Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Seeing Red

 Amongst the activity in Halifax harbour today, February 28, were several red ships. Not pictured here was the arriving CCGS Jean Goodwill returning from SAR patrol east. There was no room at the Bedford Institute so the ship tucked in at Pier 9C. 

Also not pictured was the red hulled Oceanex Sanderling arriving from St.John's and anchoring in Bedford Basin instead of going directly to Autoport. Due to the delays at Autoport (see yesterday's post) the Wolfsburg was still tied up there. It sailed in the late afternoon and another auto carrier, Morning Peace, was given priority at the berth, and was alongside soon after.

Another red ship is the visiting research trawler CCGS Teleost which arrived yesterday from its home base in St.John's.

The Teleost occupied the berth usually used by the inshore patrol vessels, so the CCGS G. Peddle and CCGS Private Robertson VC have been moved to the C.O.V.E dock (former Cost Guard base). The Teleost - long overdue for replacement is instead going to drydock for another refit.

Another berth at the Bedford Institute was vacated this morning as the CCGS Kopit Hopson 1752 departed for sea trials. It first moved out into Bedford Basin, with the assistance of the navy tugs, CNAV Glenside and Merrickville. It later put out to sea, but didn't go very far. It went out as far as the harbour limit off Chebucto Head, then was back alongside at a different berth this afternoon.

The Kopit Hopson 1752 has been in Vessel Life Extension refit since 2021, and has been the topic of several posts here, most recently January 11, 2024. The latest estimate for completion of the work was March 2024.

Also seen in Bedford Basin today was the hydrographic researcn vessel John Cabot away from its home base of St.John's.

The 2672 gt vessel is the third of three ships built by Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards under the National Shipbuilding Strategy and was delivered to St. John's in February 2021. Sister ship CCGS Capt Jacques Cartier, based in Halifax, arrived at the BIO in March 2020. It is currently in drydock at Pictou, NS. The first ship in the series, CCGS Sir John Franklin (ironically) is based on the Pacific coast. (Ironically because he never saw the Pacific despite several tries.)

It was not all red in the harbour today, as one ship although showing a lot of red anti-fouling paint on the hull, was mostly black and white. The Fairwind Legion is of a familiar type, more usually seen with "Thorco" or "Fanbo" names. 

Built in 2015 by Honda Shipyard in Saiki, Japan, it was indeed named Thorco Legion until 2020. A 13,100 gt, 16,957 dwt ship it carries two 50 tonne SWL cranes to work its box shaped holds.

In tracing the ship's recent movements, it seems that the ship has sailed from Asia in ballast. It was reported in Batangas, Philppines anchorage January 5-6, then Taichung, Taiwan January 9-10, Hong Kong anchorage January 10-12, thenpassed Cape Town Febraury 6-7/

Tying up at Pier 9B, it seems the ship will be fitted out with fiber-optic cable racks as its sister ships have done many times in recent years.


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

For Sale and Sold

 There is some news about a couple of vessels that have been idle in Halifax harbour for a time.

The Tidal Pioneer a Dutch built Neptune type workboat has been sold and renamed  C-Horizon under the British flag. It is due to go to England at the end of April, but first will be used (under a coasting license) to move a tidal turbine to Petite Passage.  More on this boat and its history in a recent Tugfax post February 24, 2024 . The boat is barely visible where it is tied up at Dominion Diving in Dartmouth Cove. [see the Tugfax post for bettter photos.]


The aluminum hulled pilot boat A.P.A. No.20 has now been listed for sale by GC Surplus, the Canadian Government's asset disposal agency. Deadline for bids is March 12. For more detail, including many photos see the GC site.

Built in 1974 by Breton Industrial and Marine Ltd in Point Tupper, NS, the 50.86 gt vessel is powered by two Detroit Diesels totaling 680 hp and giving 20 knots. However one gear box has been removed and the shaft needs to be replaced.

The Atlantic Pilotage had three similar vessels built to a Gulf of Mexico crew boat style. Both A.P.A. No.1 and A.P.A. No.18 are still in service. The Pacific Pilotage Authority also had at least one similar boat. After a few years of service the wheelhouse side doors were removed and a new door installed on the after bulkhead of the wheelhouse.

Unlike the current pilot boats that are painted in high visibility yellow the Gulf boats have maintained their red / white / black hull colours since new.


Autoport strike

Autoport, Eastern Canada's transshipment facility for import and export automobiles, is located in Eastern Passage, an arm of Halfax harbour. Autoport is owned by CN Rail and receives European imports, processes them, stores them, then sends them out to the rest of Canada by truck or train on a "just in time" delivery method. It also sends domestic vehicles to Newfoundland weekly on the ship Oceanex Sanderling. Some export vehicles go out from Autoport and some smaller industrial vehicles such as farm tractors may be imported. The widely quoted figure of the number of vehicles processed each year is 185,000. [See yesterday's post for more on CN Rail].

Today, February 27, operations were disrupted by a strike of 239 workers. Among the duties of these workers is to move automobiles within the facility to storage areas, and it is reported that CN has brought in replacement workers as part of their contingency planning. It is also reported that the strike has prevented unloading of today's auto carrying ship. I can't confirm that, and in fact suspect that there was some unloading.

Today's arrival is the Wolfsburg the second of two new ships that have recently been built to fulfil ten year charters (with a two year extension option) to Volkswagen. The first ship, the Emden was here February 9.

