Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Russians towing Canadians - Part 2

For a Canadian warship, the ultimate indignity, as I called it in Shipfax, was to be towed to the scrap yard  by a Russian tug. The Canadian navy (as with all NATO navies) played "cat and mouse" with the USSR for years during the cold war, but it was all in earnest, as the expectation of real war was never very far over the horizon.

During that time there was also a large communist bloc presence of fishing vessels from the USSR, Poland, East Germany, and even Bulgaria and Romania off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. They were always near when there was any naval activity and invariably a trawler or a rescue tug or even a research ship showed up in Halifax when there were visiting naval ships from other NATO countries. See Tugfax for photos of USSR rescue tugs here: and
When the USSR was broken up the threat seemed to vanish overnight and Russian (former USSR) ships began to appear under different conditions. As I showed in Part 1, they showed up to tow old ships to the scrappers, and seemingly had their fair share of former naval ships.

The harbour tug Point Halifax arrives off pier 9B to assist Purga with ex HMCS Skeena.
Purga eases off the pier. It was built in 1974 by Okean shipyard in Oktyabrskoye, and is still operating out of Murmansk.

The tug was carrying two Yokohama fenders on deck, which would be used if the tug had to come alongside the tow.

A small riding crew were on the Skeena only to let go the mooring lines. They disembarked soon after the tow got underway for India July 3, 1996.

Once off the pier, the tow had to turn in the Narrows to head outbound for sea. Harbour tug Point Chebucto assisted in the turn.


Russians towing Canadians - Part 1

The subject of decommissioned warships has been a topic on Shipfax recently. The unfortunate reality is that these ships eventually need to be disposed of. Most of the Canadian warshsips decommissioned from the east coast of Canada have been towed overseas for scrap.

The tugs that have towed these ships, ironically, have included Russian - the old foes from the cold war days.

Assiniboine leaving Halifax November 25, 1995 in tow of Kaliningradets.

Kaliningradets is one of a large fleet of similar tugs. It was built in 1984 by the Yaroslavskiy shipyard and is still in service.

Assiniboine and Kaliningradets were reported in Durban February 7, 1986 en route to India.

Sapfir, built in 1988 was of the same class. It is getting underway from pier 9 (that is the fantail of Ryan Leet in the foreground). It had been operating under the Ukraine flag since 1992 for Marine Rescue Service Mars and is till in use.

Its tow was ex HMCS Ottawa, leaving Halifax April 4, 1994 and arriving in Alang, India August 15.

On March 13, 1994, the former HMCS Margaree left Halifax in tow.

The tow was assigned to icebreaker Afanasiy Nikitin, under the Ukrainian flag. Built as Ledokol-2 in 1962 by Admiralteiskiy-Werft in Leningrad.

The tug was in pretty raw shape itself, but made it to Cape Town about April 14 and Bombay about May 14. The tug itself was broken up in Alang May 28, 1995.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

May C - gets a spa treatrment

It is said that 75% or more of an iceberg is underwater and invisible. The percentage may not be as high with a tug, but there is generally more underwater than you would think. Such was the case today seeing the tug May C hauled out for a refit at Aecon Fabco in Pictou.

May C on the cradle at Pictou, with shaft drawn and prop and rudder removed, getting an underwater clean and paint.

The shipyard bought the tug in 2011 and have used it around their yard and in the Pictou area for a variety of chores.
A quick drydocking for a hull scrape and paint is often termed a "shave and a haircut" , but this refit appears to be more extensive (not to mention the indelicacy of such terms in the case of a female) - it is more of a makeover or at least an spa treatment. 
I have covered the tug several times before on this blog including:

May C alongside the government wharf in Pictou last September.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Svitzer Cartier sails

After completing trials, including a bollard pull test, Svitzer Cartier sailed this morning for the Verreault shipyard in Les M├ęchins, QC.

After a brief stint at the yard for underwater survey (usually a condition of any handover) and any other work that needs to be done by a shipyard, the tug will be ready to work at Port Cartier.

As a follow up to my previous posts, ArcelorMittal will continue to operate its own tugs Brochu and Vachon at Port Cartier, and Svitzer will operate Svitzer Cartier.

Svitzer also operates the tug Pointe-Comeau at Baie-Comeau, which was called in if needed at Port Cartier, but that will be less likely to happen now. The two ports are more than 100 miles apart, which required a lot of advance notice and planning, which will now be alleviated.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Svitzer Cartier- what more can be said

Since a new tug is a rare thing in eastern Canada these days, perhpas I can be forgiven for making mention of the tug again!

 New tires on top of fenders, but can't somebody do something about those schooner anchors?

Some additional thoughts:

1. The news today that Algoma Central Marine has acquired the Panamax self-unloader Gypsum Integrity to run under Canadian flag as Algoma Integrity on the iron ore shuttle from Port-Cartier to Contrecouer, QC puts some more logic behind the move to add a third tug in Port-Cartier. That ship will be in and out of port weekly year round, ad due to its size  197m loa and 32.2m broad, it will certainly take two tugs to berth.

2. I notice the crew on Svitzer Cartier are all wearing bright shiny new Svitzer hard hats and coveralls. The skipper, when the tug came alongside yesterday after fueling, was very adept at handling the tug, and where would be get that experience? Obviously not a new hire, despite the fresh coveralls. I'm guessing Svitzer Canada has taken over management of the other tugs in Port-Cartier too. It would only make sense, since up until now the tugs have been managed by the iron ore company itself (now ArcelorMittal, but previously Quebec-Cartier), and why would they want a third tug under a different management arrangement?

3. All that raises the third supposition. With Svitzer on board, and access to a world wide network of tug operations, and faced with eventual replacement of the two incumbent tugs Brochu and Vachon, could we expect an announcement of some more new tugs soon?

The new Svitzer Cartier has two sister tugs recently "blacked" by Australian unions due to an asbestos scare, but my guess is that brand new tugs are more likely. Brochu and Vachon are reported to be in excellent condition, so there is no rush, but inevitably more powerful tugs are in the cards.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Svitzer Cartier - another update

The protective box over the winch has been removed, revealing the massive Karmoy unit that will be used in ship berthing. The box turns out to have been more than just a shelter, it was also insulated and heated. This means that the winch itself was not designed for winter operation, and will have to be upgraded to survive normal operating conditions in Canada. All its piping and control are exposed on the port side, and will require some sort of permanent protection.

A portion of the temporary housing, which joined it to the permanent superstructure has not been removed yet.

The tug also took fuel today and made a short trials trip in the harbour.

But there is till lots of work to do to make the tug ready for service.

The towing staple, sheathed in stainless (?) steel, intended to protect expensive mooring lines from chafe, looks more than capable of shredding lines instead.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Svitzer Cartier registered in Canada

The latest addition to Svitzer Canada's fleet , Svitzer Cartier was officially registered in Canada today. The port of registry is Halifax, where Svitzer's head office is located. A press release from Svitzer indicates that the tug will be at work in Port Cartier in mid-April.

Meanwhile the tug is fitting out at the Svitzer dock in Halifax, with paint touchups underway.

And the addition of tractor tires to the business end (the stern) of the tug.

Yet to come - the removal of the protective housing over the winch.

The housing proved useful in the ship's trip up from Panama, but since it blocks the view of the winch and towing staple, it won't be of much use when the tug goes to work. It appears to be bolted down to a frame on deck and is fitted with lifting hooks.

As an addendum to my first post on the tug, I now understand that it was "heavy-lifted" by ship from Shanghai to Balboa (ship not yet identified) where it was handed over to the specialty ship-delivery company TOS (Transport and Offshore Services)