Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Point Halifax - gone to McKeil

McKeil Work Boats Ltd of Hamilton, ON have purchased the tug Point Halifax from Svitzer Canada Ltd. Once the backbone of Halifax harbour tug operations, and the first azimuthing stern drive tug on the east coast, it has obviously reached a certain age, and no longer suits Svitzer's needs.
Designed by EYE (Evans Yeatman Endal) of Halifax and built by McTay Marine of Bromborough, UK, the tug was delivered to Halifax in 1985 after a lengthy trials period in the UK, during which some modifications were made. It arrived in Halifax after a very rough crossing of the Atlantic, on December 21, 1986 and early in 1987 was in service. At 4,200 bhp it more than doubled the horsepower of any of its owner's Halifax tugs. Here is a retrospective look at the tug over its twenty-four years of service in Halifax.
Designed to work over the bow in ship berthing, it was also fitted with a towing winch, which saw little use in its early years. It also had an open working deck aft to carry offshore supply containers (which it did once to my knowledge) and a stern roller for anchor handling (which it never did to my knowledge). When it was delivered Eastern Canada Towing Ltd was a subsidiary of Smit and Cory International. When Smit bowed out, the funnel marking changed to one derived from the Cory parent, but with the word ECTUG on the blue diamond.

Not well regarded as a sea boat, it did some outside work, but was kept busy in Halifax until delivery of newer tugs freed it up somewhat.
When Wijsmuller acquired Cory there was a short interval when the tug carried Wijsmuller's logo, but this was soon displaced when Svitzer bought out Wijsmuller. A gradual change over to a new colour scheme started with the Svitzer cross on the funnel.

Under Svitzer ownership and delivery of another new tug, Point Halifax was freed up to work more outside. It was then sent to work in the Freeport, Bahamas one winter and on northern supply barge towing in the summer to Hudson's Bay. Svitzer ended up adopting a propeller logo on the funnel.

When Svitzer Canada transferred its tugs to the Strait of Canso under its joint venture with Atlantic Towing Ltd, the Point Halifax was still undergoing costly repairs to its stern drives following a grounding in the Strait of Belle Isle. It was chartered to Atlantic Towing for barge work and not used in ship berthing at Point Tupper. (Although it may have been called in if needed.)

Now the tug has been sold to McKeil, who, although based on the Great Lakes, work all over the east coast. They are also noted as the buyers of most of Eastern Canada Towing's (and now Svitzer's) surplus tugs.

McKeil Marine as they are commonly known, usually name their tugs after people, so expect a name change soon.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Richard Brusco and Chicago Bridge

1. Richard Brusco at pier 27. Note the heavy fenders mounted on the deck house rail. This is a feature of some US Navy tugs, and allows for working under the extreme flare of ships' bows and sterns.

Another US tug and barge arrived in port to wait out weather. Richard Brusco put in yesterday afternoon in dense fog and tied up at pier 27. As with its fleet mate earlier in the week, it is towing a deck barge with piping modules for the nickel refinery project in Long Harbour, NF.

Richard Brusco was built in 1966 by San Diego Maritime Construction and is rated at 4,300 bhp. It carried the name Mercury to 2001. The barge is Chicago Bridge 5,860 gross tons, built in 1997.

This tug and barge combo have been running steadily from Texas to Long Harbour since spring. They were reported in Long Harbour in early May, bunkering in Argentia before heading south again.

The tug is operated by Gulf Atlantic Towing of Lafayette, LA and the barge is owned by Trailer Bridge Inc of Jacksonville, FL.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gulf Cajun gets away

Gulf Cajun sailed this afternoon for Long Harbour, NF. I have corrected the previous entry to indicate that the barge's name is Atlanta Bridge. This has been confirmed visually after numerous mispronunciations and spellings appeared elsewhere.
Atlantic Willow performed the assist work and transferred the deck crew back to the tug once underway.

1. The Jimmys are well wound up as Gulf Cajun gets underway.

2. The deck crew are working on the tow line.

3. The barge's name is clearer from this side.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pup tugs - gofers of the Dockyard

1. Granville on security round, returns from Bedford Basin 2012-02-17.

2. Listerville northbound in the Narrows in 1991 still carries rope fenders.

3. Merrickville in 1990 has the original bow pudding made by Dockyard riggers. When the old hands retired the art of rope work was lost.

