Monday, July 31, 2023

Wind Power

 Despite advances in power generation, the wind is still popular. Today (July 31) as the offshore installation vessel Orion using its 5,000 tonne crane lifts a wind turbine base component from the heavy lift ship GPO Sapphire, there was a pleasant breeze filling the sails of a few craft in the harbour.

The harbour tour boat Silva of Halifax, a three masted schooner built in 1939 in Sweden, and an unidentified pleasure craft (sail # 51257) draw close for a look at the activity.

Meanwhile the cruise ship Caribbbean Princess called in tug assistance from the Atlantic Fir to depart from Pier 22.

 Cruise ships rarely use tugs because they have multiple thrusters and are thus highly maneuverable (and they like to avoid scuff marks on their while hulls.) However this time the ship needed to do a 360 degree turn off the dock. Because of the Orion and GPO Sapphire activity across the harbour (see above) there was not room to go north about George's Island. Also the autocarrier Sunshine Ace (not pictured) was outbound from Autoport and so the cruise ship could not back out into number one anchorage and turn without blocking its course. The light breeze was likely not much of a factor in this case, but cruise ships are subject to windage and must be handled accordingly.




Sunday, July 30, 2023

Lady Malou - standing by

 The tanker Lady Malou arrived in Halifax last evening (July 29) and took up position in #3 anchorage. It is expected to move alongside Imperial Oil's #3 dock later this evening (July 30).

A typical MidRange vessel of 29,762 gt, 51,486 dwt, it was built by Hyundai Mipo in Ulsan in 2013. It is a member of the Latsco fleet of 41 ships (mostly tankers). The company was founded in the 1940s by the well known Capt. John S. Latsis. Once known as Petrola International SA, the company changed its name when it branched out beyond tankers. It is now headquartered in Monaco. (The name Malou is a short from of Mary Louise / Marie-Louise or Maria-Lourdes).

The ship is arriving from Baytown, Texas (in the Houston-Galveston Bay area) where Exxon-Mobil operates the large 588,000 bbl/day (92,800 m3/day) refinery and numerous chemical plants. By comparison Canada's largest refinery, operated by Irving Oil in Saint John, NB has a refining rate of 320,000 bbl/day (51,000 m3/day).

Imperial Oil is a Canadian company 69.6% owned by Exxon-Mobil and retails product under the Esso and Mobil brands but also sells product to other retailers for sale under their own brand names. Its former refinery (89,000 bbl/day) in Dartmouth, NS, ceased refining operations in 2013, and Imperial now uses the large tank "farm" as a storage and distribution terminal for the Atlantic region. It has a truck loading operation for inland destinations. 

It imports various products, including propane, by rail and its tanker dock is used to import and distribute product. Ships of Algoma Tankers move product inbound from domestic sources primarily Imperial's own refineries in Sarnia and Nanticoke, Ontario and outbound to such smaller ports such as Sydney, NS, Corner Brook, NL and Sept-Iles, QC. Imported product usually comes from Antwerp, Belgium, so today's shipment from Baytown is a little out of the ordinary.

When the Lady Malou was here previously, on Novemebr 1, 2021, its funnel marking was more visible, with the large "L" for Latsis. John S. Latis was one of the great Greek shipping "tycoons", but more discrete and private than his contemporaries Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos to name a few others.

November 1, 2021.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Halifax Harbour - sublime to ridiculous

 There is seemingly no end to the variety of shipping activity in Halifax harbour. From containers to bulk cargo, tankers to cruise ships, Navy and Coast Guard and personal recreation to super yachts.

Then there are the specialty vessels in several categories, among them the offshore installation ship Orion with its 5,000 tonne capacity crane dominating the skyline again. The ship returned Thursday, July 27 after its first session installing wind turbine towers off Massachusetts.

Due to some technical issues, the ship took a long time to install the first six towers. Now two heavy cargo ships are anchored in the harbour each carrying six more towers. The time clock must be running out on the installation season.

GPO Grace (pictured) and sister ship GPO Sapphire are both anchored in Halifax - each carrying the components for six wind towers. The components are to be transferred (six at a time) to the Orion which will them go to the Vineyard wind site for intallation.

