Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tug Change

Two of the regular Halifax tugs sailed today to be replaced by two from Saint John.
Atlantic Willow is southbound - maybe for refit in Shelburne, while Atlantic Fir is northbound in the direction of Newfoundland.

Replacements are the Atlantic Hemlock and Atlantic Bear.

Atlantic Hemlock dates from 1996 and is a 4,000 bhp ASD tug. It has the distinction of being the only tug in the current inshore fleet to have made a transatlantic voyage. When Irving Shipbuilding was promoting its successful line of tugs from the East Isle Shipyard, Atlantic Hemlock visited several European ports including Rotterdam in 2000. It was also present at the International Tug & Salvage conference event at St.Malo, France. It worked briefly off Broadstairs, UK on a cable repair project, but after an idle spell in Southampton returned to Canada. It is now based in Saint John, but frequently does "outside" work beyond the port. It was here last month towing the barge Atlantic Sealion.

Atlantic Bear was built in 2008 as a variant on the East Isle design. With its two sisters, Atlantic Beaver and Spitfire III, it was designed to berth ships at the LNG terminal near Saint John. With 5,432 bhp and a bollard pull of 70 tonnes they are the most powerful tugs in the ATL inshore fleet. Due to a drop in LNG demand, the tug has been freed up to work outside. It recently assisted in the placement of the tidal turbine in the Minas Basin.
It is equipped with extra bow fendering and has water cannons mounted on the bridge deck. They are tarped in, as is the large ship berthing winch on the foredeck.
The three tugs of this tpye are owned by Atlantic Reyser Ltd, a joint venture between ATLand the LNG terminal partners, and managed by ATL.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Breaux Tide finished

It appears that the supplier Breaux Tide is leaving Nova Scotia waters for another assignment. The boat was one of two Tidewater vessels engaged to support Shell's exploration program with the drill ship Stena IceMAX.
After DP trials in Bedford Basin, Breaux Tide returns to pier 9c.

Both received coasting licenses to allow the Vanuatu registered ships to take the Canadian flag on a non-duty paid basis and to work in Canadian waters. Management of the two was by Atlantic Towing Ltd (ATL), as bareboat charters. The Jones Tide did not complete its first year when it was stood down after Stena IceMAX had the drill stem drop to the seabed in March 2016.

Jones Tide outbound. Ten days later it was idled at the old Coast Guard base (in the background).

After sitting idle at the old Coast Guard base for the month of April 2016, it reverted to the Vanuatu flag and sailed on May 5, 2016. It is now working in Trinidad and Tobago.

Breaux Tide renewed its coasting license in August 2016 for another year, but last month it appears to have gone off charter, and has been idle at the old Coast Guard base in Dartmouth. It will be sailing today for an as yet undisclosed location.

As of June, Tidewater, the largest offshore vessel operators in the world, had 87 of its 181 boats stacked and that figure may be larger now. However they may have found work for a new vessel like Breaux Tide.

Delivered by Jiangsu Zhenjiang in March 2015, the 3,927 grt supplier arrived in Halifax in late August 2015 via Capetown and Port Gentil, Gabon and was registered in Halifax August 31.

 Stena IceMAX is entering a new phase as it is reported that the ship must now drill a horizontal offset after encountering a major fissure in its current well, Cheshire. Shell has also announced that it will not be drilling any more in the current program, which was for two wells with an option for more if results were positive. The first well, Monterrey Jack did not deliver satisfactory results, not to mention the huge dollar loss due to the drill riser problem.

Support for the drill program is now being provided by Skandi Flora  (bareboat chartered by Mathers) and Maersk Nexus which joined the program in August and did not need a coasting license, since it is a Canadian flag vessel, Scotian Sea (Secunda.) and Atlantic Tern (ATL) also appear to be doing standby duty. Thus Shell has spread their largess amongst all the players in the supplier business. However they were not without criticism, since almost all the crew members are from Newfoundland, and the work is offshore Nova Scotia. The reverse situation would not be tolerated long in Newfoundland!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

NTCL update

Based on recent court filings it seems likely that Northern Transportation Co Ltd (NTCL) will make an assignment into bankruptcy shortly after December 15.
While the company has been in creditor protection the court appointed monitor has been able to sell assets piecemeal , but no buyer has come forth to take over the company as a going concern.
As a result the remaining assets will be sold or scrapped. A court hearing will determine if the underfunded pension plan is entitled to any of the proceeds. If not the secured creditors will get about 6 cents on the dollar.
The once mighty company in its heyday ran a huge tug and barge operation on the Mackenzie River system, supplying communities all over the western north with goods that could not be transported any other way. They rammed through as much freight and fuel as they could in the short five month shipping season to keep the Nunavut region supplied for the whole year. Recent years were not kind to the company and it has been struggling for a long time.
The future of northern supply via the Mackenzie system is now in serious doubt, unless another company can step into the vacuum created by the disappearance of NTCL.

