Monday, June 29, 2015

Small tugs from Quebec

On my recent trip to Quebec I was able to see a large number of small tugs. Three different companies were involved in the tugs I saw, including Groupe Océan:

Océan Uannaq is one of a pair that were built for arctic service, but have been working with the dredging fleet for several years, 

paired with notched barges.

With the two tugs and their barges lashed alongside pushing the dredge Océan Basque 2, the Leclerc tug Réjeanne Polaire does the towing.

Océan Nigig free running on a breezy day.

At Ile-aux-Coudres JFFM Leclerc was at work fitting out their fleet of small tugs and barges for summer assignments in the north. Many of the tugs will be carried aboard ships that service remote northern communities that have no port facilities.

The newer tugs are triple screw like Jack Polaire.

Leclerc's Rénard Polaire is triple screw, while Desgagnés smaller Kingoak is twin screw. Both are ready to wheel out on the next high tide.

Vent, Cercle and Ours Polaire are smaller twin screw tugs in the Leclerc fleet.

Groupe Desgagnés has its own fleet of small tugs and lighters, also used in northern supply work.

Lecelerc also maintains the Desgagnés fleet at their shipyard on Ile-aux-Coudres.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Océan Taiga takes shape

Groupe Océan's latest tug, Océan Taiga is taking shape at the Industrie Océan shipyard in Ile-aux-Coudres, QC.The second in a pair of Robert Allen design ice class 1A Super FS escort tugs is expected to be complete later this year. The 8,000 bhp, 100 tonne bollard pull tug will be used for tanker escort on the St.Lawrence River and  there are hopes that it will be put to work in the far north.

Hull painting has just started around the stern of the tug as it sits in the shipyard in Ile-aux-Coudres.

The huge escort winch is also installed on deck forward.

First tug in the series Océan Tundra , completed last year, awaits its next assignment in Quebec City. It is considerably larger than the EastIsle built Océan Keith Rusby berthed astern.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Granville - multi-tasking

Following the retirement of the Canadian navy's Halifax fireboat Firebird, it is now the job of the HMC Dockyard tugs to perform security patrols to the Defence Research and Development Agency barge in Bedford Basin.

The pups normally work with their masts struck since they are frequently in an out of places where it would be an obstruction.

CNAV Granville is seen storming along on return from that patrol this morning. The three Halifax based Ville class "pup" tugs assist in ship berthing, do barge movements within the dockyard and three other installations around the harbour. They also tow and tend oil booms and fenders and myriad other chores.
Unlike its Halifax sisters Listerville and Merrickville, Granville has changed its name since it was built. It started life as Marysville, but that was too easily confused with Merrickville over the radio, and so was changed to Parksville. There was another pup tug with the same name in Esquimalt, so in 1993 it was renamed again, becoming Granville.
All three were built in 1974 and have 365 bhp driving a single screw, in a nozzle, delivering 7.5 tonnes bollard pull.     


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Svitzer Nerthus and Svitzer Njal arrive

Two tugs that Svitzer Canada will use in its Baffinland contract arrived in Halifax together this morning.
As previously reported: Svitzer will service the contract with two Canadian built tugs, Svitzer Nerthus ex Stevns Iceflower (ii) and Svitzer Njal ex Stevns Icequeen (ii)


The two arrived off Halifax sometime last evening and conveniently boarded their pilots in daylight this morning. It is great to see tugs at the Svitzer dock again, although they will only be here for a matter of a few weeks for Canadianization, which will also include new names.The tugs were temporarily registered in Kingstown, St.Vincent and Grenadines for delivery trip from Fredericia, Denmark. Svitzer Nerthus sailed May 18 and Svitzer Njal May 17 with professional delivery crews. 

A brief tour aboard revealed that they are both in superb condition, and arrived "all found" with complete equipment and spares.

The tugs have Caterpillar main engines totaling just over 5,000 bhp, with Rolls Royce controllable pitch props in azimuthing stern drives and bow thruster.

For the curious the name Nerthus is that of a goddess of legend, and Njal a figure in ancient Icelandic sagas. Svitzer Canada seems to favour place names from the area of operation,  following the word Svitzer, so it will be interesting to see what names these tugs get now.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ryan Leet - off to the oil fields

After a week of fitting out for a new task the Ryan Leet sailed this morning from pier 9. After a stop in St.John's, the tug will survey the route for a new fibreoptic cable to run to the Hibernia offshore oil field.