The Wolfsburg was delivered in November 2023 by Guangzhou Shipyard International and is a 69,470 gt, 19,203 dwt ship with a capacity of 7,000 Car Equivalent Units on thirteen decks. Its main engine is an MAN (a Volkswagen subsidiary) and is rated for dual fuel. With two 1.675 cubic meter LNG fuel tanks, it has a range of 15,000 nautical miles. 

Owners SFL Corp (Ship Finance International Ltd, controlled by John Frederiksen of Norway) has a fleet of 73 ships, mostly tankers. SFL's fleet includes seven autocarriers and they will take delivery this year of two more of the 7,000 CEU class ships for long term charter to K-Line.



Monday, February 26, 2024

ONE plus Onego equals zero

 Two ships with the letters O, N and E starting their names were the only scheduled arrivals in Halifax today, February 26. There is no connection between the two except for pure coincidence, and there is no numerical significance to their names, so adding them together does not result in a sum. 

Number One arrival was the multi-purpose cargo carrier Onego Deusto - a ship with an interesting history as well as an interesting name. As on its several previous visits it is carrying a cargo of rail from Szczecin, Poland for the Canadian National Railway Company. [An aglomeration agglomeration of failing railroads established by the Canadian government in 1919, Canadian National Railways as it was then called - aka the CNR - was a crown corporation until 1995. Now publicly traded, and considered a "blue ship chip" investment, it is nevertheless controlled by none other than Bill Gates with a 14.2% stake. Known as CN Rail (thanks in part to its distinctive "noodle" logo) it is now national and international in scope with several tentacles stretching into the United States. It is also multi-modal with ships, trucks and forwarding operations, symbiotic to the railroad.]

The Onego Deusto came ghosting in this morning on a flat calm sea and cloudless sky to offload at Pier 27 where the rail is stockpiled until needed by CN. It is then sent in batches to CN's rail welding plant in Winnipeg (Transcona), MB.

The ship was built by Vahali Shipyard's Belgrade yard in 2008 for the now defunct Beluga Shipping. The 6312 gt, 9832 dwt ship is of the open hatch (hatch is full width of hold) moveable tweendeck, box shaped holds, multi-purpose type, equipped with two 40 tonne SWL cranes. 

It was rigged for sail assist and named Beluga Skysails. When Beluga failed, the ship became BBC Skysails in 2011, then Onego Deusto in 2019. It still carries the davit-like jib boom on the bow, so may be able to rig a sail, but nothing in company literature suggests that it still does. 

As it appeared on arrival March 10, 2023.

Onego Shipping and Chatering B.V. is a Dutch company, based in Rhoon, near Rotterdam. Established in 2001 the company specializes in cross-Atlantic bulk cargoes and has built up a fleet of 28 ships. 

I have no idea where "Onego" comes from (there is a lake in Russia with that name, and oddly the word means "pool" in the Seneca tongue.) It also seems that it is to be pronounced "Ah-nee-go". Even so the Seneca word is pronounced "1-go" (one as in number 1), and a town in West Virginia carries that name and is pronounced that way.

Deusto (nothing to do with the number "two" [deux] ) is the name of an area in the city of Bilbao, Spain. That word appears to have come from the Basque language word Deusta.

Second arrival is the Ultra size container carrier ONE Ibis. In this case ONE represents a portmanteau for Ocean Network Express, the joint venture of Japanese container shipping companies, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd (K-Line), Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK-Line) and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL). By operating "as one" the three companies hoped to compete better with the giant MSC and Maersk. Even so ONE is now ranked as sixth largest with just 2 million TEU capacity versus 4 to 5 milllion for the giants. CMA CGM, COSCO and Hapag-Lloyd are also larger than ONE. The various shipping alliances are also in flux, which complicates matters.

Built in 2016 by Japan Marine United in Kure as NYK Ibis, it is a 144,285 gt, 139,335 dwt ship with a capacity of 14,026 TEU. It was renamed ONE Ibis (and repainted) in 2019. 

As with yesterday's long haul caller for Ocean Alliance, the CMA CGM Mexico, this ship, sailing for THE Alliance's EC5 service made its last Asian call in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sailing from there on January 22 it then took the Cape of Good Hope route to avoid the Red Sea and was reported passing Cape Town February 3. It proceeded directly to Halifax.


Sunday, February 25, 2024

CMA CGM Mexico

Between 2009 and 2022 CMA CGM had a major building program to add twenty-two ships of the same design to the fleet. Called the Argentina class, the first five were built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan. They had conventional diesel engines and were equipped with exhaust gas scrubbers. The remaining ships have dual fuel capability, with LNG as the alternate, and all seventeen were built by Hyundai's Samho shipyard. 

The first ship in the series, not surprisingly, was named CMA CGM Argentina, and was delivered July 1, 2009. The second ship, called CMA CGM Mexico was delivered July 19, 2009. It arrived in Halifax today, February 25, on CMA CGM's Columbus loop. This is not its first call in Halifax, however. That was on April 19, 2021 and it has called here regularly since.

In 2021 the Argentina class sister ships were the largest ships to call at any Canadian port, with a nominal container capacity of 15,000 TEU. However they have since been eclipsed by another series of CMA CGM ships, the Explorer class of 16,000 TEU capacity. The current record holder for Halifax is the Explorer class CMA CGM Marco Polo (although one of its sister ships may edge it out slightly). Even those ships are now considered relatively puny on a world scale with scores of ships that boast capacity of more than 24,000 TEU. 

