Friday, December 31, 2021

First timer and return caller

 First Timer

With Oceanex Sanderling in Amsterdam for refit, Oceanex is alternating its two other ships between Halifax and Montreal runs. Last week it was the ConRo Oceanex Connaigra making the Halifax to St.John's trip. This week it is the container carrier Oceanex Avalon. The ship arrived off Halifax December 29 and docked at Pier 42 yesterday, December 30, when a berth became available.

While tied up at Pier 42 it was possible to see that the ship has a hatch cover on number one hold only, while the remainder of the cargo space is completely open. A large dam aft of number one hold protects the open hold from incoming seas. The photo shows the ship loading one of Oceanex's many 53 foot long containers. Oceanex is one of the few shipping lines carrying 53 footers, which have now become common intermodal boxes in North America. Cellular container ships in international service cannot accommodate 53 foot long containers, although there is some suggestion that the US may promote such construction to speed up cargo movement and reduce re-handling.

Built in 2005 by J.J.Seitas in Nuenfelde, Germany, the Oceanex Avalon is 14,639 gt and 14,747 dwt with a capacity of 1229 TEU. It does not have RoRo capability, which is the reason for alternating the two ships until Oceanex Sanderling returns near the end of January. There is significant RoRo traffic including cars and trucks and transport trailers going to and from Newfoundland, and some RoRo capabiity is needed. 


A ship that uses Halifax as its North American port in the winter made its first call of this winter season, arriving yesterday, December 30, first at PSA Halifax, then at Fairview Cove. CLI Pride makes regular monthly Transatlantic voyages from Rotterdam to Valleyfield, QC. With the St.Lawrence Seaway closing today, the ship opted to call in Halifax on this trip instead of being too late to make it in and out of the Quebec section of the Seaway.

Built in 2011 by Donfang Shipbuilding Group Co in Yueqing, China as Brielle it was renamed BBC Luanda in 2014 and CLI Pride in 2018. The 7138 gt, 7821 dwt ship is an open hatch multi-purpose type with moveable tween decks. It is certified to carry moderately hazardous Type B cargo and has a pair of 8o tonne cranes.

Hamburg based operator CLI (Customized Logistics Ideas) has been bringing the ship to Halifax since 2018. They seem to have taken over some of the traffic from Atlantic RoRo Carriers (which no longer calls in Halifax) including containers of uranium hexaflouride. The ship also has project and heavy lift cargo capability.

CLI Pride sailed this afternoon for Rotterdam and Oceanex Avalon will sail late this afternoon for St.John's. There is not much activity expected in Halifax on New Year's Day, so Shipfax may be taking a day off.


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Rails for Trains

 Another load of rail for CN (Canadian National Railway) arrived today December 29 from Poland. Carrying the material is the multi-purpose tween decker Onego Maas.

 Onego Maas inbound this morning showed a thin white line on the hatch covers from last night's light snow fall followed by some freezing rain.

The ship was built in 2011 by Damen Yichang, in Yichang, China and is registered at 8,059 gt, 10,872 dwt. With ventilated box shaped holds, the ship can carry a variety of cargoes from bulk to project. Its two 80 tonne capacity cranes that can also combine for a 150 tonne lift.

It was launched as Wenningstedt but was renamed on delivery as Thorco Copenhagen but that was short lived as it was renamed Wenningstedt again later the same year and carried that name until 2016. It then became BBC Brazil for a short time then DS Brazil the same year and until 2019 when it was renamed BBC Brazil again. As of July 2021 it has been Onego Maas.

The name reflects the Dutch base of Onego Chartering, and the headquarters of the ship's builders, however as of July its owners changed from Dutch to German.

CN imports its rail from the AercelorMittal steel works in Huta Katowice, Poland through the Port of Halifax, where it is stockpiled. It is then sent for processing to Winnipeg as needed, using special railcars. CN's 2021 capital plan showed 341 miles of rail replacement across Canada. US replacement rail is not included in that figure.

Main line rail is installed in continuous welded configuration, however for ease of transport from the rolling mill in Poland, it is shipped in 12 meter lengths and welded in Winnipeg or on site. Unloading the ship in Halifax is carried out using shore side cranes and the rails are stacked on the pier using forklifts. 


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

All systems go

 The port was bustling again today, December 28, after a few slow days during the Christmas break.

Fairview Cove completed working the Atlantic Star this morning. It arrived last night on the westbound leg of its regular crossing.

 Sailing outbound this morning Atlantic Star had near perfect conditions.

(Sunny, +1 C and no wind.)

Fleet mate and sister ship Atlantic Sun made the headlines when its anchor winch brake slipped and the ship started to drift off Almwch, North Wales on Christmas Day. The ship called for a pilot and stood off until December 27 when it was able to dock safely in Liverpool. It will be on its way to Halifax when the windlass problem has been rectified. The press report noted that the ship was in direct contact with the winch manufacturer while attempting (without success) to correct the problem. 

