Tuesday, February 20, 2018

International Tug+OSV Annual Review 2017

The ABR Co Ltd, organizers of the International Tug, Salvage and OSV Conferences, held every two years and the annual Tugnology Conferences, have published their Annual Review 2017. As the cover states there are 103 tugs and offshore support vessels featured in the review, with more than thirty highly detailed write ups and general arrangement drawings in addition to some technical articles.

For the mechanically minded there are detailed descriptions of the engines, winches, propulsion systems and all the principal equipment aboard. These small masterpieces of technical writing are succinct but thorough and highlight the unique characteristics of each vessel.

The general arrangement drawings are usually of very high quality and level of detail and show how the boats work for those who run them and live on board. Combined with the photos one can see quite clearly that the combination of function and form in the hands of skilled naval architects can produce stylish, even beautiful vessel.

Nowadays tugs are highly specialized craft, often designed for specific uses, but also with the same necessary features to push and pull larger and larger ships. The prolific Canadian naval architects Robert Allen Ltd are as usual at the forefront of  new technology. The cover feature tug, the Norwegian Dux owned by Ostensjo Rederi AS, is a dual fuel vessel built for extreme northern conditions and is one of several Allen deign featured this year.

While Europe is well represented in the various featured vessels, so are Asia, the United States and Canada. In fact two Canadian tugs have made the pages this year. Both tugs are operated by Groupe Océan. The first is Océan Catatug 1 a shallow draft catamaran tug with large working deck that is demountable for truck transport. Currently working with its sister tug Océan Catatug 2 on the Champlain Bridge project in Montreal, the tugs could be sent to remote locations accessible only by land. The other is the Océan Taiga the second of the 8,000 bhp ice class tugs for St.Lawrence River tanker escort and arctic work (also a Robert Allen design) . Both featured vessels were built by Océan's own shipyard at Ile-aux-Coudres, QC and fitted out at their Quebec City facility.

The features give a wide overview of the tugs built in the past year and cover a huge range from the small 10 tonne bollard pull training tug to the 100 tonne plus bollard pull behemoths. There is also a range of offshore service vessels from anchor handlers, to suppliers and support ships including icebreakers.

While the publication is aimed at the tug and OSV industry, it is also of special interest to ship designers and those in related fields. Of course die hard tug enthusiasts will find it endlessly fascinating too.

There is probably no more authoritative source for this kind of information in one place. It is available for £30 (plus £5.50 for airmail) from the publishers: www.tugandosv.com

The ABR organization will be hosting the 25th International Tug, Salvage and OSV (ITS 2018) conference June 25-29 in Marseille, France. Information on the conference is also available from the company website.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Conditions Vary

Winter in the North Atlantic is noted for high winds, frigid temperatures and notorious freezing spray.

This winter has been a bit of an exception with prolonged periods of mild air temperatures, well above the Zero degree Celsius mark. Nevertheless tugs must be prepared for whatever happens.

Today was one of those mild days. Yesterday's snow soon melted where it was exposed to the sun.

Atlantic Oak made its way through the Narrows in the late afternoon. The tug was tasked with unberthing and escort duties for the container ships YM Evolution.

On Saturday, temperatures were also relatively mild, with few tracers oof snow anywhere, but Atlantic Bear was bundled up for winter work nonetheless.

The tug's winch was tarped as were the two fire fighting monitors mounted on the bridge deck.

Earlier in the month there were frigid conditions as Atlantic Fir was stern escort on the YM Moderation. As the ship's name implied, that is just what the weather did a few days later.

February 3, 1996 was no better - in fact much worse, when Chebucto Sea arrived. It was assisting with the tow of the disabled Amphion.

Secunda Marine fleet mate Tignish Sea had towed the abandoned bulker from 450 miles SE of St.John's, Newfoundland. Chebucto Sea (former RCN tug St.Charles) assisted with the tow into Halifax in brutal conditions.

It was also a frigid day February 18, 1979. Point Vim was standing by at pier 36 (the shed in the background has long since been demolished).

Its fine coat of ice was acquired working around the harbour.

Some visiting tugs get more than they bargain for with Halifax weather. The 1968 built Eklof tug Thor took some freezing when it arrived with the oil tanker barge E57. It left the barge at anchor and moved to the Museum dock to clear ice in January 1989.

They came back for more however, and made a total of three trips to Halifax that month. The tug was used to hardship however. Built in 1958 as Marjorie McAllister, it sank with the loss of all six crew in November 1969 off North Carolina. Donjon Marine salvaged thre tug in 1972, rebuilt it and it became their Tracy Ann Witte in 1980. Eklof Marine Corp owned the tug from about 1983 until 1999 when it was reacquired by its original owners and renamed Mary L. McAllister. In 2016 it was reported sold to Haitian owners. It is a single screw tug with a 4,000 bhp GM EMD engine.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Atlantic Tern

Things have been quiet in the tug business recently.


There are tugs in Halifax, but just the usual ones, and nothing out of the way to report except for some freezing spray.

