Friday, December 19, 2014

Seabed Prince - back for more

The Norwegian offshore vessel Seabed Prince is working for Secunda Canada on the export pipeline at the Thebaud gas field near Sable Island. Since no Canadian vessel was available to do the specialized work, the ship was granted a coasting license.
I covered its first arrival in Shipfax November 20: but it was back in port again Decmber 6 -7 and returned again this afternoon.

Seabed Prince is providing dive team accommodation and ROVs for installing grout bags, reinforcing bars and weighted mattresses to the pipeline. 

Recently an application has been made to extend the coasting license beyond the end of December to February 28, 2015.

Waiting for the ship at pier 31 was a trailer carrying weighted mattresses and not far away a stock of grout bags.They will be loaded aboard using a shoreside crane.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Glen help

Atlantic Towing Ltd manages to carry out harbour berthing and even some outside work with the three ASD tugs normally based in Halifax. From time to time if another tug is needed, they have been able to call on Saint John, NB to send a tug in for a day or or so. However today was a little different.
Faced with shifting an effectively dead ship from anchorage to a pier, the three tugs were not going to be enough. With the tug Atlantic Oak undergoing its 5 year survey in Shelburne, Halifax has already brought in Atlantic Fir from Saint John, and the latter port could not spare another. What to do?
It is not unheard of, but has not been done in years (and never by Atlantic Towing to my knowledge) - they called HMC Dockyard. The Queen's Harbour assigned a Naval Auxiliary tug to lend a hand. Normally working on navy jobs only, with navy pilots, this would be a new experience for the civilian crew.

So early this evening Atlantic Fir, Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Larch were assisted by Glenevis in moving the disabled Australian Spirit from anchorage in Bedford Basin to pier 9C. The ship has no steering capability, having lost its rudder at sea, and there was a breeze picking up. Thanks to Voith-Schneider propulsion Glenevis's high degree of maneuverability makes up to a degree for its modest power of 1750 bhp 

Back in the day when ships were smaller, the Glens had comparable horsepower to the local tugs, and were called in more frequently when one of the harbour tugs was out of service or more power was needed.

Glenevis at her normal berth in HMC Dockyard, although she will not have HMCS Iroquois for company much longer.

Glenevis helps to berth Hoegh Pride in 1979.

Point Vim and Point Vibert in the background get an assist from Glenbrook with the tanker Fina Belgica in 1991. (Photo taken from Point Halifax)

The most notable occasion when Dockyard tugs did civilian work occurred in March 1982 when the oil rig Zapata Scotian on the barge Seacamel 393-11 broke loose from its berth and went adrift in the harbour, threatening the Macdonald Bridge, a Dartmouth office building and the anchored Polish bulker Ziemia Wielkopolska. All three Glens, and St.Charles along with six harbour tugs, three tug/suppliers and the deep sea tugs Shamal and Simoon were all involved in the operation to recover the rig, and eventually get it back alongside the next day when the wind died down.

 Glenbrook gives it her all assisting Point Valour in getting the rig back alongside. The Glen's side thrust was especially helpful compared to the local single screw harbour tugs of roughly equivalent horsepower than t could only push or pull on a tow line.

Navy tugs were deemed to have saved the day, but the Queen's Harbour Master declined to put in a salvage claim.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lonely and Blue

The magnificent tug Ryan Leet has been laid up at pier 9B in Halifax. Just before the arrival of the salvage tow of Australian Spirit on Friday afternoon, the tug moved from the Mobil dock and the crew signed off. I thought it odd at the time that this tug was not used in the salvage tow, but apparently plans to tie it up were in the works and it was not available to use.

Ryan Leet moves to its layup berth on December 12.

The longest serving member of the current Secunda Canada fleet, the tug has been a stalwart for them since 1990. Although mostly used as a standby vessel for offshore work, it has figured in numerous salvage and rescue jobs over the  years, most recently in March 2014 when it worked on the salvage and towed off the grounded bulker John I.near Rose Blanche, Newfoundland.

Now behind a security fence, with only a watchman, it is unclear what the future may bring for the only tug of its type in eastern Canada. With so many more powerful anchor handling tug suppliers available to tow ships when needed, the days of deep sea tugs are numbered around the world. Sadly it is no different here. These wonderful sea boats, built for rescue towing can handle any kind of conditions and are a valuable asset to marine safety.

