Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tropical Surprise and Mystery Guest

The container ship Vega Fynen arrived today from Palm Beach, FL, quite obviously for Tropical Shipping, since most of  the containers on deck carried that line's prominent word mark. However the ship is not one of the regular Tropical callers, nor is this the regular day for Tropical ships (they sail on Mondays).

Today's blustery conditions created lots of spray for the outbound pilot boat.

It seems that the ship is here to replenish the stock of empty containers or taking away unused empties. It is so lightly loaded it does not appear to be carrying much cargo.

Built in 2006 by Kouan Shipbuilding Industry Co in China, it is a 9957 gt, 13,742 dwt vessel with a capacity of 1118 TEU. It also carries a pair of 45 tonne cranes. It is owned Vega Reederei, and managed by the Friedrich Dauber group of Hamburg.

As  Vega Fynen tied up at pier 41, another odd ship was working boxes at pier 42, largely hidden from view. Hansa Meersburg owned the Hamburg owners Leonhardt + Blumberg, is a somewhat larger ship of 18,327 gt, 23,387 dwt. It has a capacity of 1740 TEU and carries two 40 tonne cranes. 

Barely visible behind boxes and cranes, Hansa Meersburg unloads at pier 41.

The ship does not show up on anyone's schedule. However since it arrived from New York, I have guessed, by process of elimination, that it is working for ZIM on its east coast feeder service. If I hear otherwise I will update this post.


CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell - heading west

CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell sailed from St.John's, NL on Monday, October 28. The ship has been transferred to the west coast as part of the longer term SAR ship replacement program. Normally based in St.John's it has worked out of Halifax from time to time over the years particularly for the fall opening of lobster season when there may be extra calls for search and rescue.

Once it reaches Victoria, BC the Grenfell will replace CCGS Bartlett until new ships are delivered.

Sir Wilfred Grenfell was built in 1985 by Marystown Shipyard as an offshore support vessel and converted for CCG Search and Rescue. The vessel it will replace, CCGS Bartlett, was built in 1969 by Marine Industries Ltd in Sorel, QC as a medium endurance multi-task vessel. A Provo Wallis class vessel it was refitted in 1988 by Halifax Shipyard and again in 2010 by Allied Shipbuilders in North Vancouver. That refit was to give the ship ten more years of service, which will soon be up.

Both ships carry names that are well known in Newfoundland. Capt. Bob Bartlett, a native of Brigus, had a fleeting connection with Victoria - see  but is better known for his arctic exploits.

Sir Wilfred Grenfell, born in England, was a medical missionary to Newfoundland. His work in providing medical and later vocational aid to Newfoundlanders, Labradorians and Innu from his base in St.Anthony is legendary. The Wikipedia entry probably does not do justice but provides a brief overview:


Cruise Finale

The 2019 cruise season came one big step closer to the end today with Anthem of the Seas. The ship is the last large ship to call this year, with only two small ships yet to come, Silver Wind (295 passengers) on November 3 and Riviera (1250 passengers) on November 6.

Anthem of the Seas with a capacity of 4180 (double occupancy) is a Quantum class ship, the third largest class of ship currently in service. Only MSC's Meraviglia and Royal Caribbean's Oasis classes are larger.

It is a drizzly and windy day for the hardy travelers that decided to go ashore, but there are some attractions right at hand such as Canada's immigration museum at pier 21.

Many of the other attractions have already closed for the year.

Canada's naval memorial, Sackville returned to its winter home in HMC Dockyard last week.

Most of the waterfront's floating docks have been put in storage for the winter, but some attractions such as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Acadia remain open.

I did see a Harbour Hopper running on Monday, but none since.

With shorter daylight hours as we return to Atlantic Standard Time over the coming weekend, Shipfax will also be shifting emphasis slightly to the more commercial or governmental shipping activities until spring. Illustrations may also be more from the past than the present.

Hoewever I will still be watching the harbour.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Ocean Seeker - update

Pennecon Marine Base of Bay Bulls, NL acquired the former RCMP patrol vessel Murray in August. Renamed Ocean Seeker in September, it has been tied up the Cove in Dartmouth, but I did see it underway this morning.

Built by A.F.Theriault + Son Ltd in Meteghan River, NS in 2003, it is an aluminum hulled catamaran. Powered by two 1000 bhp Caterpillar engines through Arneson drives it had a cruising speed of 26 knots and a maximum speed of 36 knots.

