Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Saint class tugs of the RCN - from the oldies department -CORRECTED

The Royal Canadian navy built three seagoing tugs in the 1950s with the intention of providing towing services for their larger ships. A large class of Royal Navy tugs built in the World War I era were named after Saints, and the RCN repeated that .
There was not much work for the tugs, and they spent most of their time towing gunnery targets.

St.Charles alongside Bluethroat at Jetty Kilo in HMC Dockyard. Note the large rope pudding on the stern.

St.Charles was built in 1957 by Saint John Dry Dock + Shipbuilding Ltd. It was powered by a single Fairbanks Morse engine of 1950 bhp, driving a single open controllable pitch propellor.

On cradle 6 at Dartmouth Marine Slips, the newly renamed Chebucto Sea shows off its fine underwater shape. Note the red painted fire fighting monitors.

In 1994 Secunda Marine Services bought the tug and refurbished it at the Dartmouth Marine Slips and alongside in Halifax. The tug had never been registered before and therefore had to meet Department of Transport regulations at that time.

 Secunda replaced the wooden lifeboats in davits with a new boat and a derrick.

They found work for the tug using company barges and in 1996 they bareboat chartered the tug to carry pulpwood. in Quebec.In 1996 the tug ran aground near Rimouski, QC and was taken to Ile-aux-Coudres where it was found that the propeller blades were damaged.It also sent a Mayday on October 1998 when it was drifting off Corner Brook, NL.

Later in its career with Secunda the tug lost its after mast and derrick. The wide blue top band on the funnel surmounted Secunda's ships wheel symbol.

The bareboat charter to John E. Canning Ltd of Georgetown, PE, resulted in Canning painting the tug in its own green colours. It continued to carry pulpwood and gravel. On May 28,1999 the tug lost power off Stephenville, NL and it was found that its tail shaft had broken and the the prop was lost. In October Tignish Sea towed the tug back to Halifax and it was laid up.

An insurance claim worked its way though court until 2005 when it was settled in favour of Secunda.
[Read the Appeal court decision here: ]
Point Halifax towed it to Liverpool for another refit, but following that it was laid up again in Halifax.

In 2008 it was offered for sale, with the not that is controllable pitch function was not working.  In 2009 a Newfoundland company bought the tug and used Keewatin to tow it to St.John's where it was renamed Matterhorn. To my knowledge the tug was never in service, and its registration was suspended in July 2014.

Chebucto Sea also assisted in bringing the distressed bulker Amphion into Halifax. The ship's crew abandoned the vessel in early January 900 km east of Newfoundland. The ship was loaded with iron ore and was taking water from suspected hull cracks. Secunda signed a salvage contract and their tug Tignish Sea managed to board a riding crew, and take the ship in tow to Halifax. Chebucto Sea assisted in the last day of the tow, arriving in a snow storm February 3.

Not a great day to be a deck hand. Note one of the tire fenders has come adrift.

The dead ship Amphion is nudged alongside pier 30 in Halifax with Tignish Sea (background), Point Halifax (right) and Point Chebucto (left).

There have other references to this incident in Tugfax see:


This tug had the shortest career with the RCN, and the shortest career of the three.  It was built in 1956 by G.T.Davie + Sons Ltd in Luazon, QC and was sold off by the navy in the early 1970s.

It was put to work for new owners Eckhardt+Co of Germany and towed several ships across the Atlantic to scrap yards in Santander , Spain, including the burned out Amvourgon shown above. In 1967* it had the distinction of towing the VLCC Metula to Santander. It was the first VLCC to be scrapped.

On November 27, 1980 it sank off Labrador while towing a barge.Although I don't have details, it is likely that it had a similar problem with its tail shaft.

Also built at Saint John in 1957, and based at the RCN base at Esquimault on Vancouver Island.

St.Anthony had a major refit in 1994.

It was sold to US owners in Seattle area, but doesn't seem to have entered commercial service and was donated to a religious group in 2001. In 2009 it became Longhorn I owned in Texas, so it may be operational even today.

