Saturday, May 30, 2020

Dartmouth Trip

Although I live on the Halifax* (southwest) side of Halifax harbour, the best views of ships are sometimes from the opposite, Dartmouth** side of the harbour. Fortunately there are bridges and ferries that make it easy to get back and forth. So depending on the position of the sun and the scene of the "action" I go to Dartmouth frequently.

Today there was an unusual ship move that would be difficult to see from Halifax, so off to Dartmouth I went.

The Algoma tanker Algoscotia was set to move from the Irving Oil dock to Imperial Oil. Built in 2004 by Qiuxin, Shanghai the 13,352 gt, 18,610 dwt ship has been calling in Halifax since new. Algoma took over Imperial Oil's own tanker fleet and gradually went about replacing the ships with new ones. Algoma tankers usually carry Imperial product, so seeing the ship at the Irving Oil terminal is rare although not unheard of.

In Dartmouth, and at the next dock, the heavy lift shift Bigroll Beaufort is still at IEL Woodside waiting to offload the next wind turbine. The first of the four has been dispatched to the Virginia coast for installation. I had the chance for a new angle on the ship.

Is there something about Nova Scotia where utility poles are never vertical?

* The name "Halifax" is now applied to the Halifax Regional Municipality [HRM], a huge geographical  area formed of dozens of smaller communities in the year 1996. Among them were the cities of Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford and the largely rural Halifax County. Its population of just over 400,000 plus resides in an area of 2,120 square miles, strung along a ragged coastline.

**The City of Dartmouth was formed in 1961 with the amalgamation of several unincorporated neighbourhoods, each with a distinct identity. Woodside, South Woodside and Imperoyal (named for the Imperial Oil refinery) were among them, along with the town of Dartmouth. "Dartmouth" is still an official geographical name, even though it is part of the Halifax Regional Municipality. In 1996 when the HRM was formed the City of Dartmouth had a population of about 65,000. The name "Halifax" has now come to include Dartmouth when referring to the Halifax Regional Municipality. However Dartmouth residents usually make the distinction, and others extend the term Dartmouth to a huge swath of the eastern portion of the HRM that was never part of the old City of Dartmouth.


Friday, May 29, 2020

Cruise Ban

The Canadian government has extended and expanded its ban on cruise ships in Canadian waters, effectively ending the 2020 cruise season before it can begin. Ships with overnight accommodation for more than 100 people (includes passengers and crew) are now prohibited in Canada until October 31. That day marks the usual end of the cruise season in Halifax (give or take a day or so). A previous ban imposed in March restricted ships with more than 500 persons until July.

A harbour tour boat kiosk on the Halifax waterfront exhibited this sign at the end of the 2019 season on October 28. 

Pre-pandemic, Halifax had been expecting  more than 200 ship visits with 350,000 visitors, in 2020. Nearby ports such as Saint John, Charlottetown and Sydney predicted in the range of 90 calls.

Last year was a banner year with 179 cruise ship calls in Halifax. The Port Authority reported 324,828 passengers and crew in 2019. That number exceeds the urban population of the Halifax Regional Municipality, reported to be 316,701 in 2016. (total population was 431,4769 in 2017).

Many businesses that depend on cruise visitors (and tourists in general) will be forced to scale back or close. The cruise ship industry as a whole has been dealt a tremendous blow by Covid-19 and it will take several years to recover, and even then it may appear radically different.

A footnote to the main ban is the restriction to ships of less than 12 passengers in Arctic waters until October 31. That virtually eliminates "expedition" type cruises, since the northern navigation season rarely extends beyond the end of October.

October 31, 2019: Anthem of the Seas was the last cruise ship to call in Halifax.

Thursday, May 28, 2020


The huge drop in demand for new cars and the closure of many of the factories, has resulted in very few car carrier visits to Halifax. By my reckoning today's arrival of  Wallenius Wilhelmsen's Tijuca is only the second such ship to call in Halifax this month.

