Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Winter Break

 The Oceanex Sanderling has been plowing a regular furrow between Halifax and St.John's since 1988. Sailing from Halifax on Fridays, it normally returns to Halifax by mid-week. Since it was last tuned up in a major refit in Amsterdam in 2022 the ship has been once again capable of two trips a week if necessary, but has not done so to my knowledge since November 2021. In August of last year Oceanex moved its container and trailer operations from the South End Container Terminal to Fairview Cove, and still handles automobiles at Autoport.

This week it moved its schedule up a bit and the Oceanex Sanderling arrived in Halifax yesterday, Tuesday, January 30 and went to Pier 25 instead of PSA Fairview Cove.

It was soon attended by the dive tender Dominion Bearcat, which has been alongside all day yesterday and all day today.  (What appears to be ice in the water at the bow, is snow dumperd there from clearing operations at nearby piers.)

It is also worth noting that the ship has very few containers on deck - somewhat unusual - since it normally has a substantial deckload:

The ship had a more usual deck load when it arrived on Wednesday January 24.

Oceanex has a Saturday, February 3 departure scheduled for the ship, so whatever work is going on below the waterline appears to have been built into this week's schedule.


Monday, January 29, 2024

Untropical arrival

 The Sonderberg arrived today, January 29, from St.Thomas, Virgin Islands for Tropical Shipping. To say that the day was untropical is an understatement. Heavy snow, amounting to perhaps 15 cm (6 inches) and high winds reduced visibility and limited travel (schools were closed, etc.,) and therefore no photo as I did not leave comfortable world headquarters of Ship Central.

The ship appears to be an addition to the usual Tropic Hope and Tropic Lissette that maintain Tropical's weekly service from Halifax to Palm Beach, FL, San Juan Puerto Rico and various Caribbean islands directly or by feeder. 

 The Sonderborg is a 12,514 gt, 14,222 dwt  gearless container ship with a capacity of 1085 TEU including 200 reefers. It was built in 2012 by Nanjing Wujiazui. It will be back again February 5 and 19, so there may be a chance for a photo then.

The regular ships Tropic Hope built in 2018 and Tropic Lissette built in 2019 by Guangzhou Wenchong are 15,215 gt, 20,325 dwt / 20, 313 dwt respectively, with a capacity of 1145 TEU including 260 reefers and carry two 45 tonne SWL cranes.Both have recently completed their five year surveys and appear to be following normal routes, but may have been knocked off schedule by weather. The ships have been calling here since they entered service in 2019, while Tropical Shipping shifted its operations from Saint John to Halifax in 2017.

There is no mistaking a Tropical Shipping container. 


Sunday, January 28, 2024

Two months to the day

 It has been two months to the day since the container ship BF Fortaleza made its last last call in Halifax for Melfi Lines. On November 28, 2023 I was unable to get an underway photo and annoyingly that was the case again today January 28, 2024. 

However the photo I was able to get today as it was working at PSA Atlantic Gateway Pier 42 showed an important feature of the ship in slightly more detail.

The ship was built by the now regrettably defunct J.J.Sietas Schiffswerft in Nuenfeld, Germany in 1996. It was launched as Partnership but renamed Yvette on delivery. It became Partnership again from 2003 to 2004 then City of Lisbon until 2005, Carla until 2009 and WEC Rubens until 2011.  The 6362 gt, 7202 dwt ship has a capacity of 700 TEU, including 100 reefers and it is gearless.

The ship's most interesting feature however is that most of the cargo space is open, without hatchcovers. The forward part of the ship, which would be number one hold, has operable hinged covers. There is then a large breakwater with the open hold extending aft as far as the engine room bulkhead, with a high coaming along its length. There is a solid cargo carrying deck over the engine space, of about one 40 foot container length immediately forward of the accommodation block. 

The hatchless hold space is equipped with cellular guides for container stowage. The guides project above the level of the coaming which would allow containers to be stowed to the height of the top of the breakwater or possibly higher.

The J.J.Seitas yard perfected the hatchless configuration and built several ships of the type including the much larger 14,639 gt 1004 TEU Oceanex Avalon which operates between St.John's, and Montreal.

Since freight containers are relatively weather proof and are often stowed on the open deck, it makes very little difference if they are stowed in hatchless holds. Containers that require special treatment can be stowed in nunber one hold where they are protected from the elements. The main concern is the amount of water than can be allowed to accumulate in the hold either from weather or from seas. Presumably the latter is minimized by the breakwater and high coaming, and what does accumulate can be pumped out long before it effects the cargo or the stability of the ship.

The BF Fortaleza sailed late in the afternoon (in failing light and snow) for the warmer climes of Mariel, Cuba on Melfi's regular MEDCAN service from the Mediterranean. 


Friday, January 26, 2024

Follow Up

 As a follow up to the January 23 post about the new Maersk /Hapag-Lloyd Gemini Cooperation, it will be business as usual for the time being. The official launch date of the new arrangement is the end of January 2025, when Maersk leaves the M2 Alliance and Hapag-Lloyd leaves THE Alliance.

Today's (January 26) arrival of NYK Constellation on THE Alliance's AL5 North Europe - North American service, is much like ZIM's January 23 arrival: there is a lot of H-L orange and UASC green showing. The ship is eastbound from Saint John, NB for Southampton. (The port rotation is Southampton – Le Havre – Rotterdam – Hamburg – Antwerp – Halifax – Port Everglades – Cartagena – (Panama) – Rodman – Los Angeles/Long Beach – Oakland – Rodman – (Panama) – Cartagena – Caucedo – St. John - Halifax – Southampton.)