It was pointed out to me that I made typo here: the date should be 1976.
The reason for the scrapping was that the ship Metula had grounded in Magellan Strait, Tierra del Fuego in 1974, while en route from Saudi Arabia to Chile with a cargo of crude oil The ship was holed, creating a major oil spill and resulting in sever damage to he sip, including flooding the engine room. The ship was eventually freed by salvors, but was declared a constructive total loss. It was renamed Tula for the trip to the scrappers.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Maersk Chignecto back again - updated

Maersk Chignecto arrived back in Halifax today. It was last here in October 2014. It had been fitted out for seabed survey work in the Hibernia and Whiterose oil fields in July and September.

Today it tied up at pier 9 where Teleglobe has its base., and although there was no action on deck, it may well be that it is here to  be for cable work. Its arrival may be connected to the new Hibernia Express Cable System that will be installed between Halifax, Cork, Eire and Brean, UK this summer.  See update below

Maersk Chignecto's large open after deck is useful for many functions besides anchor handling, but has been cleared of all the bottom survey gear that it carried when it was here last..

The supplier was built for Husky / Bow Valley by Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan in 1983 as Chignecto Bay and worked out of Halifax for time until sold to Maersk Canada in 1987 and based in St.John's, NL. It is an anchor handling tug supplier of 10,880 bhp.

The unique design of this series of tugs makes them instantly recognizable.

Saturday February 7
During the last two days the after deck of Maersk Chignecto has been a be hive of activity as it was fitted with cable retrieval and repair gear. It will be headed to sea this evening for work off Cape Breton..


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Flashback George M. McKee / Metridia

An interesting tug was built in 1928 by Davie Shipbuilding + Repair in Lauzon, QC. It was built for Anticosti Shipping Co, and as the owner's name would imply it was for service at Anticosti Island. That huge island dividing the St.Lawrence River as it empties into the Gulf of St.Lawrence was rich in timber.
The Anticosti Corp had a major operation on the island, which.involved cutting timer in the winter, floating down rivers to bays, booming and bundling it, then towing it out to the ship Port Alfred. The ship then carried the wood to the Saguenay River port of the same name where Anticosti had built a pulp mill.

Named George M. McKee, the tug was heavily built to work in ice and had a cutaway bow like an icebreaker. Also rare for a tug at that time it had a diesel engine. Its large 5 cylinder Fairbanks Morse was rated at 700 bhp. It carried a crew of fourteen, including a large engine room crew (housed below deck aft).

The tug as originally designed by Milne Gilmore and German.

It served the Anticosti Corp until 1933 when it was acquired by Manseau Shipyard, the shipbuilding arm of the Simard family at Sorel, QC. The shipyard was to become Marine Industries Ltd, and they remained owners of the tug until 1970.

I don't know what the tug during the World War II years, but following the war it made many trips to Halifax, Sydney and Shelburne, NS to to tow decommissioned warships to Sorel for scrap.It also made trips to the United Stares east coast, to such places as Camden, NJ - probably towing surplus naval vessels.

 Metridia at Ile-aux-Coudres, QC awaiting a much needed refit in the spring of 1972.

In 1970 the tug was sold to a diving company based in Montreal and renamed Metridia. In 1976 owners in Rimouski bought the tug, but it was beached at Bic, and eventually dismantled and scuttled off nearby Ile St-Barnabé.
Metridia beached at Bic, QC in 1978.

By the time I saw it first in 1972 it had been much modified with a steel wheelhouse and raised bulwark forward, but in other respects looked much the same as when it was built.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Flashback to Tussle

In the last post I mentioned the Canadian Navy's fire boats. Built on the TANAC hulls cancelled at the end of World War II, they were modified with hull sponsons and a complete fire fighting equipment.

FT-1  with pennant number YTM-556 goes about its business in Halifax Harbour in 1977.

 FT-1 also known as Fox was delivered in October 1946 as CN 1046. It served in HMC Dockyard until it was retired in 1979. The hull was purchased by Atlantic Salvage Ltd, a company operated by Walter Partridge, a noted salvager. His son Toby and other members of the family also operated Partridge Motor Boat Service, a harbour launch service using surplus navy duty boats Towapat, Towadon and others.