As of September there were some 174 vessels registered to NTCL according to the monitor. Of these 158 were in NTCL possession, 6 were "unknown", 2 were sold prior the creditor protection, 81 subject to pending offers and 77 considered to be scrapped, abandoned or out of class.
The monitor sold 8 others as non-core assets, to rid the books of a number of tugs and barges that weren't part of the basic Mackenzie fleet. See Tugfax October 25, 2016:
Most of the remaining operational fleet, particularly the aging tugs, cannot operate anywhere else, so someone could possibly acquire some of them as the nucleus for a new operation. Without that happening there must be considerable anxiety in the western north about next year's supply.
NTCL also had an extensive ship repair base in Hay River that is also presumably up for sale.

Rumours persist about a couple of tug companies taking a serious look at the assets, but nothing has been said officially.

More about the tug Keewatin mentioned briefly in the October post. 

The tug was built in response to a federal government request to service five communities on the west coast of Hudson Bay and Coral Harbour (on Southampton Island).  After delivery by Yarrows shipyard in Esquimalt in 1974, the tug sailed from Victoria with four barges(stacked in pairs) via the Panama Canal to Valleyfield, QC where it wintered. In the summer of 1975 it loaded cargo and sailed for Churchill. 
In 2002 the tug returned south arriving in Halifax in November from Rankin Inlet and went on to Shelburne for refit. 

At the time it was working in joint venture with Atlantic Towing Ltd.
It worked on the Great Lakes in 2003 and 2004 with barges carrying stone. However it returned to the Atlantic Coast in 2004 and was in Halifax in June towing an Atlantic Towing Ltd barge.  

On its last visit to Halifax in October 2015, it had the barge NT 1509 in tow and loaded project cargo for Newfoundland.
Keewatin is powered by three 16 cylinder Caterpillar engines totaling 3,375 bhp driving triple screws on a 6'-6" draft.
As mentioned in the previous post it has been sold to a Newfoundland company R.J.G. Construction Ltd.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Big Move at Halifax Shipyard

Atlantic Towing Ltd's new suppliers swapped places at pier 8 this morning. Both Atlantic Griffon and Atlantic Shrike are nearing completion, but did not use their own engines. The three harbour tugs Atlantic Oak, Atlantic Fir and Atlantic Willow moved the boats, exchanging berths and turning them end for end.

  Atlantic Griffon was first off the dock, holding in the stream with Atlantic Fir
The weld line where the superstructure was attached has not been painted over on the starboard side.
 It will be painted from shore, once the boat is back alongside.
Atlantic Shrike readies to turn end for end and move to the south end of pier 8. 

Atlantic Willow on the bow and Atlantic Oak on the stern rotate the Shrike in the stream. Note the open winch reel.

It was then Griffon's turn to go in to the north end of pier 8.
Note what would be the winch area is completely plated over, indicating that no winch has been fitted, unlike Atlantic Shrike, where the winch reels are exposed. 

On both boats the weld line has been painted over from the shore side. 
Not a very good colour match.
Also the amateurish bow lettering does not compare favourably with the welded raised lettering on the stern, which was applied by the Damen Shipyard in Galati.

Fleet mates Atlantic Heron and Paul A. Sacuta (laid down as Atlantic Owl) are nearing completion in Europe. A recent photo shows Paul A. Sacuta on trials in the Netherlands. It has been modified for repair and maintenance work and equipped with a 100 tonne capacity crane. Atlantic Heron is still in Galati.



Panuke Sea - up for sale

Tugfax got a little mixed up with the last post and it is in fact Panuke Sea that is for sale.

Neftegaz 14 arrived in Halifax under its own power.

Although it started out as a Neftegaz tug / supplier, it has had a slightly different history.  Built in 1984 by Komuny Paryskiej in Gdynia, Poland it was named Neftegaz 14 for the USSR's Ministry of Gas Industry. It was working under Femco management when when Secunda acquired it in 2001. It arrived under its own power  with a Russian crew on October 15 and by October 22 it had been renamed Panuke Sea and reflagged to Canada.

During the winter it was renovated, but did not get the extensive conversion that Burin Sea and Trinity Sea got. On May 23, 2002 it sailed to St.John's, NL for drydocking and returned to Halifax July 11 painted in Secunda colours and within a week was doing harbour trials.

After its first refit, the Panuke Sea still had the original superstructure.

Visibility to the after deck was compromised and limited its ability to find work.

It was soon discovered that its opportunities for work were severely limited because it had poor astern visibility and the decision was made to start a second conversion, this time at pier 29 in Halifax. It emerged from this process in March 2003 with a raised forecastle and a full width aft facing bridge.

The second refit was carried out at pier 29.

The second time around the tug had a raised forecastle for better sea keeping.

It also had a full width aft facing bridge, with unobstructed visibility of the working deck. However it was not fitted with a towing winch.

