Sunday, December 31, 2023

Mystery 1 - solved

 As for yesterday's (December 30, 2023) Mysteries, thanks to a reader, Mystery #1 has been solved.

The bulk carrier Seahope put into Halifax for bunkers. Hardly surprising as the ship had sailed from Brazil to Port Alfred / LaBaie with a cargo of bauxite for RioTinto Alcan. I did not see the ship taking bunkers - which must be brought to the ship  by truck - so was puzzled by why it arrived here.

The ship apparently sailed from Port Alfred for orders, and since they did not know where they might be headed next, taking bunkers was a good plan, and Halifax was the nearest port to do that.

While in Halifax they received orders to proceed to New Orleans to load a cargo of soybeans for the Dominican Republic. The latter nation is a major importer and a significant exporter of soybeans. The careful cleaning of the hold would thus be important to avoid polluting a food grade product.

I don't usually mention the flag state of ships. So many ships fly flags of convenience, where the country of registration is unrelated to the nationality of the beneficial owner, that flag is largely irrelevant to ship watchers. The Seahope for instance is beneficially owned, and managed from Greece (the N on the funnel is for Navarone SA of Athens) but is registered in the Marshall Islands, where the port of registry is Majuro. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has become the third largest flag of convenience for shipping after Panama and Liberia. 

Reasons for selecting a flag of convenience are many, but the flag states have their own regulations such as vessel ownership rules, tax structures, labour regulations and vessel standards that make registering a ship in one the many states that cater to such use more convenient and financially beneficial to the owners and managers. It is a big topic and controversial - particulary in labour circles - and much too large a subject for a paragraph here and there.

As to why some Canadian ships flag out to foreign countries for the winter, it is generally agreed that the ability to hire foreign cews, at significantly lower wages than Canadian unionized crews, is the main reason. With those international crew rates the Canadian owned ships can thus compete for work with other foreign ships. The alternative of laying up ships for six or more months of the year is a costly one and with no income coming in, gives little incentive to be a ship owner at all.


Saturday, December 30, 2023

Mystery Bulker, Mystery Move

Shipfax never claims to be all-knowing, and this is especially evident today, December 30, when there are events in the harbour that were not at first evident to our all-seeing eye.

Event #1

First was the arrival of the Handysize builk carrier Seahope to Pier 9C. 

 The ship arrived last night (December 29) from La Baie (Port Alfred) QC where it unloaded a cargo of bauxite from the Alumar terminal in Porto di Itaqui, Brazil. When seen this afternoon, two of the ship's hatch covers were cracked open, indicating that the crew was at work cleaning the holds in preparation for the next cargo. Meticulous cleaning is necessary if the ship is to load food grade cargo, and it is the season to do that. The ship must pass a rigorous inspection before it would be allowed to load a food product.With the ship due to sail this evening, I wonder why they came to Halifax to clean the hold. Perhaps it would be too rough todo the work at sea or maybe the ship was doing some self-maintenance that required its main engine to be shut down.

The Seahope was built in 2012 by Yangfan Group in Zhoushan as the Bufflehead and was on charter to Canfornav (Canadian Forest Navigation) until 2019. Canfornav ships, named for species of waterfowl, are usually painted green and are regular callers to ports on the St.Lawrence River and Great Lakes. Evidence of a hasty repainting is evident about midships where the dark red of the after part of the hull changes abruptly to a faded pinkier tone.

The 19,943 gt, 32,922 dwt ship carries four 30 tonne cranes. Navarone SA, of Athens, manage most, if not all, Canfornav ships and have managed this ship since new. It changed owners and was renamed in 2019. The current anonymous proprietors, Seahope Shipping Inc, may still be carrying cargo for Canfornav, as ships from that fleet are among the few ships to load grain / soy in Halifax in recent years. 

Event #2 

As container ships go, thirty year olds are rare. With the upcoming predicted glut of new ships coming out over the next two years, ships of that vintage will become even rarer sightings. Although the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has long been known for maximizing the use of older ships. today's (December 30) thirty year old arrival from Montreal on the Canada Express 2 service is old even for MSC.

The  MSC Roberta V was built in 1993 by Samsung, Koje (now Geoje) and started out as one of eight sister ships built for Hapag-Lloyd. Named Stuttgart Express it was a 53,815 gt, 67,640 dwt ship with a capacity of 4,422 TEU. (Ships of that class were regular callers in Halifax.)

