Saturday, December 9, 2017

Océan Delta sold and other deployments

Another of Groupe Océan's veteran tugs has been sold. Océan Delta has apparently gone to the same buyers that acquired Océan Hercule. Océan Delta is still in Quebec City, but its Canadian registry was closed November 30 and it now flies the Jamaican flag.

With more powerful and more modern tugs (such as Océan Tundra, at right),big single screw tugs like Océan Delta (second from left) are becoming obsolete.
Also pictured: Océan Charlie at left, and Océan Yvan Desgagnés, second from right.

Dating from 1973 when it was built by Ulstein Mek. Verksted AS in Ulsteinvik, Norway as Sistella. One of a three of similar tugs for International Transport Contractors (ITC), Tschudi and Eitzen, managers. They were ocean salvage tugs intended also for long tows associated with the oil industry. Fitted with two 16 cylinder Polar engines geared to a single controllable pitch screw, they were rated at 7,000 bhp and 65 tonne bollard pull.

Renamed Sandy Cape in 1978 and transferred to Liberian flag, by the same Norwegian/Dutch owners, it worked word wide until 1980 when it was acquired by the Power Corporation of Canada and assigned through the CSL Group to their Quebec Tugs Ltd (QUETUG) subsidiary.
It was renamed Capt. Ioannis S. for Captain Ioannis "John" Stylidiadis operator of the Quebec City tug fleet once under the direction of the Davie Shipyards. They fleet had always been involved in salvage work but this was the first big tug they had owned for many years.

Capt. Ioaanis S in QUETUG colours.
 In 1987 Océan Construction Inc acquired QUETUG and the company has since gone on to become Groupe Océan, 45 years after it was originally founded.

In 1999 Océan renamed the tug Océan Delta as part of a naming scheme that has reached "Lima" in the international signals alphabet, but has since been displaced by a new scheme recognizing individuals.
Over the years Océan has invested a lot of money in this tug with at least one major rebuild and in 2000 re-engining the vessel with a pair of 8 cylinder MaKs giving 6464 bhp.

Océan Delta in a previous GO colour scheme.
In the intervening years the tug has provided ship docking and escort services in Quebec, made many long tows to the arctic and worked around the lower St.Lawrence River and Gulf. In December 2012 it was lead tug in the aborted tow of HMCS Athabaskan from the Port Weller DryDock  for Halifax with André H.(ex Point Valiant, Foundation Valiant). The tow went wrong off Sydney and there was damage to the tugs and several perforations in the warship's hull. The tow to Halifax was later completed by Atlantic Towing Ltd.

Undergoing a "shave and a haircut" at Ile-aux-Coudres, in 2005, its rudder and prop were removed for repair.
Back for more ten years later - this time with rudder and prop intact.
Océan Delta has been listed for sale for several years and has not been active in the last two or three years.
With both Océan Hercule and Océan Delta sold to the same Jamaican owners it is possible that one will be towing the other. Let us hope this is not a repeat of another unwise late season tow out from the St.Lawrence. Too many of these have gone wrong recently to allow another foolhardy or unprepared attempt. 

Océan Hercule has also been sold to the same Jamaican buyers and has been renamed Hercule.

Meanwhile there have been some interesting deployments in the Océan fleet. The former pilot boat, converted to tug, Océan Côte-Nord, which was stationed in Goderich, ON has left that port, returning down through the St.Lawrence Seaway to Quebec. Whether this is to accommodate a winter refit or an end to the Lake Huron service has not been revealed.

Océan's recent acquisition of the two Port-Cartier tugs from ArcelorMittal Steel has resulted in two renamings. Brochu has been renamed Océan Brochu and Vachon is now Océan A. Gauthier.

 Vachon in the colours of original owners, Quebec Cartier Mining. (unknown photographer)

It was upbound in the Seaway on December 6 for its new home port of Hamilton, ON. There it joins another Voith-Schneider tug Océan A. Simard transferred this fall after working in Bull Arm, NL for a few years. The latter has also been doing ship assist at the entrance to the nearby Welland Canal.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Groupe Océan veteran sold

Groupe Océan has sold one of its older tugs. Océan Hercule was sold November 1 to Jamaican owners and renamed Hercule at Sorel-Tracy, QC. The tug has been based at that port for several years since joining the Océan fleet in 1997.