 My totally unscientific analysis of the visible containers reveals more than half are identifiable as Hapag-Lloyd or United Arab Shipping Company. A loss of all that  cargo would certainly make a serious dent in THE Alliance's bottom line.

The NYK Constellation is one of the seven Daedalus class ships on this particular service. Built in 2007 by Hyundai Ulsan, it is a 55,534 gt, 65,919 dwt ship with a capacity of 4922 TEU including 330 reefers.

Very few of the visible containers are identifiable as belonging to THE Alliance's Japanese partner ONE or its constituent members K-Line, NYK or MOL. Leased containers cannot be associated with any particular line, but even so they are less than half the visible boxes.


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Shake Up and Fall out

 The announcement on January 17, 2024 that Maersk A/S and Hapag-Lloyd AG have formed a 60/40 joint venture called Gemini Cooperation is the latest move to shake up the global container shipping business. The new entity, which will employ 290 ships with a capacity of 3.4 million TEU, will take effect in January 2025. It will operate a total of 26 main line services and more than 30 shuttle or feeder services world-wide. It is to be noted that this is not a corporate merger or acquistion (which would doubtless cause regulatory opposition), but a long term (others say four year) contract with performance terms for each partner. (Many mergers started with joint ventures however, so never say never). Reliability and environmental sustainability are two stated goals for the venture. [Container shipping companies have poor records for maintaining schedules, with a world-wide average of under 65% and an average 4.9 days late. For October 2023 Maersk was the most reliable at 71.1%, MSC was 68.5% and Hapag-Lloyd was well down the list sharing sixth place with COSCO at 60% on time.]

The effect of this development may be widespread as Hapag-Lloyd in particular will be making major adjustments. These will include changing principal ports (it will leave Hamburg in favour of Wilhelmshaven, Bremerhaven and Rotterdam as feeder hubs, even though the Port of Hamburg is a major stakeholder in the company.) The hub and spoke arrangement may favour larger and more central ports if they can overcome congestion issues.

More dramatic for Halifax, Hapag-Lloyd will also exit THE Alliance which leaves the other partners (ONE, Yang Ming and HMM) as Asia-only operators. Whether they will be able to find a new partner with European roots is questionable. Some analysts fear THE Alliance may not survive. Although H-L does not contribute ships to the services calling Halifax, its orange containers are prolific throughout the port, and the majority arrive on THE Alliance ships. 

Hapag-Lloyd has been an important customer in Halifax since the earliest days of containerization and before (although some if its business has been drained off recently to Saint John and CP Rail). Currently THE Alliance has two routes calling in Halifax, AL5 and EC5. Hapag-Lloyd has a slot charter deal with ZIM's ZCA transatlantic service and another with ACL, neither of which may be effected. 

 ZIM carries a lot of orange and green on deck.

Hapag-Lloyd also operates the weekly North Europe service "Montreal Express"from Antwerp, Liverpool, Le Havre and Bremerhaven to Montreal in conjunction with MSC and OOCL. Those ships normally do not call in Halifax.

Maersk announced a year ago that they would be leaving the 2M Alliance with MSC at the end of January 2025. Where that leaves MSC remains to be seen.

Maersk itself is a fairly minor player in Halifax, represented by their joint St-Lawrence River service with CMA CGM and possibly some M2 cargo on MSC ships. Nevertheless changing patterns may emerge when Hapag's THE Alliance cargo shifts to Gemini or to other carriers.

On paper,at least for now, Gemini will become the largest shipping line after Ocean Alliance (CMA CGM, Evergreen COSCO/OOCL) which carries about 28% of the world's container trade. Gemini will have about 23% (Maersk 15% and H-L 7%) while MSC has about 20%.

As a matter of record AP Moller-Maersk owns Maersk A/S. In turn, A.P.Moller-Maersk is majority owned by the Moller family and its investment foundation (53.78% by most accounts) with numerous shareholders and investment funds each with less than 10% holding. Hapag-Lloyd is owned 30% by Klaus-Michael Kuhne, 30% by Cia Sudamericana de Vapores (CSAV), 13.9% by the City of Hamburg, 12.3% by Qatar Holdings and a number of shareholders and investment funds, none exceeding 10%.

It is expected that other lines, outside of the current alliances, may pick up some of Hapag-Loyd's Halifax business. The most likely to do so are MSC and CMA CGM. both of which serve Halifax now.

No dramatic changes are expected soon. Since the Gemini arrangement does not take effect until a year from now, a more gradual process is expected. However mega mergers and combines in other industries (most notoriously railroads) have not been altogether smooth. Some short term pain is expected.

An entirely superficial analysis of the deck load on THE Alliance's recent callers indicates a significant proportion of Hapag-Lloyd and UASC boxes. (Hapag-Lloyd and the United Arab Shipping Company merged in 2017.) Some "heritage" boxes from previous acquisitions such as Nile Dutch (2021) can be spotted too.

Who will carry those boxes, or their contents, may have a significant impact on the number and size of ships calling in Halifax over the next year or more. Stay tuned.


Monday, January 22, 2024

Slow (tanker) to China

 To follow up on yesterday's post about bunkering ships in Halifax: the Hai Shang was alongside Pier 9C all day today January 22, and into the night taking fuel from trucks. 

With the ship in ballast, the trucks' pumps had to work hard to get the fuel up to the ship's deck level through a relatively small diameter hose.

The fuel comes from Irving Oil and is transported to the ship by trucks belonging to RST Transport, a specialist fuel transport company that is part of the J.D.Irving Ltd group of companies.