Soon after it had a main engine failure, and the engine was replaced with another from sister Neftegaz 29. [Secunda had also acquired that supplier, but never did convert it. Although it was renamed Sable Sea in 1998 and Intrepid Sea in 2002, it languished in Halifax until 2012 when it was finally sold for scrap. On November 11, 2012 Altantic Elm towed out for Boston.]

Specs for the converted Panule Sea included the DNV 1A1 ICE-1C ice class, three thrusters, and 7200bhp from two 6 cylinder Sulzers, built under license by Zgoda. producing a modest bollard pull of 80 tonnes. Since there is no towing winch fitted, the boat was used for supply work, without towing. Including rescue capacity it has 28 berths.

It spent most of its working life in Nova Scotia waters, servicing the Sable Gas project. With hundreds of supplier laid up around the world, there is little prospect of a continued career in the oil and gas industry, but  perhaps its extremely low asking price of $600,000 will attract a buyer.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Trinity Sea - on trials RE-UPDATED

After an idle week or two at the old Coast Guard base in Dartmouth the tug supplier Trinity Sea got underway again this morning and to the deepwater piers for trials, which appear to have included bollard pulls or DPs based on the AIS track over several hours.

Trinity Sea with Atlantic Towing's Atlantic Condor in the background, heading for trials off pier 28.

One of three similar boats in the current Secunda (Siem) fleet, it was built in Szczecin, Poland in 1983 as Neftegaz 2. Secunda purchased it and sister Neftegaz 1 from layup in Norway and they arrived together in tow of Magdelan Sea on May 18, 1998.

Magdelan Sea tows up the harbour with Point Chebucto assisting. 
In the left background the tug Plainsville; it landed deck hands to assist in pairing up the tows.

Neftegaz 2 was gutted down to almost the bare hull and totally rebuilt in Halifax as a DNV class 1A1 ICE-1C tug / supplier with FF1 firefighting equipment and renamed Trinity Sea.

After removing most of the superstructure, the Trinity Sea's hull was hauled out at the Dartmouth Slip for rebuilding.

Totally transformed as a virtual new ship, Trinity Sea.

The aft facing bridge is the most prominent addition to the ship's profile.

Based from time to time in Halifax and overseas, Trinity Sea has mostly worked in Newfoundland so has been only an infrequent caller here over the years.

Point Chebucto shepherds the pair toward pier 9.

Sister vessel Neftegaz 1 was also completely rebuilt to the same standard, with much of the work accomplished at Verreault Shipyard in Méchins, QC.

Hastily renamed Burin Sea the former Neftegaz 1 sits at the IEL dock in Woodside in preparation for gutting out.

Point Halifax readies the stripped out hull to be towed to Verreault by Point Carroll.

The rebuilt vessel was towed back to Halifax by the Point Carroll and fitted out.

I understand that the appeal of the two hulls was their high quality Polish steel, heavy ice class and reliable Sulzer engines (built under license). They are now rated at 10,000 bhp on their two main engines and equipped with one 600 bhp and one 900 bhp bow and one 900 bhp stern thruster.

Secunda's Panuke Sea ex Neftegaz 14 will be the subject of another post at another time.

Update: Shortly after this post was initially published, the tug Trinity Sea appeared on the shipbroker Offshore Solutions Unlimited 's website. Several of the particulars listed above are now different, including a bollard pull of 80 tonnes, and engines of 3,600 bhp each. There is also additional information including the vessel is DP1, that it has accommodation for 28 persons and has standby / rescue capability.
New Update: The shipbroker Offshore Solutions Unlimited is offering fleetmate Panuke Sea ex Neftegaz 14 for sale - see subsequent post.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Océan Taiga joins the fleet

On October 28 Groupe Océan took delivery of the Océan Taiga the second of a pair of 8,000 bhp tugs built by Industrie Océan at Ile-aux-Coudres, QC.

It and sister Océan Tundra completed in  2013, are by far the most powerful conventional tugs in eastern Canada. Exceeding 110 tonnes bollard pull, and with a free running speed of 14 knots, it is also capable of exerting 86 tonnes steering force at 10 knots for tethered escort work. Built with firefighting equipment and an icebreaking bow, the tug will most likely be used for tanker escort work on the St.Lawrence, but could work anywhere in the world.

The TundRA 3600 design by Robert Allen Ltd was conceived for year round high latitude (arctic) work, but the contract evaporated and construction of the Océan Taiga was put on a slow bell, and the tug was only completed this year. The ship's hull was built undercover in the shipyard's building hall then moved to the slipway for completion.

The great size of the tug is only apparent when seen next to one of the smaller members of the fleet.

As late as May the shipyard was hard at work with hull painting. After a July re-launch from the slipway, the tug was moved to Océan's Quebec City facility. It underwent trials there in August and final fitting out.

Both sisters are available for charter work.