Saturday, October 31, 2020

Thunder Bay for National Gypsum

 Canada Steamship Lines' Thunder Bay arrived today to load at National Gypsum. The sun was a little more co-operative than it was in May when I photographed the ship last:

Thunder Bay in the Narrows today.

Ships of the Trillium class have now displaced the first generation of "salty/lakers" - ships built to maximum St.Lawrence Seaway dimensions but reinforced for coastal/ocean work. With the sale for scrap of Salarium (see earlier post) the only remaining ship of the first generation is Atlantic Huron, now laid up (coincidentally) in the port of  Thunder Bay, and unlikely to return to service.

Although built originally for the Lakes only, Thunder Bay and sister Baie St-Paul have been upgraded and are now regulars in Halifax and other coastal ports. Thunder Bay is arriving today from Charlottetown, where it offloaded aggregates after delivering coal to Sydney from the Great Lakes. Although exhibiting lots of "lock rash" - abraded areas on the hull from scraping along the approach walls to the locks - the ship was built for this kind of treatment. 

There is an interesting video showing Atlantic Huron making such an approach:


Thursday, October 29, 2020


 An unusual tow left Halifax harbour this afternoon,  but if you missed it you may have three more chances. 

Essentially it was the tug Lois M. and the barge Glovertown Spirit, but it was the barge's cargo that was unusual.

The cargo is in fact a bridge, built by Cherubini Metal Works in Dartmouth and loaded aboard the barge at their own dock in Eisner's Cove. The 340 tonne structure measures 57m x 21m x 10.21m high and is destined for Toronto. There it will be put to use as the Cherry Street North transit bridge linking the mainland to Villiers Island.

Cherubini Metal Workers Ltd has a contract to build four such bridges, all of which will be transported by barge to Toronto. 

The tug and barge owners, McKeil Marine Ltd of Hamilton, ON have a fleet of tugs and deck barges suitable for such work.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Yulia off to Thunder Bay

 The bulk carrier Julia sailed this evening after a day in port, arriving at 0730 hrs this morning.

The ship docked at pier 27 and may have taken on a tiny quantity of left over grain before buttoning up is number 5 hatches.

Launched in 2011 by Shandong Weihai Shipyard in Weihai, China as Harlequin it seems to have been intended for charter to Canadian Forest Navigation (CANFORNAV). That company operates a fleet of Seaway size ships named for species of duck. However it was delivered as Yulia. a 19,814 GT, 30,078 DWT vessel with three 30 tonne cranes it is a regular Seaway caller, although this is its first trip this year. 

It is now headed to Thunder Bay at the head of the Lakes, likely to load grain in the usual end of season rush.

Herring Cove Breakwater

 Just off the mouth of Halifax harbour is the settlement of Herring Cove. The sheltered inlet was long the home of harbour pilots and even now provides a drop off or pick up point for the pilots, saving at least a one hour return trip by boat to the inner harbour.

The scenic harbour, also home to several small fishing vessels, is protected by a concrete pier / breakwater.

The little jetty certainly did its job under normal conditions, but it took some serious damage during Hurricane Dorion, September 8, 2019. As owners of the structure, the Atlantic Pilotage Authority under took to repair the pier and a new design of armour stone was prepared. Extensive consultation was carried out with the community, all of which has been well documented on the APA's web site:

McNally Construction was awarded the repair contract and have now mobilised the crane barge Beaver Kay, dump scow Pitts No.1 and tug Jamie L. from Port Hawksbury and have set up a staging area at Pier 9C to load the armour stone onto the dump barge. 

Today, October 28, the Jamie L. moved the Beaver Kay to the site, and divers from Connors Diving are assisting in the process of removing old pilings.

Beaver Kay, is the former HMC Dockyard crane barge YDT 251, built in 1953 by George T. Davie + Sons Ltd in Quebec. It was acquired by Beaver Marine in 1995. They removed most of the superstructure, and employed the 115 ft x 60 ft hull as the working platform for a crawler type crane.  McNally Construction acquired Beaver Marine in 2001 and have continued to use the barge for a variety of projects in the Atlantic region.