Sunday, January 21, 2024

Bunker calls

     Halifax has been a bunkering port since the days of coal fired steamships. The number of ships calling for bunkers has decreased in recent years since there is no longer a bunkering tanker based here. Ships must now come alongside where they are refueled from tanker trucks. Many ports in the region do not have truck access to the docks, so ships come to Halifax.

Today January 21 saw two ships arriving for bunkers. The first was the bulk carrier Puna arriving from La Baie (Port Alfred), QC. There is little doubt that it is winter on the North Atlantic as the ship was well coated with frozen spray when it tied up at Pier 9C. By the time the ship spends a few days in the Gulf Stream en route to its destination of Philadelphia, the ice will likely be gone.

The ship was built in 2010 by Yangzhou Guoyu, in Yizheng, China as the Three Rivers for trading through the St.Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes. (Note the derrick at the break of the forecastle for landing crew members to handle lines if the ship needs to tie up at the locks.) 

The 20,535 gt, 29,975 dwt ship carries three 30 tonne cranes, restricted to 24 tonne when using grabs. (I could not see any grabs, but they might have been iced over.) It became the Puna in 2020.

The Puna was reported in Quebec City November 6-11, upbound in the Seaway November 12 unloading in Toronto November 16-19, and loading in Hamilton, November 21-24. It then made its way to Greenore, Ireland December 7, Castellon, Spain December 17-22 and Algeciras December 25-26. It then sailed to the Rasade anchorages off Trois-Pistoles, QC, arriving January 10 and sailing January 11 to Port Alfred. It unloaded and sailed January 14. I can't tell where it disembarked its ice advisor, (it would usually be off Sydney) but might have carried on to Halifax instead*.

The second caller, which met the outbound Puna in the harbour approaches, was the tanker Hai Shang. The ship had unloaded a cargo of crude oil from Bayport, TX at Irving Oil's Canaport mooring buoy off Saint John, then ironically came to Halifax to take on fuel that was probably refined in Saint John. 

It is an unusual sight to see a crude oil tanker, in ballast, transiting the Narrows.

Darkness fell before I could catch the ship turning in Bedford Basin and coming back alongside Pier 9C. 

The well known Greek tanker operators Eletson ordered the ship from Shanghai Waigaoqiao and it was delivered in 2018 as the Argironissos. The ship was sold and renamed Campo Square in 2021 and became Hai Shang in March 2023. Its tonnages of 62,508 gt, 109,900 dwt make it an Aframax. [The term Aframax has nothing to do with Africa, but represents the Average Freight Rate Assessment system of standardized rating of tankers established in the 1950s. Ships of this size can be accommodated in most ports of the world and have a capacity around 600,000 bbls.]


* In the winter, ships transiting the ice infested waters of the Gulf of St.Lawrence, Saguenay River and St.Lawrence River embark specially qualified advisors with experience navigating in ice. They are highly qualified master mariners, and often also provide their services in polar regions in season.

The advisors are not pilots as such, and work independantly through ship agencies or through private operators. Their work is not associated with the Atlantic Pilotage Authority or the Laurentian Pilotage Autohority, as they provide their services outside the limits of ports.

Most ice advisors embark and disembark off Sydney, NS but I note that the usual launch boat Charlevoix has not been on station there. Earlier today, January 21, the tanker Hafnia Daisy en route to Montreal made a rendez-vous off Halifax with the launch Halmar which may have been to embark an ice advisor. 


Saturday, January 20, 2024

Long Way

 The arrival earlier in the week of the ONE Crane [see Monday January 15] was the first of what may be many ships en route from Asia that avoid the Red Sea and divert via the Cape of Good Hope. Today, January 20, saw the arrival of another diverted ship, but this one had an unusual variation in its route.[See Footnote #1]

CMA CGM Cassiopeia sailed from Hong Kong on December 6, calling Singapore ca. mid-December then reported in the Malacca Strait December 18. It may have skipped its normal call in Port Klang, then called in Colombo, December 21-22. It was next reported passing Cape Town December 31.

 The tugs Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Fir provided double tethered stern escort, and Atlantic Larch made up forward.[see Footnote #2]

Instead of heading directly for Halifax it sailed up the African west coast passing the Canary Islands January 10,  and arrived in Tanger Med Morocco January 12. Tanger Med is a hub port that collects cargo via feeder services from a variety of European ports. Now with ships diverting from the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean I expect the port will likely be collecting more southern European cargo.

Hyundai Ulsan built the CMA CGM Cassiopeia in 2011 as one of their 11,300 class. The 131,332 gt, 131,247 dwt ship now gives a capacity of 11,200 TEU. It is among the largest ships with conventional placement of the bridge well aft. Many even slightly larger ships have the "island" type bridge situated forward of amidships for improved visibility. This ship appears to have a good forward sight line however, as its bridge was quite visible when it presented a bow on view as it arrived via the western (deep water) channel. 


#1 The ship is sailing for the Ocean Alliance which consists of CMA CGM, COSCO, Evergreen, and OOCL. The Asia / Europe / North America service routed through the Suez and Mediterrnaean usually makes no stops between Colombo and Halifax.

#2 Using two tugs for stern braking and turning is not normal practice, but can be used if the ship has a deficiency, is a difficult one to manage or there are adverse conditions. Since today's operation appeared to be otherwise normal and with very little wind, I assume it was a training and familiarization exercise for pilot, tug crews and ship's crew. The ship did appear very heavily laden however and that may have been a factor as it would have very large momentum.

