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Our Monthly Newsletter — The Ship's Log

The Vancouver Branch of the World Ship Society publishes a newsletter which is sent to all branch members as part of their membership.   In addition, anyone anywhere in the world, wishing to subscribe, may do so for for little more than the cost of postage.

For the past 18 years we have published 10 issues of the newsletter each year.  If you would like to subscribe, the cost for the current calendar year is as follows: (You do not have to be a member in order to subscribe!)  [09.2013]
CDN$30.00 - if mailed to a Canadian address | US$35.00 - if mailed to an address in the United States | CDN$40.00 - if mailed to an address other than Canada or the USA

To subscribe to the newsletter, send your payment (by way of Canadian or US dollar, or £ sterling cheque -- € cheques accepted at current rate), payable to the "World Ship Society",  to — WSS, 701-1011 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, BC  V6E 1T8, Canada.  Subscriptions start on January 1st of each year and end on December 31st of each year.  If you are submitting a subscription request during the summer, include half the payment amount to carry you to the end of the calendar year, if you so choose.

A subscription to the Ship's Log  newsletter does not include any membership benefits. 

For excerpts from older newsletters go to the Archives Section -- Past Newsletters.


The "Metro Vancouver Scene" is just one of the regular monthly articles found in the newsletter.  To get all the news and photographs, immediately they are published, you need to subscribe.


Highlights from the March 2012 edition of our newsletter (Issue 191)


Please respect the copyright notice at the foot of the page. All material on this website, including photographs, is copyrighted by The World Ship Society of British Columbia, and/or the individual writers/photographers  Unless the photographer's name is shown beside the image, all other images are by the author, Neil England.

The Port of Vancouver bolted out of the starting gate this year with a total of 236 ship visits in January, up by 33 over the same month last year.  It’s also the highest count for January since I started recording stats in 2006.  Increases were seen in all ship-type categories, especially tankers (16) and vehicle carriers (27). February started slowly but has picked up in the 3rd week and is on target to equal February 2011’s tally of 221.

There has been much news in the shipping world about the glut of cargo ships on the global seas these days and how it’s driven down the Baltic Dry Index (the exchange that determines the daily charter rate for various types of ships).  Part of the problem seems to be the large number of orders for newbuilds that were put in years ago that have been delivered last year and will be delivered this year.

In Vancouver the trend is apparent.  Only 50 days into the year as of this writing, 15 ships delivered in 2012 have already arrived in port.  Another 30 delivered in 2011 have arrived.  Shipping companies are scrambling to compensate.  Maritime Executive’s website reports that demolitions have increased substantially, as have lay-ups.  Shippers are also gaining efficiencies by sharing routes with rival companies, and we’ve seen this in Vancouver where various container lines are alternating their ships on a given route.

One of several 2012 vessels arriving in February was the  ULTRA SASKATOON,  the fourth delivery of nine ships being built by Canpotex of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to deliver their much-in-demand potash to global markets.  The 200 metre, 60,000 dwt bulker was delivered on January 10th and arrived on her maiden voyage to Vancouver on January 26th.  She loaded potash at Neptune Terminals and departed January 28th.  For those who saw or noted any of the first three Canpotex ships, you will have noticed a change in this one.  Since 2012, the company which operates them, U-Sea Bulk, has changed its name to Ultra Bulk.  The large U-SEA emblazoned on the hull of the first three, is no more on this one.

ULTRA SASKATOON, January 26, 2012, following the TORENIA into port, enroute to Neptune Terminals, photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS12-0086.

Also the first three included ‘U-SEA’ in their names.  As far as I could determine, the original three have not changed their names, at least not yet.

Another of the several 2012 ships that I saw was K-Line’s  BRITAIN BAY,  still loading woodchips at the Fibreco terminal as of this writing.  She is the newest of the 2012 fleet calling here, having been delivered on January 27th.  The 58,000 dwt bulker is bound for Tilbury, UK (near London).

BRITAIN BAY, February 15, 2012, loading woodchips for the UK at FIbreco Terminal, photo taken from Brockton Point.  Ref: WS12-0073.

Another noteworthy 2012 bulker was Lauritzen Bulk’s  NICOLINE BULKER.  Noteworthy because she was anchored in the inner harbour, loaded to the wheelhouse with logs.  It’s unusual to see this cargo in the inner harbour since the port’s only log-loading facility is at Fraser-Surrey Docks on the Fraser River.  However, on rare occasions they come into the harbour to bunker, as was the case of this vessel.  She had loaded the logs at Crofton, on Vancouver Island.  The Isle of Man flagged ship, delivered on January 20th, was loaded with about 35,000 tonnes of logs, bound for China.

NICOLINE BULKER, February 15, 2012, taking on bunkers at inner harbour Anchorage-X, photo taken from Brockton Point. Ref:  WS12-0081.

Some interesting flags were flying from vessels calling in during the past month including a first-time sighting of the Finnish flag.  I have no idea how much of the global fleet is flagged in Finland but they are a huge shipbuilding nation and a long-time seafaring one.  It’s the first time I’ve seen their flag here but perhaps some of our veteran shipspotters in the WSS can enlighten us about previous sightings.  The flag was on yet another 2012 vessel, the 56,000 dwt bulker  ARKADIA, loading coal at Roberts Bank after being anchored in English Bay for a day. 

Two ships visiting in the past month have been registered in Switzerland, a flag which is becoming more common, a seeming anomaly for a land-locked country but perhaps not in today’s shipping world.  One of the ships was the  CORVIGLIA, which has called in before, but the other, the  GLARUS,  has not.  She came here to take on bunkers after unloading a cargo of alumina in Ferndale, Washington.  Many readers may not know that at Cherry Point, east of the town of Ferndale and squashed between two oil refineries, is an aluminum smelter.  The alumina concentrate for this smelter is transported on a regular basis from a processing plant in Bunbury, on the southwest coast of Australia.

The last flag of interest was that of Dominica, of which the first and only one was seen last year before the arrival of the  LEON V  on January 25th of this year.  Dominica (which means Sunday, in Latin, by the way) is a small island nation sandwiched between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the eastern Caribbean chain.  Time will tell if it’s to become the new Caribbean flag of convenience to rival Antigua & Barbuda, Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.  The 147,000 dwt, vintage 1987 Capesize bulker LEON V is owned and operated by a well-known Greek company, Polembos Shipping.  I never did find out whether  LEON V  is Leon V as in Victor, or Leon V as in five.  If any of our shipspotting readers heard Marine Traffic talking to the pilot of this ship, perhaps they can enlighten us all.

There have been several interesting ships in the Vancouver Dry Dock since the last report.  On February 8th the American offshore support vessel  HOS DOMINATOR  entered port and is still in the drydock undergoing extensive maintenance.  The 73m ship is owned by Hornbeck Offshore Services based in Covington, 

HOS DOMINATOR, February 20, 2012, in Vancouver Dry Dock, photo taken from Burrard Dry Dock Pier.  Ref: WS12-0076.

Louisiana.  The company is involved primarily in the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.  However, the ‘Dominator’ is one

of the ships used by the U.S. Navy for various military exercises and operations.  In January 2012 she was involved in a joint submarine rescue operation with the U.S. and Chilean navies off of San Diego.

On February 12th the American container ship  HORIZON KODIAK   was in the dry dock for a couple of days.  The vessel is 216m in length and 22,000 dwt.  Horizon is the main carrier of goods between the U.S. west coast, Alaska and Hawaii.  The Jones Act of 1920 specifies that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried by American flagged ships.

HORIZON KODIAK, February 13, 2012, in Vancouver Dry Dock, photo taken from the SeaBus.  Photo by Robert Etchell.  Ref: WS12-0075.

Right before the newsletter deadline approached one of the more interesting ships that I’ve ever seen called into port.  Unfortunately she came in the dark of night to an inner harbour anchorage and by dawn she was already in the dry dock.  Nevertheless I ventured over to North Vancouver on a grey and drizzly day to see her when I should have been writing.  The vessel of interest is a seaborne rocket launcher called the  SEA LAUNCH COMMANDER.   She is owned and operated by a consortium of four companies from  Russia, U.S., Norway and Ukraine.  The vessel uses Russian-Ukrainian Zenit-3SL rockets to launch satellites into space.  She operates in the Pacific Ocean and is based in San Diego.  She most recently launched a communications satellite, the Atlantic Bird 7,  into geosynchronous orbit for the European satellite operator Eutelsat Communications, in September 2011.  The Liberian flagged vessel is imposing with her host of communications equipment, massive superstructure and large heavy-duty ramp on her stern. She is 200m in length, 32.3m beam (Panamax size) and 10,400 dwt.

During my various outings this month I stumbled upon a couple of interesting things. I set out on an exploratory trip one sunny morning, taking the bus to Hastings and Boundary and then walking toward Burrard Inlet.  There were beautiful views of the North Shore and parts of Burrard Inlet from atop a reservoir in Burnaby Heights, but much too far away to photograph ships.  As I continued toward the water I knew I would eventually encounter the Trans-Canada 

SEA LAUNCH COMMANDER, February 20, 2012, in Vancouver Dry DOck, Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver.  Ref: WS12-0085.

Trail, part of which runs along Burrard Inlet. It’s heavily treed there so the views aren’t great, but to my amazement, at one spot only, a large swath of trees was cut out down to the cliff’s edge.  It afforded a spectacular view across to the Canexus Terminal in North Vancouver and the mountains behind it.  Most people would say that a view looking across to a chemical plant is not spectacular, but it was for me.  There happened to be a ship in at the time, the venerable old  ISLA DE CEDROS  unloading salt.  Walking west along the trail towards the Second Narrows, I spotted a little-used footpath heading shoreward.  Hoping to get another good view, I ended up bushwacking my way to the cliff’s edge only to encounter a thicket of underbrush as tall as me.  I was able to find an opening large enough through which to point my camera when the American tug  PACIFIC CHALLENGER  unexpectedly passed by, towing the tanker barge  CASCADES.  WSS member Robert Etchell later sent a better picture of her taken from the Lions Gate Bridge but I’m including mine in the article because of the amount of work that went into getting it.