The boat had been n cold layup at Shearwater  since November 2015 according to the GC Surplus site. Nevertheless, it fetched $524, 424 in the sale.

As the company name implies, the Pennecon Marine Base services various marine interests, but primarily offshore petroleum with docks and warehouses. Several small craft work form there, but it is not clear what role Ocean Seeker will perform.

Digging into the shoebox I turned up the following taken during Tall Ships 2009 when RCMP Murray was still in commission:


The swings and roundabouts

The tanker BW Raven may be glad to see the last of Halifax after an extended visit. The ship is due to sail early this afternoon after several moves to anchorage, Imperial Oil and pier 31. Back at anchor this morning it was swinging round with the tide as harbour traffic goes about its business.

At number 5 anchorage in the lower harbour the ship has the former Coast Guard base, now called The Cove, as a backdrop.

The tug Mister Joe with the split hull hopper barge Pitts No.12 heads southbound with another load of fill for the pier 42 extension.

Standing by off the BW Raven Dominion Diving's Roseway appears to be waiting to disembark someone from the tanker.

At the Cove the suppliers Trinity Sea and Burin Sea await an uncertain fate. Trinity Sea has been laid up since August and Burin Sea arrived this week. The two former Russian suppliers, rebuilt by Secunda Marine may be looking at permanent retirement.

Also alongside the Cove is the research vessel LeeWay Odyssey. It is the former CGS Cape Harrison and Louis M. Lauzier and now calls The Cove its home base. See also:

Both photos taken through window glass, hence the somewhat foggy appearance.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Short Days, getting shorter

As the days get shorter, it may be time to break out the tripod for some night shots and time exposures. In the meantime however, I am making do with the cell phone, which takes photos in surprising low light, and compensates well for hot (bright) spots.

 Both of today's cruise ships sailed after dark. Seabourn Quest at 2030 and Seven Seas Navigator at 2230.

After they sail there is only one more scheduled cruise ship visit. Anthem of the Seas is due October 31 to close the season. Victory I showed up for a time on the pilotage schedule for the morning of October 30, but by passed Halifax during the evening of October 29 en route from Charlottetown to Portland. That call never appeared on the official Cruise Halifax schedule.


Monday, October 28, 2019

Business as Usual

As the cruise season winds down, today was the last big day, with four ships in port.

It was pretty much wall to wall ships at the seawall and finger piers.

From south to north (left to right in the picture above):
pier 31: Caribbean Princess
pier 23: Silver Whisper
pier 22: Regal Princess
pier 20: AIDAdiva

Regal Princess was last to leave this afternoon and sounded its mournful "Love Boat" goodbye whistle several times. If you haven't heard it go to:
It does sound somewhat more tuneful in reality, and much louder up close.

Still at pier 28 HC Svea-Kim (blue hull) resumed  unloading rails, but the tanker BW Raven had to vacate pier 31 and went back out to anchor (again).

When Puze sailed, giving Rotterdam as its next port,

it was back to number 3 oil dock for BW Raven.

Clearly there was some sort of problem with the ship or its cargo to make it move within the port so many times.

There was also activity at both container terminals.
Atlantic Sun called at Cerescorp Fairview Cove on the westbound leg of its trip and Halterm had Pengalia for Eimskip, eastbound from US ports for Iceland via Argentia, NL.

Built in 2008 by the Sainty (Jiangdu) Corp in Jiangdu* (formerly shown as Yangzhou) it is a 7545 gt, 8268 dwt vessel with a capacity of 698 TEU (incluing 120 reefers). Eimskip also charters the Skogafoss, built by the same yard in 2008 with the same gt, but a dwt of 8210 tonnes. It has the same container capacity, but is fitted with two 60 tonne cranes.

Pengalia flies the Cyprus flag and is managed by Marlow. Skogafoss built as Ice Bird has just recently been purchased by Ernst Russ (part of Zeaborn) and will continue its charter to Eimskip, with management shifting from Briese to Zeaborn.

The builders of these ships, Sainty Marine, part of Jiangsu* Guoxin Group, a state owned company, claimed the distinction of being the first publicly listed Chinese company to declare bankruptcy. It has since been liquidated and its former president was sentenced to 18 years in prison for fraud.

* Jiangdu is a district within Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, in central eastern China.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

All in a (Sun)day's work.

There were four ships occupying berths in the deepwater general cargo piers today. At pier 24 the small cruise ship Victory II (ex Cape Cod Light) arrived yesterday to mark the end of another season of St.Lawrence River and Great Lakes cruising. With sister ship Victory I (ex Cape May Light), Victory Cruise Lines seems to have found the formula for operating a pair of ships that at one time seemed to be unemployable. Due to the cramped location and extra vigilant security I did not attempt a photo.

