Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Morning Christina and yes winter must be here

 The Eukor car carrier Morning Christina made a late morning arrival today, January 3, and docked directly at Autoport. I believe this is the ship's first call in Halifax, so it is worth a little extra note.

It was close to noon when the ship came into view, but because of heavy cloud cover onshore and clearing offshore it looked more like sunrise.

Imabari Shipbuilding constructed the ship at their Marugame shipyard in 2010. The 59,601 gt, 18,703 dwt ship has a reported capacity of 6,142 CEU. This is the typical size for Eukor ships, but is smaller than the usual such ships we see here. Those larger ships of up to 8,000 CEU usually belong to Wallenius Wilhelmsen - the parent of Eukor (Hyundai and Kia own 20% of Eukor.) The Eukor fleet now consists of about 80 ships. Some pooling of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean's ships and Eukor's ships has always existed - allowing ships to be reassigned as needed.

The size of the ship's funnel suggests that it is equipped with an exhaust gas scrubber system installed in an enclosed structure adjacent to the regular funnel casing.

Such is the demand for auto carriers in Asia than many of the larger ships have been assisgned to Asia routes, and slightly smaller ships such as Morning Christina will be seen on European and North Atlantic routes in additIon to their usual transPacific journies.

As an example of the world wide scope of these ships it is interesting to trace the Morning Christina's position over the past couple of months. It unloaded at Vancouver's Annacis Island October 20, 2023 then called in Nagoya and Toyohashi, Japan en route to the Suez Canal for November 29. It then proceeded to Sagunto (Valencia's auto port), Spain, December 4, Avonmouth (Royal Portbury Dock), UK December 9 and Zeebrugge December 11 to 15. It then followed the usual transatlantic path of Bremerhaven December 17-20 and Goteborg December 21-22.

And now for the other news:

Halifax boasts that it is an ice free port - and that is mostly true, however very thin ice does form from time to time in the shallow corners around Bedford Basin and has little if any effect on shipping. Where there is somewhat lower salinity, and very little wind and no ship traffic to disturb the water - and of course below freezing temperatures - ice does form. It was interesting to see today with a falling tide running in the Narrows that a very thin sheet of shorefast ice had broken free and was heading outbound. As the Navy tug Glenside made its way past the BIO and Pier 9C, there was the tinkling sound of ice cubes. There has been very little snow in Halifax, so the ice was as clear as mirror glass.

Also in port today, at PSA Halifax, Pier 42, was the CMA CGM Paranagua from Montreal on the joint CMA CGM /Maersk  transatlantic run. Ships on this service usually call in Halifax on the weekend outbound from Montreal for Bremerhaven, and run year round. This ship's schedule may have been disrupted by the holidays.

The Port of Montreal still observes the tradition of recognizing the first ship of the calendar year to arrive without stopping at an intermediate port. The event used to take place in the spring when the ice had broken out and it was safe to try for Montreal. The first arrival was often as late as May, but starting in the mid 1950s the first arrival came earlier and earlier until winter navigation became a reality on the St.Lawrence.  

The Helga Dan with its icebreaking bow and ice spotter's crows nest, was the pioneer of winter navigation on the St.Lawrence River. In 1964 it was the first ship ever to reach Montreal in January.It also called in Halifax from time to time with cargo from Sweden for the Volvo assembly plant.

Nowadays the first ship of the year usually arrives in Montreal on January first and the Port presents the master of that ship with a gold headed cane.  (This year it was the Helena G on January 2.)

Winter navigation certainly changed the way the Port of Halifax worked, as it had long been one of the "Winter Ports" (with Saint John, NB and Portland, Maine) that handled the Quebec City and Montreal ships for three to four months of the year. In the pre-container days this meant that a huge workforce of several hundred longshoremen was needed to load and unload ships. Passenger ships were also diverted to Halifax for the winter

Winter navigation on the St.Lawrence, coupled with the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway was then followed by containerisation but none proved to be the death knell for Halifax. Interestingly Halifax and Montreal maintain a symbiotic relationship to this day, but are still rivals for transatlantic and other cargoes, but now year round. 



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