After Atlantic Star cleared the berth at Fairview Cove the Conti Contessa was in position to back in alongside.

The Port is gradually filling in a large area adjacent to the Fairview Cove terminal to enable a pier extension. The facility also needs more backup space on land and some new cranes.

PSA Halifax was also full out busy with ships coming and going. MSC Angela was alongside, topping up on its Canada Express 2 service from Montreal. MSC Naomi arrived on the Indus 2 service.

On its way inbound MSC Naomi passed the anchored ZIM Qingdao which is scheduled for PSA Halifax when MSC Angela sails.

MSC Naomi is a first time caller as the new Indus 2 service works its way through the roster for the first time. Built in 2015 by New Times Shipbuilding Co Ltd  in Jingjiang, China, it is a 96,333 gt, 109,510 dwt vessel with a container capacity of 8800 TEU.

The ship's exhaust gas scrubber was working away leaving a large plume of water vapour which was eventually absorbed by the cool dry air.

Scrubber retrofits no doubt take considerable ingenuity, but are usually clumsy looking. This ship's "side saddle" unit is no exception, but it did not take up any valuable cargo space. 
Autoport was also busy with another visit from the Morning Peace which was here as recently as November 19. It sailed late this afternoon, as did the bulk carrier Sheila Ann with a load of gypsum for Tampa FL. (see yesterday's post).

Monday, December 27, 2021

Sheila Ann - back again

 The Bahamas flag CSL self-unloader Sheila Ann arrived in Halifax to load gypsum today (December 27) after a lengthy absence. The ship has been operating on the west coast for the past several years, so it was bit of a surprise to see it in these parts again.

Tracing the ship's movements over the past year I see it was delivering aggregates from British Columbia to Redwood City and Los Angeles, California on a monthly basis until November when it was reported in Morro Redondo, Mexico, November 12-14. It then arrived off the Panama Canal anchorages November 23, transiting November 26 and arriving in Boston December 4-5. I'm not sure what cargo, if any, it had for Boston. The Boston suburb of Beverly, MA is the home port of CSL Americas Inc, the division of Canada Steamship Lines that manages the ship and the CSL self-unloader pool. 

It then headed for Puerto Bolivar, Colombia where it loaded coal and sailed December 12-13. It delivered the coal to Point Tupper, NS December 21-24 and Sydney, NS December 25-26. (And yes Nova Scotia Power, the electric utility owned by Emera, still generates electricity by burning coal.) 

Sheila Ann was built in 1999 by Jiangnan Shipbuilding in Shanghai and is registered at 41,428 gt, 70,037 dwt with a self-unloading rate of 4,000 tonnes per hour for coal and 6,000 tonnes per hour for ore.

With the assistance of the tug Atlantic Fir, the ship makes for Gold Bond Gypsum's dock in Bedford Basin.

The Sheila Ann has a 79 meter swing out boom conveyor for discharging cargo.The boom has a telescoping feature which allows for a 69 m outreach. The boom slews through 135 degrees each side of midships, allowing for convenient positioning of the cargo on shore. The ship has seven holds with double hopper shaped bottoms, each feeding a conveyor leading forward to the single inclined belt conveyor that feeds the boom.

The ship is named for the Sheila Ann Martin (née Cowan), the wife of the former owner of CSL, Hon Paul Martin, and the mother of three sons who are the current owners of the company. Paul Maritn was also Prime Minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006.

CSL has recently acquired more ships for its international fleet, CSL Kajika and CSL Koasek. The former called in the Strait of Canso with coal for Point Tupper December 26 and is now anchored off Sydney. The latter is trading between California and Mexico. These acquisitions may mean more relocations of ships. CSL also has interests in Australia and Europe.


New Biggest?

 The debate rages on as to which ship is the biggest container ship to call in Halifax. The latest contender arrived yesterday and will be sailing from PSA Halifax this evening (December 27).

CMA CGM Alexander von Humboldt was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd, Okpo, South Korea in 2013. One of three sister ships with CMA CGM Marco Polo and CMA CGM Jules Verne. Dimensionally the ships measure 396.0*m length,  53.6m breadth and a depth of 29.9m and maximum draft of 16m. All have the same stated container capacity of 16,020 TEU. [*One sources says 399.0m for the von Humboldt but this is likely a typo.]

Gross tonnage, which is not a measurement, but a calculation based on a formula,  comes in at 176,546 for the von Humboldt and is the same for the Polo, whereas the Verne comes in at 176,435. [The Verne was due in Halifax December 25, but bypassed the port, with the notation "omitted sailing".]