One tug, likely the Atlantic Fir, swings out perpendicular to the ship and provides braking as the other stern tug, Atlantic Oak, maintains position for steering. The tugs will turn the ship 180 degrees to tie up at Pier 41 starboard side to the dock. Atlantic Larch is positioned as far forward as possible, with getting under the flare of the bow, but will still get leverage to assist in turning.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Next To Go?

Algoma Central Corp and its wholly owned Algoma Tankers Ltd are in a fleet renewal pattern, adding to their domestic fleets and shedding older tonnage. They have also been active on the international scene with their Nova Algoma Cement Carrier fleet and other bulk ships and tankers*. 

On January 18, 2024  the company announced that they are acquiring two more tankers from the Norwegian operator Knutsens OAS (Algoma acquired another from Knutsen in 2023- the former Birgit Knutsen now renamed Algoluna). As with that ship Algoma will bareboat charter the ships back to Knutsen for a time until bringing one of the ships to Canada as replacement tonnage later in 2024.

The current domestic Algoma Tankers fleet consists of six ships ranging from 14 to 20 years of age. It is therefore not hard to guess which ship will be replaced first. The odd man out is the twenty year old Algoscotia, a well known ship in Halifax. It is usually employed in the milk run between Halifax, Sydney, Corner Brook and Sept-Iles with occasional forays to other regional ports, the US east coast or Great Lakes. It also had a short term deployment to Finland from January to April 2016 and was reflagged to Barbados for the time.

Algoscotia arrived in Halifax August 16, 2004 fresh from the builders.

 Purpose built for Algoma by the Jiangyan Shipyard Group's Qiuxin Shipyard in Shanghai in 2004, the Algoscotia is a 13,352 gt, 18,610 dwt product tanker. Coming up to its next five year survey, it may well be in line for some expensive refitting that Algoma is unwilling to bear. 

The new acquistions date from 2009 and are 16,000 dwt size. The only two ships in the current Knutsen fleet that meet this description are the Eli Knutsen anbd Liv Knutsen built by Jiangnan, Shanghai, measuring 11,889 gt, 16,568 dwt and are sisters to the previously mentioned Algoluna ex Birgit Knutsen which was built in 2010.

They are only "semi-modern" - that is to say not state of the art dual fuel or future proofed for methanol or hydrogen. The company's three 2023 acquistions were 14, 17 and 17 years old so it is hard to say how long term this investmant may be at 15 years old already.

The Algoscotia has been highlighted on these pages numerous times - among them:

March 6, 2020  and most recently December 17, 2023.

So far in 2024 the Algoscotia arrived at Imperial Oil January 4 from Sept-Iles and sailed January 5, returning January 15 from Sydney (January 7) and Corner Brook (January 12-13) and moved to Pier 9C to allow the import tanker STI Pontiac to dock. It is due to move off to anchor later this evening. Pictured this afternoon - the ship still looks good:



*  In June 2023 Algoma announced the order for two new ice class methanol ready tankers from Hyundai Mipo. The 37,000 dwt ships will be long term chartered to Irving Oil, so will not be operating on Algoma's usual trade for Imperial Oil. They will also be too large to use the St.Lawrence Seaway.

 In September 2023 Algoma announced the order of two dual fuel battery hybrid tankers for their Furebear joint venture with Fure Tankers. To be built by Jiniling, they will operate in the European tanker pool Gothia Tanker Alliance. There is no indication that they would be brought to Canada.


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Cars and More Cars

 Autoport has hosted ships for two days in a row and expects another tomorrow. The inventory of cars at the facility has appeared thin lately, so this will allow them to build up their inventory of imports. Autoport is owned by CNRail and customarily holds cars and light trucks in storage until they are called for by dealers, then sends them out by truck or train. CN also owns at least one of the large truck companies that specializes in auto transport.

Yesterday, January 17 it was the 7,194 CEU Don Pasquale, a regular caller on Wallenius Wilhelmsen's transatlantic loop. It called here in June, August and October of 2023. When it completed offloading at Autoport yesterday and was moving to Pier 9C to offload RoRo cargo, the next auto carrier, Lake Wanaka was making its way inbound.

 Don Pasquale (left) exits Eastern Passage with Lake Wanaka taking a wide turn round Ives Knoll off PSA Halifax.

Lake Wanaka. a smaller ship with a capacity of 4902 CEU has also been here before, most recently in March and August 2023, and is apparently dedicated to carrying Volkswagen products, loaded in Emden, Germany. The ship remained alongside Autoport over night and sailed late this morning heading for Jacksonville, FL.

A third auto carrier, the 6500 CEU SFL Composer is drifting offshore and is due tomorrow, January 19. It is also arriving from Emden, Volkswagen's export port.

European auto makers are experiencing production problems due to parts shortages from Asia. Some manufacturers have shut down completely as shipments through the Red Sea / Suez route have been delayed or curtailed due to the hostilities. It is therefore inevitable that there will be noticeable shortages of some kinds of cars in North America.

China on the other hand is building new auto carrying ships as it shifts to building entire automobiles. For example Ford is building some new Lincoln models in China for the North American market. With assembly closer to the component manufacturers some of the recent "supply chain" issues may be resolved. 


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

C.T.M.A. Vacancier - follow up

 My report from December 19, 2023 regarding the scrapping of the ferry C.T.MA. Vacancier can now be updated, but probably not for the last time. Soon after the scrapping announcement, it was revealed that the ship would be sailing to India "on its own bottom". As usual with ships sold for scrap, it was re-registered in a flag of convenience country - in this case St.Kitts and Nevis - a favourite amongst ship scrappers. Its name was also altered with a few swipes of the paint brush, becoming the Ancier. (The C.T.M.A. banner on the side may have been painted over previously).