Little notice is thereby given to the "ordinary" ships such as STI Marvel which also arrived July 27 from Amsterdam with a cargo of refined pteroleum products for Irving Oil. 

Built in 2019 by Hyundai Vinashin Shipyard Co in Ninh Hoa, Vietnam it is a 29,991 gt, 47,499 dwt chemical and product tanker operated by Scorpio Tankers Inc. It carried the name Marlin Marvel to 2020. The ship is due to sail this evening (July 29).

Similarlry, without fanfare, the Canadian flag self-unloading bulk carrier Baie St.Paul made its way to the Gold Bond Gypsum pier in Bedford Basin this afternoon (July 29) to take on another load, probably for Hamilton, ON.

The ship delivered a cargo of coal from the Great Lakes to Sydney, NS and arrived Halifax light ship.

The William Hall, the fourth Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel is undergoing builder's sea trials off Halifax. It left Halifax Shipyard July 27 and after calibrations in Bedford Basin put out to sea. The ship has been put through its paces, allowing Irving Shipbuilding Inc to perform multiple tests and adjustments before handing the ship over to the Royal Canadian Navy later this year.

 At this time of the year the harbour is busy with pleasure craft and tour boats. many of the former are elegant sailing vessels or sleek motor yachts. The tour boat category includes a variety including sailing vessels and motor vessels - the latter are seldom elegant, but well suited to carrying passengers around the harbour and entertaining them as they feel necessary.

One vessel with a fake paddle wheel and fake chimneys and not fooling anyone as a Mississippi River boat. has been a regular in Halifax for decades and has a well earned reputation as a party boat and is very popular among locals and visitors.

Built in the improbable shipbuilding centre of Oromocto,NB in 1985 as Pioneer Princess II it has been operating in Halifax since 1986.

I wonder how long the Mi Cabana will operate in Halifax. Introduced in June of this year by Tiki Tours Halifax it is a pontoon craft built by Soudure Technikal 13 Inc of Shawinigan, QC [soudure translates as welding] earlier this year. It is one of several similar craft operating in Ottawa and Lake Huron all with the Tiki theme.

 Although its gross tonnage is listed as only 4.99 tons and it has two outboard motors, it is registered in the ship registry by name as a passenger vessel. The three aluminum pontoons would provide a stable ride in moderate conditions. That may mean that there will be some days off depending on wind and sea state. (Batten down the thatches?)


Friday, July 28, 2023

Contship Art - for ZIM and Tarifa for WWO


ZIM's CFX service - a weekly Caribbean feeder line from Halifax to Kingston, Jamaica via New York, has been opearting since April 2018 using short term charters.

Today (July 28) saw the arrival of Contship Art for the first time, with this name.

 The ship was built by Jangsu Yangzijiang Shipyard in Jiangyin in 2014 as Taipei Trader. It was renamed Cap Avatele on delivery and renamed Taipei Trader in 2016. It is a 9932 gt, 13,063 dwt vessel with a capacity of 1102 TEU including 220 reefers and carries two 45 tonne SWL cranes. As Taiepi Trader it called in Halifax for the CFX service in 2020 -2021. It was renamed Contship Art in 2022.

It replaces Warnow Master which took up the service in May of this year. Contship Art will join  Contship Leo which has been on the service since October 2011.


Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean operates a regular North Europe / North America service delivering automobiles and other RoRo cargo. The automobiles are handled at Autoport, and most of the RoRo at Richmond Terminals, Pier 9C. As usual today (July 27) the RoRo brought in by the Tarifa consisted of mostly construction, agriculture and forestry machinery with some miscellaneous objects such as small boats and crates.


Built in 2007 by Stocznia Grynia in Poland, the ship was launched as Tarifa but renamed Morning Charisma on delivery for EUKOR, but was soon renamed Tarifa. The 57,692 gt, 21,120 dwt ship has a capacity of 6400 RT43 cars.

An amazing quantity of RoRo cargo form previous ships has been cleared from the Pier 9C area in the past few days, but the space was soon filled up again today. (The photo above was taken early in the morning.)

The heavy lift ship Pijlgracht (see previous post - updated)  moved out to anchor in Bedford Basin last evening to make way for the Tarifa and is expected to move back alongside again.



