Saturday, January 24, 2015

Flashback to Tussle

In the last post I mentioned the Canadian Navy's fire boats. Built on the TANAC hulls cancelled at the end of World War II, they were modified with hull sponsons and a complete fire fighting equipment.

FT-1  with pennant number YTM-556 goes about its business in Halifax Harbour in 1977.

 FT-1 also known as Fox was delivered in October 1946 as CN 1046. It served in HMC Dockyard until it was retired in 1979. The hull was purchased by Atlantic Salvage Ltd, a company operated by Walter Partridge, a noted salvager. His son Toby and other members of the family also operated Partridge Motor Boat Service, a harbour launch service using surplus navy duty boats Towapat, Towadon and others.

 Hauled out on the end of pier 31, Fox shows off its sponsoned hull and original superstructure.

Although it took something like eight years, they rebuilt the hull into a working tug that worked in the harbour for ten years or so and formed Anchor Enterprises Ltd to operate it.

Gradually taking shape, the tug was moved to the pier 29-pier 30 area.

Finally in the water by 1987, at the IEL dock, its new home base, the tug was given the name Tussle.

The name Tussle was not original to this tug, - it had been used at least twice before for tugs in the Halifax area. The first, built in 1910 by Smith+Rhuland in Lunenburg, operated as passenger ferry on the La Have River until about 1920, then between Mulgrave and Arichat, and in the mid-1920s between Pictou, NS and Montague PE. In the 1930s it worked for Beacon Dredging Co and end up with J.P.Porter.
A second Tussle was Tanac V-248 which also worked for J.P.Porter from 1958 to 1965 when it was lost. It is likely that it was one of the other tugs completed as a fire boat, possibly stationed in Shelburne, NS.. 

The completed Tussle was a handsome little tug, fully outfitted for towing. Save for its rudimentary exhaust pipe, it was well finished.

Tussle has a scows alongside the cruise ship Regent Star removing international garbage. Handling these scows was a large part of Tussle's work.

Tussle could handle heavy work too, towing barges and smaller ships around the harbour and along the coast.It was fitted with a knuckle boom hydraulic crane, mounted aft on its house.

The tugs sponsoned hull meant wide side decks, providing lots of room for the crew to work, and to carry the odd load.

Tussle was not confined to Halifax harbour however. In 1990 it was sent  to Pugwash to provide berthing assistance to the barge Capt. Edward V. Smith (ex Adam  E.Cornelius) when it was handled by the tug Artcic Nanook or Magdalen Sea. It worked in Point Aconi on a construction project in 1991 and it towed a coastal freighter from Lunenburg to Halifax in 1994.

The tug worked steadily into the 2000s. Its Canadian registry was closed October 21, 2002 after it was sold south as MacKenzie Ryan. It was later Miss Christine and last heard of it was in Fort Lauderdale, FL, but US documentation expired in 2011.

Tussle in its prime, returns to the IEL dock on an icy day in 1990.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marinex Tugs

The company Marinex (formerly Canadian Underwater Works)(C.U.W.) mentioned in my last post, had an interesting fleet of tugs, D.Robidoux was pictured in that post, the others are here in alphabetical order:

Capitaine Lemay

Pictured here working on a wharf project in Tadoussac, QC, Capitaine Lemay shows it stuff - with lots of smoke and noise. Built in 1952 by Gaston, Laurent and Raymond Lemay of Portneuf, QC, and measuring just under 15 grt its single screw was driven by a 205 bhp engine. The Lemays operated the tug for a number of years, and after Marinex ownership, it went to Pipe-Tec Specialité (2001) Inc of Ile-Bizard, QC. It is still carried on the Canadian Register, but I have not seen it for many years.