At pier 28 the container and general cargo ship Augusta Sun was positioned at the grain spouts and the dryers were working at the grain elevator, but the ship did not appear to be loading today. The Nirint ship, on its return from Cuba, completed unloading its nickel cargo at pier 31 and moved to pier 28 to fill at least one box shaped hold with "hog fuel" for Rotterdam.

One photo will have to do for the ships at pier 28 (left) and 27 (right) where a gap between truck trailers allowed only a partial view of each.

At pier 27 a newcomer, HC Svea-Kim was also not working, taking a break from unloading its cargo of train rails from Poland for CNR. These regular shipments are often carried on Onego vessels. This one however is operated by Zeaborn Chartering, and still carries "HC Chartering" in large letters on its hull.  Zeaborn took over HC Chartering in 2016 and in 2017 acquired Rickmers Line and later Rickmers Ship Management . In 2018 it acquired ER Schiffahrts (Ernst Russ). Now along with its majority interest in Intermarine and co-operation with Carisbrooke it has widespread management , chartering and liner operations.

Built in 2000, the hull was fabricated by Damen's Galati, Romania yard, and the ship was completed at the home yard Damen Hoogezand in Foxhol. Originally named Katja it was renamed MSC Apapa in 2001 and reverted to Katja in 2002. It took its rather odd current name in 2013. The 6382 gt, 8961 dwt ship is equipped with two cranes of 60 tonnes capacity.

Zeaborn has a very complete spec sheet on the ship, which may make up for the lack of photo:

Across the camber at pier 31 was the unusual sight of a tanker alongside. The BW Raven has been shuttled all around the harbour since it arrived October 17 for Imperial Oil (and subject of previous posts). It was anchored in Bedford Basin for time, due to weather, returned to Imperial Oil to finish unloading then yesterday moved to anchor in the lower harbour to make room for another ship. [see below].

Well and truly unloaded this time, BW Raven waited in number 1 anchorage yesterday until space was available at pier 31.

The ship's appearance at pier 31 may be in order to take on bunkers (it was originally scheduled to go the pier 9 for bunkers, but in the end did not do so.) However engine repairs (which preclude it from remaining at anchor) or hot work could be other explanations.

A gap in the first fence allowed for an unusual "stern on" view of the BW Raven, only partly screened by the second fence. 

Halterm has taken over the pier 29 area (once the site of fish plant - see September 27 post) and
until recently were stacking containers there. Now they seem to be using the space to park truck trailers. Photos of ships in the area are therefore hit and miss.

Although the deepwater piers are rarely used so intensively, one has to wonder what will happen when the camber is filled in for Halterm expansion.

The MidRange tanker Puze arrived at Imperial Oil #3 dock from Antwerp with another load of refined product.   Despite its Marshall Islands registry, the ship is owned by the Latvian Shipping Company JSC and named for a sparsely populated parish or administrative district and village in the Ventspils area.

Built in 2006 by the 3 Maj Brodogradiliste in Rijeka, Croatia, it is a 30,641 gt, 52,679 dwt ship. Comparing with the similar sized BW Raven the ship has a much different and wider navigation bridge structure, projecting forward beyond the accommodation block.

There was also container ship activity today with another of the MOL "P" class ships, MOL Partner, arriving for THE Alliance. Sister ship MOL Paramount arrived October 19 and has exactly the same tonnages of 71,902 gt, 72,968 dwt, capacity of 6350 TEUs, including 500 reefers and also came from Koyo Dockyard in 2005.

MOL Partner passes pier 9C inbound for Fairview Cove.


Friday, October 25, 2019


As a personal blog Shipfax reserves to right to embark on a rant now and again. Long time users are accustomed to this and know they can skip right over them without penalty. So every once in a while when it is a slow news day in the port, Shipfax gives over to an opinion piece to acknowledge one of the proverbial elephants in the room.

During the Second World War rationing was put in place for certain kinds of food, and not all luxury food either, but some essentials too. Automobile manufacturing was stopped and gasoline and tires were rationed for personal use. Even then people were encouraged to reduce the use of many commodities and services voluntarily through the use of advertising posters.

