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Lonely and Blue

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The magnificent tug Ryan Leet has been laid up at pier 9B in Halifax. Just before the arrival of the salvage tow of Australian Spirit on Friday afternoon, the tug moved from the Mobil dock and the crew signed off. I thought it odd at the time that this tug was not used in the salvage tow, but apparently plans to tie it up were in the works and it was not available to use.

Ryan Leet moves to its layup berth on December 12.

The longest serving member of the current Secunda Canada fleet, the tug has been a stalwart for them since 1990. Although mostly used as a standby vessel for offshore work, it has figured in numerous salvage and rescue jobs over the  years, most recently in March 2014 when it worked on the salvage and towed off the grounded bulker John I.near Rose Blanche, Newfoundland.

Now behind a security fence, with only a watchman, it is unclear what the future may bring for the only tug of its type in eastern Canada. With so many more powerful anchor handling tug suppliers available to tow ships when needed, the days of deep sea tugs are numbered around the world. Sadly it is no different here. These wonderful sea boats, built for rescue towing can handle any kind of conditions and are a valuable asset to marine safety.

I have written the story of this tug on this blog several times before, so will only mention in passing that it was built as Abeille Provence in 1977, for use on the French coast. It was replaced by bigger tugs and went to South America as Salvor Commander in 1987. Secunda Marine Services, as it was then, bought the tug and near sister Salvor General ex  Abeille Normandie and reconditioned them for service.

Sisters: Magdelan Sea (foreground) in 2003. The next year it was sold to Greek owners and became Zouros Hellas. In 2007 it became Tsavliris Hellas and is still in service as a salvage tug.

Ryan Leet was re-powered in 1994 with a pair of V-20 GM EMDs of 3,650 bhp each, and was fitted with a retractable 800 bhp omnidirectional bow thruster. For station keeping in standby mode, it can use the thruster only. Its controllable pitch props are in nozzles.

One of Ryan Leet's finer moments, fighting the container fire on the ship Kitano in Halifax harbour, March 23, 2001.


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Glen help

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Atlantic Towing Ltd manages to carry out harbour berthing and even some outside work with the three ASD tugs normally based in Halifax. From time to time if another tug is needed, they have been able to call on Saint John, NB to send a tug in for a day or or so. However today was a little different.
Faced with shifting an effectively dead ship from anchorage to a pier, the three tugs were not going to be enough. With the tug Atlantic Oak undergoing its 5 year survey in Shelburne, Halifax has already brought in Atlantic Fir from Saint John, and the latter port could not spare another. What to do?
It is not unheard of, but has not been done in years (and never by Atlantic Towing to my knowledge) - they called HMC Dockyard. The Queen's Harbour assigned a Naval Auxiliary tug to lend a hand. Normally working on navy jobs only, with navy pilots, this would be a new experience for the civilian crew.

So early this evening Atlantic Fir, Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Larch were assisted by Glenevis in moving the disabled Australian Spirit from anchorage in Bedford Basin to pier 9C. The ship has no steering capability, having lost its rudder at sea, and there was a breeze picking up. Thanks to Voith-Schneider propulsion Glenevis's high degree of maneuverability makes up to a degree for its modest power of 1750 bhp 

Back in the day when ships were smaller, the Glens had comparable horsepower to the local tugs, and were called in more frequently when one of the harbour tugs was out of service or more power was needed.

Glenevis at her normal berth in HMC Dockyard, although she will not have HMCS Iroquois for company much longer.

Glenevis helps to berth Hoegh Pride in 1979.

Point Vim and Point Vibert in the background get an assist from Glenbrook with the tanker Fina Belgica in 1991. (Photo taken from Point Halifax)

The most notable occasion when Dockyard tugs did civilian work occurred in March 1982 when the oil rig Zapata Scotian on the barge Seacamel 393-11 broke loose from its berth and went adrift in the harbour, threatening the Macdonald Bridge, a Dartmouth office building and the anchored Polish bulker Ziemia Wielkopolska. All three Glens, and St.Charles along with six harbour tugs, three tug/suppliers and the deep sea tugs Shamal and Simoon were all involved in the operation to recover the rig, and eventually get it back alongside the next day when the wind died down.

 Glenbrook gives it her all assisting Point Valour in getting the rig back alongside. The Glen's side thrust was especially helpful compared to the local single screw harbour tugs of roughly equivalent horsepower than t could only push or pull on a tow line.

Navy tugs were deemed to have saved the day, but the Queen's Harbour Master declined to put in a salvage claim.
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Seabed Prince - back for more + update

Previous Glen help
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The Norwegian offshore vessel Seabed Prince is working for Secunda Canada on the export pipeline at the Thebaud gas field near Sable Island. Since no Canadian vessel was available to do the specialized work, the ship was granted a coasting license.
I covered its first arrival in ShipfaxNovember 20: http://shipfax.blogspot.ca/2014/11/seabed-prince-to-weork-off-nova-scotia.html but it was back in port again Decmber 6 -7 and returned again this afternoon.

 
Seabed Prince is providing dive team accommodation and ROVs for installing grout bags, reinforcing bars and weighted mattresses to the pipeline.


Recently an application has been made to extend the coasting license beyond the end of December to February 28, 2015.

Waiting for the ship at pier 31 was a trailer carrying weighted mattresses and not far away a stock of grout bags.They will be loaded aboard using a shoreside crane.

Saturday Update
After unloading some tank containers from deck and taking on the matresses and grout bags, the ship sailed Saturday afternoon, back to the Thebaud field.

A shore crane hoists grout bags aboard. The ship's crane has been swing inboard to allow the mattresses to be loaded. The grey cement tank containers on the dock were removed from the ship.
 
Sailing Saturday at dusk.

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Atlantic Oak returns

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Atlantic Oak returned to port following is five year survey in Shelburne. It also had a complete hull re-painting and looks like new.

Substitute Atlantic Fir, with its distinctive satcom domes will be returning to Saint John, NB.


For the time being at least, there are four ATL tugs in Halifax, with Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Larch in their usual spots.


Merry Christmas

Atlantic Teak at Woodside

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The veteran Atlantic Towing Ltd tug Atlantic Teak is tied up at the Woodside dock in Dartmouth. The tug arrived just before Christmas, and was one of the last to pass through the Canso Canal, which closed December 24. The tug arrived from the west, after a summer of barge hauling. However it is so well painted that perhaps it had a refit en route back from the St.Lawrence.


Built in 1976 in Singapore as Essar it was purchased by ATL in 1979 and was renamed Irving Teak until becoming Atlantic Teak in a company wide renaming in 1996.
For the past several summers it has been towing barges to Hudson Bay in summer, using the massive towing winch, only partly visible in the above photo. It is a twin screw tug of 2320 bhp, with its KHD engines delivering 28 tonnes bollard pull. 

As Irving Teak the tug prepares to be hauled out at the Dartmouth Marine Slips in 1995. It is one of the few tugs on the east coast with an open flying bridge. Judging by the extended exhaust stacks in the current photo, I expect that it is still used  from time to time.

