Friday, November 21, 2014

Call out for Wijsmuller tug

A group in Ijmuiden, Netherlands is looking for an old Wijsmuller tug to restore. They want to bring it back to Ijmuiden to pay tribute to the famous tugboat company. They have their aim set on four potential tugs in various parts of the world, all in dubious condition at this point. However based on the experience with other old Dutch tugs that have been restored, they may be on to a good thing.

We did not see many Wijsmuller tugs in Halifax, but in the fall of 1978 and again in 1980, Bureau Wijsmuller, as it was known then, based a tug in Halifax on standby for salvage work. They used the old Purdy's Wharf as their salvage station, but I don't think they got any business and the Wijsmuller logo was not seen in Halifax again until 2000.

Jacob van Heemskerk was stationed here in 1978. Built in 1964 it was a single screw (with nozzle) tug of 3550 bhp. It was sold to the Philippines in 1981, renamed Hurricane II and broken up in Manila in 1995.

 The slightly smaller Noord-Hooland was stationed here in the autumn of 1980. Built in 1965 as a single screw tug of 2950 bhp, it was re-engined in 1970, had a nozzle added in 1971 and re-engined again in 1975 to 4200 bhp. It was sold in 1984 becoming Sierra and in 1989 it was sold again and renamed Asetec. It was sold at auction in 2001 and a rather cryptic note in Lloyd's 2013 says "whereabouts unknown."

On January 14, 2000 Wijsmuller stunned the tug world by buying the Cory Towage Group from Ocean Group plc, and thus Eastern Canada Towing (ECTUG) became a Wijsmuller company. The tugs were gradually repainted, with white superstructure, red visor, blue funnel with white stripe and black cap, blue mast and trim and  the "global link" logo prominently displayed.

By summer 2000 Point Chebucto was repainted except for the winch. Two Wijsmuller logos appeared on the bridge front.

Point Halifax in full Wijsmuller colours.

Point Valiant's winch remained in black paint.

Pointe Sept-Iles had its line reels painted blue, and a section of deck painted blue aft.

It was well into the year 2000 by the time this scheme was completed on most of the ECTUG fleet. In fact the smaller tugs were not completely repainted when in 2001 Svitzer, in another stunning move, swallowed Wijsmuller and the repainting started again!. First to go was the Wijsmuller logo, and the Svitzer cross appeared on the white stripe of the funnels, but it took a long time to completely repaint the tugs again.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Gulf Spray restored to service

After last March's disastrous encounter with the stern of the RoRo ship Cavallo the small tug Gulf Spray was badly banged up.See three posts:

However it was restored and went back to work for the cruise ship season. The unglamorous job of tending refuse and waste scows goes on largely unnoticed, but is an essential service for ships calling in Halifax. International waste must be treated differently from ordinary domestic waste, and cruise ships generate a lot. They also yield mountains of recyclabes, such as drink bottles and cans and cardboard.

 An early morning start across the harbour with a liquid waste barge, to work alongside a cruise ship.

Built to a similar pattern to navy pup tugs and Department of Public Works  tugs, the stovepipe from the forward cabin was a prominent feature.

Built in 1959 by Ferguson Industries in Pictou to their own account, the tug assisted ships on and off the marine cradles in Pictou for years until the yard was closed. In 2007 new owners in Halifax rebuilt the tug, with its cabin fitted out in yacht like style.

Alongside pier 24 with a sold waste scow, and various sorting bins, Gulf Spray shows off its large single wheelhouse window.

The port side of that house was badly damaged and the funnel dislodged in last winter's incident, but it has all been put right now.With the end of the cruise season, the boat may find other work, but it has earned a well deserved rest.

Running free at hull speed yesterday, Gulf Spray still looks first class.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Molly M 1 in Lunenburg

The classic, and much traveled, tug Molly M 1 is lying in Lunenburg after completion of work in the Saint John, NB area with the barge OC 181.

 With the Lunenburg Academy building as backdrop, Molly M 1 lies alongside the Lunenburg Foundry pier, showing off her tugboat red deckhouse.
The barge OC 181 has been modified bow and stern for a construction project. Built in 1972 by National Bridge in Nashville, TN, it came to Canada in 1994 for work on the Confederation Bridge project.

