Friday, January 31, 2020

Where the action is.

After mentioning Atlantic RoRo Carriers as recently as January 28 - {qv} I was more than a little surprised to see one of their ships show up in Halifax yesterday and today. Now branding themselves as ARRC Line they still run a monthly container service between St. Petersburg, Russia and the US east coast. Calling in such ports as Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Houston (on demand) they no longer show Halifax on their schedules. European ports also include Bilbao, Southampton and Antwerp - again on demand.

In a previous post on the line I outlined their use of the famous Astrakhan type ConRo ships: With the retirement of the last of those ships, the line has simplified its operating name to ARRC Line. It still offers RoRo, but must use the services of other lines since none of the three current ships are RoRos.

Atlantic Action II arrived at pier 42 (PSA Halifax) last night, and after only a brief time alongside, moved to anchor. It then sailed mid day today.

The ship appears to be a conventional open hatch type general cargo/bulk carrier with portable pontoon type tween decks, and not a cellular container ship at all.  Built in 2010 by Zhejiang Ouhua Shipbuilding Co in Zhoushan it measures 22,863 gt, 33,227 dwt and carries four cargo cranes. It carried the name Warnow Sun until 2018.

If the ship unloaded any containers in Halifax they must have been on top of the deck load because the frozen spray has not been  disturbed on any of the hatch covers.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Throwback Thursday - another pair

There was another pair of sister vessels that met up in Halifax from time to time. Built for Canadian owners in the 1950s they were built to the dimensions of the old St.Lawrence canals. After the Seaway opened they were lengthened and deepened and lasted into the 1990s, still paired.

On a summer evening in 1978  Franquelin unloads at the pier 26 grain leg and sister ship New York News waits its turn across the camber at pier 23.

At the time both ships were owned by Quebec+Ontario Transportation Ltd. Founded in 1914 to transport pulpwood and newsprint, the company was a child of the Chicago Tribune and New York News newspaper organizations. The parent company owned vast timber rights in Quebec and Ontario and paper mills in Baie-Comeau, QC and Thorold, ON. When not supporting company operations the ships carried a huge variety of bulk commodities, including grain. Due their size the ships could access many small ports.

Franquelin was named for the area of large timber reserves owned by the Tribune and the loading port on the North Shore of the St.Lawrence River. Pulpwood was shipped from the port for processing in Thorold until the 1973 season.

Before the advent of self-unloaders, grain was unloaded by means of the grain leg (which still exists). Essentially a loop chain of buckets, the leg could be lowered into the hold of a ship. However the ship had to be moved for unloading each hold .

Starting life as Griffon in 1955 at Port Weller, the ship was also lengthened and deepened in 1959-1960. Joining Q+O in 1967 it was the second ship of the name in the Q+O fleet. It was renamed Eva Desgagnés when the company was wound up in 1987.

In 1990 new Mexican owners gave it this name Telchac, but it only lasted for a short time in their service. It was reported en route to Tuxpan for scrap in 1992.

New York News was the third ship of the name owned by Q+O. Built in 1956 by Port Weller DD as Tecumseh for Beaconsfield Navigation, when the Seaway opened in 1959 the ship was lengthened from 259 to 343 ft and deepened measuring 3436 gt, 5900 dwt. Q+O bought the ship in 1967.

Among the smaller ports the ship could serve was Pugwash, NS, where it loaded salt. While there on July 18, 1967 improper loading resulted in the ship breaking its back. The two halves were towed to Halifax and re-assembled, and the ship went back to work. In 1983 Q+O sold its eight ship fleet to Transport Desgagnés. Renamed Stella Desgagnés, the ship continued to bring grain to Halifax until sold again in 1993.

Crews wash down the Stella Desgagnés' deck as it unloads at the grain leg on another July evening, eight years later.