Laniel was built in 1955 by Ferguson Industries in Pictou, NS for the federal Department of Public Works to a fairly standard design. In 1966-67 it was sold through Crown Assets Disposal Corp for $7,400 to C.U.W. Post-Marinex it went to Entreprises Vibec Inc of Victoriaville, QC. I lost track of it after that, and I guess Transport Canada did too, for its registration was suspended March 27, 2003. That usually means its owners have gone out of business and the tug was abandoned somewhere.
It measured 11 grt and was rated at 225 bhp.
It is seen above working with the dredging plant at Rivière-du-Loup, an annual silt removal project that was tendered each year, Verreault had the contract for several years running, and Groupe Océan has the work now.

St.John' Fireboat

 My favourite was St.John's Fire Boat. It was built by Central Bridge in Trenton, ON iin 1945 one of 250  steel TANAC class tugs for the British Ministry of War Transport for use in the Mediterranaean. Many were completed too late for the war and sold off instead. This tug was one of the last three built and was likely the last one, TANAC-V-250. The three were built with sponsoned hulls, wider than the standard and completed as fireboats for the Royal Canadian Navy. On completion they were unofficially named Naval Fire Tug No.1, No.2  and No.3. However they were also given names. No.1  was also known as FT-1 Fox, and based in Halifax.. No.2 may also have been based in Halifax. No.3 was based in Sydney, NS at the Point Edward Naval Station, In 1952 it was transferred to St.John's, NL and was to have been towed by Eastore, but ended up sailing on its own, escorted by the tug Riverton. 
At some point it was transferred to the federal Minister of Public Works, and registered as St. John's Fire Boat.
 C.U.W. bought the tug in 1970 for $12,000 and it remained in the fleet when they became Marinex in 1972.
In 1990 I saw it hauled out on the shore at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, and there was work going on around its stern. However by 1993 work had long been suspended, it was boarded up and derelict. It register was closed March 23, 1995, and I assume it was broken up where it lay. (The pictures are too sad to post)

My favourite photo: when it was working with the dredge at Riviére-du-Loup. Notice the deck hand on scow, calmly sitting on a bollard while his colleagues on the tug get a thorough shake up.

D.Robidoux, Tanac -V-222 and Laniel at Cap-de-La-Madeleine.

Tanac-V-222 also came from Central Bridge in Trenton, ON. The first 178 TANACs were sent overseas for the Minister of War Transport and found their way to the UK, Mediterranean and even Singapore. The remainder were sold following the end of the war in 1946-47. Those numbered after 200 were given the initial "V", some say because they had Vivian engines. I have never believed this, preferring to hope that the "V" stood for Victory. V-222 was built with the conventional hull, measured 50 grt and had the 375 bhp Vivian main engine.
It was also transferred on completion to the federal Minister of Public Works and worked in the old St.Lawrence canals, before the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway. It was sold through Crown Assets to L.Wagner + Sons Inc of Giffard QC in 1972 for $12,000 and they renamed her Willa P. She soon went to Marinex and reverted to its original name. By then its horsepwer was listed as 290 bhp.
For the past several years it has been listed as pleasure craft owned in Port-aux-Basques, NL.

I believe Marinex may have had at least one small Russel-built winder boat, but I have no record of its name. It may not have been registered due to its size.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Up the Creek, but with a paddle

From the oldies department :

Summer trips through Quebec in the 1980s turned up a number of old tugs, many no longer in service.
A company called Marinex (formerly Canadian Underwater Works) operated a dredging and marine construction operation out of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, QC, based was on the easternmost of the three branches of the St-Maurice River that exits into the St.Lawrence at Trois-Rivières.
Hauled out on the shore alongside the base was the old tug D.Robidoux, obviously retired from service. It dated from 1912 when it was built in Sorel, and been named Denise S.

The Marinex base.Tugs Capitaine Lemay, St.John's Fireboat and Tanac-V-222, and the barge Nanook, a former CCG landing craft, tied up to a variety of barges and dredges.

D.Robidoux on the bank of the river. Inexplicably there is a paddle tied off above the visor on the wheelhouse.