Monday, October 26, 2020

Salarium to the scrappers

 A ship with a long connection to Halifax has been retired and designated for scrap.

Built in 1980 as Nanticoke the ship was among Canada Steamship Line's "salty lakers". These were ships of maximum size for the St.Lawrence Seaway, but also designed to make short forays into ocean waters. A self-unloading bulk carrier, it had a maximum capacity of 35,100 tons.

Nanticoke was built by Canadian Shipbuilding + Engineering at Collingwood, ON, and measured  21,870 grt, 35,686 dwt. It brought grain to Halifax from the Lakes, and usually loaded gypsum as a backhaul.

In the first years the Halifax grain elevator did not have a way for self-unloaders to unload. The grain leg was used until a hopper could be added to the unloading tower.

In 1997 the ship participated with two of its CSL fleet mates in a very unusual operation. The ships were fitted with special unloading gear to carry a heavy aggregate called magnetite from the quarry in Newfoundland to the offshore location of the Hibernia oil field. There the ships discharged the material, as a slurry, into the Hibernia gravity base, ballasting it down to its permanent location. The ships were fitted out in Dartmouth and returned to Dartmouth to have the gear removed.

Temporary unloading gear was mounted on the ship's bow.

In 2009 Nanticoke entered into a long term charter arrangement with the operators of the Magdalen Islands salt mines. It then took the distinctive name Salarium. In ancient times salt was used as currency, and a payment in salt was termed "salarium", from which our present day word salary is derived. By that time CSL's self-unloading bulk carriers in domestic service were repainted in CSL's traditional red. (Self-unloaders had previously been painted black, which was thought to be more serviceable because of the amount of coal they carried.)

As Salarium the ship then spent most of its time carrying salt to ports in the Great Lakes / St.Lawrence, but occasionally ranging as far as Saint John, NB. It still carried gypsum or other cargo from time to time as a backhaul, but its grain carrying days were over. 

Salt is a notoriously destructive cargo, and despite maintenance it will take a toll on metal. And so eventually time caught up with Salarium. In December 2019 it was laid up in Toronto for the last time. In April if 2020 it was moved to Montreal but did not re-enter service.

Salarium taking its last load of gypsum at National Gypsum's dock in Bedford Basin.

On October 15, 2020 the ship was due to leave Montreal for the last time in tow of the tug Thor 1 for Turkey where it was to be broken up. Interestingly the tug has a Canadian and Halifax connection - as it is the former Maersk Challenger.

However Transport Canada's ship safety inspectors denied clearance for the ship to go to sea. It is thought that corrosion was so severe that the ship might break up at sea. Perhaps the inspectors recall some previous incidents where ships in tow for the scrappers have been lost or run aground with huge costs to scrap in place.

Some sort of repair has apparently been made to allow the ship to go and it is now scheduled to depart Montreal in tow on October 27.

For more photos and history of the ship see:


Sunday, October 25, 2020

CMA CGM Amerigo Vespucci at PSA

 CMA CGM brought in another large ship on its Columbus JAX service, and as usual the ship's name commemorates a discredited explorer.

The ship was built in 2010 by Daewoo, Okpo and is a 152,991 gt, 156,887 dwt vessel with a capacity of 13,880 TEU (including 800 reefers). It features the isolated "island" superstructure and engines aft design of the larger container ships.

Tugs Spitfire III, Atlantic Fir and Atlantic Oak turn the ship into an offshore breeze to come alongside PSA Halifax.

The ship's namesake (b.1454-d.1512) was actually Italian (unlike Columbus who was born in Cuba, Portugal, southeast of Lisbon)  but lived in Spain and may have made two to six visits to the New World. His letters describing the voyages led to the continents of the Western Hemisphere being named for him (not to mention their current occupants). While much is unknown about the man, and much of the contents of the letters is in doubt, it is a fact that he took slaves from Hispaniola and had violent encounters with indigenous peoples. He is credited with determining from his exploration of the Brazilian coast that South America was not part of Asia, but a separate continent.


