Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Force is no longer with us

After months of idleness in Bedford Basin, the container / roro Ocean Force sailed Saturday evening for the port of Izmail, Ukraine. The ship had moved this morning to Pier 9C where I assume it took on water and stores for the trip.

Ocean Force in anchorage #13, Bedford Basin, yesterday.

The ship also made a visit to Pier 9C earlier in the month, but has otherwise been anchored in Bedford Basin since  completing its work for TSMI on the Halifax to St-Pierre et Miquelon service in September.

Nolhan Ava returned to the SPM service, but Ocean Force was apparently kept in standby as a backup if needed. That need has now passed and the ship is free to return to its home base.


Short Term Visitor

I was surprised to see a familiar ship in the outer anchorages today. The Oranjeborg has never called in Halifax before as far as I can remember, but it is a regular caller in Pointe-au-Pic, QC, the port nearest my summer roost in Quebec.

At maximum (200 mm) telephoto my camera unfortunately focused on the water, not the ship! All is not lost however since I have many photos of the ship taken in Quebec.

As previously published in August, the ship loads newsprint rolls through side door and elevator.

This is the ship - in focus - in August 22, 2014.

...and August 1, 2016. Note it is quite assymetrical, with its offset funnel, stern ramp and starboard side elevator anbd side door.
The ship sailed from Halifax later in the day, so it may have been here as weather passed over or even to board a pilot for the St.Lawrence.


Friday, November 29, 2019

Some harbour action

After a period of delays due to weather, activity picked up in the harbour this afternoon.
Irving Oil's Acadian sailed for Saint John after delivering is cargo of refined product.

Its place at the Irving Oil terminal in Woodside was taken by the supplier Burin Sea.

It is taking on fuel for its next assignment - which it seems will also be its last. It is due to sail for Turkey towing fleet mate Trinity Sea where both boats will be broken up for scrap. They are due to sail Sunday - see Tugfax for an update.

It was still quite breezy in the harbour, (the camera flattens waves) but there were lots of white caps and even the gulls were "sitting it out".

Things were about the same in Bedford Basin where HMCS Toronto took up position on Jonquiere Bank anchorage.

Things were returning to normal at Cerescorp and PSA with the end of the rail strike and given an improvement in weather, shipping should be returning to normal soon.

PSA Halifax - Halterm no more

The Port of Halifax's South End Container Terminal, known since 1969 as Halterm, has been rebranded by its new operators as PSA Halifax. Those owners, part of the Port of Singapore Authority have adopted the name to align with their own image building exercise as a major world terminal operator. It certainly lacks the originality and catchiness of "Halterm" but I guess all things shall pass.

The old Halterm "H" may still be found in a couple of spots:

Such as this RTG which may be the next one for the scrap pile. (See previous post)

The oldest of the ships cranes is the only one left with the Halterm logos (maybe it is bound for the scrapper too?)

The PSA logo has yet to go on the big cranes  but it hasn't exactly been painting weather.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Good News all round

There was good news on two fronts today. The lobster season got off to a safe start and the CN strike appears to be over.

The Cassie R returns to port in Eastern Passage having placed its traps for the first time this season.

It was an unusually fine day today, but colder weather and high winds are on the way. Fishers always hope for some good weather before Christmas to capitalize on premium prices and high demand.

Granville Bridge makes its way inbound to Fairview Cove. 

CN Rail conductors and other striking workers will be back on the job tomorrow morning, ending an eight day strike. It may take a few days for operations to return to normal, particularly in the container sector, although from my observation, the boxes were still moving in and out of terminals in substantial quantity.

Rail car loadings will continue at Halterm even though demolition work on an old Rubber Tired Gantry (RTG) began today.

After several hours of preparation including cutting through the steel at the top of each leg, an attempt to pull the gantry over using a crawler crane failed. However a Halterm stacker forklift was called in and the unit was soon "pancaked" on the ground where it will be cut up. (Wires were stretched from the top of the gantry beams to the stacker.