Deadweight tonnage for the von Humboldt is 186,802 tonnes (according to Bureau Veritas)  whereas the Polo comes in at 187,625 and the Verne is 186,470.

While I believe these "biggest' arguments are a bit of a mug's game, I am declaring the CMA CGM Marco Polo the winner by a technical knockout, and still the champion.


Sunday, December 26, 2021

Having a Bad Day (times two)

 December 20 was a less than pleasant day for passengers on two ships, far apart in the world, but both with a tenuous connection to Halifax. 

 Bad Day #1

The great transatlantic passenger liner Queen Mary 2 arrived in New York from Southampton on its first transatlantic crossing in 23 months - the longest suspension of regular service since World War II. There were 1,473 passengers rattling around in the space designed for 2,691 (and 1,250 crew) and all were reported to be fully vacinated and testing negative for COVID-19 on departure December 13.

However on arrival in NYC on December 20 there were 10 persons on board testing positive for COVID-19. Isolation measures were put in place and the ten cases were removed from the ship. Some passengers are remaining on board as they are booked for the continuation of the voyage as a Caribbean cruise. They are self-isolating.

The ship is a favourite in Halifax, drawing crowds whenever it is in port. Halifax acclaims its native son Sir Samuel Cunard, the pioneer steamship promoter and owner. Read the Wikipedia article about Cunard's personal and family history here . Carnival Cruise Lines owns the Cunard "brand" now, along with several others.

Bad Day #2

Passengers travelling between Piraeus, Chios, Lesvos, Lemnos and Thessaloniki, Greece  were delayed after their ship the Pelagitis lost power in one engine December 22 while crossing the Saronic Sea. The ship returned to Piraeus on one engine where it was detained until repairs are made. A news account of the event showed a picture of the ship and its distinctive profile was unmistakably the former Marine Atlantic truck ferry Atlantic Freighter.

Built in 1977 by Hyundai, Ulsan the 5466 gt, 8672 dwt ship sailed as Tor Felicia until 1978, Merzario Grecia until 1983, and Stena Grecia until 1986. In April of that year CN Marine (as it was then) chartered the ship for 150 days. Then, having become Marine Atlantic, purchased it outright. Renamed Atlantic Freighter  and with a capacity of 75 drop trailers and 110 - 40 ft containers, it also had accommodation for 12 passengers (in six cabins) and was Ice Class 1A. It operated year round between North Sydney, NS and Port aux Basques, NL in freight only service.  

In December 1990 the ship sailed from North Sydney to take up a charter to the US government  for the Gulf War. It made two trips to the Persian Gulf with a Canadian volunteer crew, then stood by in Italy until it was returned April 30, 1991. It was also chartered out to the UK for a time in 1994-95.

The ship was drydocked in Halifax at various times in 2002 and 2006. When asbestos was discovered aboard in November 2007 (quelle surprise!)  it was laid up in Point Edward, NS until 2008 to allow for encapsulation of the material.

Despite rumours of replacing the ship as early as 1998 there was no real action until the February 2008 federal budget set aside $17 million for a replacement. Nevertheless the ship remained in service until early 2010 when it was sold to Greek owners and renamed Pelagitis.

The current engine ailment is not the first time the Pelagitis has had problems. Engine damage was also reported February 11, 2019 while the ship was on a similar route with Mytilene listed instead of Lesvos among the ports.

At the time of the most recent incident it was carrying 12 passengers, 28 cars and 36 trucks.It was unclear if there were drivers for each of the vehicles.

For more on the term "Pelagic" [English translation of Pelagitis] see the Wikipedia entry: here


BBC Europe - heading south

 The title of this post has a sort of double meaning. First, and most obvious, is the fact that the general cargo / heavy lift ship BBC Europe sailed today, December 26, for Fort Lauderdale / Port Everglades, FL with its cargo of eleven motor yachts, loaded on the Great Lakes.

The ship arrived here in Halifax on December 20 to lay over until a period of high winds abated.[ See previous post December 21] Now with calm conditions the ship was able to head south, with minimal risk to its valuable deck load.

Before it could head out to sea however, the ship had to turn, since it was docked at Pier 9C, bow north (toward Bedford Basin). With the assistance of the tug Altantic Larch the ship was able to turn right under the A. Murray MacKay bridge (something I have never seen before) and then proceed southbound for sea.


Just off the dock at Pier 9C the ship began its turn.

The ship is small enough at 120m long that it could be turned within the channel. 

(The main span of the bridge is 426 meters)

Atlantic Larch is not one of the usual Halifax based tugs, but was sharing the duties after it returned from operations in Newfoundland. 

Atlantic Larch followed the ship outbound.

Once into the lower harbour BBC Europe picked up a little speed.

