Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Make Room

Unloading the ship Onego Bayou at Pier 27 has been a laborious process. It has probably been made more so by cold weather and snow since the ship's arrival February 21. The cargo of rails that the ship is delivering for CN must be craned off the ship in small bundles 12m (39 ft) long, then stockpiled on the dock, much liked stacked lumber, to be held until needed by CN. It is then loaded on special rail cars and sent to Winnipeg for welding into continuous welded rail (CWR) ribbons to North American standard 400m (1/4 mile) lengths. [See Shipfax for February 22 .]

Today, February 28, with draft barely reduced since it arrived, the ship moved out to anchor to free up berth space for another ship.

That other ship is the Puka - the oft renamed Nirint Line vessel, with a cargo of nickel sulfides from Cuba. See November 25, 2022  Shipfax post. (It has sailed for Nirint as Trinitas, Hollandia and Nirint Hollandia).

Puka's cargo for Halifax consists mostly of bulk bags (approximately 1m x 1m x 1m / 33" x 33" x 40") which must also be craned off the ship in groups. Once on the dock the bags can be forklifted for storage in the transit shed or loaded onto waiting railway gondolas for shipment to Fort Saskatchewan, AB.

Unfortunately the port now has only one berth for breakbulk shipments like the steel rail or concentrates where a large laydown area is needed and a number of  rail cars must be accommodated. Richmond terminal (Piers 9 to 9C) does not have enough laydown area to store the rails, nor rail siding capacity for either cargo (besides being very awkward for rail access). Pier 30-31 was decommissioned as part of the southend container terminal expansion, leaving Pier 27 as the only remaining open pier. The other Ocean Terminal piers do not have overhead clearance for cranes because of grain galleries.

While the rail and concentrates break bulk cargo may not have the profitability and scale of container traffic, it is an important and regular part of the port's business and having only one berth will inevitably lead to conflicting demand such as it did today.

Puka is expected to complete unloading tomorrow by late tomorrow March 1, allowing Onego Bayou to move back to the berth on March 2.


MFO charters

 The Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans has once again turned to private industry to provide research capability. With their own ships unavailable due to refits or retirements (see previous posts on CCGS Alfred Needler) the department is continuing needed research but with hired ships. They have recently signed a new three year deal to charter ships, thus ensuring consistent and reliable reports on fish stocks.

Mersey Venture at pier 9 on February 22, 2023.

As it did in 2018 and 2020 the DFO has turned to Mersey Seafoods of Liverpool, NS to charter their Mersey Venture, which is usually idle at this time of year.

See Shipfax  for March 19, 2018 and December 5, 2020.

 Mersey Venture 2020-12-05

From my observation it appears that the ship has made two trips to George's Bank so far this winter, to conduct surveys normally carried out by the now retiredAlfred Needler. DFO's new ship Capt Jacques Cartier has also gone to George's Bank this week.

CCGS Capt Jacques Cartier 2022-03-09)



Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Steel and Oil and Gypsum

 The general cargo ship Onego Bayou arrived late Tuesday afternoon February 21 with another consignment of rail for CN. The rail comes from the Polish port of Szczecin, but in this case not directly. 

Onego Bayou at Pier 28 (February 22).

After loading the steel January 21 -30, the ship used the Kiel Canal to shortcut the trip to the North Sea. However once clear at Brunsbuttel, the ship made a left turn and sailed up the Elbe to Bremen where it took on some wind turbine components on February 1. It then proceeded to Saint John, NB, arriving February 18. 

Intrepid ship photographer "andrecas" posted a series of excellent photos showing the ship arriving in Saint John, which he posted on Shipspotting.com at:


After offloading the turbine components it sailed for Halifax February 20.

Construction of the ship was started in 2007 by Yichang Shipyard in China, and completed by Damen, Gorinchem. The 7878 gt, 11,087 dwt ship was fitted with a pair of 80 tonne capacity cranes that can be paired for a 150 tonne lift.  Originally named Uta it became Marmakira in 2014 and Onego Bayou in 2018.

Another February 21 arrival was the tanker Lumen N with cargo for the Nova Scotia Power Corporation's Tufts Cove generating station.

Tying  up at the red and white stacks on the Narrows opposite Pier 9, it was not immediately obvious that the ship is somewhat larger than the usual product tankers we see in Halifax. Built as Ice Blade in 2008 by STX Shipbuilding Co in Jinhae, South Korea, the ship is classed as a LongRange 1 product tanker, measuring 38,955 gt, 63,599 dwt.  The MidRange types that bring refined product to Halifax are in the 50,000 dwt size.