Nevertheless CMA CGM Mexico is an impressive sight as it enters port, dwarfing its three escort tugs. At 149,314 gt, 157,076 dwt its capacity is usually quoted at 15,072 TEU.

One of the stern escort tugs has scooted around to the starboard quarter to assist in turning to dock at PSA Halifax Atlantic Hub.

The CMA CGM Mexico's last port in Asia was Colombo, Sri Lanka, sailing January 26. It then deviated from its usual route to avoid the Red Sea and sailed via the Cape of Good Hope to Tanger Med, Morocco, arriving there February 17, then clearing the next day for Halifax.

CMA CGM has since sent a ship through the Suez Canal and Red Sea en route from Europe to Asia. CMA CGM Jules Verne passed southbound from Suez, February 12, and transited the Red Sea with a French warship as escort. The CMA Jules Verne is a member of the Explorer class and is also on the Columbus Loop. Its current ETA for Halifax is July 31.


Saturday, February 24, 2024

Colourful ConRo - Grande Marocco

 Even if their paint is faded and showing rust streaks, the yellow Grimaldi ConRos are capable of brightening the gloomiest of days. Halifax's mid-Atlantic weather (rain, fog, then falling temperatures and flash freezing then ice pellets and snow) today, February 24 could use some brightening and the Grande Marocco certainly provided it.

 A large flock of wintering ducks, and armada of gulls took flight fom the muddy beach in Eastern Passage when they noticed me approaching. The jetty in the mid-ground is the McAsphalt dock, carrying a heated pipeline for transferring asphalt from ship or barge to storage tanks on shore.The jetty was once called Dook's Dock.

Combination carriers, container and RoRo ships, are increasingly rare, but the Grimaldi Group has a large fleet of them, including those of the Atlantic Container Lines, which it also owns.  The Grande Marocco was also here May 15, 2022, carrying German cars, but this time it has come from the Italian ports of Savona, Salerno and Gioia Tauro so presumably has Italian made cars.

Built in 2010 by Hyundai Mipo, Ulsan, Grande Marocco is a 47,636 gt, 25,725 dwt ship with a container capacity of 800 TEU and a car/van capacity of 2,000. Some cars can be carried on the open upper decks above the hold and on the superstructure. There did appear to be some tractors and packaged cargo on the open main deck, but no containers. The ship has four full length and eight part length covered decks and is equipped with a 250 tonne capacity stern ramp. It also has two 40 tonne SWL cranes.

The ship's itinerary will take it from here to Baltimore and New York before returning to Vigo, Spain, then Civitavecchia, Livorno, Savona, Salerno and Gioia Tauto, Italy in mid-April.



Friday, February 23, 2024

NYK Romulus - update, MSC Cordelia - eastbound

 Update #1 NYK Romulus

In my previous reports on the NYK Romulus I stated that it had been in port since February 13 and was prevented from leaving by some unknown problem. It shifted to Pier 31 on February 17 for repairs.

What I did not know (but could have discovered by closer attention to photos) was that the ship's main mast and one of its radar towers had been knocked down and damaged by a container crane at PSA Fairview Cove. The mast carries the ship's navigation lights which, along with the radar, are necesssary for safe navigation. There was also some damage to the small starboard side signal flag gantry. The ship has therefore been confined to port until repairs are made.

Damage to the equipment atop the wheelhouse can be seen on close inspection.

This is what it should look like. There is a gray "goal post" type structure of  three posts, with a platform on top carrying a central mast with lights and aerials, two small towers with radar scanners (one to each side - one higher than the other) and two small gantry type signal (flag) masts - one each side.


After moving to Pier 31, workers removed the mast and radar tower and signal flag gantry.

Scaffolding has been installed to assist in access for re-installation.

The repaired radar tower was lowered into place by shore crane today.

As of today (February 23) workers re-installed the repaired radar tower. The mast and signal gantry are yet to come, and reconnection of all the electricals and electronics are to follow.

It therefore seems that it will be some time before the ship can sail again. In the meantime its cargo is stalled on board.

MSC Cordelia

The container ship MSC Cornelia made a routine stop at PSA Atlantic Hub today, February 23, on the eastbound leg of its CANEX2 service. Ships on this service often call in Halifax to reduce draft (westbound) or to maximize draft (eastbound) due to St.Lawrence River restrictions.

However this ship did not stop in Halifax westbound. Its last European port was Valencia February 6 and it sailed directly to Montreal arriving there February 18 and sailing again February 20.

By the look of it, the ship did not increase draft very much on this visit to Halifax, and in fact appeared lightly loaded. It was carrying no boxes on its after deck at all (these slots are usually for empties.) Its destination is given as Sines, Portugal, due March 3.

The MSC Cornelia was built as RHL Fiducia by Shanghai Jiangnan Changxing in 2010. It became Cornelia I in 2016 and MSC Cornelia in 2021. The 54,182 gt, 63,069 dwt ship has a capacity of 5089 TEU.  

When it called in Halifax last year in March and July, it was on the Turkey-Greece service. It is due back in Halifax March 25, again eastbound on the CANEX2.


Thursday, February 22, 2024

Narrows Action

 Activity in Halifax harbour today (February 22) saw ships in the Narrows en route to or from Bedford Basin.