ISLA DE CEDROS, February 3, 2012, unloading salt at the Canexus Terminal in North Vancouver, taken from the Trans-Canada Trail, Burnaby.  Ref: WS12-0077.

After cleaning the mud and twigs off my clothes I continued along the trail to one of my favourite shoreline venues, New Brighton Park.  Across the water at LynnTerm, the general cargo ship BEAGLE III was unloading her cargo.  A barge with a large blue crane on it, which I’ve seen on the Fraser River a couple of times, was beside the ship.  Moments later a large piece of equipment arose from the hold.  The tugs  CATES 10  and  KEN McKENZIE  were assisting the barge and shifted her down the dock where the equipment was dropped onto a railcar.  The barge had her name painted on her large blue housing,  BIG JOHNSON,  and underneath, a phone number. How convenient was that!  I phoned when I got home and it turned out to be the number of the barge’s owner, Global Rigging and Transport, of Surrey, B.C.  The crane is capable of lifting 250 tonnes, probably four-times the capacity of the ship’s deck cranes, and the cargo she was lifting was a 150 tonne transformer bound for a power project in Alberta. The information was given to me by Cale Anderson of Global Rigging who kindly sent me two photos he had taken from the ship.

PACIFIC CHALLENGER, February 3, 2012, towing tank barge CASCADES, passes Allied Shipyards en route to Burnaby, photo from Trans-Canada Trail, Burnaby.  Ref: WS12-0082.

I made yet another trip to the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge to photograph Vancouver-based Teekay Tanker’s  EVEREST SPIRIT  en route to the Westridge Terminal in Burnaby.  She is one of four tankers that have carried crude oil out of Kinder Morgan’s facility this year.  At 116,000 deadweight tonnes, the 250m, Bahamian flagged vessel is about the maximum size of tankers that are currently going through the Second Narrows.  Another of the four tankers, also 116,00 dwt, the Maltese flagged  ACTION, was photographed by Robert Etchell, when she departed Vancouver.

From the bridge I could see three ships at LynnTerm East: the  KESTREL ARROW at Berth-6; the TERN ARROW  at Berth-5; and the  WESTWOOD COLUMBIA  at Berth-4.  All three had gantry cranes but all were different styles, as the ships range in vintage from 1983 to 2002.  I wish I had close-up photos.  Nevertheless it made for an interesting study of the evolution of ship’s gantry cranes as I was able to get a better look at them from New Brighton Park with my binoculars.  While at the park I noticed the  MORNING CEDAR  at LynnTerm West, loading forest products.   

February 3, 2012, a 150-tonne transformer is lifted from the hold of the BEAGLE III, photo from aboard BEAGLE II. Cal Anderson photo.  Ref: WS12-0071. 

BEAGLE III, February 3, 2012, unloading cargo at LynnTerm, photo taken from New Brighton Park.  Ref: WS12-0078. 

She is a regular visitor to the port, usually bringing in vehicles and leaving with forest products.  On her previous departure from Vancouver in late November 2011, she was bound for Japan and ran into trouble near the island of Tanaga in the western extreme of the Aleutian Islands.  Her rudder was stuck hard to starboard due to a leak in the hydraulic system.  She was able to avoid hitting the island by using her engines and bow thrusters.  She drifted in the Bering Sea until specialists were flown in from Norway and the U.S. mainland to make temporary repairs.  She was then able to make her way to the Alaskan port of Dutch Harbor, more than 300 nautical miles away.

In closing, I make another appeal to our readers who may be, or were, mariners.  I’m sure you have the answer.  While at Stanley Park one fine day in February, the  SAGA EXPLORER  steamed into port.  Stowed neatly under one of her two gantry cranes were eleven bins which looked like standard 20-foot containers with open tops.  What appeared to be in them were masses of straps or rigging of some sort, but I couldn’t be sure.  The bins were clearly marked ‘GEAR BIN’.  At least one of the bins that was marked also with ‘SAGA TUCANO’ was obviously from another ship.  Anyone know what a gear bin is?ǂ

BIG JOHNSON, February 3, 2012, with assistance from CATES 10, BIG JOHNSON carries the transformer to dockside, from BEAGLE III.  Cal Anderson photo.  Ref: WS12-0072.  

EVEREST SPIRIT, January 30, 2012 en route to Westridge Terminal to load crude oil, photo taken from Iron Workers Memorial Bridge.  Ref: WS12-0074. 

ACTION, February 19, 2012, departing Vancouver with crude oil, photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Robert Etchell photo.  Ref: WS12-0070.

MORNING CEDAR, January 30, 2012, departing Vancouver with forest products bound for Japan, photo taken from Prospect Point.  Ref: WS12-0080.

SAGA EXPLORER, February 15, 2012, en route to LynnTerm-3, photo taken from Prospect Point.  Ref: WS12-0083

SAGA EXPLORER, February 15, 2012, gear bins under the gantry crane.  Ref: WS12-0084.

January 30, 2012, KESTREL ARROW, TERN ARROW and WESTWOOD COLUMBIA at LynnTerm East.  Ref: WS12-0079.. 


Highlights from the February 2012 edition of our newsletter (Issue 190)


Please respect the copyright notice at the foot of the page. All material on this website, including photographs, is copyrighted by The World Ship Society of British Columbia, and/or the individual writers/photographers  Unless the photographer's name is shown beside the image, all other images are by the author, Neil England.

With the 2011 reports behind us I can now pen my mea culpas for last month’s report and absolve myself of my sins of 2010.  In the January issue at least two readers noticed that I called the STX PRIDE a ‘Panamax bulker’.  The accompanying photo above the error made it obvious to some that it wasn’t.  I meant of course to call it a ‘Handymax bulker’.  Some readers noticed as well that the photo of the SONOMA was printed in mirror-image but I can’t take credit for that.  I appreciate the vigilance of our readership and stand ready to be corrected.  We strive always to make no mistakes with the Ship’s Log and I’m sure our 2012 New Year’s resolutions included that.

Port Metro Vancouver has yet to publish their final 2011 stats for cargo shipments but you can be sure they are increasing overall.  December closed with another increase in ship visits with 245 compared to 219 for the previous year.  The total number of ship visits for 2011 increased over the previous year, which you can see in the table below:

SHIP TYPE.........2011.....2010

Total ship visits were up by 131 over 2010.  This is good news for the port and better news for ship docking tug operators and pilots. 

When a ship exceeding 350 gross tonnes comes into B.C. waters she must have a pilot on board.  Ships that enter through the Strait of Juan de Fuca (from sea) or from Puget Sound (eg. Seattle) pick up a B.C. pilot at the Brotchie Pilot Station just off the coast of Victoria.  If the ship is coming to Port Metro Vancouver the pilot will guide the ship to her destined terminal or anchorage position, with two exceptions.  If she is headed for a Fraser River terminal, a river pilot is picked up at Sandheads, the entrance to the south arm of the Fraser River from Georgia Strait.  The Brotchie pilot will disembark at this point.  If the ship is going beyond the First Narrows in Vancouver harbour, (e.g. Port Moody) a narrows pilot is picked up in English Bay. 

When a ship moves from terminal to anchorage, anchorage to terminal, or terminal to terminal, a pilot must be on board as well.  All these ships and ship movements create a lot of work for pilots and tugboat crews.  A quick analysis of my data shows that about 40% of the 2,923 ships in last year made at least one move, apart from docking and undocking at a single terminal. Another 20% made two moves and about 10% made three moves.  About 5% made four moves or more.

Tugboats of course are always involved in ship docking and undocking  (except for cruise ships) but they also escort tankers through the First Narrows and Second Narrows.

The 2,923 ship visits were made by 1,560 different ships.  Put another way, about 47% of the visits are from repeat customers.  Far and away the most frequent visitor, disregarding cruise ships, was the Singapore flagged, 30,000 tonne products tanker  MAERSK BERING,  hauling petrochemical products back and forth between Burnaby and California.  She was here 20 times last year.  Many cruise ships doing one-week Alaskan cruises such as Holland America’s  ZUIDERDAM   also called in to port 18 to 20 times.

Nearly one-third of all ships visiting (32%) in 2011 were flying the Panamanian flag.  This number is in alignment with world fleet flagging and also past years of ship visits to Vancouver.  There were 46 different flags represented.  The top 12 flags represented 85% of all ships calling here in 2011.  Below is a list.  These were the only flags common enough that they were represented each month of the year:

# SHIPS..........FLAG# SHIPS
3Hong Kong1429Greece41
4Marshall Is10010Norway39

Each year there seems to be a few new flags making their appearance in Vancouver, and they may even be new to the world of global fleets.  The following flags had but a single ship calling into Vancouver last year and those marked with an ‘*’ are new to the port, at least since I’ve been watching from 2006: 

BangladeshAKIJ WAVE
Netherlands AntillesCARIBBEAN SEA
*United Arab EmiratesZIRKU

There was no shortage of newbuilds in the port – 168 ships in all which had been delivered in 2011.  The last one to arrive was on December 26th.  She was the Swiss flagged, 34,000 tonne bulker,  CHARMEY,  delivered on December 10th, no doubt on her maiden voyage, to load potash at Neptune Terminals.