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Halifax built tug a sinker

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One of the few tugs built in Halifax lies partially sunk at Trois-Rivières, QC after rolling on its side December 26. The unattended tug had been laid up for several years, and it is understood that the owners had been warned that it was at risk with the onset of winter weather. It had also been reported that the tug's engines had been at least partially dismantled.

Designed by Robert Allen Ltd it was built by Halifax Shipyards, when it was owned by the Dominion Steel + Coal Co, for the British Columbia forestry giant MacMillan-Bloedel. When it was launched October 26, 1965, at a cost of $1.25mn, it was the first tug built by the yard. Delivered to MacBlo's shipping arm Kingcome Navigation Ltd and named Haida Brave it went into service towing barges from Port Alberni and Powell River, BC to San Francisco and Long Beach, CA. The 350 ft long barges could carry 6500 tons of newsprint, and the trip could be up to 1200 n.mi., at the stately speed of 8 knots.
For this work the 566 grt tug was fitted with two 8 cylinder Werkspoor engines delivering 3470 bhp to twin screws.

The tug worked consistently through 1978  for Kingcome, then Reliance Towing Co when it was sold to Rivtow Straits Ltd, also of Vancouver and renamed Commodore Straits. It then expanded its duties towing log and cargo barges until it was laid up in 1990.
Mac Mackay collection - unknown photographer
 
In 2003 it was acquired by an affiliate of the Upper Lakes Group Inc of Toronto and given a thorough refit at Allied Shipbuilders Ltd in North Vancouver. It sailed light tug  via the Panama Canal and arrived in its new home port of Trois-Rivières, QC December 3, 2003.


Upper Lakes set up Distribution Grands Lacs / St-Laurent Inc., and used inland river type covered barges, shuttling grain from the Lakes through the Seaway to its elevator in Trois-Rivières.  The tug was not particularly well suited to pusher work, but spent some years on an off moving the barges.

By 2008 Upper Lakes established Marinelink Inc as a heavy lift operator to work on the St.Lawrence. They found an old heavy lift ship in the southern US and sent Commodore Straits to pick it up. It towed the Barge Laviolette south for sale to scrappers and returned with the ship Revival ex John Henry.
Joined by the tug Océan Golf off Pointe-au-Pic they stopped in Trois-Rivières.

 
Then in September 2008 Commodore Straits was joined by the tug Radium Yellowknife and towed the ship to Port Weller Dry Dock where the superstructure was removed and it was reduced to a barge. Renamed Marinelink Explorer it retained its heavy lift derricks. The tug's ownership was also transferred to Mareinlink Inc and it received a small elevated wheelhouse for visibility over the barge.
The barge did find occasional work, but  was mostly idle, and the tug as well. Other tugs were moving the grain barges more efficiently.


 In  2011 Upper Lakes laid up the tug and barge and offered them for sale. At the same time Upper Lakes sold off its cargo ship fleet, bunkering tankers and other shipping interests. Finally in 2013 Distribution Grands Lacs / St-Laurent was allowed to go into bankruptcy.
In late 2013 CAI Logistics of Moncton, NB acquired the tug and barge. CAI was the company of Chaulk Air and other freight forwarding companies with business in Labrador and the far north, but had not been shipowners. The tug was renamed Chaulk Determination and the barge Chaulk Lifter.

The years of work and layup had taken their toll on the tug's engines and it is understood that a rebuild was started but abandoned. Some work was found for the barge using hired tugs.
The tug is now leaning against its pier in Trois-Rivières, and likely to capsize, having already spilled a large quantity of its 22 tonnes of fuel. A very big mess to clean up. See a picture and read more (in French) at:


http://www.lapresse.ca/le-nouvelliste/justice-et-faits-divers/201412/26/01-4831075-un-remorqueur-coule-a-trois-rivieres.php


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Yankee - new life for good ol' tug

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The big US tug Yankee arrived in Halifax today on its way to Florida and a new career.

 
Yankee making a slow speed approach to Halifax today.

Built in 1976 by Equitable Shipyard in Madisonville, LA as Pye Theriot for Nolty J. Theriot Inc of Golden Meadow, LA it went to work in the North Sea as part of the American invasion of big heavy tugs and suppliers. Powered by two 20 cylinder GMs giving 7200 bhp through twin screws, it was a powerful tug for its day, but was soon eclipsed by European vessels.

In 1980 it was sold to Marathon Marine Inc of Findlay, OH, renamed Loretta J and paired with the double hull tank barge MM-1 (8710 grt, 150,000 bbbl capacity, built 1981 by Galveston Shipbuilding Co). Fitted with side pads, the tug worked in the barge notch and was connected with face wires. It was fitted with an elevated wheelhouse to see over the barge when light.
 Loretta J was fitted with an elevated wheelhouse.

Using side pads and face wires the tug fitted into a deep notch in the barge's stern. The tug still had is original twin funnels. 

The pair worked the US Gulf of Mexico and southern Atlantic Coast until 1993 when they were acquired by Eklof Marine Corp of Staten Island, NY. Renamed Yankee, the tug still worked with the barge which was renamed DBL 151 and ranged farther afield, including calls in Halifax in 1994 and 1995.

When DBL 151 was light, even the elevated wheelhouse was barely high enough to see over the deck.

When Eklof was forced out of business, the pair were picked up by K-Sea Transportation , which in turn was acquired by Kirby Corp in 2011. However the barge was not part of that last deal.

Articulated tug/barges using pin connections have made wire boats obsolete, and in 2013 the tug was picked up by Donjon Marine of Hillside, NJ. Donjon is best known for its salvage work, but is also in the metal recycling business and operates Donjon Shipbuiding + Repair, in Erie, PA. Donjon had partnered with the huge offshore and transportation conglomerate Seacor to form Seajon LLC. They built the ATB tug Ken Boothe Sr and barge Lakes Contender for operation on the Great Lakes in 2011-2102.

Donjon and Seacor formed Seajon II LLC to own Yankee and in October 2013 sent the tug up the Seaway to Erie for a rebuild at the Erie shipyard.It has now been completely refurbished and re-powered and is on its return to the US to work out of Florida.
After the rebuild, the tug still has notches in the hull for side pads, but the pads are gone.

Also gone are the classic streamlined funnels, now replaced by huge boxes, each with twin pipes within. There is also a generator mounted on the boat deck.

There is speculation about what that work will be, but Yankee is still equipped with its massive towing winch. However the elevated wheelhouse is gone and so are the side pads.  My speculation is that it will go to work for Seacor's Trailerbridge operation between Jacksonville, FL and San Juan, PR. This is a Jones Act trade, requiring US built tugs to tow huge multi-deck container/RoRo barges (some of 5,860 grt, some of 12,068 grt). The barges are still towed on a towing wire, since they are far too high to operate with pushers. They are handled in ports with harbour tugs. Seacor has traditionally used charters from mainline tug companies to tow the barges. However those companies are concentrating more on ASD harbour tugs and ATBs these days, so line tugs are becoming rare. As a rugged US built hull, Yankee has value for its Jones Act compliance, and with new power, should be good for many more years.

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Svitzer buying - UPDATE

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The multi-national Svtizer towing operation, although based in Denmark, like its parent company A.P. Moller-Maersk, is arguably the world's largest tug operator, with 430 tugs at last count. It is the largest operator in Australia, and is constantly upgrading and modernizing its fleet there. In May of this year it announced that it had acquired three lightly used tugs in China, and two of them have now been delivered from Singapore to Newcastle, NSW.