The tug started life at the A.M.Liaaen shipyard in Aalesund, Norway in 1976 as Stril Pilot. A 499 grt ice strengthened anchor handling tug it was powered by two 12 cylinder Alcos (then part of the White Motor Co) delivering 4400 bhp to two controllable pitch screws in nozzles giving 63 tonnes bollard pull. Built for the the Simon Mokster company it was sold in 1981 and renamed Spirit Sky for the Bergvall Group. In 1985 it moved on to the Dutch company Goliath then Wijsmuller and back to Goliath, where it was renamed Ierland then in 1989 becoming Ierlandia.

Charles-Antoine in McAllister colours leaving Halifax towing the barge Marmac 15 from New York to the Gulf of St.Lawrence for the first attempt to raise the sunken barge Irving Whale

The McAllister Towing Company of Montreal acquired the tug in 1995, and it was renamed Charles-Antoine. The owners of McAllister then sold the entire operation to Océan in 1997.

Renamed Océan Hercule, as stated, it was based most recently in the port of Sorel-Tracy where its ability to work in ice made it a valuable member of the fleet.

Océan Hercule at Quebec City in its original Groupe Océan colour scheme.

 Océan Hercule at Quebec City in 2005 after refit and repainting to the new Océan colours.
Océan Hercule (left) with Océan Delta, another veteran that has also been listed for sale.

With the acquisition of newer vessels, Océan had the tug listed for sale for several years and now it has finally been sold. It was due to move to Montreal this week before heading out for Jamaica.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Two more for Océan and a transfer

Groupe Océan has finalized the acquistion of the two ArcelorMittal tugs based at Port-Cartier, QC. Brochu and Vachon were purpose built for Port Cartier in 1972 and were among the first Voith-Schneider cycloidal prop tugs built in Canada. At 3600 bhp they were also among the most powerful for many years.

Earlier this year it was reported that Groupe Océan had been awarded the tug contract at Port-Cartier, and that the two elderly tugs would be retired as of September 30. In mid-September Brochu suffered a serious fire and was retired early. Fortunately Groupe Océan was able to send a tug from Sept-Iles to fill in.

Since Océan Yvan Desgagnés andOcéan Ross Gaudrault have taken over operations in Port-Cartier, it has been reported that Groupe Océan has purchased  Brochu and Vachon. There is no indication where they will be used, but as of this evening they were still in Port-Cartier with AIS giving a destination of Méchins for the Vachon. Although the Verreault Navigation shipyard there is a competitor of Groupe Océan's own shipyard in Ile-aux-Coudres, Verreault has been maintaining Brochu and Vachon for many years.

When Océan's Océan A. Simard (ex Alexis Simard -11)  completed its work in Newfoundland earlier this year, it returned to Quebec for refit and in July was transferred to Hamilton, Ontario.The 3290 bhp V-S tug, originally built for Alcan's operations at Port Alfred in 1980, never really found a home in the Groupe Océan fleet. There was a trial in Baie-Comeau in 2011, but that was short lived.

With two more V-S tugs joining Océan, one has to wonder if they may also head for the Great Lakes where the fresh water and seasonal operation will be kindly to their aging hulls.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ocean renames two

Groupe Océan has renamed two tugs it acquired earlier this year from Svitzer. The two tugs completed their obligations with Svitzer at the end of last month and returned from Milne Inlet, Baffin Island where they had been working for the last three summers.

Undergoing  refit in Quebec the pair have now been renamed Océan Raynald T (ex Svitzer Nerthus) and Océan Clovis T (ex Svitzer Njal).

They are a good fit with the Groupe Océan fleet, as they are Georgetown-built, ice class ASD, 66 tonne bollard pull, 5,000 bhp tugs, similar to most of the modern tugs in the Ocean fleet. No assignments have been announced for the tugs yet.

They were built in 2009 by East Isle Shipyard in PEI for Nordane shipping as Stevns Iceflower (ii) and Stevns Icequeen (ii) and sailed from trials in Halifax to Denmark. They were soon chartered and eventually acquired by Svitzer and renamed the same year.

Flying the Barbados flag for the delivery trip, the two tugs arrived back in Halifax in company June 4, 2015 and tied up at the Svitzer Canada dock.

When Svitzer won the Baffinland contract in 2015, they brought the two tugs back to Canada. They were stationed in Montreal in winter and worked in Milne Inlet in the brief summer navigation season from July to October.