In 2015 MSC acquired the ship and renamed it MSC Roberta. In 2022 they added the Roman numeral "V" to the name, to indicate a container capacity of less than 5,000 TEU. At some point they also equipped the ship with an exhaust gas scrubber system. 

The ship arrived in Halfax to top up cargo that would have increased the ship's draft beyond St.Lawrence River limits. This is a regular occurrence, but what is unusual is that after working PSA Halifax Gateway Pier 42, the ship is due to move to PSA Fairview Cove. It is virtually unheard of that one ship would work cargo at both terminals. The careful pre-arrangement of cargo arriving by truck and rail (and feeder ships) would normally preclude such an unusual event. Perhaps the upcoming holiday, or the late arrival of cargo, from say Newfoundland, by feeder ship, might be the explanation. There would be no way to shuttle the boxes by land from one terminal to the other outside normal hours.

According to most sources the ship's next classification survey is due tomorrow - December 31, 2023 . I assume that such a survey must be done in a shipyard, unless the ship is headed for the breakers, but in any event to have valid classification must be a high priority for any shipowner. Other sources indicate that the current classification is valid until November 11, 2025. It also appears that the ship was re-insured December 21, and may have changed classification society at that time.


Friday, December 29, 2023

Another storm day

 Another storm passed over the region today with high winds and rain. Pilotage operations were suspended until mid-afternoon, with several ships standing by offshore waiting to enter port and some in port waiting to leave.

Picture taking conditions were less than ideal, with somewhat reduced visibility in the rain and some fog. As the old expression goes it was good weather for ducks.

CSL Tacoma was inbound for Gold Bond Gypsum as soon as pilotage operations were resumed at 1500 hrs AST. A small population of ducks, apparently mallards, stood by off Black Rock beach. There is a regular goup of about 30 mallards that stay around the area.

For the winter birders - the cormorants are gone for the winter, no eiders have yet been seen, some Canada geese are lingering in Eastern Passage near Shearwater and the usual lone Little Gull has arrived in the Pier 20 area. (December 23 photo).



Thursday, December 28, 2023

Kopit Hopson 1752 makes a move

 The CCGS Kopit Hopson 1752 made a move today (December 28), but it was not without assistance - nor was it very far.

The buoy tender / light icebreaker was built by Marine Industries Ltd in Sorel, QC in 1981. A Vessel Life Extension project was awarded to Irving Shipbuilding Inc (ISI) in March 2020, with the work to carried out at the Shelburne Marine Shipyard. When ISI sold the Shelburne yard the ship was towed to Halifax in March 2022 and tied up at the Bedford Institute. Reports at the time indicated that the refit was nearly complete, but it was not until December 2022 that the ship carried out sea trials and was handed over to the Canadian Coast Guard. 

The ship conducted more trials in April 2023 but until today it has not moved from its berth. Even this move was conducted by RCN tugs Glenside, Granville and Merrickville as a "cold move" and only to an adjacent berth at BIO (the one recently vacated by the Alfred Needler).

 It appears that the CCG's resources in the Nova Scotia / New Brunswick region may be stretched a bit thin, as the research trawler Teleost (which was due for retirement), and which is based in Newfoundland, has been pressed into Search and Rescue Patrol duties in Nova Scotia. Certainly having the Kopit Hopson in service during buoy removal / winter replacement season would be helpful. Since all CCG ships are multi-tasked, it would also be available for SAR petrol during the busy southwest Nova Scotia lobster season.

As for the other Halifax based CCG ships, the CCGS Sir William Alexander and CCGS Jean Goodwill are currently assigned to SAR patrol and Navaids work in Nova Scotia while CCGS Earl Grey is doing buoy work in Prince Edward Island.


Imperial Imports

 Despite several recent loads from its refineries in Ontario (see recent posts on Algocanada and Kivalliq W.) Imperial Oil is also bringing in product from Texas. Yesterday (December 26) saw the arrival of the Minerva Zen from Houston.

 The ship carries the "Minerva" banner on the ship's hull - which appears to have been applied rather hastily over older paint. Minerva Marine Inc, an operator based in Athens, runs more than fifty tankers of all sizes, and twenty dry cargo ships.

The rest of the ship still carries the unmistakable colour scheme of its orginal owners. It was built by Guangzhou International in 2009 as Torm Lana, a 29,442 gt, 52,941 dwt MidRange product tanker. The ship's black hull and burnt orange superstructure are the carry over from Torm A/S the Danish owners that operated the ship. 