PSA Halifax - bigger but not yet better

 The Port of Halifax and southend terminal operators PSA Halifax celebrated the expansion of the facility in a ceremony on Friday, October 23 with a ribbon cutting. The pier extension is now fully operational and capable of handling two "Ultra" class container ships (10,000 TEU and larger) at once according to a press release from the Port Authority.

Regrettably the Port missed the opportunity for public engagement in the project by leaving access to the breakwater walkway padlocked. The walkway was a gift to the people of Halifax in return for the  construction of the deep water piers, which cut off traditional access to the waterfront.

The Port will need all the good will it can muster if it does not soon show results for various truck diversion options for downtown. Surely the walkway (which was pressure washed in advance of the ceremony) would be one way to do so.

Pressure washing underway,  but .....

- access gate padlocked, 

- explanatory sign faded to illegible,

-PSA interpretive poster inaccessible and thus unreadable.

-Customs zone warning sign highly visible.

Pedestrians are greeted with faded and now illegible interpretive signage and rusty padlocks - very unwelcoming.


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Lois M back again

 A sometime visitor, Lois M has made another arrival in Halifax. It arrived October 24 with the flat deck barge Glovertown Spirit to take away a heavy load.

Both vessels are owned by McKeil Marine of Hamilton, ON, but generally work in the Nova Scotia / Newfoundland region - last port was Sydney, NS.

The Japanese-built Lois M dates from 1991 when it was built as Lambert for service in Australia. A 4800 bhp ASD, it was acquired by McKeil and renamed in 2014.  For more see:

The barge will load a bridge built by Cherubini Metal Workers, which should be well within its 4800 tonne capacity. The barge was built by Damen, Gorinchem, Netherlands in 2012.


Barge Day

 Today (October 24) should have been designated "barge day" in Halifax as there was one large barge arrival and one even larger barge move.

The arrival was the barge Glovertown Spirit from Sydney, NS in tow of the tug Lois M. The 2073 gt barge was built in 2012 by Damen Shipyards, Gorinchem, Netherlands for use in the Newfoundland oil projects, and is named for a town on the east cost of the island of Newfoundland. Both barge and tug are owned by McKeil Work Boats GP of Hamilton, ON.

The barge was secured at the Cherubini Metal Workers dock in Eisner's Cove, Dartmouth, to load a bridge built  by Cherubini.

The barge measures 74.25m x 23.5m and has a capacity of 4800 tonnes.

With the Imperial Oil docks in the background, Lois M springs the barge into position.

 The second barge is Boa Barge 37 on long term charter to Halifax Shipyard. As a foreign flag vessel, it requires a coasting license to operate in Canadian waters. The current license running from October 15 to November 6 allows the vessel to transport sections of the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships and cradles and trestles from the shipyard's Woodside fabrication facility to the main yard. Six units and 27 cradles totaling 503.044 tonnes are to be moved using wheeled transporters to drive the components on and off the barge.

Although the barge is semi-submersible, that capability will not be needed for this move. However its ballasting system will be used to ensure that the barge deck is level with the dock.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Contship Ice - CMA CGM feeder

 With several weather related schedule disruptions, and still with stranded containers in Halifax from strikes and blockades elsewhere, lines are making unusual moves to reposition containers and find other ways to distribute cargo. Today's arrival of Contship Ice for CMA CGM seems to be a "one of" as the feeder service normally operates from Saint John - which is where this ship is headed next.

The ship dates from 2011 when it was built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipyard in Jangyin, China as Mell Springwood. It was soon renamed Tammo, a name it carried until 2019 when it took its present name.
At 16,137 gt, 17,191 dwt it has a capacity of 1350 TEU and carries a pair of 45 tonne capacity cranes.