 The usual parade of Daedalus class ships continues for THE Alliance, but today's arrival is a reminder that one of the ships is sill in port after ten days.

NYK Constellation arrived this morning from Antwerp on the AL5 service, enroute to US east and west coast ports, before returning via Saint John and Halifax to North Europe. 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. It headed for PSA Fairview Cove, passing smartly through the Narrows with the Atlantic Bear working as stern tethered escort.

 Built in 2007 by Hyundai, Ulsan, NYK Constellation is a 55,534 gt, 65,919 dwt ship with a capacity of 4922 TEU including 330 reefers. Meanwhile sister ship NYK Romulus, built in 2009, has been in port since February 13. It moved from PSA Fairview Cove to Pier 31 on February 17 for some kind of repair. A large crane has been seen on the dock - not to handle cargo but likely to lift some piece of equipment on or off.

Ships at Pier 31 are difficult to see from shore with P&H's flour mill to the left and container stacks all around, but a 55,00 tonner dominates the scene when it is alongside.

Waiting patiently in Bedford Basin was the bulker CSL Tacoma with a cargo of Gold Bond gypsum bound for Wilmington, NC. As soon as the Narrows was clear the ship stood on and was soon outbound.

An Equinox class ocean going self-unloader, the CSL Tacoma was built in 2013 by the Chengxi Shipyard in Jiangyin, China. The 43,691 gt ship has a deadweight tonnage of 71,552, but carries much less than maximum capacity when sailing from Halifax due to the restricted draft at the gypsum dock. On this trip its sailing draft was 9.5meters, representing about 43,000 tonnes deadweight.

After delivering a split load of coal to Point Tupper and Sydney, NS for power generation, the ship returned to Halifax for its third load of gyspum so far this year. (It also sailed from Halifax December 30, 2023.) Its coal loads have orginated from the Curtis Bay coal piers in Baltimore. Gypsum cargos have gone to Savannah and Baltimore.

Following the CSL Tacoma through the Narrows for sea was the CCGS Sir William Alexander. heading eastbound.

As with most CCG ships it is multi-tasked for Seach and Rescue patrol as well as its primary duties related to Navaids. It is carrying several buoys on deck, no doubt to replace those that are to be removed for maintenance. The label YS6 is visible on one buoy. (Number 578 Porter Island West light and bell buoy. Located off Clam Harbour, about 60 km NE of Halifax harbour.)

There was also tanker activity in the Narrows, and both ships were berthed. Algoscotia tied up at Pier 9B, after returning from CornerBrook to Imperial Oil yesterday. It appeared to be fueling from trucks this morning.

I hear that the Algoscotia will be headed to Viana do Castelo, Portugal for refit where it will also receive a new Ballast Water Treatment System at the West Sea Viana Shipyard. Fleet mate Algocanada received the new Teramtech BWTS system at the same shipyard last year.

Further alsong, awaiting its turn to refuel was the Liberian flag crude tanker Haifeng The ship had offloaded at Irving Oil's Canaport facility off Saint John, and anchored off Halifax February 20. It moved into port this morning.

The ship was built in 2018 by Shanghai Waigauqiao sshipyard in 2018. It is now working on its third name. First named Salamina it became Dumo Square in 2021 and Haifeng in 2023. It is registered at 62,508 gt, 109,898 dwt.

Neither Halifax (nor Saint John) have bunkering barges, and so ships needing to refuel must come alongside where the fuel can be pumped aboard from trucks. There are no suitable docks for that in Saint John, but Halifax is well equipped for the work, and apparently has trucks available, but even so ships apparently have to take turns.



Wednesday, February 21, 2024

MSC with a V

 As the largest container shipping company in the world, the Mediterranean Shipping Company has found a way to simplify ship identification by appending a Roman Numeral to the ship's name. The number indicates a container capacity limit. 

Today (February 21) saw the arrival of the renamed ship, MSC Matilde V. Built in 1999 by Samsung, Geoje, as the Saudi Jubail, it is a 53,208 gt, 67,615 dwt ship rated at 4400 TEU. It was acquired by MSC in 2022, and sailed for a year as MSC Matilde. It received the Roman 5 as part of fleet wide renaming policy in April of 2023.

The ship is sailing on MSC's Canada Express 1 service from Mediterranean ports. After offloading some cargo here to reduce draft [air draft or sea draft], the ship will sail on to Montreal where it is due February 26. Judging by the ship's trim (it appears to be slightly down by the stern) the cargo to be removed may be stowed aft of midships - perhaps from those high stacks just forward of the bridge.

 MSC is well known for operating older ships, and certainly acquired many on its recent buying spree. According to recent sources MSC has 212 ships older than twenty-years, many purchased in the last two years.

Any ship approaching twenty-five years of age is living on borrowed time. Classification societies require costly refits when they reach that age to keep then "in class" that is to say reliable and safe. Many shipowners deem the expense to be greater than the value of the ship, and thus send it to scrap. According to records, this ship is due for its next survey in August and most of its certificates expire in mid-June. With scores of new ships due this year and thus a looming glut of container ships, this one's days may be numbered. 

In its favour however, is its size. Most of the new ships on order and to be delivered this year are much larger. Ships of MSC Matilde V's size therefore will still be needed on many routes, such as Canex1, which can't handle or don't need larger ships. Also the costly retrofitting of an exhaust gas scrubber system is an expense that would not be a short term investment.I don't know when this ship received its scrubber, but it is likely that it is since it was acquired by MSC.


