Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rescue Tugs called for (again)

Calls have resumed again for rescue tugs off Canada's coasts. The on again and off again topic becomes hot when there is a near miss or accident then cools when there is no bad news of ships in distress. Once again we are reminded that the Canadian Coast Guard is unprepared to tow even a small ship (and to be fair they are not tasked, equipped or trained for this work.)

To rehash my several previous posts on this topic, Canada Needs Emergency Towing Vessels. Granted we do not have the traffic of the North Sea or English Channel which can justify a full time fleet of emergency tugs standing by for potential disasters. Even the British could not justify the cost of their part-time Coast Guard fleet and have largely abolished it in areas where the French or commercial tugs are reasonably available.

Canada however has no one else to fall back on, except maybe the US, which is what happened this weekend on the Pacific coast. The Russian 6,540 grt cargo ship Simushir, carrying containers of solvents and mining equipment, lost power off Haida Gwai and drifted perilously close to the pristine (and protected) shore line. CCGS Gordon Reid managed to tow the ship farther off the coast, but its lines parted three times before the US flag tug Barbara Foss could reach the scene. The ship is now under tow for Prince Rupert.
The ship was bound from Washington State to Russia when its fuel heater failed and it lost power. The ship's master had to be air evac'd due to injuries, and it had ten crew left on board.The nearest suitable tug was a day's sailing time away (and that is close compared to some stretches of our shoreline)

Here are the issues: Our Coast Guard is really nothing of the sort. It is a Search and Rescue operation, a maintainer of navigation aids and an icebreaking operation. It is now being equipped with patrol boats to carry RCMP and Canadian Border Services for near shore work only, but in terms of guarding our coasts from any serious security threats, only an armed force such as the navy can really do that.
It is unequipped (and untrained) to tow ships in distress, and thus certainly can't guard our coasts from environmental disasters. It can rescue people, and does that well, and so does the navy, but it can't tow ships, and will not even attempt to do so except in extreme circumstances.

Here is what must happen:
The Coast Guard's mandate must change - it must be charged with managing Emergency Towing operations. The British model, wherein chartered ETVs were free to do commercial work from time to time would seem to be a reasonable one to me, but they must be under the direction of the CCG, so that ETVs are on station within reasonable sailing times form strategic spots.
Alternatively the new breed of CCG ships must be built as ETVs, but also can be tasked with rescue, patrol and other duties, but they must be available to tow, at least until commercial tugs arrive. The typical offshore supply/anchor handling type AHST is ideal for this type of work. It would require little modification to a standard design and is relatively inexpensive compared to the usual over-designed government ship.

I won't rant on about this, but in a few days the issue will die down and be forgotten for six months or a year when another incident occurs. Let's hope it doesn't take a serious accident to waken the powers to be to this issue.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Maersk Chignecto

With news that Maersk Gabarus arrived in Gent, Belgium for scrap on October 14, [see Tugfax October 5] it was a pleasant surprise to see sister vessel Maersk Chignecto arrive in Halifax today.

Built by Hyundai, Ulsan in 1982 as Chignecto Bay it was one of the six AHTSs for Husky/Bow Valley.

All six boats went to Maersk in 1988, and were simply renamed. Since then they have worked out of Newfoundland, with assignments to Nova Scotia and the North Sea.When built their 10,880 bhp made them among the most powerful AHTSs in the area. Now with boats approaching twice that power, Maersks's three remaining Huskys find other work such as diving support vessels, with submersibles or ROVs.

Maersk Chignecto is now fitted with a stern gantry, a couple of SeaCans for control rooms and shops and a huge array of low level deck lights.

