Friday, May 24, 2019

Harbour Business - More Rain and Fog - and some updates

Today's weather forecast is for more rain and fog, so harbour picture taking will again be curtailed. Harbour business continues unabated however.

The Nirint Shipping Augusta Mars at pier 31 is expected to complete unloading the latest consignment of nickel sulfides from Cuba this afternoon then sail for Europe.

The ship arrived yesterday under ideal conditions, and was assisted to its berth by the tugs Atlantic Fir and Spitfire III.

As the ship made its way to pier 31, the outbound container ship Brighton encountered what was believed to be an inattentive pleasure craft crossing its course just south of George's Island. The ship had to sound its signal horn five times to warn off the boat. The ship may also have had to reduce speed or even attempt to stop. It was certainly going very slowly by the time it reached Ives Knoll. The incident was blocked from my view as I was taking the above picture.

Pleasure craft are are an inevitable hazard in summer time and it is a wonder there have not been more serious incidents. Boaters seem oblivious to the presence of big ships and their right of way.

At Fairview Cove, work continues to unload the Yantian Express. The ship has shifted from the west end (big cranes) to the east end (small crane) and back again to make room for other ships, and this evening is expected to move out to anchor in Bedford Basin.

Yantian Express gets ready to shift from the west to east berth at Fairview Cove on Wednesday evening to make room for the Brighton. It moved back again after Brighton  sailed.

Yantian Express will unload all of its cargo in Halifax before sailing to China for permanent repairs to fire damage. Thanks to the trade imbalance with Asia, empty containers continue to pile up in North American and European ports. It is difficult to find room on ships with paying cargo to return the boxes to China for re-use. Several ideas are in the works including folding boxes that can be reduced to about a third of their normal height, and stacked to take up less space for the return trip.

Yantian Express's "non-revenue" trip to China is an opportunity send a number of those empty boxes back (believed to be in the range of 1,000).

More information has emerged about the incident aboard Maersk Patras on Monday when the ship's second officer was lost overboard. The man's apparent death (his body has not been recovered) had nothing to do with pilot boarding, and may have only been coincidental to the ship's position off the Escoumins pilot station at the time.

Maersk Patras heads to sea from Halifax in 2013. The lashings on the containers, secured by longshoremen,  are clear to see - they are the large X-shaped bracing rods connecting the corners of the containers.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has condemned the dangerous practice of unlashing containers while the ship is underway on the St.Lawrence River. Montreal is one of the few if not only ports in the world where ships are expected to arrive in port with the containers unlashed. The heavy retaining rods are removed by the ship's crew to make the ship ready to unload immediately on arrival.

The ITF states that this dangerous work should be done by qualified longshoremen, while the ship is in port, and not by ship's crews who may be inexperienced and may be shifted off balance while handling the heavy lashing gear at sea. The ITF has requested that the practice be banned by Transport Canada and the Port of Montreal, stating that they have allowed the practice to continue despite warnings about the dangers.


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