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

CMA CGM Osiris

 For the second day in a row an Ultra size (greater than 10,000 TEU capacity) container ship arrived in Halifax. Yesterday's (February 19) caller ONE Stork's 14,026 TEU capacity was exceeded today (February 20) by CMA CGM Osiris at 15,356 TEU.

As with yesterday the ship was escorted in by the required three tugs (two tethered aft) to PSA Halifax Atlantic Hub and used the western deep water channel.

 Also in common with yesterday's arrival the ship avoided the Red Sea / Suez route. Departing Colombo January 19 it passed Cape Town January 29. It did not steer directly for Halifax however, but instead proceeded to the hub port of Tanger Med and stopped there February 11-12.

Using the western channel left the eastern channel clear for the outbound HMCS Montreal.

The CMA CGM Osiris is a 154,995 gt, 155,979 dwt Zephyr class ship, built in 2021 by Shanghai Jiangnan Changxing. Its 15,356 TEU capacity includes 1800 reefer plugs. One interesting stat published by CMA CGM is that its capacity of containers loaded to 14 tonnes, is 9410.

This morning's sun angle was such that the ship was mostly back lit, but on its first arrival in Halifax April 29, 2023 the sun was slightly more co-operative for photography. 

Following its stay in Halifax the ship will follow the Ocean Alliance eoute to New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Savannah and Charleston before heading back to Asia.


Monday, February 19, 2024

ONE Stork

 The NYK Stork has called in Halifax before. Its first call was nearly a year ago, on April 26, 2023 (westbound) and again May 18 (eastbound), on THE Alliance's EC5 service from Asia. Since those calls, there have been some changes.

As far as I tell, after sailing from Colombo, Sri Lanka on January 16, the ship took the Cape of Good Hope route to avoid the Red Sea, and thus did not use the much shorter Suez Canal and Mediterranean route. It therefore took more than a month to reach Halifax today, February 19.

Once arriving off Halifax the ship took the western deep water channel, close to the shore. It also employed three tugs. Following new regulations that came into effect in January, two tugs were tethered aft. The third tug made up near the bow.

 Tug Atlantic Beaver is forward, and Atlantic Oak is astern to starboard, and Atlantic Bear is astern to port,(far right in photo.)

The ONE Stork was built in 2018 by Japan Marine United in Kure. The 145,251 gt, 139,335 dwt ship has a capacity of 14,026 TEU. It is believed to be the first ship to be painted in the Ocean Network Express (ONE) magenta hull colour.


Saturday, February 17, 2024

Celestial Convergence

 Ships of NYK's Daedalus class are weekly visitors on THE Alliance's AL5 North Europe / North America service. It is rare however for two ships of the class to be in port at the same time. Today (February 17) when NYK Nebula arrived on its eastbound leg from Saint John, NB, its berth at PSA Fairview Cove was occupied by sister ship NYK Romulus, which ship, also eastbound, has been in port since February 13.

 NYK Nebula northbound in the Narrows heading for Fairview Cove. The tug Atlantic Oak is running alongside preparing to make up forward. Stern escort tug Atlantic Beaver is hidden from view.

The NYK Romulus may have some deficiency which is preventing it from putting to sea, but it was able to move under its own power to Pier 31. When it got away from the Fairview Cove west berth it went well out into Bedford Basin, leaving lots or room for NYK Nebula to turn and back in to the same berth.

This gave the opportunity to see both ships at the same time.

Once the NYK Nebula had cleared the way (stern escort tug Atlantic Beaver assisting with the Atlantic Oak) the NYK Romulus made its way southbound through the Narrows to Pier 31with tugs Atlantic Bear and Atlantic Larch.

The NYK Romulus is the second container ship to move to Pier 31 this week. MSC Porto III had sailed February 13, but after idling offshore it returned to port (yesterday) February 16 and tied up at Pier 31. It sailed later in the day. Pier 31 is not a working berth for containers or any cargo, so is used by ships that need to tie up for repairs that can't be effected at anchor.

The NYK Nebula and NYK Romulus may not be exact sister ships, but are built from the same basic design. NYK Nebula was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries Ulsan shipyard in 2007. It is a 55,534 gt 65,600 dwt ship with a capacity of 4922 TEU. NYK Romulus came from Hyundai's Samho yard in 2009 and has the same gross tonnage and 4922 TEU capacity, including 330 reefer plugs, but its deadweight tonnage is recorded at 65,833.

At time of writing there was no ETD for NYK Romulus. NYK Nebula is due to sail overnight, efectivelty "lapping" its fleet mate.


Friday, February 16, 2024

End af an Era continued: Compania Peruana de Vapores

 Another in a series about the last conventional general cargo ships.

The South American country of Peru, like many countries from time to time, resented having to rely upon foreign owned ships for imports and exports. It therefore founded its own state owned shipping company. Compania Peruana de Vapores (Peruvian Steamship Company). And as with many other countries it found the scheme to be a money pit. Although achieving some of its goals, including training ship's officers and carrying the country's goods to the world, the cost of running a shipping company became intolerable. It was also a political football, and was wound up following a change of government and the last of its ships were sold off.

Peru's timing for entering the shipping business was bad as the container revolution was just getting going, and building general cargo ships was a retrograde step, as they were obsolete within a very few years. The ships they built represented the tried and true pattern developed over a century and for the time were at the height of the evolutionary tree. Sophisticated cargo handling gear, such as cranes, were not used, and loading and unloading depended on union purchase and manual labour.