One of the best known posters was "Is your trip necessary?" It applied to all forms of travel - by ship, train, bus, car. The use of commodities such as fuel, wear and tear on steel, rubber and other strategic materials was fairly easy to understand in wartime. Public travel resources were also needed to move troops, so space was made by limiting civilian use. There were abuses of course, but generally people understood that resources needed to be reserved for the war effort.

Many would argue that the planet is facing an even more existential threat today with global warming and that all out war must be declared soon if we hope to reduce carbon emissions. I expect the cruise industry will soon be faced with having to answer the question "Is your trip necessary?"

Some facts about the cruise industry are self-reported in the following:

Here are few of the most telling:

  • In 2017 there were 25.8 million cruise passengers (up from 4.5% from 2016 and 20.5% in five years). 11.5 million of these were from the United States.
  • Demand for cruises continues to outpace supply and utilization exceeds 100%. (In other words all cruises are apparently sold out with standing room only).
  • 22,000 new lower berths were added in  2017.
  • 50 new cruise ships with 220,000 lower berths were expected to be delivered between 2018 and 2025.
The cruise industry has a $126 billion economic impact providing $41 billion in wages and salaries. There may be as many as 4.5 million people employed as crew. The most popular destinations are in the Caribbean where the passengers spends an average 4.38 hours ashore and average expenditure across all destinations was $103.83.

Due to overcrowding and stress on the infrastructure, some places such as Alaska, Barcelona and Venice are already putting the brakes on cruises, but that likely means the ships will just go somewhere else. Such initiatives as cold ironing (using shore power instead of generators when tied up) will have minuscule effect on the "carbon footprint" of the cruise industry. Conversion to LNG is gaining little traction. Such feel good programs for tourists like recycling and cruise volunteerism are of no net benefit either.

The total energy required to build a cruise ship is enormous. The amount of material going into making the steel, aluminum and countless other materials is intense. Can you imagine the food waste generated by three or four thousand cruisers over a ten day period? Would they waste that much at home?

When the answer to the question "Is this trip necessary" is "No" then how is the world to balance the need to reduce carbon output with totally optional travel. 

Will the cruise industry have to be banned outright? (Please don't suggest carbon offsets, or tax/penalties in lieu of compliance with targets). That question may not have to be answered in what remains of my lifetime - but maybe it will some day.

Is the party over? After a harbour tour, the "Party Boat" Harbour Queen 1 has just disembarked a full load of nearly 200 passengers (capacity is 194, about four crew), who then returned to their bigger boat Riviera (capacity 1250 passengers, 800 crew) at pier 20. None of these trips was really necessary and yet easily 1,000 people had a job thanks in part to this one ship.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

BW Raven makes a move

The BW Raven finally got to move from anchorage in Bedford Basin this morning. Weather conditions had kept the ship in the Basin since Sunday October 20 when it left Imperial Oil dock #3.
See also:

The ship had so little of its cargo left on board at the time, it appeared to be in ballast. There must be a few drops left to unload yet, so it was back to the oil dock today.

The tug Spitfire III escorts BW Raven back to Imperial Oil from Bedford Basin.

BW Tankers (Word-Wide Shipping) appears to be transitioning to a new colour scheme. The funnel marking has been changed from solid  blue with white "BW" to a white band with a stylized globe.

The crude oil tanker BW Columbia, at anchor on the St.Lawrence River, displayed the older BW funnel mark and colour scheme.

Also the blue diagonal blue bands with BW initials painted forward on the hull have been painted over.

The difficult to remain green hull colour will apparently be kept.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

October 23 - Kootenay Day

Today was a solemn day to remember the nine lives lost and countless others deeply affected by an event that took place fifty years ago.

HMCS Kootenay was in the English Channel en route back to Canada when its gear box exploded. Nine Canadian sailors lost their lives, and many of the 243 or 244 aboard the ship suffered short and long term injuries. Kootenay was ailing in company with HMCS Saguenay and HMCS Bonaventure at the time

A memorial service was held today in Point Pleasant Park where the anchor of HMCS Bonaventure rests as a memorial to naval personnel who died in service in peacetime.


Mein Schiff 1 flees

The cruise ship Mein Schiff 1 made the briefest of calls in Halifax today. Scheduled to arrive  at the pilot station at 0730 that would have put the ship alongside pier 22 at 0830, but not fully secured until closer to 0900. The ship did make it alongside, but by 0930 it had at least one tug in attendance and a pilot ordered and was getting away again for sea.

Today's forecast for high winds came true shortly after 0900 when a short burst probably exceeded the predicted maximum of 40 kph by about double. That would certainly have made maintaining the ship's position at pier 22 very difficult if not impossible. The ship is due in New York (Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey) October 25, so will very likely head there directly.