In Louiseville, QC, there was a significant collection of old tugs, dredges and barges waiting to be scrapped for years.
 Leading the line up of old tugs was Capt. T.W.Morrison, followed by Jean Simard and Glenvalley

Capt. T.W.Morrison dated from 1907 and the yard of Pusey and Jones in Wilmington, DE where it was built for the US Army's Quartermaster Dept. In 1923 National Dredge+Dock Co of Quebec bought the tug and in 1939 it went to Marine Industries Ltd of Sorel. They converted it to diesel in 1957 with two V-12 GMs, totaling 590 bhp. Richelieu Dredging acquired the tug in 1972 and in 1976 it was sold to Paul-Émile Caron of Louiseville for scrap. During its entire career the tug maintained its original US military name. However it was not until 1996 that scrapping actually took place. By then the ravages of time had taken their toll.

Jean Simard dated from 1914 when it was built by the Canadian Government Shipyard in Sorel, QC for the Minister of Marine. A that time the Ministry, precursor of the Department of Transport, maintained the navigation channels in the St.Lawrence with a large dredging fleet, including tugs. Carrying the name Deschaillons until 1960. When acquired by Marine Industries Ltd they renamed it after a member of the owners' family. It was built with twin screws, 450 shp and a 1200 gpm Merryweather pump, which could be used for firefighting, but was also employed for washing down dredges and scows. 
MIL installed a 680 bhp diesel engine, and it also moved through Richelieu Dredging ownership in 1972 to P-E Caron in 1976 and was finally scrapped in 1996.

Glenvalley came from the Canadian Dredge+Dock shipyard in Kingston, ON in 1945 as one of the many Glen class tugs built for the Royal Canadian Navy. Almost immediately declared surplus, it was sold to MIL in 1946. From its layup in Shelburne, NS it sailed in May 1946 for Sorel, but made at least one more trip back for a surplus scrap tow to Sorel. Its original 400 bhp Enterprise engine may have served it to the end. It followed the path of its fleetmates tugs through Richelieu to Caron. A plan to sink it as a dive site fell through and it was broken up in 1996.

A fourth tug, further down the line, had a very different background. Manoir was laid down in November 1929 and launched the following spring by Davie Shipbuilding+Repairing Co Ltd in Lauzon, QC to its own account. Powered by an 800 ihp steam plant by Aitchison+Blair, it was put to work in Quebec City as a ship berthing tug. Canada Steamship Lines owned the shipyard, and in later years the tug carried the CSL funnel colours with the Davie logo superimposed. On April 10, 1976 the tug sank at Lauzon. It was raised but never repaired and was towed to Louiseville in July 1976. It was also not broken up until 1996. It was one of very few tugs in eastern Canada to employ an open monkey island.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Baie-Comeau - error notification

In my recent posting about tugs at Baie-Comeau, QC, I made a number of serious errors, which I hereby correct:

    The tug Svitzer Wombi ex Hi Gang 107 will be deployed to Port-Cartier, not Baie-Comeau. ArcellorMittal Mines Canada Inc, which operates Port-Cartier, has two Voith-Schneider tugs, Brochu and Vachon working in the port, but they are overloaded with work and a third tug is needed. The tight confines of the port make it ideal for V-S tugs, and the crews are familiar with that type of tug and its operation. The year round activity at the grain storage and iron ore docks, with ever larger ships, means that an increase in power would also be welcome. The current tugs built in 1972 are rated at 3600bhp. They have been well maintained and will continue to operate.

      Svitzer Canada Ltd was successful in obtaining a contract to provide the third tug, and the 5600 bhp former Chinese tug will be delivered to Port-Cartier from Singapore this year. It is yet to be named, but will likely have a name with some local flavour.  The current tugs were named for Pierre Brochu and J-B Vachon, pioneers of the North Shore area in 1880s. (I modestly suggest that the new tug could be named Mackay after my great grandfather, who was also active in the area in 1880s to 1901 when he died in Sept-Iles.)