After unloading cars at Autoport the ship shifted to pier 27-28 to offload machinery.  The ship is now sporting the new Wilhelmsen colour scheme, replacing the traditional orange. The ship was built in 2008 by Daewoo, Okpo with a 71,673 gt, 30,089 dwt, and a capacity of 7620 (RTE43) units.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Today a new to me ship arrived and sailed for the Icelandic shipping line Eimskip. Named Selfoss it has been in the Eimskip fleet since 2017, but has been serving other routes. Now it is appearing on the Green Line with Skogafoss and  EF Ava, replacing Pictor J which has been transferred to the Yellow Line.
See all of Eimskip's services here:

Selfoss (Foss means waterfall in Iceland) is named for a prominent attraction and a town in south of Iceland. It was built in 2008 by Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding Co in Fuzhou, China, as the Sophia for the German Capt. Manfred Draxl Group. It was acquired by Eimskip and renamed in 2017. The ship measures 7464 gt, 8166 dwt and has a capacity of 698 TEU. Two cranes have been fitted since the ship was built - possibly in 2017.  Oddly the ship is registered in the Faroe Islands, still part of Denmark, but now an autonomous territory, and not governed by Danish customs and business regulations.

Fast Ferry (again) - some updating and editing

This post has been edited and updated since it was originally filed.

The development of fast ferry / commuter craft in Halifax Harbour has been proceeding at glacial speed since 2005 or earlier.

However in today's news it appears that it may become a reality sooner rather than later. The Halifax Regional Municipality has apparently found a way to tap into some federal funds, despite local budget cuts, to add new bus and ferry routes.  The reports indicate "three new ferry routes", but I believe that is an error. It is more likely that there will be one route from the Bedford Basin to the downtown terminal, with three stops - namely Bedford, Mill Cove and Shannon Park.

The press reports says that the service will be operated by catamarans, and that the boats and terminals are yet to be built. I give that a three to five year window, so it will certainly not alleviate downtown traffic woes in the short term. However combined with the  container shuttle train project from the Southend Terminal (PSA Halifax, formerly Halterm) and the Moncton road/rail interchange, there is some relief on the horizon.

 There was once a pier at Shannon Park, and a ferry service to HMC Dockyard, run by the Navy using "duty boats" - wooden hulled craft, that carried a few dozen passengers.

For those not familiar with the harbour, Shannon Park is adjacent to and south of the MacKay bridge on the Dartmouth side of the Narrows, opposite Richmond Terminals (Pier 9). It was once the site of a large military housing complex, complete with school, rink, store, chapel, etc., The site has been cleared for future development.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

AS Federica sails - Updated

The container ship AS Federica sailed this morning. Thick fog frustrated photo efforts unfortunately.

The ship arrived April 17 and tied up at pier 34 where it was effectively boxed in by stored containers, blocking a clear view.

The ship was built in 2007 by Zhejiang Ouhua Shipbuilding Co in Zhoushan as MED Atlantic, becoming Vecht Trader in 2008 and AS Federica in 2015. The 15,375gt, 18,350 dwt ship has a capacity of 1296 TEU, and carries two 45 tonne SWL cranes. It flies the Madeira flag, the offshore registry of Portugal.

The ship last saw service with one of ZIM's feeder loops, the LAG -Lesser Antilles, Guyana run out of Kingston, Jamaica and Port Everglades, FL.

No destination was listed when I posted this report, but I will update when the ship changes its AIS signal.

Update:  It appears that the ship went out to sea (beyond the 12 mile limit) and returned to the outer anchorages/

Monday, May 25, 2020

Asterix sails

I generally resist the temptation to post multiple images of ships arriving or departing.  Today was an exception because there was an unusual event in the harbour. It was a case of "double pilotage".

Canadian navy ships are not required to use civilian pilots in Halifax harbour. They use navy pilots from the Queen's Harbour Master to berth and unberth ships and direct naval tugs. Navigating in and out of the harbour is done by the ship's own officers and crew.

This is in part a carry over from the days when the HMC Dockyard tugs were commissioned naval vessels and civilians did not give orders to naval personnel. Nowadays, with civilian crews on naval tugs, it is more a question of familiarity and usage. Dockyard pilots know how to use the Dockyard's VS tugs. They have developed a common terminology for directing the tugs, which may be different from the language used to direct the civilian ASD tugs.

