Wednesday, April 28, 2021

CMA Corte Real for PSA Halifax

 The "Ultra" class container ship CMA CGM Corte Real arrived at PSA Halifax at noon time today April 28 on the Columbus JAX service. Columbus JAX ships usually call on the weekends, so a Wednesday arrival is somewhat unusual. It sailed from Colombo, Sri Lanka April 10 and passed through the Suez Canal April 17-18, so does not appear to have been delayed by the aftermath of the Ever Given blockage.

The ship's measurements of 151,446 gt and 165,182 dwt give it a capacity of 13,830 TEU (including 800 reefers). It was built in 2010 by Daewoo Shipbuilding + Marine Engineering , Okpo, South Korea. Those tonnages are greater than CMA CGM's Argentina class ships that claim a container capacity of more than 15,000 TEU. The ships have nearly identical measurements of 365 meters long x 51 meters width.

CMA CGM Corte Real appears to have taken its pilot at the outer pilot station, and was joined by a tethered escort tug (Atlantic Oak) at the regular pilot station. Two more tugs, Atlantic Fir at the bow and Atlantic Beaver toward the stern met the ship in the Middle Ground area to assist in turning and berthing at Pier 42.

Size records are expected to be set again next month when the 16,000 TEU class ship CMA CGM Marco Polo is due to arrive at PSA Halifax. Its dimensions of 396 meters long x 53.6 meters wide are commensurate with tonnages of 175,343 gt, 197,626 dwt.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

New to Halifax, and Montreal strike update

 A new to Halifax ship arrived at Autoport this morning April 27. RCC Prestige offloaded some new cars and sailed before noon. The ship is an unusual one, mainly due to its size. Although it looks like most of the auto carriers we see, it is a sort of miniature version.

Built in 2011 by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan as Glovis Prestige its size of 36,834 gt and 11,196 dwt gives it a capacity of only 3600 cars (4,000 cars nominally). That is about half or less than the capacity of the most recent callers at Autoport. The ship is operated by Ray Car Carriers and was given its present name in 2018.

The ship was obviously built to serve a certain market where large numbers of cars were not needed or the port facilities were small. Therefore it is unusual to see it on North Atlantic service where bigger is usually better. Also unusual was the ship's destination of Houston. Skipping New York or Davisville, RI - the usual next ports for auto ships - suggest a special cargo.  The ship's last ports were Emden, Germany and Eleusis, Greece.

Strike Update

There has been no resolution of the longshore labour strike in Montreal, nor has  but legislation been introduced to bring it to an end. Container ships have departed Montreal en masse. Since the strike began Monday, some have been sent to anchorages on the Lower St.Lawrence and others returned to sea. Among those is MSC Eleni which was last in Halifax April 14. It returned again today April 27.

Atlantic Oak comes alongside a lightly loaded MSC Eleni on arrival in Halifax.

From the look of the ship it did not pick up much revenue cargo on its recent call in Montreal. The relatively low deck load is certainly one indicator. I do like the one lone box out on the stern, an area usually reserved for empties.

The ship will top up cargo during its call in Halifax, with the intention of loading to a more efficient salt water draft.


Monday, April 26, 2021

Return of the Regulars, Updates and Miscellany

 It was a day for the return of two regular callers, and while this would not normally be worthy of extra notice, there was a difference.

First in this morning was the ONE Motivator renamed as recently as March from its original name MOL Motivator. That is the name it carried on its last visit to Halifax. The 78,316 gt, 79,278 dwt ship has a capacity of 6724 TEU including 500 reefers. A 2011 product of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nagasaki, it is still operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, but works under the banner of Ocean Network Express (ONE), the combined container shipping segments of MOL, K-Line and NYK. 

On departure late this afternoon the ship showed off its still fresh magenta hull paint, the unique trademark of ONE. That coating was likely applied when the ship underwent its most recent surveys last month, probably in Singapore. The ship sailed from Colombo, Ceylon on April 5, so was not held up while transiting the Suez Canal April 14-15. The ship Ever Given had been refloated and the backlog of delayed ships had been cleared by then.

To see what the ship looked like in MOL colours just over a year ago see: March 2020.

