Saturday, 17 October 2020

CSS Acadia at sunrise

The blog has been on a bit of a hiatus for the summer with everything else I had going on, but now that we are back into autumn and reduced travel, I can get this started again.

After heading back to the office a few days a week, I get to enjoy my morning ferry and waterfront commute again, at least for a while. With sunrise well timed for my walk past the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic this morning, I was rewarded with these views of retired survey vessel CSS Acadia on the waterfront with the rising sun behind her.

The winter cover has been reinstated, allowing the rising sun to provide a nice glow over the deck. At the same time, the smooth water allows for a nice silhouette of the ship's reflection.

The images can be found here:

Hopefully the nice weather continues well into fall, to keep my morning walk as pleasant as possible.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Future HMCS HARRY DEWOLF undergoes acceptance trials

Note: I'm still having trouble with image links breaking in a previous post on the blog, regarding the salvage of the Manchester City. I'm going to try again in this new post, and if I continue to have issues with images, I will need to work out a new way to display them.

The first of the Royal Canadian Navy's new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels (AOPVs) has been undergoing final acceptance trials prior to acceptance by, and handover to, the Navy. As such, the future HMCS HARRY DEWOLF was underway at sea off the coast of Halifax last weekend, and I caught her on her return on Sunday evening.

HARRY DEWOLF returned to the inner harbour under her own power, before being joined by two tugs in the vicinity of George's Island and proceeding to her berth at the shipyard. 

These trials follow the builder's trials held by Irving Shipbuilding starting in November 2019. According to Irving, members of the future crew complement also spent some time at sea in the ship last weekend for training purposes.

For more information on the acceptance of warships from the builders hands, check out this article on the RUSI(NS) website.

RUSI(NS) also has an article on the full lifetime of a warship program, from inception to disposal of assets.

I have yet to see an announcement on when the Navy expects to take over and commission the ship, although circumstances around COVID-19 may be delaying the process.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Salvaging the cargo liner Manchester City

Please note: This was previously posted under a different title, but for some reason, the image links kept breaking. I have reposted from scratch in the hopes that this will fix the problem.

Founded in 1898, Manchester Liners was a cargo and passenger shipping company founded in (you guessed it) Manchester, UK. They operated through both World Wars and only went out of operation in 1985: the Manchester Ship Canal apparently dictated the maximum draft of their vessels, and larger and larger container vessels operated by other companies put them out of business. After the First World War, coal carriers from the line became regular callers in Sydney, NS. Starting in 1935, the company started receiving new 5,600 ton cargo liners built in Glasgow - a total of seven of these ships were built at the Blytheswood yard, including Manchester City (their second ship of this name) in 1937.


If Wikipedia is to be believed, from 1939 to 1945 Manchester City served as a minelayer during the war as well as a naval auxiliary ship in the Far East. If this is true, she was repatriated by the company after the war and returned to hauling freight and passengers across the Atlantic such that in October 1947, Manchester City was inbound on the St. Lawrence from the UK when she ran aground in thick fog near Cap Saumon, PQ.

Manchester City aground at Cap Saumon, PQ.

On Tuesday October 21, 1947, the Lethbridge Herald carried a short piece on Page 3: 

"CAP SAUMON, Que., Oct. 21. - CP - The stranded 5,600-ton freighter Manchester City was reported Monday to be taking water in No. 1 and 2 holds as her crushed bow rested on rocks about  a mile from this north shore point on the lower St. Lawrence. 

The freighter which struck in a thick fog about mid-day Sunday was bound up-river for Montreal from Britain at the time. She was not thought to be in any immediate danger as a pumping ship and a tug stood by today and the arrival of the salvage tug, Foundation Franklin, sometime tomorrow was awaited."

Interestingly (to me at least), nearby on the same page, the Herald also had a short Canadian Press piece on the commissioning of HMCS CAYUGA.