As befitting a DNV Ice class 1A ship it also has a fully enclosed bridge. The ship was acquired and renamed Lumen N in 2013 by Navios Tanker Management Inc, part of the Navios Group, which currently operates 32 tankers of various sizes.

The large "N" on the funnel points to the interesting Navios Group, owned by Angeliki Frangou, a modern day shipping "tycoon". See the Wikipedia page:


While both the ships mentioned above were busy unloading, the bulk carrier CSL Tacoma has been anchored in Bedford Basin since February 20 waiting to load gypsum.

The stockpile of raw gypsum ore at Gold Bond's dock is rarely as low as it appeared today (February 22). A daily train usually delivers more ore to the site every day, but there has apparently been a hold up. Demand for gypsum is relatively brisk these days, with an average of about a ship a week.The last ship was Rt. Hon. Paul E. Martin on February 13-14, so there has been time to replenish the stockpile under normal conditions.

(above) The much diminished gypsum stockpile (February 20, 2023).
(below) A normal single pile, but there are often two or three piles.(September 5, 2022)



Sunday, February 19, 2023

Toreador revisit

 The last time I saw the autocarrier Toreador in Halifax was on August 13, 2020 and as the post on that date shows, the resulting photo was at best of "indifferent" quality! And as per the link my previous photos, taken on May 3, 2016 had the ship in its original Wilhelmsen colours. [Despite the operatic name - typical of Wallenius ships, its name does begin with a "T" in Wilhelmsen fashion.]

Today, February 19, I was bit more fortunate as I was able to catch the ship outbound from Autoport in mid-afternoon.

 The ship is on the usual Wallenius Wilhelmsen transatlantic service from Bremerhaven,  Wallhamn, Goteborg, and Zeebrugge. [Wallhamn is the giant auto import  / export facility in Sweden].

Mitsubishi HI in Nagasaki built the Toreador in 2008. The 61,238 gt, 22,098 dwt ship has a capacity of 6,354 RT43 size cars, and its car decks are served by a 303 tonne capacity stern ramp.


CMA CGM Andromeda

 Another first caller for the Port of Halifax arrived this morning, February 19. CMA CGM Andromeda is a 131,332 gt, 131,236 dwt ship with a capacity of 11,200 TEU (some sources say 11,300) and was built in 2009 by Hyundai Ulsan. Unusual for a ship of its size, it does not have the split superstructure with bridge and some accommodation isolated forward. Instead it has the wheelhouse aft in the conventional arrangement found on smaller ships.

The ship appears to be on the Ocean Alliance Columbus JAX service (CMA CGM, COSCO, Evergreen, OOCL) but has varied from the usual port calls. Ships on this Asia / North America east coast service usually sail directly from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Halifax. However this ship's last Asian port of call was Port Klang, Malaysia. It skipped Colombo, but stopped last at Tanger Med, Morocco. 

The ship is expected to call next at New York, Norfolk, Charleston and Savannah before returning to Asia via Suez. 



Saturday, February 18, 2023

MSC Marina

With the world's largest container ship fleet, the Mediterranean Shipping Comapny can keep coming up with "new to Halifax" ships more or less indefinitely. Today's (February 18) arrival then should not be much of a surprise, except for its unusual routing, which also seems to be "new to Halifax". The ship is MSC Marina and is arriving from Savannah, Freeport and Baltimore and is bound to the Middle East on MSC's Indusa service. Next ports of call are King Abdullah Port (Saudi Arabia), Mundra, Nava Sheva and Colombo. The service calls in Halifax eastbound only.

 Built by Hyundai, Ulsan in 2003, the MSC Marina is a 73,819 gt, 85,506 dwt ship with a capacity of 6730 TEU, including 400 reefers.

Last night's freezing rain and snow fall should not delay the ship unduly as PSA Halifax has a large fleet of snow removal vehicles. (Most of which have not seen much action this winter.)


Friday, February 17, 2023

Scorpio Delivers

 Scorpio Tankers Inc (STI), operates the Scorpio MidRange Pool, a spot market fleet of sixty some ships. STI has a total fleet of 113 tankers of all sizes and the parent company also operates cargo ships and bulk carriers for a total fleet size of some 250 ships. STI is incorporated in the Marshall Islands, but headquartered in Monaco and listed on the New York Stock exchange. Its chairman is Emanuele A. Lauro.

