Monday, March 30, 2015

Svitzer Wombi, future Svitzer Cartier arrives

It has been some time since a Svitzer tug tied up at the Svitzer dock in Halifax. Since Svitzer and Atlantic Towing Ltd formed their partnership for tug service in Halifax, all tug work here has been done by Atlantic Towing and all tug work in the Strait of Canso by Svitzer.
Today's arrival is not a tug for Halifax however. After some preparation work, the tug will be assigned to Port Cartier, QC where it will assist the tugs of ArcelorMittal in ship berthing at the busy iron ore and grain port.

The tug will be renamed Svitzer Cartier when it is registered in Canada, but it arrived as Svitzer Wombi, reflecting its brief connection with Australia. Svitzer is a worldwide operation, and last year its busy Australian branch acquired three Chinese tugs, built in 2007, for service in Australia, however one of them, built as Hai Gang 107 was specially refitted for service in Canada. That work included strengthening for work in ice.

Svitzer Wombi makes it approach to the Svitzer wharf. Just visible near the bow is some extra hull plating for work in ice.

Renamed Svitzer Wombi, and flying the flag of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, the tug made its way under its own power across the Pacific to the Panama Canal, March 13, then to Bermuda, March 26,  arriving here just this morning.

For the trip from China, a temporary structure was built over the shipberthing winch, with watertight doors to the accommodation. The Pacific is noted for its following seas, and this added protection was a necessary. There was also a reel of towline lashed to the stern rail.

The tug took several vicious rolls as it tied up, no doubt due to its being light in fuel, but also to a tendency in Voith-Schneider tugs to wallow when the drives are not synchronized.
The tug is a Voith-Schneider type, which is the same type as the two ArcelorMittal tugs in Port Cartier, Brochu and Vachon. This will allow docking masters to use the same maneuvers in the tight dock spaces, keeping the tugs alongside and pushing latterly when needed. The existing tugs, built in 1973, have 3600 bhp.
Svitzer Cartier is rated at 5400 bhp and 56 tonnes bollard pull. Its greater power is also needed to handle the ever larger bulkers that are loading in Port Cartier.

The letters for the tug's new name have been welded on but not painted yet. And you can see the Svitzer Wombi outline in welding bead beneath them. The name Svitzer Wombi stencilled on in small letters sufficed for the delivery trip.
The tug will remain in Halifax for compliance work and inspection for Canadian registration before sailing to Port Cartier to take up its duties, on what I hear is a two year contract..



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lois M and a BIG barge

Last night the tug Lois M arrived in Halifax towing the barge Nunavut Spirit and tied up at pier 9B.

The tug belongs to McKeil Workboats Ltd (a.k.a. McKeil Marine) of Hamilton, ON, but is registered in St.John's , NL. Most of the tug's work is in Newfoundland where McKeil provides barges and support activity for construction of the Hebron gravity base at Bull Arm.

Lois M is one of four similar tugs added to the McKeil fleet in 2013 and 2014. Lois M was built as Lambert in 1991 by Matsuura Iron Shipbuilding Co of Higashino, Japan for the Robe River Mining Co of Australia. McKeil acquired the tug in 2014 along with sister Tim McKeil, ex Pannawonica I . Both are 4800 bhp ASD tugs. See:


The barge Nunavut Spirit dates from 1983 when it was built by FMC Corp Marine + Rail Equipment Division of Portland, OR as Barge 500-1 for Crowley Corp. Measured at 6076 grt, 13,160 dwt (at 14'-2" draft) with dimensions of 400 ft loa x 104.9 ft width x 20 ft depth. Originally a single hull tank barge, it was converted to a deck barge in 2008.

It left Morgan City, LA, March 26, 2013 in tow of the tug Miss Lis and was handed off to the Point Chebucto off Eddy Point and towed in to Point Tupper April 17, 2013.