The third tug is still in Singapore, and is reportedly undergoing upgrades to allow it to work in ice. Reliable sources tell me that it will be coming to Canada.

If that proves to be the case, then it is almost certainly headed to Baie-Comeau, QC to replace the Pointe Comeau.. See update below  Although Pointe Comeau is owned by Cargill Grain, it has been operated by Svitzer Canada (and its predecessor Eastern Canada Towing) since it was built in 1977.  A product of the Marystown Shipyard, in Newfoundland, the Pointe Comeau is a 3600 bhp vessel, producing 48 tonnes bollard pull through two Voith-Schneider propulsors. The only V-S tug in the Svitzer Canada fleet, it was built especially to serve the narrow confines of the Baie-Comeau grain, aluminum and paper docks.

Pointe Comeau carried on the three tiered wheelhouse design, that started in 1956.

The commercial piers in the port of Baie-Comeau are wedged in to a narrow inlet in a rocky coast, leaving little room to work between ships and docks.  In its first years of operation Pointe Comeau  wore the Smit+Cory funnel mark - a combination of Smit's stylized shackle and Cory's diamond shaped coal nugget.

As a Voith-Schneider tug, Pointe Comeau works only over the stern, thus visibility aft is crucial.As with most V-S tugs, its hull is remarkably fee of tires for use as fenders.


The new tug was built in 2007 for the Government of the Peoples Republic of China for use by the Shanghai Port Affairs Administration. It is also a Voith-Schneider tug of  about 5400 bhp and 56 tonnes bollard pull. Its original name was Hai Gang 107 but was renamed Svitzer Wombi by Svitzer Australia. It will likely get a more Canadian sounding name - I hope not Svitzer Comeau.

 For a photo of the tug in its original appearance see: 
http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/search.php?query=HAI+GANG+107&x=23&y=6

Pointe Comeau is an unusual tug in some ways, but its design followed an interesting progression and evolution. When the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959, the ports of Sept-Iles and Baie-Comeau, QC got a new lease on life. Great Lake ships could deliver grain to Baie-Comeau, then move to Sept-Iles to load iron ore for the Lakes. The grain would then be loaded into even larger ocean going ships for destinations around the world.
In the case of Baie-Comeau it also exported paper and aluminum, aboard relatively small ocean going ships. Sept-Iles was strictly an iron ore port, as was its sister port in Sept-Iles Bay, Pointe Noire. There was general cargo coming in too, but that was usually on coastal boats. (Aluminerie Alouette came later in 1989, on the eastern shore of the bay.)  
In 1959 there was no thought of these ports being terribly busy in the winter, with the possible exception of Baie-Comeau, which did ship some paper to the US east coast if conditions permitted. Sept-Iles directed its activity to moving iron ore to the Great Lakes, so was virtually shut down in winter.

However both ports needed tugs, if only seasonally at first, and Foundation Maritime got the contracts, in Sept-Iles with the Iron Ore Company of Canada and in Baie-Comeau with Cargill Grain.

The thinking at the time was that the tug master needed to see the deck of the ship he was berthing, and thus needed an elevated wheelhouse. This may have come from the days of open monkey island bridges on tugs, where the tug master could see and hear all, (as well as getting lungs full of coal smoke, and suffering through any kind of weather.) That was all well and good in milder climes, but the conditions can be brutal in Baie-Comeau and Sept-Iles, late in the season. And so came the three tiered deckhouse. Not unique to Foundation tugs - US railway tugs had high wheelhouses, to see over the barges loaded with rail cars- but certainly in Canada the new breed of tugs, developed for Sept-Iles and Baie Comeau, were almost unique.
Foundation Victor was the first of the three tier deckhouse tugs. It is still sailing as R.J.Ballott 

Foundation Valour, also built for Sept-Iles is still working, but now in Thunder Bay, ON.

First was Foundation Victor, built in 1956, followed by Foundation Valour in 1958. Remarkably both tugs are still running. Big single screw tugs, they could work in ice, but were really intended to operate from April to December in Sept-Iles. When the Gulf and River were closed due to ice, they would move to Halifax, which in those days was considered a winter port - taking up much of the St.Lawrence traffic, the rest going to Saint John. NB.
Point Vibert, the former Foundation Vibert was transferred to Halifax when Pointe Comeau was delivered. It survived until Svitzer took over Ectug when it was sold to McKeil  and now serves as Florence M. Svitzer Bedford in the background does not have the high wheelhouse of its fleet mates.

Foundation assigned some of its smaller tugs to Baie-Comeau, but Cargill wanted a more powerful tug, that could work late in the season and could maneuver between the finger piers in the port. Canadian yards were busy, and the tug was ordered from P.K.Harris of Appledore, North Devon, England. Built to a slightly more modern appearance, but with twin screws, and the patented hydroconic hull form, Foundation Vibert arrived in 1961.With better ice reinforcing, it could work most of the year, and move to Sept-Iles if needed when Victor and Valour were in Halifax. The tug was owned by Cargill Grain, but operated by Foundation Maritime.

 The skipper can keep a good eye on his line as it passes through a fairlead right at his eye level.

When MIL Tug took over Foundation in 1971 it was apparent that  more powerful tugs were needed in Sept Iles due to much larger ships coming in for iron ore. Also the Canadian government was keeping the Gulf and River open for year round navigation, and much better ice performance was needed. So it was that two 4500 bhp twin screw icebreaking tugs were ordered from Collingwood for that port. By the time they were delivered Eastern Canada Towing Ltd had been formed by Smit+Cory and Pointe aux Basques and Pointe Marguerite were delivered with the Smit+Cory funnel mark. [When Pointe Marguerite was crushed between tow ship and stank with the loss of tow lives, a replacement, to essentially the same design was delivered as Pointe Sept-Iles]. The three tier deckhouse was repeated in these tugs, bringing the skipper's height of eye up to deck level of loaded ships.

Baie-Comeau was also experiencing year round activity, and larger ships all the time, particularly for grain export. Again Eastern Canada Towing ordered a tug with a three-tiered deck house, but with a difference. This one was to have Voith-Schneider units, to allow the ship to pull or push, ahead, astern or sideways without shifting position. The system had been proven in nearby Port-Cartier, another, but newer  grain/ore port, between Baie-Comeau and Sept-Iles. Its two V-S tugs, Brochu and Vachon entered service in 1973-74 and were able to work in equally tight conditions to Baie-Comeau. Not only that, they were able to work in ice, since their V-S blades were low in the hull and were not in contact with fast ice.

Pointe Comeau, and as it turns out all subsequent tugs built for Eastern Canada Towing, were to have three tiered deck houses. [The current Point Valiant was bought off the stocks, and was originally ordered for Groupe Océan, so was not built for Ectug].  This distinct feature has now been repeated in the selection of the Chinese built tug.

Pointe Comeau looked its best in late Ectug markings, with the blue Cory Diamond on a red band, and the tan hull stripe, matching the deckhouse.