On Friday morning, January 12, 2024 it departed its layup berth in Georgetown PE under its new name and flag, but only moved "around the corner" to Charlottetown where it arrived mid-afternoon.

 Ancier arriving in Charlottetown January 12, 2024.


On Saturday, January 13 it was reported to be re-fueling, and possibly taking on stores for the trip. On Sunday a sheen was reported on the water in the area. The sheen was confirmed to be a spill from the ship, but the circumstances have not been reported. A clean up operation got under way, a boom was rigged at the stern of the ship and other Coast Guard and commercial assets were deployed.

No departure date has been confirmed yet, as it may take some time to carry out an investigation. The ship may be detained officially.


Monday, January 15, 2024

Seeing Red

 Two ships arrived today with the only similarity being their hull colours, and even those were quite different shades of red.

The hull colour of the first arrival was only revealed after sunrise when the ship was already tied up at Imperial Oil's number 3 dock. The somewhat faded red showed off well in the morning sunshine.


The ship is the STI Pontiac a member of the 111 ship strong Scorpio Tankers Inc. fleet. The publicly traded Scorpio uses its own Turkish based management group Zenith Gemi to operate its ships, while the Chinese based Taiping + Sinopec Leasing Co Ltd still holds the ownership papers and is responsible for the commercial management.

The ship was built by the prolific Hyundai Mipo in Ulsan and has typical MidRange dimensions of 29,889 gt (some sources say 29,785) and 49,990 dwt. The ship's last port is listed as Houston.With the St.Lawrence Seaway now closed for the winter Imperial Oil will have to source refined products from refineries other than its own facilities in Ontario.

The second arrival also did not immediately announce its colour, arriving as it did with the sun behind it. Its form however was service unmistakeable as it is one of several sister ships operating for THE Alliance's EC5. 

As its bridge loomed over the Black Rock Beach knoll, several spectators were startled to see such a large ship so close to shore. It was using the deep water Western Channel, which is not used as much as the main channel, which means that it must change course very closed to Point Pleasant.

The ONE Crane was built in 2016 by Japan Marine United, Kure as NYK Crane and renamed in 2019 as NYK Lines partnered in the Ocean Network Express (ONE) joint venture. Its unique magenta hull colour soon revealed. The 144,285 gt, 139,335 dwt ship has a container capacity of 14,026 TEU.

According to the Port of Halifax schedule the ship is some eleven days behind its orginal schedule. A little digging reveals that the ship sailed from Colombo Sri Lanka December 12, 2023. In order to avoid the dangers of the Red Sea, the ship diverted from its usual Suez Canak route and transitted around South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. It passed Cape Town December 28.

This may be the first ship to reach Halifax after making such a wide doversion, but it will not be the last. Despite naval patrols and defensive and offensive measures against Houthi forces in Yemen, the Red Sea route is not dependably safe, and we can expect other ships from Asia to seek alternatives. 


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Departures follow up.

After yesterday's post the predicted storm passed though over night with high winds and storm surge. Pilotage operations were suspended at some point during the night and not resumed until this morning (January 14). Some arrival and departure times changed as a result.

Among the delayed departures were:

JY Lake resumed its voyage from Romeville, LA to Rotterdam. It anchored in Halifax January 12 probably for some technical adjustments. The 43,968 gt, 81,146 dwt ship was built in 2019 by Chengxi Shipyard in Jiangijn, China. It appears to be fully loaded with grain.

The unusual ConRo ship Ramhan sailed from Autoport. This is the second trip to Halifax recently for this ship. The last was on November 12, 2023 and like the last time the ship was carrying no containers. At one point it was scheduled to move to Pier 9C, but remained at Autoport. This time the ship is eastbound from Davisville RI, bound for Gibraltar, Since its previous call here, when it was westbound, the ship went to Altamira, Mexico, Abu Qir, Egypt, Civitavecchia, Italy and Algeciras anchorage (Gibraltar) then directly to Davisville.

As noted in my November post ConRo ships are rare these days, with Grimaldi Lines and Atlantic Container Lines (owned by Grimaldi) among the few companies operating this type of ship. The ship's previous owners Ignazio Messina + Cia SpA work shorter hauls in the Mediterranean and combine containers and various RoRo cargoes.

The last departure of note was the Pacific Trader which was also covered in yesterday's post.

After completing its cargo work at PSA Fairview Cove yesterday afternoon, it made its way to anchor in Bedford Basin, waiting out the rough weather overnight. It is now en route to Kingston, Jamaica.


Saturday, January 13, 2024

Still more bulk and container swap


 There was another bulk carrier arrival this morning, January 13, but this one was more typical for Halifax than yesterday's bulkers [see previous post]. The Algoma Integrity is in from Jacksonville for Gold Bond to load gypsum.

The Algoma Integrity is passing the A. Murray MacKay bridge inbound to the Gold Bond dock in Bedford Basin with a tethered stern escort tug, the Atlantic Fir.

 The Algoma Integrity was built in 2009 by EISA- Ilha in Rio de Janeiro for Gypsum Transportation as the Gypsum Integrity. The 33,047 gt, 47,761 dwt ship was meant to service the export facilities in Hantsport and Little Narrows, NS. When parent company United States Gypsum shut down their Canadian mining operations in 2010 the ship and its sister Gypsum Centennial worked globally for Beltship Management. Algoma Central Corp acquired and renamed the Gypsum Integrity in 2015 while CSL acquired the Gypsum Centennial in 2015 and renamed it CSL Frontier. Both ships went to work in the CSL Americas self-unloader pool.