 Hauled out on the end of pier 31, Fox shows off its sponsoned hull and original superstructure.

Although it took something like eight years, they rebuilt the hull into a working tug that worked in the harbour for ten years or so and formed Anchor Enterprises Ltd to operate it.

Gradually taking shape, the tug was moved to the pier 29-pier 30 area.

Finally in the water by 1987, at the IEL dock, its new home base, the tug was given the name Tussle.

The name Tussle was not original to this tug, - it had been used at least twice before for tugs in the Halifax area. The first, built in 1910 by Smith+Rhuland in Lunenburg, operated as passenger ferry on the La Have River until about 1920, then between Mulgrave and Arichat, and in the mid-1920s between Pictou, NS and Montague PE. In the 1930s it worked for Beacon Dredging Co and end up with J.P.Porter.
A second Tussle was Tanac V-248 which also worked for J.P.Porter from 1958 to 1965 when it was lost. It is likely that it was one of the other tugs completed as a fire boat, possibly stationed in Shelburne, NS.. 

The completed Tussle was a handsome little tug, fully outfitted for towing. Save for its rudimentary exhaust pipe, it was well finished.

Tussle has a scows alongside the cruise ship Regent Star removing international garbage. Handling these scows was a large part of Tussle's work.

Tussle could handle heavy work too, towing barges and smaller ships around the harbour and along the coast.It was fitted with a knuckle boom hydraulic crane, mounted aft on its house.

The tugs sponsoned hull meant wide side decks, providing lots of room for the crew to work, and to carry the odd load.

Tussle was not confined to Halifax harbour however. In 1990 it was sent  to Pugwash to provide berthing assistance to the barge Capt. Edward V. Smith (ex Adam  E.Cornelius) when it was handled by the tug Artcic Nanook or Magdalen Sea. It worked in Point Aconi on a construction project in 1991 and it towed a coastal freighter from Lunenburg to Halifax in 1994.

The tug worked steadily into the 2000s. Its Canadian registry was closed October 21, 2002 after it was sold south as MacKenzie Ryan. It was later Miss Christine and last heard of it was in Fort Lauderdale, FL, but US documentation expired in 2011.

Tussle in its prime, returns to the IEL dock on an icy day in 1990.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marinex Tugs

The company Marinex (formerly Canadian Underwater Works)(C.U.W.) mentioned in my last post, had an interesting fleet of tugs, D.Robidoux was pictured in that post, the others are here in alphabetical order:

Capitaine Lemay

Pictured here working on a wharf project in Tadoussac, QC, Capitaine Lemay shows it stuff - with lots of smoke and noise. Built in 1952 by Gaston, Laurent and Raymond Lemay of Portneuf, QC, and measuring just under 15 grt its single screw was driven by a 205 bhp engine. The Lemays operated the tug for a number of years, and after Marinex ownership, it went to Pipe-Tec Specialité (2001) Inc of Ile-Bizard, QC. It is still carried on the Canadian Register, but I have not seen it for many years.


Laniel was built in 1955 by Ferguson Industries in Pictou, NS for the federal Department of Public Works to a fairly standard design. In 1966-67 it was sold through Crown Assets Disposal Corp for $7,400 to C.U.W. Post-Marinex it went to Entreprises Vibec Inc of Victoriaville, QC. I lost track of it after that, and I guess Transport Canada did too, for its registration was suspended March 27, 2003. That usually means its owners have gone out of business and the tug was abandoned somewhere.
It measured 11 grt and was rated at 225 bhp.
It is seen above working with the dredging plant at Rivière-du-Loup, an annual silt removal project that was tendered each year, Verreault had the contract for several years running, and Groupe Océan has the work now.