No delivery date has been mentioned for the tug, but as heavy lift ships are commonly carrying full sized tugs these days, it will likely arrive when a convenient delivery can be arranged to coincide with other heavy lift work in the area.

Update: I am now reliably informed that the new tug coming to Canada will in fact be working at Port Cartier, where the two V-S tugs mentioned above are not enough to handle all the work.Apparently Svitzer has contracted to provide the new tug, again as managers for Cargill Grain.
 

Janus en route to Halifax

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The ocean going tug Janus is en route to Halifax. The 19,000 bhp, 220 tBP behemoth is coming to tow the tanker Australian Spirit to Portugal for repair and installation of a new rudder.

For all the details you ever wanted to know about the tug see: Piet Sinke on Janus

The tug left Willemstad December 26, and San Juan December 30 and is making good time. It is due here January 6. It will take a few days to make up the towing gear, then weather permitting it may be the   weekend before it gets underway.

Stay tuned for details.

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Janus on the job

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Janus arrived in Halifax this morning and tied up under the bow of its prospective tow, Australian Spirit.
 
The tug's extreme width of 18m excited great interest when the tug was built.

After arrival formalities have been completed, preparations are expected to start. It will be interesting to see if they resort to the traditional method of using the ship's anchor chains to form the towing bridle from the ship.
The rudderless Australian Spirit will present some challenges for a towing tug.
 
No departure date has been set yet. The recent gales will have to die down, and there will have to be at least a half day when no traffic is expected in and out of port. All available harbor tugs will also be called upon to assist in the departure.
All is calm aboard the tug for now, but the crew will be called into action soon enough.
 
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Janus - big tow, Listerville - little tow

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While waiting for the German tug Janus to begin its tow of the crippled tanker Australian Spirit, another tow passed by. This was the Canadian Naval Auxiliary tug Listerville with a work raft.


The raft had blown out of the dockyard during high winds and grounded on Turple Head, a spit of land just beneath and south of the MacKay bridge on the Dartmouth side of the harbour.


Soon however it was time for the main attraction as Janus got under way, with assistance from all three Atlantic Towing Ltd harbour tugs. Atlantic Larch worked the bow off the dock, as Atlantic Willow and Atlantic Oak did the same at the stern. Oak was the designated tethered escort tug. Once of the dock the other two tugs took up positions on the stern quarters to guide the rudderless ship through the Narrows and out of the harbour. Once the ship was clear of the dock Janus took the strain on the tow line, as the sound of its four MaK main engines coming up to speed reverberated off the freight shed walls - an impressive sound to hear.

Larch pulls off the ship's bow.

The tow line was made of a chain bridle, lead through two fairleads in the bow, and a rope retrieval line to the fishplate. The tow wire from the tug's winch was also controlled by a gog rope (yellow arrow in photo below).



Janus' crew made up the tow very quickly, only arriving in Halifax Monday morning. The timing of the tow was critical however, since they wanted to get away before the next weather system arrives.

The tow is giving a January 23 arrival in Portugal, where the ship will be drydocked for installation of a new rudder.

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Baie-Comeau - error notification

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In my recent posting about tugs at Baie-Comeau, QC, I made a number of serious errors, which I hereby correct:

    The tug Svitzer Wombi ex Hi Gang 107 will be deployed to Port-Cartier, not Baie-Comeau. ArcellorMittal Mines Canada Inc, which operates Port-Cartier, has two Voith-Schneider tugs, Brochu and Vachon working in the port, but they are overloaded with work and a third tug is needed. The tight confines of the port make it ideal for V-S tugs, and the crews are familiar with that type of tug and its operation. The year round activity at the grain storage and iron ore docks, with ever larger ships, means that an increase in power would also be welcome. The current tugs built in 1972 are rated at 3600bhp. They have been well maintained and will continue to operate.

      Svitzer Canada Ltd was successful in obtaining a contract to provide the third tug, and the 5600 bhp former Chinese tug will be delivered to Port-Cartier from Singapore this year. It is yet to be named, but will likely have a name with some local flavour.  The current tugs were named for Pierre Brochu and J-B Vachon, pioneers of the North Shore area in 1880s. (I modestly suggest that the new tug could be named Mackay after my great grandfather, who was also active in the area in 1880s to 1901 when he died in Sept-Iles.)


The brand new Pointe Comeau came to Halifax en route from Marystown to Baie-Comeau.

    The current Baie-Comeau tug Pointe-Comeau will not be retiring from service. In fact it received a major rebuild in 2005 and is good for many years to come. As stated the tug is owned by the Cargill Grain Co Ltd and managed by Svitzer Canada Ltd.



    I was incorrect when I stated that is predecessor was also owned by Cargill Grain. Foundation Vibert was built in 1961 by P.K.Harris in Appledore for Foundation Maritime. It was also not built for the port of Baie-Comeau. In fact it was built for Port-Cartier and served there until 1973 when the Brochu and Vachon went into service.They were built by Star Shipyard in New Westminster, BC and sailed via Panama arriving in Port-Cartier in the summer of 1973. (Vachon stopped n Halifax September 4, 1973 for voyage adjustments.)

    However Foundation Vibert was not the only tug built for Port-Cartier at the time. The other was called Federal Beaver, and it was built by Russel-Hipwell in Owen Sound, ON (hull number 1205) and delivered in 1962. It was built for Federal Terminals Ltd, although it was apparently ordered by another Federal Commerce + Navigation Ltd subsidiary Pyke Salvage. Built to essentially the same spec as Foundation Vibert, it was a 95 foot twin screw, with three tiered deckhouse, strengthened for navigation in  ice. It looked quite different from Vibert because it had the standard Russel wheelhouse, repeated on so many of their other tugs.
I have no photos of my own of this tug, but the Russel web site has a nice file:
http://stevebriggs.netfirms.com/osmrm/xfederalbeaver.html

   It is perhaps unusual that Federal Beaver was powered by two 8 cylinder Lister Blackstone engines giving 1600 bhp and 36 tons bollard pull, whereas Foundation Vibert was powered by two Fairbanks Morses of 666 bhp each, engines that had to be shipped to England for installation. It is possible that Listers were chosen for Federal Beaver because another three tugs ordered for Pyke Salvage, also from P.K.Harris in Appledore in 1959, were fitted with Listers. Helen M. McAllister and Salvage Monarch were taken over by McAllister Towing Ltd of Montreal when it bought Pyke Salvage from Federal Commerce in 1962. The third, Hull No. 258 was towed to Canada as a hull, and may have had Lister engines. It was sold to west coast owners and completed with Cat engines. So maybe itsoriginal engines went into Federal Beaver. This is only speculation of course at this point. How it reached the west coast is also a bit of a mystery.

     In 1964 Quebec Cartier Mining took over operation of the port from Federal Terminals and renamed the tug Federal Beaver as Manicouagan. (This only added to the confusion, since the Manicouagan River flows into the St.Lawrence at Baie Comeau - many miles away from Port-Cartier.)