Outbound, the ship passed Imperial Oil where the Qikiqtaaluk W. was unloading product from the Valero refinery in Quebec City (Lévis). The tanker arrived in Halifax Christmas Day.


Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Chrsitmas

 Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2022.

The Royal Canadian Navy Auxiliary Vessel Sackville on the Synchro-lift at HMC Dockyard in February 1977. The ship has since been restored to its World War II appearance and designated as Canada'sNaval Memorial.


Quiet times - updated

 Heading in to the Christmas break, things were becoming quiet in Halifax harbour  today (December 24).

The Canadian flag tanker Acadian sailed at mid-day after a short visit to the Irving Oil terminal in Woodside, arriving mid-day yesterday.

 Acadian down to its (draft) marks, appeared to be fully loaded on arrival.

With its sister ship East Coast, the Acadian delivers refined petroleum products from Irving Oil's refinery in Saint John, NB to ports throughout eastern Canada and to the northeastern United States. Two more sister ships, the Great Eastern and New England under foreign flag, deliver product from Saint John to US ports only. A fifth near sister is also used (and maybe others). Irving Oil charters the ships from Iver Ships BV, the tanker arm of Vroon BV of Breda, Netherlands, through various intermediaries.

The ships were built in 2005 by Hyundai, Mipo. Acadian's tonnages are recorded at 23,356 gt, 37,515 dwt. All four were refited in 2015 with exhaust gas scrubbers. The apparatus is housed in a large white painted structure abaft the original funnel housing. Although doing nothing for the ships' appearances, scrubbers permit them to continue to use heavy fuel by washing harmful gases from the exhaust stream. (Acadian may have had its scrubber turned off when it sailed today as it was emitting a nasty brown smoke from its regular funnel. Some ships do use low sulphur diesel fuel while manoeuvering.)

Acadian showing a little of its green boot topping as it sails this afternoon, giving Montreal as its destination.

 Not to be left out, Imperial Oil is expecting the Canadian tanker Qikiqtaaluk W. late tonight, early tomorrow. Longshore services at Imperial Oil are provided by company employees, so the ship will not incur the high costs for holiday overtime.

There was very little other harbour activity as Oceanex Connaigra sailed from Autoport for St.John's. The container ship ZIM Monaco was alongside PSA Halifax and is was due to sail late this evening and will now sail December 26. It did not appear to be working this afternoon, as all the cranes were up.

ZIM Monaco is on the ZCA service jointly with Hapag-Lloyd's AL7, from the Med to the North American east coast. The 40,030 gt, 50,775 dwt ship has a capacity of 4253 TEU, and was built in 2009 by Samsung Shipbuilding + Heavy Industries Co, in Koje (or Geoje) South Korea.
The only other commercial vessels in the port is are:
>The BBC Europe at Pier 9C with no ETD posted.[see previous post December 21] I suspect that with its deck load of expensive motor yachts it is waiting for a good weather window to make for Fort Lauderdale. It was windy again today and there is wind in the forecast for the next short term.
>The St-Pierre et Miquelon feeder  Nolhan Ava. The container RoRo ship arrived at Fairview Cove December 22 and will remain in port until after Christmas

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Oceanex update - Connaigra arrives

 With Oceanex Sanderling in the mid-Atlantic and with an ETA in Amsterdam of December 29 [not Rotterdam as previously reported] Oceanex's revised schedule is in force. The two ships that normally run between Montreal and St.John's will be taking turns running between St.John's and Halifax in order to maintain a weekly schedule while the Oceanex Sanderling is in refit. Today, December 23, Oceanex Connaigra arrived for the first time on this temporary arrangement. [It has been here before subbing for refits]


Although delayed for a few hours by very high winds in the harbour approaches this morning, Oceanex Connaigra made port this afternooon. Normally a Friday departure, Oceanex has also adjusted the schedule around Christmas holidays. The ship will move to Autoport and sail for St.John's tomorrow December 24. It will be at sea on December 25 and arrive in St.John's for work December 27, thus avoiding high overtime rates for longshore workers (and giving them time off of course.)

Built in 2013 by Flensburger Schiffbau - GmbH + Co KG in Germany Oceanex Connaigra is a 26,786 gt, 19,460 dwt ConRo vessel of modern standards for engine and hull efficiency, crew accommodation and comfort. Capable of 23 knots top speed it is fitted with anti-roll tanks and fin stabilizers. The ice class ship was also built to accommodate all sizes of shipping containers, including 53 ft long units which are usually confined to land on trucks and trains. It can carry 900 containers and 540 cars.

The refit for Oceanex Sanderling is expected to take about a month, which means at least two if not three calls by Oceanex Conaaigra. Fleet mate Oceanex Avalon is due next week.