Foreign navy ships visiting Halifax use civilian pilots to transit in and out of the harbour and to berth and unberth, and use civilian tugs.

The RCN has an unusual situation now that it has a leased ship in its fleet. The supply ship Asterix, from Federal Fleet Services, has a civilian crew with embarked naval personnel and specialists. My observation before today has been that the ship has used a civilian pilot and civilian tugs on arrival, departure and movements within the harbour. Today however the ship used naval tugs. Although the ship had a civilian pilot aboard, there was also a navy pilot. After directing the operation of the navy tugs, that pilot disembarked to a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat [RHIB] after the ship was clear of the pier and underway. The civilian pilot then took the ship to sea.

Ship underway, Navy pilot disembarking.

Pilot boat Scotia Pilot (yellow) sets out to disembark the civilian pilot at the pilot station (45 minutes away.)
The blue boat is Maintainer I, the Port Authority's work boat.

Preparing to re-embark the RHIB

If you think you have seen this picture of the Asterix before..... may be because you saw one taken by one of these COVID-19 ignorers. 


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Acadia Desgagnés

The cargo ship Acadia Desgagnés arrived on May 21 and tied up at pier 25. As usual The ship has been working under the Barbados flag for the winter and is returning to Canadian flag for the summer. However it is much later this year. In the past the reflagging has been effective April 1 or May 1. It usually reverts to Barbados, effective January 1.

Some hatches open and cranes askew, Acadia Desgagnés gets a spring cleaning at pier 25.

The ship is a multi-purpose general cargo/bulk carrier and is reinforced for heavy cargoes, and unloading by grabs. It was built in 2013 by Shandong Baibuting, Rongcheng and comes in at 7875 gt, 11,353 dwt with two 40 tonne capacity cranes. It was originally to be named Montelena but was renamed BBT Ocean and then Sider Tis in 2013. Desgagnés acquired and renamed the ship in 2017. It was registered in St.John's, NL unlike most other ships of the fleet, that are registered in Quebec ports.
The ship is used in bulk trades around the Gulf of St.Lawrence, such as salt from Pugwash, NS, and does not have the heavy cranes needed for northern supply work.


Friday, May 22, 2020

IT Intrepid - a classic

With the arrival on May 17 of IT Integrity, International Telecom's new ship, the veteran IT Intrepid may not be around that much longer, so I am taking every opportunity to get photos of the older ship.

IT Integrity at left and IT Intrepid at right both arrived in Halifax on May 17.

IT Intrepid returned to Halifax after a few days of work in Newfoundland and sailed this afternoon for an even shorter trip.

Outbound this afternoon IT Intrepid displays what are now considered to be classic lines for a cable ship. The bow sheaves are very rarely seen anymore.

The ship is heading out to International waters (still 12 miles for Canada Customs purposes) to fulfill some sort of legal obligation, and will be returning to Halifax later this evening.

IT Intrepid has worked out of Halifax for many years and has been featured in this blog many times:

The ship is  certainly getting on in years, but had a major survey renewal in March of last year, so is good until 2024. We suspect that IT Integrity , which appears to be more of a cable repair ship than a cable laying ship, will supplement IT Intrepid at least for a time, but retirement is inevitable.

In the last few years IT International Telecom has hired local tug/suppliers from Maersk and Atlantic Towing for some cable repair work, so it looks like IT Integrity may be able to keep that work in house.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Vole au Vent sails

After taking on some of the wind turbine components from Bigroll Beaufort the offshore installation vessel Vole au Vent sailed this afternoon for offshore Virginia.

With a couple of tower sections on deck the ship gradually lowers itself back into the water. There appears to be a dotted line on the ship's hull just at the water line.

After a little draft confirmation from the pilot boat the ship is about ready for sea.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Noted Arrivals

Among the arrivals in Halifax harbour today (May 19) there were two of note.

Federal Mosel arrived and anchored for an as yet undeclared reason. A launch alongside (appears to be Captains Pride), is normally used by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, however the ship does not seem to be undergoing an Asian Gypsy Moth inspection. Those inspections are conducted on ships arriving in Canadian waters for the first time. This ship passed Montreal inbound to the Great Lakes May 5, and it loaded  grain in Thunder Bay, ON May 7, then apparently topped up in Port Cartier, QC May 15.