    When the new V-S tugs arrived in Port Cartier in 1973, the company sold Manicouagan to Northland Navigation and it sailed via the Panama Canal to work out of Prince Rupert, BC. In 1980 Rivtow bought the tug, renamed it Rivtow Princess and re-engined it with a pair of GMs, upping the horsepower to 1740 bhp (others say 1860 bhp). When Smit Marine Canada took over Rivtow, the tug became Smit Princess but was soon sold on in 2005 to Seaspan Marine Corp becoming River Princess. Its sphere of operations had shifted to the lower mainland of BC.
    In 2012 Seaspan did a major housecleaning of old tugs and barges, and River Princess and several fleetmates were loaded aboard the semi-submersible ship Development Way and sent off the China for scrap. 


    Foundation Vibert's transfer to Baie-Comeau displaced the single screw 1000 bhp "V" class tugs that had served the port since 1962. (They had used steam tugs, such as Foundation Vera before that.)
The transfer occurred after the sale of the Foundation tugs to Marine Industries Ltd in 1968, with MIL Tug + Salvage as managers. In 1971 Smit+Cory became managers of the tug fleet and in 1973 formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (ECTUG) and purchased the Foundation Vibert, and renamed it Point Vibert.

    ECTUG bought five of the six "V" class tugs from MIL, but since they were no longer needed to cover Baie-Comeau, ECTUG almost immediately sold two of them back to MIL's dredging subsidiary Richelieu Dredging Corp Inc. Foundation Vanguard became A.Moir and Foundation Viscount became C.O.Paradis. The sixth tug of the series, Foundation Viceroy had been sold to the federal Department of Public Works in 1972, while Smit+Cory were managers, but before they bought the fleet. It became Feuille d'Erable.

    ECTUG kept the legendary Foundation Vim and Foundation Vigour and the Foundation Viking, giving them Point names.

   When ECTUG became Svitzer Canada, Point Vibert was repainted in Svitzer colours. It was also transferred to Port Hawksbury .
 
    When it was sold to McKeil Marine it joined its former Halifax partner Point Vigour.

Molly M 1 ex Point Vgour, ex Foundaiton Vigour and Florence M ex Point Vibert ex Foundation Vibert became fleet mates again under the McKeil banner.

Since that time, Molly M 1 has been repainted in Nadro colours see: tugfax 2014-11-10   (Nadro is a McKeil subsidiary) and Florence M has also received the latest McKeil colour scheme.
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Up the Creek, but with a paddle

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From the oldies department :

Summer trips through Quebec in the 1980s turned up a number of old tugs, many no longer in service.
A company called Marinex (formerly Canadian Underwater Works) operated a dredging and marine construction operation out of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, QC, based was on the easternmost of the three branches of the St-Maurice River that exits into the St.Lawrence at Trois-Rivières.
Hauled out on the shore alongside the base was the old tug D.Robidoux, obviously retired from service. It dated from 1912 when it was built in Sorel, and been named Denise S.

The Marinex base.Tugs Capitaine Lemay, St.John's Fireboat and Tanac-V-222, and the barge Nanook, a former CCG landing craft, tied up to a variety of barges and dredges.


D.Robidoux on the bank of the river. Inexplicably there is a paddle tied off above the visor on the wheelhouse.

In Louiseville, QC, there was a significant collection of old tugs, dredges and barges waiting to be scrapped for years.
 Leading the line up of old tugs was Capt. T.W.Morrison, followed by Jean Simard and Glenvalley

 
 
Capt. T.W.Morrison dated from 1907 and the yard of Pusey and Jones in Wilmington, DE where it was built for the US Army's Quartermaster Dept. In 1923 National Dredge+Dock Co of Quebec bought the tug and in 1939 it went to Marine Industries Ltd of Sorel. They converted it to diesel in 1957 with two V-12 GMs, totaling 590 bhp. Richelieu Dredging acquired the tug in 1972 and in 1976 it was sold to Paul-Émile Caron of Louiseville for scrap. During its entire career the tug maintained its original US military name. However it was not until 1996 that scrapping actually took place. By then the ravages of time had taken their toll.



Jean Simard dated from 1914 when it was built by the Canadian Government Shipyard in Sorel, QC for the Minister of Marine. A that time the Ministry, precursor of the Department of Transport, maintained the navigation channels in the St.Lawrence with a large dredging fleet, including tugs. Carrying the name Deschaillons until 1960. When acquired by Marine Industries Ltd they renamed it after a member of the owners' family. It was built with twin screws, 450 shp and a 1200 gpm Merryweather pump, which could be used for firefighting, but was also employed for washing down dredges and scows. 
MIL installed a 680 bhp diesel engine, and it also moved through Richelieu Dredging ownership in 1972 to P-E Caron in 1976 and was finally scrapped in 1996.


Glenvalley came from the Canadian Dredge+Dock shipyard in Kingston, ON in 1945 as one of the many Glen class tugs built for the Royal Canadian Navy. Almost immediately declared surplus, it was sold to MIL in 1946. From its layup in Shelburne, NS it sailed in May 1946 for Sorel, but made at least one more trip back for a surplus scrap tow to Sorel. Its original 400 bhp Enterprise engine may have served it to the end. It followed the path of its fleetmates tugs through Richelieu to Caron. A plan to sink it as a dive site fell through and it was broken up in 1996.





A fourth tug, further down the line, had a very different background. Manoir was laid down in November 1929 and launched the following spring by Davie Shipbuilding+Repairing Co Ltd in Lauzon, QC to its own account. Powered by an 800 ihp steam plant by Aitchison+Blair, it was put to work in Quebec City as a ship berthing tug. Canada Steamship Lines owned the shipyard, and in later years the tug carried the CSL funnel colours with the Davie logo superimposed. On April 10, 1976 the tug sank at Lauzon. It was raised but never repaired and was towed to Louiseville in July 1976. It was also not broken up until 1996. It was one of very few tugs in eastern Canada to employ an open monkey island.

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Marinex Tugs

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The company Marinex (formerly Canadian Underwater Works)(C.U.W.) mentioned in my last post, had an interesting fleet of tugs, D.Robidoux was pictured in that post, the others are here in alphabetical order:

Capitaine Lemay

Pictured here working on a wharf project in Tadoussac, QC, Capitaine Lemay shows it stuff - with lots of smoke and noise. Built in 1952 by Gaston, Laurent and Raymond Lemay of Portneuf, QC, and measuring just under 15 grt its single screw was driven by a 205 bhp engine. The Lemays operated the tug for a number of years, and after Marinex ownership, it went to Pipe-Tec Specialité (2001) Inc of Ile-Bizard, QC. It is still carried on the Canadian Register, but I have not seen it for many years.

Laniel


Laniel was built in 1955 by Ferguson Industries in Pictou, NS for the federal Department of Public Works to a fairly standard design. In 1966-67 it was sold through Crown Assets Disposal Corp for $7,400 to C.U.W. Post-Marinex it went to Entreprises Vibec Inc of Victoriaville, QC. I lost track of it after that, and I guess Transport Canada did too, for its registration was suspended March 27, 2003. That usually means its owners have gone out of business and the tug was abandoned somewhere.
It measured 11 grt and was rated at 225 bhp.
It is seen above working with the dredging plant at Rivière-du-Loup, an annual silt removal project that was tendered each year, Verreault had the contract for several years running, and Groupe Océan has the work now.