Renamed Beam Beginner and reflagged to Panama for new owners, the ship was damaged in ice in December 1993 and never left Canadian waters. It was resold to Thunder Bay, ON owners, renamed Wolf River and laid up in Thunder Bay.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

CLI Winter Season

Now that the St.Lawrence Seaway is closed for the winter Compass Logistics International (CLI) will once again be calling in Halifax for a few months, with their ship CLI Pride. (In December the ship unloaded at Valleyfield, QC and Johnstown, ON.)

CLI Pride rounds Seaview Point heading out of Bedford Basin bound for Rotterdam.

As I have observed before, it is among the smallest ships to maintain a regular transatlantic schedule year round. However as a specialized carrier, it has a built-in demand for service. Compass Logistics and its Canadian partner company RSB Logistic Inc specialize in transporting nuclear materials. They have their own dedicated truck fleet also, based in Saskatoon.

The ship was built in 2011 as Brielle by Dongfang Shipbuilding Group in Yueqing, China. Measuring 7138 gt and 7950 dwt, it carries a pair of 30 tonne cranes.

In 2014 owners Schepers Ocean Transport placed the ship under Briese management and the ship was renamed BBC Luanda. Compass Schiffahrts acquired and renamed the ship in 2018. it remains under Briese management however.

Its primary cargo is uranium hexafloride, which has been handled in Halifax for many years, previously by Briese and before that by Atlantic RoRo.

Unloading radioactive casks January 28, 2016.


Monday, January 27, 2020

Basin Watch and new for MOL

The shipping alliance conveniently called THE Alliance, consists of HAPAG-Lloyd, Yang Ming and Ocean Network Express (ONE). The latter is the combine formed by the merger of the Japanese container lines NYK, K-Line and MOL. As with most of these alliances, the various members provide ships according to some sort of  complex formula. THE Alliance, for example has more than 425 ships to call upon to serve the various routes it maintains.

Recently THE Alliance has started to use MOL "M" class ships, and today's arrival of MOL Maneuver is the second of those.

The ship was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kobe, in 2011 and carries 6724 TEU (including 500 reefers) with measurements of 78,316 grt and 79,423 dwt.

Mine were not the only set of eyes keeping watch on Bedford Basin activity this afternoon when MOL Maneuver sailed.

A bald eagle perched in a tree in Africville Park kept a wary eye on me too, but we stayed well out of each other's way.

Also out in the Basin is the tanker Navigare Pars in from Baton Rouge, and likely destined for Imperial Oil. 

Built as Miseno in 2012 by STX Offshore in Jinhae, South Korea, it is a 29,840 gt, 51,034 dwt product tanker.  It acquired its present name in 2017, and now flies the Danish flag, and is enrolled in their International register.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Throwback Thursday - New Feature

I began taking photos around Halifax harbor very soon after moving here in 1966. It was not until 1969 that I began to take pictures using 35mm film. By 1970 I was "on a roll" so to speak and on hand to document the birth of container shipping and the slow death of break bulk in the port. In this new feature I will mark another decade by showing some photos taken in 1970 and before.

Nova Scotia arriving off pier 23 with the assistance of the tug Foundation Valiant.
(Built in 1963, the tug was renamed Point Valiant in 1973 and André-H. in 1995, and is currently owned by Groupe Océan, but has been in cold layup for several years in Quebec City.)

Although they did manage to hang on for a few more years, the writing was on the wall for Furness Withy's handsome pair of ships, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The third pair of ships to carry the names, they were built in 1964 and 1965 respectively, for the Liverpool / St.John's / Halifax / Boston  (and return) liner service, replacing the 1947 pair, which in turn had replaced the 1926 pair (both lost in World War II). Since the ships carried mail they were entitled to use "RMS" [Royal Mail Ship] before their names. At that time "surface" mail traveled much more cheaply than air mail and the bulk of transatlantic mail went by ship. The ships no longer carried passengers as their predecessors did.