Built in 1962 as Foundation Vigour, one of six 1,200 bhp sister tugs, it roamed over eastern Canada, often towing a barge, until 1968 when MIL Tug + Salvage took over the Foundation fleet. Smit+Cory took over management in 1971 and in 1973 with the formation of Eastern Canada Towing it became Point Vigour. With ECTUG it worked mostly as a harbour tug in Halifax, but did stints in Port Hawksbury and covered ship movements in Liverpool and Sheet Harbour.

In the original ECTUG livery, the tug had a gold stripe around the deck line.

It changed paint schemes several times over the years, as Smit+Cory, then Cory, then Wijsmuller and finally Svitzer owned ECTUG, however the best looking was the Smit+Cory/ECTUG version with a gold hull stripe.
In 2006 it was sold to McKeil Workboats of Hamilton, ON, for operation by Nadro Marine Services of Port Dover, ON, on and renamed Molly M 1 in 2007.

Powered by a Fairbanks Morse engine, driving a single screw in a fixed nozzle, the tug has taken up its wandering ways and again roams all over Eastern Canada wherever work takes it. Under the current ownership it has changed very little. Most noticeable are the aluminum watertight doors in the wheelhouse, replacing the original varnished wood doors.

Berthing the bulker Balao at pier 25-26 in 1980. In 1982 a Kort nozzle was fitted, increasing bollard pull from 18 to 26 tons. The engine was also uprated to 1500 bhp at that time. Ballasting the tug slightly by the stern improved the "bite" of the prop.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Secunda Marine Services - first generation suppliers

Secunda Marine Services was founded n Dartmouth, NS and has evolved over the years through ownership changes. When it started however, and had its first contracts with Shell Oil, it acquired a small fleet of US built anchor handling tug suppliers during the oil exploration boom of the mid 1980s.

Semi-submersible oil rigs were drilling for oil off Nova Scotia the mid 1980s.

Secunda acquired their first suppliers from a series of six identical vessels built for Theriot Offshore International Inc, for work in the North Sea. They were built by Todd Pacific Shipyard in Seattle in 1974 and were fitted with two 20 cylinder GM engines driving twin screws, totaling 7200 bhp. The could carry substantial deck cargo, and had the usual mud and other decks below deck. They were also ice strengthened.

Named Theriot Offshore I through VI, in 1977  they became Scotoil 1 through 6 when Nolty J. Theriot folded up. Scotoil Services Ltd of Aberdeen, then sold the boats to J.Ray McDermott in 1979 and Secunda acquired an interest in them, directly or through one ship companies. (McDermott eventually bought out Secunda, but no longer have an interest in the present day Secunda, which is now owned by Siem Offshore of Norway.)

New names, in order,  were Maureen Sea, Tartan Sea, Claymore Sea, Magnus Sea, Brae Sea, and Heather Sea.

At least three of then worked in Canadian waters,  based in Halifax or St.John's, and all were sold about 1987-88 for conversion to fishing vessels. The work took place at Aalesund, Norway, where the boats were lengthened 7 meters or more and re-engined.

Maureen Sea (ex Scotoil 1, Theriot Offshore I) was renamed several times and was again converted in 2009 for the Brazilian Navy as an icebreaking oceanographic ship. As such it is unrecognizeable today as Almirante Maximiano, pennant number H41. There is a capsule description at:

Magnus Sea (ex Scotoil 2, Theriot Offshore II) is still in service as the fishing vessel Pacific Glacier, working out of Seattle.

Claymore Sea at the Mobil dock in Dartmouth. The tanker Irvingwood is in the background.

Rafted with competitors Balder Kiel and Liberty Service in St.John's.

Claymore Sea  (ex Scotoil 3, Theriot Offshore III) was sold to Russian owners in 2004 and became Vulkan Ksudach. Its listing is out of date with Lloyd's and is likely laid up or scrapped.

  Tartan Sea in the Narrows in Halifax harbour. It was based at pier 9 for some of its work.

