Sunday, November 12, 2023

Odd Ships

 The Port of Halifax sees numerous container ships and product tankers and (in season) cruise ships, but there are a few kinds of ships that are less common. Among the somewhat rarer sightings are large bulk carriers. When we do see them they are usually of the Kamsarmax size. Such ships, with a maximum length of 229m (751.3 ft) are the largest that the port of Kamsar, Republic of Guinea, can accommodate. As the world's largest bauxite exporter, it frequently loads ships for the aluminum smelters in Canada such as La Baie (Port Alfred), Sept-Iles, or Baie Comeau. Today's (November 12) arrival is a Kamsarmax type, the Agri Ocean.

A gearless bulker of 43,066 gt, 81,783 dwt, it was built by Tsuneishi Zhousham, Daishan County in 2019. Its overall length of 228,990 meters means that it can load at Kamsar.

Its arrival is somewhat unusual because the ship is arriving in ballast from Sydney, NS. It arrived there from Rotterdam on November 8 and presumably discharged cargo at the Atlantic Bulk Terminals facility at the Steel Pier. That is primarily a coal importing facility, and most of that commodity comes from South America or the United States - not Rotterdam. The faciity can handle other bulk commodities too,but I have no insight into what this ship might have been carrying.

The ship's name is shared with Agri Oceans International a large broker of bulk food products. If that is more than a coincidence, the ship likely loads other bulk cargoes such as bauxite or coal as backhauls to reduce the expense of ballast voyages. Its visit to Halifax was not to load cargo, but to take on fuel.

The ship tied up at Pier 9C where a tanker truck from RST [far right in photo] was waiting and was soon hooked up for refueling. A portion of the pier was occupied by a large number of mobile rock drills unloaded by the Morning Lady - see yesterday's post.

On sailing this evening the ship gave its destination as Norfolk, VA - a major coal port.

The other unusual arrival today was a ConRo ship. This type of vessel is increasingly rare in the world, as most ports handle containers and RoRo cargo quite seperately and thus ConRo ships are inconvenient to handle. They are also costly to build as they are "neither fish nor fowl" and require more fitting than a ship of either type. Halifax however sees ConRo ships, usually twice a week, on a regular schedule from Atlantic Container Line, plus the two coastal operators Oceanex and TSMI.  What was unusual about today's ConRo visitor is that it carried no containers at all, but only a RoRo cargo of cars.

Ramhan dates from 2015 when it was delivered by STX Offshore + Shipbuilding, Jinhae as one of four sisters, for Ignazio Messina CSpA of Italy as Jolly Cobalto. The 51,055 gt, 44,574 dwt ship was intended for service between the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Middle East. Its container capacity is 3900 TEU. I can find no figure for automobile capacity, but it has 6,350 lane meters of RoRo deck. That equates to just under 1600 cars at 4 meters per car or maybe 500 trucks.

The ship was billed as the largest of its type when built. ACL and the Grimaldi Group claim that title for the ACL 4th generation ships which are considerably larger in tonnages (100,430 gt, 55,700 or so dwt) but may be slightly smaller both in container capacity (3800 TEU ) and RoRo (1300 cars ).

In 2018 the ship was renamed MSC Cobalto but reverted to Jolly Cobalto again in 2020. As of September 1, 2023 the ship was renamed Ramhan by new owners Safeen RoRo of Dubai. 

Most European cars imported through Halifax are built in Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Britain, and Wallenius Wilhelmsen picks them up in a port rotation of Zeebrugge, Bremerhaven, Goteborg and Southampton. Volkswagen exports its cars using directly chartered ships, often from Eukor, but also from SIEM, usually loading at its own facility in Emden. All that is to say that FIAT is the odd man out since the western European ports are quite distant from Italy. 

Ramhan therefore appears to be a FIAT charter coming from Civitavecchia, October 28-29 with a bunker stop in the Gibraltar anchorages October 31 - November 1. Its next port is given as Davisville, RI, home of NORAD Inc (not the military one), a large vehicle reception and processing facility.

There is a large demand for autocarriers out of Asia with some sources citing a shortage of 40 ships. Some exporters have been forced to ship cars in containers to meet orders. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that odd ships may be pressed into service, however this one is a rarety for Halifax and for Autoport.



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