One of three sister ships in the Fednav fleet, it was built in 2017 by New Times Shipbuilding Co in Jiangjiang, China. It is a frequent visitor to the Great Lakes:

Arriving at The Cove is an unusual "houseboat" as it is termed by a certain classification society. Bold is clearly a luxury "super yacht" of 1551 gt, built in 2019 by Silver Yachts of Fremantle, Australia as Silver Loft and renamed shortly after delivery.

The vessel is moderately impressive looking, but all the publicity photos appear to have been taken with an extreme wide angle lens making it look much longer (and sleeker) than its actual 85 meters. With a weekly charter rate of 950,000 Euros (really!) I would expect something more like the pictures. The glassed in appendages projecting out from the sides of the superstructure would certainly pose many practicality problems, particularly in tying up at most wharves, passing through canal locks, etc..
The vessel is billed as economical to operate. It has very shallow draft and a range of 5,000 miles at 18 knots cruising speed and is capable of 23 or 24 knots for fast positioning.

Its last port was New York City but was in the Caribbean prior to that and in the Mediterranean last summer.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Woodside activity

The Woodside dock has seen some interesting activity over the years, but over the next few days it will see something quite unique. The wind farm installation vessel Vole au Vent arrived yesterday and today was positioned alongside the Bigroll Beaufort to begin transferring the components of wind turbines.
The 2020-05-18 Vole au Vent tied up yesterday with its crane stowed, and floating on its own hull.

This morning Bigroll Beaufort has moved back along the dock, with Vol au Vent alongside, jacked up on its four spuds and its crane elevated.

The 1500 tonne capacity crane positioned to lift components off the ship.

There is an ideal viewing spot from the Woodside commuter parking lot.

Vole au Vent was built in 2013 by the CRIST SA shipyard in Gdynia, Poland as Vidar. Measuring 18,781 gt, it has the 1500 tonne crane and four 90 meter spuds that allow it to work in 50 meters of water. Although its deadweight tonnage is listed at 1500, it can carry 6500 tonnes of cargo. It is also equipped with a helicopter deck and can accommodate 90 workers. The Jan de Nul Group of Belgium acquired and renamed the ship in 2016.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


THE Alliance seems to be happy with MOL's M class ships both in their original form and as renamed and repainted as ONE's M class. Today there were two in port at the same time. They passed each other in the lower harbour as MOL Modern sailed and MOL Mission arrived.

MOL Modern is typical of the class at 78,316 gt , with a capacity of 6724 TEU including 500 reefers.

Despite chasing the ship from one end of the harbour to the other, it wasn't able to get a photo of the ship in full sun.

It was built in 2011 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nagasaki and is listed at 79,283 dwt.

MOL Mission, which was here May 4 westbound, was also built in 2011 but at MHI's Kobe yard. With the same GT and container capacity as the rest of the class, it comes in at 79,491 dwt.

It was much more clement weather for this visit than the ship's last, and once it was in the harbour it was in full sun most of the time.

With sailing season apparently underway, despite the pandemic, MOL Modern had to sent out warning signals several times as it transited the Narrows.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

More Algomas

Four Algoma tankers in port at one time is a unique event as far as I know. Even in the days when Imperial owned its own fleet and operated a refinery it was rare to have four ships in port at once.

Three of the tankers were at anchor late this afternoon and one was unloading at number 3 dock. The best camera angle to include all four ships in one shot was from the Angus L. Macdonald bridge. I confess I did not take the initiative to make that jaunt.

 Instead I tried for three in one.
Algocanada was closest to the camera awaiting its turn to unload, with Algoterra close behind and Algonorth in the distance..

Their various colour schemes provide an interesting composition, but also a reminder of their different histories.

Algonorth, at little used number 2 anchorage, and possibly less than fully loaded, still appears in the attractive colour scheme of its previous Swedish owners, and has a non-typical funnel marking.

Algoterra still carries its Knutsen orange hull paint. .

It had first arrived at the Irving Oil dock for bunkers before going to anchor. It also did not appear to be carrying much cargo.

Algoscotia  had moved to Imperial Oil dock 3.

