Friday, 3 March 2017

Ships on Ships

Occasionally ship traffic in Halifax differs from the typical container ships, car carriers, and warships. Sometimes, you get a ship carrying another ship, or better yet, a ship carrying a warship. Such was the case this past Monday when Big Lift's Happy River arrived carrying a corvette from the Bahamas.

Happy River carrying HMBS BAHAMAS.
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force employs a number of smaller naval vessels in and around the archipelago state. Two ~200 foot long offshore patrol vessels, HMBS BAHAMAS and NASSAU, are in the process of their mid-life refits. NASSAU was sent to Damen in The Netherlands for her refit, and BAHAMAS was supposedly undergoing her refit in the Bahamas. However, it was BAHAMAS (her hull number of P60 is still barely visible on her transom) that showed up on the deck of Happy River during what I assume was a short stopover. This suggests to me that either the refit was not progressing well in the Bahamas, or it was always planned to complete the refit at the Damen yard.

HMBS BAHAMAS on the deck of Happy River
Halifax Shipping News has suggested that some Damen containers were dropped off in Halifax when the two locally reassembled OSVs Atlantic Griffon and Atlantic Shrike were delivered, and Happy River may have been dropping by to pick them up for the trip back to Damen. Indeed, there was already a Damen-labelled shipping container on Happy River's deck, which helped narrow down HMBS BAHAMAS' identity by giving us the Damen connection (a number of us on social media worked to identify her on Monday morning).

NASSAU is supposed to return to the Bahamas on her own keel once her refit is complete, and presumably BAHAMAS will do the same, although there is a snarky comment in her Wikipedia article suggesting she rarely goes to see, possibly because the RBDF can't afford the fuel. They might be better off waiting until BAHAMAS is also complete her refit and ship them both back on the same heavy-lift vessel.

Happy River carrying HMBS BAHAMAS.

Happy River carrying HMBS BAHAMAS.
Keeping pace with Happy River to help her out when she got into the narrows was Atlantic Willow

Atlantic Willow with Happy River in the background.
Atlantic Willow proceeded slowly up the harbour very close to the Halifax shore, which I greatly appreciated for these two photos. 

Rising sun reflections from a building on the Halifax waterfront illuminated Atlantic Willow's port side.
This is not the first time heavy lift vessels have carried warships in and out of Halifax Harbour. After her fire on her maiden trans-atlantic attempt while in RCN commission, HMCS CHICOUTIMI was towed back to the UK, and eventually made her way to Canada with the help of Eide Transporter - a ship that is essentially a self-propelled seagoing drydock. 

Eide Transporter bringing HMCS CHICOUTIMI to Halifax in February 2005.
CHICOUTIMI was towed out of Eide Transporter's well, and taken to the Dockyard for a lengthy inspection. 

CHICOUTIMI in the foreground, with Eide Transporter hull-down in the background to allow CHICOUTIMI to float out.
It was later decided to refit CHICOUTIMI on the West Coast, and another semi-submersible heavy lift vessel, this time Dockwise Tern, was hired to take her there.

Fast forward to April 2009, when CHICOUTIMI was again deck cargo, this time on Dockwise Tern.
Fast forward again to early 2017, and CHICOUTIMI has just recently started sea trials, after more time had to be spent after her refit fixing substandard welds.

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