I believe the barge will load steel fabrications from Cherubini Metal Products in Eisner's Cove, bound for the Hebron GBS.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

French tugs - Part 3

Since I have only very few, or very poor photos of the remaining French tugs I wanted to mention, I will lump them together and provide some links to see more.


Probably the best known French tug in Canadian waters was also a former Abeille tug.
Built in 1952 as Abeille 26 by Chantier et Atelier St-Nazaire (Penhoet) it was a big ocean going salvage tug of 719 grt. Powered by  two 6 cylinder MANs (built under license by Con.Mec. La Courneuve) it produced 3,000 bhp

Foundation Vigilant sits idle at Foundation Maritime's salvage shed in the background. In the foreground the Bluenose II gets some recaulking, and Miss Joyce is for sale. (This portion of the harbour has long since been filled in and is now a parking lot.)

Crewmen have a gam on the starboard rail.

Foundation Maritime acquired it in 1958, virtually new, and it figured in several significant salvage operations. With the advent of radar, Decca and improved quality of ships, the bottom fell out of the salvage business and MIL Salvage sold the tug in 1973 to Petrolas Hellas SA (John H. Latsis) of Greece. Renamed Ennea [translation: Nine] the tug worked in the Mediterranean but was eventually broken up in Aliaga starting May 16, 1996.

For more see:

Marine National

France has  widespread interests in Africa, the Pacific, the Caribbean and North America through former colonies but also as offshore departments. The islands of St-Pierre et Miquelon, off the south coast of Newfoundland is still one of those departments, and is the base for fisheries and other activity in its own sovereign waters.
Over the years France has maintained a naval presence there, with various types of vessels patrolling the area and making courtesy calls to Canadian ports, including Halifax, Saint John, NB, and Gaspé.
From time to time the French Marine National uses its big fleet tugs for patrols, salvage assistance and search and rescue work.

Centaure at HMC Dockyard in 1977.

All three members of the Tenace class of fleet tugs have called in Halifax at various times. Displacing 1440 tons, producing 4600 bhp and 60 tonnes bollard pull, Tenace A669 (1972) , Centaure A674 (1974) and Malabar A664 (1976) were very capable tugs. Not only that, they were armed (to 2014), fitted with salvage and firefighting gear, and they are considered category 2 icebreakers. They were designed to tow disabled French nuclear submarines under any conditions. All three were built by the Oelkers shipyard in Hamburg and fitted out at Ateleier et chantier de la Rochelle, La Pallice and were based in Brest, France.

In 2013 Tenace was sent north to scout out the northeast passage for the French navy. After penetrating to 78 degrees North and 61 degrees East it was turned back by heavy ice.

Centaure, pictured above was sold to the Turkish navy in 199 and renamed Degirmendere (A-576). On December 23, 2013 it capsized while leaving a floating drydock at Izmir. Three people died and 17 were injured. However the tug was raised and is being reconditioned.

Malabar has cleared HMC Dockyard to escort the annual sailing race to St-Pierre.

Malabar is the most recent to have visited Halifax, in July 2012.Both tugs remaining in the French navy were scheduled to be decommissioned in 2014.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Snowy tugs

Despite a record snow fall in the city of Halifax, to a depth of nearly a meter, with streets impassable and many services suspended, work in the harbour continues. But even the tugs are covered with snow.

Atlantic Larch has snow, but also frozen spray left over from a recent trip to Sheet Harbour to undock a ship there.

Atlantic Willow features a snow moustache.

Atlantic Oak has a complete ring of snow around its rail. 
(The car carrier Tosca can be seen in the background at Autoport.)


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

French Tugs - Part 2

The second French commercial tug that I can recall seeing in Canada was not in Halifax, but in Point Edward, NS on Sydney harbour.

It was built in 1959 by Industrie Navale Meccaniche Affini [I.N.M.A.] of La Spezia, Italy, as Phocéen* for Société Provençale de Remorquage of Marseilles. PROGEMAR later became the parent company of Les Abeilles. A smallish tug of just 273 grt, it was powered by a single 8 cylinder Fiat engine, of about 1600 bhp.
(* Phocéen is the adjectival word for Marseilles, and in the case of the tug would mean 'of Marseilles', it derives from the Greek city  Phocaea which was the cultural centre of Greek civilization, and colonized Massalia, now Marseilles.)