In January of this year Svitzer decided to shut down its Montreal operation and sold three of its tugs to Groupe Océan.. The Svitzer Cartier (ex Svitzer Wombi-125, Hai Gang 107 -14) became Océan Cartier and was refitted in Quebec City but has not been assigned any work yet.

Svitzer Nerthus and Svitzer Njal were committed to the Baffinland project for this past summer but were handed over to Ocean on return south.

The fourth tug, Svitzer Montreal although a similar Georgetown class tug, is not ice strengthened, and Svitzer re-assigned it to its Point Tupper, NS operation which has the three other Svitzer Canada tugs.

For more on the tugs and photos see Tugfax : June 6, 2015


Friday, November 10, 2017

Landlocked tug

Construction of foundations for the Queen's Marque project on the Halifax waterfront is taking place below sea level. In order to carry out the work a seawall has been built out of sheet piles to keep the water out. Pile driving for the work and placement of the sheet piles has been carried out by a crane mounted on the deck of a sectional scow, built out of smaller pontoons.

To move the scow, Dexter Construction is using one of their miniature tug boats. It and the scow are working inside the Sea Bridge floating walkway built for the Waterfront Development Corporation to allow pedestrians to bypass the construction site, from the water site. The Sea Bridge, stretching from the Cable Wharf in the north to the Maritime Museum in the south provides an excellent view of construction activity.

Dexter tug inside the Sea Bridge.

A.F.Theriault + Son of Meteghan, NS, built a pair of the tugs for the Municipal Group, parent company of Dexter Construction, and they worked first on the Halifax Shipyard pier 6 project. Since the tugs are small enough to be transported by truck, they can be used in a variety of locations not normally accessible by watercraft. Because they are under the 15 tons they are not registered by name, but only by number, in this case C20115NS.

One of two aluminum hulled tugs, that are transportable by road, powered by twin Yamaha outboard engines with a total of 230 horsepower.

Scow and crane are tucked in between the Cable Wharf and the remnants of the old timber piled Queen's Wharf.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fire at Port Cartier

The tug Brochu suffered a fire at Port-Cartier, QC in mid-September and was removed from service. With its sister tug Vachon it was to be retired September 30 when Groupe Ocean is due to take over tug services in the port.

Brochu and Vachon entered service in 1973 for Quebec Cartier Mining (now ArcelorMittal) in Port-Cartier - a busy iron ore and grain transshipment port. They are 3200 bhp Voith-Schneider tugs.

See photo here: Boatnerd, Robert Talbot photo

Groupe Ocean has assigned Ocean Yvan Desgagnes and Ocean Ross Gaudreault to work in Port-Cartier. Both are 5,000 bhp ice class, fire fighting tugs, built in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
They can also call for assistance from tugs based in Sept-Iles, which is nearby.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hornbeck Offshore in Halifax

The first Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc (HOS) ship to call in Halifax tied up at Pier 9 C on Saturday September 9.

HOS Red Dawn  was the first of a series of supply boats in the HOSMAX 300 class and was built by Eastern Shipbuilding of Panama City, FL in 2013. With a  deadweight tonnage of 5,000 and large clear deck space, they are suitable for numerous offshore tasks.

The ship is also diesel electric powered, with a four Cat engines mounted well forward, working through a GE system to drive two Schottel Z-drives mounted aft, giving 6,704 bhp . They also power the usual transverse thrusters. The resultant lack of shafting maximizes below deck tank space for dry and liquid cargoes. The 3911 grt ship, has berthing for 50 in 17 staterooms and features DP2 and numerous other state of the art systems.

It appears that the ship is fitting out for cable transport, since a number of gray painted steel fabrications arrived at the dock at the same time. HOS has several ships that lay communication and data cabling for offshore energy projects. Since this ship is US flagged, the work will likely take place in US waters.
Several ships have loaded cable tank frames here in the last year or so, and then proceeded to Newington, NH to load fibre optic cable manufactured by Tyco.

HOS is a major US flag supply boat operator, based in Louisiana, and currently has a fleet of around 70 vessels although several may still be laid up as a result of the US oil industry slowdown. In 2016 they had reportedly "stacked" more than 30 boats, which represented 80 % of the fleet.

In 2013 HOS sold their "downstream" fleet of nine ocean tugs and tanker barges to Genesis Energy.