New RTGs have been in service for some time (they can be seen in the background of two of the photos above) but there are representatives of a previous generation as well.


Monday, November 25, 2019

Delayed Opening for Lobster Season

Weather conditions have played havoc once again with the traditional opening day for the District 33 and 34 (southwest Nova Scotia) lobster season - the last Monday in November. Known as "Dumping Day"  it is the day when fishers set out their limit of 375 to 400 traps, hoping to make a good early season catch before severe winter weather comes along and hampers fishing. The District 33 and 34 season closes in May.

Not yet fully loaded yet, Lady Georgina sits in Eastern Passage, awaiting the start of the season.

Dumping Day can be the most dangerous day of the season because the boats, limited in size to 45 feet, can become unstable, if loaded too high with traps.

Although extremely seaworthy, lobster boats can become overloaded.

Therefore good weather is needed for a safe opening day. Today's combination of wind and left over seas from last night's storm have resulted in the delay this year.

The waves were still pounding in at Eastern Passage this morning, long after last night's storm had passed. 

Eastern Passage, on the edge of Halifax harbour, is the eastern most limit of District 33. The zone extends to Barrington and District 34 picks up there and reaches Digby.

With Dumping Day now scheduled for Tuesday, November 26, it is expected that fishers will be on the water early in the morning to ensure that they get their traps in their preferred locations. The Coast Guard will also be on alert to assist any boats that may get in trouble.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

CN strike - no sunshine

There does not seem to be even a small ray of sunshine on the horizon for a quick end to the CN Rail strike. So far CN management has been able to keep some trains running, but anything like regular traffic is being strangled at several choke points.

Halifax is totally dependent on CN to move a major proportion of its traffic in and out of the port, and there are already signs that some of that traffic is grinding to a halt. The empty tracks in Dartmouth (in the foreground of the photo above) may be misleading however.

CN has announced that it is laying off staff at Autoport (which it owns and operates). There is lots of storage space for incoming autos, and the port's longshoremen unload the import cars from the ships (they are not CN employees), so it is difficult to understand the move. Loaded auto rack rail cars were still leaving Autoport as recently as this morning, and auto carrying ships are still calling. Cars are one commodity that can be moved by truck, but obviously in much smaller quantities.

National Gypsum depends on CN rail to transport the ore from its mine in Milford to its ship loading facility in Wright's Cove (Lower Burnside) Dartmouth. While the company has a large stockpile on hand, it still depends on one or more trains per day to replenish the supply. National Gypsum also ships raw gypsum to other customers inland by rail.

CSL Tacoma inbound this afternoon to load at National Gypsum, while the George Washington Bridge sails outbound with containers.

Container traffic will be hard hit by a prolonged strike as import and export cargo gets hung up in terminals or en route. Very little of the port's container traffic is locally generated, so rail is critical to get the boxes to or from producers - mostly in the US midwest, and central Canada. Rail cars were still moving in and out of Halterm today, so it is hard to tell how much delay there may be. Container shippers have the option of using other ports if they can get better service from a different railroad.

CMA CGM Chennai under the cranes at Halterm today, but when its import boxes move from the pier may be a question.

Break bulk shippers may have options, but not all. Nirint's JSP Levante sailed today after discharging bagged nickel sulfides which are shipped onward from Halifax in open gondola cars to Fort Saskatchewan, AB (25 km outside Edmonton) for processing. The cargo can be held in Halifax for a time, but warehouse space would eventually run out and the mine in Cuba would not be able to ship their output.  (Fort Sask is served by both CN and CP Rail however.)

JSP Levante heading for sea after working breakbulk cargo from Cuba.

The Cuban nickel is just about the only break bulk import cargo Halifax gets. The only other significant break bulk cargo is rail for CN itself. It is generally stockpiled on the pier itself until needed.

So far there has been no appetite for government to step into the labour dispute, but there will certainly be pressure if the strike continues for another week. Moving crops to market, maintaining supplies of propane and stocking store shelves for Christmas will become more difficult in the days ahead.