Thursday, July 27, 2023


 Irving Shipbuilding Inc has reached another milestone in the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel program with AOPV 4 leaving Halifax Shipyard today (July 27) for builder's trials. The future HMCS William Hall AOP 433 is the fourth of eight AOPVs that ISI is building for the Royal Canadian Navy plus two variants for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The shipyard appears to be working full out to overcome the delays due to COVID and "supply chain" issues. The major building blocks of AOPV5, the future HMCS Frédérick Rolette will be rolled out soon.


Things do not appear to be operating quite so swimmingly on the Navy side.

 HMCS Harry DeWolf AOP 430, looking somewhat seedy, alongside HMC Dockyard.

 By the end of July activity in the far north is usually well underway with the first arctic sealift ships arriving at outposts and the Coast Guard icebreaking fleet begining their work. And indeed that is the case this year with ports such as Iqaluit welcoming the first ships of the year. Tugs are also standing by there for the first ships to load ore at Milne Inlet. (This year they must wait until ice starts to break up naturally).

However the RCN's three AOPVs are still at their docks in Halifax There appears to be some activity with dive tenders alongside, so perhaps departures are planned.

HMCS Max Bernays AOP 432 (left) and HMCS Margaret Brooke AOP 432 (right), with what appear to be commercial diving vessels alongside, possibly for hull cleaning.

 The RCN is stepping up its efforts to attract recruits. Some reports indicate that there is a 20% vacancy rate and an urgent need for 1,400 more people. Applications to join all of the armed forces are about half of what is needed.

It is hard to imagine how the RCN will be able to operate all the new AOPVs if they are so short of people with not even half the projected number of the ships delivered.



Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Zaandam - medical emergency

 The cruise ship Zaandam was outbound after a day in port today (July 25) when there was a medical emergency on board. The ship still had its pilot on board, so was able to turn around in a safe area off Bear Cove and returned to Pier 21. 

The unusual sight of a cruise ship arriving in the evening [1844 hrs, ADT]

 The ship came alongside directly, bow north.[1858 hrs]

Once the ship was made fast with all the usual mooring lines paid out, the patient was safely transferred to a waiting ambulance, and the ship sailed again within a half hour. It made its way north and east of George's Island outbound en route to Sydney, NS.

The Zaandam picks up speed outbound [1950 hrs ADT]

The Zaandam is the most frequent cruise ship caller in Halifax early in the season. It is scheduled for twenty visits this year - this is its fourteenth. Fincantieri Marghera delivered the ship to Holland America Line in 2000. With a grt of 61,396 it can carry 1432 passengers and crew of 615.


Pijlgracht delivers - part 1 - UPDATED

 The Dutch flagged heavy lift cargo ship Pijlgracht tied up at Pier 9C first thing this morning (July 25) and within a couple of hours had offloaded a shrink wrapped mystery package from its number one hold.

Instead of landing the object on the pier, it was instead placed on a small flat deck Royal Canadian Navy barge on the ship's offshore (starboard) side. (All the nachinery on the pier is from previous ships, including last week's Morning Concert.)


  The barge, YC 601 was then hustled away to HMC Dockyard by the tug Glenbrook with the assistance of the Pup tugs Granville and Listerville.

The Pijlgracht's movements over the past month give little clue as to the nature of the package. The ship transited the Panama Canal May 26 and was next reported in the Chalmette and New Orleans area July 11-14, before reaching Jacksonville July 18 to19.

The Pijlgracht is an unusual Spliethoff ship, because it was not orginally built for the company to its own proprietary design.  Instead it was built in 2011 by Hudong Zhonghua in Shanghai as the Beluga Progression. The Beluga company failed amid corruption charges and the ship was accquired by Hansa Heavy-Lift (HHL) the same year, and renamed HHL Lagos

Spliethoff acquired the assets of HHL in 2019 when that company also failed, They named the ship for one of the many canals in their home port of Amsterdam. Spiethoff has seven sister ships of the same design, built in 2010 and 2011 and called their P14 type.

The ship measures 17,644 gt, 19,379 dwt and carries three cranes. The one 180 tonne SWL crane is fitted forward on the starboard side. The other two, each rated at 700 tonnes, can work in combination for a 1400 tonne lift, and are mounted on the port side (hence the 14 in the type name).