In the early 1970s the company operated twelve deep sea ships all built between 1968 and 1970, on four routes.  One of those routes ran between the Atlantic coast of Canada and the USA and the Pacific coast of South American as far as Chile.

The Canadian port was Montreal, but the ships also called in Halifax, particularly in winter.

The six ships of the so called 12,500 ton capacity class were built in 1968 and 1969, and were modern style general cargo ships with superstructure aft.

Inca Tupac Yupanqui came from the Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval (SECN) in Sestao, Bilbao, Spain and measured 9624 gt, 13,179 dwt. It was equipped with sixteen winches for one 60 tonne, four 10 ton and twelve 5 ton derricks. Powered by a 6 cylinder 9600 bhp Sulzer main engine (built under license by SECN) it operated at 16.5 knots.

In the photo the ship is tied up at Pier 9C in 1970. 

(Nova Scotia Power's Tuft's Cove power plant had only one stack to start with. It now has three.)

The Inca Tupac Upanqui was sold in 1980, renamed Aura and in 1985 Avra Sea. It was broken up in 1986 at Gadani Beach.

 The Inca Yahuar Huaca had the same tonnages and came from the same shipyard, but in 1969.

 Seen here at Pier 31 with Elder Dempter's Fulani * in the left foreground.

The  Inca Yahuar Huaca was sent directly to the scrapyard in Kaohsiung and broken up in February 1988.

The Garcilaso was from the 13,000 ton capacity class and was built by Wartsila, Turku in 1969. It was a 9,464 gt, 13,929 dwt ship. Its 6 cylinder 9600 bhp Wartsila main engine gave a speed of 17 knots. It had eighteen winches, for one 60 ton, four 10 ton and twelve 6 ton derricks. Lloyd's Register later gave it a container carrying capacity of 62 TEU. It was broken up in Peru in 1994.

The Garcilaso also at Pier 9C - likely on a Sunday in 1970 - ready to load some lumber come Monday morning.

Other countries, socialist or not, eventually gave up on state owned shipping companies, with mainly communist countries such as Russian and Cuba hanging on. The container revolution marked the end of many old school private companies and those will be covered in some future "End of an Era" posts.

 * Elder Dempster, an important British shipping company, was the subject a much earlier "End of an Era" post March 27, 2015


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

End of an Era - Head Line

 I was fortunate enough to be present as the last of the great cargo ships called in Halifax. In the late 1960s and the early 1970s containers were taking over the world but it didn't happen over night. So called "third world" countries did not have the wherewithall to invest in costly port infrastructure such as cranes and mobile gantries and so the traditional type of general cargo vessel still served those parts of the world. Using union purchase derricks and labour intensive handballing the ships spent days or even weeks in some ports handling cargo. That inefficient means of transport did not last long as even minor ports shifted to the ubiquitous boxes.

Within a few years those impressive ships were gone, but in the meantime they still called in Halifax - some with a few containers stowed awkwardly - but with the holds (including tween decks) stuffed with a wide array of goods to or from ports chiefly in Africa and Asia.

It was not just the ships that did not survive the shift to containers. A number of shipping companies also disappeared. Some joined continer consortiums, but others just withdrew from shipping altogether. Their ships were sold and redeployed until they were too old to maintain.

This article is one of a sporadic series covering some of those ships and shipping lines, which I will post from time to time. 

The Ulster Steamship Company, as the name implied, was based in Northern Ireland, in the port of Belfast and traded primarily to Canada. Its founders, the Heyn family, although Prussian in origin, were prominent ship owners from the 1850s and the days of sail. G.Heyn + Sons Ltd founded the Ulster Steamship Company in 1877.

They had what we would now call superb "brand identity". They named their ships for prominent headlands in Ireland (north and south) and were thus known as the "Head Line". They also adopted a motif from legend, the "red hand" or the "bloody hand" of Ulster. The story was that two chiefs were racing by sea to claim some rich land. The first to reach shore would get the land and the loser would get nothing. One chief cut off his hand (the left one of course) and threw it ashore to win the race and get the land. This gruesome legend did not deter Heyn's from displaying a "bloody hand" on their ship's bows, funnels and house flag.

A black and white photo does not do justice to the crimson hand with blood dripping from the wrist. It was probably necessary to touch up the famous trade mark regularly to ensure that it remained highly visible - and sufficiently gory. (This photo was taken of the Carrigan Head in Montreal in August 1965.) [Built in 1958, sold 1972, scrapped 1980.]

Head Line ships were irregular callers in Halifax - they usually ran from Liverpool to Montreal in season (and into the Great Lakes) and Saint John, N.B. during the winter months. Their Montreal agents, MacLean Kennedy, had close ties with the Heyns. Alfred E. Francis, secretary treasurer of MacLean Kennedy, an Ulsterman by birth, had started his working life with Heyn's and came to Canada in 1914 to work at MacLean Kennedy. McLean Kennedy, their owners the Eakin family, and Mr. Francis became significant shareholders in the Ulster Steamship Company. Ships of the line regularly saluted while passing his summer residence on the shores of the St.Lawrence.

 All this is getting around to my surprise on April 15, 1970 when the ship George sailed into Halifax and tied up at Pier 23.