The ship's fall schedule was disrupted by weather last week when it arrived in Portland a day early and remained over night. As far as I am aware it was able to call in Boston, Bar Harbor, Saint John and Sydney as planned.

The smaller cruise ship Silver Wind is was still due for a 1000hrs arrival at the pilot station, however it canceled too and so there were no cruise ships today.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

MSC - looking for more superlatives

This morning (October 22)'s return to Halifax of MSC Meravgilia marks the second visit for the record breaking ship. See October 5 for its first visit:

Although it is (only) the sixth largest cruise ship in the word, it is the largest to call in Halifax, Boston, Charlottetown and many of its other ports of call.

MSC Meraviglia turns on its own axis off pier 22 before backing in.

MSC Meraviglia has to share sixth place with its new sister ship MSC Bellisima delivered in March. However a Meraviglia plus class has been started with lead ship MSC Grandiosa now under construction. The ships will take over the "second largest" slot, edging out some Royal Caribbean ships.

MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company), the  Italian owned, but Geneva based company is not just doubling its cruise fleet. Its container line is also on a growth curve. The line currently has the world's largest container ship in its fleet, the 23,756 TEU MSC Gulsun, the first ship to stow 24 containers athwartships.

Recent reports indicate  that MSC may well surpass AP Moller-Maersk for the largest container shipping line as it continues to order giant ships. Maersk on the other hand has apparently drawn the line on larger ships and stated that it wishes to keep its fleet capacity at 4.2 million TEU, and is not ordering new ships. MSC is still ordering ships of 23,500+ TEU size. As they are delivered MSC stands to exceed the 4.2 million TEU fleet size within two years.

MSC does not make direct calls in Halifax, but serves Montreal and Saint John, NB, using generally older, more modestly size ships, such as the 4168 TEU MSC Brianna.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Star Pride

The small but very luxurious Star Pride while spending the day at pier 23, took the time to have some work done from the charter boat Captains Pride. The unusual stern in berthing of the ship was likely to provide some protection for a diver - however I don't see a diver's flag.

Note the closely spaced vertical bars on the openings around the ship's poop deck (aft weather deck where the mooring winches are located.) A sister ship was attacked by pirates off Somalia, and thus the ship carries several passive defense measures such as this. It also has LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) defense, a non-lethal, but nonetheless unpleasant means of fending off attackers.

The ship made its inaugural call in Halifax  as Star Pride just over a year ago:

The ship will look quite different after next year. In common with the two other ships in the Windstar fleet it is scheduled for a virtually unprecedented refit at Fincantieri, Palermo. The ship will be cut in half and a new 84 feet long section will be inserted amidships. That will add new restaurants, shops, 50 new suites (and proportionate crew space) and many other upgrades. New passenger capacity will be 312, up from 208.

However the most unusual change will be new engines and generators.

It is rare that ships get such a radical makeover. But in view of the new emission regulations the option of adding exhaust gas scrubbers to such a small ship was likely not an option. Conversion of the engines to alternate fuel was also likely impractical.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Pilot Boat Changes

The Atlantic Pilotage Authority has made another change in pilot boat assignments in Halifax as its fleet of boats goes through refits. The Captain A.G.Soppit (see October 13 post) has returned to its normal post in Saint John, NB.

Its place has been taken by Captain E.T.Rogers, also normally based in Saint John, but fresh from refit in Meteghan. The Rogers was built in 2012 by Abco Industries in Lunenburg as Chebucto Pilot for service in Halifax.  Captain A.G. Soppitt was built to the same design and APA chose to group similar boats in the same ports for operational familiarity and maintenance.  Chebucto Pilot went to Saint John and was renamed.

The usual Halifax pilot boat Scotia Pilot is presumably still in refit, and for now the Rogers shares duties with the Nova Pilot.

The pilot boats have moved from the north to the south side of the former Foundation / ECTUG / Svitzer pier, giving room for a floating landing stage. The Province of Nova Scotia purchased the dock and the adjacent former salvage dock to the south which I expect will be demolished as an eyesore. Both piers are old timber pile construction and would need extensive repairs if they were to be re-purposed.