The return of another regular was not greeted with much fanfare, but it was a welcome sight. The Eimskip container/cargo ship Lagarfoss ran into trouble 230 miles east of Iceland on December 27, 2020 and had to be towed back to Reykjavik due to engine breakdown. Dramatic photos taken at the time showed the ship labouring in heavy seas, see: Lagarfoss .

The ship was not labouring today, but it was certainly rolling even in the relative calm inside Maugher's Beach in the Middle Ground area. (You can see the top of the containers).

The Lagarfoss was built in 2014 by Shenfei Shipbuilding Co in Rongcheng, China. With a gt of 10,119 and dwt of 11,811 it has a container capacity of 880 TEU and carries a pair of cranes. The nearly six day run from Iceland must have been a rough one as weather between here and Newfoundland has been particularity windy with resulting high seas. 

That weather was no doubt the cause of the bulker Thunder Bay moving from Gold Bond Gypsum to anchorage after completion of loading last night. It is the ship's first visit this year after a winter layup from January to March in Montreal.

A Trillium class self-unloader, the 24,430 gt, 34,433 dwt ship was built by Chenfxi Shipyard in Yangyin, Jiangsu, China and entered service in 2013. Originally intended for Great Lakes / Seaway trade it has been strengthened, allowing it to travel to the Atlantic coast. However there may be restrictions (or prudence) that keeps the ship in port during bad weather.

The ship arrived in ballast from Sept-Iles, QC, where it had planned to load iron ore pellets. However a fire in one of the reclaimers at Rio Tinto -IOC on March 31 has shut down ore shipments for some time, and the cargo of gypsum may be a scratch backhaul to get the ship back to the lakes. It is expected to sail tomorrow when sea conditions improve.


Yesterday's post on MSC Veronique had the ship sailing for Montreal as the next port, however the ship went to anchor outside Halifax instead.  The scheduled longshore labour strike began this morning in Montreal and operations there have ground to a halt. The federal government threatened to legislate an end to the strike, but as a minority government it will need the support of the opposition parties to pass the legislation, and the cooperation of the Senate, which could take a week or more.

Early this afternoon (April 26)  MSC Veronique was seen to get underway and headed northeast at 13 knots. Whether this was to get out of an anchorage with poor holding capability, or due to an optimistic outcome for the strike remains to be seen.


While commercial shipping was not enjoying the conditions outside, the Royal Canadian Navy appeared to be taking advantage of an opportunity for rough water boat handling. HMCS Goose Bay has been anchored outside Maugher's Beach for a couple of days now, and several small craft were noted nearby today.

Several of the Kingston class Coastal Defence Vessels have been active in recent days, as they usually are at this time of year. The vessels are used for Reserve training which ramps up at the end of university academic year.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Montreal strike - here we go again

 With another longshore labour action planned for Monday in Montreal, we will again be watching for ships diverting to Halifax. After on again off again negotiations resulted in no new contract, the union announced last week that they would be declining overtime and weekend work. Then at the end of the week they announced a general strike to start Monday April 26. Several ships sailed from Montreal Friday in ballast, heading for New York - the closest port for truck connections to Montreal (and fewer COVID restrictions). 

So far no diverted ships have arrived in Halifax, but oddly one ship sailed for Montreal this afternoon April 25. MSC Veronique has been calling here to offload some cargo to reduce draft for the St.Lawrence River, and apparently did so this time. Perhaps MSC is hoping for a labour resolution before the ship reaches Montreal. Either that or timely delivery of cargo is not a major concern.

MSC Veronique with the pilot boat Scotia Pilot outbound for Montreal this afternoon in the Eastern Channel. The new HK17 Ferguson's Cove buoy in the foreground marks the deep water, Western Channel which will be used by larger ships that are too deep for the Eastern Channel.

A prolonged strike in Montreal could have serious economic impacts. Most import container cargo would be diverted to Halifax, Saint John or New York, causing delivery delays. Export cargo could clog the rail systems even though the ports have surplus capacity. 

One particular concern is the import of fertilizer for spring planting. Other ports are not equipped to handle this product and so the impact could be quite serious. Grain exports are not effected by the strike as grain cargo has long been designated as an essential commodity and is exempt from strike action.

Diverted containers due to labour problems in Montreal have played a part in increased cargo numbers in the Port of Halifax. The first quarter of 2021 showed a 25% increase over last year from 110,084 TEU to 137,2181 TEU. There were other factors at work including a major drop in container activity in 2020 over 2019 (507,185 TEU in 2020 versus 546,691 in 2019. ) Container throughput has been on a downward slide since the record year of 2017 with 559,242 TEU.

