Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rag, Rag, Rag your boat, gently down the stream...

I have always had a bit of a strange infatuation with a good quality rag. It always makes life much easier for an engineer, to have a good, absorbing rag. But I am pretty sure that no matter how good the absorbing quality of a rag might be, it don't think it would be reasonable to expect to repair hull cracks with one.

But last week, the UK's Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA) detained one Russian ship with a rag plugging a crack on the vessel's hull. The MCA released the following details and picture.

Marititme & Coast Guard Agency detain ship with cracked hull blocked by a rag.
Friday, February 19, 2010, Posted 15:35 GMT, By: Fred Caygill

The Russian registered cargo vessel Baltiyskiy 110 has been issued with a Detention Notice due to failure to comply with merchant legislation in Fowey, Cornwall.

A port state control inspector visited the vessel and after a preliminary inspection detained the vessel due to the ship having a hole in the port side hull plating into the number 2 water ballast tank. The vessel also has 2 major conformities recorded against the International Safety Management Code

The vessel had sailed from two previous ports with this hull damage with the company instructing the master to continue its voyages.

Tony Heslop, Area Operations Manager, South West of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said:

This is a very serious breach of International Maritime Legislation and the vessel after inspection was detained. Our inspector will carry out a further detailed inspection of this with a surveyor from the classification society.
The vessel will not be released from detention until all items found are rectified to the required International Standards.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Engine Room Hazard # 6186

With two in diapers, and one in preschool, my boys take up a majority of my day, so yet again I do apologize for the lack of postings. With winter lay up coming to a close, and the start of the central Canada's commercial navigation season on the horizon, I hastily enrolled myself in the new, Transport Canada approved, Marine Advance First Aid course, being offered at the nearby Western Maritime Institute, in Nanaimo. A day into the course, and I am seeing some new items but hardly much to justify the massively increased price for the course, since a few years ago, when a basic first aid course was all that was required by TC. Well the good news is that the "ticket" now last 5 years instead of the previous 3 years.

My time off was well enjoyed so far. My last trip aboard was quite challenging and bit frustrating and it has taken some time to recover from. Time off for a mariner is full of honey do items, yes the "honey to do this" list, as generated by the significant other force in our lives. One item was actually a big, but enjoyable, project that I did this time off, and that is a new kitchen renovation. Yes, I am sure you are excited to hear about this great engineering development ! I will post picture later and leave it at that.

I, once again, have many great story ideas floating in that head of mine, of course no time to commit to but, one that did catch my eyes was the latest Olympic "breaking news" out of Vancouver.

The Olympics are hosted this year by Vancouver, BC, in Canada, and the near by resort town of Whistler. The area in general, is heavily impacted by the sea, and as such, it was only natural that cruise ships would serve as temporary accommodations for the influx of visitors to the region, for the sport shows.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that the Norwegian Star, destined to house tourist, pulled out at the last minute. But that wasn't the only cruise ship calling Vancouver's harbor home, for an extended stay during the Olympics. Carnival Corporation's Carnival Elation, Oosterdam, and Statendam (the later two flying the Holland America banner) are all under tight control of the Olympic security team, as it is their temporary homes for the durations of the games. The ships, berthed at Port Metro Vancouver's Ballantyne cruise terminal in Burrad Inlet (Vancouver's inner harbour), are housing thousands of military and police staff. Seems Carnival might be making a sideline business of housing security personnel, most notably after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and now the Olympics.

A news story has been floating around the local media for some days now about the discovery that one of the crew members, aboard one of the un-identified cruise ship, was diagnosed with the disfiguring disease, Leprosy. The news report, presumably under tight control of the spins doctors at Carnival and VanOC, went to great lengths to make sure to say that no one was ever in danger of coming in contact with this terrible affliction, since the crew member worked in the engine room. Pheew ! Thank god we lock those guys out of sight ! Interesting story I must say, even though details are so few.

The crew member has since been expelled out of the country, at great expediency no doubt, further out of sight, back to his undisclosed homeland. No mention of treatment for the poor chap, but the rest of the crew did get a mandatory shot of pharmaceuticals to ease the public's fears.

Of other interesting maritime news in the area, the Russian tall ship Kruzenshtern is docked at North Vancouver's Burrard Drydocks jetty. A extensive photo montage is available from You Tube (below). The tall ship is open for visitors, and is promoting the next winter olympic's in 2014, by host city, Sochi, in Russia. Over in near by town of Squamish, not too far down the road from Whistler, hosting the Olympic alpine events, the cruise ship Mona Lisa is docked, and housing a little over 1400 Vancouver 2010 personnel.

Pictures from various internet sources

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Thalassa in a major oops

A small explosion resulted in a fire on the tanker MV Thalassa Desgagnes, while she was in lay up at section 25 of the Port of Montreal, yesterday Saturday February 13th, 2010. Local news report have said that the fire was contained rapidly by 35 fire fighters who responded in eight trucks. The accident is said to have sent one man to hospital with burns to his face and arms and left another in shock. The source of the explosion is still unclear from news reports, but would suggest that an explosion occurred while welding on, or near a hydraulic system on the vessel's midship area. Tankers in lay up in the port of Montreal are usually in a gas free state, so the risk of a major fire was minimal.

