. That it is big, there is no doubt. It measures 128,600 gt, 131,831 dwt and 347.48m long x 45.2m breadth - but is it the biggest yet?

CMA CGM Thlassa takes up a lot of air space and berth space at Halterm.
However another ship, the much smaller Jennifer Schepers is able to squeeze into the remaining space at pier 42.

Last month's arrival CMA CGM Libra was acknowledged to be the biggest yet at the time, based on its measurements of 131,332 gt, 131,236 dwt  and 363.91m length x 45.66m breadth. It has greater length and greater deadweight tonnage (this greater carrying capacity in tonnes).

Where it gets tricky is the imprecise rating of carrying capacity in TEUs. CMA CGM Libra is rated (by CMA CGM) as 11,388 nominal TEUs, whereas CMA CGM Thalassa is 11,040 nominal TEUs. However when it comes to average container weight of 14 tonnes, Thalassa has a capacity of 8,106 and Libra 7,990 TEUs. Hard to explain.

And the winner is...............

I will stick with CMA CGM Libra based on dimensions, tonnage and nominal capacity, and give CMA CGM Thalassa an honourable mention.

In CMA CGM's current fleet of 505 ships,  375 are chartered and 130 are owned. There are also 19 on order or under construction.

CMA CGM Thalassa is among the chartered ships. Owners Global Ship Lease Ltd had the ship built in 2008 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Ltd in Okpo for charter to CMA CGM at a reported $47,200 per day until October 1, 2025. Global Ship Lease, a publicly traded company on the NYSE, is reportedly 45% owned by CMA CGM and has 19 ships, 17 of which are leased to CMA CGM.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Ice Point, CLI Pride, and some harbour craft

The tanker Ice Point completed unloading at Nova Scotia Power, Tuft's Cove and sailed at noon time. [See earlier Shipfax post for more detail]

Ice Point in ballast heading for the St.Lawrence River.

The ship is headed for Lévis, QC. By coincidence its 2008 built sister ship Iron Point sailed from Lévis this morning, headed for Boston. The two ships will pass somewhere in the Gulf of St.Lawrence.

One feature of the Tuft's Cove terminal is that ships secure to mooring buoys and use line boats to take the head and stern lines to the buoys. (This is not unique in Halifax - the docks at Autoport and Irving Oil Woodside also require line boats.)

Boats from Connors Diving Services Ltd do the line boat duties for Nova Scotia Power, and their veteran work boat tender Divecom III does the honours, along with a smaller outboard. It also deploys the oil boom around the ship during unloading.

Divecom III heads back to base at the Armdale Yacht Club on the Northwest Arm.

Divecom III was built of wood in 1984 by Roy M. Doucette at Cape St.Mary, NS. That company has since switched to fibreglass and moved to nearby Yarmouth, NS. Present day boats are much larger and beamier - this one is a traditional style.

Connors Diving has other watercraft and by coincidence one of them passed my vantage point a few minutes later. Eastcom is a much newer vessel, dating from 2010 when it was constructed, of fibreglass, by Millennium Marine Inc of Escuminac, NB.

Eastcom returns to its base at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.

It offered an opportunity to compare the favoured hull shapes from southwestern Nova Scotia  to those on the Northumberland Strait. 

Eastcom is in almost daily use in the harbour with various diving operations and rescue training. It also heads out to rendez-vous with ships off Halifax with charts, part and sometimes ice advisors.

Also sailing at noon time was a CLI Pride after a very short stay in Halifax. The ship only arrived this morning at Fairview Cove.

This is the ship's second call in Halifax in a month. Its last was January 7 [ see Shipfax post for more details ] when it arrived from Rotterdam. It sailed the same day, directly back to Rotterdam and returned to Halifax. It makes one wonder why they didn't use a larger ship and save a trip!

On departure the ship gave Liverpool, UK as its next port.