Some cargo has already been redirected to Halifax by shippers chosing different shipping lines that already call in Halifax. In those cases we don't see different ships. Increased rail traffic in recent weeks including extra trains, certainly confirms the fact that the port is busier. A lengthy strike will certainly cause ships to divert to Halifax, and that will be more noticeable.


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Nolhan Ava - back to work

 The little container / RoRo feeder ship Nolhan Ava returned to Halifax this morning April 24 after a drydocking session in St.John's, NL.  Its last call in Halifax was on April 1.

The ship will now be resuming its weekly run between Halifax and the French islands of St-Pierre et Miquelon, off the south coast of Newfoundland. Since 2019 it has also been calling in Argentia, NL. It was reflagged to Canada to allow it to carry cargo between Canadian ports.

Aside from local mainland Canada cargo, the ship coordinates with cargo to and from France on Atlantic Container Line ships that stop in several European ports, including Le Havre. The transfers are done in bond within the Cerescorp Fairview Cove terminal.

The ship's operators TMSI (Transport Maritime St-Pierre International) are among the very few container lines in the world using 53 foot long containers. One other exception is Oceanex. Most container ships are limited to 45ft or 48 ft long units, but are more comfortable with the traditional 20ft and 40ft boxes.

A TMSI 53 foot reefer.

and a 53 ft dry cargo  box.

Nolhan Ava has been operating the TMSI service since 2015, except for some time off in 2016 for the installation of a ceramic membrane exhaust gas scrubber system in China. The ship was built in 2000 specifically for the St-Pierre et Miquelon route as Shamrock. However it was reassigned in 2004 due to financial issues with the owner.It then worked in the Caribbean until its return to Halifax in 2015.

See April 22, 2015 for more on the ship and its story.


Friday, April 23, 2021

ZIM Makes Its Mark

Coinciding with the end of the company's 75th anniversary year in 2020 and its successful New York Stock Exchange IPO in January 2021, the now publicly traded ZIM Integrated Shipping Services has rolled out a new corporate slogan and trademark on its containers.

Most shipping lines emblazon their boxes with corporate colours and name in large letters, but rarely use any slogans or other wording. ZIM has been an exception since the introduction a few years ago of the ZIMonitor wording on its reefer containers. The unique service allows customers to track, monitor and control temperature regulated containers remotely. It also provides a rapid intervention service to call in technicians if a problem is detected. Using GPS satellite communication technology the service sends text messages (SMS) or e-mails showing temperature, humidity, or alerts such as door opening or route deviation. 

Now ZIM has added a new slogan to its dry containers, highlighting "the Z Factor", highlighting ZIM's commitment to personalized service. The newly marked containers have been showing up on ships and trains in and out of Halifax. I spotted one of the new boxes on board the feeder ship Ilios as it arrived today. (Amidships at deck level.)

There was also a Z Factor box on the ship when it arrived for the first time on April 11 but I did not point it out.

ZIM has not given up its widely recognized and traditional "seven star" trademark, which is still applied to containers. A different 'LOGO" that appeared on some ships sides for many years seems to have disappeared during 2020.


As recently as February 2020 Zim Monaco displayed the old [Z] symbol, which has now been painted over on other ZIM ships.
 ZIM ships carried that symbol for many - certainly as far back as 1975 when the ZIM New York was one of their early container ships:
Built 1972 by Italcantieri, Genoa-Sestri, 25,831 gt, 24,815 dwt. Broken up Kaohisung 1991-02-22.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Splish Splash

 High winds in advance of a cold front kicked up white caps in the inner harbour and some waves in the approaches. Ships needed some extra trug assistance but there did not seem to be any real delays.

 The Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel HMCS Goose Bay was one of at least four vessels of its class that have been exercising in local waters for the past few days. Kingston, Moncton and Summerside have all been in and out of port.

The tug Atlantic Oak works on the bow of the tanker East Coast as it gets underway from Woodside. Irving Oil's Canadian flag tankers usually trade within Canada, but this trip they are giving Boston as the destination. (Irving Oil has the ship on long term charter from the Dutch company Vroon, hence the the V symbol on the bow.)