Harry Dewolf to builders sea trials

Following on yesterday's harbour trials in Bedford Basin the first Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship AOPS#1 set out on sea trials today.  Using the name Harry Dewolf although far from being officially commissioned with that name, the ship got under way from Halifax Shipyard, with no name or pennant number displayed. The 430 was painted on its hull even before launch, but has now quietly vanished.

The period of builders trials will apparently now extend into the new year and will be a period of feverish activity for Irving Shipbuilding leading up to handover to the RCN sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

The overly optimistic delivery dates for the ship have been extended from the original estimate of late 2018. As lead ship of its class, there is every reason to expect delays and extensions, but having reached the builders sea trials stage, there must be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Today's builder's trial will be an all day affair, but extended multi-day trials will be necessary before the ship is handed over to RCN for its own trials and commissioning.


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Tankers in and out

The usual comings and goings at Irving Oil and Imperial Oil this week saw one tanker at each facility.

At Imperial Oil it was the Pro Onyx a very new ship, just delivered in September by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan. It is a chemical product tanker of the MR type, 29,655 gt and 49,999 dwt (or 49,936 according to some other sources).

Although very new it does not appear to be too different from most ships of its type, with two exceptions. One is that its funnel is offset to starboard. This may be as a result of incorporating an exhaust gas scrubber system within in the funnel casing.

Note also the traditional lifeboat placements, port and starboard with davits, instead of the stern launch type seen in recent years.

Meantime at Irving Oil Elka Glory is back with another cargo from Amsterdam (it was first here in April).

Also a MidRange product tanker, of 27,612 gt, 44,598 dwt, it was built in 2003 by Brodosplit in Croatia. It has the stern launch type lifeboat. Intended to ease launching under difficult conditions such as a list, there have been numerous accidents in training with many serious injuries. More important to crew survivability, particularly with tankers, is the enclosed lifeboat, now seen on most ships.


MOL Empire first time

MOL Empire made its first appearance in Halifax today on what seems to be a once only call.

MOL Empires inbound past Maugher's Beach.

The ship is lightly smaller than the usual MOL ships we see on Alliance service.  Built in 2010 by Hyundai Heavy Industry in Ulsan, this ship measures out at 54,940 gt and 67,170 dwt with a container capacity of 5087, including 330 reefers. The "P" class ships that are regular callers carry 6350 TEUs with 500 reefers.

With tug assistance the ship passes through the Narrows en route to Fairview Cove.

The ship arrived from New York and is headed for Rotterdam and European ports on the AL1 service before switching to the AL5 service for its next transatlantic trip to southern US ports and the Pacific coast.

The ONE houseflag.

A much tattered ONE house flag apparently flies forward on the jack staff at all times, judging by its condition. It is not quite the official ONE magenta colour anymore (it looks more red) with Ocean Network Express spelled out below the ONE also in whitre lettters. The ONE flag is an acknowledgement that the ship sails for the joint venture of NYK (38%) , K-Line (31%) and MOL (31%) formed in 2018 to merge the three competing Japanese container lines. The merged entity is a partner in THE Alliance with HAPAG-Lloyd, Yang Ming and Hyundai Merchant Marine.

The Washington "W" also appears somewhat tattered.

Nevertheless the ship is still owned by Seaspan Corp, the Dennis Washington owned international container ship financing operation that currently owns more than 100 ships. All are leased out to shipping lines. The Seattle-based Washington also owns the Seaspan interests in British Columbia, including the shipyards and tug boat company, but Seaspan Corp is operated independently and trades on the NYSE.

This week Seaspan Corp announced the acquisition of six ships (as yet not identified) for $350 mn (USD). That will swell the owned fleet to 119 ships, with a total capacity now exceeding more than 1 mn TEU or 7.7% of the global container capacity of 23 mn TEU.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Glovis Countess and a strike

Glovis Countess arrived at Autoport this morning for what I believe to be the first time. The 60,213 gt, 18,701 dwt ship was built in 2010 by Mitsubishi Heavy in Nagasaki as CSAV Rio Geike. It changed names in 2013, and current owners are associated with Dong-A Tankers (hence the DAT on the funnel), a major South Korean ship operator. The ship has a capacity of 5,221 cars.

