Saturday, June 22, 2013

John Spence - rare caller

1. John Spence after delivering a barge this morning.

The tug John Spence arrived this morning after a long absence from Halifax. By my reckoning it was here last in 1998. However it was once here all the time, and that goes back to its original owners and its original job.
2. Mary B VI at the old Sugar wharf, now the IEL wharf in Woodside, in 1976.

Among the first offshore tug/suppliers built in Canada, it came out of the Star Shipyard in New Westminster, BC in 1972 as Mary B VI for Fedcom /Nordic Offshore Services to support oil exploration off Nova Scotia. Only a year or so after traces of oil were found from drilling on Sable Island, it was the beginning of an on again off again oil exploration era.
With sister Janie B and Cathy B , the Mary B VI worked out of Halifax for several years then returned to the west coast. It was renamed Mary B from 1981-1982, but then returned to its original name. In 1983 it was sold to Arctic Transportation Ltd and was renamed Arctic Tuktu. It worked in the Beaufort Sea under that name but in 1994 made what turned out to be mid-life career change.
McKeil Marine of Hamilton, ON bought the boat, renamed it John Spence and rebuilt it as a tug for a variety of chores, but normally working with large barges on the St.Lawrence River and Seaway. This involved installing an elevated wheelhouse- and not a little bird's nest type, but a full sized one. In recent years it had been paired with the barge Niagara Spirit transporting aluminum ingots from Sept-Iles up through the Seaway.
3. Big barge PML 9000 has only a push plate type notch, and tugs use face wires when pushing. 

Its arrival today was a bit of a surprise, since it came with the big barge PML 9000, owned by Purvis Marine Ltd of Sault Ste.Marie. The barge came down through the Seaway in tow of Evans McKeil.and must have been handed over on the Strait of Canso on Friday. The 4,285 gross ton (9,000 deadweight) barge was built in 1968 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Div. in San Francisco. It was tied up at the Cherubini Metal Workers Ltd pier in Dartmouth, and will be loaded with large industrial fabrications.
Meanwhile John Spence has moved over to pier 31 in Halifax, likely for fuel and stores.
4. Belle D. moves alongside for a nudge while tying up at Cherubini's dock in Eisner's Cove.

As far as I know, John Spence is still equipped with its original pair of GM La Grange 16-567-C engines giving a total of 3,280 bhp, through twin fixed pitch props, despite the fact that the engines, although installed when the tug was new, were in fact assembled in 1951.
5. Tanker Kometik unloads at Imperial Oil in the background, while in the middle ground, Cherubini's yard is full of steel fabrications to be loaded on the barge.


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