Built in 1953 by none other than Harland + Wolff in Belfast, the 7439 gt, 9381 dwt turbine steamer was named Rathlin Head and made its first call in Halifax April 7, 1954. At that time the 15 knot ship was not exactly "state of the art" but was of proven reliability and of a type common from the 1930s on. Like most Head Line ships it also had accommodation for twelve passengers. It was a regular on the St.Lawrence River and I had seen it there in its heyday.

It had only recently been sold to Kimon Shipping of Famagusta, Cypress and arrived in Saint John on its last trip for the Head Line in March 1970 and handed over there to the new owers. It sailed February 14, 1970 for Cuba - presumably with a cargo of potatoes - and was back in Halifax for more of the same, except this time it was likely Prince Edward Island potatoes instead of New Brunswick potatoes. 

The ship did not see long service under Cypriot flag as it was laid up in Rotterdam (unknown date) and departed that port in tow July 17, 1972 for Vigo, Spain where it was broken up in August. 

The Head Line purchased the Scottish Donaldson Line of Glasgow in 1967 and operated as Head-Donaldson Line for a time, but eventually melded with Manchster Liners into Canadian Pacific's CP Ships. The company exited shipowning in 1973 but G. Heyn + Sons Ltd remain in the Belfast agency, stevedoring, warehousing, freight forwarding and customs clearance business. 

The last Head Line ship to appear in Canadian waters was built in 1965 by Austin + Pickersgill, Southwick (Harland + Wolf was too busy building tankers) as Inishowen Head. In 1970 it was converted from a 8621 gt, 10,380 dwt general cargo ship to a 9,099 gt cellular container ship. It was chartered out as the Cast Beaver from 1973 to 1977 then reverted to Inishowen Head. In 1977 it was sold to the Canadian company Boréal Navigation and operated as the Sunhermine on a Saguenay Terminals charter until 1982. It was then renamed Catalina and operated on the ACE Montreal - St.John's service. It was finally sold for scrap in 1986 and broken up in Busan, South Korea.


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Protected tanker

 Something I have not seen before on a tanker is a hard shell "turtle back" over the foredeck. Today, February 13, the tanker CB Pacific  arrived from New York for Irving Oil, and the structure is hard to miss as it is painted white.

Often seen on container ships the shell protects the foreward deck of the ship from taking damage in high seas. It also shields deck equipment and machinery from ice build up in winter.

The CB Pacific is the final of four sister ships built by Jiangsu New Hantong shipbuilding in Yangzhong, China, and was delivered in 2020. The 27,250 gt, 37,787 dwt ship is equipped to handle crude oil, clean petroluem products or chemicals in twelve phenolic epoxy coated tanks (plus two slops tanks). The ship is also built to DNV Baltic Ice Class 1B and is fitted with a hybrid exhaust gas scrubber which can be run at zero emissions. 

The CB in the name stands for Carl Büttner GmbH + Co KG of Bremen, initial owners and which since October 2022 is part of the Greek shipowner Lomar. Lomar in turn is part of the worldwide Libra Group of aviation, energy, real estate, hospitality and shipping / shipbuilding companies.



Monday, February 12, 2024

That's No Lady...

 Many Mediterranean Shipping Company ships have feminine names, but the two most recent arrivals in Halifax have had geographical names instead. Yesterday it was the MSC Manzanillo and today the MSC Porto III.

The MSC Manzanillo has been here several times - previously in 2022 on the Turkey-Greece service and on April, 28, 2023 on the CANEX 2 service. On that latter visit it was eastbound and came in to top off cargo. On the current visit it is westbound on the CANEX 2 route and will drop off some cargo to meet St.Lawrence River draft restrictions. It is due in Montreal on February 13.

To quote from a previous post: "The MSC Manzanillo dates from 2005 when it was built by Hanjin Heavy Industry and Construction  - the forepart in Pusan and the stern and assembly in Ulsan. It is a 54,758 gt, 68,168 dwt ship with a capacity of 5060 TEU including 454 reefers.Delivered as Juliette Rickmers, it was immediately renamed Maersk Davao until 2012, then Juliette Rickmers again. In 2017 it was renamed MP The Gronk when acquired by Mangrove Partners. All Mangrove ships were named after New England Patriots football players - this one after the tight end Ron Gronkowski. As with other Mangrove ships it was bought for US$ 7.5mn then sold to MSC in 2021 for more than US$60 mn."

Manzanillo is an important port on Mexico's Pacific coast, and is on the same latitude as Mexico City and is the principal port for that city.

Today's arrival is named for the Portuguese port city of Porto (or Oporto) which had a longstanding connection to Newfoundland through fishing and is one of the closest European ports to Canada.

The MSC Porto III is also on the CANEX 2 service, but is now eastbound from Montreal and is here to top up cargo to the ship's ocean going draft. The ship has a lengthy history, since it is nearly twenty years of age. (It is due for its next survey in September). By a strange coincidence with yesterday's arrival it was also built in halves at different shipyards. In this case the forward section came from Aker Warnemunde in Rostock and was joined to the stern section from Aker MTW Werft in Wismar. The result is a 25,406gt, 33,829 dwt ship with a capacity of 2478 TEU including 400 reefers. It also carries three 45 tonne SWL cranes. I expect the cranes are seldom used in the current service to and from the Mediterranean.