The twelve passengers on board were picked up by the passing Clarke Shipping North Pioneer, but the fifty crewmembers stayed on board. The ship had picked a challenging bit of shore to run aground on, and help wasn't likely to come from the shore side.

Manchester City aground on a steep rocky shore.

Foundation Traverse (the "pump ship" from the CP story above) and the Davie Shipyard tug Manoir alongside Manchester City on October 20, 1947. The ship's lifeboat davits appear to be empty, so I am assuming the two small boats belong to the Manchester City. The smoke coming from the latter's funnel suggests the boiler room is dry, and the ship is still producing steam and power.

The tug Foundation Franklin has arrived and is inboard of Manoir. Franklin was apparently getting a little worn out in the late 1940s, and Foundation retired her in 1948 - she was scrapped by 1950. This may have been one of her last jobs for the company.

I don't have any details on the salvage operation itself, other than it appeared to be successful. Judging from the photos below, the damage appears to have been limited to the very bow of the ship, and they may have left the ship on the rocks only long enough to ensure the ship would remain afloat long enough to reach port for repairs. I'm also making an assumption, from the presence of Davie's Manoir, that she was taken to the Davie yard at Levis, and installed in their Champlain Dry Dock. 

Manchester City in the graving dock. Water is still leaking out of the ship through the damage caused by the grounding.

This close-up shows the limit of the damage to the ship's forefoot - I'm assuming the ship's speed was reduced by the fog, thereby limiting the damage.

If you look closely, two figures seen behind the ship provide a sense of scale to the damage. Water is still streaming out in this photo, which also shows the riveting of the hull plating.

Manchester City returned to service, and according to, she was scrapped at Faslane in 1964.

My original labelling of the photos here is suspect, as the credit captions I wrote down when I scanned the images don't match the images themselves. That said, several images here were originally taken by Moderne Engr. Photographie Commerciale et Aerienne, Edifice Le Soleil, Quebec (presumably the aerial images), and Graetz Bros. Regt. Commercial Photographers. Several others were noted as being from postcards. 

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Foundation Maritime: Salvaging HMCS QUINTE

Commissioned on August 30, 1941, the Bangor-class minesweeper HMCS QUINTE was essentially brand new and had undergone a recent refit in Lunenburg in late 1942 when she ran aground and had to be "beached" - at some point she seems to have additionally capsized and sunk in the St. Peter's Canal. Foundation Maritime deployed to salvage the wreck, but winter apparently set in and the canal froze over before work could begin in earnest.

QUINTE lies on her side in the frozen waters of the St. Peter's Canal. The salvage operation has begun, and righting masts with block and tackle have been set up on the pier to begin righting the ship. This photo looks to the south.

The salvage operation began with the ship up against the sea wall on the east side of the canal entrance. The ship was lying on her port side with the bow pointed to the north, up into the canal.

Looking to the north, a man stands on a gangway rigged from the pier to the wreck. Tackle rigged to the righting masts is already connected to the ship.

The ship is sitting on the bottom in these photos, and her exposed sides and deck would have been subject to the rise and fall of the tides - with all the ice present, this probably contributed to scouring paint from the hull.

QUINTE still on her side, with her starboard lifeboat davits pointing up into the air. The ground is still covered in snow in this image.
The tug that supported the operation at this stage was the Saint-class Ocean Eagle - a Canadian Government asset at this time, and formerly Royal Navy tug St. Arvans, she had been placed under the operational control of Foundation Maritime during the war.

Though ice remains in the canal, snow cover on the ground itself is receding, and Foundation Maritime has managed to maneuver the crane barge Foundation Scarboro into position alongside the now-righted wreck. Operated during the war by Foundation Maritime, the government tug Ocean Eagle can be seen to the right of the image. Foundation Scarboro's shear legs are in the stowed position in this photo - folded down onto the deck on the right side of the barge.