Among the many good looking ships built by Burntisland Shipbuilding, they measured 6,600 grt in closed shelter deck configuration, and 7,500 dwt. Their holds were served by one 15 ton, one 10 ton and four 5 ton derricks and four 5 ton cranes. The 6 cylinder, 7150 bhp B+W main engine (built under license by Harland and Wolff) gave a speed of 16 knots. Also fitted to carry some refrigerated cargo (like Nov a Scotia apples) and vegetable oil, they were rated as Ice Class 3.

Newfoundland was renamed Cufic in 1973 then re-renamed Newfoundland in 1974 when it was transferred to Johnson Warren Lines Ltd (Furness Withy remained as managers).  They renamed it Cufic again in 1976, but sold it off in 1977. Renamed Gaiety by Golden City Maritime, under Panama flag, it was broken up in Shanghai in 1986.

Newfoundland (left) at Pier 23.
Nova Scotia (centre)at Pier 26. Note the grain loading gallery - since replaced by the pier 28 gallery. Note also the tiny figures on deck clearing frozen spray from the hatch covers.

Nova Scotia became Johnston Warren's Tropic in 1973. After a 1978 sale to China fell through it was sold to Booker Line and became their Booker Valiant running between Liverpool and the Caribbean. The Shipping Corp of Saudi Arabia bought the ship in 1980 renaming it Arab Dabbor and then Arab Hind in 1986. It lasted until 1998 when it was scrapped in Alang.

Newfoundland and Nova Scotia together in Halifax for the first time. Winter weather apparently delayed one of the ships on its return leg.

Furness Withy, a giant in British shipping, eventually morphed into Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), which was taken over by China Ocean (COSCO) in 2017.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wait time

It was bumper to bumper traffic at PSA Halifax today with a 10,000 TEU ship at pier 41-42 and another ship anchored waiting its turn.

APL Dublin was built in 2012 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, Okpo. The 128,929gt, 131,204 dwt ship has a capacity of 10,960 TEU and has only recently joined the Columbus JAX service. Its normal arrival day would have been Saturday, but likely delayed its arrival due to weather.

Two cranes are in the up position but APL Dublin takes up most of the berth space at PSA Halifax, pier 41 and part of pier 42.

Until the pier 42 extension is completed and the new crane arrives later in the year, only one large ship and one small ship can be accommodated at Pier C.

Zim Tarragona is a medium sized ship, and so had to anchor until APL Dublin sailed.

At 40,542 grt, 50,089 dwt, it has a capacity of 4256 TEU. The ship was  built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang in 2010.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tropic Lissette

Tropical Shipping's Tropic Lissette arrived this afternoon instead of the usual Monday morning arrival. No doubt the frightful weather offshore over the last few days kept the ship away, however it was calm and sunny today.

The tug J.F.Whelan and dump scow Pitts No.11 had just dumped another load of rock for the Pier C extension and held off until the ship passed.

Since moving from Saint John to Halifax in January 2017, Tropical has expanded its business and brought in new larger ships. Tropical Hope (first call in January 2019) and Tropical Lissette (first call in September 2019) are 1100 TEU (including 200 reefers) vessels newly built by Guangzhou Wenchong.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sherman Zwicker

The Lunenburg-built former Banks schooner Sherman Zwicker is in for a major refit / rebuild at Mystic, CT. Built in 1942 by Smith and Rhuland it fished until 1968.

Saved and maintained by a series of US owners, it now operates as an oyster bar in Manhattan (!), which it will continue to do in the summers but will return to Mystic each winter for several years as the rebuild continues.

When last seen here in a Tall Ships event in 2007, the schooner had kept its original appearance ( bald headed = no topsails; knock about= no bowsprit) including the typical wheelhouse of the auxiliary schooners. The engine occupies what was the main cabin aft. Let's hope no one tries to "improve" on this classic appearance, and concentrates instead on taking the hog out of the hull and replacing deteriorated components.