Basin for Orders

Anchorage in Bedford Basin is not only a refuge from foul weather by also a convenient location to await orders. Shipowners, working through brokers and other channels seek the best deal for the ship's next cargo, and sometimes the ship must stand by until a deal is reached. Other times, the ship is not due in its next port for a time and Bedford Basin is a good spot to wait. Something similar may be case for the tanker BW Raven According to the operator's web site, the ship is due for survey November 30, 2019, and may be seeking a cargo going in the direction of the shipyard, or it just may be waiting so as not to arrive early.

BW Raven approaches the chosen anchorage in Bedford Basin.

Operator of the ship is the large Hafnia Pool, based in Singapore. The ship is part of the huge BW Group of more than 400 ships, including bulkers, offshore storage units (FPSOs), gas tankers, crude oil tankers and the world's largest fleet of product tankers.

BW Raven was built in 2015 by SPP Shipbuilding Co in Goseong, South Korea to typical MidRange tanker specifications of 29,751 gt, 49,999 dwt. Its cargo tanks are coated with chemically resistant  phenolic epoxy, allowing it to carry a variety of cargoes including the refined petroleum products it delivered to Imperial Oil. The ship arrived October 17 after a day's delay due to weather.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Normal Comings and Goings

Seven Seas Navigator, arrived this morning and tied up at its usual berth at pier 23. To make the tight turn into the camber, the pilot used the tug Atlantic Oak to assist.

The ship has a somewhat unusual early history. It was originally laid down by the Admiralty Shipyard in Leningrad, USSR, as a satellite tracking ship, in 1988, and launched in 1991. To be named Akademik Nikolay Pilyugin. Caught up in collapse of the Soviet Union, the ship languished unfinished until 1998 when Radisson Seven Seas Cruises bought the hull. They had the T. Mariotti yard near Genoa build the superstructure and complete the ship for 490 passengers and 340 crew in 1999. Due to its relatively small size of 28,550 gt, almost all the cabins are outside with verandah.

Now operating as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, the company carried out a major refit to all public areas and suites in 2016.

The tanker Ardmore Sealifter arrived yesterday from Amsterdam for Irving Oil and was well along unloading this afternoon.

Built in 2008 by Onomichi Zosen, it is one of 26 or so ships in the Ardmore fleet of MidRange tankers, and measures 26,900 gt, 47,472 dwt. Its original name was Pacific Innovator but was renamed in 2014 when it joined the Ardmore pool. The bulkhead markings on its hull are still bright white from a July drydocking.

Arriving this morning at Ceres, Fairview Cove, the regular caller MOL Paramount also looked particularly neat and tidy as it transited the Narrows.

Dating from 2005 when it was built by Koyo Dockyard, it is a 71,902 gt, 72,968 dwt ship with a capacity of 6350 TEU , including 500 reefers. Industry wide slow steaming probably means that it never achieves its published maximum speed of 26 knots. The huge diameter exhaust pipe in the funnel leads from a 62,920 kW (84,377 bhp) MAN-B+W main engine.

Atlantic Bear is the tethered escort for braking and steering as they approach the Mac Kay bridge.

MOL Paramount is, at least for the time being, still maintaining its MOL identity despite the merged container interests of MOL, K-Line and NYK Line in Ocean Network Express. I am not looking forward to the day when it adopts the ONE hull color to match the ONE containers.


Laker for Scrap

The Shipfax header says "and beyond" and this post, at least in part, deals with Halifax and well beyond.

When it was built in 1959 in Manitowoc, WI, the laker Adam E. Cornelius was one of the new breed of US post-war ships. At 666'-3" length overall x 72' breadth , it was well short of the 735' x 75' maximum allowed by the brand new St.Lawrence Seaway, but it was able to access some ports that the big ships could not, such as its home port of Buffalo, NY. At Seaway draft ship could carry about 20,000 (short) tons of cargo, and about 21,700 tons on the open lakes.
Owners American Steamship Co were pioneers of self-unloader technology and they employed the latest type in this ship, with a 250 foot boom that swung out 120 degrees from the ship's centreline. They were not so daring when it came to propulsion however, but stayed with proven steam technology. The ship could travel as far east as Sept-Iles, QC for cargo, but was not built for sea service.

Eventually the ship proved to be too small and uneconomical to operate and it was laid up in 1985. In 1988 the ship was sold to the newly formed Keybulk Transport Inc of Montreal. It was towed to Halifax by the Secunda Marine tug/supplier Triumph Sea. Halifax-Dartmouth Industries (as Halifax Shipyards was then known) converted the ship to a barge.

Adam E. Cornelius arrived in Halifax in January 1989.