After only three weeks into the new year we already had the first ship delivered in 2012 arrive at the port.  She is the Panamanian flagged  MARGRETH PISSAREK,  an 81,000 tonne bulker delivered on January 3rd and arriving here on January 19th.

And so concludes our snapshot of 2011 activity and on to a few interesting sightings during the past month.  Just before Christmas, WSS-BC president Ray Warren was photographing on the Fraser River when a barge with a peculiar  cargo, was being towed upriver.  He forwarded the photos to me to do a bit of sleuthing.  The tug, as Ray had identified, was the  PEGGY McKENZIE,  and the barge,  STRAITS 153, was carrying what looked like a large tower cut into sections, with the last section having a large house-like structure on top.  A phone call to the tug company, Island Towing of Sydney, B.C., unravelled the mystery.  The structure was an old crane from the Esquimalt Dry Dock, vintage 1940 or so, and she was going to the Amix scrap yard in Surrey, just upriver from the Pattullo Bridge.

PEGGY McKENZIE with barge STRAITS 153, December 21, 2011.  Esquimalt Dry DOck crane enroute to a scrap yard in Surrey.  Photo taken from Deas Island Park.  Photo by Ray Warren.  Ref: WS12-0011.

Mystery gave way to intrigue on the mighty Fraser.  I went to Annacis Island with my friend Irwin on January 5th because it happened to be one of the few sunny days in the past month and I wanted to see two ships that were docked in the seldom-used (until lately) downstream berths 2 and 3.  From a well hidden beach, accessed by a jungle trail, one can look straight across the Fraser at these two berths.  Alongside at the time were the  32,000 tonne, Panamanian flagged bulker  ORIENTE HOPE,  which was loading logs, and directly behind it, the 13,000 tonne general cargo ship  BRATTINGSBORG,  owned by Danish shipper Nordana.  She’s a smart looking vessel, built in 2010, with bright red cranes and hatch covers.  Among the various pieces of project cargo being unloaded were two good-sized  motor yachts sitting on her deck.  After taking a few photos we couldn’t help notice how the wind had come up and there were whitecaps on the river.  It was so cold we couldn’t bear hanging around for 30 minutes to catch a vehicle carrier due to depart the Annacis Auto Terminal, so we left.  That would have been the end of the story, had the ship not showed up at Centerm-1 (Ballantyne cruise ship terminal) a few days later.  Since it’s so rare to see a merchant ship at that terminal, it usually means a good story.  Checking it out some days later, I could see that the stern had been submerged in order to bring the bow almost entirely out of the water.  

 Welders were working on two different areas of the bulbous bow and large holes had been cut out at each place.  My curiosity caused me to phone the ship’s agent and the contact indicated to me that he was indisposed to say anything about the incident  but suggested I check it out on Youtube.  Which I did.  And lo and behold I watched a three-minute video of the  BRATTINGSBORG  colliding with the  ORIENTE HOPE  while docking in high winds.  The videographer, seemingly with a cell phone, is on the dock watching the action and giving a play-by-play.  I could find no reports of damage to the  ORIENTE HOPE  but she did seem to sail on time.  The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the accident.

ORIENT HOPE, January 5, 2012.  Loading logs at Fraser-Surrey DOcks berth-3, photo taken from Annacis Island.  Ref: WS12-0010.

The inner harbour had its usual share of activity and some noteworthy events.  On December 28th the American factory fish-processing ship  OCEAN PHOENIX  arrived in Vancouver to have maintenance work done at Vancouver Dry Dock.  She was towed up from Seattle by the American tug  OCEAN RANGER  and then assisted by the  SEASPAN FALCON  from English Bay into the harbour.  The ship has an interesting history, back to 1964 when she was launched as the  OREGON MAIL, a break-bulk cargo ship.  She was converted in 1972 to a container ship, renamed the  PRESIDENT KENNEDY, and operated by APL (American Presidents Line).  Her latest incarnation began in 1989 when she was bought by Premier Pacific Seafoods of Seattle.  She processes pollock in the Bering Sea and hake off the coast of Washington and Oregon.  According to her owners, she is the largest American fish-processor on the seas, having freezer capacity of 4,200 tons of product.

Another event is unfolding as I write and it may be of interest to some readers who may want to keep an eye on the local news for further developments.  Seaspan International of North Vancouver has sold two retired log barges and 8 tugs to a scrapyard in China.  The tugs have already been loaded aboard the barge  STRAITS LOGGER  with the help of local scrapper Amix of Surrey, B.C., who supplied their barge with heavy-lift crane, the  ARCTIC TUK.  The barge and tugs are presently moored in the Seaspan yard and can be easily viewed from Brockton Point.  According to Seaspan communications coordinator, Kelly Francis,  the semi-submersible heavy-lift freighter  DEVELOPMENT WAY  has been contracted to ship the vessels to a scrapyard near Tianjin, China.  

BRATTINGSBORG, January 5, 2012.  Unloading general cargo at Fraser-Surrey Docks berth 2.  Photo taken from Annacis Island.  Ref: WS12-0002.

BRATTINGSBORG, January 12, 2012, at CenTerm-1.  Photo taken from Powell Street.  Ref: WS12-0003.

BRATTINGSBORG January 12, 2012.  Welders reparing the bow.  Photo taken from Powell Street.  Ref: WS12-0004.

The loading operation was originally scheduled to happen during the week of January 16th, but Ms. Francis said that the ship has been delayed for an unspecified period of time.  When I checked on the whereabouts of the ship on Marinetraffic.com  she had left Manzanillo, Mexico on January 16th, destined for South Korea.  Knowing that, it would be at least a month before the ship would be in Vancouver.  Keep your eyes and ears open if you’re interested in watching the loading operation or her departure.  The other barge being scrapped was identified as the  HAIDA BRAVE (built in1978),  and the 8 tugs are as follows:  SEASPAN MASTER (b.1967),  MERCER STRAITS (b.1971),  RIVER PRINCESS (b.1962),  HARMAC FIR (b.1964),  SEASPAN CHARGER (b.1969),  BERING STRAITS (b.1965),  STORM COASTER (b.1971),  and  TEXADA CROWN (b.1965).

OCEAN PHOENIX December 28, 2011, in English Bay under tow from OCEAN RANGER and escorted by SEASPAN FALCON.  Ref: WS12-0007.

OCEAN PHOENIX December 28, 2011.  Entering First Narrows.  Photo taken from Porspect Point.  Ref: WS12-0008.

Members who attended the September 2011 meeting will remember presenter Steve Ilott from the RCMP Coastal Watch Program informing us that there are only 4 RCMP boats to cover the entire B.C. coast.  One of them is the high-speed catamaran  HIGGITT  which is stationed at Alert Bay, near the northern end of Vancouver Island.  She paid us a visit on January 12th, racing into the harbour at great speed. 

 When frequent visitor  WESTWOOD VICTORIA  sailed into Vancouver in mid January, I couldn’t help notice how many tanks were amongst her container cargo on deck.  I’ve noticed that this is becoming more common and I’d love to know what sort of

liquid cargoes are inbound.  The Westwood ships which have been in the break-bulk forest products trade for years are increasingly carrying containers to pay their way.

OCEAN RANGER December 28, 2011.  Entering First Narrows with OCEAN PHOENIX in tow.  Photo taken from Porspect Point.  Ref: WS12-0009.

STRAITS LOGGER January 17, 2012.  With eight tugs aboard and HAIDA BRAVE (let): scrapyard bound.  Photo taken from Brockton Point.  Ref: WS12-0012.

After complaining about the perils and discomfort of photographing from the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, I find myself increasingly on that very structure.  I must have a masochistic streak in me somewhere.  I was at New Brighton Park on January 10th when the bulk freighter  MAIPO RIVER  was being escorted toward First Narrows.  I couldn’t resist the idea of how much better a shot from the bridge would look compared to one from shore.  In a moment of compulsion I ran as fast as I could in my heavy winter clothing, backpack and camera gear up the steep slope to the bridge.  As it was, I got there in good time, puffing and sweating, and needn’t have run.  Pacific Basin’s 33,000 tonne Hong Kong flagged vessel was going slower than I had estimated and only seemed to speed up when she got near the bridge.  Perhaps the captain saw me running and took pity.  The ship was en route to Port Moody to load sulphur at Pacific Coast Bulk Terminals.

ARCTIC TUK January 14, 2012.  Alongside STRAITS LOGGER after loading tugs aboard.  Photo taken from Brockton Point.  Ref: WS12-0001.

HIGGITT, January 12, 2012.  RCMP boat entering harbour.  Photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS12-0005.

WESTWOOD VICTORIA January 14, 2012.  En route to CenTerm container terminal.  Photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS12-0013.

WESTWOOD VICTORIA January 14, 2012.  Some of the tank containers amongst the cargo.  Photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS12-0014.

MAIPO RIVER January 10, 2012.  En route to Port Moody, excorted by TIGER WOLF and SMIT CLYDE.  Photo taken from Iron Workers Memorial Bridge.  Ref: WS12-0006.

All photos in the Metro Vancouver Reports were taken by Neil England, except where otherwise noted.  All photos are copyrighted by either the photographer and/or The World Ship Society of British Columbia.  Please contact the author/photographer before reproducing any photos in any of our columns.


Highlights from the January 2012 edition of our newsletter (Issue 189)


Please respect the copyright notice at the foot of the page. All material on this website, including photographs, is copyrighted by The World Ship Society of British Columbia, and/or the individual writers/photographers  Unless the photographer's name is shown beside the image, all other images are by the author, Neil England.

Another year will have wound down when this report reaches your doorstep, and many besides myself will wonder where the year went.  With only 10 days to go in 2011, it can confidently be said that it will surpass 2010 in ship visits.  November registered a total of 246 ships, 41 more than November 2010, bringing the 11-month total to 2,685.  This is 112 more ships than last year’s total at the end of November.