St.John' Fireboat

 My favourite was St.John's Fire Boat. It was built by Central Bridge in Trenton, ON iin 1945 one of 250  steel TANAC class tugs for the British Ministry of War Transport for use in the Mediterranaean. Many were completed too late for the war and sold off instead. This tug was one of the last three built and was likely the last one, TANAC-V-250. The three were built with sponsoned hulls, wider than the standard and completed as fireboats for the Royal Canadian Navy. On completion they were unofficially named Naval Fire Tug No.1, No.2  and No.3. However they were also given names. No.1  was also known as FT-1 Fox, and based in Halifax.. No.2 may also have been based in Halifax. No.3 was based in Sydney, NS at the Point Edward Naval Station, In 1952 it was transferred to St.John's, NL and was to have been towed by Eastore, but ended up sailing on its own, escorted by the tug Riverton. 
At some point it was transferred to the federal Minister of Public Works, and registered as St. John's Fire Boat.
 C.U.W. bought the tug in 1970 for $12,000 and it remained in the fleet when they became Marinex in 1972.
In 1990 I saw it hauled out on the shore at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, and there was work going on around its stern. However by 1993 work had long been suspended, it was boarded up and derelict. It register was closed March 23, 1995, and I assume it was broken up where it lay. (The pictures are too sad to post)

My favourite photo: when it was working with the dredge at Riviére-du-Loup. Notice the deck hand on scow, calmly sitting on a bollard while his colleagues on the tug get a thorough shake up.

D.Robidoux, Tanac -V-222 and Laniel at Cap-de-La-Madeleine.

Tanac-V-222 also came from Central Bridge in Trenton, ON. The first 178 TANACs were sent overseas for the Minister of War Transport and found their way to the UK, Mediterranean and even Singapore. The remainder were sold following the end of the war in 1946-47. Those numbered after 200 were given the initial "V", some say because they had Vivian engines. I have never believed this, preferring to hope that the "V" stood for Victory. V-222 was built with the conventional hull, measured 50 grt and had the 375 bhp Vivian main engine.
It was also transferred on completion to the federal Minister of Public Works and worked in the old St.Lawrence canals, before the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway. It was sold through Crown Assets to L.Wagner + Sons Inc of Giffard QC in 1972 for $12,000 and they renamed her Willa P. She soon went to Marinex and reverted to its original name. By then its horsepwer was listed as 290 bhp.
For the past several years it has been listed as pleasure craft owned in Port-aux-Basques, NL.

I believe Marinex may have had at least one small Russel-built winder boat, but I have no record of its name. It may not have been registered due to its size.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Up the Creek, but with a paddle

From the oldies department :

Summer trips through Quebec in the 1980s turned up a number of old tugs, many no longer in service.
A company called Marinex (formerly Canadian Underwater Works) operated a dredging and marine construction operation out of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, QC, based was on the easternmost of the three branches of the St-Maurice River that exits into the St.Lawrence at Trois-Rivières.
Hauled out on the shore alongside the base was the old tug D.Robidoux, obviously retired from service. It dated from 1912 when it was built in Sorel, and been named Denise S.

The Marinex base.Tugs Capitaine Lemay, St.John's Fireboat and Tanac-V-222, and the barge Nanook, a former CCG landing craft, tied up to a variety of barges and dredges.

D.Robidoux on the bank of the river. Inexplicably there is a paddle tied off above the visor on the wheelhouse.

In Louiseville, QC, there was a significant collection of old tugs, dredges and barges waiting to be scrapped for years.
 Leading the line up of old tugs was Capt. T.W.Morrison, followed by Jean Simard and Glenvalley

Capt. T.W.Morrison dated from 1907 and the yard of Pusey and Jones in Wilmington, DE where it was built for the US Army's Quartermaster Dept. In 1923 National Dredge+Dock Co of Quebec bought the tug and in 1939 it went to Marine Industries Ltd of Sorel. They converted it to diesel in 1957 with two V-12 GMs, totaling 590 bhp. Richelieu Dredging acquired the tug in 1972 and in 1976 it was sold to Paul-Émile Caron of Louiseville for scrap. During its entire career the tug maintained its original US military name. However it was not until 1996 that scrapping actually took place. By then the ravages of time had taken their toll.