Sanderling Sisterships

I have amended the December 16 post on this subject. An observant reader was kind enough to send along an up to date roster of MARAD ships which continues to show Cape Texas (ex Reichenfels, an Oceanex Sanderling sister ship) still in existance. I had suggested that it might have been scrapped, but that is apparently not the case. As strategic assets, the ships of this class are kept in reserve and can be reactivated on short notice to deploy US military containers and trucks, tanks, etc, anywhere in the world.



Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Maersk Patras - schedule change

 Ships on the joint CMA CGM St.Lawrence 1 [ SL1] / Maersk Canada Atlantic Express [CAE] service generally arrive in Halifax from Montreal on Saturdays while they make the eastbound leg of their Europe / St.Lawrence route. Today's (Wednesday December 22) arrival of the Maersk Patras is therefore unusual, but understandable. This coming Saturday, December 26, is the Boxing Day holiday in Halifax and would incur extreme over time rates for longshore workers, which is to be avoided. [While some countries have Boxing Day as the start of a shopping frenzy, the stores and businesses are closed in Halifax on December 25 and 26, and do not reopen until the 27 th.]

Maersk Patras is one of three sister ships on this service, along with EM Kea which is chartered on behalf of CMA CGM. All three were built by Kvaerner Warnow Werft in Warnemunde, Germany for P+O Nedlloyd in 1998. They were merged into the Maersk fleet in 2006 as part of AP Moller-Maersk's takeover of the Dutch company.

P+O Nedlloyd Auckland became Maersk Palermo (after a time as Lykes Pioneer), P+O Nedlloyd Jakarta became Maersk Penang.

P+O Nedlloyd Marseille became Maersk Patras and has been calling in Halifax since 2010 when this port was added to the joint St.Lawrence River service. It is a 31,333 gt, 37,842 dwt ship with a capacity of 2890 TEU including 400 reefers. It is apparently well suited to the operation as it has run year round to support the weekly service, which is notoriously gruelling in winter. 

A fourth sister ship was the P+O Nedlloyd Sydney which became Maersk Pembroke and was on this service until an engine room fire in August 2017 resulted in the ship being sold for scrap. The fifth sister ship P+O Nedlloyd Genoa was renamed Maersk Phuket in 2006 but has never been assigned to the SL1 / CAE.

Normally I might be predicting an announcement that the three sister ships would be replaced in 2022 or 2023 as their 5th special survey would be coming up. However with the hot demand, and high prices for ships these days, and Maersk's reluctance to order new ships, the trio may well soldier on for more than the usual 25 years after August 2023.


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

BBC Europe - return engagement, and other traffic

The general cargo and heavy lift ship BBC Europe arrived back in Halifax late afternoon December 20, a few days short of six weeks since its last visit November 12 [see previous post ]. In that time it has visited four ports as far as the head of the Great Lakes and unloaded some unknown cargo and loaded an unusual cargo.

On leaving Halifax November 13 it was reported in the St.Lawrence Seaway November 17 and the Welland Canal November 19. After waiting a couple of days at anchor it transited the Soo Locks November 22 and arrived in Thunder Bay on November 23. It spemt two days there before heading down lakes to Cleveland where it was docked from November 30 through December 1. It then passed up the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and the St.Clair River again to Sarnia where it discharged the last of its cargo December 2 to 6. It took another four days to load, sailing December 11. [It may also have loaded at some of the other ports, but I don't have eye witness reports.]

Its outbound voyage was delayed by weather in Lake Erie where it was reported at anchor in the lee of Long Point December 13, before transiting the Welland Canal December 14 and the Seaway December 15. It then spent a couple of days in Montreal. From on line photos it does not appear to have taken on any more cargo there before sailing December 17. On arrival in Halifax this morning it tied up at Pier 9C North, tight up on the A.Murray MacKay bridge at the entrance to Bedford Basin.

Armour stone pier protection from the Narrows bridge intrudes on the view from the BIO parking lot.

Part of the ship's unusual cargo was easy enough to see. It is reported to be carrying eleven motor yachts, five or maybe six of which are on deck. The boats are bound for winter quarters in the south and will be discharged at Fort Lauderdale.

As on the ship's previous visit to Halifax the launch Captain's Pride was nearby, indicating the likelihood of divers again, for some hull or prop maintenance. The ship was showing some new scratches and scrapes on the hull since its last visit, no doubt acquired in the many locks it has transited.

I could not see any reason why the ship's number 2 crane was unstowed  - it was not at work when I went by. Because the ship is barely visible from shoreside due to the miniature mountain of road salt stored under tarps on the Pier, it was not possible to see very much. Perhaps it had to resecure some of the deck cargo, or it was simply used to deploy a gangway. 