Torm's subsidiary Torm Singapore Pte Ltd sold the ship in 2012 and it was renamed and placed under Minerva management. At the time Torm was facing bankruptcy due to collapsing cargo rates and over valued ships and huge debt load. The company was saved however by a complex refininacing and is still in operation. [See more on Torm's survival in my June 17, 2016 post.]


Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Still Green - Always Magenta

 Still Green

The combined fleets of Wallenius Lines and Wilh. Wilhelmsen have been operating their auto carriers jointly as Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean (WWO) since 2019. (They began to work co-operatively as early as 1999). Both companies maintain many other independent businesses such as logistics and ship managment and invest in non-shipping industries and did not merge. 

Although WWO acts as a single company, its 123 autocarriers are owned by either by Wallenius or Wilhelmsen. Ships used to maintain the traditional paint schemes of the two lines, depending on the owner: white superstructure over red hull of Wilhelmsen and white over green of Wallenius. Since 2019 the line has been repainting its ships in a new scheme of teal green over grey hull and white superstructure with a grey over teal funnel.

The only way to tell which line owns which ships was by the name. Wallenius ships are named for operatic characters and Wilhelmsen ships' names begin with the letter "T".

It was a bit of a surprise today (December 27) to see the Traviata appear at Pier 9C to unload RoRo machinery, while still wearing the white over green Wallenius colours. (The "T" name may or may not be significant as there are numerous operatic characters without "T" names, so why this one was chosen is unknown.)

The ship was built in 2019 by Tianjin Xingang, to the HERO class design used by both Wallenius and Wilhelmsen. It must have beeen one of the last - or indeed the last - ship to use the old Wallenius colour scheme. 

The 73,358 gt, 23,889 dwt ship, has a capacity of 7656 RT43 autos, and mounts a 320 tonne SWL stern ramp. As with most modern autocarriers it has no side ramp.

The ship will be five years of in 2024 and is thus will be due for an important classification survey and drydocking in late 2024 or early 2025. I expect the green paint to disappear at that time.

Always Magenta

Another combination of companies is ONE (Ocean Network Express) founded in 2016 by the three main Japanese container lines: NYK Line, MOL and K-Line. The joint venture operates ships, which are chartered in from the parent companies. Starting in 2018 new ships have been painted in the (startling) magenta hull colour. Some ships were ordered and delivered before the merger, and were renamed with ONE names and some existing ships have been repainted in the new scheme.

Most of the fifteen ships of the "Bird" class, built by Japan Marine United in Kure, starting in 2015,  were delivered with NYK prefixes and later renamed with ONE. However today's arrival, delivered in July 2019 was the last in the series and has always carried the ONE prefix, and the magenta hull paint.

The ship measures 146,694 gt, 138,611 dwt and is rated for 14,026 TEU. It was good to see the ship loaded to near capacity today [photo above] as it arrived from Colombo on THE Alliance's EC5 service. On its first arrival on June 6, 2023 [photo below] it carried boxes only three high. Today it was six to eight high.

The Traviata moved to Autoport at noon time to offload automobiles and will sail this evening. The ONE Cygnus is expected to sail over night for New York. 


Sunday, December 24, 2023

Beat the Rush

 Like last minute shoppers, ships continued to hurry in and out of port today (December 24) as they did yesterday. Some of the ships had lost time due the recent storms and had to stand by or anchor offshore, so did not did not want to lose more time due to the imminent holiday. (Several of the ships mentioned below were also noted in yesterday's post.)

For container ships there was only one arrival, the MSC Marianna from Sines, Portugal on the westbound leg of the Turkey-Greece run. It arrived as soon as the berth was available at PSA Atlantic Gateway.

Built in 2002 by Hyundai Ulsan, it is a 73,819 gt, 85,506 dwt ship with a capacity of 6730 TEU including 400 reefers. The ship is expected to remain idle on Christmas Day, with work resuming Tuesday December 26. It is rare, but not unheard of, for a ship to remain in port over the holiday. 

There were several container ship departures:

ONE Eagle got underway from pier 41 on THE Alliance's EC5 service, eastbound for Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, with an ETA of January 19. The ship was built by Japan Marine United in Kure in 2016 as NYK Eagle and adopted the Ocean Network Express (ONE) name and colour scheme in 2019. It is a 145,251 gt, 139,335 dwt ship with a capacity of 14,026 TEU. As for cargo it appeared to be maxed out by volume if not by tonnage. Based in the ETA the ship will use the Suez Canal route and will therefore transit the Red Sea. It would take considerably longer than 26 rays if routed via rhe Cape of Good Hope. If events overtake the ship before it reaches the Suez Canal it could still be diverted.