Tartan Sea with its replacement, the second generation Secunda vessel Terra Nova Sea at the Dartmouth Marine Slips.

Tartan Sea (Scotoil 4, Theriot Offshore IV) alone escaped fish conversion when Secunda converted it in 1987 to a passenger and cargo ferry to work the North Shore of the Gulf of St.Lawrence out of Rimouski. The major rebuild included installation of a heavy cargo crane and passenger decks. It was renamed Nordik Express and began a five charter to the Quebec Minister of Transport.

Secunda sold the ship after the 1987 season to Transport Desgagnés and it operated for the subsidiary Relais Nordique until 2013 (an extra two years when its replacement was delayed at the shipyard.) It has been laid up in Quebec City ever since.

Brae Sea (Scotoil 5, Theriot Offshore V), after several name changes, is also flying the US flag as the fishing vessel Arctic Fjord, owned in Seattle.


Heather Sea (Scotoil 6, Theriot Offshore VI) after conversion to a fishing vessel was converted to a pipelayer in 2008 and was under conversion to a research vessel in Russia 2009. That work may never have been completed, although the vessel is still listed by Lloyds

Unique looking boats, they must have had terrific stability since all the rebuildings added top hamper. They also lasted well, and must have been made of good stuff.  

Heather Sea and Claymore Sea laid up at Secunda's Dartmouth base before sailing to Norway to undergo conversion..

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tug work at the terminals

As reported in Shipfax the Woodside ferry terminal in Dartmouth is getting a new pontoon. Meanwhile the Alderney terminal in Dartmouth and the Halifax terminal are losing their distinctive eyebrow canopies that more or less have protected passengers from the rain since the terminals were built in 1979. 

To remove the canopies Waterworks Construction is using is concrete barge Commdive II with a crawler crane on deck. To move the barge around to the various terminals, they have acquired the services of Dominion Diving's tug Roseway and they are using their own boat Waterworks 1. I have featured the latter in these pages before, since it is arguably the smallest tug working in Halifax. It is also an "open-air" tug , with all the drawbacks and benefits that go with it.

 Roseway towing and Waterworks 1 providing tethered escort services to Commdive II.

Commdive II was built in 1942 in Dartmouth, by T.C.Gorman (Nova Scotia) Ltd, a large marine construction firm. Wartime steel shortages precluded building barges of that material and wood was too fragile for the rough and tumble of marine work. The barge may have had a name or number when built, but when first registered in 1965 it was named Commdive II by its owners Commercial Divers Ltd. It was classed as a houseboat at that time, and I remember it with a wooden house-like structure on deck in the late 1960s. It may even have been a live aboard for a notorious waterfront character.

Nearing the destination, Waterworks 1 swings the barge around.

The open air tug allows for good verbal communication with the barge, but the operator has no protection if the tow line parts.

 Destination is the Halifax ferry terminal, where the crane will be used to remove the weather canopy.

Easing the barge into position Waterworks 1 is almost underneath the ferry dock.

Waterworks 1 is registered by number, and its name is unofficial.

My apologies for the following, but it is possible to get a fuzzy glimpse of Commdive II in the background, tied up at pier 3, in what is now HMC Dockyard. The former minesweeper HMCS Birch Lake as it appeared when converted to the coastal freighter Aspy III is in the foreground, with just the deckhouse of Commdive II appearing in the background, and shadows. Oh for a digital camera November 2, 1968.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Glen tugs - long may they live

 Glenside in sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures on Bedford Basin.

 In 2012 when the ship procurement folks at naval HQ sounded the waters about available commercial tug designs, with limited offshore range, etc., there was some expectation that replacements for the 1976 era Glen class tractor tugs was on the horizon. See my Tugfax post:

What they soon found out was the Irving Shipbuilding had shut down their tugbuilding operation at Eastisle Shipyard in Georgetown, PEI, Industrie Océan shipyard in Quebec was busy building tugs to their own account, and no one else in Canada was building tugs of any significant size.
Recent large tug acquisitions for Canadian owners were coming from Turkey (Seaspan) the US or Holland (Smit)*

Therefore the RCN set up the Large Tug Construction program with the following timetable:
2015 definition approval
2016 implementation approval, and Request for Proposals from builders
2018 contract award
2021-2025 final delivery
budget $100 mn to $259 mn.