The masts and tackle are still in position after righting the wreck, though she has not yet been refloated. If is hard to tell if the wreck has already been relocated, or if some of the photos have been reversed, because she is now port side-to the pier as opposed to starboard side-to in the previous photos. I am assuming they would not have relocated the righting masts, so I believe this photo is mirrored - the opposite side of the canal in this photo should be the west side.
Once QUINTE was back on a more or less even keel, she was refloated. Presumably Foundation Scarboro's participation would have been critical to this state of the operation.

Now refloated, QUINTE is rafted outside Foundation Scarboro on the west side of the canal entrance, the latter with her shear legs now deployed. Ocean Eagle can be seen in the background. The righting masts can still be seen erected on the east (near) side of the canal.
Apart from the removal of a minesweeper wreck, this end of the St. Peter's Canal hasn't changed that much over the years - the sea wall is still there, and you can see the knuckles in the edge in these Google Map Streetview images to locate the action all those years ago. In fact, the house in the background appearing between the shear legs on Foundation Scarboro still appears in the Streetview image here

QUINTE alongside Foundation Scarboro on the west side of the canal. The house in the background right of the image still exists and can be seen in the Google Streetview link above.

A close-up of the now-refloated QUINTE, looking rather the worse for wear after her ordeal. This is the starboard side of the ship, which would have been exposed to tidal action and ice, and presumably the paint has been partially scoured off - although I am unable to immediately find a photo of QUINTE taken before her sinking, so I don't know what her paint scheme would have been - but the camouflage applied during the war tended to consist of lighter colours in order to blend in on the horizon.
After completing the salvage operation in 1943, QUINTE was towed to the Foundation Maritime-operated Pictou Shipyard, where she was repaired by 1944, and then she spent the rest of the war as a training ship attached to the HMCS CORNWALLIS training base in Digby, NS. Although the Bangors had been built with enclosed bridges, it would appear that QUINTE's new training role demanded an open bridge modeled along the lines of the Flower-class corvette, and she appears to have received a new armament outfit as well, at least as compared to her contemporary sisterships.

In 1946, she briefly operated with the Naval Research Establishment in Halifax, but paid off by October 25th of that year. All this might seem like a lot of work for little return, as QUINTE was scrapped in Sydney, NS, in 1947. But then, salt water has a bad effect on electrical wiring, and perhaps problems were beginning to surface - certainly, if her history was known, she would not have been among the first to be purchased by other navies after the war.

The entire incident seems to have been relatively unknown, to the extent that at least one RCN ship historian wasn't even sure that it had occurred - until I was able to produce the photos. And the only reason I myself had the photos was because I was able to access the archives of the Foundation Company of Canada in Toronto, thanks to the kind assistance of Harold Beswick, who combed the archives, collected anything he found of interest and couriered it to me in Nova Scotia, and then received it back when I was finished scanning it. I learned just last week that Harold passed away on April 10th, at the age of 87. So if you've read this and enjoyed it, please say a little thank-you to Harold.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Sunrise at Lawrencetown Beach

I'm not one for early mornings, but after two months of social distancing and staying within a few blocks of home, I took advantage of the reopening of provincial beaches and headed out to Lawrencetown for sunrise. With sunrise scheduled around 5:30am, I got up before 5 and jumped immediately into the car. Despite the early hour, there were already hikers on the nearby Salt Marsh Trail. When I arrived at Lawrencetown Beach, the horizon was a nice shade of orange, and there was a nice array of clouds in the sky to turn the sky pink. 

In the distance along the beach and out past the headland, there was a nice low-lying fog to give atmosphere to my images. 

I stayed on the beach for at least an hour, and even long after the sun had cleared the horizon, there were still photographic opportunities. 

Getting the camera down low provides an interesting perspective to landscapes, especially when there are shiny beach stones with which to populate the foreground. 
Once I tired of the landscapes, there were plenty of detail images available, and I'm always a sucker for sea foam and long exposures of flowing water.

I would forgive the viewer for thinking I had placed this piece of seaweed in order to create this image, but it was as I found it - and soon after I took this image, a wave ventured higher up the beach than most and rearranged it into something less picturesque.