Algoscotia was built for Algoma Tankers, so has always worn the company's dark blue hull colour.

With Algonova's departure yesterday that makes five Algoma tankers in port in a 24 hour period, also a unique event in my experience.


Friday, May 15, 2020

A run on tankers and a ZIM feeder

There seems to be a real run on Algoma tankers right now, which is odd in view of the lack of demand for petroleum products. Perhaps the large tank farm that used to be the Imperial Oil refinery is an attractive storage place for fuel that no one wants. Algoscotianova sailed this afternoon, Algocanada is in port and Algonorth is due tomorrow morning.

Algoscotianova lets its lines go from Imperial Oil.

Algocanada awaits its turn at anchor.

ZIM's feeder service brought in Taipei Trader from New York.

Built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang in 2014 with its present name, it carried the name Cap Avatele from 2014 to 2016. A 99332 grt, 13,063 dwt ship it has a capacity of 1102 TEU, including 220 reefers and has a pair of 45 tonne cranes.

Port activity seems to be keeping up with ship visits, but tonnages may be well down.  Also the number of auto imports is down. The cars unloaded at pier 9C by the Grand Diamond on April 6 are now being moved by truck to Autoport.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Thunder Bay

Another of Canada Steamship Line's versatile Trillium class ships arrived in Halifax this afternoon. Thunder Bay was built in 2012 by Chengxi Shipyard Co Ltd in Jiangyin, Jingsu, China. The 24,430gt, 34,433 dwt self-unloader was built to maximum St.Lawrence Seaway size. Although it sailed from China on its own hull, it required substantial temporary hull bracing for the trip. It was then restricted to Great Lakes and St.Lawrence service.

 Thunder Bay makes its way past a desolate looking Tall Ships Quay inbound.

Now however some of the ships of the class have been upgraded to "Nova Scotia" specification, allowing them to make short sea voyages. So far that has included ports such as Saint John, NB, St.John's, NL and various regional ports such as Lower Cove, NL, Charlottetown and Summerside, PE. The Strait of Canso is another favoured destination to load aggregates.

Typical Halifax weather-  the ship was into blazing sun by the time it passed the Macdonald bridge.

Once clear of the Narrows the ship was back into the gloom at Bedford Basin as it headed for National Gypsum to load.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Ins and Outs

After unloading trucks and Machinery at pier 31 [see previous post] ARC Integrity moved to Autoport this morning and off loaded cars then sailed this afternoon. Although operated by Atlantic RoRo Carrier it is apparently still working for Wallenius Wilhelmsen.

Sailing at the same time was the longstanding pilot boat A.P.A. No.18 en route eastbound - possibly to Cape Breton or even Newfoundland. Built in 1974 the boat has served in various ports, and most recently did a short stint in Halifax.

An early morning arrival from the Sable offshore, Maersk Mobiliser tied up at pier 9C and opened its garage door for all to see.

Both Maersk Mobiliser and sister ship Maersk Maker are both attending the crane ship Thialf as it dismantles the Sable gas field.


Saturday, May 9, 2020


There was some activity in the port today, and once the rain stopped and the sun came out, I had missed most of it. However there were a couple of ships of interest in difficult places to see - piers 27 and 31.

At pier 31 it was the autocarrier ARC Integrity flying the flag of the United States (metaphorically at least - there was no flag flying aft). Its operator is American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier (ARC). They acquired the ship in 2019 from Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines where it operated as the Fedora and has appeared in this blog before.

To summarize, the ship was built by Daewoo, Okpo in 2008, and has a capacity of 7500 autos. Its gross tonnage is 72,118 and deadweight tonnage is 30,386. ARC currently operate eleven autocarriers under US flag - most on transatlantic service. As US flag carriers, ARC ships regularly carry US military cargo, and thus are sailing even when auto imports have been reduced.
With US auto importing facilities becoming backed up, many autocarrier sailings have been cancelled. However this ship had some wheeled machinery and other non-automobile cargo for Halifax.

When I came along, the ship had stopped working cargo and its ramp was up and the tug Atlantic Willow was alongside. Some very high winds were gusting, so they may have been putting out more lines. The ship is due to move to Autoport tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

Across the camber at pier 27 it was the heavy lift carrier Hilke with a cargo of wind turbines.