Other Activity

There was other activity in port today too. At Autoport it was another visit from Siem Aristotle. The 7500 car capacity ship was last here on  August 9, 2021.

The "Super-Eco" ship uses conventional fuel and LNG. No telling how many electric cars were on the manifest - not too many I suspect.

In order to fuel our gas guzzlers, and perhaps to heat our homes, Imperial Oil brought in a cargo of refined products on the tanker SCF Angara arriving December 20.


Unusual for Imperial Oil, the ship came from Amsterdam. Imperial's typical port in Europe is Antwerp, and Irving Oil's is Amsterdam. The ship is also somewhat unusual, as it ice rated to Lloyd's Ice Class 1A and has a variety of winterization features, including enclosed bridge wings.

The enclosed bridge wings are most apparent from this view of the ship tied up at Imperial Oil dock #3.
The initials "SCF" in the ship's name represent Sovcomflot, the Russian shipping giant that has 133 ships in its fleet, of which 108 are tankers - 80 of them ice class. The ship was built as PRISCO Ekaterina in 2008 by STX Shipbuilding Co in Jinhae, South Korea. It is a MidRange III ship of 29,967 gt, 50,956 dwt and was acquired and renamed by SCF in 2016. ( PRISCO Tankers is the abbreviated form of the name used by the Primorsk Shipping Company, another Russian shipowning firm.) SCF has several name themes in its fleet. One theme is Russian rivers, and the Angara is a major waterway in Siberia, some stetches of which, between major dams, is navigable.
 Another ship in port is the bulk carrier Sopot loading soy at Pier 28. As usual decent photos at that location are virtually impossible, particularly when the ship's hatches are open, as they were today. With the current dry weather, the ship should finish up loading today and sail under cover of darkness.

 As usual, views of ships at Pier 28 are blocked in by the rapidly expanding PSA Halifax's container storage space. However it was possible to see several grain spouts rigged to load the ship, which had all its hatches open. 
(Containers include some "bad order" boxes on the left and Oceanex's 53 footers on the right)
Built in 2019, the Sopot is the last of eight sister ships delivered by the Yangfan Group, Zhoushan to Polska Zegluga Morska (commonly known as PZM or Polsteam) the Polish shipping company. It is a 25,278 gt, 39,035 dwt ship equipped with four cranes. Sopot arrived December 16 (also in the dark) from Baltimore. Its destination is given as Ghent, Belgium.

Friday, December 17, 2021

CCGS Hudson - more problems and other CCG challenges

 The hydrogrpahic / oceanographic research ship CCGS Hudson is in the news again. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has cancelled some research programs and is scrambling to find a ship to carry out some other work because the Hudson is unserviceable.

According to a CBC News report, the ship experienced a propulsion motor fault as it arrived in St.John's on November 5. The ship was able to tie up, but has been idled ever since as the Department endeavours to determine what to do. The ship was due to enter refit starting in January for at least three months.

Propulsion motors are not "off the shelf" items, and if this damaged one cannot be repaired, it is questionable how the ship can be returned to service any time soon.

The Hudson has had a distinguished career since taking to the water in 1963, but has become very expensive to maintain. The CBC reports refit and repair costs exceeding $33 million in the last nine years. A replacement ship, to be built by Seaspan in Vancouver, is not due until 2024 at the earliest.

When built, the ship had a white hull and buff funnel, the traditional livery of government survey ships.

 Built to icebreaker specs, the ship has a diesel electric propulsion system. Power is provided by four V-16 Alco / Dominion Engineering Works diesel engines, each 2,168 bhp, driving four generators of 1500 kW, 600 volts DC, connected to two electric motors each 3750 shp. This is a similar system to other Canadian icebreakers.

Hudson had a "generator failure" in May. Whether this was a propulsion generator or auxiliary generator is not clear, but it was repaired. 

 Other Challenges

Trouble seems to be following CCG ships recently as CCGS Pierre Radisson (built in 1978) had an engine room fire December 15 near Quebec City. The crew extinguished the fire and the ship returned to port, but there is no news on how soon it will be able to resume service. It also has an Alco propulsion system using six diesel engines to drive six generators and two electric motors.

Fleet mate Amundsen (also 1978) is in a long term Vessel Life Extension refit in St.Catharines, ON, in the former Port Weller drydock, so the CCG may also be short of icebreaking capability this winter. 

Fortunately the so-called "interim icebreakers"  Jean Goodwill and Molly Kool are expected to be fully operational again this winter. Vincent Massey was to be delivered in 2021 but there is still no sign of it emerging from the Davie yard.