Number 67 on the STI fleet list is STI Maverick, which arrived this morning, February 17 from Amsterdam for Irving Oil. The 29,991 gt, 47,499 dwt ship was built as Marlin Maverick in 2019 by Hyundai-Vinashin Shipyard Co in Ninh Hoa, Vietnam and renamed in 2021. It is equipped with an exhaust gas scrubber system, with the washdown tower appended to the after side of the main funnel, which carries the stylized "s" and scorpion tail logo of the owners.

Today's drizzly conditions prevented a "whole hull" view of the ship from the Halifax side, but there was a good partial view from the former Mobil offshore supply base dock in Woodside, where it appears that some construction activity is about to take place. The dock has not been used since gas and oil activity ceased off Nova Scotia.


Thursday, February 16, 2023

The future of the Ale

 The damaged bulk carrier Ale remains at Pier 9B as per previous posts, including yesterday's. That post reported the departure of the tug Kamarina without the ship in tow. I noted that the tug had come alongside the ship February 14-15, but did not notice that the tug retrieved its emergency towing line which had been rigged along the port rail of the ship. That line presumably belonged to the towing company, and with the tow cancelled then the line would not be remaining with the ship.

As mentioned the ship is without rudder and perhaps prop. They may have been lost or removed and stowed on the ship while at the Verreault shipyard. As of today some light steel framing is still visible at the stern - purpose unknown. It hardly looks sufficient to brace a prop in ocean conditions.

 However rumours are now flying that the ship has been acquired by Canadian owners (which I will not name) and will be refitted for service. There will be a big repair bill for the hull damage and possible shaft realignment, but perhaps the price was right. If the rumours are true, repairs will likely take place at one of the three Canadian shipyards capable of handling a ship of this size. The Heddle Marine shipyard (former Port Weller Dry Dock) in St.Catharines, ON is one, but it will not be accessible until the Seaway opens March 22, and wintering ships depart. Davie in Lévis and Verreault have large enough drydocks also and are possibilities if they are not booked for other work.


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Camarina sails

   The tug Kamarina sailed for Portugal today without its intended tow - and thereby must hang a tale.

The Kamarina returning to anchor after bunkering February 10.

The tug departed Schiedam, (greater Rotterdam area) Netherlands on November 29 with the assignment to tow the bulk carrier Ale from the Verreault Shipyard in Méchins, QC to Setubal, Portugal for permanent repairs to grounding damage. It arrived in Méchins December 12 and made to depart on December 17, but there was an incident involving contact with other vessel(s). Ship and tug crossed the river to Baie Comeau to make up the tow in the shelter of the bay. There they awaited a weather window and sailed on December 27. Somewhere in the Gulf of St.Lawrence one of the towing bridles parted, but the voyage continued and they arrived in Halifax January 3. Once in Halifax it was clear to me that the rudder and bottom damage to the ship, although not visible, included loss or removal of the rudder and prop. Therefore the ship cannot move under its own power, nor can it steer. There was also some damage to the ship from the towing bridle failure, but that was not completely visible from shore. (See previous posts).

The tug remained with the ship at Pier 9C until January 13 when it went to anchor in Bedford Basin. Aside from a brief time back at the dock on January 18 when the ship was shifted to Pier 9B the tug remained at anchor until February 9-10 when it moved to Pier 27 for an over night stay, during which it took on fuel (and probably provisions). It went back to anchor until yesterday, February 14 when it moved alongside the Ale again. Then this morning it left for Lisbon, light tug.

I have no explanation for why the tow was not continued. Maybe insurance, maybe Port State Control, or maybe a host of legal entanglements. In any event a transatlantic tow of a ship with crew aboard, with no rudder or prop, in mid-winter, even with an 8,000 bhp tug is probably not well advised. So the Ale languishes at Pier 9B for the foreseeable future.


The Ale remains unrepaired at Pier 9B, awaiting spring and another tug.


Sunday, February 12, 2023

Morning Lena, return engagement

 The autocarrier Morning Lena is becoming a regular on the Walllenius Wilhelmsen Ocean transatlantic service. It called at least three times in 2022 and on its May 11 visit discharged RoRo cargo at Pier 9C and cars at Autoport. Today, February 12, it will repeat that sequence, starting at Pier 9C.

