Wednesday 18 August 2021

Downbound Bulk Carrier FEDERAL DELTA at Windmill Point - August 16, 2021

09:44 - Her red hull and khaki coloured cranes and superstructure offers quite the contrast as the far distant 656' FEDERAL DELTA approaches on another hot and hazy summer day.
09:46 - Built in 2018 at Oshima, Japan, the FEDERAL DELTA is one of 48 laker-type bulk carriers in Montreal-based Fednav's 120 vessel fleet.
09:48 - Having unloaded in Hamilton, the Marshall Island-flagged DELTA is bound for Sorel, below Montreal.
09:48 - Other than the white-cap at her bow, the frequent visitor to the Great Lakes makes virtually no wake on this flat wide section of the St. Lawrence.
09:50 - Whether laden or in ballast like on Monday, her top speed is 14 knots (16 mph) though motoring here at about 10 knots or 18.5 kph.
09:51 - No cause for alarm as a few local anglers keep their distance while FEDERAL DELTA passes a  port hand buoy.

09:53 - FEDERAL DELTA  has 4 cranes to unload 35 metric tonnes of cargo in each grab from her 6 holds which can carry 41, 651 cubic metres of grain.
09:55 - Her folding hydraulic hatch covers are partially opened to air-out her holds during this downbound passage.
09:55 - She has a lesser obtrusive bulbous bow than most salties that we see trading on the Great Lakes.
09:56 - FEDERAL DELTA gracefully glides by the former windmill/lighthouse at the Battle of the Windmill National Historical Site while bound for the Port of Sorel where she is currently loading cargo.
Interesting meet beneath the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge.
Next up: 
Classic straight-deck bulk carrier OJIBWAY upbound at the Port of Johnstown.

Monday 14 June 2021

Team McKeil Marine: Tugs LOIS M, & MOLLY M1, and Deck-barge GLOVERTOWN SPIRIT

Bridges are built to cross "OVER" things like rivers, so you can appreciate the wonderment when I got to see one on May 10th being transported "ON" a river and also passing "BENEATH" one of the tallest and longest suspension bridges on the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge. While it doesn't happen everyday, it was just a little more than 6 months earlier when the first of 4 bridges, then the Cherry Street North Bridge was also hauled to Toronto from Nova Scotia on the McKeil Marine barge GLOVERTOWN SPIRIT while lead by their strong tractor tug LOIS M as well.
Map from

All built by Cherubini Metal Works of Dartmouth, the 4 prefabricated bridges that will connect the future Villier Island to Toronto mainland as part of the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project. Wow, that was a mouthful c):-o. Originally the mouth of the Don River use to become a marsh and flow easterly towards Ashbridge's Bay. In the late 1800's, the marsh and portions of the bay were filled in to attract industries to locate near the new harbour in an area to be known as Toronto Port Lands, and in doing so, the Don was diverted on a 90 degree turn into the Keating Channel before emptying into the harbour west of the current Cherry Street bridge.

Great idea except the bend regularly needed dredging to improve the flow and prevent flooding in the spring or after a heavy rain. When completed, the new Don River will be redirected further south and then westward in a meandering flow to it's new mouth into Toronto Harbour, the Polson Slip which currently is used for layups and where the Lafarge Cement terminal is currently located, or at least it was the last I was shooting from along Cherry Street about two years ago. That's where I caught the former veteran cement carrier ENGLISH RIVER at on a cold winter afternoon on January 7, 2018 from the T&T food store parking lot which will also be carved away in the excavation project to make room for the new Cherry Street South Bridge. Also if flooding were to occur during spring run-off, a lower-land valley is being created so that excess water will flow into the more southern east-west directed ship channel.
Though the longest of the 4 lookalike spans at 83 metres (272'), the 650 tonne Commissioners Street bridge looked pretty small just the same as she passed beneath the 1.5 mile (2.4k) long suspension bridge with a centre span of 1,150' (350m) long.
Once the second section of the span is built and barged to Toronto, the new Commissioners Street Bridge will in fact be 152m (502') long and cross the new naturalized Don River Valley as shown in the map above.  