The pilot boat Captain E.T. Rogers was making a bit of spray as it headed out to disembark the pilot from the bulk carrier Rosalia (see April 17 post).

Now fully loaded with wood pellets, the ship is giving a destination of the River Tyne in England.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Cranes and Flags - no coincidence

 The first Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel AOPV 430, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf was tied up this evening at is berth at HMCS Dockyard, with a backdrop of construction cranes on the Halifax skyline.

Construction cranes are one sign of the fast growing Halifax economy, due for the most part to the Halifax Shipyard contract to build the six plus two AOP ships. Thousands of well paid shipyard jobs and countless spin offs - such as construction of the very pier where the ship is tied up, have fueled a massive uptick in activity of all sorts. 

The future frigate program added on top makes for a thirty year or more steady infusion of money into the city and region. Coupled with a COVID induced real estate boom (houses selling sight unseen for premiums over asking price in bidding wars) Halifax looks to be a boom town for some time to come.

Harry DeWolf was delivered to the RCN in July 2020 and has undergone all sorts of post acceptance trials including cold weather and refueling at sea. It refueled at Irving Oil yesterday, so some more sea time is in the works. The display of flags this evening must mean commissioning is also on the horizon.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

CSL double bill for Gold Bond

 CSL Americas had two ships in port today, both to load at Gold Bond (formerly National Gypsum) and both arrived from Sydney, NS where they had delivered coal cargoes.

First in was CSL Spirit which docked this morning and began to load. We have not seen this ship in Halifax for a long time. It was built in 2001 at Jiangnan Shipyard, Shanghai (although launched in 1998!)  with tonnages of 41,428 gt, 70,018 dwt. It was a frequent caller here until 2011 when it was brought into Canadian registry. 

The ship appears unchanged from this 2003 photo.

CSL used it in Sept-Iles, QC to top up large ships that could not load to full draft at the ore docks. In 2015 it reverted to Bahamas flag. It seems to have been working the Pacific coast of  South America until 2020.

Although the ship is a self-unloader, it does not have a typical unloading system. The 79m long unloading conveyor and boom is mounted amidships. Nevertheless the unloading rate of 4,000 tonnes per hour for coal or 6,000 tonnes per hour for ore is typical of CSL ships.

The second ship to arrive is CSL Tacoma a regular caller of the Trillium  class, also built in China but in 2013 and 43,691 gt, 71552 dwt - very similar in size to its fleet mate, with comparable unloading rates, but very different in every other way. It went to anchor in Bedford Basin until its fleet mate sails.

Catching two CSL ships in the same frame is a rare feat.

Monday, April 19, 2021

CMA CGM Mexico

 Another one of CMA CGM's Argentina class ships arrived today at PSA Halifax. CMA CGM Mexico with a capacity of 15,000 TEU + or - (some sources say 15,072), is one of twenty-two ships (built and on order) in the class, which are the largest container ships calling in any Canadian port.

The ship sailed from Colombo, Sri Lanka March 27 on its regular turn in the Columbus JAX service, but it stopped in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia April 5-6, which was not a regular stop. It is likely the stop was to allow traffic on the Suez Canal to clear after the blockage caused by the Ever Given grounding March 23-29. CMA CGM Mexico transited the Suez Canal April 7-8.

The ship was built in 2009 by Hyundai Samho with tonnages of 149,314 gt and 157,076 dwt, the second ship of the Argentina class. The first five ships in the class (Argentina, Mexico, Panama, Chile and Brazil) have conventional engines equipped with exhaust gas scrubbers. All but Argentina have now called in Halifax. The remaining ships to be built over the next several years, are to be LNG-dual fuel. 

The ship is owned by Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte Ltd of Singapore and on charter to CMA CGM. EPS has a fleet totaling more than 17 million tonnes deadweight, with ships of all types.

Judging from it appearance today CMA CGM Mexico appears to be close to full of its 15,000+ TEU.


Trabzon - another one for bunkers

 For the second day in a row a ship has tied up at Pier 9C for bunkers. This time it is the bulk carrier Trabzon.

The ship arrived this morning from La Baie (Port Alfred), QC where it discharged a cargo of bauxite loaded in Kamsar, Guinea. One of word's busiest ports for bauxite, Kamsar has a limit to ships of 229m maximum length (slightly larger than Panamax).