This morning the smallest member of the Atlantic Towing Ltd offshore fleet returned to port after a stint off Sable Island as standby vessel.

Named for the Common Tern (sterna hirundo), the Atlantic Tern is unlike its namesake, in that it does not flee southward in winter. The bird arrives in the Halifax area during the first week of May each year and usually begins its southward trek in the early fall. The supply vessel however works all winter.

Built as Canmar Supplier II in 1975 for work in the Beaufort Sea, it is well equipped for winter and has a cutaway bow below the waterline for working in ice. Extensively rebuilt in 1998, with a raised forecastle and extended wheelhouse, it also worked in the North Sea for a number of years before moving to Atlantic Towing Ltd in 2012.
Since then it has usually worked from Halifax providing support services to offshore gas installations.

Please forgive the unforgivable pun: one good tern deserves another.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Winter tow for Mister Joe

Winter towing is fraught with issues, not the least of which is freezing spray. Even if temperatures moderate, weather is still the major issue, particularly with small tugs on coastal voyages.

McNally Construction's Mister Joe arrived in Halifax on Friday on the first leg of a tow from Port Hawksbury, NS to Saint John, NB. There are very few ports to put into along Nova Scotia's eastern and southern shores, and Halifax was the first port aslong the route to provide shelter from predicted high winds and seas.

Mister Joe resumed the tow today, but once outside the shelter of the harbour, they found there was too much strain on the towing gear and so they put back in this afternoon.

Mister Joe has shortened up the tow as it approaches pier 9.

The tug slacks the line and in an adept bit of ship handling.....

...makes up on the bow of the scow, allowing two deck hands to scramble aboard the icy deck, and another to work the towing winch to bring in the bridle and ...

... with the scow "on the hip" moves in to its berth.

There will be another try tomorrow, and if all goes right the next stop will be Shelburne, NS.

Mister Joe was built by the once prolific tug builders, Russel-Hipwell of Owen Sound, ON, in 1964 as Churchill River for the Hudson's Bay Company and worked in Hudson Bay for thirty years. It was sold to Newfoundland owners in the 1990s, then to Beaver Marine in 1997. When Beaver was taken over by McNally Construction the tug was renamed after company founder, Mister Joe (McNally) in 1999. It was re-engined in 2002, with a pair of GMs giving 750 bhp to twin screws. In 2013-2014 it was given a major rebuild, which included a new wheelhouse built to the same pattern as the original, but with better windows.

The tug can be seen all over eastern Canada, ranging from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Coast and Newfoundland, supporting McNally's various dredging and marine construction projects.At sea it works with a crew of five.

Mister Joe prepared for winter work with its accommodaiton ventilators wrapped and duct taped.

The dump scow is ballasted down for the trip with a couple of dredge buckets and some large concrete blocks in the pockets.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Horizon Star makes it Halifax debut

Horizon Maritime Services Ltd (of Halifax and St. John's) has been involved in crewing and other services related to the offshore sector since it was founded in 2015. It has recently expanded into ship owning as part of a growth strategy. Owned and managed by Nova Scotians with considerable depth of experience with other operators, the company has chosen as its first vessel a highly sophisticated offshore support vessel with a range of capabilities.

Horizon Star arrived in Halifax for the first time January 10 after working off Newfoundland since the summer. Built by Kleven Ulstenivik to a Marin Teknikk MT 6015 design, the ship was originally ordered by IES Energy Marine of Malaysia and launched in 2015. When IES defaulted during the collapse of offshore activity, Kleven attempted to sell the ship, but with little success. Horizon, well financed by Nova Scotia investors, was able to wring a very good deal out of Kleven, and had the ship completed to their own specifications.

The naming ceremony in Norway August 3, 2017, coincided with is registration date in St.John's and Horizon Star sailed soon after, arriving in Newfoundland in mid-August.

At roughly 100m long and 5204 grt, it is reputed to be the largest Canadian vessel of its type. It is equipped with, among other things, a helicopter landing deck, a moon pool, ROV handling gear, and a crane that can work to depths of 3 km. Bristling with the usual array of directional thrusters, it is also fitted with the now standard fire fighting and oil skimming equipment, and can accommodate 60 persons, including its crew of 16.

After taking on some fuel today the ship returned to the IT Telecom berth at Pier 9A where a crane is standing by to load some equipment, that appears to be a large cable reel. The stern slide, fitted this week, indicates that it has been contracted to do some cable laying or cable repair work.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Atlantic Bear - fourth tug for Halifax, (and other news) - see Update

As ships grow larger and business picks up in Halifax demand for tug services also increases. Halifax Marine Towing Ltd is the only large tug provider in the port. It is a joint venture between Atlantic Towing Limited and Svitzer Canada, with Atlantic Towing providing the tugs since 2010.