The 107.5'  LOIS M is known as a tractor tug with a twin screw Z-drive propulsion system. The 79-tonne bollard pull harbour and coastal towing tug has 2 Niigata engines giving her 4800 bhp,
When built in 1991 at Matsurra Tekko Shipyard in Higashino, Japan for Cleveland Cliffs-Robe River Iron in Australia her name was LAMBERT. In 2014 she was sold to McKeil Marine of Hamilton and renamed LOIS M.
Built 2012 at Damen Shipyards, in Grichem, Netherlands, the 243'7" x 77'2" GLOVERTOWN SPIRIT is a heavily constructed modern flat-deck barge that can hold 20-tonne-per-square-metre cargo on her strengthen steel deck . Owned by Mammoet-McKeil Ltd. the reliable and versatile GLOVERTOWN SPIRIT services the Project Fleet.
 LOIS M also services McKeil Marine's Project Fleet and her homeport is St. John's NL.
Providing extra push and maneuverability at the stern was the 98' veteran tug MOLLY M I which when built in 1962 at Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon, QC her name was FOUNDATION VIGOUR for Foundation Maritime of Halifax.

 In 1973 she was sold to Eastern Canada Towing of Halifax and renamed POINT VIGOUR before being sold to McKeil Marine in 2006 and renamed MOLLY M I in 2007. 

MOLLY M1 at Hamilton by Shaun Judge - July 1, 2013
 After being transferred to the Port Dover based Nadro Marine, a McKeil Marine subsidiary in 2012, MOLLY M1 was seen in their livery with a white wheelhouse on a red accommodations quarters with a black hull until she was returned to McKeil Marine in 2018 and has since been painted their white with light blue & green trim colour scheme.

With a homeport of Halifax, NS, the 19-tonne bollard-pull harbour tug MOLLY M1 has worked on various transportation and towing projects for McKeil on Great Lakes and Gulf of St. Lawrence while based in Hamilton.

The first section of the Commissioners Bridge arrived on next day, May 11th and was towed into and then docked along the Port Lands ship channel where the long bridge was wheeled off the barge. I've not been able to find out when the next section of the Commissioners or the South Cherry Street bridges will be ready for transporting. Meanwhile, soon after LOIS M pushed the heavy-duty deck barge GLOVERTOWNTOWN SPIRIT to the Port of Sydney (a.k.a. Sydport), NS and at the other end of Cape Breton Island, I saw that the hardworking tractor tug was underway along with fleetmate TIM MCKEIL on the Strait of Canso. On the June 5th, I caught MOLLY M1 at Iroquois Lock again providing extra push and steering behind the barge carrying the Konecranes Big Blue #38 bound for Kittery, Maine. The busy tug is currently docked in Thunder Bay.  

The McKeil Marine Project Team is on a roll - there's just no stopping them. c):-)

Wednesday 5 May 2021

Above Lock 2: Upbound Self Unloader ALGOMA TRANSPORT

No question about it the observation deck at Lock 3 on the Welland Canal in St. Catharines is a unique place to photograph ships entering, being raised or lowered in the flight lock and then getting underway and out. However if you're looking for a place to park the car and get up-close and almost personal with a Great Lakes boat, above Lock 2 is one of the best vantage points on the canal, and that's where Janice and I caught the upbound 730' self unloader ALGOMA TRANSPORT on September 18, 2016. See for yourself:
 Yes, like everywhere else on the Welland Canal there's chain-linked fences there too but with the right camera 📷lens or cell 📲 phone you can get a pretty decent shot.

Bow plates on the then 37 years former Upper Lakes Shipping self unloader is showing their wear from rubbing on lock walls over and over again. At just under 76' wide, there's not a lot of room to spare in an 80' foot wide Welland and Seaway locks hence the rough look on even the newest of lakers.

