Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ocean Basques sea trials [update]

Ocean Basques will not be with us in Halifax for very much longer. The former Pointe aux Basques  has been alongside the Svitzer Canada dock all winter, awaiting her turn for refit at Industrie Ocean Shipyard in Ile-aux-Coudres, QC.


The tug sailed this evening for what turned out to be a sea trial, and returned to the dock for adjustments before the long trip back to Quebec. On completion of the refit, she will likely return to her old home port of Sept-Iles, QC to rejoin Ocean Sept-Iles the ex Pointe Sept-Iles  to continue with ship berthing in the ports of Sept-Iles bay.
This will of course leave the Svitzer Canada dock once more bereft of tugs - a real loss the Halifax waterfront where little commercial shipping activity takes place any more.

Update: Ocean Basques sailed early Wednesday April 23, in dense fog.
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Gulf Spray - update #2

Today was lift out day for the damaged Gulf Spray.

After a large crane was set up on the brow of pier 24, crews rigged slings under the hull and the crane lifted the tug out, placing it on a specially built cradle.

Once airborne several details came to light. The hull plating is doubled forward, indicating that it was expected to work in ice, also the prop has a large guard around it to protect it from fouling by ropes and debris in the water.

Extent of damage also became clearer once the tug was out of the water. It appears to me that most of the external damage was above the waterline, giving some hope that the tug can be rebuilt. There is also considerable internal damage, which is not obvious from the outside.

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Gulf Spray update

As reported the tug Gulf Spray was damaged and moved to pier 24 for repairs. I have since learned that apparently the ship was sheltering from last week's storm at pier 9B when it was blown under the stern of the laid up Cabot It aft bulwark was crushed down piercing the fantail and breaching the deck, allowing water into the below deck areas.
This morning with the Owner's boom truck holding it up, the stern was pumped out.


The tug was also turned so that its stern became visible from the pier, revealing the extent of damage.


It is still to early to tell if the tug can or will be rebuilt.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mersey Pride refit

Dominion Diving has started an out-of-the-water refit of the tug/workboat Mersey Pride. The former Liverpool/ Brooklyn, NS based boat was alongside for a time, but has now been lifted out on the shore.

 The tug's aluminum hull looks quite battered, but  it also appears quite sound for a boat built in 1987. It is also unusual to see a tug with a keel. As previously noted the boat was built by Georgetown Shipyard Inc (now East Isle) in Prince Edward Island as G.S.I. No.1 to its own account. However based on its underwater shape, it seems likely that it was laid down as a fishing boat, but the order was cancelled or defaulted, and the yard finished the boat to their own needs. This may explain why the Department of Transport's List of Shipping has always listed it as a fishing boat.

Mersey Pride also has an unusually high free board for a tug. Seen here in February before it was lifted out, it has another Dminion Diving workboat alongside, which is also a List of Shipping anomaly, Dominion Pursuit. Although it shows Halifax as its port of registry, it has never appeared in that esteemed reference, even under its original name, Louis Bérubé. It was built for the Department of Fisheries, acquired by Dominion Diving in 2004 and renamed in 2007.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pointes now Oceans

When Groupe Ocean acquired the two Sept Iles based tugs Pointe aux Basques and Pointe Sept-Iles from Switzer last year, it was apparently their intention to re-deploy them after refit. Now that Pointe Sept-Iles has been renamed Ocean Sept-Iles it has now been refitted at Ocean Industries shipyard at Ile-aux-Coudres and was reported downbound on the St.Lawrence in mid-March.


I hear that Ocean Basques, the former Pointe aux Basques, will also be refitted at Ile-aux-Coudres this spring, but as of today it is still laid up idle in Halifax.

Originally ordered by Foundation Maritime, to serve the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) in Sept-Iles, two powerful icebreaking tugs were under construction in Collingwood when Foundation sold out to MIL Tug and then to Smit-Cory.
The boats were delivered in 1972 as Pointe aux Basques and in 1973 as Pointe Marguerite. for the newly formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (ECTUG), a joint venture of the Dutch Smit and the English Cory tug companies.


Pointe aux Basques in Halifax in 1987, in Smit-Cory colours. The tug office at the end of the pier was rebuilt after Hurricane Juan in 2003.


Pointe Marguerite in Halifax in 1977.

Identical 4200 bhp twin screw tugs, they proved very capable in winter ice, and were often sent out to assist shipping in trouble in the Gulf, and even made tows all the way to Halifax. They also came here for refits and drydocking at the Dartmouth slips.

Regrettably Pointe Marguerite had only a brief career with Ectug, for on November 14, 1978 while assisting Algobay in Sept-Iles Bay, it was crushed against the large bulker Cielo Bianco  (51,579 grt / 88,785 dwt) and sank, taking two crew members with it. The tug was so badly damaged that no attempt was made to raise it, and its wreckage remains in Sept-Iles Bay.

Ectug immediately ordered a near sister ship from Collingwood, which was delivered in 1980 as Pointe Sept-Iles. There are slight exterior differences, and the interior layout is also different.

Pointe Sept-Iles in Sept-Iles Bay in 2001, wearing the short lived Cory-Wijsmuller colours.