The ship has two holds with full length folding hatch covers and portable tween decks. The smaller forward hatch opening is 22.94 m long and the large number two hatch opening is 82.4m long, unobstructed. The ship is built to carry heavy loads and is also rated for 912 TEU. Spliethoff and partner company BigLift have become not only heavy lift specialists but also "special cargo" specialists, catering to unusual or delicate cargoes such as humidity controlled materials, luxury yachts, and wind farm components.

The ship will remain in port over night, and may have more cargo to unload tomorrow - if so Part 2 will have more details. 

Update #1

The mystery cargo was a bow sonar array for a submarine - thanks to a reader for passing along this info.

Update #2

The Pijlgracht moved out to anchor in Bedford Basin on the evening of July 26 to make way for the RoRo / Auto Carrier Tarifa to land its cargo July 28.

The Pijlgracht passes through the shadow of the A. Murray MacKay bridge en route from Pier 9c to Bedford Basin anchorage.


Friday, July 21, 2023

Hollyhock transplant

 The US Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock arrived at the Tall Ships Quay this morning, July 21, bringing dense fog with it. (A gentle onshore breeze, coupled with a rising tide, was the perfect recipe to bring the fog inshore - it was relatively clear a half hour before the ship tied up.)

The ship was emitting an earsplitting fog signal right up to Pier 20, with about a 5 second reverb off the Dartmouth shore (or possibly the hull of the anchored Oceanex Sanderling.)

Hollyhock is a multi-mission Juniper class vessel designated WLB-314,  and is similar in design and function to Canadian Coast Guard 1100 type vessels. Its main mission is buoy tending, but it is also used in icebreaking, search and rescue and law and regulatory enforcement. Built in 2003 by Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin, it has been stationed in Port Huron, MI since new. It has a military sized crew of 50.

On July 9 it departed Port Huron and made its way down the Welland Canal, July 11, and exited the St.Lawrence Seaway on July 13. It then stopped in Quebec City July 15-17. 


From Halifax the ship will proceed to the USCG refit base in Curtis Bay, MD where the crew will disembark and take over USCGS Sequoia which will then take up station in Port Huron. It is expected that Hollyhock will enter a mid-life refit program at Curtis Bay, and when that is completed, it will be sent to its new station in Hawaii.



Thursday, July 20, 2023

Add a bird: ONE Grus

 Add another bird to the aviary of Bird class container ships on THE Alliance's EC5 service. Today (July 20) it was ONE Grus making a foggy arrival at PSA Halifax, south end terminal.

 Unlike some of the earlier birds (sorry) that have called, this one was built as ONE Grus. By the time it was delivered by Japan Marine United, Kure, in 2019, NYK had merged its new builds into Ocean Network Express and the ship did not have the NYK prefix. It has the same tonnages and capacities as its sister ships, namely: 146,684 gt, 138,611 dwt and 14,025 TEU.

Its name is not immediately identifiable as a familiar species of bird, but instead is the genus that includes cranes. Perhaps the better known Whooping Crane or Sandhill Crane would have been inconveniently long. Sister ship ONE Crane (ex NYK Crane) was built in 2016.


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Return of the Regulars

 Two arrivals in Haliax today (July 19) were both regulars - one long term and one shorter term.

The "newer" of the arrivals was MSC Nuria from Montreal on the CANEX 2 service to Mediterranean ports. The ship arrived in light draft condition for St.Lawrence River limits and will top up cargo to ocean draft. The ship arrived in a light drizzle, which fuzzified the image somewhat.

 The tug Atlantic Oak is made up forward portside and Atlantic Fir approaches to make up on the starboard bow.

The ship made its first call here June 4, 2019 for Canadian Food Inspection Agency invasive species clearance. At that time there were no MSC ships calling in Halifax on a regular basis, so it was something of a novelty. That has changed with "draft stops" to decant or top off now a regular occurrence. MSC has also added Halifax to some of its North Atlantic services, including Turkey- Greece, Indusa, North Europe-Ecuador along with CANEX 1 and CANEX2.

The ship was built in 2008 by Daewoo's Mangalia, Romania shipyard and launched as Buxplace but was given its current name on delivery. It is a 50,563 gt, 63,377 dwt ship with a capacity of 4884 TEU including 560 reefers.