Jean Simard dated from 1914 when it was built by the Canadian Government Shipyard in Sorel, QC for the Minister of Marine. A that time the Ministry, precursor of the Department of Transport, maintained the navigation channels in the St.Lawrence with a large dredging fleet, including tugs. Carrying the name Deschaillons until 1960. When acquired by Marine Industries Ltd they renamed it after a member of the owners' family. It was built with twin screws, 450 shp and a 1200 gpm Merryweather pump, which could be used for firefighting, but was also employed for washing down dredges and scows. 
MIL installed a 680 bhp diesel engine, and it also moved through Richelieu Dredging ownership in 1972 to P-E Caron in 1976 and was finally scrapped in 1996.

Glenvalley came from the Canadian Dredge+Dock shipyard in Kingston, ON in 1945 as one of the many Glen class tugs built for the Royal Canadian Navy. Almost immediately declared surplus, it was sold to MIL in 1946. From its layup in Shelburne, NS it sailed in May 1946 for Sorel, but made at least one more trip back for a surplus scrap tow to Sorel. Its original 400 bhp Enterprise engine may have served it to the end. It followed the path of its fleetmates tugs through Richelieu to Caron. A plan to sink it as a dive site fell through and it was broken up in 1996.

A fourth tug, further down the line, had a very different background. Manoir was laid down in November 1929 and launched the following spring by Davie Shipbuilding+Repairing Co Ltd in Lauzon, QC to its own account. Powered by an 800 ihp steam plant by Aitchison+Blair, it was put to work in Quebec City as a ship berthing tug. Canada Steamship Lines owned the shipyard, and in later years the tug carried the CSL funnel colours with the Davie logo superimposed. On April 10, 1976 the tug sank at Lauzon. It was raised but never repaired and was towed to Louiseville in July 1976. It was also not broken up until 1996. It was one of very few tugs in eastern Canada to employ an open monkey island.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Baie-Comeau - error notification

In my recent posting about tugs at Baie-Comeau, QC, I made a number of serious errors, which I hereby correct:

    The tug Svitzer Wombi ex Hi Gang 107 will be deployed to Port-Cartier, not Baie-Comeau. ArcellorMittal Mines Canada Inc, which operates Port-Cartier, has two Voith-Schneider tugs, Brochu and Vachon working in the port, but they are overloaded with work and a third tug is needed. The tight confines of the port make it ideal for V-S tugs, and the crews are familiar with that type of tug and its operation. The year round activity at the grain storage and iron ore docks, with ever larger ships, means that an increase in power would also be welcome. The current tugs built in 1972 are rated at 3600bhp. They have been well maintained and will continue to operate.

      Svitzer Canada Ltd was successful in obtaining a contract to provide the third tug, and the 5600 bhp former Chinese tug will be delivered to Port-Cartier from Singapore this year. It is yet to be named, but will likely have a name with some local flavour.  The current tugs were named for Pierre Brochu and J-B Vachon, pioneers of the North Shore area in 1880s. (I modestly suggest that the new tug could be named Mackay after my great grandfather, who was also active in the area in 1880s to 1901 when he died in Sept-Iles.)

The brand new Pointe Comeau came to Halifax en route from Marystown to Baie-Comeau.

    The current Baie-Comeau tug Pointe-Comeau will not be retiring from service. In fact it received a major rebuild in 2005 and is good for many years to come. As stated the tug is owned by the Cargill Grain Co Ltd and managed by Svitzer Canada Ltd.

    I was incorrect when I stated that is predecessor was also owned by Cargill Grain. Foundation Vibert was built in 1961 by P.K.Harris in Appledore for Foundation Maritime. It was also not built for the port of Baie-Comeau. In fact it was built for Port-Cartier and served there until 1973 when the Brochu and Vachon went into service.They were built by Star Shipyard in New Westminster, BC and sailed via Panama arriving in Port-Cartier in the summer of 1973. (Vachon stopped n Halifax September 4, 1973 for voyage adjustments.)