The gravity fed self-unloader system on the ship discharges gypsum at a rate of 2500 metric tonnes per hour, and uses a boom with a 61 meter outreach at 90 degrees from the ship to position the cargo on shore.

As Algoma Integrity made its way to the dock, a more traditional gearless bulk carrier lay at anchor in Bedford Basin. The JY Lake arrived from the Mississippi River grain port of Romeville, LA, yesterday afternoon (January 12).

A very thin skim of ice has formed along the Rockingham shore where the water is calm and is approximately fresh. A small CCG boat did some unofficial high speed icebreaking but the rest of the ice will be gone by tomorrow as a wind and rain storm passes through tonight, with temperatures well above zero C.

The JY Lake dates from 2019 when it was completed by the Changxi Shipyard in Jiangyin, China. The gearless ship measures 45,968 gt 81,146 dwt. It is en route to Rotterdam, and is expected to sail over night. 

No particular reason was given for the ship's visit, but a launch did visit the ship, possibly with a repair technician.

 Container Swap

ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd operates two services from Halifax. Its "big ship" service is called ZCA: ZIM Container Atlantic and its "small ship" feeder service is CGX: Central America Gulf Express.

One of the ships serving the ZCA is the familiarly named ZIM Iberia (the second of the name in ZIM's history. The first, built in 1997, was scrapped in 2015 - see post dated November 23, 2015).

Zim Iberia in the Narrows with the tethered escort Atlantic Cedar

(The tug Atlantic Cedar is usually based in Saint John, with the Atlantic Larch, but both are exchanging places temporarily as Atlantic Bear and Atlantic Beaver are working in Saint John.)

The current Zim Iberia acquired the name in 2022, but was built in 2009 by Jiangsu New Yangzijiang in Jiangyin. It was delivered as Rudolf Schepers and in 2017 became the Arkas Afrika then in 2018 Als Juno. The 40,541 gt, 50,300 dwt ship has a capacity of 4253 TEU including 698 reefers. Its Mediterranean / East Coast North America service calls in Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece Italy and Spain en route to Halifax. It then calls at New York, Norfolk, and Savannah before heading eastbound again.

 Today at the PSA Fairview Cove terminal, the ZIM Iberia joined the Pacific Trader one of five ships (along with the Annie B and Contship Leo, Contship Pep and Contship Art) on the CGX - Central America Gulf Express feeder service. The Pacific Trader began calling in Halifax November 17, 2023 on the newly revised CGX, which includes the former CFX - Canada Feeder Express.

The CGX links Halifax with New York, Kingston, Jamaica, Houston and Caribbean ports of Altamira, Mexico, Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala and Puerto Cortes, Honduras.

ZIM does a substantial reefer business on both routes, and their white boxes are much in evidence on the Pacific Trader and on the dock. Hapag-Lloyd has a "slot charter" or other such arrangement with ZIM for space on the ZCA route, and orange H-L boxes are easy to see on the ZIM Iberia.



Friday, January 12, 2024

Bulk and More Bulk

 Aside from the regular stream of bulk carriers that load gypsum in Halifax, other bulk cargoes are realtively rare. At one time the port handled huge quantities of export grain from the Canadian prairies. When the federal railway subsidy called the Crow Rate [Wikipedia reference] was abolished that commodity dried up, with other ports closer to the source handling the commodity. Halifax's grain elevator was largely idle except for local demand.

In recent years the grain elevator has found alternate products such as wood pellets (exported to Europe as bio fuel) and lately soybeans. There seems to be more demand this year for the soybeans, with a large cargo outbound today on the bulk carrier Athina III [see post from January 2]

The 39,037 gt / 73, 305 dwt ship arrived January 2, and began loading soon after. It spent some time spent at anchor (January 6 - 7) to allow another ship to use the pier.[see previous post]

Its destination on sailing today is Bandar Khomeini, Iran.

The next bulker to load is the Norse Ijmuiden which arrived over night January 9-10 from Philadelphia and anchored Bedford Basin. It is due to move to the grain gallery spouts at Pier 28 tonight (January 12) to begin loading in the morning.

 Built in 2012 by Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu) Inc, Balamban, Philippines, it is a 26,272 gt, 42,469 dwt ship fitted with four cranes. It also has stanchions to support deck cargoes such as timber. It seems to me a likely candidate to load wood pellets.

Another bulker the JY Lake arrived this evening and anchored in Beford Basin. It is a 45,958 gt, 81,146 dwt ship built in 2019 by Chengxi Shipyard in Jiangyin. Its last port was Romeville, Mississippi, well upstream from New Orleans, which normally handles grain transfers from barges to ships.




Thursday, January 11, 2024

Kopit Hopson 1752 - follow up

 It appears that even after the Vessel Life Extension for the CCGS Kopit Hopson 1752 there is still work to do, and it may not be completed until March. The original VLE, which was awarded in 2020, was to have been completed (by my reckoning) during fiscal year 2022 and in fact the ship was handed back to the Canadian Coast Guard in December 2022 after sea trials. However as reported here there were more sea trials in April 2023. Its recent "cold" move by tugs was covered here December 28, 2023.

CCGS Kopit Hopson 1752 alongside BIO July 25, 2023.

CBC News reported today, January 11, that there have been delays in delivery of replacement through hull valves and welding repairs are underway to sea chest (s). Supply chain issues have plagued most industries in the past few years, and it should not come as surprise that specialty items have long delivery dates. Vessel Life Extension programs for ships as old as this one (it was built in 1981) are bound to turn up more issues than anticipated. 