The brand new Pointe Comeau came to Halifax en route from Marystown to Baie-Comeau.

    The current Baie-Comeau tug Pointe-Comeau will not be retiring from service. In fact it received a major rebuild in 2005 and is good for many years to come. As stated the tug is owned by the Cargill Grain Co Ltd and managed by Svitzer Canada Ltd.

    I was incorrect when I stated that is predecessor was also owned by Cargill Grain. Foundation Vibert was built in 1961 by P.K.Harris in Appledore for Foundation Maritime. It was also not built for the port of Baie-Comeau. In fact it was built for Port-Cartier and served there until 1973 when the Brochu and Vachon went into service.They were built by Star Shipyard in New Westminster, BC and sailed via Panama arriving in Port-Cartier in the summer of 1973. (Vachon stopped n Halifax September 4, 1973 for voyage adjustments.)

    However Foundation Vibert was not the only tug built for Port-Cartier at the time. The other was called Federal Beaver, and it was built by Russel-Hipwell in Owen Sound, ON (hull number 1205) and delivered in 1962. It was built for Federal Terminals Ltd, although it was apparently ordered by another Federal Commerce + Navigation Ltd subsidiary Pyke Salvage. Built to essentially the same spec as Foundation Vibert, it was a 95 foot twin screw, with three tiered deckhouse, strengthened for navigation in  ice. It looked quite different from Vibert because it had the standard Russel wheelhouse, repeated on so many of their other tugs.
I have no photos of my own of this tug, but the Russel web site has a nice file:

   It is perhaps unusual that Federal Beaver was powered by two 8 cylinder Lister Blackstone engines giving 1600 bhp and 36 tons bollard pull, whereas Foundation Vibert was powered by two Fairbanks Morses of 666 bhp each, engines that had to be shipped to England for installation. It is possible that Listers were chosen for Federal Beaver because another three tugs ordered for Pyke Salvage, also from P.K.Harris in Appledore in 1959, were fitted with Listers. Helen M. McAllister and Salvage Monarch were taken over by McAllister Towing Ltd of Montreal when it bought Pyke Salvage from Federal Commerce in 1962. The third, Hull No. 258 was towed to Canada as a hull, and may have had Lister engines. It was sold to west coast owners and completed with Cat engines. So maybe its original engines went into Federal Beaver. This is only speculation of course at this point. How it reached the west coast is also a bit of a mystery.

     In 1964 Quebec Cartier Mining took over operation of the port from Federal Terminals and renamed the tug Federal Beaver as Manicouagan. (This only added to the confusion, since the Manicouagan River flows into the St.Lawrence at Baie Comeau - many miles away from Port-Cartier.)

    When the new V-S tugs arrived in Port Cartier in 1973, the company sold Manicouagan to Northland Navigation and it sailed via the Panama Canal to work out of Prince Rupert, BC. In 1980 Rivtow bought the tug, renamed it Rivtow Princess and re-engined it with a pair of GMs, upping the horsepower to 1740 bhp (others say 1860 bhp). When Smit Marine Canada took over Rivtow, the tug became Smit Princess but was soon sold on in 2005 to Seaspan Marine Corp becoming River Princess. Its sphere of operations had shifted to the lower mainland of BC.
    In 2012 Seaspan did a major housecleaning of old tugs and barges, and River Princess and several fleetmates were loaded aboard the semi-submersible ship Development Way and sent off the China for scrap. 

    Foundation Vibert's transfer to Baie-Comeau displaced the single screw 1000 bhp "V" class tugs that had served the port since 1962. (They had used steam tugs, such as Foundation Vera before that.)
The transfer occurred after the sale of the Foundation tugs to Marine Industries Ltd in 1968, with MIL Tug + Salvage as managers. In 1971 Smit+Cory became managers of the tug fleet and in 1973 formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (ECTUG) and purchased the Foundation Vibert, and renamed it Point Vibert.