Thus a whole breed of bulkers have been built to that dimension and are are termed "Kamsarmax" , and Trabzon is one. 

A truck from RST Transport, carrying Irving Oil, begins to refuel the ship. 

The Trabzon was built in 2011 by Hyundai, Ulsan, and is a 44,635 gt, 81,660 dwt gearless bulker (in other words it has no cranes for cargo handling.) Owners Ciner, are the largest shipping company in Turkey, by tonnage, with 28 ships. 

Ciner Shipping is only one part of the Ciner Group of companies, involved in many business sectors including resources, manufacturing, media and tourism. Ships carry the Ciner Group corporate logo:


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Big Ship Day

 It was a big day for ships or put another way it was a day for big ships. 

The first arrival was Algoma Integrity to take on a load of gypsum from Gold Bond. 

Algoma Integrity loading at Wright's Cove in Bedford Basin.

At 33,047 gt, 47,761 dwt, the self-unloader is a regular caller. The former Gypsum Integrity was acquired and renamed by Algoma in 2015 after a brief career with U.S. Gypsum's Fundy Gypsum fleet. It was built in 2009 by EISA-Ilha in Rio de Janeiro to serve Hantsport, NS and Little Narrows, NS, but was redeployed, then sold, when the parent  company shut down its Nova Scotia operations.

Next along was a most unusual caller. The Marshal Islands flag crude oil tanker Elli arrived at Pier 9C. It first went to Bedford Basin where it was turned by tugs then tied up at Pier 9C, with its bow facing seaward.

The ship was met at Pier 9C by a pair of fuel tankers, operated by the J.D.Irving trucking company RST Transport. 
( The large grey objects are fenders which are used along the pier faces for cruise ships. They are unlikely to be deployed this year.)

New Times Shipbuilding Co of Jingjiang, China, built the ship in 2010 as United Fortitude. It took its present name in 2018 when Halkidon Shipping Corp of Piraeus, Greece took over. The ship figures to be 62,775 gt, 112,719 dwt.

Elli arrived from Point Tupper, NS where it off loaded a cargo to Nu-Star's terminal.Canaport, Saint John, NB . Once it had refueled it sailed for sea for tank cleaning, then will be headed for Sorel-Tracy, QC .

In ballast Elli was an impressive sight in the Narrows.*

Sprague Energy operates the Kildair Services ULC facility in Sorel-Tracy, where they store and export diluted bitumen crude for Suncor. That crude comes from Alberta by rail. In 2013 the federal government permitted ships wider than 32 meters on that portion of the St.Lawrence River, but they still restrict draft. Tankers loading at Kildair are known to top up at other facilities once they get to deep water.

When Elli sailed, the ConRo Atlantic Sky was inbound, and a passing plan was arranged whereby Elli would pass west of George's Island and Atlantic Sky would pass to the east, leaving each vessel lots of room.

At 100,430 gt, 55,828 dwt, the ACL G4 ships are the largest by dimension to transit the Narrows on a regular basis., but not the largest in terms in terms of container capacity.

Among the other ships in Halifax today is Energy Progress arriving from Port Neches, TX (Beaumont-Port Arthur) for Imperial Oil. Most ships arriving for Imperial lately have been from Antwerp, in part because of the disruption to refining caused by severe winter weather in the southern US.

Tugs Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Fir push the ship alongside Imperial Oil #3 dock.**

A fairly typical MR tanker of 29,605 gt, 46,606 dwt, it was built in 2008 by the lesser known Sungdong Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering of Tongyeong, South Korea. Unusual also is that it is registered in Douglas, Isle of Man. 

Operators Golden Energy Management are based in Athens, Greece.

The other sizable ship to call in Halifax today was the container vessel Bilbao Bridge, which, at 46,944 gt, 59,623 dwt would be considered medium sized to small these days, with a capacity of 4526 TEU.

Such is the demand for container ships these days, there is little talk of inefficiency in sips of this size. It was built by Samsung Shipbuilding and Heavy Industry in Koje, South Korea in 2011. It is on charter to K-Line from Seaspan Corp. (K-Line's container operations are now part of Ocean Network Express ONE).