In the last three months there’s been a surge in bulk ship visits.  Coal and grain continue to be the most sought after commodities shipped out of the port.  There have been 37 grain ships and 28 coal ships calling in since the last report.  Potash was carried out by 11 ships and sulphur by another eight.  Vehicles were brought in by 25 ships – all during the last month.  Forest Products were shipped out in 15 vessels.  This includes three log carriers and four woodchip carriers.  The remaining would be primarily pulp and packaged lumber.  It’s unknown to me how much of any of these products might go out in containers on any of the 68 container ships that visited in the past month.

STX PRIDE, 8th December, 2011, loading woodchips at Fibreco, photo taken from Brockton Point in Stanley Park.  Ref: WS11-0612.

Of the more than 100 bulk ships that have called in since the last report, 17 are brand new, delivered this year.  The  STX PRIDE  a 57,000 tonne Panamax bulker was delivered in May and was in port to load woodchips.  This cargo seems to be more popular these days, as the Fibreco Terminal in North Vancouver, the only deep-sea facility in the port for loading woodchips, has been very busy this year.  The  STX PRIDE   is not a specialized woodchip carrier as are some of the vessels loading there, but she did take on a full cargo and spent almost 12 days at the terminal.  Some ships such as the  CIELO DI VANCOUVER,  a 37,000 tonne general cargo vessel, took on a partial load of woodchips at Fibreco after loading other forest products at Vancouver Wharves and LynnTerm.  The LUSITANIA G  was another 2011 Panamax bulker that loaded woodchips at Fibreco.  The 196m, 58,000 tonne Italian flagged vessel was delivered on November 2nd and arrived here on her maiden voyage.

CIELO DI VANCOUVER, November 23, 2011, departing Vancouver Wharves, as viewed from Stanley Park Seawall.  Ref: WS11-0600.

LUSITANIA G, November 30, 2011, loading woodchips at Fibreco, viewed from Stanley Park seawall.  Ref: WS11-0605.

The newest of all the new ships was the Marshall Islands flagged, 81,000 tonne bulker  KROUSSON  which was photographed by member Robert Etchell, shortly after the vessel departed Port Moody with a partial load of sulphur.  She was moving to Vancouver Wharves to top up her cargo.  The 229m vessel was delivered on November 14th and was also on her maiden voyage.

One of the two other 2011 ships that I was able to photograph was a very interesting one.  The 33,000 tonne Liberian flagged general cargo ship  WARNOW JUPITER  arrived at Vancouver Wharves to load ore concentrates.  Stacked in front of the superstructure almost up to the wheelhouse was what looked like a giant grey container.  I had a good look at it through my binoculars and could see that it was fastened to fixed vertical rails.  Attached to the front of the cabin house and that they appeared to be layers of something rather than a single structure.

KROUSSON, December 4th, 2011, departing Port Moody with sulphur en route to Vancouver Wharves, viewed from Barnett Marine Park.  Robert Etchell photo.  Ref: WS11-0603.

However, I remained puzzled as to what it could be.  After serendipitously coming across a photo of an almost identical looking ‘container’ on another general cargo vessel, I’m now speculating that they are in fact the 'tween decks from the holds of the ship being stored topside.  It would make sense in the case of this vessel since she was loading a bulk cargo and the 'tween decks would have no purpose.  Rather, they would take up space and complicate the loading.

WARNOW JUPITER, November 23, 2011, docking at Vancouver Wharves, photo taken from Stanley Park seawall.  Ref: WS11-0615.

The last 2011 ship that I photographed for this report was the 180m, 35,000 tonne Marshall Islands flagged bulker  QUINN J  which arrived at JRI Terminal to load grain.  The squeaky-clean vessel was delivered to her American operator Apex Bulkers on October 31st.  On her funnel was a very photogenic stylized ‘A’ logo.

Of the many other grain ships that visited in the past month, One of the larger ones was the EMERALD INDAH which loaded coal at Cascadia, Cargill and Alliance grain terminals.  Built in 1998, the Singapore flagged vessel is 229m in length, 36.5m beam (too wide to fit in the Panama Canal locks) and has a deadweight of 78,000 tonnes.  Her relatively shallow draft of 12.8 metres for a bulker of this size, along with her wider beam usually indicates she is servicing Asian ports with draft limitations such as many in Japan which are less than 13 metres.  On this voyage she was destined for Jakarta.

QUINN J, December 17, 2011, en route to JRI terminal for grain, photo taken from Porspect Point in Stanley Park.  Ref: WS11-0609.

The Singaporean-registered EMERALD INDAH, November 25, 2011, docking at Cascadia terminal, as viewed from Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0601.

Of the 37 grain ships calling in during the past month the only other large one that I was able to photograph was the Panamax bulker SONOMA, loading grain  at Pacific Elevators.

The Maltese flagged, 75,000 tonne vessel is 225m in length, 32.3m beam and has a draft of 14.3m.  She was built in 2001.  Only 12 of the 37 grain ships were of Panamax size or larger (over 70,000 tonnes).  The majority of them were between 25 and 50 thousand tonnes.  An example of a 28,000 tonne Handysize bulker carrying grain was the  PAPORA WISDOM,  a 169m Panamanian flagged vessel which loaded at the Alliance Grain Terminal.

SONOMA, November 30, 2011, departing from Pacific Elevators with grain, photographed from Brockton Point.  Ref: WS11-0611.

PAPORA WISDOM, December 8, 2011, departing Vancouver with grain, from Stanley Park seawall.  Ref: WS11-0606.

One other grain ship worth a mention is the  OCEAN PEARL.  She was anchored in the inner harbour for a few days before loading grain at Pacific Elevators.  I erroneously assumed she was the same ship I had recorded in my database in 2007 when she was flying the flag of Cyprus.  However, she turns out to be a completely different ship.  This one is flagged in Turkey, operated by Mardeniz Denizcilik of Istanbul.  She has an interesting funnel which looks like the letter ‘M’ with an anchor through it.  The anchor has a rope on it and the whole complex has a shadow. 

OCEAN PEARL, December 9, 2011, departing Vancouver with grain, photo taken from Prospect Point.  Ref: WS11-0607.

OCEAN PEARL funnel, December 9, 2011, a complex logo,photographed from Prospect Point.  Ref: WS11-0606.

 It appears to be making the letter ‘D’ as well, inscribing the initials of the operator, but it’s lost in the noise.  The 190m, 56,000 tonne bulker is much larger than her moniker-mimicked Cypriot cousin, who is 170m and 29,000 tonnes.  To make matters more confusing there are no less than 12 deep-sea vessels on world ship registers with that same name. A case in point for the fact that there aren’t enough names to go around in the shipping world.

If it seems like I’m obsessed with grain this month it’s because there were so many grain ships to photograph.  I had just arrived at one of my favourite photographic venues, New Brighton Park, when the  ACE BRIDGE  departed the Cascadia grain terminal. Disappointed that I was only going to get a stern shot (if I hurried) it turned out to be a good thing since the sun was in the right position, the sky was ominous with dark clouds and the beautiful Lions peaks were the sparkling backdrop.  Built in 1999, this vessel is 169m and 28,000 tonnes.  She’s a familiar visitor to the port and is flagged in the exotic Republic of Vanuatu.  Find that on a map if you can.  A relatively recent flag of convenience, many shipping companies set up on this South Sea group of islands for tax advantages, including I assume, the Japanese operators of this ship Sato Steamships of Hiroshima.

ACE BRIDGE, November 25, 2011, departing Cascadia grain terminal, photo taken from New Brighton Park.  Ref: WS11-0598.

My final mention of grain ships will be the Marshall Islands flagged bulker  TPC TIMARU.  Fellow photographers Don Brown and Robert Etchell watched with me as she moved from anchorage in English Bay to Vancouver Wharves to load grain.  A clean, handsome-looking vessel of 2010 vintage, she is180m in length and 34,000 tonnes.  On her funnel was the TPC logo of Korean operator Trans Pacific Carries.  The ‘T’ was a stylized bird.  For whatever reason I always thought a timaru was a New Zealand bird.  Well it isn’t, but it is a New Zealand port.  And as it turns out, TPC was founded in 2001 primarily to move New Zealand logs to Asian markets.  It has a whole fleet of vessels with New Zealand port names, and like the one that we saw, they have stanchions on the deck to facilitate carrying logs.  I suppose there are not enough logs or log buyers these days, but grain will do fine.  As for the bird on the funnel – well, it may not be a bird at all.

In closing I’ll mention a few grain-unrelated sightings that caught my attention.  The last chapter of the spilled-uranium saga was written when the MERATUS PELAMBANG set sail for Singapore on November 30th.  As noted in the previous report, the former MCP ALTONA was sold to Indonesian interests and renamed on November 19th while berthed at CenTerm-1.  On November 28th a couple of WSS members and I witnessed her doing trials out in English Bay and beyond before returning to LynnTerm, from where she departed.  Also reported in the last issue of the Ship’s Log was the arrival of 12 new barges for Ledcor Resources and Transportation.  According to their website they have secured a contract to deliver woodchips and hog fuel from B.C. interior mills to the Howe Sound Pulp & Paper Mill in Port Mellon, north of Langdale on the Sunshine Coast.  Member Robert Etchell reports that he’s seen one loaded barge headed that way already.  I was on the North Arm of the Fraser River last week and photographed four of their new barges tied up at one of the pylons near the Arthur Laing Bridge.  Apparently the chips are being trucked down to the lower mainland and loaded on the barges somewhere on the Fraser River.