The ship's last port was Philipsburg, St.Martin's.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

MOL Marvel- still a novelty

It has been nearly two years since ships began to appear in the "cherry blossom magenta" colour scheme of Ocean Network Express (ONE), but it may be some time before the novelty wears off. 

ONE, the merged entity of the major Japanese container lines MOL, NYK, and K-Line took effect in October 2017 and the first new ship in the colour scheme was delivered in July 2018. It was not until April 5 of this year that the first one appeared in Halifax - ONE Magnificence - assigned to THE Alliance. As existing ships are routinely drydocked, they are being renamed and repainted in the new colour scheme and are now appearing here regularly.

Today's arrival is ONE Marvel, a first time caller, and fairly fresh out of drydock. Its renaming from MOL Marvel became official September 1. Built in 2010 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Kobe it is typical of the former MOL "M" class at 78,316 gt, 79,460 dwt with a capacity of 6724 TEU (including 500 reefers). The paint still looks relatively fresh, but there are already some souvenir tug scuff marks from the ports it has visited.


Not on Schedule

 The unscheduled arrival of the autocarrier Horizon Highway was brought about by a power failure of some sort about 120 miles off Halifax. The tug/supplier Siem Commander was dispatched early yesterday morning (October 19) to the disabled ship and towed it into port this morning.

Once inside the harbour the tow was passed off to three harbour tugs, but Siem Commander stood by until the ship was secured at Pier 9C. Spitfire III took the bow tow line and Atlantic Fir and Atlantic Oak made up near the stern.

It is not often that we see autocarriers in the Narrows, since their usual berth is at Autoport, but if the ship does not have any cargo for Halifax there would be no need to tie up at Autoport. Pier 9C is a good location for a possible long stay for repairs.

The ship's last port is given as Southampton, UK, and it was bound for US east coast destinations.

Thanks to an alert Shipfax reader in Australia who noted the ship's "not under command" status on AIS I was alerted to the ship's arrival and managed to reach the Narrows in time to see its arrival.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

New Ships

 Despite the global pandemic shipyards are still managing to deliver some new ships to shipowners. Two ships dating from 2020 are in port today.

The tanker  GW Dolphin arrived at Imperial Oil from Antwerp. The ship was built by Changxi Shipyard in Jiangyin, China and measures 34,998 gt, 55,604 dwt and was delivered at the end of June. Imperial Oil imports most of its fuel products for Halifax and the maritime provinces from Europe, and receives very little from Canadian refineries. Thus several Canadian product tankers, such as Algoscotia and Mia Desgagnes are laid up.

Grande New Jersey arrived at Autoport on its first trip. The ship was delivered September 4 by Yangfan Shipbuilding in Zhoushan, China. It is the fourth in a series of seven new autocarriers for the Grimaldi Group. (Grande Halifax, Grande Baltimora and Grande Torino have all called in Halifax.)

The 65,148 gt, 15,853 dwt ship has a capacity of 7600 CEU (car equivalent units.). It has been assigned to Grimaldi's 15 port Mediterranean/ North American service that originates in Italy and extends to Mexico. Its last port was Savona, Italy and is bound for Davisville, RI.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Florencia Bay - second of two

The second of the new Canadian Coast Guard Bay class lifeboats, Florencia Bay arrived in Halifax late this afternoon (October 13) in advance of some stormy weather.

Not quite as nice a day as it was for the arrival of its sister Cadboro Bay yesterday (October 12), nevertheless the crew conned the boat from the flying bridge. It must have been a bracing trip, racing  along the eastern shore in excess of 20 knots to get in ahead of weather.

Hike Metal Products in Wheatley, ON built the Florencia Bay, which has been delivered all the way to Halifax on its own hull. It will be stationed in British Columbia and is to be transported to the west coast by heavy lift ship.


Monday, October 12, 2020

Making a Dent

 Despite being the (Canadian) Thanksgiving holiday the container ship Glasgow Express was busy loading at Cerescorp Fairview Cove today.