For the past few months the boat has been conducting seabed surveys at Hibernia and White Rose (for Husky). Last winter and spring it was working out of the Netherlands in the North Sea, for a rate of UKPds 22,000 per day.
Its visit to Halifax today may be related to the passing of Hurricane post tropical storm Gonsalvo well offshore from Nova Scotia, but bound directly for the Avalon Peninsula Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Halifax may have been the most convenient port of refuge from the former hurricane.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Scotian Sea back in harness

Secunda Canada's supplier Scotian Sea headed to the Bedford Basin this afternoon for trials after being "reassembled" at pier 9. In April the boat was refitted to support BP's seismic exploration program off Nova Scotia. Work included removing the boats Fast Rescue craft and associated davits and other gear, and the fitting of large fenders. Scotain Sea and Mainport Pine ran a shuttle for supplies back and forth to the seismic ships working south and east of Sable Island.
Now that the seismic work is completed for the year, Scotian Sea has reacquired its FRCs and other gear.

 Kvaerner Kleven of Lervik, Norway built the ship in 1997 as Rescue Saga for K/S/Rem Seismic, but it was soon sold to Havila Offshore and renamed Havila Runde in 1998. Secunda bought the ship in 2012 and renamed it. It is classed as a platform supply/ oil recovery vessel/ fire fighting.It is also capable of standby and other services.

Secunda is 50% owned by Siem Offshore of Norway and has moved many of its operations to Newfoundland, although most of its six vessel fleet still work in Nova Scotia waters. It has on order a new UT782WP supplier which will work for Hibernia and Hebron on a 5yr+15 year charter. The ship is expected late next year.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Maersk Gabarus - soon to be history

The Anchor Handling Tug Supplier Maersk Gabarus sailed from St.John's, NL, on October 4 [TO BE CONFIRMED] for an appointment with the shipbreakers in Gent, Belgium

Maersk Gabarus in the Narrows of Halifax harbour en route to Bedford Basin for trials.

Thanks to Dean Porter's blog for bringing this news to our attention.

Husky Oil Marketing Ltd and Bow Valley Resource Services Ltd, ushered in a new age of sophisticated and large offshore boats for Canadian waters when they ordered six new suppliers. Previously offshore work in Atlantic Canada was carried out by older US built boats, or European boats, designed for the North Sea or some relatively small Canadian craft.
These six boats, delivered in 1983 were purpose designed by the Vancouver firm of Cleaver & Walkingshaw* for work off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
Four of the boats were built by Hyundai Heavy Industries of Ulsan, North Korea and two were built in Canada. The Canadian built pair, from Bel-Aire Shipyard in North Vancouver, and Vito Steel Boats in Delta, BC, were different in detail but otherwise sisters, and all featured a distinctive hull form and highly geometric bridge. To say that they are unique is an understatement.

Maersk Gabarus was one of the Hyundai group and as Gabarus Bay** arrived in Halifax July 25, 1983 for the first time. Two other Hyundai sisters, Chignecto Bay and Mahone Bay arrived here December 27, 1983 together towing the jack-up rig Rowan Gorilla 3  from the Gulf of Mexico. The last in the group, Trinity Bay arrived around December 31, 1983.
The Canadian pair Placentia Bay (Bel-Aire) and Bonavista Bay (Vito) had already arrived together June 23, 1983.

When Husky Bow Valley went on to to other things, the boats were put up for sale and in a surprise move A.P.Moller swept them up en bloc in 1988, and established themselves in St.John's as The Maersk Co Canada Ltd, since becoming Maersk Supply Service Canada Ltd. Maersk renamed all the boats by simply adding "Maersk" and subtracting "Bay" .

Maersk had just taken over the Husky boats, renamed them, and painted Maersk funnel marks when I took this slide in St.John's, NL March 15, 1988. That is Maersk Chignecto outobard of Maersk Gabarus. They still have their unique Husky Bow Valley hull colours.

At about 2770 grt and powered by four MaKs totaling 10,800 bhp, the boats developed 125 tonnes bollard pull, and were fully fitted for anchor handling, towing and supply work.