    ECTUG bought five of the six "V" class tugs from MIL, but since they were no longer needed to cover Baie-Comeau, ECTUG almost immediately sold two of them back to MIL's dredging subsidiary Richelieu Dredging Corp Inc. Foundation Vanguard became A.Moir and Foundation Viscount became C.O.Paradis. The sixth tug of the series, Foundation Viceroy had been sold to the federal Department of Public Works in 1972, while Smit+Cory were managers, but before they bought the fleet. It became Feuille d'Erable.

    ECTUG kept the legendary Foundation Vim and Foundation Vigour and the Foundation Viking, giving them Point names.

   When ECTUG became Svitzer Canada, Point Vibert was repainted in Svitzer colours. It was also transferred to Port Hawksbury .
    When it was sold to McKeil Marine it joined its former Halifax partner Point Vigour.

Molly M 1 ex Point Vgour, ex Foundaiton Vigour and Florence M ex Point Vibert ex Foundation Vibert became fleet mates again under the McKeil banner.

Since that time, Molly M 1 has been repainted in Nadro colours see: tugfax 2014-11-10   (Nadro is a McKeil subsidiary) and Florence M has also received the latest McKeil colour scheme.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Janus - big tow, Listerville - little tow

While waiting for the German tug Janus to begin its tow of the crippled tanker Australian Spirit, another tow passed by. This was the Canadian Naval Auxiliary tug Listerville with a work raft.

The raft had blown out of the dockyard during high winds and grounded on Turple Head, a spit of land just beneath and south of the MacKay bridge on the Dartmouth side of the harbour.

Soon however it was time for the main attraction as Janus got under way, with assistance from all three Atlantic Towing Ltd harbour tugs. Atlantic Larch worked the bow off the dock, as Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Oak did the same at the stern. Oak was the designated tethered escort tug. Once of the dock the other two tugs took up positions on the stern quarters to guide the rudderless ship through the Narrows and out of the harbour. Once the ship was clear of the dock Janus took the strain on the tow line, as the sound of its four MaK main engines coming up to speed reverberated off the freight shed walls - an impressive sound to hear.

Larch pulls off the ship's bow.

The tow line was made of a chain bridle, lead through two fairleads in the bow, and a rope retrieval line to the fishplate. The tow wire from the tug's winch was also controlled by a gog rope (yellow arrow in photo below).

Janus' crew made up the tow very quickly, only arriving in Halifax Monday morning. The timing of the tow was critical however, since they wanted to get away before the next weather system arrives.

The tow is giving a January 23 arrival in Portugal, where the ship will be drydocked for installation of a new rudder.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Janus on the job

Janus arrived in Halifax this morning and tied up under the bow of its prospective tow, Australian Spirit.
The tug's extreme width of 18m excited great interest when the tug was built.

After arrival formalities have been completed, preparations are expected to start. It will be interesting to see if they resort to the traditional method of using the ship's anchor chains to form the towing bridle from the ship.
The rudderless Australian Spirit will present some challenges for a towing tug.
No departure date has been set yet. The recent gales will have to die down, and there will have to be at least a half day when no traffic is expected in and out of port. All available harbor tugs will also be called upon to assist in the departure.
All is calm aboard the tug for now, but the crew will be called into action soon enough.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Janus en route to Halifax

The ocean going tug Janus is en route to Halifax. The 19,000 bhp, 220 tBP behemoth is coming to tow the tanker Australian Spirit to Portugal for repair and installation of a new rudder.

For all the details you ever wanted to know about the tug see: Piet Sinke on Janus

The tug left Willemstad December 26, and San Juan December 30 and is making good time. It is due here January 6. It will take a few days to make up the towing gear, then weather permitting it may be the   weekend before it gets underway.

Stay tuned for details.