4. The original World War II Merrickville hauled out a Purdy Bros. for a refit in 1971.

The Ville class "Pup" tugs are indispensable around HMC Dockyard in Halifax. As Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessels, they carry civilian crews, but they are always doing navy work. I caught Granville yesterday as it was returning from a security round in Bedford Basin. But it could just as easily be seen docking a warship or handling a scow or a fender.

Scores of the original Ville class pup tugs were built by Russel Brothers in Owen Sound, ON for the RCN during World War II. Most were built in 1944-45 and the ones that the navy kept lasted to 1974 on this coast. (One remained in the CFA on the west coast until the 1990s.)

The current version was built in 1974 and looks to outlast the war-built pups.

There are three pups in Halifax, Granville (ex Marysville), Listerville and Merrickville. Of 365 bhp the have a bollard pull of 7.5 tonnes and are single screw with a steering nozzle.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Gulf Cajun finally arrives

1. Gulf Cajun has slacked off on the tow line as it enters port off Halterm (in a snow shower)

2. The barge Atlanta Bridge carries a load of piping modules. Atlantic Oak is slowing the barge.

3. Some neat maneuvering bringing the barge alongside pier 27.

After doodling around off Halifax all last night the tug Gulf Cajun arrived this afternoon towing the barge Atlanta Bridge*.

According to the port's website the tug was due yesterday, but for some reason it remained offshore, going back down the shore to the mouth of St.Margaret's Bay where it remained all night. Once inside Meaghher's Beach, the tug Atlantic Oak came out and transferred deck hands from the Gulf Cajun to the barge and made up astern to act as a brake. There followed some nice tug handling to bring the tow alongside pier 27.

The tug is operated by Gulf Atlantic Towing of Lafayette, LA a subsidiary of Brusco Tug & Barge of Longview WA. Built in 1976, it was named Pacific Master until 2007. Brusco is rather coy about its fleet, so I am not sure of any more details. It is fitted with two 16 cyl GM Clevelands of 2100 bhp each, drving twin open fixed pitch screws.

Another Brusco tug, Maria Brusco was also expected in Halifax, but its name has been removed from the Port's website.

The barge appears to be loaded with equipment for the Long Harbour nickel development in Newfoundland. Barges have been ferrying this type of equipment for the past year, often through charters to McKeil Marine.

* Built 1998, 5,860 gross tons.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Flashback to 1996

1. Coated with frozen spray Tignish Sea works her way to pier 9 in March 1996.

2. In much warmer conditions, the tug dips her bow into a swell off pier 27.

3. Jane Ann IV returns to berth from a trial trip for her new owners. The hull fairings are complete, but the rams are yet to be installed.