It was almost exactly 25 years ago that I got my first glimpse of this mighty tug and its sister, after they arrived in Canada for the first time. Secunda Marine Services, as they were then called, picked up the pair in South America. Despite being built by Belliard Murdoch in Ostend, Belgium in 1978, Abeille Provence and Abeille Normandie were French rescue tugs commissioned in response to several large tanker disasters.
When replaced by larger tugs in 1987 they were sold to Venezuela as Salvor Commander and Salvor General, but their new owners were not able to find sufficient work for them and they were laid up.
Under Secunda ownership they were extensively refitted to become Ryan Leet and Magdalen Sea, and  performed numerous tows and other chores both in Canadian and European waters.

On June 2, 1990 the tugs were reftting for Secunda at Pictou, NS.
Ryan Leet has remained with Secunda through its changes in ownership, and has been used extensively as  a standby vessel. Magdalen Sea was sold in 2004 becoming Zouros Hellas and in 2007 Tsavliris Hellas. It has figured in several important salvage operations. It is currently based in Las Palamas.

Ryan Leet won't be doing towing work any time soon, with all the survey gear on its deck. It has also been fitted with a small crane right aft, and a portion of its rolled stern bulwark has been cut out.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gulf Spray - somebody has to do it

The tug Gulf Spray earns its keep towing a scow with garbage  from cruise ships. It may not be glamorous work, but the process is well organized, with a lot of separation on board the ship itself.

Once loaded the scow returns to the pier 9A in tow where it is unloaded by forklift with the "cargo" distributed into bins for recycling or incineration at a special international waste incinerator.

Assistance to Gulf Spray and its scow is provided by the outboard motor boat which has a square bow for pushing and a towing bit.  


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Svitzer lands a big one

Svitzer Canada has landed a big contract requiring two tugs for work in the far north.

Baffinland Iron Mines, developers of an ambitious project on Baffin Island, (72 degrees north latitude, 79 degrees west longitude)  have constructed a port in Milne Inlet to export iron ore from the Mary River mine, initially between July and October. The mine will be running all year, stockpiling the product for shipping during the open water season, then loading out in summer.

The project originally called for a rail line to a proposed new port facility at Steenby Inlet, and year round shipping with icebreaking bulk carriers. The project was scaled back when the world demand for iron ore softened, and the original promoters sold the project. It is now owned 50% by ArcelorMittal and 50% by Nunavut Iron Ore. After several years of delay the project seems to be back on track.
See the Baffinland web site for more:
But also see oppostion to year-round shipping:
There is also a potted history of the project here:

Much of the development work for the port facility was carried out by Groupe Océan, who built two small tugs and used barges to shuttle test samples of ore out to anchored ships. Ocean also transported mining and construction equipment to the site using their tugs and barges. I assumed that the two arctic class tugs, Océan Tundra and its yet to be named sister tug, would also be used in the new Baffin port.*

Other supplies for the port and mine arrived last year on the ships of Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping (NEAS) using their own tugs and lighterage barges.

Svitzer has now won the contract for tug service and will be transferring two tugs from Europe for the work. Both tugs were built in 2009 by East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE for the Danish company Nordane, and were chartered to, then purchased by Svitzer's Swedish subsidiary Svitzer Sverige.

Svitzer Njal is the former Stevns Icequeen (ii), was completed in September 2009 and
Svitzer Nerthus is the former Stevns Iceflower (ii) completed in December 2009.

Stevns Icequeen arriving in Halifax fresh from the shipyard.

After trials, and with spray shields fitted over the engine room air intakes, the tug sails for Denmark.

Both tugs completed final fitout  and conducted their trials and bollard pull tests in Halifax before sailing to Demark on their own hulls.After charter to Svitzer they were repainted in Svitzer colours. They are due in Halifax early in June for "Canadianization" and renaming before entering service in mid-July this summer.

* Both tugs were also intended for tanker escort on the St.Lawrence River, but a recent decision not to allow a gas port at Cacouna has also reduced demand for these super tugs. At time of writing Océan Tundra is offered for sale or charter through Marcon International with the notation "Owner not keen to sell, but will consider tempting offers."