As usual the ship must sail through the Narrows, make a U-turn in Bedford Basin, re-enter the Narrows and tie up starboard side to the dock at Pier 9C.

Late afternoon shadows from the A. Murray MacKay bridge fall across the Morning Lena's bow as it transits northward for Bedford Basin.

A rare opportunity for a "stern shot" of the ship reveals two side by side funnels, the "inboard" one of which would be the retrofitted exhaust gas scrubber tower. Note also the free fall lifeboat tucked in adjacent to the stern ramp.

This time no tug's lines parted as they did last May, and the ship was soon turned and headed back to Pier 9C. (Atlantic Willow is made up forward and Atlantic Bear is aft.)

 Built in 2010 by Hyundai, Ulsan, the 70,853 gt, 27,297 dwt ship has a capacity of 8100 CEU. It flies the Republic of Korea (South Korea) flag, and has the ship's name in Korean script bow and stern.

The ship is scheduled to move to Autoport first thing tomorrow morning where it will spend most of the day offloading cars.


Saturday, February 11, 2023

Where are the boxes

 The work week of Monday February 6 to Friday February 10, 2023 in Halifax was one of the quietest weeks for container shipping in some time. After the activity on Monday as per my previous post, there were no arrivals on Tuesday or Wednesday and only the Atlantic Sail and Oceanex Sanderling on Thursday.  It was Hyundai Force (for THE Alliance) and Nolhan Ava on Friday. This dearth of shipping is not unusual in the wake of Chinese New Year (January 22 this year) when Asian loadings are way down.

Today's arrivals consisted of Eimskip's regular Skogafoss and Atlantic Sun neither of which serve Asia. A third arrival CMA CGM Alexander von Humboldt did come from Asia, but sailed from Shenzhen, China on January 2 - well before the holiday shutdown.  (It then made its way to Halifax via Singapore (January 11), Port Klang (January 13), Suez Canal (January 26), Malta (January 30) and Tanger Med (February 3).

The 176,546 gt, 186,802 dwt behemoth was built in 2013 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co Ltd, Okpo, and has a capacity of 16,070 TEU. It is a sister ship to CMA CGM Jules Verne and CMA CGM Marco Polo, the largest container ships to call in Halifax.

CMA CGM Alexander von Humboldt has called in Halifax regularly on about a four month rotation since its first visit December 27, 2021 on the Columbus JAX service run by CMA CGM jointly with COSCO, Evergreen and OOCL. The ship will next call at New York, Norfolk, Charleston and Savannah before retracing its route east bound through the Mediterranean and Suez Canal to numerous Asian ports, finallly crossing the Pacific to Oakland and Los Angeles.


Friday, February 10, 2023

Alfred Needler and other old government ships

 The Canadian Coast Guard announced February 9 that it will not be repairing the CCGS Alfred Needler after the most recent incidents (See previous posts of December 22 and January 19) when the ship had equipment failures and was damaged while alongside at the BIO dock. They have cancelled a planned $5 million refit which was intended to squeeze a few more years of service out of the forty year old research trawler. They have determined that the ship is beyond repair and that further expenditure would not return it to safe operation.

Instead the ship will be prepared for what they politely refer to as "deconstruction" and "environmentally sound disposal." That means scrapping (in Canada) following safe regulations.

The announcement follows the retirement of CCGS Hudson late last year. A contract to demolish that research veteran (at sixty years of age) was awarded to R.J.MacIsaac Construction Ltd (RJMI). They took over "care and custody" of the ship, and in the spring of 2023 will tow it to Sheet Harbour for final disposal. In the meantime RJMI has moved the ship to Pier 9C in Halifax where it awaits the tow.

According to the CCGS press release in December, once the ship arrives in Sheet Harbour there will be a process of hazardous material remediation and disposal.

Then by Fall 2023, the vessel will be removed from the water and the hull and superstructure will be disassembled. The overall project is expected to be completed by the end of Fall 2023.

As per the press release "RJMI will ensure that any steel, stainless steel, aluminum, or other recyclable materials onboard the vessel are recycled while non-recyclable materials are disposed of in an environmentally-responsible manner, in compliance with federal, provincial, and municipal regulations. As well, the contractor will salvage and return the CCGS Hudson's hull transducers and propellers to the CCG."