TPC TIMARU, December 18, 2011, en route to Vancouver Wharves, photo taken from the visitors' viewing platform at Prospect Point in Stanley Park.  Ref: WS11-0614.

TPC TIMARU funnel, December 18, 2011, a bird or not a bird, photo taken from Prospect Point.  Ref: WS11-0613.

Another interesting cargo being barged locally is coal.  I photo-graphed Lafarge Canada’s tug  CAPTAIN COOK  towing the coal-laden barge  TEXADA  under the Lions Gate Bridge.  On the barge could be seen a front end loader and portable conveyor.

Ledcor barges, December 5, 2011, tied up on the North Arm of the Fraser River near the Arthur Laing Bridge, photo taken fromthe NOrth Arm dike.  Ref: WS11-0604.

CAPTAIN COOK, December 8, 2011, towing barge TEXADA laden with coal, photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0599.

Inner Harbour, November 25, 2011, anchorages A, B, C, Fibreco and Vancouver Wharves terminal, as seen from Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0602.

The coal, loaded in Port Moody, is apparently destined for the Lafarge Cement plant in Richmond on the Fraser River.  The plant burns coal as one of its primary fuels for the kilns, but Lafarge initiated a programme in 2009 to gradually replace the coal with less polluting fuels.

The third of four Seaspan tugs being built in Turkey was delivered in Vancouver on December 15th.  WSS President Ray Warren was on hand to photograph the event and commented that there was no fanfare at all.  I know this is similar to being born the third child, as all the parties have stopped by then.  When the  SEASPAN OSPREY  sailed quietly in that day there were no brass bands, fireboats or even Seaspan cousin tugs to greet her.  I hope Ray notified Seaspan that she had arrived, but if not, at least Marine Traffic would have had her on their radar and welcomed her to Vancouver.  Like her two sisters before her she will be deployed in ship docking and ship assist duties.

SEASPAN OSPREY, December 15, 2011, arriving in Vancouver on her maiden voyage from Turkey, photographed from Prospect Point by Ray Warren.  Ref: WS11-0610.

We had an unusual visitor in port from November 21st to the 25th.  The Washington State ferry  PUYALLUP  was in Vancouver Dry Dock undergoing scheduled inspections.  It’s a pity it couldn’t have taken a few cars and passengers back with it to Seattle.  I would have been one of them.

While on the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge one day in December I could see looking toward the Lions Gate Bridge what appeared to be a shipping traffic jam.  Clustered in a pack were four ships anchored in the inner harbour along with one at Fibreco and another at Vancouver Wharves.  It made for an interesting photo and snapshot testimony to just how busy the harbour has been. ǂ 


Highlights from the December 2011 edition of our newsletter (Issue 188)


Please respect the copyright notice at the foot of the page. All material on this website, including photographs, is copyrighted by The World Ship Society of British Columbia, and/or the individual writers/photographers

Although the tough global economic times are now beginning to be felt by many people in this country, it’s good to see that the shipping industry in Vancouver still remains healthy.  October finished with 233 ship visits, 11 more than October last year.  By the end of October the year’s ship visits totalled 2,439 which is 70 ahead of last year’s mark.  The final cruise ship of the year left Vancouver on October 4th and Port Metro Vancouver reports that cruise passenger totals were up by 27,000 over last year.  Cruise ship visits were up by 20.

We’ve had some of our typical cold, wet and grey days that we’ve come to expect this time of year, but overall it’s been an unusually dry and warm month.  I can attest to this by the number of days I got out to photograph ships, although I confess one of them was in the pouring rain and wind.  There have been so many interesting events and sightings during the last month that I’ve had to neglect my chores at home, but what can a shipspotter do!

IRKUT, November 10, 2011, shifted alongside the VARYAG by SMIT SHARK and SMIT CLYDE, photo taken from Vancouver Convention Centre.  Ref: WS11-0538.

VARYAG, November 10, 2011, docked at Canada Place, photo taken from Canada Place.  Ref: WS11-0547.

IRKUT, November 11, 2011, departing Vancouver, taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Photo by Ray Warren.  Ref: WS11-0537.

We were paid a visit by the Russian Navy from November 8-11.  The missile cruiser  VARYAG   was accompanied by the supply ship  IRKUT which both docked at Canada Place.  The  VARYAG  was open to the public on the 9th and 10th but the queues to get on were very long.  The ships were escorted into Vancouver from Victoria (which is the etiquette) by the Canadian frigate  ALGONQUIN (283)  which also docked at Canada Place.  The Russian vessels had left their home port of Vladivostok two months previously and had been involved in joint exercises in the Pacific with foreign navies.  Their first programme involved the Japanese navy followed by exercises with the U.S. navy in Guam, and finally with the Canadian Navy off the coast of Vancouver Island.  Officers and crew of the Russian ships participated in Remembrance Day ceremonies in Vancouver before the ships departed that afternoon about 2 o’clock.  The day before departing I watched the tugs  SMIT SHARK  and  SMIT CLYDE  shift the  IRKUT  alongside the  VARYAG  so that she could be refuelled.

The venerable old salt ship  ISLA DE CEDROS  which has brought salt into Vancouver for at least the last 12 years is presently in a drydock in Jiangyin, China (near Shanghai) getting a refit.  According to her agent here in Vancouver, Westward Shipping, she is due back in Vancouver sometime in December and is expected to be in service for another couple of years.  In her absence,  the 190m, Panamanian flagged geared bulker  FLORINDA I  brought in salt on October 14th.  The ‘Florinda’ is a frequent visitor to Vancouver and had been here the month before loading a cargo of grain.  Lacking the specialized unloading gear of the  ISLA DE CEDROS,  she unloaded her cargo onto a barge at the Ballantyne Cruise Ship Terminal (CenTerm-1) using oversized clam shovels.  Obviously a much more tedious operation, the ship took 11 days to unload, compared to about four days for the  ‘IDC’  (as she’s called by the Westward people).  On October 24th, after watching her unload at CenTerm, I went down to New Brighton Park to photograph some ships..  Low and behold, the  tug  CHARLES H. CATES VIII   was towing the salt-laden barge  SEASPAN 201 toward the usual salt terminal, Nexen, just east of the Second Narrows Bridge in North Vancouver. 

FLORINDA I, October 24, 2011, unloading salt at CenTerm-1 with SEASPAN FALCON standing by, photo taken from Pwell at Cordova. Ref: WS11-0536.

Aboard the barge were a mobile conveyor unit and a front-end loader.

While at New Brighton Park that beautiful sunny day, a few interesting things were going on.  By chance, the  Panamanian- flagged 38,000 tonne bulker  NORD IMABARI  was preparing to depart the Cascadia Grain Terminal when I arrived.  It’s always fun watching the arrivals and departures here because of the close proximity of the dock to the park.  It was at least half an hour before the ship was pulled off the dock by two Seaspan tugs, but in the meantime there was a steady parade of traffic through the Second Narrows.  A large sailing yacht was motoring at great speed toward the bridge when she quickly spun about opposite the park, in front of the general cargo ship  BRIGHT STREAM, as if testing out her maneuverability.  She idled there for about 10 minutes before racing at great speed back toward Coal Harbour.  It appeared that those aboard may have had some interest in the cargo being loaded aboard the  BRIGHT STREAM  but I couldn’t say for sure. 

Looking through my binoculars I could see that heavy equipment such as fork lifts and dozens of heavy equipment tires were among the cargo.  The equipment looked well used, rather than new.  The sailing yacht, as it turned out, was called the  ETHEREAL.  Internet research revealed it to be a privately owned luxury yacht boasting state-of-the-art equipment when she was built in Holland in 2009.  Designed by Ron Holland, the 58 meter ketch appears to be packed with technology and ‘green’ innovations.  Her main mast is tall enough (about 55m) that she had to come under the Lions Gate Bridge at low tide.  A Port Metro Vancouver website newsletter reported her arrival in the city back in late August, and it would appear that she’s been in the West Coast area since.  The yacht is owned by co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Bill Joy and his wife Shannon, and flies the Cayman Islands flag.

Also spotted from New Brighton Park in early November was the veteran tug  AUDRY GAIL  being towed by the  ALISON NICOLE I  to Allied Shipyards in North Vancouver.  Both tugs are owned by Wayden Transportation of Richmond.  The  AUDRY GAIL  was previously called the  HAIDA CHIEFTAIN and operated on the West Coast for many years.  But her history goes back to 1944 when she was built by Levingston Shipbuilding in Orange, Texas for the U.S. Army.  Her original name was the uninspiring  LT 533.  She never saw service during WW2 and was sold to Foundation Maritime of Canada for operation on the East Coast under the name of  FOUNDATION LILLIAN.  She operated under two more names before becoming the  HAIDA CHIEFTAIN  in 1964 when sold to Kingcome Navigation.  This is a rough history as there seems to be several slightly different versions of it on the internet.  Although the one thing they all agree on is the date and place she was built.

NORD AMBARI, October 24, 2011, departing Cascadia Grain Terminal, photo taken from New Brighton Park.  Ref: WS11-0541.

BRIGHT STREAM, October 24, 2011, loading a fork lift at Lynnterm-5, photo taken from New Brighton Park.  Ref: WS11-0533.

ETHEREAL, October 24, 2011, idling near BRIGHT STREAM, photo taken from New Brighton Park.  Ref: WS11-0535 .


On another beautiful day in November I bussed up to Barnet Marine Park to watch the Panamax bulker with the wonderful name  RBD THINK POSITIVE  wend her way from Port Moody through the narrow winding passage past the park.  Fully laden with sulphur, she was slowly escorted by two Seaspan tugs all the way through to the Second Narrows.  She was preceded by the star-studded duo of the American tug  ALTAIR  towing the fully loaded gas barge  DENEB  from the Suncor Terminal at Reed Point, just east of the park.  Before I had left, the  ISLAND SCOUT  towing the empty barge  ITB SUPPLIER  and the light tug  ‘CATES II’  also passed through the channel.