The ship arrived from Montreal early this morning, carrying no cargo - (look at the amount of hull showing!) and began to load "stranded cargo" left over from last month's longshore strike in Montreal.

It is hard to understand why there is still cargo in Halifax left over - surely there was railroad capacity for the boxes. Maybe CN wanted to be paid extra?

Glasgow Express is more or less typical of the type of ships on the St.Lawrence routes, which are restricted in size. It was built in 2002 by Daewoo SB+ME, Okpo as Contship Borealis. It was renamed CP Borealis in 2005 and Maersk Dayton in 2006. It became Glasgow Express in 2007. The ship measures in at 46,009 gt, 54,2220 dwt with a capacity of 4115 TEU, including 300 reefers.

As reported yesterday, the ship will return to Montreal, sailing early tomorrow morning.


Cadboro Bay - first of two

 CCGC Cadboro Bay arrived in Halifax today on its delivery trip from the builders.

Crew use the flying bridge as the boat arrives in Halifax after a leisurely 20 knot run down the coast in ideal weather.

One of twenty new Bay class high endurance Search and Rescue lifeboats for the Canadian Coast Guard, it was built by Chantier Naval Forillon, in Gaspé, QC. As the boat's name implies, it will be based in British Columbia, (Cadboro Bay is in the Victoria area.)

Also en route from builders is Florencia Bay. Built by Hike Metal Products in Wheatley, ON, it is currently off the Gaspé Peninsula and is also destined for British Columbia via Halifax.

The 20 boat order has evolved into one boat per year from each yard. West coast boats are delivered to Halifax in alternate years. They are then loaded aboard heavy lift ships for transport to British Columbia.

The boats of this class measure 19m x 6m, have a crew of four and range of 200 nautical miles at 14 knots. They have a maximum speed of 25 knots and are self-righting.


Jonquière Bank activity

     Dominion Diving's workhorse vessel Dominion Victory has been at work in Bedford Basin in an area known as Jonquière Bank.  Along with the barge Dominion Jupiter there is some sort of underwater activity going on in relation to the Royal Canadian Navy's test anchorage area. It seems that every year or so there is a lengthy project on the bottom, usually involving several Dominion Diving vessels. 

Navy ships sometimes anchor nearby for testing. There are several sound ranges in the harbour - mostly off York Redout where there are static and dynamic sound ranges - and nearer to BIO. These may or may not be connected to the DRED barge anchored off Birch Cove which is used for Sonar work.

History Lesson Alert

The name Jonquière seems somewhat out of place in Halifax harbour since it is the name of a Governor of New France from the 1700s, but there is a good reason. 

In 1746 the Duc d'Anville headed up a huge fleet of 64 ships and 11,000 troops that set out from France to retake Louisbourg and drive the British out of Acadia (mainland Nova Scotia). Through a combination of incompetence and bad luck the expedition was a fiasco. The ships were badly damaged by storms, delayed for weeks by calms, and when 44 ships finally arrived in what is now Halifax harbor hundreds of the crews and troops had already died from from scurvy and typhus, and most of the rest were ill.

 The fleet sheltered in Bedford Basin (which they called Beaubassin), landing the sick at Birch Cove (and thus infecting the indigenous population). The shallow area where they anchored is now known as Jonguière Bank.

 D'Anville soon died, his successor was unable to mount a successful offensive, and retired. By this time a force of New Englanders had arrived in Nova Scotia to counter De Ramezay's force from Quebec.

Jacques-Pierre de Taffanel de la Jonquière, governor of New France, and also a naval officer of some note, was left to command the weakened force and ordered its return to France. He was blamed for abandoning the Acadian population to the eventual expulsion by the British. 

Jonquière's term as governor ended in 1752. However he was revered enough in New France that a new settlement in the area near Chicoutimi, QC was named for him. (Several municipalities, including Jonquière and Chicoutimi were merged to form "Saguenay" in 2002).