There has been no visible activity on the Hudson at Pier 9C, and as of this morning, February 10, it still remains intact. RJMI's facility in Sheet Harbour is currently dismantling the fire damaged ferry Holiday Island.

That work is expected to have advanced enough by spring that room can be found for the Hudson.

As for the Alfred Needler there are other contractors that could also bid on the work, and since it is a much smaller ship there could be several locations to do it.

It was also recently announced that the Coast Guard itself has begin to demolish in place the former CCGS Tupper at Marie Joseph, NS. The ship was sold by the Coast Guard in 2000 for conversion to a yacht and renamed Caruso but work never took place and after a fire in 2008 it was sold to a scrapper and towed to Marie Joseph in 2011. Scrapping was never completed and the Coast Guard undertook to remove the remains as a pollution threat. They will likely also demolish the tug Craig Trans at the same location and attempt to recover costs from the same owner. See previous post of June 21, 2011 and April 4, 2021.

There was been a long list of "dreamers" buying former government ships with schemes to reuse or convert them, but the ships usually ended up abandonned when funds ran out, or were involved in smuggling operations. None of this did any credit to the government or to Canada. In recent years, whether intentionally or not, surplus government craft have been few and as per the first three ships mentoned above, were in no state to be reused and so have been sold to be dismantled appropriately.


Monday, February 6, 2023

Back to Normal

 After a brief period of record cold temperatures February 3-4 when the mercury dropped to -25 degrees C (-13 F) in Halifax, there was a quick return to normal, and above, on February 5-6 when the high reached  +5C (41F). Several ships were late in arriving, probably to avoid the high winds and dangerous freezing spray.

Among the February 5 arrivals were two ships coming from the south, where conditions were slightly better. Viviene Sheri D running for Eimskip was en route from the US to Argentia, NL then Iceland and AS Felicia was on ZIM's Florida feeder service. 

Vivienne Sheri D had a dusting of frozen spray on its sides forward.

There was no frozen spray visible on AS Felicia.

On February 6 the NYK Deneb and Algoma Integrity arrived from the south, Cartagena and Portsmouth (Newington), NH respectively:

NYK Deneb headed directly for Fairview Cove.

Algoma Integrity also headed for Bedford Basin, but anchored waiting the CSL Kajika which was loading at Gold Bond Gypsum.

On February 6 the container ship MSC Alyssa arrived from Montreal, having travelled through a lot of ice on the St.Lawrence and very rough conditions in the Gulf. By the time it arrived in the afternoon, any sign of frozen spray had disappeared. It will top up cargo to ocean draft before heading back across the Atlantic.

The Siem Cicero Confucius arrived off Halifax February 3 and waited out the cold spell offshore until February 6 to enter port and tie up at Autoport. The ship sailed from Emden and is now headed for Baltimore.

The pilot boat Scotia Pilot accompanies the ship outbound. Rather than standing by at the pilot station in the lingering slop and swell, it remained in the harbour until it was time to set out to disembark the pilot.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Fairview - big ship, big change

 The view of PSA's Fairview Cove container terminal is changing gradually as the oldest crane is gradually being dismantled. The crane has not been operable for some time, and is too small for some of the larger ships that are now calling, including today's arrival. Since PSA took over management of the facility last year they have been upgrading or replacing older equipment. There has been no announcement of another crane however, as the present complement seems to be able to handle the traffic.

Work on dismantling the old crane began in early January. As the above January 8 photo shows, it is much smaller than the other cranes. A large crawler crane (red colour) was positioned next to the old crane.

January 9 (above)

January 18 (above) a second crane was brought in.

January 19 (above), the second crane has a telescoping main boom and a fixed jib.

January 27 (above) work progresses after the outer boom is removed.

February 1 (above)

Rival terminal operator DP World has just received two cranes for its expanded Saint John NB pier (granted they are second hand cranes from Charleston SC, but they are long reach), and the Southend Atlantic Hub terminal will also be getting more cranes this year. 

Ships served at PSA Fairview Cove are limited in size due to restricted bridge clearances, and today's (February 1) arrival is just about as large as they can handle. (The ACLS ConRos are the largest ships).

NYK Virgo arrived on THE Alliance's EC5 service. Built in 2007 by Hyundai, Ulsan, it is a 97,825 gt, 103,284 dwt ship with a capacity of 9,012 TEU. It employed three tugs to make its way through the harbour to Bedford Basin and Fairview Cove.