Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Ships with a Story

 If they could talk, many ships would have tales to tell. Even without the power of speach some ships are still able to tell their stories. Today (October 24) there were two ships in Halifax that tell their stories in an unusual way.

Story 1

 MSC Surabaya VIII arrived at PSA Halifax, Atlantic Hub on the Mediterranean Shipping Company's INDUSA service, India to the USA. The ship is actually eastbound en route from its last  US port, Baltimore and will be sailing for Baarcelona, King Abdullah Port in Saudi Arabia, then to Mundra and Nava Sheva.

The ship's hull paint tells the story.  For an MSC ship the hull looks very much like one of  arch -competitor Maersk Lines' ships, and indeed its hull is (plus rust streaks) "Maersk blue".

Daewoo Shipbuilding + Marine Engineering Co Ltd in Okpo, built the ship in 2006, a 94,322 gt, 108,350 dwt vessel to its Daewoo 8000 design. Owners Claus-Peter Offen Reederei of Hamburg named it Santa Laura but the ship almost immediately took up a charter with Maersk as Maersk Surabaya and no doubt was appropriately painted with a "Maersk blue" hull.

 In 2014 the charter terminated and the ship reverted to its original name and operated as Santa Laura until 2016 when it was again taken up by Maersk and renamed Maersk Surabaya for a second time. It is unlikely that the ship had been repainted during that interval, but the "Maersk" banner on the ship's side was certainly painted over, only to be reinstated. In 2021 however Maersk A/S actually bought the ship in the post COVID shipping craze.

Then in May of 2023 Maersk sold the ship to MSC and with a few swipes of the paint brush it became MSC Surabaya VIII. (The Roman Numeral VIII for number 8 indicates that the ship has a container capacity greater than 8,000 TEU. In fact the stated capacity is now 8400 TEU.)

While MSC was buying up ships at an astonishing rate (and possibly for inflated prices) and ordering more to boot, Maersk was not buying or ordering. They in fact ceded the position as world's largest container line to MSC and decided to focus more on logistics and service. It is doubly odd that they would even sell a ship to their fiercest competitor. (MSC's CEO, since 2020, was formerly with Maersk!)

The swipe of the brush did not extend to the rust streaks on the ship's hull, but did manage to cover the Maersk banner with more Maersk blue. No paint was wasted painting between the letters either! Perhaps they found just enough left over in the ship's paint locker.

The ship is not expected for a drydocking any time soon, so it may be quite a while - if ever - that the ship gets the black hull of most MSC ships. The next regular drydocking would be for the ship's twentieth anniversary and by then there will a glut of ships as new ships are being delivered all the time. MSC is well known for operating older ships, but even they may be over capacity by 2026.

Story 2

The second story is also told in paint and involves the Canadian flag tanker Algoberta. In December 2022 Algoma Tankers announced the purchase of three tankers that were operating in Europe. Two  sisters the Chantaco and Chiberta were built in 2007 in Tuzla, Turkey by RMK Marine. Chantaco arrived in Halifax soon after and was renamed Algotitan and in March of 2023 the Chiberta arrived in Canada, sailing directly to Sarnia, ON where it was renamed Algoberta, its new name, playing off the name of the province of Alberta with the ship's former name. (It was registered in Halifax as of April 5, 2023).

No paint was apparently saved in the renaming process as the new name was freshly inscribed above the original, as I noted this morning. The old name was painted over with one thin coat of black.

The raised letters of the former name are welded to the hull and will take some effort to remove. Also with this ship, it will someday be repainted in the owner's very deep blue hull colour, but that is a drydock job. The current black paint is in very good shape, so there is likely no rush.

The Algoberta, 11,799 gt, 18,734 dwt arrived in Halifax October 22 from Imperial Oil's refinery in Nanticoke, ON. Once it had off loaded at Imperial Oil it moved to Pier 9C where it will remain awaiting orders due to the strike of St.Lawrence Seaway workers. The ship cannot return to the Great Lakes until the strike is settled, but it may be dispatched elsewhere for cargo if supplies of gasoline or other fuels begin to run low.

The third ship that Algoma acquired is the Birgit Knutsen and it remained under Maltese registry, but came to Canada in August. As of September 1 it began operating under a coasting license between Sarnia, Nanticoke and Montreal, Sorel and eastern Canada ports.  As of October 19 the ship has been idled in Sarnia. Its coasting license lapses on October 31. I am assuming that Algoma's intention was to operate it again internationally before bringing it under Canadian flag, perhaps next year. However with the Seaway strike there may have to be a change in plans.


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