St.John' Fireboat


 My favourite was St.John's Fire Boat. It was built by Central Bridge in Trenton, ON iin 1945 one of 250  steel TANAC class tugs for the British Ministry of War Transport for use in the Mediterranaean. Many were completed too late for the war and sold off instead. This tug was one of the last three built and was likely the last one, TANAC-V-250. The three were built with sponsoned hulls, wider than the standard and completed as fireboats for the Royal Canadian Navy. On completion they were unofficially named Naval Fire Tug No.1, No.2  and No.3. However they were also given names. No.1  was also known as FT-1 Fox, and based in Halifax.. No.2 may also have been based in Halifax. No.3was based in Sydney, NS at the Point Edward Naval Station, In 1952 it was transferred to St.John's, NL and was to have been towed by Eastore, but ended up sailing on its own, escorted by the tug Riverton. 
At some point it was transferred to the federal Minister of Public Works, and registered as St. John's Fire Boat.
 C.U.W. bought the tug in 1970 for $12,000 and it remained in the fleet when they became Marinex in 1972.
In 1990 I saw it hauled out on the shore at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, and there was work going on around its stern. However by 1993 work had long been suspended, it was boarded up and derelict. It register was closed March 23, 1995, and I assume it was broken up where it lay. (The pictures are too sad to post)

My favourite photo: when it was working with the dredge at Riviére-du-Loup. Notice the deck hand on scow, calmly sitting on a bollard while his colleagues on the tug get a thorough shake up.

Tanac-V-222
D.Robidoux, Tanac -V-222 and Laniel at Cap-de-La-Madeleine.

Tanac-V-222 also came from Central Bridge in Trenton, ON. The first 178 TANACs were sent overseas for the Minister of War Transport and found their way to the UK, Mediterranean and even Singapore. The remainder were sold following the end of the war in 1946-47. Those numbered after 200 were given the initial "V", some say because they had Vivian engines. I have never believed this, preferring to hope that the "V" stood for Victory. V-222 was built with the conventional hull, measured 50 grt and had the 375 bhp Vivian main engine.
It was also transferred on completion to the federal Minister of Public Works and worked in the old St.Lawrence canals, before the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway. It was sold through Crown Assets to L.Wagner + Sons Inc of Giffard QC in 1972 for $12,000 and they renamed her Willa P. She soon went to Marinex and reverted to its original name. By then its horsepwer was listed as 290 bhp.
For the past several years it has been listed as pleasure craft owned in Port-aux-Basques, NL.

I believe Marinex may have had at least one small Russel-built winder boat, but I have no record of its name. It may not have been registered due to its size.

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Flashback to Tussle

Previous Marinex Tugs
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In the last post I mentioned the Canadian Navy's fire boats. Built on the TANAC hulls cancelled at the end of World War II, they were modified with hull sponsons and a complete fire fighting equipment.

FT-1  with pennant number YTM-556 goes about its business in Halifax Harbour in 1977.

 FT-1 also known as Fox was delivered in October 1946 as CN 1046. It served in HMC Dockyard until it was retired in 1979. The hull was purchased by Atlantic Salvage Ltd, a company operated by Walter Partridge, a noted salvager. His son Toby and other members of the family also operated Partridge Motor Boat Service, a harbour launch service using surplus navy duty boats Towapat, Towadon and others.

 Hauled out on the end of pier 31, Fox shows off its sponsoned hull and original superstructure.

Although it took something like eight years, they rebuilt the hull into a working tug that worked in the harbour for ten years or so and formed Anchor Enterprises Ltd to operate it.

Gradually taking shape, the tug was moved to the pier 29-pier 30 area.

Finally in the water by 1987, at the IEL dock, its new home base, the tug was given the name Tussle.

The name Tussle was not original to this tug, - it had been used at least twice before for tugs in the Halifax area. The first, built in 1910 by Smith+Rhuland in Lunenburg, operated as passenger ferry on the La Have River until about 1920, then between Mulgrave and Arichat, and in the mid-1920s between Pictou, NS and Montague PE. In the 1930s it worked for Beacon Dredging Co and end up with J.P.Porter.
A second Tussle was Tanac V-248 which also worked for J.P.Porter from 1958 to 1965 when it was lost. It is likely that it was one of the other tugs completed as a fire boat, possibly stationed in Shelburne, NS.. 

The completed Tussle was a handsome little tug, fully outfitted for towing. Save for its rudimentary exhaust pipe, it was well finished.


Tussle has a scows alongside the cruise ship Regent Star removing international garbage. Handling these scows was a large part of Tussle's work.

Tussle could handle heavy work too, towing barges and smaller ships around the harbour and along the coast.It was fitted with a knuckle boom hydraulic crane, mounted aft on its house.

The tugs sponsoned hull meant wide side decks, providing lots of room for the crew to work, and to carry the odd load.

Tussle was not confined to Halifax harbour however. In 1990 it was sent  to Pugwash to provide berthing assistance to the barge Capt. Edward V. Smith (ex Adam  E.Cornelius) when it was handled by the tug Artcic Nanook or Magdalen Sea. It worked in Point Aconi on a construction project in 1991 and it towed a coastal freighter from Lunenburg to Halifax in 1994.

The tug worked steadily into the 2000s. Its Canadian registry was closed October 21, 2002 after it was sold south as MacKenzie Ryan. It was later Miss Christine and last heard of it was in Fort Lauderdale, FL, but US documentation expired in 2011.



Tussle in its prime, returns to the IEL dock on an icy day in 1990.


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Flashback George M. McKee / Metridia

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An interesting tug was built in 1928 by Davie Shipbuilding + Repair in Lauzon, QC. It was built for Anticosti Shipping Co, and as the owner's name would imply it was for service at Anticosti Island. That huge island dividing the St.Lawrence River as it empties into the Gulf of St.Lawrence was rich in timber.
The Anticosti Corp had a major operation on the island, which.involved cutting timer in the winter, floating down rivers to bays, booming and bundling it, then towing it out to the ship Port Alfred. The ship then carried the wood to the Saguenay River port of the same name where Anticosti had built a pulp mill.

Named George M. McKee,the tug was heavily built to work in ice and had a cutaway bow like an icebreaker. Also rare for a tug at that time it had a diesel engine. Its large 5 cylinder Fairbanks Morse was rated at 700 bhp. It carried a crew of fourteen, including a large engine room crew (housed below deck aft).

The tug as originally designed by Milne Gilmore and German.

It served the Anticosti Corp until 1933 when it was acquired by Manseau Shipyard, the shipbuilding arm of the Simard family at Sorel, QC. The shipyard was to become Marine Industries Ltd, and they remained owners of the tug until 1970.

I don't know what the tug during the World War II years, but following the war it made many trips to Halifax, Sydney and Shelburne, NS to to tow decommissioned warships to Sorel for scrap.It also made trips to the United Stares east coast, to such places as Camden, NJ - probably towing surplus naval vessels.

 Metridia at Ile-aux-Coudres, QC awaiting a much needed refit in the spring of 1972.

In 1970 the tug was sold to a diving company based in Montreal and renamed Metridia. In 1976 owners in Rimouski bought the tug, but it was beached at Bic, and eventually dismantled and scuttled off nearby Ile St-Barnabé.
Metridia beached at Bic, QC in 1978.


