Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Sapphire Anniversary

On October 1, 2002, welders working on a cruise ship at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan accidentally ignited combustible furniture in the cabin above where they were working. The fire took 19 hours to extinguish and destroyed an estimated 70% of the nearly completed ship. One of two identical ships under construction in the shipyard, it was to be called Diamond Princess. In order to reduce the impact on the Princess Cruises schedule the two ships exchanged names, and the fire ravaged vessel was renamed Sapphire Princess.

With four cruise ships in port today, pier space was at a premium, and Sapphire Princess had to tie up at the embarrassingly inadequate pier 31. Passengers had to to be bused in and out of the area for their own safety.

The ship was in Halifax today on the anniversary of the fire. There were no lives lost and more than a thousand workers evacuated safely, but a major rebuild was needed. The entire superstructure from the bridge to the engine casing was removed and replaced, and the interior fittings were redone. replaced.

The ship measuring 115,875 gt was one of the largest cruise ships in the world when completed, with a capacity of 2,670 passengers and 1,100 crew.

Also in Halifax today was the Norwegian Gem at pier 20-21, exhibiting the previously mentioned "hull art". Its head lines were lead out to the bollard on the Tall Ship Quay because the rest of the sea wall, piers 21-22 was occupied by Anthem of the Seas. Pier 23 was to be occupied (see below) the fourth ship, Star Pride ,was relegated to the even worse pier 34-35. (If the Port's master plan to fill in the cambers comes to fruition, those berths will no longer be available and no alternatives have been suggested for cruise ships.)

On arrival this morning Anthem of the Seas's glass enclosed pod, called the North Star appeared to be near its maximum altitude of 300 ft above sea level. As the ship drew closer however the device was lowered, well out of harm's way from curious military helicopters in the neighbourhood.

Early this afternoon the naval auxiliary oiler replenishment ship Asterix moved with civilian tug assistance from HMC Dockyard to pier 23 where it will be in place for the DEFSEC Atlantic military showcase. In past years it has been Canada's naval memorial Sackville alongside the annual event.

I missed the first arrival September 16 of Tropic Lissette the second new ship on Tropical Shipping's service. It returned today, taking up the slot formerly occupied by Bomar Rebecca and complimenting sister ship Tropic Hope which arrived here for the first time in January.

The 15,215 gt, 20,313 dwt ship has a capacity of 1100 TEU, including 200 reefers and carries a pair of 45 tonne cranes. It was built in China by Guangzhou Wenchong.


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