RDB THINK POSITIVE, November 4, 2011, departing Port Moody with sulphur, photo taken from Barnet Marine Park.  Ref: WS11-0544.

It’s common enough to see tugs towing large fuel barges in the inner harbour to supply bunkers to ships both anchored or alongside.  It’s less common (rare for me) to see a tug towing a barge with a tanker truck on the deck to a ship at berth.  Such was the case on a sunny Monday, November 14th, when the  TYMAC No. 20  towing the cargo barge  T.L.C. No. 7. 7 made her way over to the  KEN SHO, loading concentrates at Vancouver Wharves.  I can only surmise that they might have been delivering diesel fuel for the generators, and that there was a good reason why a truck could not deliver it to the dock.

TYMAC No. 20, November 14, 2011, towing T.L.S. No. 7 with fuel tanker to Vancouver Wharves, photo taken from Brockton Point.  Ref: WS11-0546.

The Danish shipping giant J. Lauritzen made it’s presence felt in November as three of its ships called in during the same week, all from its bulk division Lauritzen Bulkers.  The  PERLA BULKER  and  PUFFIN BULKER  were loading grain while the  PETREL BULKER  was loading woodchips.  However, only the ‘Perla’ was sporting Lauritzen’s signature red hull, so possibly the other two are under charter.

PERLA BULKER, November 15, 2011, loading grain at Cargill-1, photo taken from Wall Street.  Ref: WS11-0542.

On the same day that I photographed two of the ‘BULKER’ ships, I was down at Stanley Park to see the arrival of one of the most interesting ships this year.  The heavy-lift vessel  ZHEN HUA 29  sailed under the Lions Gate Bridge with 14 barges sitting crossways on her deck.  The barges were built in China for Ledcor Marine (12) and Vancouver Pile Driving (2).  Four of the Ledcor barges were stacked atop four others, so the lower four had their sides removed and placed inside the upper 4.  The ship anchored offshore of the BC Sugar Refinery and unloaded the barges the next day.  I went down there to photograph the event but the weather was so foul while I waited for the action to start that I went home.

PUFFIN BULKER, November 15, 2011, departing Pacific Elevators for English Bay anchorage, photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0543.

ZHEN HUA 29, November 15, 2011, bringing 14 barges into Vancouver, photo taken from Prospect Point.  Ref: WS11-0549.

Branch member Robert Etchell alerted me to the fact that an interesting container ship was arriving in Vancouver on the 11th of November.  The  CSAV RECIFE,  a 294-m, 5300 TEU vessel arrived in the dark of night but fortunately departed the next afternoon.  She’s characteristic of a fairly recent design in large container ships where the deck house and engine house are split, with the deck house well forward for better vision from the bridge.  I’m sure the crew would sleep better as well.  The shipping company, has several ships of this design in their fleet, but this is the only one that I’ve seen in Vancouver.  

In case the readership is getting tired of looking at sunny photos, I’ve included one of this ship, as it shows that I do sometimes go out on rotten miserable days.

CSAV RECIFE, November 12, 2011, departing Vancouver, photo taken from Prospect Point.  Ref: WS11-0534.

Occasionally I make an excursion to the Iron Workers Memorial  Bridge for photos, which is not my favourite place for two reasons.  There is no ‘safe-haven’ tower platforms, away from the traffic, as exists on the Lions Gate Bridge, so the noise and smell of fumes is much more intense. The Iron Workers Memorial Bridge is six lanes with high-speed traffic compared to three lanes and lower-speed traffic on the Lions Gate Bridge.  Secondly, there is much more vibration from the traffic on the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge, so many shots are ruined by it.  Nevertheless, in my endless quest for different viewpoints I made an excursion there recently as there were three ships of interest within a short window.  The weather was slightly annoying as the clouds periodically obscured the sun at the most inappropriate times, but overall it was a lovely day.  The view was fantastic.  Below the bridge, at Lynnterm-6 on the north shore was the Gearbulk general cargo ship  TERN ARROW,  unloading steel.  Arriving in a convoy through the Lions Gate Bridge, which I could easily see in the distance, was the  MARINE PROSPERITY  and the  W-STAR.  Both were empty.  The ‘Prosperity’ is a typical Panamax bulker at 225m in length, 32.3m beam and 73,000 tonnes.  She was built in 2001, registered in Panama and managed by Silver Lake Shipping of Greece.  That morning she was en route to the Cascadia Grain Terminal, right below the bridge on the south shore.  As is the procedure now, the ships are escorted from mid-harbour by two tugs, almost up to the bridge, and then swung around to berth facing outbound.  By the time this operation was completed, the W-STAR had reached Cascadia and had clear sailing through the narrows, as she was bound for the Pacific Coast Terminals in Port Moody to load sulphur.  She is a post-Panamax bulker, slightly longer at 230m, wider at 38m beam and greater capacity at 93,000 tonnes.  The Liberian flagged vessel was delivered in July of this year and is operated by W Marine of Greece.  The spanking new ship is one of 28 launched in 2011 that have called in to Vancouver during the last month.

MARINE PROSPERITY, November 19, 2011, being maneuvered by Seaspan tugs into Cascadia Grain Terminal, photo taken from Iron Workes Memorial Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0539.

W-STAR, November 19, 2011, escorted by tugs through Second Narrows en route to Port Moody, photo from Iron Workers' Memorial Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0548.

Arriving in Vancouver November 7th on her maiden voyage was the 3rd of nine new ships being built for Canadian potash giant Canpotex, the  U-SEA COLONSAY.  She departed from Neptune Terminals on November 11th with her first cargo of potash.  She’s named after one of the potash mines in Saskatchewan.  She was preceded by the  U-SEA SASKATCHEWAN  in November 2010 and the  U-SEA PROSPERITY  in May 2011.

And finally, one more update on the  MCP ALTONA.  The Liberian general cargo ship, which spilled uranium in her holds en route to China from Vancouver, has been laid up here since early January of this year while clean-up operations and accident and insurance investigations have ensued.  She was moved from Indian Arm where she had been anchored since May, back to Centerm-1 on November 15th.  I went down to see her on the 19th and was surprised to see two crewman painting a new name on the stern.  It would seem that claims are settled, the ship has been sold and she’s ready for active service.  The new name  MERATUS PALEMBANG, would suggest that the new owner and/or operator is PT Meratus Line, a regional shipper based in Surabaya, Indonesia.  The home port, already painted on the stern was Surabaya, and would seem to confirm this.  Surabaya is on the island of Java, east of Jakarta, while Palembang  is a city north of Jakarta on the island of Sumatra.

MERATUS PALEMBANG, November 19, 2011, crew painting her new name on the ex-MCP ALTONA at Centerm-1, from Powell at Cordova.  Ref: WS11-0540.

ALTAIR, November 4, 2011, towing gas barge DENEB from Suncor Terminal, photo taken from Barnet Marine Park.  Ref: WS11-0531.

AUDREY GAIL, November 5, 2011, towedd by ALISON NICOLE I into Allied Shipyards, photo taken from New Brighton Park.  Ref: WS11-0532.

Salt barge, October 24, 2011, CHARLES H. CATES VIII, towing SEASPAN 201 laden with salt to Nexen Terminal.  Ref: WS11-0545.


Highlights from the November 2011 edition of our newsletter (Issue 187)


Please respect the copyright notice at the foot of the page. All material on this website, including photographs, is copyrighted by The World Ship Society of British Columbia, and/or the individual writers/photographers

The month of September bounced back from the slight dip in August ship visits (compared to last year) and finished with a total of 265.  This compares favourably to the 264 in September of 2010.  At the ¾ mark in the year there have been 2206 ship visits, 60 ships ahead of last year’s pace.  September marks the winding down of the Alaska cruise season and there were 10 fewer cruise ship visits in September than August.  This was compensated by an increase of 12 bulkers and eight vehicle carrier visits. 

 NORWEGIAN STAR, September 24, 2011, departing on her last visit of the year; photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.      Ref:WS11-0515.

Holland America’s  OOSTERDAM  departed Vancouver on October 4th, she was the last cruise ship we’ll see here until late April 2012, unless something unusual happens.  Several cruise ships visited the week before, one of them being the  NORWEGIAN STAR .  We see her in Vancouver only twice a year in May and September during her repositioning cruises, as she schedules her weekly summer runs to Alaska out of Seattle.

On the afternoon that the  NORWEGIAN STAR  departed, a marine traffic jam of sorts was ensuing.  In the space of less than two hours, three cruise ships and five freighters passed under the Lions Gate Bridge.  To make matters worse, the sport salmon fishing season was going full bore on the Capilano River.  For those unfamiliar with the geography, the mouth of the Capilano River is just a few hundred metres west of the Lions Gate Bridge and First Narrows.  During the salmon fishing season sport fishing boats huddle around the mouth in great concentration, to the point of obstructing traffic in the shipping lane.  During those two hours of intense activity mentioned above, the horns of the large freighters and cruise ships were blasting constantly.  To aid in the management of the general chaos that was taking place west of the bridge, the Canadian Coast Guard patrol vessel  OSPREY  was buzzing back and forth under the bridge during the entire episode.  I counted no less than 40 fishing boats at the mouth of the Capilano and to my amazement some of them were totally oblivious to the fact that they were in the shipping lane.

CCGS OSPREY, September 24, 2011, maintaining order in the harbour during a busy traffic period; photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0516. 