The ship started life in September 2004 when it was delivered as the Frisia Lissabon but was immediately renamed Cabo Prior until 2006. It then became Cap Flinders until 2008 and Frisia Lissabon again for a short time until 2009; CSAV Santos until 2011 reverting to Frisia Lissabon again until 2017 then HSL Porto. As of January 1, 2023 it became MSC Porto III. (The Roman numeral III indicates that the ship's container capacity is less than 3,000 TEU. )

Ships are equipped with exhaust gas scrubbers these days unless their engines can use low sulphur fuel. MSC Porto III certainly did not appear to be employing a scrubber today, as it emitted a very oily black cloud as it approached the South End Terminal operated by PSA Halifax. 


Saturday, February 10, 2024

What are the Odds

 The title of this post is intended to be a rhetorical question, although someone with a higher degree of mathematical proficiency than I might the able to answer it. 

With some 1500* ships calling in Halifax in the course of a year there are many times when the same ships are in port together at the same time. Leaving out cruise ships (there were 178 cruise calls in 2023 - many of which were duplicates and there were many times when there was more than one ship in port at a time) and leaving out regular coastal cargo ships or tankers, that are in port regularly, the numbers of "coincidental calls" reduces dramatically.

Most container lines use the same ships for extended periods of time, and those with relatively short haul weekly or monthly calls are likely to have coinciding visits, with ships from other lines. But for the long haul lines, with a given ship calling in the port maybe only one two times a year, the coincidence rate becomes even lower.

Therefore today's repeat visits by CMA CGM J. Adams and MSC Pratiti must be considered a rare event. They were last in Halifax together in June 2022. 

CMA CGM J. Adams is on the Ocean Alliance (CMA CGM / APL / COSCO / Evergreen /  OOCL) Asia to North America east coast service from Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Of interest is that after stopping in Colombo January 14-15 it did transit the Red Sea safely, passing through the Suez Canal January 25-26. It stopped in Tanger Med Febraury 3-4 and sailed directly for Halifax.

Followiing newly instituted regulations, as of Janaury 2024, the ship used two stern tethered escort tugs. 

All container ships with an overall length greater than 335 meters (1099 ft) and a draught greater than 14.0 meters (46 ft) are now required to use dual tug escorts. This particular ship measures 365.96 meters (1200 ft) overall length and 15 meters (49.2 ft) draught. 

The ship also took the western, deep water channel on its way in.

Once close to Pier 41, the tugs swung out into position to turn and berth the ship.


The CMA CGM J.Adams was built in 2017 by Hyundai, Ulsan, and has tonnages of 141,950 gross and 148,425 dwt with a capacity of 14,414 TEU. [For some reason tonnages have been revised since its last visit when they were 140,872 gt and 148,8992 dwt.]

At the adjacent berth, Pier 42, was the MSC Pratiti on MSC's Canada Express 2 service from the Mediterranean. When the CMA CGM J. Adams was here June 21 -22, 2022 the MSC Pratiti was also at the adjacent berth. (It was a sunnier and warmer day, see post at: June 22, 2022.)

The MSC Pratiti has been a familiar visitor to Halifax over the years. Built in 2004 by Hyundai Ulsan as ZIM Pusan it was a regular. The 53,453 gt, 66,597 dwt ship has a capacity of 4814 TEU including 330 reefers. In 2014 it was renamed Pusan and in 2017 Kowloon Bay. It took on its current name in 2021. 

After discharging some cargo to reduce draft for the St.Lawrence River, the ship sailed for Montreal. It is due there February 13, but is due back in Halifax February 18 to take on a bit more cargo for efficient sailing at ocean draught. 

* The 1500 ships per year figure has been used for a long time. I guess the increase in size of ships, rather than the number of ships, is responsible for the growth in cargo tonnage that the port has recorded recently.


Friday, February 9, 2024


 Halifax was a cross roads this afternoon, February 9 with ship arrivals and departures all happening in the mid to late afternoon. 

Outbound was the autocarrier Don Carlos (see yesterday's post), After discharging automobiles at Autoport last night it moved over to Pier 9C this morning to unload RoRo cargo. There was the usual mix of industrial machinery - most of it wheeled, but some on trailers.

On leaving this afternoon the ship took the eastern or main channel allowing the inbound ONE Falcon to take the deeper Western Channel.

Arriving on THE Alliance's EC5 service from Colombo. The ONE Falcon made the trip in just over a month sailing from Colombo January 8. To avoid the high risk Red Sea, the ship sailed the long route around Africa, passing the Cape of Good Hope, reported off Cape Town  January 30.

Built by Japan Marine United, Kure in 2017 as NYK Falcon the 146,287 gt, 138,907 dwt ship has a capacity of 14,026 TEU. It adopted its current name (and paint scheme) in 2021.

Making its way slowly inbound to PSA Fairview Cove, the ZIM Virginia allowws the ONE ship time to turn off Pier 41, and for tugs to finish up with the next outbound - the autocarrier Emden which did not get away from Autoport before the light failed.

I was sorry to miss the Emden, just delivered in September 2023, a 7,000 CEU vessel powered by LNG and on long term charter to Volkswagen. A sister ship, Wolfsburg is presently loading in Emden.

ZIM Virginia is owned by Ymir International Ltd a subsidiary of ZIM and flies the flag of Israel. It was built in 2002 by Hyundai, Ulsan and measures 53,453 grt, 66, 686 dwt and carries 4839 TEU. The ship is on the ZCA service and is east bound for the Mediterranean, having called here westbound February 2. It has since called in New York and Norfolk.