Lagarfoss also got underway from the adjoining berth Pier 42. The ship is headed for Reykjavik on Eimskip's Green Line service from Portland, ME.

The 880 TEU capacity ship of 10,119 gt, 11,811 dwt was built by Rongcheng Shenfei Shipbuilding Co in 2014. It is fitted with two cargo cranes.

Navios Indigo also sailed for ZIM but the feeder Annie B (see previous posts) did not sail, but instead went to anchor in Bedford Basin where it is expected to remain until December 26. NYK Rigel also sailed from PSA Fairview Cove.

The bulker Baie St. Paul departed Gold Bond Gypsum for Côte Ste-Catherine, QC. The port is located on the South Shore Canal segment of the St.Lawrence Seaway west of St.Lambert, location of the Seaway entry locks.

The Seaway will be closing on January 5, so the ship has time to reach the port and unload. It may also exit the Seaway and continue trading before going into winter layup.

Also sailing was the heavy load ship GPO Sapphire. After unloading its cargo of wind turbine towers it is returning to Rostock, Germany for more.

Sister ship and fleet mate GPO Grace remains alongside at Woodside with more towers, wating for the return of the installation ship Orion which sailed overnight December 22-23.

Also sailing today was the general cargo ship Ayita after unloading is cargo of rails from Poland.

 The Ayita arrived December 16 [see post] and is now headed for Grande-Anse, QC, presumably for an export cargo, which could be lumber, paper or aluminium ingots.

There was also activity at the tanker berths. Irving Oil's East Coast arrived on its usual round from Saint John and tied up at the company's Woodside terminal.

As the East Coast made its way inbound there was an interesting sidelong view of the container ship CMA CGM T. Jefferson at the outer anchorages. It is not often that the spaces between the containers are so distinctly visible.

Also lingering offshore is the Algoma Integrity waiting to load gypsum. Gold Bond is probably shut down for a few days.

Another tanker, Kivalliq W. sailed from Imperial Oil's number 3 dock. It had been holding offshore due to swells at the oil dock and finally got in on Friday, December 22. The much travelled ship was recently reported in Goose Bay November 18-20, Nain November 24-27, Goose Bay December 3-4, Montreal December 8 then upbound in the Seaway December 9. After loading in Sarnia December 12-14, it was downbound again December 16.

The ship has an interesting history. It was laid down in 1999 and launched in 2000 but not completed until 2004 at the Binjiang Shipyard in Yangzhou. The 8,882 gt, 13,670 dwt ship was delivered as the Falcon and in 2009 was renamed Sten Fjord for Swedish owners. Coastal Shipping Ltd of Happy Valley Goose Bay NL acquired the ship in 2015, but did not rename it until 2018. In summer it serves northern ports, but every year since 2016 it has been flagged out from January to May or June to trade internationally.

With Kivalliq W.'s sailing Algocanada was finally able to go alongside number 3 dock. The reason that Kivalliq W. "jumped the queue" was probably because it is headed back to the Lakes, to Nanticoke this time, and in order to load and exit the Seaway before closing, it needed to get underway as soon as possible.

Last, but not least, is the ConRo business. Namely Oceanex Sanderling which finally moved from anchorage to PSA Fairview Cove last night, and did not sail today so will be in port for Christmas.

One other ConRo ship was in port today, but was not carrying any containers. Instead it had RoRo cargo for Autoport. Grande Luanda is an unusual ship for transatlantic car carrying as it was built for Container / RoRo / General cargo service between Europe and Africa. It not only has a pair of 40 tonne SWL cranes it also carries grabs for bulk cargo. With the current high demand for autocarriers in Asia, it seems to have been pressed into service on this route as many of the high capacity ships have gone east. Recent calls have been Southampton Dec 6-8, Antwerp December 8-10, Vigo, Spain December 15-16. It is now due in Veracruz, Mexico December 30.


Dating from 2015, the 71,543 gt, 32,346 dwt Grande Luanda was built by Hyundai Mipo in Ulsan. 

Also very unusual for a transatlantic car carrier it has vehicles stowed on the open deck. I imagine they had a pretty good bath in the recent weather, but will need a freshwater encore when they reach port.