I rarely mention the fact that I like to include wild life in my photos if possible, without distracting from the main subject. Halifax harbour and its shores are home to many species of birds - some seasonal - and mammals such as seals, occasional whales and squirrels. I feel fortunate when I am able to include one of these creatures, since they are rarely willing to sit still:

Today I was able to include birds on two occasions.
* - (dead centre bottom) - a starling (year round residents)
** - (bottom left and bottom right) - common eiders (seasonal)

Sometimes of course I see an animal when there is no ship in sight and I am forced to take a solo photo. Recently I spotted two birds that are usually hard to get:  this thick billed murre, a fairly rare sight in my experience.

Red breasted mergansers usually dive out of sight before I can get a picture:

Some readers noted the squirrel in a post a while back: 2021-02-04

I have no intention of making this a nature photo blog, so will refrain from noting animal life in future unless it is particularly noteworthy.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Rosalia - bulk loading delayed

The bulker Rosalia arrived April 15 to load wood pellets, but loading has been delayed off and on by rainy weather. There is no way to protect the cargo from moisture during rain, so loading is suspended. The wood pellets arrive in Halifax by truck from the preparation plant and are transferred to Halifax Grain Elevators. The grain drying equipment is used to reduce and control the moisture content of the pellets which will be used as "hog fuel" for power generation,likely in Denmark.


Under the spouts and ready to load - weather permitting*

Built in 2016 by Jiangsu Hantong Ship Heavy Industry in Tongzhou, China, the Rosalia is a 25,546 gt, 38,558 dwt vessel equipped with four 35 tonne cranes, but without grab buckets. (Grab buckets can be hard on ships and hard on certain types of cargo such as grains.)

Splosna Plovba Doo of Portoroz, Slovenia is the listed owner of the ship, however that small seven ship company is part of the 400 ship Peter Dohle Group of Hamburg. With 200 container ships (on charter to others) and some 300 bulkers and multi-purpose ships, Dohle is one of the largest non-liner operators in the world.

* the ship is tied up at pier 28 under the "grain" loading spouts, and almost impossible to photograph. Now that PSA Halifax has taken over Pier 30-31 for containers there is also traffic and container storage in the way.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Who's on First

 Despite my statement in a recent post MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) has not yet caught up with Maersk as the world's largest container line. However recent news stories state that the gap between the two companies is down to 225,000 TEU and MSC should overtake Maersk later this year.

The two fleets are immense and the numbers quoted are staggering.

Maersk has 709 ships with a capacity of 4,121,964 TEU.

MSC has 588 ships with a capacity of 3,897,000 TEU.

Maersk has 16 ships on order, but they are relatively small "regional" or feeder types, totaling 41,674 TEU. Spokespersons for Maersk have said they are not looking for growth. 

MSC on the other hand appears to have at least 35 ships on order totaling 660,000 TEU. There may well be more, ordered by other owners but for charter to MSC.

Since August 2020 MSC has purchased more than 30 "used" ships ranging in size from 925 TEU to 8,500 TEU. They appear to be on a buying spree as demand for ships is at a high point.

Maersk has been more likely to grow by acquiring entire companies, such as Sealand in 1999, P+O Nedlloyd in 2005 and Hamburg Sud in 2017, whereas MSC tends to build or buy up individual ships.

There is no talk of mergers or major sales at the moment, but when one company begins to dominate the market it may encourage others to band together more formally than some of the current alliances. Many of the lines such as ONE, Yang Ming and Evergreen are so associated with one country that it is unlikely they would merge with a line of another nationality. Similarly there would be a lot of resistance to a state owned line such as COSCO attempting a takeover.

MSC therefore is likely to continue to grow with little competition to hold it back.


Thursday, April 15, 2021


 As per today's previous post the Netherlands flag Suomigracht delivered a special cargo at Pier 9C today. The ship's owners, Spliethoffs have created a niche in world shipping by building a fleet of unique combination carriers. Their ships have heavy lift capability, but are also configured for awkwardly shaped cargoes such as yachts and other small craft, that may not be particularly heavy but require special handling.

Spliethoff's "S" type ships have side loading doors. Behind the doors are elevators leading to the holds, allowing the ships to load cargoes such as paper by forklift. The holds are also equipped with special ventilation for cargoes requiring humidity control.

The 18,321 gt and 23,600 dwt ship was built in 2004 by Szczecinska Novia in Poland. It has a capacity of 1134 TEU (all on deck) and three cranes, one each of 120, 90 and 55 tonnes capacity. Two of the cranes were rigged with spreaders to lift off the Novus this afternoon.