It has made do with three tugs up until recently, but in mid 2017 it brought in a fourth tug temporarily, then in December made it a full time arrangement. [see Update at bottom of page]

 Atlantic Bear

The current fourth tug is Atlantic Bear a 5,432 bhp tug built in 2008 by East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, PE for Atlantic Reyser Ltd. One of three terminal tugs to serve a new LNG import facility near Saint John, NB it was specially built for harsh conditions and work in exposed areas. It has additional fendering and delivers 70 tonnes bollard pull.

With the downturn in LNG imports, the sister tugs Atlantic Beaver and Spitfire III are now assigned to general duties in Saint John and the third tug is not needed there.

The three other tugs in Halifax are Atlantic Oak and Atlantic Fir, of 2004 and 2005, both 5050 bhp, 68 tonnes bollard pull and Atlantic Willow 1998, 4,000 bhp, 50 tonne bollard pull. All have firefighting equipment.

 Atlantic Willow

Other Tug News
*   Atlantic Towing Ltd and Svitzer Canada are also partners in Point Tupper Towing, with Svitzer providing tugs primarily for the NuStar Energy terminal in Point Tupper, but also serving the other port facilities in the Strait of Canso. This year PTT also added a fourth tug. Svitzer Montreal joined the other Svitzer tugs, Point Chebucto, Point Valiant and Svitzer Bedford. The move allowed Point Chebucto to go to Lunenburg for an extended refit (now completed).

*   Interestingly Groupe Océan has stationed Océan Stevns in nearby Port Hawksbury. It arrived in mid-December, shortly before the Canso Canal closed for the season. What plans they may have for a single tug there remain to be seen, but it has apparently found some docking work. The tug was built in 2002 by Industrie Océan in Ile-aux-Coudres as Stevns Ocean and exported to Denmark. It is a 5,000 bhp ocean going tug, and was brought back to Canada in 2013. Update: Océan Stevns has a barge tow for the Caribbean and is waiting out weather to continue south.

No sooner had I filed this post than Atlantic Towing Ltd sent Atlantic Bear back to Saint John on January 2 and replaced it in Halifax with Atlantic Spruce. This is certainly a step backward in terms of power. It rates at only 4,000 bhp and 50 tonnes bollard pull. Built in 1997, it is the second oldest of the ASD tugs in the Atlantic Towing fleet.

 Atlantic Spruce working in Halifax on a previous occasion. 4,000 bhp tugs no longer perfrom tethered escort service in Halifax, that is now done by the 5,000 bhp tugs.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Tug changes in Goderich

Groupe Océan has assigned the tug Escorte to the port of Goderich, ON. Situated on Lake Huron the port sees about 250 ships a year. Most of those ships load salt at the Sifto Salt mine, located in mid-harbour. There is also a grain loading facility and a grain elevator in the port.
We are told that Groupe Océan has a contract with Algoma Marine for ship docking at the salt pier, and has provided tugs for several years. Most recently they used the former pilot boat Ocean Côte-Nord.
It was built by Industrie Océan at Ile-aux-Coudres in 2001 as Côte-Nord and was based at the Escoumins pilot station with near sister Charlevoix built in 1995.
When the Laurentian Pilotage Authority replaced the two boats, Charlevoix went to Les Services I.C.E. Inc and has been stationed in Sydney, NS transferring ice advisers to and from ships transiting the Gulf and  St.Lawrence River.

 Côte-Nord and sister Charlevoix at the Anse-aux-Basques dock at Les Escoumins, QC..

Côte-Nord was transformed into a tug and sent to Goderich, ON in 2014. With a modest bollard pull of 10.8 tons, it must have been a bit of a challenge to work lakers in the tight confines of the port. Goderich remains open well into the winter as demand for road salt continues, but the port and its approaches often become choked with ice and other boats are often needed to break and scatter the ice.

Early in December Océan Côte-Nord was reported downbound through the St. Lawrence Seaway system and arrived in Montreal December 5.

Escorte, based in Hamilton, ON for a time until 2010 and again since 2016, arrived in Goderich December 17 and began work December 18. I have recounted the history of the tug here before, September 11, 2011
Built in 1967 as USN 760 Menasha it was one of the earliest Voith-Schneider tugs in North America.

 Still in navy colours, the tug worked for the US side of the Seaway.

After several transactions and refit it has served Océan in a variety of work, most recently in Hamilton, also assisting shipping in the Welland Canal.With more powerful V-S tugs now assigned to Hamilton, it has moved on once more.

No account of tug activities in Goderich would be complete without mention of the colourful fleet of MacDonald Marine [MacTug]. Their stylish little tugs have been a fixture in the port for decades, and the family owned business traces its origins to the days of sail.

MacTug handles ships using the grain berths, and sometimes the whole fleet is called out to work a ship.

 Debbie Lyn built 1950, 240 bhp.

 Donald Bert built 1953, 318 bhp.

 Ian Mac built 1955, 318 bhp.

Since the above photos were taken Ian Mac received a new wheelhouse:

Dover built 1930, (on a salvaged iron frame dating from 1905) 280 bhp, is reported to be out of service. its engine has been a fickle one by all accounts and that may be the problem. Its riveted hull, having been in fresh water its whole career is likely to still be sound.