They appear to be Ford Transit cargo vans and passenger vans.(Note the cargo grab stowed along the ship's rail.)


So far there is no scheduled traffic in the harbour tomorrow, Christmas Day, so there will likely not be any Shipfax post. In that case I wish all readers and loyal followers a Merry Christmas. 



Saturday, December 23, 2023

Good bye

It is the end of the line today (December 23, 2023) for the research trawler CCGS Alfred Needler as it was towed out of Halifax by the tug Lois M en route to the scrap yard. Built in 1981 by Ferguson Industries Ltd in Pictou, NS it initially served the Fisheries Research Board, then the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and was merged in to the Canadian Coast Guard.

I summarized the ship's recent history in Shipfax on October 4, 2023 and have given more detail in several previous posts, but will go over some of it again.

The Alfred Needler was one to two sisters, the other being the Wilfred Templeman, which was based in Newfoundland. The Alfred Needler, named for the distinguished scientist, administrator, diplomat and statesman Alfred Walker Hollingshead Needler CM OBE FRSC (1906-1998) [links to Wikipedia] was based in Halifax. Its work area extended from the Gulf of St.Lawrence to the Gulf of Maine.

In its earliest years it carried the grey and white colour sheme of the Fisheries Research Board.

As part of widespread departmental re-organizationa the ship was painted in the traditional white colour scheme of hydrographic research vessels. The former Canadian Hydrographic Service and the Department of Fisheries vessels were then included in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and all adopted the red hulls of the Canadian Coast Guard and were designated as CCGS.

The aging process had not been particularly kind to the CCGS Alfred Needeler, as several systems broke down. A serious fire in 2003 could have meant the end of the ship. However with no replacement available, a major rebuild took place and extended the life of the ship well beyond reasonable expectations.

Today the tug Lois M took the 'Needler (now sans name) on the hip and backed away from the jetty at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. (The towing line was already rigged and an insurance line was slung along the starboard side of the ship.)

The tug then proceeded through the Narrows in this configuation until it reached the lower harbour.

 Once there was more room, the tug took up towing mode, with a short line, and several deck hands disembarked to the launch Halmar. They had been aboard to let go mooring lines and stream the pickup line. The ship will be unmanned during the trip.

Farther out, the tug gradually lengthened out the tow line and last seen, tug and tow were making for sea. The ship was towing reasonably well and was not wandering too far in channel, but took the western channel leaving room for inbound ships such as the Navios Indigo in the main channel.


Last summer the government called for bids to scrap the Alfred Needler and the winning (lowest) bid of $392,529.00 was submitted by Marine Recycling Corp of Port Colborne, ON. That company has a major scrap yard in Port Colborne, ON right at the western (Lake Erie) entrance to the Welland Canal where they break up all sorts of ships up to and including maximum size lakers. They also have a facility at Sydport on the western side of Sydney, Nova Scotia harbour in Edwardsville. It is to the latter destinatIon that the tow is headed. (I believe that sister ship Wilfred Templeman, which had been sold and renamed Blain M was scrapped there too.)

The tug Lois M is operated by McKiel Marine and was built in 1991 by Matsuura Tekko Zosen in Higashino, Japan.  The 4800 bhp twin screw tug has a bollard pull of 80 tonnes. It was built for operation in Australia and named Lambert until 2014. A rugged ocean going tug, it is fitted with a large capacity towing winch.

The tug arrived in Halifax December 17 and had to wait out stormy weather before getting underway today in ideal conditions.




To avoid being in port over Christmas, the race was onto get as many ships as possible in and out of port today (December 23). The term "Christmas" as far as the port is concerned, starts December 24 and extends through the 25th (actual Christmas Day) and the 26th (Boxing Day). Premium wage rates apply for longshore workers on these holidays, and terminal gates are closed to truck traffic. To add to the volume of traffic was the fact that most of today's arrivals had been holding offshore due to weather for a day or two.

Almost every berth was occupied for the better part of the day today, with coming and going at some.

Starting in the north end of the port, the Baie St.Paul arrived at Gold Bond gypsum in Bedford Basin this morning, to squeeze in another cargo. The Canadian flagged ship may be heading for a Great Lakes port, so is in a rush to load and go before the St.Lawrence Seaway closes for the winter. This season's January 5 closing is the latest for the modern day system, which opened in 1959. (The old St.Lawrence Canals which preceded the Seaway usually closed before Christmas.) The Canso Canal closing date may also be a factor, as the ship would likely take that route. (The Canal / Lock usually closes on December 23 for repair and maintenance work.)