The Thalassa Desgagnes is a familiar sight on the St Lawrence, ferrying around black petroleum products like residual fuel in and around Montreal, and points nearby. The vessel has a storied past, having been salvaged from a total loss back in 1990-1991, when she was known as the Rio Orinoco, a 9,748 DWT Asphalt & Bitumen Carrier.

Built in 1976, the MV Rio Orinoco, fully loaded with heavy tar, grounded off Anticosti Island, in Quebec's Gulf of St Lawrence on October 16, 1990, and was abandoned. She was later salvaged by Le Groupe Desgagnes (1981) Inc, her cargo sold, and became the cornerstone of the modern day Transport Desgagnes shipping empire, based in Quebec City.

This accident is hopefully not an omen of things to come, as I believe the last year was quite a punishing one for the group. Both the Vegas Desgagnes, another tanker, and the Camilla Desgagnes suffered catastrophic engine failures; amongst other operational challenges. As with all shipping, the economic crisis hit them pretty hard, especially since they have just taken possession of various new vessels, at the tail end of their badly needed fleet revitalization program.

Also of interest to me, was that the Quebec (Levi) area Ultramar refinery reported two fire yesterday, occurring nearly simultaneously at the facility, just east of Levi, on the banks of the St Lawrence river. Groupe Desgagnes's subsidiary, Montreal based Petronav, to who Thalassa Desgnages is chartered to, moves a large majority of Ultramar's product on the St Lawrence. I sure hope this is not a prelude to our season this year.

MV Thalassa Desgagnes

Owner : Transport Desgagnes
Number: 7382988
Type of ship : Chemical/Oil Products Tanker
Year of build : 1976
Flag : Canada
Class: Lloyds Register
Gross Tonnage: 5,746 t
Net Tonnage: 3,864 t
Dead Weight Tonnage: 9,748 t
Length: 131.43 m
Breadth: 17.25 m
Depth: 9.21 m
Draught: 7.92 m
Self-Propelled Power: 5,000 brake horsepower
Speed: 12.5 knots

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Algoma rolls with the punches

The Algoma Discovery ran aground due to mechanical reasons, off the coast of Ile d'Orlean, just off Quebec City, on the St Lawrence River, on the evening of Monday, February 8. The vessel was freed the following day (yesterday) helped by high tides. According to, the MV Algoma Discovery, ex MV Daviken, is registered in Nassau, Bahamas and is currently under charter to Fednav. The vessel is 222 m long, 23 m wide by 14.6 meters, with a cargo capacity for 34,980 tons. The vessel was loaded with titanium and nickel, bound for Norway.

This is not the first time this particular vessel has grounded, as a matter of fact, this is the second time in almost six months. The last time was in Germany's Weser River in September 2009. In both incidences, mechanical failure has been cited as possible causes.

In other Algoma news...

New pictures have surfaced and can be seen on the main site's Marine Picture Archive of the MV Algoport sinking in late 2009.

On September 6, 2009, the MV Algoport broke in two and sank in the East China Sea, south of Japan, while being towed to a Chinese repair yard. Friend of the site, SR - (thank you), submitted the pictures below of the ship going down. The ship was being towed from Panama to China, by the tug Pacific Hickory operated by Vancouver based Island Tug & Barge. According to, the Algoport broke her back while encountering rough seas resulting from Tropical Storm Dujuan, one week away from her destination. The ship now rest under 16,404' (5,000 m) of water, at 30°0'0" N by 130°0'0" E.

The ship made her own way down to Balbao, on Panama's western shores, where the crew signed off, and she was mated to the tug Pacific Hickory, for the tow east, across the Pacific. She was to follow her fleetmate, MV Algobay, which received a new fore body at the Chengxi Shipyard Co. Ltd. in Jiangyin, China. The cost for the refits was to have cost Algoma $65 million, instead, the company recorded a net $2 million gain in the third quarter, due to insurance payout, which was bigger than the book value of the vessel. They will, however, look for another stern section to fit to the already built fore body now in China.

Owner - Algoma Central Corporation
Operator - Seaway Marine Transport
Gross tonnage - 20,222
DWT - 31,970
Type of ship - Great Lakes Self-Discharging Bulk Carrier
Length - 200 m
Breadth - 23 m
Draught: 14 m
Main Engines - 2x Crossley Pielstick 10PC 2V MK3, V-10 (7,980 kW total)
Built - Collingwood Shipyards, Collingwood, Ontario
Year of build - 1979
Cost - Approximately $25 million
Flag - Canada
Total loss - Sept 6, 2009, East China Sea while under tow (no loss of life, no reported pollution)

Friday, February 05, 2010

A fleeting Star

Edmonton based travel agent, Newwest, has pulled out of the deal that would have seen Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star, dock near the Lion's Gate Bridge, in Vancouver, to serve as accomodations during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. The Winter Games will take place in and around Vancouver starting in seven days.

The last minute decision has thrown a considerable wrench in the travel and accommodation plans of many Olympic visitors. The surrounding communities and nearby accommodations, meals, entertainment, travel, (etc), providers are left salivating at the thoughts of desperate hordes tourist ready for the picking. Taking the Norwegian Star out of the pictures, and its capacity to house, feed and entertain 1,600 people, will undoubtedly impact the overall tourist based businesses of the city and surrounding communities.

Newwest cited lack of interest and mounting costs in pulling the plug on the project, which is kind of strange seeing how they have reportedly sold 800 of the 1100 rooms available. You can see their brief apology on the Facebook page, and read further on local media website.