By removing a portion of the stern, and most of the engine room (leaving space for some diesel generators), the shipyard formed a pushing notch to fit a tug. The typical Great Lakes wheelhouse forward was left as a conning position, but control of the barge would be from the tug.

On completion of the work, the barge was renamed Capt Edward V.Smith and it was paired with the tug Irving Miami (later renamed Atlantic Hickory) using conventional face wires. The combination saw service on the Great Lakes and on the east coast, carrying grain, salt, and other bulk cargoes, including even iron ore. Various other tugs including Arctic Nanook, Atlantic Cedar and  Magdalen Sea also towed / pushed the barge, in coastal work.

Irving Miami, later renamed Atlantic Hickory pushed the barge from a "padded" stern notch, connected by face wires.

In 1991 the barge was placed under Secunda management and renamed  Sea Barge One. However Keybulk went out of business, and in 1992 the barge was sold by court ordered auction to low bidder Transport Desgagnes. Their tenure was particularly short, and in 1993 owners became Halifax Grain Elevator Ltd.

In 1996 the barge was renamed Sarah Spencer.  The arrangement with Atlantic Hickory was not particularly successful in the Seaway locks, because was a far from rigid connection. Other shippers complained to the Seaway that they held up the progress of conventional ships. Conning the tug by VHF radio from the barge must have been a nightmare. In fact another tug was employed to tow them on occasion.

In 2000 Secunda provided the tug Tignish Sea for conversion to a pusher, with a proper, Bark River coupling system, to keep the tug rigid in the notch. The tug was converted in Halifax, with final installation of the pistons, and modifications to the barge made on the Lakes.

Renamed Jane Ann IV, the former Tignish Sea , leaves Halifax after conversion in October 2000.

See Tugfax for more on this:

In this new arrangement the tug was controlled remotely from the barge's bridge via communication cable. The tug was pinned to the barge and could pitch, but not roll independently. The locking pistons on the tug would be adjusted to suit the barge's draft, using a series of  perforations in a ladder formation, on the sides of the notch.

The rigid connection was more successful in the Seaway locks.

In 2006 tug and barge were sold to TGL Holdings of Plymouth, MI, but retained Canadian registration. The combination operated until 2008 when they went into intermittent, then long term layup, shifting between Toledo and Detroit.

The tug was scrapped earlier this year and on Friday October 18, the Sarah Spencer left Toledo in tow for Port Colborne, ON to be broken up as well. Conducting the tow are the tugs Ohio  and the McKeil tug Molly M 1 (ex Point Vigour, ex Foundation Vigour), a former Halifax based tug that assisted the barge many times over the years.

Several other tug/barge combinations have been built or converted on the Great Lakes, using old Lake ship hulls, but this is the only one (so far) with a Halifax connection.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Storm Warnings

All week forecasters had been predicting a storm for today, so it came as no surprise that very high winds with the usual driving rain prevailed most of the day. Cruise lines are particularly aware of weather, and plan well advance with a "Plan B". Several ships deviated from their itineraries and sought shelter where they could.

Regal Princess from Saint John, NB made a U-turn and headed for New York.

Pilotage operations were suspended in Halifax this morning and will not resume until tomorrow morning at the earliest. Late evening departure times were scrubbed and ships were obliged to remain in port. Seabourn Quest, Veendam and Celebrity Summit (which had all managed to get tie up this morning - with tug assistance)  added an unaccustomed glow to the waterfront this evening with deck lights ablaze.

Some commercial traffic was also forced to hold off, including the container ship Jennifer Schepers for ZIM and the tankers Ardmore Sealifter. for Irving Oil and  BW Raven for Imperial Oil. The ConRo Atlantic Sun is also stuck here over night.

In view of these conditions Shipfax suspended outdoor operations and thus have no current photos to illustrate any of the above. However, consulting the photo archive department the publisher submits the following as a follow up to yesterday's post on harbour craft:

Louisiana Star is a 500 passenger day trip boat operated in - of all places - Hamburg, Germany. Built in 1999 it is powered by two Schottel rudder propellors. As Google translate so aptly puts it, it is modeled on an American "tailwheel steamer" and the wheel "serves only the optics."


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

No to Oceanex

The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled against Oceanex in its latest attempt to force Marine Atlantic to charge commercial rates. Oceanex has  long held that the Crown Corporation has an unfair advantage over Oceanex for Newfoundland freight because it charges less than cost. Oceanex, contends that as a private company it must recoup costs in order to stay in business and to reinvest in its fleet.