There are eleven similar ships in the "S" class but only three in the "S2L" class of which this is one. Suomigracht has also been retrofitted with an exhaust gas scrubber. It is contained in a large box shaped structure on the starboard side as high as the bridge wing, and has its own vertical exhaust pipe.


New for Leeway

 LeeWay Marine, the Dartmouth based survey vessel operator, is just about to take delivery of the latest addition to its fleet. The vessel arrived this morning April 15, as deck cargo on the Dutch multi-purpose and heavy lift ship Suomigracht

The Spliethoff's ship is equipped with one 120 tonne, one 90 tonne and one 55 tonne crane so should have no trouble with the lift.

Leeway renamed their newest craft Novus when they registered it in Halifax on April 6. Built in 2010 by Abeking and Rasmussen, Lemwerder, Germany,  it was originally named Natalia Bekker, then in 2016 it became Windea Five, the name currently showing on its bow and stern.

Novus is a SWATH type twin hulled  boat built for offshore wind farm crew transfer and supplies. Powered by two MTU engines it can do 18 knots, and can carry twelve passengers with a crew of three.

SWATH (small waterplane area twin hull) craft were designed for stability by Nova Scotia inventor Frederick G. Creed. One of the first craft to use the technology was named for him when it joined the Canadian Coast Guard. See previous posts here . That vessel was scrapped last year.

Leeway Marine specializes in marine data acquisition and craft such as the Novus are valuable for their stability even in rough seas, and at reasonable speed. 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Sprucing up for summer

Although there will be no cruise ship season in Halifax this year, there will be some tourism and apparently some harbour tours. Murphy's (owned by Ambassatours) has therefore placed one of its boats in refit to be ready when the time comes.

Kawartha Spirit has been lifted out at the IEL dock in Woodside, and has received a new blue hull paint, replacing the original white.

Kawartha Spirit is one of Murphy's two active large boats, along with Harbour Queen I . It replaced Haligonian III which was scrapped in 2018, but is unaccountably still registered.

Built by Hike Metal Products in Wheatley, ON in 1964, as Miss Muskoka, the Kawartha Spirit spent all its life in fresh water until 2016 when it made the long trek to Halifax. It was in much better condition than its newer sister Haligonian III which was built in 1972 and spent its entire career in salt water. See: Haligonian III

There has been talk that Kawartha Spirit will be renamed to something more relevant to this area, and this seems like a perfect time to do it.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Gotland for Nirint Shipping and possible News

Nirint Shipping B.V. is a Dutch company operating between Europe, the Caribbean and the north coast of South America. Its ships generally call in Halifax northbound  every two weeks en route from Cuba to Europe. They unload nickel sulfides from Moa, Cuba, for processing in Canada. 

Currently the company employs four ships, one of which is Gotland a general purpose / heavy lift ship, configured to carry containers, general and breakbulk. At 12,772 gt, 17,409 dwt the ship has a capacity of 834 TEU including 60 reefers. It also carries three cranes, two of 150 tonnes capacity (and combinable) and one of 80 tonnes capacity.

Generally the ship leaves one hatch free to work the breakbulk cargo, but on arrival Sunday, April 11, the ship appeared to have a full deck load, so will have to land some containers first to access the cargo hold.

The ship was built in 2011 by the Xinshun Shipyard Group Co Ltd in Yueqing, China as Rickmers Tianjin, one of more than 100 ships in the venerable Rickmers fleet. Dating back to 1834 and the age of sail, the Hamburg based, family owned company failed rather spectacularly in 2017.  However this ship had been previously sold in 2015 to Gotland Schiffahrts GmbH and renamed Gotland.

After unloading in Halifax, the ship will sail for Barcelona and Rotterdam before beginning another cycle.

Information in the port is that the nickel sulfides import operation will be moving to the Richmond Terminals at Pier 9B - 9C in the Narrows, between the two bridges.

The Nirint ships currently unload the material, which is shipped in "jumbo bags" and the bags are transported to the freight shed at Pier 30-31 or loaded directly into open gondola rail cars. The operation takes up considerable pier and shed space which PSA Halifax wants due to increased traffic from MSC and for future expansion. 