Built in 2010 by Taizhou Kauan Shipbuilding Co in China, it is a 11,473 gt, 10,052 dwt ship equipped with a two cranes each of 450 tonne capacity. The cranes can work in tandem for a 900 tonne lift. Originally named Palabora it was renamed in 2019 but continues be operated by Harren + Partner, for SAL Heavy Lift Gmbh of Germany.

The ship's destination is given as Escoumins, QC, which is the St. Lawrence River pilot station, so it is possible that the ship is here for repairs, or to sit out the extreme high winds predicted for the next few days. The ship is likely destined for the Great Lakes. [I later learned it is destined for Cleveland.]
It visited the Lakes in 2018 and a sister ship Caroline (ex Palmerton) was on the Lakes last year. I took several photos of that ship when it was in Halifax in 2016:


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Asterix back

The Navy's rented supply ship Asterix arrived back in port today. It sailed April 30 for Norfolk, VA, only one day after the RCN helicopter crash in Europe that claimed six lives. All Cyclone helicopters in the RCN were removed from operation as a result of the crash. That may have reduced the ability of Asterix to participate some operations.

Civilian tugs Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Oak met Asterix in the lower harbour to turn the ship and assist it back to its berth. 

At the ceremonial keel laying for the future HMCS Protecteur in North Vancouver on January 16, delivery date for the first of the navy's new supply ships was given as 2023. Asterix is expected to be in service at least until the second ship is delivered to ensure that there is one support ship on each coast.


Monday, May 4, 2020

Mission Accomplished

Despite a bracingly cool wind, and some driving droplets of what could only be described as a cross between fog and drizzle, I braved the elements to catch MOL Mission arriving this afternoon as it transited the Narrows en route to Fairview Cove.

One of ten "M" class ships built for MOL it came from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kobe in 2011. As with all its sisters it measures 78,316 gt and has a capacity of 6724 TEU, including 500 reefers. Its design deadweight tonnage was 79,000 but was revised to 79,491 after delivery.

Mitsui OSK Lines has been subsumed into the new Japanese container line Ocean Network Express along with NYK and K-Line. As the MOL M class ships enter their required drydockings they are being repainted in ONE's magenta hull colour and renamed with ONE replacing MOL in the name.


Friday, May 1, 2020

Wind off Virginia

As most days prove in Nova Scotia the wind blows steadily on the coast. As a power generation source the wind is employed in the shallow waters of many European countries, but is relatively unknown in eastern North America where land space is not at a premium. That is about to change, at least in coastal Virginia, where Dominion Energy is about to install two 6MW turbines 27 miles off Virginia Beach as an initial test program. Eventually they hope to have up to seventy turbines in the same area.

Because the United States has no offshore installation vessels, a way had to be found to install the two units and still be in compliance with the United States's restrictive cabotage laws, commonly known as the Jones Act.

The wind turbines, including the towers and blades were built in Europe and arrived in Halifax April 28 on the specialist heavy cargo ship Rolldock Beaufort, seen here alongside the IEL dock in Woodside (Dartmouth).

The United States' cabotage law prescribes that only US built, owned, crewed and flagged ships may work between US ports. It would therefore require a Jones Act compliant ship to move the components from shore to installation site.

A loophole in the Jones Act means that ships arriving directly from overseas, without landing in the US can apparently work in US waters. [This has been contentious in the Gulf of Mexico oil patch, where US seafarers are been deprived of work in US waters.] Therefore Bigroll Beaufort will transfer its components here, and a specialists installation ship will pick them up in stages and install them directly without landing in a US port.

That installation ship is Jan de Nul Group's Vole au Vent which arrived in Portland, UK today, presumably en route to Halifax. Equipped with a 1500 tonne capacity crane, the ship is a jack-up vessel that can work in 50 meters of water. (More on the ship when it arrives here.) The de Nul company, well known Belgian dredging contractors, have also developed a specialty in offshore turbine foundations and installation.

Vole au Vent could not carry the entire project cargo in one trip, and there is not enough time to return to Europe to do the work in phases and still complete the project this year, so Halifax has become the staging point.