 The  CCG's "newest" vessel the Mangystau 2 has passed Gibraltar en route from the Caspian Sea and is due in Sorel-Tracy, QC, December 30. The shallow draft icebreaking tug / supplier, built in 2010, bought for $45.2 million from Atlantic Towing Ltd (as intermediaries), will be assigned to the Great Lakes to cover for CCGS Samuel Risley and CCGS Griffon as they have refits and life extensions over the next few years. Mangystau 2 must be refitted to Canadian standards - not to mention getting a new name - which will not happen soon. Tenders for the work will be issued sometime in 2022.


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Refit for the Sanderling - amended

 Thanks to a media report, I learned that the Oceanex Sanderling will be going to the Netherlands for a five year survey and refit. The ship arrived in Halifax yesterday, December 15, and after its return to Newfoundland on the coming weekend it will sail for the Damen Shiprepair yard in Rotterdam Amsterdam.  The ship is on Voyage number 52 for the year, so my prediction in Shipfax November 30. that it would make more than 52 trips to Halifax this year will be proven wrong.

Instead the ship will be spending Christmas and most of January getting some major maintenanace. And of course recertification, as is required every five years by its classification society DNV. (Its class certification expires December 31).This is a fairly rigorous process, particularly for a ship built in 1977, and usually involves considerable upgrading and overhauling of systems.

I guess I have told the ship's story several times in this blog, but I will recap anyway, leaving readers to look for archived posts using the Search panel.

The ship's keel was laid March 17, 1977 at Sasebo Heavy Industries in Sasebo, Japan. It was launched in remarkably short order on May 25 and delivered on September 1, of the same year. The ship was named Rauenfels by its German owners DDG Hansa, a long established Bremen/ Bremerhaven based heavy lift and general cargo operator. With a gt of 21,849, its dwt has been variously reported but seems to be 15,195. Its container capacity seems to be about 522 and it has a slewing stern ramp with a 157 tonne capacity. A very versatile ship, it is powered by a reliable MAN main engine.

DDG Hansa had ordered four ships of this class, with one sister ship, Rabenfel delivered in June 1977 by Sasebo and two others, also built in 1977 but by Howaldswerke-DW in Kiel, Germany, the Reichenfels and Rheinfels. The construction costs of these ships and other local and world economic conditions resulted in DDG Hansa's bankruptcy in 1980 and the sell off of all its ships. Read more in the Wikipedia capsule history: DDG Hansa

 Rauenfels passed through a variety of owners and was renamed Essen in 1980, then Kongsfjord in 1982 and Onno in 1983. It was with this background that Halifax first became acquainted with the ship when it was chartered to substitute for Atlantic Container Line ships in refit in 1987.

Onno in the Narrows in 1987 while on ACL service.
Later in 1987 the ship was aquired by Atlantic Searoute Ltd and renamed ASL Sanderling it began operating the weekly Halifax to St. John's and Corner Brook service.

Demand for the Newfoundland service was such that a second ship was acquired in 1989. The sister ship Rabenfels had also gone through a series of owners, including the Lykes Line of the US before becoming ASL Cygnus

The ASL sisters alongside Pier 36 and Pier 34 in Halifax May 12, 1989.

During the ([Persian) Gulf War in 1990 the US government exercised an option on the ASL Cygnus and it was taken over for a time, then returned in 1991, but ASL sold the ship to Wilhlemsen's for its Afrrica service. In 1993 the US Government purchased the ship and placed it in the Marine Administration's reserve fleet. Renamed Cape Taylor it was joined by the two German built sisters. All three have been essentailly mothballed since 2001, and at least one, Cape Texas (ex Reichenfels) is out of documentation, and possibly broken up*. The third ship Cape Trinity (ex Rheinfels) is still listed.

In 1990 Atlantic Searoute Ltd (ASL) joined with Atlantic Container Express (ACE) to form Oceanex. The new company served Newfoundland via Halifax and Montreal (the former ACE route) and eventually built new ships for the St.Lawrence run. 

It is those newer ships that will substitute for the Oceanex Sanderling taking turns through the rest of December and well into January.(Montreal service will thus be reduced to one sailing a week, and RoRo on alternate weeks only.) January is the slowest month for freight to Newfoundland according to the press reports, so inconvenience should be minimal.

The always impressive Oceanex Connaigra will take the December 23 departure from Halifax. It is a 26,786 gt container /roro ship, built in 2013.

Starting with the December 31 sailing, Oceanex Avalon will be serving the alternative weeks. The sleek 14,639 gt ship was built in 2005 and is a container only vessel. To my recollection it has never been to Halifax. It is also somewhat unique in that it has no hatch covers, and its hold is open to the weather. This certainly saves time in port, and seems to have posed no problens at sea.

Both susbstitute ships are speedy (the above photos show the ships at 19 to 20 knots on the St.Lawrence River - well past the right whale zone.)