All that aside the CBC quotes the CCG that the ship has been operational for 117 of 284 days since April 1, 2023 (this fiscal year). 


Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Slow boat to Montreal MSC Leandra V

 A ship that called in Halifax last week, en route to Montreal has not arrived there yet. Ironically, once (and maybe still), the fastest containership in the world, it is still more or less en route after five days.


MSC Leandra V arrived in Halifax January 4 to reduce its draft to transit the St.Lawrence River. [I gave the ship's particulars in the January 4 post, including its 30 knot designed cruising speed.] When it sailed late that evening it gave the unusual destination of Sept-Iles, QC. That port is primarily known for handling huge quantities of iron ore but not containers. 

On arrival in Sept-Iles yesterday (January 8) it anchored in the large bay and on the port's website was shown to be in for "r├ęparations". What those repairs might have been and why they could not have been accomplished in Halifax is not known. [One possible explanation is that ships at anchor in Halifax must have engines in operating order. If not, they must have tug(s) along side. Also anchorages are at a premium in Halifax .]

The ship sailed from Sept-Iles January 8 and picked up its pilot off Escoumins. After proceeding up river just less than 100 miles it came about and sailed back down river to the Rasades anchorage off the Escoumins pilot station. 

Thanks to a social media post, I learned that the ship is now awaiting a suitable tide to proceed upstream. The ship's air draft is such that it needs a low tide to clear the Quebec Bridges. The clearance under those bridges is 151 feet at high water. However the tidal range at Quebec at this time of the year is 10 to 15 feet, so timing will be critical. [The ship would not be able clear the Halifax bridges no matter the state of the tide. The generally accepted clearance number is 154 feet with a tidal range of four to eight feet.]


Not only is the ship's superstructure very tall, it had to sacrifice a bay of container capacity to install the free standing exhaust gas scrubber tower.

As noted from my photos of the ship's arrival here, it has a very high superstructure. Combined with the reduced (water) draft, its air draft is apparently very close to the maximum allowable under those bridges. With the number of ships in the MSC fleet, surely they could find one that would not have to contend with this issue.


Monday, January 8, 2024

Pier 9C - a useful spot

 The Port of Halifax accomodates ships for reasons in addition to the usual loading and unloading of cargo. Today January 8 there were two ships at Pier 9C that fitted that miscellaneous category.

The self-unloading bulk carrier Shiela Ann arrived initially at the Gold Bond dock on January 6 and took on a load of gypsum. That process would normally have taken 24 hours or less, but the ship remained alongside until this morning when it moved to Pier 9C.

 On arriving at the Pier there were at least three trucks with semi-trailers loaded with crates, and a crane set up on the brow. The contents of the crates were unknowable, however there were reels, which may be replacement conveyor belting. 

The Shiela Ann was built by Jingnan, Shanghai in 1999 for CSL International and assigned to their self-unloader pool. Two other ships of the same design, the Sophie Oldendorff and CSL Spirit were built by the same yard also for use in the pool in 2000 and 2001 respectively. (When Oldendorff Carriers withdrew from the CSL pool, Algoma purchased the Sophie Oldendorff and renamed it Algoma Vistory in 2019.)

Most of the ports where the Shiela Ann calls are long jetties without truck access or are relatively remote from the source of parts and supplies. Recent ports for the ship include Puerto Drummond in Colombia where it loaded coal November 2-7 for Rio Haina, Dominican Republic (November 11-13) then again loading at Puerto Drummond November 15-17 for Puerto Quetzal Guatemala December 10-11, reached via the Panama Canal December 5-7.  It then returned to Panama December 14, presumably in ballast, and queued up for the Canal, finally locking through December 28 en route for Halifax.

The Shiela Ann is expected to sail early this evening for Tampa, FL.

Just to the south, at the same long pier was the coastal tanker Kivalliq W. It arrived January 6 from Nanticoke, ON and after discharging petroleum product at Imperial Oil, moved to Pier 9C last night. As mentioned in the previous post, the ship normally flags out for the winter. If it will be doing that during its current stay at Pier 9C it will not be difficult to obscure the ship's current port of registry (St.John's) - it has the smallest size lettering I have ever seen! [Barely visible between the ship's name and its IMO number].

 There was also a truck alongside with a refuse skip, which suggests that the ship may be in for a period of maintenance before resuming work under its foreign flag. Since 2017 the flag of choice has been the Marshall Islands, but from December 2022 to June 2023 it was the Portuguese offshore flag of Madeira.



Saturday, January 6, 2024

The last of the summer fuel and make way for nickel

 1. Last of the Summer Fuel

 The Imperial Oil Dock #3 is the busiest spot in the harbour as the last shipments of fuel arrive from the Great Lakes. With the St.Lawrence Seaway now closed for the winter, Imperial will no longer have tanker access to its refineries in Sarnia and Nanticoke, ON, so has been stockpiling product. Three last tankers arriving in quick succesion are:

The Qikiqtaaluk W. which sailed from Nanticoke December 30 and made its way downbound in the St.Lawrence Seaway January 1, arriving in Halifax yesterday afternoon (January 5). Built in 2011 by Icdas, Bigas, Turkey it operated as Icdas 11 and carried that name until acquired by Coastal Shipping Ltd of Happy Valley - Goose Bay, NL in 2018. It is a 13,097 gt, 19,198 dwt. chemical and product tanker. (The ship was named for the huge eastern portion of Nunavut, formerly known as the Baffin region of Canada's Arctic.)