This was never a racing schooner like the Bluenose but a hard working money maker fishing the Grand Banks from dories. and that is how it should be maintained - oysters aside.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Sir William Alexander - back on the job

Yesterday's post stated that CCGS Sir Wiiliam Alexander had not returned to service following a lengthy refit. I stand corrected. The ship sailed this morning, apparently in working order, bound for St.John's, NL. Whether that destination has anything to do with the extreme weather event there in the last days, it certainly means that the ship will not be servicing the Halifax buoys any time soon.

If navaids in Newfoundland have been blown out by hurricane force winds. the ship may be needed there more urgently.

Amid vapour from the Nova Scotia Power Inc gas fired generating plant and traces of sea smoke, from its cooling water discharge, CCGS Sir William Alexander puts out to sea this morning.

I do not have a date for the ship's return to service but it apparently occurred within the last week or two.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Buoy oh buoy

Due to the many rocky shoals and shallows, navigation into and out of Halifax harbour requires skill and knowledge. Harbour pilots have this in abundance, and coupled with their use of radar and satellite technology, they make hundreds of safe transits every year.

However not all mariners using the port have that skill and local knowledge. And surely there are times when the radar and Satnav may not be working. In such cases finding the channels and maintaining a safe course may have to rely on such centuries old devices as buoys and lighthouses.

Unless of course that century is the 21st and the year is 2020 and the time is right now.
I have it that at least three buoys and one lighthouse are currently unlit and have been so since before Christmas. Although these failures were reported to the CG nothing has been done to make repairs.

The Canadian Coast Guard has the responsibility for maintaining what are known as NAVAIDS (Aids to Navigation) and has its base right in Halifax harbour, at the Bedford Institute.

Under the jurisdiction of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Bedford Institute is also the Canadian Coast Guard base.
The buoy maintenance and repair facility is right here in the port and is to the left in the photo.

The buoy yard at the old Coast Guard base in Dartmouth (seen here in 1977) was relocated to the Bedford Institute when the old Coast Guard base  was shut down.

Even though the CCG is responsible for maintaining the buoys and lights in Halifax harbour (and throughout much of Nova Scotia and beyond) I cannot place all the blame for this on the CCG. Thanks to government policy (or lack of it) they have been chronically underfunded and under resourced for years. With aged ships constantly in need of repairs and the others stretched thin, it is no wonder there is a waiting list for work. Nevertheless working Navaids should be essential in a busy harbour.

There are three Navaids ships based in Halifax, but with multi-tasking required of CCG ships these days all are also expected to do Search and Rescue and icebreaking, so are only part time Navaids vessels. So where are these ships now?

CCGS Sir William Alexander has been undergoing a lengthy in water refit at the Bedford Institute, that included rebuilding its crane. Despite some sea trials recently, the ship has not yet returned to service.

CCGS Edward Cornwallis 

In December the ship was sent to the Great Lakes to cover the closing of the St.Lawrence Seaway. Presumably this was to break ice and prevent a recurrence of late season blockages, or maybe to lift some summer buoys.  This trip must have been to cover for a ship in the Central Region that was unavailable.

The Edward Cornwallis was then sent to the Gulf of St.Lawrence for ice breaking and is currently in Sydney., NS.

CCGS Earl Grey

The Earl Grey has been at work icebreaking in Newfoundland, as far north as the Strait of Belle Isle and now in Botwood. Again it is probably covering for a ship from the Newfoundland region that is unavailable. CCGS Ann Harvey, which ran aground in 2015 and was extensively rebuilt afterwards may or may not be in service.

The federal government has finally decided on how they will get around to building replacements for these three ships (and several others including heavy icebreakers) by going with Davie Shipbuilding in Quebec. In one way this was a good decision - Davie has the physical capacity  to build the ships and a very thin order book. However they have no recent experience building icebreakers and no track record of building multi ships orders, quickly. Yes they should be building two or three (or four or more) big icebreakers but that is it.
In order to re-equip the CCG quickly with smaller ships, there needs to be at least one more shipyard brought into the equation. There is the skeleton of a shipyard in St.Catharines, ON, the former Port Weller Dry Dock. To re-equip it to build ten to twelve new navaids ships would be worth the investment if a suitable operator was selected. (The federal government already owns the drydock and land). Heddle Marine thinks they are capable of operating such a yard,but a proper selection process is still needed. Particularly if it is a build / maintain contract, a dedicated CCG shipyard might be worth considering.