One of the little known sea rescues of the north Atlantic took place in January-February 1996, and a Halifax tug with an interesting history played a major part in saving the ship.
The Greek bulker Amphion began taking water in bad weather 450 miles SE of St.John’s on January 10, 1996. En route from Brake, Germany to Philadelphia, the ship had encountered heavy weather and suffered several hull fractures.
The CCGS Leonard J. Cowley responded and evacuated all 23 crew the next day using an inflatable boat, making several trips in very dangerous conditions.
Secunda Marine Services of Halifax hired a plane to keep track of the ship, and when it appeared that the Amphion would remain afloat, they secured a Lloyd’s Open Form "No Cure, No Pay" contract with the owners.
Secunda scrambled their tug Tignish Sea, which was idle in Halifax, loading pumps and extra gear. It took five days to reach the ship and four more to secure a tow line. A riding crew was put aboard Amphion and a quick survey revealed surprisingly little water on the ship. After refilling the ship’s day tank they were able to re-start its generators and pumps, and the tow began on January 20. Through snow storms, freezing spay, high seas and high winds it took until February 3 to reach Halifax, where the ship was tied up for repairs. It was able to continue its trip to Philadelphia February 22.
Amphion was built as Domina by China Shipbuilding Corp of Taiwan in 1978 and had carried the name Frinton from 1986 to 1993. Cold weather (brittle steel) hull fractures were all too common, and many ships had been lost due to this cause. The ship had been saved only temporarily, for later in the year it struck another ship and grounded in Bhavnagar Roads. It was then sold to shipbreakers and beached in Alang, India August 16, 1996 where it was scrapped.
The tug Tignish Sea started life also in 1978, but at Mitsui Eng & SB in Japan as Ouro Fino for Petroleo Brasilero. It was renamed Bonace in 1981. With a sister tug, it was acquired by Secunda Marine Services in 1992 and arrived in Halifax May 9, 1993 towing Cavendish Sea.
A small, but very powerful vessel of 8,000 bhp it could carry a limited amount of deck cargo, but was primarily a towing vessel. The tug participated in several salvage jobs including refloating Winter Star in Sydney and bringing Talisman into Halifax, but it was mostly used for offshore oil work. When that work began to dry up, it was sold in 2000 to Great Lakes Transport Ltd of Halifax.
That company had acquired the self-unloader barge Sarah Spencer, which was to be used for carrying grain, and they needed a tug for pushing it.
In June 2000, Tignish Sea went under the knife for major surgery. Two giant rams were to be installed in new housings on the tug’s bows, which would connect the barge to the tug to make a semi-rigid connection . By October the tug, renamed Jane Ann IV, sailed from Halifax for Windsor, ON to pick up the barge and to have the rams installed. That installation took place at Bay Shipbuilding in Green Bay, WI and was completed November 15, 2000.
The tug/barge combo has met with mixed success on the Lakes due to the economic downturn, and was sold in 2005-06 and has been laid up for the last two years. It is listed for sale on the Marcon shipbrokers site. http://www.marcon.com/


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Atlantic Hawk - called in from Newfoundland

1. Atlantic Hawk working alongside GSF Grand Banks 2012-02-10.

2. The superstructure was built as a module and lifted onto the hull as a "plug-in".

3. The hull was built in modules. As the ship became too large for the building hall, it was gradually moved outdoors.

4. Atlantic Hawk makes its way up the Narrows on a frigid day in 2004, wreathed in sea-smoke.

Atlantic Hawk arrived on Friday to service the oil rig GSF Grand Banks. As with Maersk Dispatcher last week, the tug/supplier had been idle in St.John's until called for the work.

Atlantic Hawk was built in Halifax as the second of the class of UT 722 vessels for Atlantic Towing. It was launched Mar 10, 2000 and has been in service since May of that year.

In recent years it has had a large Iron Fist 20t deck crane added and one huge fire monitor on the bow and two more on the superstructure. These are capable of 3,600 cu.m/hr. giving the ship a FiFi II rating. See the ship's full specs here: http://www.atlantictowing.com/uploadedFiles/Hawk_May10_2011.pdf


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Maersk Dispatcher - big bruiser

1. Maersk Dispatcher alongside the rig GSF Grand Banks (added 2012-02-03)

2. Stern in at pier 25 (2012-02-02).

One of Canada's largest tug/suppliers arrived yesterday for some work with the oil rig GSF Grand Banks. The oil rig is in refit here, and the tug/supplier will be doing some work with the rig this evening.

Built in 2005 by Ast.y Serv. Nav. SA (ASENAV) in Chile, the ship is rated at 18,000 bhp with a 218 tonne bollard, and measures 5,470 gross tons. With sister Maersk Detector , built by the same yard, these are the largest AHTS in Canada.

Owners Maersk Supply Service Canada Ltd recently announced that they have ordered two suppliers from the same yard to be delivered in 2/2014 and 1/2015, with an option for four more. The new 150 tonne bollard pull AHTS vessels will replace current vessels in Maersk's Canadian fleet.

Canada and Chile have a free trade agreement, which favours shipbuilding there due to lower labour coasts.

Maersk Supply is no longer represented by Seabase Ltd, but now markets and manages its fleet directly. The Canadian owned Seabase, of St.John's represented Maersk Supply for 21 years until what is termed "disengagement" effective January 1, 2012.