When Smit and Cory parted ways, ECTUG assumed a new funnel mark under Cory ownership,  but retained a similar livery until the short lived merger with Bureau Wijsmuller saw a major repainting. When Svitzer took over the tugs were repainted again and carried that scheme until sold to Groupe Ocean. Although I have not seen her, Ocean Sept-Iles has now been repainted in the distinctive Groupe Ocean colours.
 
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Gulf Spray - badly damaged

The classic small tug Gulf Spray and a companion workboat have been badly damaged. Both boats were tied up in the lower Burnside / Wright's Cove area of Dartmouth when they were apparently smashed against a barge or dock. Whether this occurred in last night's storm or a previous one, I am unsure, but from the look of the boats it seems to have been some time ago.

 
I last saw the boats working on February 1 with some company barges at pier 9.
 
This afternoon the tug Belle D moved Gulf Spray to pier 24 where it will likely be lifted out of the water. It was a sorry sight.
 
 
 
 
The starboard side of the house was stove in and there was obvious water and ice damage on deck and below.
The outboard-powered work boat (which I believe is called Harbour Diver) was sitting a bit askew on its trailer on pier 9, with damage to the house, rub rails and hull, and water damage within.
 
 
Larinda Ltd, the registered owners, and their company Edge Marine and Disposal Services Ltd provide waste removal for cruise ships visiting Halifax harbor. The tugs handle barges that carry solid and liquid wastes. In 2012 Edge was forced to move from its base at LeGrow's wharf, under the foot of the Macdonald bridge in Dartmouth, due to complaints from neighbours about odours. In winter of 2012-2013 Gulf Spray was hauled out on the IEL pier for a refit, but this year she was apparently to remain afloat.
 
Gulf Spray was built in 1959 by Ferguson Industries in Pictou, NS  to their own account and was used as a yard tug. When acquired by Larinda in 2007, the tug was rebuilt to yacht-like appearance, and has kept busy, in season, with the waste barge business. I have featured the tug several times on this blog before.
 
This post will be updated when new information becomes available.
 
 
 
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ryan Leet to the rescue

As a kind reader of Shipfax pointed out, it is ironic that when then bulk carrier John I lost power and ran aground off Rose Blanche, NL on March 15, that the tug Ryan Leet was the tug to take the ship in tow for safety.

Ryan Leet was built at the behest of the French government as Abeille Provence in response to  catastrophic tanker losses off the coast of France. The French realized that "tugs of opportunity" would not necessarily be available in times of emergency, and that most salvage tugs of the day would not be powerful enough to assist a large tanker. Abeille Provence (and sister tug Abeille Normandie) justified their existence, but at tax payers expense.

Since then the world has evolved, and tankers got larger. The French government has continued to provide rescue tug service, and in fact is into the third generation of such vessels. Although the British have pretty much bailed out of the rescue tug business, other nations have recognized the absolute necessity to provide such tugs, and Germany and the Netherlands among others are able to cover the Channel and  much of the North Sea coasts.
The irony of course lies in the fact that Abeille Provence and sister were built way back in 1978 and were replaced in 1987 because they had become too small. Secunda Marine Services of Dartmouth, NS, acquired both tugs in  1990, and although they sold Magdelan Sea (the former Abeille Normandie) in 2004, they rebuilt Abeille Provence, renamed it Ryan Leet and have kept it occupied ever since. It has been largely used in recent years with standby work for offshore gas facilities, but it has also been a diving tender and supplier, as well as a towing and salvage tug.

Ryan Leet in its glory in 1994. It was fitted with an FRC,  a workboat (the Copan Runner) and carried a diving support container under davits on its port side.

By chance when John I ran into trouble, Ryan Leet was between contracts and lying in Mulgrave, NS. It was able to respond to the emergency on short notice as a "tug of opportunity". No other tug of comparable power, aside from tug/suppliers, was within 500 miles. Those tug suppliers were all on charter and were not immediately available, if at all.

I have long advocated for rescue tug(s) in eastern Canada, even though they would not be called on very often. The British model was one I recommended, where privately owned tugs were contracted for emergency standby, but could also perform commercial work under strict control.

Of course eastern Canada rescue tugs would need to be ice class. The second tug needed in the John I grounding, Atlantic Fir , required icebreaker escort to reach the grounded ship en route from Halifax.

The arrival in Halifax of the Polar Class 4 icebreaking bulk carrier Nunavik, which will operate year round between Hudson Strait and Europe (see today's Shipfax), also reminds us that there is increased activity in the north, where tugs are virtually non-existent unless they happen to be in the area on commercial work. Surely there is justification for rescue tugs, if only seasonally, in the north.

Our Canadian Coast Guard is neither suited nor equipped to tow except in a dire emergency. The diversion of three badly needed icebreakers from the Gulf to assist John I for pollution control, standby and rescue work is surely an indication that those resources are stretched thin as it is. Properly fitted rescue tugs with pollution gear, would ease that situation.
Ironic, yes and lucky, that Ryan Leet was available this time, but the tug must surely be reaching a milestone at 36 years of age. If it goes what is left?

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