There was some sort of problem with the ship as it approached the pilot station inbound, and it had to do a 360 degree turn and make is rendez-vous with the pilot boat a second time before the pilot boarded.

The second arrival, later in the afternoon is a long time regular on THE Alliance's AL5 route from North Europe.

NYK Rumina made its way inbound to Fairiview Cove with the tugs Atlantic Willow forward and Atlantic Bear tethered aft.

Built in 2010 by Hyundai, Samho, the 55,487 gt, 66,171 dwt ship a capacity of 4922 TEU including 330 reefers. It has been calling here since at least 2015.

Ships the size of these two were thought to be obsolete a few years ago as larger and larger ships came into service. However the recent COVID/boom in shipping drove their value back up and gave them an extension. With things cooling off, if not slumping now, and with scores of new ships coming out this year and next, there may be a thinning in the ranks.

Nevertheless they are still useful ships on routes that include the St. Lawrence River, and some low volume trade routes.



Monday, July 17, 2023


 The return of ONE Owl today (July 17) on the eastbound leg of its voyage (it was here westbound on June 28) gave an opportunity for a series of proper photos - unlike the 3/4 aft view from that last time.

 Accompanied by the tugs Atlantic Oak forward, Atlantic Beaver alongside aft, and Atlantic Fir - tethered escort astern - the ship made an impressive sight. Even though these "bird" class ships are regular callers on THE Alliance's EC5 service they are still something of a novelty due to their sheer size and unique colour.

As previously reported the 146,412 gt, 139,335 dwt ship has a capacity of 14,026 TEU. It was built as NYK Owl in 2017 by Japan Marine United in Kure and renamed in 2021. Its hull was repainted the magenta colour of Ocean Network Express at that time. (I guess we should be happy it was not painted as Edward Lear would have it: The owl and the pussycat went to sea / In a beautifiul pea-green boat.)

Ships of this size cannot reach the PSA Fairview Cove terminal and therefore the EC 5 and other services must be handled at the PSA Atlantic Gateway, southend terminal. This has resulted in lines that have smaller ships, relocating to Fairview Cove. (See yesterday's post on MSC's Turkey-Greece service.) I hear that others are to follow soon.


Sunday, July 16, 2023

MSC Sandra

One of the most frequent of MSC ships to call in Halifax over the past couple of years has been MSC Sandra. I first noted its arrival on September 19, 2021 on the Canada Express 2 service from Spain to the St.Lawrence River. (I had seen it previously in 2018, if not before, on the St.Lawrence.)  On those visits it was to lighten off cargo to meet St.Lawrence River draft restrictions.

MSC Sandra at St.Lawrence draft and at speed: 2018-08-17.

Its recent calls in Halifax have been on the Turkey-Greece service, via Israel, Italy, Spain and Sines, Portugal en route to Boston and beyond. The service has now shifted terminals from the PSA Atlantic Gateway, Southend terminal to PSA Fairview Cove. That presents some challenges for the harbour pilots as they navigate the length of the harbour to and from Bedford Basin.

From left to right, the Halifax Harbour Tours boat Violet Mac, harbour ferry Viola Desmond (in the distance), the amphibious Harbour Hopper 5, pilot boat Capt. E.T.Rogers and tug Atlantic Beaver (in the distance) have all cleared the way for the ship to pass.

Built in 2010 by Hyundai, Busan, the MSC Sandra is a 43,575 gt, 61,468 dwt ship with a capacity of 4340 TEU including 150 reefers. On this trip it appears to be moderately well loaded, but certainly not to capacity.

The one empty bay has presumably been left for Boston cargo. There also appears to be a substantial number of reefers stowed aft.


Thursday, July 13, 2023

Grande Halifax

 Another one of Grimaldi Lines' colourful auto carriers paid a visit to Halifax July 12 and 13. As with other ships of the line, it is named for a port or region where the ship is likely to call. In this case it is the Port of Halifax, and when the Grande Halifax called here for the first time in May 2018 it was received with considerable fanfare and an onboard naming ceremony.

