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


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