Glovis Countess has rounded Ives Knoll and is headed for Eastern Passage and Autoport.

The Dong-A Tanker company sought creditor protection in April 2019, but it is unclear if DAT Countess Maritime SA (owners of this ship) and DAT Maritime Co Ltd (technical managers) are involved in those proceedings.

Once off the Autoport berth tugs swung the ship to come alongside starboard side to.

Autoport is owned and operated by CN and as of this morning some three thousand CN conductors and yard workers were on strike. Autorack rail cars were still being switched at Autoport, but that may not last for long if management tries to take on operating jobs.

The ship arrived from New York, so must be loading export cargo, which would already be on the pier waiting to load, so not likely effected by the strike.

Originally due yesterday, the ship spent the night off St.Margaret's Bay after pilotage operations were suspended. There was still some swell running today, but conditions were much more benign.

Glovis Countess inbound with a residual swell.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

More Comparison

I did not expect to see such an obvious difference between yesterday's arrival and today's departure of YM Modesty.

The ship's after deck has noticeably more boxes than it did coming in.  I count seven tiers (except on the top) today whereas some of the stacks were only five or six high yesterday.

(picture from yesterday for comparison)


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Don't Say No Comparison

With the same ships returning to Halifax time after time for years on end, it is easy to become blase and to ignore the repeaters. There may be something to learn however from seeing the same ship in the same setting after different times.

Westbound (that is arriving in North America) the ship is always heavily loaded. Once it has completed its US calls and turns Eastbound it is more lightly loaded and has fewer boxes on deck. The trade imbalance of imports versus exports becomes pretty obvious as does the quandary of how to return empty boxes to Asia when there is no revenue in doing so.

YM Modesty is one of those repeaters, as it shows up regularly for the Alliance, both eastbound and westbound. Its arrival today on the Eastbound leg gives an opportunity for such comparisons.

Today: Eastbound

November 2: Westbound

July 20 2018: westbound

Some rather obvious things jump out to me:
First: the ship was more deeply loaded westbound in 2018.
Second: the ships was more deeply loaded eastbound in 2018.
Third: slightly more empties (on the after deck) in 2019 eastbound.

Note also the many new or newly repainted ONE (Ocean Network Express) boxes in 2019, indicating that the merger of the three primary Japanese container lines (K-Line, NYK and MOL) is slowly taking effect. Are they scrapping old boxes - effectively abandoning them in the west, and building new ones in the east?


More Gypsum To Go

There has been a real run on gypsum lately with another load going out today. This time it is a domestic load, on CSL's Salarium a Canadian flag self-unloader.

Salarium docks stern in to make it easier for the shoreside ship loader to function.
(The ship does not seem to have loaded much in the 23 hours it had been alongside when I took this  photo this morning.)

The ship is on long term charter to carry salt from Mines Seleines in the Magdalen Islands, but that does not take up all its time, so it is free to pursue other work when it is available. In October the ship even made one of its rare calls to the Great Lakes. 

On that trip (its first since 2017) it went to Windsor*, ON, loaded salt for Twin Ports (Duluth / Superior) WI, then loaded iron ore pellets at Two Harbours, WI for Quebec City. It seems to have come directly from that assignment to Halifax to load gypsum - by passing the Magdalen Islands en route.

[*The salt mine in Windsor, ON is owned by K+S Windsor Salt, also owners of Mines Seleines.]

As a Canadian flag ship (built in 1980 as Nanticoke, 21,870 gt, summer draft capacity 35,100 tons) the ship can deliver its gypsum cargo to a Canadian port. The ship was renamed in 1990 when it was chartered to la Soçiété Québecoise d'Exploration Minière [SOQUEM]. Normally the ship keeps running well into the winter, and lays up in Montreal during the most severe ice conditions.