The Pier 9B and 9C area was expanded and the sheds rebuilt more than five years ago, but has been under utilized. The area is served by rail sidings which have not been used until the last few days when some box cars were spotted at Shed 9B. 

Word is that the Richmond shed will also be used to store paper, brought in by rail. If so we might expect to see dedicated paper carrying ships, such as Spliethoff's coming in to load.

It was always though that CN objected to switching in the area, but perhaps PSA Halifax has persuaded them that it is worth their while.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Where are they now

The "Where Are They Now" department of Shipfax has not been heard from in some time, but a recent Facebook post has inspired a revisit.

The history of the Halifax - Dartmouth ferry service is a long one. In fact from the date of the first charter in 1752, it is claimed to be the oldest salt water ferry service in North America, and the second oldest in the world after the Mersey ferry between Liverpool and Birkenhead, England. Before the first steam paddle ferry was introduced in 1832, there was even a "team" ferry where horses were used on a sort of treadmill to power paddle wheels.

Although this photo from my collection is dated 1959 it is almost certainly pre-1956.

 The service carried vehicles until 1956 when the Angus L. Macdonald bridge was completed, allowing cars, trucks and buses to cross the harbour at will. At that time a pair of little wooden hulled pedestrian only ferries, designed by William Roue and built by Smith+Rhuland in Lunenburg entered service (They bore no resemblance to the schooner Bluenose designed and built by the same team!). They were named Dartmouth II and Halifax II after much larger car carrying predecessors. They were "double enders" and with dual controls of rudders and props fore and aft, they did not have to turn or reverse to dock at each end of the run.

 The wooden ferries were given orange "speed" chevrons and wheelhouse bands in their later years.

As with all wooden hulled vessels, they had limited service lives and were replaced by the steel hulled vessels Dartmouth III and Halifax III in 1979. Built by Ferguson Industries Ltd in Pictou, NS, these unique craft were "side loaders" embarking and disembarking passengers to floating landing stages via short ramps on one side only. 

First day of service in 1979.


The landing stages had canopies to shelter passengers as they embarked or disembarked.

The "passenger" side of the ferry had a recessed, open vestibule with four small ramps that lowered to the landing stage. Steps lead to the open upper deck and there were doors to the main cabin.

The "off" side of the  boats had windows to the main cabin.

Propelled by Voith-Schneider drives, they were highly maneuverable and could sidle up to the landing crab wise.  They also kept their engines running at efficient rpms at all times and varied speed and direction by adjusting the pitch of the vertical drive blades. In 1986 a third ferry of the same design named Woodside I entered service. A new terminal on the Dartmouth side of the harbour in the Woodside neighbourhood was built to serve the growing Dartmouth suburbs, however the three ferries were interchangeable and any one of the three could be found on either the main Halifax-Alderney or new Halifax-Woodside route.


The boats had a variety of colour schmes over the years. At cruising speed the boats created a small "rooster tail" wake.

In 2013 the Halifax Regional Municipality began the next fleet replacement program. Between 2014 and 2018 A.F.Theriault + Son Ltd in Meteghan River, NS delivered five new boats, improved versions of the previous design. Named Christopher Stannix (2014), Craig Blake (2015), Viola Desmond (2016), Vincent Coleman (2018) and Rita Joe (2018), they allow for efficient service of both routes at all times while allowing for one boat to be out of service for maintenance and refits.


The second generation ferries are quite similar to the first, but have a roomier wheelhouse and peculiar exposed exhaust stacks (and distinctive sound).

As the new boats were delivered the first generation boats were decommissioned then put up for sale. In the end all three were sold to Toronto Island Transit Services Inc, a private enterprise associated with an amusement park in Toronto. Dartmouth III made the long haul to Toronto on its own in 2017, despite having no sleeping accommodation or galley. Since arriving in Toronto it has apparently not entered service. 

The other two boats also remain idle, but closer to home, with Halifax III in Sambro, NS and Woodside I in Lunenburg, NS.

Looking somewhat uncomfortable amid the fishing vessels, Halifax III is tied up in Sambro, NS.

Woodside I is looking equally unhappy in Lunenburg, with patches of pealing paint.

There is no sign that either one of the boats will be going anywhere soon, which is unfortunate since they did have some useful service left when they were retired. However with no maintenance, and sitting idle that may no longer be the case.