I have written the story of this tug on this blog several times before, so will only mention in passing that it was built as Abeille Provence in 1977, for use on the French coast. It was replaced by bigger tugs and went to South America as Salvor Commander in 1987. Secunda Marine Services, as it was then, bought the tug and near sister Salvor General ex  Abeille Normandie and reconditioned them for service.

Sisters: Magdelan Sea (foreground) in 2003. The next year it was sold to Greek owners and became Zouros Hellas. In 2007 it became Tsavliris Hellas and is still in service as a salvage tug.

Ryan Leet was re-powered in 1994 with a pair of V-20 GM EMDs of 3,650 bhp each, and was fitted with a retractable 800 bhp omnidirectional bow thruster. For station keeping in standby mode, it can use the thruster only. Its controllable pitch props are in nozzles.

One of Ryan Leet's finer moments, fighting the container fire on the ship Kitano in Halifax harbour, March 23, 2001.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Venture Sea and Atlantic Larch called out to sea

Two Halifax based tugs put to sea today to assist the drifting tanker Australian Spirit. En route from Whiffen Head, Newfoundlad  with 90,000 tonnes of crude oil for New York, the tanker lost is steering on last night (December 9).
Gale force winds and 4 meter seas along with driving rain and limited visibility have raised concerns about the safety of the ship which is 40 nautical miles off Halifax's Chebucto Head. CCGS Earl Grey also put to sea to standby.

Atlantic Towing's Atlantic Larch was the first tug to respond. The 4,000 bhp tug is fitted with a towing winch in addition to its shiphandling winch forward. It would not be large enough to tow the tanker single handedly, but it could certainly assist in keeping its head up to winds and seas, if it can secure and maintain a tow line in rough conditions.

Also sailing from Halifax the anchor handling tug supplier Venture Sea with 12,280 bhp would certainly be able to tow the ship. The Secunda Canada tug was in Halifax on a regular run from the Sable Island gas operations when it was called out. Built in 1998 by Halter Marine in Pascagoula, it has worked for Secunda in Canada and overseas.

Australian Spirit is operated by Teekay Shipping and was built in 2004 by Hyundai Heavy Industries of Ulsan, South Korea. It measures 68,213 grt, 111, 9045 dwt. 

Halifax Harbour is under weather watch due to winds and seas, with several ships waiting offshore for improved conditions to make it possible to enter port. These conditions will make it difficult to manage Australian Spirit, which will no doubt have to enter port to effect repairs.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Number two is Tim McKeil

McKeil has taken delivery of its second ASD tug from Singapore. Pannawonica I arrived in Sydney, NS recently and was registered today in St.John's as Tim McKeil.
My earlier posting about sister tug Lois M gives most of the details about the tug. See:

Both tugs were delivered by the noted Dutch ship delivery company Redwise. They will deliver just about any floating object anywhere, but they specialize in tugs, largely because they are an offshoot or the famous, but now vanished, tug company Wijsmuller. Long a freestanding independent, their roots are still in tugs.

First both tugs were delivered to Singapore from Australia, some 2200 miles in February 2014. Once there they entered a shipyard for what was described as TLC.

Lois M (as Lambert) sailed from Singapore May 23*, traveling 16,500 miles in 4 1/2 months towing two dump scows, Marmac 250 and Marmac 251, and stopping in Mauritius June 23 and Walvis Bay July 15 for fuel. After delivering the scows to Tampico Mexico, the tug sailed light to Mulgrave. A near disaster was averted off Tampico when Marmac 251 broke loose in Hurricane Dolly September 4. Fortunately it was recovered undamaged by a local tug.

Tim McKeil (as Pannawonica I ) spent more time in the shipyard, where work included the installation of an elevated wheelhouse. They sailed from Singapore July 6, reaching Fremantle July 20 where they had more work done, including prop polishing. There they picked up two split hopper scows, GL 501 and GL 502. Stopping in Mauritius August 28, Walvis Bay September 23, Cape Verde Islands October 20-24, they delivered the scows to Miami November 15, then sailed light tug to Sydney. A five month trip of 5,000 miles.