    However Foundation Vibert was not the only tug built for Port-Cartier at the time. The other was called Federal Beaver, and it was built by Russel-Hipwell in Owen Sound, ON (hull number 1205) and delivered in 1962. It was built for Federal Terminals Ltd, although it was apparently ordered by another Federal Commerce + Navigation Ltd subsidiary Pyke Salvage. Built to essentially the same spec as Foundation Vibert, it was a 95 foot twin screw, with three tiered deckhouse, strengthened for navigation in  ice. It looked quite different from Vibert because it had the standard Russel wheelhouse, repeated on so many of their other tugs.
I have no photos of my own of this tug, but the Russel web site has a nice file:

   It is perhaps unusual that Federal Beaver was powered by two 8 cylinder Lister Blackstone engines giving 1600 bhp and 36 tons bollard pull, whereas Foundation Vibert was powered by two Fairbanks Morses of 666 bhp each, engines that had to be shipped to England for installation. It is possible that Listers were chosen for Federal Beaver because another three tugs ordered for Pyke Salvage, also from P.K.Harris in Appledore in 1959, were fitted with Listers. Helen M. McAllister and Salvage Monarch were taken over by McAllister Towing Ltd of Montreal when it bought Pyke Salvage from Federal Commerce in 1962. The third, Hull No. 258 was towed to Canada as a hull, and may have had Lister engines. It was sold to west coast owners and completed with Cat engines. So maybe its original engines went into Federal Beaver. This is only speculation of course at this point. How it reached the west coast is also a bit of a mystery.

     In 1964 Quebec Cartier Mining took over operation of the port from Federal Terminals and renamed the tug Federal Beaver as Manicouagan. (This only added to the confusion, since the Manicouagan River flows into the St.Lawrence at Baie Comeau - many miles away from Port-Cartier.)

    When the new V-S tugs arrived in Port Cartier in 1973, the company sold Manicouagan to Northland Navigation and it sailed via the Panama Canal to work out of Prince Rupert, BC. In 1980 Rivtow bought the tug, renamed it Rivtow Princess and re-engined it with a pair of GMs, upping the horsepower to 1740 bhp (others say 1860 bhp). When Smit Marine Canada took over Rivtow, the tug became Smit Princess but was soon sold on in 2005 to Seaspan Marine Corp becoming River Princess. Its sphere of operations had shifted to the lower mainland of BC.
    In 2012 Seaspan did a major housecleaning of old tugs and barges, and River Princess and several fleetmates were loaded aboard the semi-submersible ship Development Way and sent off the China for scrap. 

    Foundation Vibert's transfer to Baie-Comeau displaced the single screw 1000 bhp "V" class tugs that had served the port since 1962. (They had used steam tugs, such as Foundation Vera before that.)
The transfer occurred after the sale of the Foundation tugs to Marine Industries Ltd in 1968, with MIL Tug + Salvage as managers. In 1971 Smit+Cory became managers of the tug fleet and in 1973 formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (ECTUG) and purchased the Foundation Vibert, and renamed it Point Vibert.

    ECTUG bought five of the six "V" class tugs from MIL, but since they were no longer needed to cover Baie-Comeau, ECTUG almost immediately sold two of them back to MIL's dredging subsidiary Richelieu Dredging Corp Inc. Foundation Vanguard became A.Moir and Foundation Viscount became C.O.Paradis. The sixth tug of the series, Foundation Viceroy had been sold to the federal Department of Public Works in 1972, while Smit+Cory were managers, but before they bought the fleet. It became Feuille d'Erable.

    ECTUG kept the legendary Foundation Vim and Foundation Vigour and the Foundation Viking, giving them Point names.

   When ECTUG became Svitzer Canada, Point Vibert was repainted in Svitzer colours. It was also transferred to Port Hawksbury .
    When it was sold to McKeil Marine it joined its former Halifax partner Point Vigour.

Molly M 1 ex Point Vgour, ex Foundaiton Vigour and Florence M ex Point Vibert ex Foundation Vibert became fleet mates again under the McKeil banner.

Since that time, Molly M 1 has been repainted in Nadro colours see: tugfax 2014-11-10   (Nadro is a McKeil subsidiary) and Florence M has also received the latest McKeil colour scheme.