This battle has been fought before, and both sides have had victories, dating back for many years to  when Canadian National Railway, then a crown corporation, operated the Gulf service. The Canadian Transportation Commission found it guilty of predatory (non-compensatory) pricing, through its Terra Transport operation on at least two occasions.

Oceanex formed in 1991, brought together the Montreal/ Newfoundland and Halifax/ Newfoundland services of ACE (Atlantic Container Express) and ASL (Atlantic Searoute Limited) respectively. Original equal share owners Clarke (then owned by Newfoundland Capital), CSL (then owned in part by Fednav), Fednav and A. Harvey took the company public in 1998. Since 2007 the company has been privately owned.

The Montreal service continues year round with two modern ships.

Oceanex Avalon  built in 2005 by J.J.Sietas, Neuenfelde, Germany is a container only ship.

Oceanex Connaigra built in 2013 by Flensburger is a Con-Ro, that has been used on the Halifax run to cover refits.

The Halifax / St.John's weekly service is maintained by the now venerable Oceanex Sanderling.

Built in 1977 by Sasebo Heavy Industries, the 21,849 gt, 15,195 dwt CoRo can carry 1127 TEU. Originally named Rauenfels it was renamed 80: Essen, 82: Kongsfjord, 83: Onno, 87: ASL Sanderling, 08: Oceanex Sanderling.

A particularly fine ship, Oceanex Sanderling has served the route exceptionally well, but is overdue for replacement. Oceanex's Chairman (and reportedly principal if not sole owner) has been adamant that the noncompetitive environment with Marine Atlantic precludes that.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Small Craft - Part 1

This blog normally concentrates on larger ships that come and go in Halifax. However there are numerous small craft that work in the harbour and are often overlooked. These includes, work boats,  Navy, Coast Guard and research small craft.

Harbour tour boats are kept busy this time of year, not only with cruise ship passengers, but also the many "fall foliage" bus tour visitors and late season tourists who came after the summer rush.

Most of the boats have been here for many years, but some are relative newcomers.


Longtime tour boat operators Murphy's, founded by the Murphy family, was sold and in 2014 merged with the Ambassatours Gray Line bus operators. In September 2019 it was announced that Ambassatours has sold its bus operations to Coach Atlantic of Prince Edward Island, operators Maritime Bus. Murphy's, which also includes restaurants and shops, was apparently not part of the deal.

The longest serving vessel in the fleet is Harbour Queen One, the faux-Mississippi paddlewheeler is typical of similar craft operating in many ports of the world. They are out of keeping everywhere - except New Orleans, where they actually have a real one!

Another Murphy veteran the Summer Bay was retired at the end of last season and is reported to be for sale.

Back in Halifax this year after spending last summer in Saint John, NB, Theodore Too does nor seem particularly busy, but does put in an appearance at special events.

Acquired two years ago from Ontario operators, Kawartha Spirit has still not been renamed with a more local moniker. I suggest that it be named Haligonian IV as it is fourth in line of direct succession from the first tour boat operated by Murphy's.

Murphy's headquarters at the Cable Wharf is crowded with their fleet.

Murphy's also operate the stylish Peggys Cove Express built on lobster boat lines and providing very fast service and nature cruises. Its hull was painted blue in past years, but is now white in line with the rest of the fleet.

The amphibious Harbour Hoppers (there are upwards of five) are ever present in the harbour and on the streets - enough said. A Hopper was stationed in Sydney, NS last year but has not returned this year.

The "Tall Ship" Silva operates under sail or bare poles depending on conditions and continues to be popular.


Winstar Cruise operates from Alderney Landing in Dartmouth and caters to Asian visitors with seafood meals and service in Chinese. The boat was new to Halifax last year. See previous post:


There are other smaller boats in the harbour tour and Northwest Arm tour business. This is a boat I have seen only once and unable to identify by name. Vessels under 15 gross tons are not necessarily registered by name, but by number. However they commonly have unofficial names. They are also required to display the registration number. They can also be registered by name. If so the name is to be displayed.
The operators have a web site:

The 60 minute tour for six people, is billed as quietly "all electric" in a classy thirties "European river boat" style replica. The 30 footer is new this year and runs from Purdy's Wharf.

The Cameron Brothers of Stewiacke, NS built the schooner Katie Belle themselves and brought it to Halifax in 2016 with the intention of operating harbour tours, but the boat has remained idle in Mill Cove again this year.

Several boat operators in Eastern Passage offer fishing trips outside the harbour, but that is the subject of a future post.