Over the years their paths began to diverge:
  •  Maersk Bonavista: 2007: Drive Bonavista (Norway) reported in Bengal Bay June 2014
  •  Maersk Chignecto: still operating out of St.John's
  •  Maersk Mahone: 1987: Maersk Supporter, 1998:Maersk Handler, 2002: Maersk Trinity, 2005: Misr Gulf VII, 2006: Anchorman, 2008: Ocean Supporter - last reported in Turkey (St.Kitts + Nevis flag)
  •  Maersk Placentia: 1990: Maersk Shipper, 1997: Maersk Placentia,  still operating out of St.John's.
  • MaerskTrinity: 1987: Maersk Server 1999: Maersk Helper, 2002: Maersk Mahone, 2014: Drive Mahone (Norway) last reported at Port Said, Egypt, September 2014. 
On December 27, 2004, while working off Nova Scotia, Maersk Gabarus was struck by a storm, which smashed windows and flooded the bridge. It made Halifax safely and was repaired.

Maersk Gabarus ex Gabarus Bay is the first of the boats to go for breaking up. It is due in Gent on October 14. It is replaced in St.John's by Maersk's latest new vessel Maersk Clipper a 6,490 grt behemoth with  15,000 bhp and 150 tonnes bollard pull. For more on her watch Dean's blog:

* Cleaver and Walkingshaw of Vancouver (formerly Jackson, Talbot, Walkingshaw, designers of Ocean Echo II and barges) were responsible for the design of the Canmar tug/suppliers and Arctic Transportation Ltd tug/suppliers. They became Polar Design Associates and were absorbed by Wartsila Artic, which evolved into Wartsila Marine, Kvaerner Masa Marine, Aker Yards Marine and STX Marine - designers of the CCG's new polar icebreaker and the RCN's Arctic Offshore vessels. It was announced this summer that they have now become Vard Marine Inc (a Fincantieri company).

** Gabarus Bay, on Cape Breton Island's east coast is pronounced Ga-Ba-ROOSE (rhymes with Goose).


Saturday, October 4, 2014

R.J.Ballott at the old dock

 R.J.Ballott taking stores early this morning.

A surprise visitor to the Svitzer Canada dock (formerly Ectug, formerly MIL Tug, formerly Foundation Maritime) early this morning is the R.J.Ballott. Mention has been made of this durable tug in these pages before, most recently when it received its current name:

Built in 1956 for Foundation Maritime as Foundation Victor it served Ectug as Point Victor, Pitts International as Kay Cole, McKeil as Kay Cole and Jerry Newberry and McNally as Jerry Newberry until purchased by Sealand Shipping Services Ltd of Baie Verte, NL last year. It is now named for the late father of the owner, a long time tug master for Foundation and Ectug.

A large tug for its era, with a dependable Fairbanks Morse engine (now upped to 1800 bhp) it is still a useful tug and the new owner has found a variety of work for it. Carrying rock from Wallace, NS to Caribou, PE, hauling the scrap barge for removal of the wrecked Miner at Scatarie Island and now headed for the Bay of Fundy to work on a power project, are among the many chores it is well suited for. Not just a harbour tug, it handled beautifully on its trip down to Halifax from Cape Breton last night, despite some lumpy seas and a tail wind.
Looking quite smart at the south side of the dock this afternoon.

It was storing up this morning on the north side of the Svitzer dock, and had moved around to the south side this afternoon to make room for the pilot boat. This is very familiar territory for the tug - it was based at the same dock during its Foundation and Ectug years.

 With Point Viking, Point Vim and Point Spencer in 1976 at the same dock.
Generally the outer ends of the Ectug dock were used by the duty tugs, and the inner berths by the tugs that would be on call if needed or in maintenance. 