This call was run of the mill however, except that it was a rare overnighter. Most auto carriers are in and out in eight hours. The ship sailed from Livorno June 30 and stopped in Savona (July 1) and Valencia (July 2-4) before setting out for Halifax, and arriving at the pilot station at 0530 hrs ADT July 12. Its sailing time this afternoon was for 1530 hrs.

Jinling Shipyard in Nanjing delivered the ship in January 2018. The 62,134 gt vessel measures 18,353 dwt and has a capacity of 6700 cars and is equipped with a 150 tonne SWL stern ramp. As I noted in 2018, the underside of its side ramp is also well painted in yellow.

The Grande Halifax is bound for New York harbour (but in fact will be docking in Newark, NJ) where its unfortunate fleet mate Grande Costa d'Avorio now rests as a burnt out hulk. That ship, loaded with cars and containers (it is a ConRo - not a Pure Car and Truck Carrier), caught fire July 4 and burned for five days. Two Newark firefighters lost their lives while fighting the fire, which resulted in the total constructive loss of the ship. Several recent auto carrier fires have been blamed on Electric Vehicles (EVs) but it is reported that there were no EVs aboard the ship.


Wednesday, July 12, 2023

MSC Cornelia - the shift is on

 The long rumoured rationalisation of shipping line allocations between Halifax's two container terminals appears to have started, with MSC Cornelia arriving at PSA Fairview Cove this morning instead of PSA Atlantic Gateway (south end terminal).

The two container terminals were orginally under seperate management and competed with each other for business, but this ended when PSA acquired the management contracts for both facilities.

The size of ship that can be accommodated at Fairview Cove is limited by clearance under the two harbour bridges, which was not much of an issue when the terminal was built forty years ago. With the advent of larger ships the two terminals could not always compete with each other, and Fairview was in danger of becoming under utilized. 

Since PSA has taken over management, some lines that were contracted to use Fairview Cove have sent their ships to the southend terminal on an ad hoc basis - depending on the ships' size - generally ships of over 9,000 TEU.

It has been expected that some shipping lines that normally use ships of under 9,000 TEU would be shifted to Fairview Cove to avoid congestion in the southend. Particularly since there is a major redevelopment project planned within the southend terminal. That congestion will soon become a reality - at least on an interim bassis. New rail lines, rearrangement of the truck gate, truck staging area and staff parking will mean that part of the facility will be torn up for a time. 

Construction of the new maintenance facility (which seems to be taking forever) began last year and is finally begining to show above grade. Infilling of the basins between piers has begun and tenders have been called for demolition of the transit sheds at pier 33-34.That work will eventually result in more laydown area but it will be at least a year - if not longer - before the added space in usable. One new crane may have arrived by then.

MSC Cornelia first called in Halifax on March 17 (St.Patrick's Day) but this time chose to call on Battle of Orange Day July 14 - take your pick. (My Irish ancestors would have had no problem.)

When the ship called in March (photo above) at the southend terminal, Shipfax reported:

"Shanghai Jiangnan Changxing delivered the ship in 2010. The 54,182 gt, 63,069 dwt vessel has a capacity of 5089 TEU. Originally named RHL Fiducia, it was renamed Cornelia I in 2016 and became MSC Cornelia in 2021. It has a capacity of 5089 TEU including 385 reefer points.

"The ship appeared to be well loaded but was only carrying containers four boxes high on deck. Perhaps this was a precaution against potential sea conditions. The ship was built to the SDARI 5100 PMAX standard design (which I assume means 5100 nominal TEU / Panamax) but is listed with a capacity of 3,350 TEU at 14 tonnes each. Therefore depending on the ratio of loads to empties, the deck load may vary. With a glut of empties choking ports world wide, it is likely that the ship would be carrying mostly loads."

Once again the ship was carrying a deck load four boxes in height, but this time perhaps was not as deeply loaded. (I assume that the salinity of Bedford Basin must be close to ocean levels despite recent heavy rains.) 

The MSC Cornelia is west bound on the Turkey-Greece service. Interestingly since leaving Piraeus June 25 the ship called in Haifa (June 27) - that is an addition to the previous rotation and may mean added reefer cargo. It then called in Valencia, Spain July 1-2 and Sines Portugal July 4-5. It is due in Boston July 14. 

The tug Atlantic Beaver on a stern line, lines the ship up for the Narrows on departure July 12.