Sunday, October 11, 2020

Whole lotta nothin'

 The dearth of posts in the last weeks has been occasioned by a lack of interesting activity in Halifax harbour. The (Canadian) Thanksgiving holiday (October 12) may be part of the cause, but blanked sailings due to hurricanes to the south may also be a factor. It may also be no coincidence that there is still a cargo backlog at both container terminals* left over from the Montreal longshore strike last month.

Fairview Cove container terminal

Some partial relief for the latter is on the way as the container ship Glasgow Express is due October 12 at Fairview Cove* to load "stranded" imports left over from that strike. The ship arrived in Montreal October 6 on its regular schedule and unloaded, sailing for Halifax October 8. It will load in Halifax October 12 -13 and return to Montreal October 16 to unload, then load its regular cargo, sailing October 21.

Speaking of the two container terminals in Halifax, it has recently been revealed that PSA, operators of the southend terminal (formerly Halterm) have purchased the Fairview Cove assets from Cerescorp. When they acquired Halterm from Macquarie last year they renamed it PSA Halifax. No announcement has been made yet on a rename for Fairview Cove. Let us hope for something more original this time. Some rationalization of activity is also expected as Fairview has lots of room to expand. However bridge heights restrict access to "smaller" ships.

One other activity of note in the harbour is the gradual demolition of the "tug docks" on the Halifax side of the harbour. 

The salvage shed is gone now and the pier is being dismantled. The main pier will soon follow.

The Foundation Company of Canada acquired the dock, which was called the Mitchell pier, when they purchased the Halifax Towboat Company in 1936. It was successively owned by Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (ECTUG) from 1971, then its successor Svitzer Canada Ltd. Develop Nova Scotia (the former Waterfront Development Corp) is the current owner. As part of the redevelopment the pilot boats have moved their base to the former Fader Agency dock, now expanded, just south of the Macdonald bridge in Dartmouth.
The main pier will be rebuilt as the base for more seasonal marina docks, but activity on the water side will be minimal and strictly non-commercial.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Containers: big and twice as big

ONE Magnificence made another visit to Cerescorp, Fairview Cove. The former MOL Magnificence made its debut in Halifax in April 2020 as the first ship to call with the Ocean Network Express (ONE)  magenta hull paint.

 When ONE came up with the magenta hull colour I wondered how it would wear after months of nudging by tugs. The ship looks remarkably fresh however, and if there are touch ups they don;t stand out.

The 6724 TEU ship was built by Mitsubishi, Kobe in 2010.

At the other end of the harbour at PSA Halifax, a first time caller was the 12,562 TEU (including 1,000 reefers) CMA CGM Alaska. At 140,259 gt, 146,114 dwt it is nearly twice the size.

Painted in a serviceable deep blue, the ship was built by Samsung, Koje in 2011.



Thursday, October 1, 2020

Cars and Gas for Same

 The harbour seemed to be catering to automobiles today with an autocarrier and tankers arriving.

  Elka Angelique arrived from Amsterdam for Irving Oil, but anchored until the company tanker Acadian could arrive and discharge its cargo.

A twin of Elka Nikolas which sailed  September 27, this ship's tonnages of 27,539 gt and 44,781 are almost identical - not surprising since both ships were built by Brodosplit in 2001. Elka Angelique has been here several times since its first call in 2013 and sometimes for Imperial Oil.

Also arriving, first at Pier 31 to offload machinery, Torrens showed off the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean colours in the late afternoon sun.

Atlantic Willow (midships) and Atlantic Oak (aft) take hold of the ship to swing it into Pier 31 stern first.

Built by Mitsubishi, Nagasaki in 2004 the 61,482 gt, 19,628 dwt ship has a capacity of 6354 CEU (Car Equivalent Units). [CEU is a largely relative term now, since it is based on a 1966 Toyota Corolla, the first car to be sent in large numbers by sea, measuring 4.1m long.]

Not all refined petroleum product is used by cars. Some is used by what I would call "counter surfers", one of whom was enjoying a small swell coming in from sea.