But back to Halifax. There is no doubt that the CCG is in need of many replacement ships, but is that the reason why Halifax harbour navigation aids are being neglected?

Perhaps the old question could be asked - how many Coast Guard ships does it take to change a light bulb?


Friday, January 10, 2020

Nunavik - unusual request

There has been an unusual request for a Canadian coasting license.

Canadian laws require that cargo shipped between Canadian ports must be carried by Canadian flagged ships. In the event that no suitable Canadian ship is available, the Minister of Public Safety may issue a coasting license to a foreign flag ship.

A vital bit of cargo is required to keep a mine operating all winter in the Canadian far north and Fednav Limited has applied to use some of its foreign flag ships to deliver the cargo. Its only Canadian flag icebreaking ship, the Arctic, is overbooked for cargo and thus not available.
The cargo, a type of wire mesh used to reinforce the mine, was delivered defective and has now been replaced, but there are no other Canadian ships that can navigate into the north this late in the year to deliver it directly from Quebec City.

Arctic delivers ore from the Raglan mine to Quebec City and returns with general cargo and fuel.

The Arctic would normally carry the cargo from Quebec City to Deception Bay as part of its regular supply trips. However the additional 150 tons of material cannot be accommodated. Therefore Fednav wants to ship the cargo from Quebec to either Antwerp, Belgium or Pori, Finland using Federal Baltic, Federal Champlain or Federal Rhine or Wagenborg's Aragonborg.

Federal Baltic is one of Fednav's foreign flag carriers operating between Canada and Europe.

There the cargo would be transferred to Nunavik, Fednav's Marshal Islands flag icebreaking bulk cargo ship, and sent back to Canada, to Deception Bay.

Nunavik is an icebreaking cargo ship that delivers ore from the mine to customers in Europe.

For more details on the application and the ships see:

NACC Quebec

The bulk cement carrier NACC Quebec arrived at pier 27 late Tuesday (January 7).

The ship operates for McInnis Cement from its Port-Daniel, QC plant on the Gaspé peninsula. During the St.Lawrence Seaway season the ship runs into the Great Lakes, but in winter shifts to coastal runs to the US.

The ship has flown the Canadian flag (port of registry Gaspé) since May 19, 2017, after it was rebuilt from a conventional bulk  carrier for Nova Algoma Cement Carriers.  It has called in Halifax on a few occasions, most recently in March 2019, and has been referred to in this blog:

The ship has been a lot more co-operative for photos in the past, particularly when it passed the pilot station at Trois-Rivières-Ouest one August evening in 2018:


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Beach Weather

With a temperature just edging above zero C and bright sun, it was perfect beach weather (for some people) as they explored Black Rock Beach at low tide, and incidentally took in the arrival of  Atlantic Star and  Augusta Sun.

Snow was washed away below the high tide mark, but remained above the mark and left a thin  coating on what are normally black rocks when they are wet.

Once Atlantic Star had worked its way up through the harbour past the Narrows, it was perfectly framed between smoke stack and pylon before passing under the MacKay bridge.

Soon after,  Augusta Sun picked its pilot and made its way in for pier 31.

The ship is arriving from Moa, Cuba, on its regular route for Nirint Line.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Queen Mary 2 emergency medevac

The Queen Mary 2 is due in Halifax at about midnight tonight for an emergency medical evacuation. The ship will tie up at pier 21-22 long enough to disembark the person then put back to sea. The Cunarder is en route from New York for Southampton.

The ship is a regular caller during the cruise season.