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

New pilot boats for APA - revised

 The Atlantic Pilotage Authority (APA) has taken delivery of two lightly used pilot boats from the Port of Milford Haven in Wales. Named St.Brides and St.Govans, they were built in 2016 by Mainstay Marine in Pembroke Dock. The 48gt, 19.75m x 5.5m boats were designed by the noted pilot boat designers CAMARC for extreme weather. Powered by Cat engines of 670 hp, and good for 14 knots, they were rated for operation in 6 meter waves and tanker turbulence and were to be able to handle 1,000 boardings per year before maintenance.

The two boats arrived in Halifax today, July 11, on board the heavy lift ship BBC Virginia and were offloaded at Pier 9C using the ship's cranes.


 Once in the water Dominion Diving's Halmar shifted the boats, one at a time, to Dominion Diving's dock in Dartmouth Cove.

Pilot boardings in Halifax in particular have been difficult in recent years as some of the pilot boats are not suitable for operation in rough weather. Cancellations and delays have resulted. Perhaps these boats have been acquired to correct that situation. See correction below
I hope they work out here, as they were not successful in Milford Haven where they were declared "not fit for service"and placed on "operational pause" after only a couple of years use. Granted Milford Haven has just about the worst sea states of any of the world's ports, with huge Atlantic swells to cope with. But these boats were supposed to be designed for those conditions. Crew members however claimed they were built in a rush, were "cheap" and under powered. There were also concerns about the fenders.

The boats they were intended to replace were returned to service and tenders were issued for new boats for delivery in 2024.

A third sister boat the St.Davids "t-boned" a gas tanker and three crew members were injured, and the boat's bow severely damaged. It remains in Milford Haven.

When the boats were offered for sale, they were asking approximately US$1,000,000 each. Engines had about 1500 hours, and they were reported to be extremely well maintained and were ready to run.

Currently the APA operates two boats in Halifax. Capt E.T.Rogers (built orginally in 2010 as the Chebucto Pilot for Halifax) is an all weather boat. The sister boat Capt. A.G.Soppitt is used in Saint John, NB. Both were built by ABCO in Lunenburg.

APA also operates the smaller 20 knot boat Scotia Pilot in Halifax and its sister Nova Pilot in Saint John. The smaller boats use steerable jet propulsion and were built as crew boats - not as pilot boats. Built in 2012, they were purchased used in the Netherlands in 2017. They are not suitable for rough conditions.

BBC Virginia was built in 2010 by Jiangdong, Wuhu and measures 9618 gt, 12,657 dwt, and carries a pair of 180 tonne SWL cranes, which can be used in combinaiton for a 360 tonne lift. The ship is also rated to carry 665 TEU (nominal) or 528 TEU at 14 tonnes and has 50 reefer plugs. 
BBC Heavy Lift has come in for heavy criticism in Australia recently and has had two ships banned for multiple inspection failures. All BBC ships entering Australian waters will now require inpsection every three months until April 2024. In June BBCWeser was banned for 90 days and this month BBC Pearl was banned for 180 days after its second detainment.

BBC ships are frequent callers in Canadian ports, and are often seen on the Great Lakes, but I am not aware of any Port State Control detentions in the last three years.

Itwill be interesting to see if the new APA boats are repainted in higher visibility colours, as the current British Racing Green looks somewhat somber in the fog and rain.


I had heard that the APA was acquiring new boats for Halifax, and assumed (incorrectly) that these were the ones. Those boats are still under construction in Spain. 

Thanks to a reader, I have learned that the boats that arrived in Halifax today (July 11) are intended to replace the pilot boats in North Sydney and St.John's. Those legendary boats, built in the 1970s to Gulf of Mexico crew boat design and called "Breau boats" are aluminum hulled vessels of 680 hp, built at Breton Industrial and Marine in Point Tupper, NS. As of today A.P.A.No.1 (built 1976) is operating in North Sydney and A.P.A. No.18 (of 1974) is operating in St.John's. A third boat, A.P.A.No.20,  (also 1974) is laid up at the Dartmouth pilot dock.


Aside from eliminating the pilot house side doors, the boats are virtually unchanged since they were built. They are handsome boats with a distinctive colour scheme.