The question must be asked if this will be last five year certificate for the Oceanex Sanderling. The cost to keep the ship in class at its age must be getting prohibitive. Shipowners usually scrap ships before they reach twenty-five or at most thirty years of age, due to the upkeep cost, so a ship that is forty-four years old and still slogging on a demanding weekly service is almost unheard of. A fifty year old ship seems unlikely. However for Oceanex to spend what is required for this refit must mean they are planning to keep the ship for a while longer.

 I have also heard that the cost of a new, comparable ship is also very high, and the Sanderling's resell price is very low, so presumably the numbers are working in favour of the Oceanex Sanderling at least for now. 

*Thanks to a reader who forwarded more recent informaiotn, the ship Cape Texas is still in the MARAD reserve fleet.


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

CMA CGM and MSC - More Initials

 Where would the shipping world be without abbreviations, acronyms and portmanteaus? We would certainly be faced with numerous mouthfuls such as Orient Overseas Container Line and China Ocean Shipping Company Ltd or United Arab Shipping Company to mention only a few of the wordier outfits. They are among the many corporations that have, mercifully, abbreviated themselves to initials such as OOCL, COSCO and UASC thereby saving time, money (for paint if nothing else) and wear and tear on the tongue. For the most part these convenient abbreviations are a means of speeding up written communication, but aside from COSCO, defy easy pronunciation.

Today, December 14, was certainly a day for initials in Halifax harbour, particularly at the South End container terminal now known as PSA Halifax. The owners of the lease on that piece of port property were once the Port of Singapore Authority, but have long since outgrown that activity and therefore reduced themselves to another collection of almost meaningless initials. 

Alongside at the terminal this morning were the container ships MSC Angela and CMA CGM Panama. The latter sailed at 0900 hrs, and once it was well clear of the harbour the MSC Sandra, which had been loitering offshore, moved in. It did not dock however, but went to short term anchorage in the lower harbour (possibly due to high winds).

MSC Angela at Pier 42 had containers neatly stacked only four high, but was still too deeply laden for the St.Lawrence River, so was in port to decant some boxes before proceeding inland on the Canada Express 2 service from Spain.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company uses the MSC abbreviation as a convenient short form. Some of its containers carry the full name in small letters and also carry "MSC", but most now have the company logo of the letter M over a stylized wave, with SC below.

On the other hand CMA CGM does not use the long form names of its original constituant companies. The corporation was formed in 1996 with the merger of the Compagnie Maritime d' Affrètement and the Compagnie Genérale Maritime. Its CMA CGM Panama (see yesterday's post for details) would have a very long name indeed were it not for the abbreviation.

With its tethered escort tug preparing to let go from astern, CMA CGM Panama heads outbound for New York this morning. Yes it is taking a bit of a roll.

MSC Sandra arrived loaded to St.Lawrence maximum draft, and will "top up" once fleet mate MSC Angela sails. It is also on the Canada Express 2 service to Spain.

Making its way inbound for PSA Halifax, the ship was joined by tugs for berthing, but in the brisk breeze, it ended up going to anchor instead of trying to squeeze into Pier 41.


Monday, December 13, 2021

Morning, Noon and Night

There was container ship activity in Halifax today and a ship for Autoport.

PSA Halifax was the busiest with two ships alongside, the regular Tropic  Hope for Tropical Shipping, and last night's arrival CMA CGM Panama.

It is another big ship on the Ocean Alliance PSW3 + AE3 service (CMA CGM, COSCO, Evergreen Marine and OOCL). It was built by Hyundai Samho in 2019 and is a 149,314 gt, 157,016 dwt vessel with a capacity of 14,855 TEU. By the look of the ship it appeared to be close to fully loaded.

Outbound from Fairview Cove the Hyundai Faith (also pictured yesterday) at 8562 TEU did not look nearly so big today.

Nevertheless it took three tugs - Atlantic Bear, Atlantic Beaver and Spitfire III. Of note, this is a rare occasion when all three of the tugs of this class have been in Halifax, and have worked together. (They were built to work in Saint John, NB with gas tankers.) Two of the regular Halifax tugs are working in Trinity Bay Newfoundland, and so the other tugs have been redeployed as needed.

At Autoport it was the first time caller Morning Composer with another load of European cars.

Built in 2008 by Hyundai Samho in Mokpo, it is a 57,542 gt, 21.052 dwt ship with a capacity of 6645 cars. The ship's last port was Zeebrugge, Belgium (many Volvos are built in Belgium) on December 2, so the ship must have made a slow crossing to avoid being tossed about by the recent weather. I was fortunate to catch the ship leaving, just as the sun was going down.

The pilot boat Scotia Pilot came scooting by to get ahead of the ship and to be in good position to disembark the pilot.

The last rays of sun caught the ship as it made its way outbound for New York.