It was in port for less than 24 hours and sailed late this afternoon (January 6) in ballast for St.John's.

Every year since 2018 and from roughly January 1 the ship has been flagged out to operate internationally. Depending on contracts for delivering fuel to the arctic, the ship has returned to Canadian flag from as early as April 1 to as late as July 1 the following year. At the end of the northern shipping season it has participated in the stockpiling of fuel here in Halifax, and I expect it to flag out again this year.

While outbound this afternoon the Qikiqtaaluk W. met its fleetmate Kivalliq W. inbound also with product from Nanticoke. It sailed from that port January 1 and was downbound in the Seaway the next day. It was followed closely later the same day by the Algoberta, also bound for Halifax, and which will anchor when it arrives tonight.

The Kivalliq W. usually flags out for the winter too, so was likely given prioity at the dock. Algoberta will join fleetmate Algoscotia distributing product around the region this winter.

2. Make Way for Nickel 

The big bulker Athina III (see January 4 post) has been loading soybeans at Pier 27 since January 5 but halted operations at midnight last night and moved out to anchorage number 1 in the lower harbour. This was to make way for the Augusta Luna with the latest load of nickel sulfides from Cuba. Sailing for Nirint Shipping BV, it is on a regular run between European ports and Cuba. [See December 25, 2022 ]. On the return leg it unloads bagged nickel sulfides directly to rail cars or to storage at Pier 28. There is not room enough for both ships at Pier 27-28 at the same time, and no other pier is available for the nickel cargo or for bulk grains. Expansion of the South End Container Terminal (operated by PSA) displaced the nickel operation from Pier 31 where there was open pier space, a rail siding and a transit shed. The shed has been demolished and the open pier space is now devoted to container storage and construction activity. There is now only one trasit shed in the deepwater piers area of the port. The Richmond Terminal in the north end has transit sheds but they are all occupied with other business, and in any event rail access is not as convenient.

 The Athina III is due to move back to Pier 28 tonight when the Augusta Luna sails. It appears to be about half loaded, so will be in port for a few more days.


Thursday, January 4, 2024

An antique by any other name

 The Mediterranean Shipping Co MSC is well known for operating older ships. Today (January 4) their MSC Leandra V arrived in Halifax and lived up to that reputation but not in the usual way. At seventeen years of age it is not old by MSC standards. Some of the line's recent callers are approaching thirty. Instead it is the ship's appearance that makes it look much older.

Ships with engines and superstructure amidships must be in the dinosaur category nowadays. In the early days of steam, where engines and bunkers required large amounts of space, they were installed amidhips. As propulsion systems shifted to oil fired then to internal combustion less space was required. Ship designers also maximized cargo capacity by using the widest part of the hull for cargo. Moving the engines aft meant that the long shaft tunnel, which used up valuable cargo space, could also be eliminated.

With the evolution of bulk carriers and container ships came the development of smaller engines and more efficient engines and reduced ship speed. Some early container ships were built for speed and had cruising velocities in the high 20 knots range.

MSC Leandra V was built by Volkswerft in Stralsund, Germany to their VW5000 design and launched in 2007 for the A.P.Moller-Maersk British subsidiary Maersk Co Ltd as Maersk but was renamed on delivery as Maersk Buffalo. In 2011 it became the Buffalo but in 2012 was renamed Maersk Buffalo, then was briefly named Seago Istanbul before becoming MSC Leandra also in 2012.  In June 2023 the Roman numeral "V" was added to the name to denote a nominal container capacity up to 5,000 TEU.

The ship measures 49,477 gt and 53,701 dwt with a current capacity of 4170 TEU or 4504 TEU (depending on the source). The most startling statistic however is its cruising speed rating of 29.2 knots (55 kph) (versus 24 knots for previous high speed container ships). Even more startling was the maximum speed of 37 knots (69 kph)- a speed rarely exceeded even by warships. Express speeds for container ships were often specified for ships that were designated for potential military use, but Maersk was not forthcoming on that possibility. 

The ship was part of the seven ship Maersk B class that were the world's fastest container ships intended to maintain a high speed service between China and the United States. They proved uneconomical immediately and with the economic downturn of the time, the ships were laid up on delivery. None of the ships ever operated on the intended service. When they did enter service, between Asia and Europe, reducing speed to 12 knots also reduced feul consumption dramatically - from a reported 300 tonnes per day to 50 tonnes per day. (All figures are approximate and are an average of numbers from various sources,)

 In order to produce that 29 knots, the ship needed the world's largest marine diesel engine. The Wartsila-Sulzer 12 cylinder unit develops 93,360 hp (68,640 kW) and had to be installed amidships as the lines at the stern were so fine that there was no room. (A subsequent 14 cylinder version of the engine is now the world's largest, but also powers ships twice the size of this one.)

The ship's fine lines were evident today as the ship arrived from Mediterranean ports via Sines, Portgual on the CANEX1 service. (It was also here December 3, but wasn't seen in the dark and was not mentioned on this blog.) Its recorded average speed on this trip was 13.8 knots with a maximum of 18.3 knots. After dropping off a few containers here to reduce draft it will be on its way to Montreal.

Just to put age in perspective the truly venerable Oceanex Sanderling also arrived this morning.

Many lines operate ships in the 15 to 20 year old range but Oceanex maintains the Oceanex Sanderling, now age 47, on the weekly Halifax / St.John's service. The ship is virtually irreplaceable due to its costly container and RoRo (CONRO) configuration, an increasingly rare type of ship.