A retreating wave flows around a rock.

On my way out to the beach, I had passed a number of coves and islands, where the sea was still utterly due to the absence of wind. Hoping that the water's mirror surface remained, I started my return to the city. I was in luck!

With only a group of ducks swimming by to disturb the water, this tree along the Salt Marsh Trail reflects on the water's mirror surface.

In comparison to the following image, this little island allowed me to isolate the trees within the frame of the image.

For some reason, I really like the mixture of dark & light greens and reds with the blue of the sky and the white of the wind-fallen trees. If you look carefully, you can see the heron that I missed until I zoomed in on the image - though it isn't where you might expect to find it.
Even here, I found some detail shots to keep me there a few minutes longer.

Close to shore, the remains of the previous season's reeds lie just under the water's surface as the current crop start to poke up and cast their own reflections.
All in all, this was a much needed photographic therapy session.

Vole au Vent

Vole au Vent is a jackup heavy lift ship built in 2013, and currently flagged in Luxembourg. It was in Halifax this past week to collect components for an offshore wind farm being installed of the coast of the US. More detailed information available on Shipfax and Halifax Shipping News

Vole au Vent jacked up at Woodside on her four spuds. The ship carrying the windmill components, Bigroll Beaufort, can be seen to the left. 

Support columns and windmill blades are still onboard Bigroll Beaufort in this image.

Bigroll Beaufort to the left and Vole au Vent to the right at Woodside.
When not jacked up on her spuds, Vole au Vent is a self propelled ship, and has multiple thrusters for station keeping.

A close-up showing Vole au Vent's helicopter landing pad, bridge superstructure, and three large box thrusters.
One detail in particular that I found interesting is that her large Liebherr crane appears to be built _around_ the aft starboard spud, suggesting to me it might be a custom design for this ship.

The Liebherr crane is built around one of the spuds used to raise the ship.

Vole au Vent left port a few days ago, with only a portion of the windmill components onboard - suggesting she will be back to pick up the rest.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Salvage of the Maurienne

On the 7th of February in 1942, the master of the 3,259 GRT freighter Maurienne was dealing with some frozen pipes in one of the holds. He subsequently directed a worker to use an acetylene torch to thaw said pipes, and a fire later erupted in that same location. When convention efforts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, the master ordered the scuttling of his vessel, which in turn resulted in the almost total loss of the cargo after she capsized at the pier (as noted on page 21 of International Maritime Conventions: Volume 1, which also details a legal action brought against the shipping firm by the owners of three crates and one drum of shoe leather). 

Built in Denmark in 1938 as a refrigerated vessel to transport bananas, and only taken over by the Canadian Government at the beginning of the war, Maurienne was a new vessel . Coupled with the fact that the 324-foot vessel was also blocking the use of a portion of Pier 27/28 in the wartime Port of Halifax, her salvage would presumably have been a priority, and therefore she was subsequently salvaged by Foundation Maritime. 

The capsized freighter Maurienne.

Another view of the capsized ship, with the superstructure facing the pier. I'm assuming these photos were taken right after the sinking, such that reserve air in the hull was keeping the hull barely afloat, as later images suggest the hull was farther below the surface during the salvage work, and these photos do not appear to me to have been taken at low tide.
The salvage of the Maurienne was undertaken by Foundation Maritime in two main phases: righting, and then refloating. To begin, at least two cofferdams were constructed on the side of the ship to allow work to continue in the dry - two righting masts had to be attached to the side of the ship.

By June 24, 1942, Cofferdam #2 was ready to accept the righting mast. The two legs of the righting mast will go into the two openings marked with an "X". The "No.1" in the corner of the image refers to the image number, and not that of the cofferdam (which I got from the image caption).

A pontoon supports a diving platform alongside Cofferdam #2 - the platform seems to be slung from the two arms. At least two divers sit in their suits on the platform. 