The crew take a break while Phocéen is fueling at Point Edward. The raised letters on the stern are typically Italian. It also has wooden decks among other nice touches.

Rogers City awaits departure. The 'insurance line' is rigged along the ship's rail in case the main tow line parts. Scrap tows however were typically not insured.

By the time it made its appearance in Canada, Phocéen had been sold to Oxford Shipping Co and registered in Malta. It arrived in Quebec City in December 1987 and towed the old US Steel laker Rogers City (built 1923 as B.H.Taylor) to the Sydport pier in Point Edward where it wisely left it for the winter and went on to other work.

Phocéen was in well worn condition, even so its canvas dodger was neatly lashed, and it carried an anchor and spare prop on deck. It had lost some of the welded letters of its name however.

In the spring of 1988 it returned, and soon after I saw it on May 6, it departed with the  Rogers City in tow for scrappers and arrived in Recifé, Brazil June 23.

Fort York and Rogers City wait out the winter at Sydport - no hurry to get to the scrappers.

In July it returned to Sydport and picked up the former CSL package freighter Fort York (built 1958) and towed it out July 22, arriving Recifé September 15.

In 1989 the tug was sold to Atlantic Range Shipping of Cyprus and was renamed Atlantic Range. It is still carried as active in Lloyd's but it was reported sold in 1991 to unknown owners.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

French Tugs - Part 1

French tugs were almost as rare as British tugs in the Halifax area. Aside from the Ryan Leet (the former Abeille Provence) and Magdalen Sea (ex Abeille Normandie, since sold) acquired by Secunda Marine in 1990, and the occasional French navy tug from the St-Pierre patrol, I can only think of two other French tugs that I have seen in these parts.

The frist was the legendary Abeille 30. Owned by "Les Abeilles" [translation:  the bees, but there is more -see footnote *] it also belonged to a legendary company. Tracing its roots to 1864  la Compagnie de Remorquage "Les Abeilles" of Le Havre grew to serve most French ports and overseas colonies, and in 1964 was styled Société de Remorquage et de Sauvetage "Les Abeilles". In 1967 a Marseilles based holding company Société de Gestion Maritime [abbreviated as PROGEMAR] owned all the various port operations and the deep sea towing and salvage operations of Les Abeilles. Unfortunately the name Abeille has virtually disappeared from the seas since the publicly traded agri-food company (Groupe) Bourbon took over ownership in 1996. Two large emergency rescue tugs still carry Abeille surnames. Abeille Bourbon and Abeille Liberté are worthy successors to the Abeille tradition, but they may be the last.   

Abeille 30 arrived in Halifax from Montreal towing the Algerian cargo ship Biban. The ship had a main engine breakdown in Duluth, MN in June of 1979 and was towed down through the Great Lakes by the Great Lakes Towing tugs Carolina, Maryland and Superior, assisted by Lenny B, arriving in Montreal July 29. That was close to home for the ship - it had been built at Sorel, QC in 1977 by Marine Industries Ltd as one of their Marindus class. Measuring 12,919 grt it was a general cargo ship owned by the Société. Nationale de Transport Maritime + Cie Nationale Algérienne de Navigation Maritime.

It was not until December 11, 1979 that the tug Abeille 30 towed it away from Montreal. At some point the tow line parted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but the ship was retrieved after some time adrift. Some damage resulted, necessitating a stop over in Halifax, arriving December 21. 
Harbour tugs moved Biban to drydock Decmber 24, 1979.

The tug topped up its fuel tanks at Texaco, and the Biban entered the floating drydock Scotiadock (i) at Halifax Shipyard on December 24. It was back out and alongside pier 6 by December 31 and itself was took bunkers early in the morning of January 1, 1980.  
At 1045 hrs January 1, 1980 the Abeille 30 towed Biban away to Hamburg for permanent repairs. 
The ship was sold in 2002 becoming Miriam 1 for the trip to Alang where it was broken up.