My better-half, Janice got this neat shot with her iPhone. Pretty ugly clouds that day.
My turn to catch her line-rubbed bow and barbed-wire fence. Some things you simply can't crop out.
She was known as the CANADIAN TRANSPORT when built in 1979 just down the canal at Port Weller Dry Docks. Now owned by Heddle Marine of Hamilton, you can see all the action going on there these days from another neat viewing area above Lock 1.
Downbound fleetmate 729' gearless bulk carrier ALGOMA DISCOVERY approaches from Lock 3.
Riding high in ballast, the TRANSPORT's superstructure and twin stacks look ever taller from down below at wall level.

Powered with twin 10,000 horsepower diesel engines, the ALGOMA TRANSPORT picks up speed and veers left (or port) as the ALGOMA DISCOVERY makes her way across her bow over to Lock 2's approach wall.

ALGOMA TRANSPORT looked pretty good earlier from below Lock 2 too, eh!

Sunday 4 April 2021

Light Icebreaker CCGS GRIFFON - A Homebound Pictorial

At a speed just under 12 knots, the 234' Great Lakes ice breaking icon for over 50 years, CCGS GRIFFON pushes a steady white wake as she continues to make her way home to the Canadian Coast Guard station at Prescott on Tuesday morning.


While ship traffic comes to a stop in these parts with the closing of the St. Lawrence Seaway on December 31st, it's business as usual on most of the upper lakes.  

Throughout the winter months tankers continue to haul liquid asphalt and other oil and chemical products from Sarnia on the St. Clair River to Nanticoke more than half way down Lake Erie with deliveries to ports in between.
Meanwhile self discharging bulk carriers continue to replenish road salt supplies from Goderich and Windsor to U.S. ports like Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit.
While all bulk carriers and tankers have strengthened hulls to operate through ice, sometimes they need help and that's when the Canadian and U.S. coast guards work together as one to keep the shipping lanes clear so that the commerce can keep moving. They are also busy keeping river months clear from jamming with ice and potential flooding upriver. Both tasks were no different this year especially in February
With her speed checked down, the GRIFFON starts her "U-turn-like" maneuvre so that when she approaches the dock, she'll be facing upriver.

In the background you can only see about two-thirds of the 2.4 km long Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge and one of my favourite vantage points, the old Windmill Lighthouse as the GRIFFON continues her turn in this wide section of the St. Lawrence River. 

Though built in 1970 at Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon Quebec, CCGS GRIFFON is well maintained and has been refitted and modernized throughout her 51 year career. Nice paint job too.
As a Type 1100 buoy tender, the GRIFFON is known as a High Endurance Multi-task Vessel. Though she has a flight deck, the GRIFFON does carry a helicopter like newer vessels in her class.
Her Arctic Class 2 ice classification allows her to maintain a speed of 3 knots through 2 feet of ice. She encountered ice at least that thick and several feet of high wind-blown ice ridges when the GRIFFON and fleetmate, CCGS SAMUEL RISLEY  freed the American ore carrier ARTHUR M. ANDERSON which had been trapped in the ice on Lake Erie for 5 days off Conneaut, Ohio in February 2015.

The tall GRIFFON snuggles-up behind the Parks Canada research vessel DAVID THOMPSON, and then she's secured at her home until her next assignment.
It was dull and overcast without as much wind when I last caught the GRIFFON's return home on April 4, 2018. Then I caught her arrival on the east side of the coast guard station and as my camera continued to click away I suddenly noticed someone standing ahead to right on the rocks (in the photo below). It was Joanne Crack, founder of the Facebook boat-watching group The Prescott Anchor there taking her photos of the ship and crew that she loved so much and always talked about. It's so sad that we lost Joanne in September 23, 2019. 
Joanne took some wonderful photographs of ships passing by from her balcony along the river. She was such a great help for my blog over the years and I miss her a lot.

While there maybe a well deserved break for the crew that manned her for the last month or so, there will be no rest for the mighty GRIFFON which has already made her way down river to replace winter navigation markers with 6' tall 6,000 lb. solar powered light buoys which will stay in place attached to a 5,000 lb. anchor until it's replaced next fall. It's all part of the circle of life for our hardworking "multi-tasker" also known as CCGS GRIFFON.