The six new tugs are to replace the five existing Glens and two Fire class firefloats in Halifax and Esquimalt.

Since 2012 Damen has come up with a design of naval tug for Sweden and Holland that may be a "package" for a smaller shipbuilder to buy. There  are scores of commercial tugs designs already in production around the world, and evolutionary hull designs and propulsion systems abound (many of Canadian origin). It is a bit like shopping for a car, but once the design is chosen it seems strange to me that it would take two years to sign a contract and three years to produce the first tug.
It is also interesting that they are projecting a 25 year service life for the new tugs. The Glens will be 45 years old in 2021.
* On October 29, 2014 Smit Marine Canada Ltd registered the 2009 built Smit Saba under Canadian flag to supplement their BC fleet. It is a product of Damen's Galati, Romainia yard and is a 5,000 bhp stern drive.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hanseat - back to the shoebox

Companion blog Shipfax is featuring the year 1984 in some recent posts, so it is time to dig into the tug shoebox for some nostalgia. Tug activity was at a peak in 1984 in Halifax with constant movements of oil rigs and several coastal tows.

The non-oil related ocean tows consisted of three old Sea-Land ships that had been laid up in Halifax. Jacksonville (ex Mission Solano), Houston (ex Mission Carmel) and Tampa (ex Mission Dolores) were built as T2 tankers, and in 1968 deepened and converted to container ships. They arrived in Halifax in 1983 for removal of their barite ballast which was salvaged for re-use in drilling mud. [Barite or baryte can be used for ballast because its basic element is barium, a heavy metal, and it is largely non-toxic, insoluable and non-magnetic. In drilling mud, it is used as a weighting agent, allowing for deeper drilling.]

In February 1984 Hamburg based Petersen + Alpers sent their newly acquired Hanseat to tow two of the ships.
 Hanseat arriving off Halifax Shipyard where the tows were laid up.

The ships were initially to be sold to China for re-use, but in the end Spanish breakers bought them.  Hanseat towed out Houston and Jacksonville as a tandem tow on February 23.They arrived in Seville March 17.

Harbour tugs Point Vigour, Point Vibert and Point Vim shepherded the tows out into the fairway. When well out of the harbour they were separated and towed in line astern.

The tug had a history of short term ownerships. Built in 1977 by Georg Eides Sonner AS in Norway as Karl Oskar, it worked for Wirens Rederi of Sweden until 1978 when it went to the East German Bagger+ Bugsier as Sturmvogel. In 1980 the Dutch company Arned acquired it and renamed it Triumph.
When it arrived in Halifax it had only recently been acquired by the legendary Hamburg owners Petersen + Alpers. In fact it sailed with uncured hull paint, some of which was washed off on the trip across the Atlantic.

In 1989 it became Zamtug IV for a mystery owner, possibly with Canadian connections, but within a year passed to McAllister Towing of New York. They renamed the tug Offshore Sovereign, flagged it in Liberia, and it was back in Halifax en route to Sheet Harbour, NS. From there it established a more or less regular barge service with paper products, to the US east coast as far south as Pensacola.

In McAllister colours, Offshore Sovereign visited Halifax in 1990.

McAllister acquired another tug for the paper barge service in 1991 (Offshore Monarch the former Belgian tug Union Four) and Offshore Sovereign passed on to other owners in 1995, without change of name. At first it raised the Vanuatu and Panama flags, then in 2012 it chose the flag of Peru. Now operating on the west coast of South America, it is owned by Offshore Express LLC of Houma, LA.

Its two 9 cyl Wichmann engines generate 6600 bhp, giving a 82 tonne bollard pull. It was also fitted with a large towing winch, and extended wheelhouse with winch controls.

Offshore Sovereign's winch dominates the stern - find the deck hand (with green LEKKO hat) under the strongback,

Hanseat at pier 32. The two old ships were moved from the shipyard to pier 33 a few days before the tow out. (February in Halifax was no time to touch up the hull paint).