The Baie St.Paul is built to maximum Seaway dimensions, and was reinforced to make short ocean voyages - usually only as far as Halifax. For a ship built as recently as 2012 (by Chnengxi Shipyard Jiangyin, Jiangsu) it certainly appears in hard shape.

Aside from the usual late season "lock rash" that all maximum breadth Seaway ships exhibit, the ship also has the "hungry horse" look. That effect, where  hull plates have contorted between ribs, is usually the result of many years of torsional forces.

The Baie St. Paul is a 24,340 gt, 37,690 dwt ship but when loaded to maximum Seaway draft of 8.08 meters (26'-6")(in fresh water) it loads about 29,650 tonnes of gypsum in Halifax. 

Seaway maximum hull dimensions are 225.5m (740') x 23.77m (78'). Since the locks are 24.4m (80') wide, and ships usually slide along the approach wall to ensure that they enter the lock cleanly, "lock rash" is inevitable. However a factor in the "hungry horse" look is twisting of the the long and narrow hull form, so may also be inevitable over time.

The Baie St.Paul is a perfect fit at the Gold Bond dock in Lower Burnside. The facility's traveling conveyor moves back and forth along the length of the ship for even loading.

 PSA Fairview Cove was all out today with the early morning departure of the storm delayed NYK Rigel alongside since yesterday and Oceanex Sanderling waiting its turn at anchor.

On its weekly run to St.John's, the Oceanex Sanderling may be in no great hurry as it would not wish to arrive in St.John's on Christmas Day. It did manage to squeeze in a brief call at Autoport but in any event there is at least one more ship ahead of it for Fairview Cove.

The ZIM feeder Annie B (see yesterday's post) moved out to anchor this morning, but will likely move back in after the Navios Indigo sails. That ship arrived at PSA Fairview Cove this morning on the ZCA / AL7 service from Mediterranean ports.

 The 4250 TEU ship made its first call in Halifax October19, 2023 on the joint ZIM Container Services Atlantic/ Hapag-Lloyd route from the Mediterranean to North America east coast. That route's easternmost ports are Haifa and Ashdod, with scheduled calls in Egypt, Turkey, Italy and Spain. From Halifax it is due to call in New York, Norfolk and Savannah before heading eastbound again.

At PSA Halifax Gateway it was similarly busy with the Ultra size ONE Eagle alongside Pier 41 until late tonight. MSC Alyssa occupied Pier 42 most of the day with MSC Marianna due to take its place later. Also due is Eimskip's Lagarfoss and an ultra-size, CMA CGM T. Jefferson, is anchored offshore waiting its turn.

Some ice from the recent freezing rain still coats the grass and a picnic table at Point Pleasant Park while cranes work the MSC Alyssa at Pier 42. 

There was also a run on autocarriers trying to beat the deadline. The SFL Conductor made an unusual late night call last night, sailing at 0200 hrs this morning. Morning Concert arrived yesterday afternoon at Pier 9C to offload the usual array of machinery before moving to Autoport this morning to disembark cars. It will sail late this afternoon.

 The Grande Luanda is anchored off Halifax and is due this evening, after dark and is due to sail tomorrow mid-day.

The pilot boat Capt. E.T.Rogers makes its way inbound in glassy calm conditions as Grande Luanda rides at anchor offshore.

 Thr tanker Algocanada is still at anchor. It moved there to wait out the recent storm, but I assumed it would move to Imperial Oil's number 3 dock as soon as conditions calmed down. However another Canadian tanker, the Kivalliq W., arriving from Sarnia, put in this morning - it had been holding offshore due to weather. (The extra overtime rates do not apply at the oil terminals which are privately operated, but the supplies of fuel products are constantly in demand and deliveries are scheduled weeks or even months in advance. Depending on the product being carried some ships would be given priority to offload.)

Algocanada is fully loaded.


Working the Backlog

 When pilotage operations resumed early this morning (Friday, December 22) after the latest storm had passed and sea conditions moderated, there was a major backlog of shipping to accommodate. Most of these ships will have to take their turns in order of earliest scheduled arrival as there is a limit to the number of berths in the port. As of late afternoon there were still six ships hove to off Halifax waiting their turn.

Among the ships that did enter port was the Annie B, a first time caller on ZIM's CGX feeder service. It was due originally from New York on Wednesday December 20 but spent an uncomfortable two days slowly steaming back and forth or hove to well offshore away from the coastal swells.