During the trips, Redwise crews did considerable running maintenance and  generally handed over the tugs in better condition than they found them. These crews are a breed unto themselves, taking on long voyages in small ships, often battling severe conditions of weather, heat and deprivation when systems break down. Rusty water tanks, decks awash and other risks are taken in stride.

Redwise has a website, and crews keep blogs of the trips. If you can't read Dutch, Bing Translation can give you a very rough approximation if your computer has that feature.

Company website: [go to the bottom of the page for English]

* all dates are approximate.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Eileen McAllister - Mission Scrubbed

Eileen McAllister is returning home to the US after her planned tow out was scrubbed. The tug had arrived in Quebec City prepared to tow the old Great Lakes bulker American Fortitude ex Courtney Burton, ex Ernest T. Weir to Brownsville, TX for scrapping.
Due to the condition of the ship itself, and some issues with the tow, its progress down the Seaway was halted by Transport Canada at Côte-Ste-Catherine, above Montreal.
The veteran bulker was built in 1953 and converted to a self-unloader in 1980, but had been laid up in Toledo, OH since 2008. The Canadian tugs Evans McKeil, on the bow and Jarrett M ex Atomic on the stern, towed the ship down through through the Welland Canal and most of the Seaway until it was stopped. The indeterminate delay resulted in McAllister Towing opting to recall Eileen McAllister. (She had arrived from Norfolk, VA.)

It is late in the season, with ice forming and recent experiences with HMCS Athabaskan and Miner probably lead to wisdom prevailing.

Eillen McAllister, in bright Houston sunshine, shows off her heavy hull fendering, similar to the railroad tugs of New York.

Eileen McAllister was in Halifax in August 2012 and towed out the old floating drydock Scotiadock II, also for scrap. Built in 1977 by Main Iron Works in Houma, LA, the 4300 bhp tug is of traditional US design. Like most tugs from that builder it is of extremely durable construction, and its GM EMD engines are famed for their longevity.

 Eileen McAllister steams smartly into Halifax August 1, 2012 with company pennant flying.

The next day she makes her way outbound, with tow rigged, complete with gog line. 

Her tow was an old floating drydock.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Temporary tug change for Halifax

The tugs in Halifax are all so similar in appearance, it is somtimes hard to tell which is which. This past weekend there was a change that might not have been noticeable to the casual observer.

Easiest to identify is Atlantic Larch because it has no firefighting gear:
Built in 2000 it is a 4,000 bhp ASD tug. It is fitted with a towing winch and is sometimes sent away from Halifax for various chores where a winch is needed. However it does look very similar to the Atlantic Hemlock which sometimes comes to Halifax.

Atlantic Willow is a firefighting tug, with prominent water cannons:
It dates from 1998 and is also a 4,000 bhp ASD, and has no towing winch. However it has open bulwarks at the bits fore and aft, and a strongback on the stern rail to protect the line if it is using its towing hook.

Atlantic Oak is a firefighting tug with less prominent water cannons:
It also has the open rails, but is fitted with stainless steel shields over the air intakes on the funnel casings and has a side door on the wheelhouse. It was built in 2004 and is a 5,050 bhp tug, and as the most powerful tug in Halifax it is the one used most often for tethered escort work.

However Atlantic Oak has a sister tug named Atlantic Fir, based in Saint John:
Aside from different shields on its water cannons it was virtually indistinguishable from its sister. It was built in 2005 and is also rated at 5050 bhp. Since it travels about a great deal, it does show up in Halifax from time to time. Unless one was really alert, it was hard to tell which tug it was - until now.

This weekend Atlantic Willow was sent off to Liverpool to berth the ship Thorco Dolphin with wind turbine components and Atlantic Oak was sent to Shelburne for refit. When Atlantic Fir arrived to fill in I noted that something new had been added:
 Two satellite domes have been appeared. A small one on the mast and larger one on its own pole. These certainly make the tug stand out from the rest! They may have been added for navigation purposes likely for the tow out of the Gravity Base in Newfoundland, where precise location was required. It is not clear if these have been tied into the tug's autopilot to provide dynamic positioning. They are for communication only.

Up close then, there is now little doubt that one is seeing Atlantic Fir. but from a distance it still requires some experience to pick it out.
Atlantic Larch on the left, and Atlantic Fir, at Atlantic Oak's normal berth at the IEL dock in Woodside. From a distance the sat domes are barely visible.