By the time I saw it first in 1972 it had been much modified with a steel wheelhouse and raised bulwark forward, but in other respects looked much the same as when it was built.


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Maersk Chignecto back again - updated

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Maersk Chignecto arrived back in Halifax today. It was last here in October 2014. It had been fitted out for seabed survey work in the Hibernia and Whiterose oil fields in July and September.
See: http://tugfaxblogspotcom.blogspot.ca/2014/10/maersk-chignecto.html

Today it tied up at pier 9 where Teleglobe has its base., and although there was no action on deck, it may well be that it is here to  be for cable work. Its arrival may be connected to the new Hibernia Express Cable System that will be installed between Halifax, Cork, Eire and Brean, UK this summer.  See update below


Maersk Chignecto's large open after deck is useful for many functions besides anchor handling, but has been cleared of all the bottom survey gear that it carried when it was here last..

The supplier was built for Husky / Bow Valley by Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan in 1983 as Chignecto Bay and worked out of Halifax for time until sold to Maersk Canada in 1987 and based in St.John's, NL. It is an anchor handling tug supplier of 10,880 bhp.

The unique design of this series of tugs makes them instantly recognizable.

Saturday February 7
During the last two days the after deck of Maersk Chignecto has been a be hive of activity as it was fitted with cable retrieval and repair gear. It will be headed to sea this evening for work off Cape Breton..


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Saint class tugs of the RCN - from the oldies department -CORRECTED

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The Royal Canadian navy built three seagoing tugs in the 1950s with the intention of providing towing services for their larger ships. A large class of Royal Navy tugs built in the World War I era were named after Saints, and the RCN repeated that .
There was not much work for the tugs, and they spent most of their time towing gunnery targets.

ST. CHARLES
St.Charles alongside Bluethroat at Jetty Kilo in HMC Dockyard. Note the large rope pudding on the stern.

St.Charles was built in 1957 by Saint John Dry Dock + Shipbuilding Ltd. It was powered by a single Fairbanks Morse engine of 1950 bhp, driving a single open controllable pitch propellor.

On cradle 6 at Dartmouth Marine Slips, the newly renamed Chebucto Sea shows off its fine underwater shape.Note the red painted fire fighting monitors.

In 1994 Secunda Marine Services bought the tug and refurbished it at the Dartmouth Marine Slips and alongside in Halifax. The tug had never been registered before and therefore had to meet Department of Transport regulations at that time.


 Secunda replaced the wooden lifeboats in davits with a new boat and a derrick.

They found work for the tug using company barges and in 1996 they bareboat chartered the tug to carry pulpwood. in Quebec.In 1996 the tug ran aground near Rimouski, QC and was taken to Ile-aux-Coudres where it was found that the propeller blades were damaged.It also sent a Mayday on October 1998 when it was drifting off Corner Brook, NL.



Later in its career with Secunda the tug lost its after mast and derrick. The wide blue top band on the funnel surmounted Secunda's ships wheel symbol.


The bareboat charter to John E. Canning Ltd of Georgetown, PE, resulted in Canning painting the tug in its own green colours. It continued to carry pulpwood and gravel. On May 28,1999 the tug lost power off Stephenville, NL and it was found that its tail shaft had broken and the the prop was lost. In October Tignish Sea towed the tug back to Halifax and it was laid up.

An insurance claim worked its way though court until 2005 when it was settled in favour of Secunda.
[Read the Appeal court decision here: http://www.shippinglaw.ru/upload/iblock/f61/2006nsca82.pdf ]
Point Halifax towed it to Liverpool for another refit, but following that it was laid up again in Halifax.

In 2008 it was offered for sale, with the not that is controllable pitch function was not working.  In 2009 a Newfoundland company bought the tug and used Keewatin to tow it to St.John's where it was renamed Matterhorn. To my knowledge the tug was never in service, and its registration was suspended in July 2014.

Chebucto Sea also assisted in bringing the distressed bulker Amphion into Halifax. The ship's crew abandoned the vessel in early January 900 km east of Newfoundland. The ship was loaded with iron ore and was taking water from suspected hull cracks. Secunda signed a salvage contract and their tug Tignish Sea managed to board a riding crew, and take the ship in tow to Halifax. Chebucto Sea assisted in the last day of the tow, arriving in a snow storm February 3.

Not a great day to be a deck hand. Note one of the tire fenders has come adrift.


The dead ship Amphion is nudged alongside pier 30 in Halifax with Tignish Sea (background), Point Halifax (right) and Point Chebucto (left).

There have other references to this incident in Tugfax see:


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ST. JOHN
This tug had the shortest career with the RCN, and the shortest career of the three.  It was built in 1956 by G.T.Davie + Sons Ltd in Luazon, QC and was sold off by the navy in the early 1970s.

It was put to work for new owners Eckhardt+Co of Germany and towed several ships across the Atlantic to scrap yards in Santander , Spain, including the burned out Amvourgon shown above. In 1967* it had the distinction of towing the VLCC Metula to Santander. It was the first VLCC to be scrapped.

On November 27, 1980 it sank off Labrador while towing a barge.Although I don't have details, it is likely that it had a similar problem with its tail shaft.

ST. ANTHONY
Also built at Saint John in 1957, and based at the RCN base at Esquimault on Vancouver Island.

St.Anthony had a major refit in 1994.

It was sold to US owners in Seattle area, but doesn't seem to have entered commercial service and was donated to a religious group in 2001. In 2009 it became Longhorn I owned in Texas, so it may be operational even today.

CORRECTION:
It was pointed out to me that I made typo here: the date should be 1976.
The reason for the scrapping was that the ship Metula had grounded in Magellan Strait, Tierra del Fuego in 1974, while en route from Saudi Arabia to Chile with a cargo of crude oil The ship was holed, creating a major oil spill and resulting in sever damage to he sip, including flooding the engine room. The ship was eventually freed by salvors, but was declared a constructive total loss. It was renamed Tula for the trip to the scrappers.

Sisters not brothers

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In parallel with a posting on Shipfaxabout the bankruptcy of Shaheen Natural Resources in 1976, which resulted in four ships put out of work, there were also four tugs that were unemployed as a result of the massive $500mn business failure.

Cory Towing of Britain and Smit International of the Netherlands joined forces in 1970 to form Smit+Cory International Port Towage. Their first contract was with Gulf Oil to provide two big tugs for its new refinery in Point Tupper, NS which could (and did) handle the  world's largest tankers of the day. Universe Ireland and sisters, measuring 312,000 dwt were on long term charter to Gulf Oil, delivering crude to Bantry Bay Eire (where Cory provided tugs) and Point Tupper, and no local tugs were powerful enough to handle them..

Smit+Cory acquired the assets of MIL Tug (successors to Foundation Maritime) which was already providing tug services in Halifax,  the Strait of Canso, Sept-Iles and Baie Comeau, QC and forrned and established Eastern Canada Towing Ltd (ECTUG), based in Halifax.