On that busy day, September 24th, the  ZUIDERDAM  and  CORAL PRINCESS  also made their last appearances of the year in Vancouver.  Among the freighters, the most interesting in my mind was the  MILLENNIUM FALCON, a 12,000 tonne, Panamanian flagged general cargo vessel.  Although derided by my shipspotting associate, who shall remain unnamed, as ‘tiresome’ for having visited too often, she is in fact an icon amongst visitors to the port.  At a mere 138m in length, not unusual for a general cargo ship, she is equipped to carry almost anything within the confines of her size.  She has two elongated cargo holds with two heavy-lift derricks centred between them.  Her excessively tall fore-mast has a cross spar at the top, the function of which could only be for pirate spotting.  In front of the wheelhouse are likewise tall twin masts joined by a cross spar which would provide wonderful views of the cargo loading operations.  On the stern of the vessel is a large retractable ramp suitable for loading any type of roll-on/roll-off cargo.  Despite my friend’s dismissal, she’s a wonderful peculiarity in this port.

MILLENNIUM FALCON, September 24, 2011, departing Vancouver after delivering cargo at LynnTerm; photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0511. 

The day after this flurry of ship activity under the Lions Gate Bridge was another busy day.  The second busiest day since I’ve been keeping track during the past five years.  A whopping 16 arrivals made their way into port.  On the busiest day, 17 ships arrived.  On average, every day, every year, seven to eight ships call into port.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t down at the harbour that day but in retrospect they may have all come in during the middle of the night, so it wouldn’t have mattered.

However I did manage to return to Stanley Park on September 28th when six ships passed through the narrows within the course of an hour, and a seventh had arrived shortly before them.  It was a beautiful, sunny and unusually warm autumn day and there were some very interesting ships.  The first transit was made by the 44,000 tonne, 195m woodchip carrier  PRINCE OF TOKYO,  registered in Panama.  You’ll perhaps notice in the photo that these specialized bulk carriers have much greater freeboard than a regular bulk carrier of similar size.  For this ship, the freeboard is 6.7 metres, compared to three or four for most regular bulkers.  The freeboard is the distance from the deck to the plimsoll line (also known as the load line or waterline) and is easily visible by noting the change in colour from the top part of the hull to the part below it.  Although the photo doesn’t show the beautiful mid-blue colour of the hull’s freeboard versus the light red of the hull below, it’s hopefully discernible in this black and white photo.  Another interesting feature of the woodchip carrier is the special self-unloading gear.  In addition to the usual derricks with clam-shovels, a hopper between each two holds is connected to a conveyor system on deck to speed the offloading of the cargo.

PRINCE OF TOKYO, September 28, 2011, en route to Fibreco Terminal to load woodchips; photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0519. 

Arriving 15 minutes behind the  PRINCE OF TOKYO  was the Gearbulk general cargo ship  TSURU ARROW.  Gearbulk, a Norwegian company has the world’s largest fleet of open-hatch gantry craned vessels.  The use of gantry cranes on deck rather than derricks is unusual but was specifically designed for handling forest products and other break-bulk cargo.  The only other ships employing this design that I’ve seen in Vancouver are the ‘Saga’ ships, and the 'Star' ships.  Saga Shipping and Star Shipping are also Norwegian companies.

PRINCE OF TOKYO, September 28, 2011, showing hoppers and conveyor for self unloading; photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0520. 

TSURU ARROW, September 28, 2011, bound for LynnTerm with steel, general cargo and pipes on deck, photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0521.

Tsuru, as I discovered, is a Japanese word for crane (as in a type of bird).  Gearbulk has had 55 different ships visit Vancouver over the last five years with the name ‘Arrow’, and 50 of them were named after birds.

The  TSURU ARROW  was bringing in general and project cargo to LynnTerm that day and on her deck could be seen about 40 lengths of large pipe, perhaps 5 or 6 feet in diameter and 40 to 50 feet in length.   Twenty minutes after the ‘Arrow’ passed under the bridge, the Egyptian flagged bulker  WADI ALBOSTAN sailed through the narrows.  She had just finished loading a cargo of sulphur at Vancouver Wharves, a stone’s throw from the Lions Gate Bridge. The Wadi’ ships are some of my favourites – eight of them have called in over the last few years.

 WADI ALBOSTAN, September 28, 2011, loading sulphur at Vancouver Wharves, photo taken from Stanley Park seawall.   Ref: WS11-0523.

WADI ALBOSTAN, September 28, 2011, showing name in Arabic script, photo taken from Lions Gate Bridge.  Ref: WS11-0524.

They are most notable for their colour.  The hulls are a beautiful shade of mid-blue with red below the load line, but the hatches are an unusual shade of light green that I would call aquamarine.  Complimented by the superstructure and derricks which are a buttermilk hue, the ships are veritable pastel artworks. Wadi is an Arabic word meaning valley or dry river bed.  The ships are owned by National Navigation of Cairo and was originally developed by the Egyptian government in 1981.  Its fleet is comprised of 14 bulk ships, a container ship, a general cargo ship and 2 passenger ships. Adding to the interest of its ships, the names on the bow and stern appear in both English and Arabic, and of course the Egyptian flag itself is exotic enough in this port.

The last two ships to arrive that afternoon were both container ships, well laden with cargo.  The BREMEN BRIDGE  was the first to sail in, followed by the  APL IRIS.  

The BREMEN BRIDGE  was fairly full with containers on the deck but the  APL IRIS  was stacked up to the wheelhouse.  It would seem that sometimes Vancouver is the first port of call on the West Coast and sometimes the last. Some container ships arrive here with their decks looking quite barren.

APL IRIS, September 28, 2011, entering Vancouver Harbour, photo taken from Prospect Point.  Ref: WS11-0508. 

APL IRIS, September 28, 2011, with containers stacked to the wheelhouse, photo taken from Prospect Point.  Ref: WS11-0509.

Two other exotic flags made an appearance in port during the last month.  Sailing up the Fraser River on September 29th was the Swiss flagged general cargo ship  NIRINT ZEELANDIA.  It would be considered a travesty by some mariners that a ship could be registered in a land-locked country.  However, modern shipping has bent all the rules into unrecognizable shapes.  This vessel is owned by Swiss Cargo Lines which started up in 1999 and now operates a fleet of 13 dry cargo vessels.

 NIRINT ZEELANDIA, September 29, 2011, upbound on the Fraser River to Fraser-Surrey Docks; photo taken from Riverport, Richmond.  Ref: WS11-0513.

NIRINR ZEELANDIA, September 29, 2011; Basel: seldom seen port of registry; photo taken from Riverport, RIchmond.  Ref: WS11-0514.

The other unusual flag from a similarly land-locked country was that of Luxembourg, flying on the 57,000 tonne bulker  UNIVERSAL BREMEN  which was loading grain at Cargill and Vancouver Wharves during the week of October 14th.  This vessel is owned and operated by a Dutch company so it would be interesting to know what Luxembourg is offering shipowners.

Besides the Swiss cargo ship, the Fraser River was its usual beehive of activity this month.  There were 19 vehicle carriers calling in to the two terminals and 23 ships at Fraser-Surrey Docks since the last report.  Many of the vehicle carriers are familiar visitors and certainly their shipping lines are.  But one company, the  Overseas Shipping Group based in New York, is not one of them.  It is one of the largest tanker operators in the world with an American flagged fleet as well.  With over 100 tankers of various types and sizes, it has a vehicle carrier in its fleet, the  OVERSEAS JOYCE.  She unloaded vehicles at Fraser Wharves in Richmond on October 13th.  The logo looked out of place on her funnel.  I’ve seen so many of the Overseas tankers in Vancouver that the logo and the tanker are synonymous

One of the ships delivering steel to Fraser-Surrey Docks was the 25,000 tonne Singapore flagged general cargo ship  GLOBAL CHALLENGER.  She is part of the fleet of South Korean operator Sejin Marine.  Eight of its ships have visited Vancouver in the past five years but this ship is one of the regular visitors.

There were nine container ships visiting Fraser-Surrey Docks this past month.  One of them, the  NEWYORKER,  a 33,000 tonne, 2500 TEU vessel is flagged in Panama and owned by Greek company Technomar Shipping of Athens.  She is another regular visitor to the Fraser River port.

I’ll finish with an update on the general cargo ship  MCP ALTONA  which has been laid up in the Indian Arm near Deep Cove since May of this year.  She is the vessel which spilled some of her uranium cargo in her hold when she hit rough seas in the Pacific Ocean en route to China back in December 2010. 

UNIVERSAL BREMEN, October 15, 2011, loading grain at Vancouver Wharves; photo taken from Stanley Park seawall.  Ref: WS11-0522. 

OVERSEAS JOYCE, October 13, 2011, departing Fraser Wharves; photo taken from Deas Island Park, Delta.  Ref: WS11-0517.

She docked in Vancouver at the Ballantyne Pier in January and underwent an extensive and thorough clean-up procedure and was finally cleared to sail in May.  She was moved to the Indian Arm anchorage and has remained there ever since.  An article in the Vancouver Sun in late September stated that the shipper, Cameco Corp. of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is mired in a lawsuit with the ship’s owners (which have gone bankrupt) and the ship’s operator, Hartmann Schiffarts of Germany.  Cameco claims that their cargo was improperly handled and secured and that the vessel was unseaworthy, an incredulous claim given that she was built in 2007.  Hartmann counters that the drums of uranium were not properly secured in the containers, and that the containers were not properly  selected.  This could be a long one. In the meantime, how does the ‘Chateau Altona Seaside’ sound as a unique hotel experience for 20 to 40 people, with shuttle service to Deep Cove and Barnet Marine Park, with a periodic tour around the port? ǂ 

 GLOBAL CHALLENGER, October 8, 2011, downbound on the Fraser River after delivering steel at FSDocks, photo taken from Riverport, RIchmond.  Ref: WS11-0510.