 Point Vim, Point Vigour and Point Viking (one is on the other side) assist the two in getting away.

Abeille 30 was built in 1944 by Levingston Shipyard in Orange, TX as LT-535 for the United States Army. In 1948 it was purchased by the Hong Kong based Moller Towages and renamed Margaret Moller, and was sold to Les Abeilles in 1951 becoming Abeille 10. A single screw tug, it had two V-12 GM engines driving electric motors for about 1900 shp.

Just when an owner might think about selling an older tug such as this, Les Abeilles instead gave it a major rebuild in 1972. Modifications to the stern and superstructure, topped  a pair of new V-12  Société Alsacienne de Construction Mechanique (SACM) main engines Rated at 5200 bhp (some say 6200 bhp), through a controllable pitch prop and Towmaster nozzle and rudder system. With a very respectable speed of 14.5 kn, it was fitted with complete salvage gear and classed as a salvage tug.

 Abeille 30 at pier 20 with Biban.

 A new wheelhouse was added onto the old superstructure in 1972.

 The PROGEMAR device on the new twin uptakes which replaced the old single funnel.

The bridge has a good view aft to the towing gear.

In 1983 the tug was sold to the Biscay Towing Co and was renamed Biscay 30 under the Panamanian flag. On January 14, 1985 it sank in position 29.07.54N x 89.125.42W (near the mouth of the Mississippi River delta) when it was overrun by its tow, the 22,391 grt bulker Master Petros. One crewman died in the incident. Later raised and moved to Venice, LA it was sold as lies to New Orleans breakers who commenced work in October of 1985.

Abeille 30 powers up as she takes the strain on the tow line January 1, 1980.


* Footnote: The bee, a symbol of industry, was also used by the emperor Napoleon as his personal symbol, thus is it had more than ordinary importance to a French company. Perhaps coincidentally the Davie Shipyard of Quebec built and operated a tug named Busy Bee from 1919 to 1959. It continued in service as a tug until 1975 when it was converted to a research vessel, Exploreur II, then a tour boat, ending up sold to the Dominican Republic in 1986.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Former Dutch Tugs in Halfax - supplemented

Two former Dutch tugs made visits to Halifax - one short and one prolonged, but they had similar histories.

Afon Goch in Holyhead Towing colours, tied up at ECTUG with the barge Mulus 4.

The first arrived carrying the Welsh name Afon Goch, and wore the funnel mark of Holyhead Towing Ltd, a company which was then associated with the Dutch tug operator Smit International.
Afon Goch was built by the J+K Smit yard in Kinderdijk in 1958 as Schelde for L.Smit + Co Internationale Sleepdienst, later transferred to Smit International (Antilles). Principal dimensions were 423 grt and 146'-5" loa. It was a diesel-electric tug with three 8 cyl KHD engines driving a single screw. It was rated at 3,000 bhp and was built as a salvage tug for the Hoek van Holland station.It had a "river" name, meaning that it was a smaller class of tug than the larger "Zee" types.
In 1967 it was repowered with three 6 cyl Kromhouts, still working through electric motors.
In 1976 it was assigned to Holyhead Towing Co Ltd of Beaumaris, Wales, working through their Risdon Beazley Marine Ltd subsidiary and renamed Afon Goch.[translated from the Welsh: Afon=River, Goch= Red]

Mulus 4 arrived with two cable tanks mounted on deck to carry two 20,800m long, 139kV oil insulated power cables.

Its arrival in Halifax in March 1976 was towing the big pontoon Mulus 4 carrying cable lay gear. The barge was to place two electric power cables between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. After fitting out in Halifax with additional gear, the barge was handled during the actual laying operation by the two tug suppliers Smit-Lloyd 51 and Smit-Lloyd 52 .