Smit+Cory's terminal experience helped them win the contract for the new Come-by-Chance where new tugs were needed. The tankers that would call at Come-by-Chance were not as large as those at the Strait of Canso, but they required escorting for a long run in from the sea, sometimes through ice. Two pairs of sisters were built for the contract. Two were terminal tugs with fire fighting capability and two were coastal tugs with towing capability.


 Point Gilbert and Point Carroll - one of each type
  
POINT GILBERT and POINT JAMES
Named for geographical locations, the tugs were sisters, not brothers. An evolution of the design Cory had developed for terminal work in the UK and Ireland, these were big tugs 39.4m long, with a single V-12 English Electric / Ruston engine of 2640 bhp. They delivered 37 tons bollard pull through a single controllable pitch screw in a steering nozzle and had a free running speed of 13 knots.They were equipped with fire nozzles on the wheelhouse and a fire tower, high enough to reach the deck of large tankers.

Point Gilbert had the fire tower and low freeboard of the terminal type.

They were built by Richard Dunston (Hessle) Ltd, with Point Gilbert delivered in September 1972 and Point James delivered in November 1972.
 
The sea-going tugs had a high bow and more fendering forward.

POINT SPENCER and POINT CARROLL
This pair were essentially sea-going versions of the other pair. Also 39.4m loa, they were powered by a single V-12 English Electrc / Ruston Paxman engine rated at 3,300 bhp and a single controllable pitch prop in a steering nozzle giving 43 tons bollard pull and a free running speed of 14 knots. They featured a raised forecastle for improved seakeeping and a large towing winch, mounted well aft on the deck. A tow line would feed forward through a fulcrum in the deckhouse at midships to give proper balance and prevent girting.

They were also built by Richard Dunston (Hessle) Ltd and delivered in February 1973. It had been intended that these tugs would be able to serve both Come-by-Chance and Point Tupper since tanker arrivals would be infrequent enough to allow the tugs the 24 hour trip between the two terminals.

Wall to wall tugs at ECTUG with from the left: Point Vigour, Point Valiant, Point VibertPoint Vim (not visible), Point Victor, Point Viking,  Point James, Point Gilbert and Point Spencer.  
Not present for the photo: Point Valour and Point Carroll.


In December 1976 with the failure of the Shaheen operation, the four tugs were transferred to Halifax and placed under the management of ECTUG. Although suitable for berthing big tankers alongside oil docks, they were not ideally suited for working in the tight spaces between the finger piers of Halifax. Their steering nozzles and controllable pitch props were not very fast in response to rudder commands and so they were not used very intensively. Beside, Halifax was already well equipped with tugs as the above photos will attest.

The two fire tugs spent most of the time tied up to the dock, but the sea-going tugs saw a little more work. As originally intended they also assisted with tanker berthings at Point Tupper, but that was not enough to justify their existence.

Point James and Point Valiant (i) alongside at ECTUG.

In 1978 Point James was sent back to the UK under Cory management and was sold in 1999 to Dominican Republic owners, then to Portuguese owners, and renamed Saint James. After time under Turkish ownership it was broken up in Aliaga in April 2009.


As the only civilian tug with serous fire fighting capability in Halifax, Point Gilbert was kept on until 1980, but it was then sent back to the UK. A retractable 670 bhp Caterpillar driven bow thruster was fitted in 1986, resulting in only 3 more tons bollard pull, but greatly increased maneuverability. In 2007 it was sold through Dutch owners as Point Gilbert I to Russia where it was first renamed Gangui, then Gangut by owners in Murmansk. It is still in service.

The fire tugs had large open deck aft, with quick release towing hook mounted close to midships.

Point Spencer(left) and Point Carroll had large towing winches mounted aft, and visible from the wheelhouse.The tow line fed through a fixed sheave in the deck house, putting the balance point nearly amidships.

Point Spencer was also sent back to the UK in 1978 where it was taken over by Cory and operated for them until 2003. It was sold to Dutch owners Towing + Salvage Noordgat of West-Terschelling and renamed Hunter. It was transferred to the Panama flag in 2010 and is still operating in general towing and salvage work in the western Europe.

Under ECTUG ownership, Point Carroll had its exhaust pipe extended and had visors fitted and the upper windows blanked off inside.

Point Carroll was the only one of the quartet to remain in Canada, being taken over by Eastern Canada Towing Ltd. It operated out of Halifax doing some harbour work, but also long distance towing, barge work, cable plowing and salvage tows until 2001.
It was then sold to McKeil Marine and has continued with barge work. An elevated wheelhouse was fitted and its exhaust stack extended (again) to clear the mast top. In recent years it has been off again / on again towing fuel barges, but last summer was stationed in Deception Bay, QC for ship assist work.

 Point Carroll took a turn on harbour duties when between towing assignment.


THEN THE OTHER SHOE DROPPED

Smit + Cory began providing tugs to Gulf Oil Canada in Point Tupper in 1970 with surplus tugs from the UK until the new tugs arrived.

POINT TUPPER and POINT MELFORD




These tugs had quick release tow hook, and a capstan, but no towing winch.

These tugs were very big ones for the time, as they were intended to berth ULCCS. (One of the biggest was Al Andulas of 362, 962 dwt.) They were built by Richards (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Lowestoft and measured 39.25m loa, powered with a single V-16 Ruston Paxman of 4250 bhp driving a single controllable pitch prop through a steering nozzle for 50 tons bollard pull and a free running speed of 14 knots. They were fitted with fire monitors on top of the wheelhouse and atop the mast.
Point Tupper was completed in August 1971 and Point Melford in December 1971. On delivery of the Point Spencer and Point Carroll in 1972, the older tugs were sent home to the UK.

The firefighting platform was larger on these tugs and overhung the upper wheelhouse windows.

In 1980 Gulf Oil closed the refinery in Point Tupper following a takeover by Petro Canada and Ultramar and a general shakeup in the refinery business. Point Melford and Point Tupper remained at the Strait of Canso for other harbour work, but they were under utilized and so were  redeployed to Halifax in about 1985. The pair were not ideal for Halifax harbour work, and although classed for coasting service between New York and Belle Isle, they did not carry towing winches.

Point Tupper assists a gravel barge through the "Nova Scotia Seaway" also known as the Canso Canal, separating Cape Breton from mainland Nova Scotia. The lock is the same dimensions as those of the St.Lawrence Seaway. A road and rail swing bridge has been opened to allow for the passage through the Canso Causeway. This was a "company" job, as the barge was in tow of fleet mate Point Valiant (i) .


In 1987 Point Tupper and Point Melford were transferred to the Netherlands Antilles where Smit+Cory also had contracts, and in 1997 sold to Smit International (Bonaire) N.V.

Point Tupper was sold in 2001 and renamed Cape Henry by International Marine LLC under the Panama flag. The tug was broken up as of January 1, 2006.

Although reported "lost" January 29, 2000, Point Melford was laid up and became derelict in Willemstad and its rusting hulk was still there in 2007, and may be there yet.

Point Tupper goes on the cradle at Dartmouth Marine Slips for  refit.

These were significant tugs, but they were soon outmoded by the Azimuthing Stern Drives and Tractors. They did however leave a lasting impression.

 A 28mm wide angle lens gives the impression that the two tugs are confiding with each other - perhaps they were.

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