The non-oil related ocean tows consisted of three old Sea-Land ships that had been laid up in Halifax. Jacksonville (ex Mission Solano), Houston (ex Mission Carmel) and Tampa (ex Mission Dolores) were built as T2 tankers, and in 1968 deepened and converted to container ships. They arrived in Halifax in 1983 for removal of their barite ballast which was salvaged for re-use in drilling mud. [Barite or baryte can be used for ballast because its basic element is barium, a heavy metal, and it is largely non-toxic, insoluable and non-magnetic. In drilling mud, it is used as a weighting agent, allowing for deeper drilling.]
In February 1984 Hamburg based Petersen + Alpers sent their newly acquired Hanseat to tow two of the ships.
Hanseat arriving off Halifax Shipyard where the tows were laid up.
The ships were initially to be sold to China for re-use, but in the end Spanish breakers bought them. Hanseat towed out Houston and Jacksonville as a tandem tow on February 23.They arrived in Seville March 17.
Harbour tugs Point Vigour, Point Vibert and Point Vim shepherded the tows out into the fairway. When well out of the harbour they were separated and towed in line astern.
The tug had a history of short term ownerships. Built in 1977 by Georg Eides Sonner AS in Norway as Karl Oskar, it worked for Wirens Rederi of Sweden until 1978 when it went to the East German Bagger+ Bugsier as Sturmvogel. In 1980 the Dutch company Arned acquired it and renamed it Triumph.
When it arrived in Halifax it had only recently been acquired by the legendary Hamburg owners Petersen + Alpers. In fact it sailed with uncured hull paint, some of which was washed off on the trip across the Atlantic.
In 1989 it became Zamtug IV for a mystery owner, possibly with Canadian connections, but within a year passed to McAllister Towing of New York. They renamed the tug Offshore Sovereign, flagged it in Liberia, and it was back in Halifax en route to Sheet Harbour, NS. From there it established a more or less regular barge service with paper products, to the US east coast as far south as Pensacola.
In McAllister colours, Offshore Sovereign visited Halifax in 1990.
McAllister acquired another tug for the paper barge service in 1991 (Offshore Monarch the former Belgian tug Union Four) and Offshore Sovereign passed on to other owners in 1995, without change of name. At first it raised the Vanuatu and Panama flags, then in 2012 it chose the flag of Peru. Now operating on the west coast of South America, it is owned by Offshore Express LLC of Houma, LA.
Its two 9 cyl Wichmann engines generate 6600 bhp, giving a 82 tonne bollard pull. It was also fitted with a large towing winch, and extended wheelhouse with winch controls.
Offshore Sovereign's winch dominates the stern - find the deck hand (with green LEKKO hat) under the strongback,
Hanseat at pier 32. The two old ships were moved from the shipyard to pier 33 a few days before the tow out. (February in Halifax was no time to touch up the hull paint).