Cofferdam #1 (background, with mast installed) and Cofferdam #2 (foreground). A support pontoon lies alongside each cofferdam, presumably carrying the pumps to keep each cofferdam dry. Foundation Scarboro, without her shear legs installed, is to the left of the image.

Foundation Scarboro starting to lift the righting mast into place in Cofferdam #2.

The righting mast being installed in Cofferdam #2.

Workers help drop the righting mast into place within Cofferdam #2, as seen from atop the rotating crane cab on Foundation Scarboro.

Cofferdam #1 with the righting mast installed. A bridge (without railings!) extends back to the Pier at the right of the photo. So much for Health and Safety.

Righting masts installed, but with cofferdams removed, to show how the masts are attached to the side of the ship.
By July 26, 1942, the ship was ready to be righted. Tension was taken up on the cables attached to the two righting masts, and the ship was slowly righted. Presumably the hull was anchored to the bottom in some manner to ensure the hull rotated, and was not simply pulled away from the pier. 

Note: Mac Mackay of Shipfax was kind enough to tell me that this type of salvage is properly referred to as "parbuckle salvage", or "parbuckling". The "righting masts" as I call them above are properly called "bents".

Righting the Maurienne.

Just past 45 degrees.

Once righted, there was a release of air trapped in the ship.

Righted, but not yet refloated.

Believe it or not, this appears to have been the easy part of the salvage. Maurienne was still sitting on the bottom of Halifax Harbour, and needed to be refloated. Foundation Maritime elected to build a new, larger, cofferdam around the majority of the ship's deck. The cofferdam extended above the surface of the water at high tide (you can see the stains from the tidal cycles on the side of the cofferdam) so that the interior of the ship could be pumped out. 

Construction of the new cofferdam proceeds around a forward mast, ahead of the bridge which appears to the left of the image.

The view from inside the cofferdam, taken looking forward from aft of the funnel. To the right is a wooden frame that appears to be used to handle a couple of pumps. This may have been positioned over one of the ship's holds. 

The view from the deck of the ship itself, within the cofferdam.

Two of the Jaeger engines used during the salvage - I'm assuming these were diesel engines used to power centrifugal pumps.

The pumping operation is underway, and a deckhouse at the stern has just broken the surface.

Pumps running from inside a cofferdam to bring Maurienne to the surface.

Pumping continues. Taken on the port side this time, the ship's nameboards can be seen displaying "Maurienne". 

The cofferdam support framework on the starboard side next to the funnel, with the pumps running.

Some of the array of pumps that was used to bring Maurienne back to the surface. 

In conjunction with the pumping operation, barges with shear legs also appear to have been lifting at the bow, ahead of the cofferdam. These may have helped to keep the ship on an even keel during the refloating operation.

Pumps running from the cofferdam, with the bow gunwale appearing to the right. The barges with shear legs can also been seen lifting here. 

Returning to the surface, though still with a list to starboard.

With pumps still running, Maurienne arriving at the surface. The deckhouse from Image #120 above can be seen here, just behind the cofferdam.
In November of 1942, while Maurienne was once again afloat, work was ongoing and the ship still looked much the worse for wear.

The refloated Maurienne. What I assume are the remains of the attachments for Righting Mast #1 can be seen just above the waterline just forward of the bridge.
Maurienne from aft.

After the war ended, Maurienne was returned to her original owners and refitted once against for refrigerated cargo. She was sold several times after 1953 (and renamed), and suffered another fire in 1963 in Hong Kong that led to her scrapping.

The entire gallery of photos of the salvage operation can be seen here:

Some of the photos appearing here came with captions explaining the procedure, but most did not, and I have interpreted (e.g. guessed) them to the best of my ability.

Bibliography & Acknowledgements:

Bertke, Donald A; Smith, Gordon; Kindell, Don. (2013). "World War II Sea War - Volume 5". Bertke Publications, Dayton, Ohio, USA. Viewed online.

Photos from the AECON collection.