 More equipment was mounted on the barge in Halifax to allow it to lay the cable. Once the work was completed, the barge returned to Halifax to be de-mobilized. 

Point Vanguard carried the Smit + Cory International Port Towage logo on its hull, just as fleet mates Point Gilbert, Point James and Point Carroll wore on their funnels.

Also involved in the cable project was ECTUG's smallest tug, acquired especially for the job. Point Vanguard was the former CG 112 an aluminum workboat with 400 bhp and two screws. It was sold after completion of the project.

In 1979 the Afon Goch was returned to Smit and worked under Antilles and Panamanian flag until sold in 1980. New owners Deep Venture Ltd renamed the ship Golden Venture and converted it to a diving / treasure hunting vessel. [see note 1]
In 1984 it became Corwin for New Frontier Towing + Salvage Ltd, still under Cayman  flag.
It then moved to US owners Texas TxTx Marine Transport Inc, and hoisted the stars and stripes as TxTx Star. The owners became simply TxTxStar Ltd in 1989 and the tug returned to Cayman flag, and was again renamed in 1995 as Texas Star. [see note 2]
 My files indicate that it was gutted by fire May 31, 1990 in Houston and became a total loss. Its listing in Lloyd's continued until 1999 when it was deleted. [see note 3]

Supplementary info received:
1. As Golden Venture it was involved in recovering artefacts from Nuestra Senora de Atocha for Marine Resource Development Foundation. See: Wikipedia
2. A deal to transport aggregate by barge from Jamaica to Houston fell through.
3. After the fire in Houston the tug was a constructive total loss, but remained laid up, finally sinking at its berth in 1994. It was subsequently raised and broken up at an unknown location.

The next arrival in 1978 was built as Smit's Tasman Zee It was also built in 1958 by Smit's yard in Kinderdijk, but was larger at 526 grt and 151'-6" loa. Power came from 4 cyl KHDs. Two were reversible and two non-reversible,  with magnetic couplings to the two screw shafts. There props were also fitted wit nozzles. In 1967 it was also re-engined, but with two 8 cylinder Kromhouts and fluid coupling.

Used for deep sea towage and salvage, it was transferred to Holyhead Towing in 1977 to replace Schelde / Afon Goch and was renamed Afon Wen.[from the Welsh Afon = River, Wen = White].

 Karob on a cradle at Dartmouth Marine Slips.

After only one year it was sold to Trix Enterprise Inc SA  and renamed Karob. It arrived in Halifax under that name for a refit at Dartmouth Marine Slips. There was some mystery surrounding its arrival, and it certainly spent a long time after drydocking before it finally sailed.

Wedged in between the trawler Lady Shippagan and CCGS Wolfe, Karob lay idle over the winter of 1978-1979.

By spring Karob was on the inside berth with the tug Techno-St-Laurent (ex CFAV Riverton) and the ancient coaster Mount Blair. However it is showing fresh paint.
[Can you wonder why Halifax Harbour is a little boring these days compared to 1979?]

The tug lay over for the winter, and in May it did harbour trials, but went back alongside until trials again June 29 when it sailed.

In 1980 Karob was acquired by International Bazaar Ltd and renamed Voila under the Panamanian flag. In 1983, new Panama owners named Voila Inc renamed the tug Torten. In 1983 it was acquired by Resolve Towing + Salvage NV and renamed Resolve and registered in Honduras.
Although I couldn't get a close up view (see sign) I did see Resolve in Tampa in 1991, and it appeared to be in good condition. Its name was painted out on the port bow, but was still there on the starboard.

The tug was sold again in 1991 becoming the Honduran flagged Tiburon Listo for Ready Shark Investments of the Marshall Islands.It is still being listed, but it is doubtful if it would still be operational after all these years.

Supplemental info received:
1. As Tiburoin Listo the tug's ownership was divided among several persons, but apparently all lost their investment when the tug found no work. It was laid up at Jacmel, Haiti and may be there yet.