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.



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