The bright sunshine was deceptive as there was still a swell runnning in the harbour. With a very stiff northerly wind, and sub-zero temperatures, there was a lot of spray for the ship and the attendant tug Atlantic Larch.*   (See also yesterday's Tugfax for some more splashy photos.)


The ship Annie B was hastily renamed in late June or early July 2023 by anonymous new owners Clement Shipping Ltd.

Built in 2003 by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan the 28,596 gt, 39,383 dwt ship has a capacity of 2826 TEU including 554 reefers. Its original name was Cardonia (still visible in welded letters on the bow) but was renamed on delivery as CMA CGM Ukraine, a name it carried until 2006 when it became Cardonia again.

 A report on social media says that the ship will unload 49 containers and load 1035 during its stay in Halifax, which even for a feeder service seems light. Seasonal variations and world events may be factors in loadings as the shipping world is in a state of flux these days.


 * The Atlantic Larch, built by East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE in 2000, is a 4,000 bhp tug with a 51 tonne bollard pull rating. It is based in Saint John, NB, but is designated as an "outside tug" available for coastal work and other assignments away from its home port. It arrived in Halifax to supplement the local tugs while Halifax Shipyard "launched" the latest Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship, AOPV 434 on December 9

There has also been additional activity in the port with more wind turbine components arriving and the Atlantic Bear had a short spell at the Shelburne Shipyard for its ten year classification renewal survey. Halifax can keep up with demand with five active tugs, but six would be preferrable in winter and other busy times. Regular tugs in Halifax are Atlantic Oak, Atlantic Fir, Atlantic Bear, Atlantic Beaver, and Atlantic Willow. Since early December the tug Atlantic Elm, not normally a harbour tug, has also been in Halifax, attending barges used during the transfer of the wind turbine towers, and other miscellaneous chores such as ship docking in Sheet Harbour. It also stood by in Cape Breton while the bulk carrier Genco Endeavour effected repairs.


Thursday, December 21, 2023

Delays and Diversions

 A series of slow moving storms, consisting of high winds and heavy rain have plagued shipping schedules in the region over the past few weeks. The most recent one which arrived in the Halifax area yesterday, Wednesday, December 20, persists at time of writing (mid-day Thursday, December 21). Pilot operations have been suspended for the port of Halifax due to winds and high seas at the pilot station, and some activities in the harbour have also been curtailed. Unusually mild temperatures are now expected to drop over night to seasonable figures well below freezing. Numerous power outages persist on shore sue to falling tree limbs.

At the moment half a dozen ships are hove to off Halifax, awaiting resumption of pilotage services. The most recent estimate of when those operations may be resumed is 2100 hrs. The last arrival was at 1400 hrs yesterday and the last departures  followed soon after. (A suspension of more than 24 hours is certainly rare.) The ship Atlantic Sail, the last arrival, had tugs standing by today holding it in alongside at PSA Fairview Cove due to gusts in the high 80s kph. 

The tanker Algocanada, which was waiting its turn at Pier 9C (after the last storm held up unloadings last week) instead moved to anchor in the main harbour as the berth #3 at Imperial Oil was untenable due to swells. At least one more coastal tanker, the Kivallik W., is among the ships waiting offshore to get into port.

Delayed departures included CSL Tacoma which had been due to sail Monday, December 18, but instead anchored in Bedford Basin until yesterday afternoon when it was able to sail with its cargo of gypsum. Similarly the container ship Tropic Lissette held in port for a day until sailing yesterday afternoon.

Both ships are headed south, which is where the weather is coming from, so they may expect a bit of a rough ride. Halifax has not been alone with the weather woes. Ferry schedules in the Bay of Fundy, Northumberland Strait and Cabot Strait have been in disarray as numerous crossings have been cancelled, with traffic jams and backlogs for the resumed sailings.

There was at least one unusual diversion of ship, which did not involve Halifax, but is worth noting as it may or may not have been a good idea. The cruise ship MSC Meraviglia was to sail out of New York for Florida and the Bahamas, but instead headed for Boston, Portland and Saint John, NB. It is in Saint John today and will spend a day "at sea" tomorrow, returning to New York. The diversion was supposed to avoid the worst of the wind and rain, but I think there will still be disgruntled passengers as the weather was not tropical in those ports. Those who opted to cancel their trips were allowed to do so without penalty and were given an FCC (Future Cruise Credit) with MSC Cruises.