Interestingly the only tugs to tie up at the Svitzer Canada dock in the past year have been former Ectugs, and both formerly from Sept-Iles. R.J.Ballott and Océan Basques. The latter tug supplanting Point Victor as Pointe aux Basques when it was built in 1973. Point Victor then came to Halifax where it worked sporadically. It was not as agile as the smaller 1200 bhp tugs, and was only used as a spare most of the time. When the twin screw Point Vibert came back from Baie-Comeau in 1977, on delivery of the Pointe-Comeau, Point Victor was declared surplus.

Little changed except for fendering and paint scheme, Point Victor was and is an imposing sight.

As a harbour tug, Point Victor had only a patent quick release towing hook , but was fitted with a towing winch when in McKeil ownership. Its boat has been replaced by a raft and the twin davit cranes removed. It s also now registered in St.John's.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First of Two for McKeil

McKeil Marine has taken delivery of the first of two sister tugs, very similar to two more tugs already in the fleet.

Lois M was registered today in St.John's, NL - the centre of much McKeil activity these days, although the company is based in Hamilton, ON. The tug arrived in Mulgrave on September 17 and is fitting out for service.

Lois M tied up at Mulgrave this morning.

Built in 1991 by Matsuura Iron Shipbuilding (Tekko Zosen) of Higashino, Japan, the tug is fitted with two Niigata main engines generating 4,800 bhp and delivering 80 tonnes bollard pull through two Rexpeller azimuthing stern drives.

Lois M was delivered in July 1991 as Lambert for the Cleveland Cliffs - Robe River Iron of Australia and registered in Fremantle. It was the second of an identical  pair, the first was Pannawonica I delivered in June of the same year. The tugs worked in the Pilbara iron ore region of Western Australia latterly under the management of Westug Management. Robe River Iron is now part of Rio Tinto, and Westug has upgraded its fleet with more modern units. [Their web site is worth a look:]

McKeil  acquired the pair earlier this year. In June they were reported in Singapore. It was flying the flag of St.Vincent and the Grenadines for the delivery. From photos on McKeil's web site, Pannawonica I has an elevated wheelhouse, but is otherwise identical. It is reported in Walvis Bay, Namibia.

Built to the same basic design, Beverly M 1 and Sharon M 1 have been working for McKeil since 2013. Beverly M 1 spent the summer as picket vessel for BP's offshore seismic work. That mission was completed last week and it has also returned to Mulgrave for cleanup. Sharon M 1 has an elevated wheelhouse and has been engaged in a variety of barge work and is currently in Bay Bulls, NL..

Lois M at left with fleetmate Beverly M 1 at Mulgrave.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Veteran US tug changes hands.

Long a fixture in New York harbor, the Catherine Turecamo has been sold. Dating from 1972, it was built by Main Iron Works of Houma, LA - noted for its long lasting, high quality tugs. Powered by a pair of EMDs giving 3200 bhp through twin screws, it is in many ways the typical US tug of its era.

Seen here with the Canadian tanker Mattea in the Kill van Kull of New York harbour,and in Moran colours.

Orginally Miss Lynn for Fonteneau + Smith Boat Co of Morgan City, LA, it became Newpark Sunburst when Newpark Marine took over F+S in 1978. It then went through a period with Gulf Marine of Houston, later Zapata and its various entities, and was renamed Gulf Tempest from 1982-1989 and again briefly in 1989. It was also Atlantic Tempest for a short time in 1989.

It was also in 1989 that Turecamo Bros of Staten Island acquired the tug, and named it Catherine Turecamo. In 1998 Moran Towing + Transportation purchased Turecamo, lock stock and barrel, but for the most part kept the Turecamo names.

Catherine Turecamo has now been sold to Calumet River Fleeting of Chicago (Selvick) and is a major boost in age and power for them. It will likely make the trip to the Lakes before the end of the navigation season. Once in fresh water it will likely last for many years to come.

Marcon International of Coupeville, WA brokered the sale, and some of the information above comes from their excellent website. which contains more detail about the tug's equipment and fittings.

Addendum: Renamed John Marshall, the tug was upbound in the St.Lawrence Seaway October 18, bound for Chicago.