The 171,589 gt mega-ship, built in St.Nazaire in 2017 has capacity of 4500 with 1536 crew, and despite many late cancellations may have as many as 3,000 pasengers rattling about on its 15 decks.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

C.T.M.A. Vacancier - off to scrap

 The veteran passenger / ferry C.T.M.A. Vacançier has been sold for scrap to India. Details are sketchy so far (will it be towed or sail on its own - how about the Red Sea?) but the ship's Canadian registration was closed December 14, and for now the ship is still alongside in "warm" layup in Georgetown, PE.


Running in excess of 20 knots the ship made up time, due to the whale protection "slow zones" in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. 

Starting in 2002 the ship ran a weekly seasonal service between Montreal and Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone) Magdalen Islands carrying tourists, passengers and cars. The 10 week season allowed for about 30 trips. Its customary early Thursday morning upbound passage off my cottage in Quebec was announced by its two booming V-16 Stork Werkspoor main engines, which could be heard well in advance. In winter, thanks to its Baltic ice class the ship took over the Souris, PE to Cap-aux-Meules service.

At the end of the summer season in October 2019 the ship was laid up. In 2020 it was chartered to the Société des Traversiers du Quebec (STQ) for the Matane / Baie Comeau / Godbout service when the regular ship was in for repairs. It was also available as back up for the C.T.M.A.'s Souris, PE to Cap-aux-Meules service. In 2020 the regular Montreal run was cancelled due to COVID and never resumed.

 The rumoured $100 million cost for a new replacement to run a 10 week summer service could not be justified. However there has been on and off talk of a "used" replacement, and CTMA reps traveled to New Zealand to kick the tires of the Straitsman was but that deal seems to have fallen through. It is getting a little late for another ship to be in service in 2024.

I have covered the details of the 1973 built C.T.M.A. Vacançier several times before on this blog:

February 13, 2015

The new ship for the Souris-Cap-aux-Meules service is still in the design stage by Davie (along with the Holiday Island replacement) and the current "temporary replacement" ship the Madeleine II appears to be in for a long run - until 2029 at least. The recent foofaraw over its stand-in during mandatory drydocking has not been resolved as far as I know. An announcement that the Fundy Rose would be redeployed to the run, leaving no service between Saint John and Digby for four weeks and maybe as much as  eight weeks, caused a huge outcry from southwestern Nova Scotia, and the move was soon rescinded by the federal minister. (Like most ferries it is ownrd by the Federal Government). 

The C.T.M.A. Vacançier on the other hand has been owned outright by CTMA (the Coopérative de Transport Martitime et Aérien). and was never considered for the Saint John - Digby run. (I suspect some of its certificates may have expired.) 

The ship's official name on the Canadian register had periods after the letters, thus C.T.M.A., but it was ofter referred to in various sources as simply CTMA. Similary ts owners aslo have the periods in thir name, but are often called CTMA.

Although I never travelled on the ship, its weekly appearance over many years made it a fixture, and so it will be missed.


Sunday, December 17, 2023

Algoma meetup

 Algoma tankers seldom spend long in port, and then usually only at Imperial Oil's number 3 dock to load or unload product. Today, December 17, saw two Algoma tankers in port at the same time for a few hours at Pier 9C, far from the oil dock.

Algocanada, a fairly rare visitor, arrived late last night, December 16 and went directly to Pier 9C.

The ship was built in 2008 by Eregli Gemi in Turkey, and is a 8,009 gt, 11,267 dwt chemical / product tanker, and appears to be scrubber equipped. (The free standing box astern with the two tanks below indicates that it is a closed loop scrubber. Pollutants are stored aboard until they can be sent ashore for treatment.)

The Algocanada has product aboard, likely from Sarnia, and was reported downbound through the St.Lawrence Seaway December 12-13. 

Early this afternoon fleet mate Algoscotia moved from the number 3 oil dock to Pier 9C. It arrived in Halifax December 15 from its usual rounds between the eastern ports of Sept-Iles, Sydney and CornerBrook.

Algoscotia was built in 2004 by the Hangnan Shipyard Group at the Qiuxin Shipyard in Shanghai. It is a 13,352 gt, 18,610 dwt ship. Tying up immediately astern of the Algocanada gave the rare opportiunity of seeing both ships at the same time.

Algoscotia is due to sail this evening, but Algocanada appears set to stay at Pier 9C until the latest storm passes by tonight and tomorrow.