NEWYORKER, October 3, 2011, upbound on the Fraser River to Fraser-Surrey Docks, photo taken from Deas Island Park, Delta.  Ref: WS11-0512.


Highlights from the October 2011 edition of our newsletter (Issue 186)


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Ship visits tapered off slightly in the last half of August and finished with a total of 261 for the month.  This compares favourably with last year’s 238 for the month of August.  The year to date by the end of August 2011 saw 1,941 ships compared to 1,882 for 2010.  So this year is still on an upward trend.

September marks the winding down of the cruise ship season in Vancouver.  Many ships making regular runs to Alaska have already finished and moved on to warmer climes.  A few have stayed around for repositioning cruises on the Pacific Coast before leaving by the end of the month.  The last cruise ship to leave Vancouver this year will be Holland America’s OOSTERDAM  which leaves here on Oct. 4th for a 4-night cruise to San Diego with a stop in Victoria.  She then sails off to Mexico and Hawaii for winter cruises.

Despite some media reports of loosing cruise business to Seattle, Port Metro Vancouver has revealed that cruise sailings are up this year by 27 as of the end of August.  Passengers are up by a healthy 90,000.  No wonder Stanley Park has seemed so crowded this summer.

I’m sure we’ll remember August and early September for its spectacular weather.  I took full advantage of it by getting out on 12 shipspotting adventures since the last report. I spent more time on the Fraser River than usual, realizing that there’s so much to explore there.  And it has been busy on the river.  A total of 16 vehicle carriers in the past month have called into the two terminals, Fraser Wharves in Richmond and Annacis Auto Terminal on Annacis Island, Delta.  Another 24 ships have visited the Fraser-Surrey Docks: nine container ships and 15 bulk ships, four of them loading logs.

On one outing I was poking around the area of Fraser Wharves looking for new places from which to photograph.  I pulled my car into the visitor parking lot outside the BC Ferries Maintenance Yard nearby.  It was a Saturday and the place was deserted except for one car inside the gate and a man in the gatehouse reading a book.  I surmised that I could bypass the gate and get down to the river via a short path and then through the large employee parking lot.  Which I did.  It was a nice spot to photograph, but unfortunately I was hoping to be able to see Fraser Wharves but it was around the corner a good distance still.  While waiting for the  vehicle carrier  AMERICAN HIGHWAY  which was scheduled to dock at Fraser Wharves I saw a couple of small tugs, several fishing boats and the beautiful veteran tug  SEA COMMANDER   which was towing a large cargo barge called the  OCEAN OREGON.  The tug was built in 1945 in Virginia and was formerly the SEASPAN COMMANDER.  She is 44m in length, 661 gross tons as has four diesel engines putting out a total of 3000 hp.

On another day in late August I was in the same area trying to get as close to Fraser Wharves as I could to photograph a ship docked there.  I was frustrated in my attempt but on noticing a tractor rut winding through a nearby hay field, I decided to follow it.  After traipsing through the mud for five or ten minutes I had to settle for a shot of the  HEIJIN  over top of the hay, as I could see it was not going to get any better.  It nevertheless made for an interesting photo. 

AMERICAN HIGHWAY, September 5, 2011, docking at Fraser Wharves, taken from Rice Mill Road, Richmond.  Ref:WS11-0416.

SEA COMMANDER, September 5, 2011, towing barge OCEAN OREGON up the Fraser River; taken from Rice Mill Road, Richmond.  Ref:WS11-0426.

HEIJIN, August 23, 2011 unloading vehicles at Fraser Wharves; taken at Rice Mill Road, RIchmond.  Ref:WS11-0421.

On the opposite side of the Fraser River in Delta is Deas Island, a 2km long park which straddles the George Massey Tunnel, carrying Highway 99 traffic from Vancouver to the U.S. border.  There are several excellent viewpoints along the banks of this island for watching the considerable and varied marine traffic plying the river.  I stopped one day in early September at one of the viewpoints just south of the tunnel to talk to a couple of people who were fishing on the bank.  There happens to be a navaid on the shore at this spot built on a concrete foundation about 6 feet high.  To my surprise there was a ladder on the abutment where I hadn’t noticed one before and so naturally I climbed up.  The view seemed to be so much better from this slight elevation.  Having dallied a bit I was further surprised to see the ship I had come to photograph rounding the bend downriver.  I knew it would be approximately 10 minutes before her arrival at this location and that I wouldn’t make it in time to the very tip of the island where I would normally go, this being considered the premier spot for photographing.  To my delight the navaid turned out to be a wonderful spot from which to view and photograph.  The object of my outing, the  LASER ACE  passed very close to the shore.  The 29,000 tonne Panamanian bulker was bound for the Fraser-Surrey docks to load forest products.  Not all ships pass as close to shore as this one did (as I subsequently discovered) but I think this vessel had a particularly cavalier pilot aboard.  When they’re empty as this one was and the tide is high, I’m sure they don’t have to be so fussy about staying in the middle of the channel.

From this same spot I saw the Norwegian general cargo ship  STAR ISFJORD heading downriver on Sept. 1st.  It was apparent then that the outbound freighters are so much farther away from the south shore.  Later in September I photographed the 32,000 tonne Panamanian bulker  LORD WELLINGTON,  fully laden with steel, en route to the Fraser-Surrey Docks.  Still later, on the 18th, the  32,000 tonne Hong Kong flagged bulker  POS JADE  travelled empty up to Fraser-Surrey Docks to load logs.  She was 20 minutes ahead of the  LUNA SPIRIT,  a 180m Panamanian flagged vehicle carrier bound for the Annacis Auto Terminal.  She passed close to a kindred spirit, the VIKING DIAMOND, a 165m, Singapore flagged vehicle carrier docked at Fraser Wharves across the river.  The ‘Viking’ is one of twenty-five 2011-delivered ships that called into Vancouver during the past month. 

LORD WELLINGTON, September 5, 2011 enroute to Fraser-Surrey Docks; taken from Deas Island Park, Delta.  Ref:WS11-0423.

LASER ACE, August 30, 2011 enroute to Fraser-Surrey Docks; taken from Deas Island Park, Delta.  Ref: WS11-0422.

POS JADE, September 5, 2011 enroute to Fraser-Surrey Docks; taken from Deas Island Park, Delta.  Ref:WS11-0425.

While the south arm of the Fraser River is the larger channel used for deep-sea shipping, the north arm is a beehive of tug-and-barge activity.  From the mouth of this arm, just below the western cliffs of the University of British Columbia, right up to its divergence from the south arm at New Westminster, you will see more logs than you could count in a month.  I made an excursion by bicycle out to Iona Regional Park, near the mouth of the North Arm on September 6th.  It was a quiet Tuesday morning and very few people were there.  The parking lot at the end of the road looks west, straight across to Vancouver Island.  To the north is the river, across which lies the Shaughnessy Golf Club and the forests of the University Endowment Lands.  A spit and jetty extend from the park along the south shore of the river for approximately four km, ending opposite Wreck Beach at UBC.  It’s along this jetty, and all throughout the river’s wide mouth that one will find hundreds of log booms moored to pylons in the river.  This scene is repeated in lesser concentrations all the way up the river to New Westminster.  A satellite view of this arm looks surreal.

 As I made my way from the park toward the river’s shore, I was greeted by a sign that boldly announced ‘No Unauthorized Vehicles Beyond This Point’.  Not knowing if my bike was authorized, I proceeded.  I was able to travel uninhibited for a kilometre before encountering a wood and steel recycling operation on the narrow spit which was fenced off.  At this point I had lunch on the beach and photographed one of the cargo barges moored to the pylons, the SEASPAN 204. Looking around, there was little indication that I was near a big city, so pastoral was the scene.  While having lunch a small tugboat had just brought a log boom up the river and moored it opposite me.  Unfamiliar to me, it was named simply H & R. I imagined it was ‘Hank & Rick’ or ‘Homer & Rufus’.  It seemed like that kind of an operation.  Investigating later, I found it was owned by Tortoise Towing of New Westminster, and I believe she’s the whole fleet. 

LUNA SPIRIT, September 18, 2011 passing VIKING DIAMOND at Fraser Wharves enroute to Annacis Auto Terminal.   Ref:WS11-0424.

SEASPAN 204, September 6, 2011 moored at Iona Island; taken from Iona Island, Richmond.  Ref:WS11-0427.

Where do all these logs go?  There’s still a few mills operating on the Fraser, but not many.  Sadly, many are going out weekly on ships like the POS JADE,  (mentioned earlier) 25 to 30 thousand tonnes at a time.

I managed to get down to the harbour a few times and saw two especially interesting arrivals and an unusual juxtaposition.  The newly built  SEASPAN EAGLE  arrived in Vancouver harbour on the 7th of September with little fanfare.  She was escorted through the First Narrows by the  SEASPAN HAWK  and  the  SEASPAN FALCON. 

 The ‘EAGLE’ is the 2nd of 4 harbour tugs being delivered from Turkish shipbuilder Sanmar Denizcilik of Istanbul. She left Turkey on July 15th, spending nearly 2 months on her long ocean voyage to get here.  She joins her sister, the  SEASPAN RAVEN  which was delivered in January of this year.  The 3rd sister tug will arrive later this year, and the last one in early 2012. 

SEASPAN EAGLE, September 7, 2011 on maiden voyage into Vancouver; taken from Stanley Park seawall.    Ref:WS11-0428.

On September 6th a very unusual ship entered the harbour.  I wasn’t on hand to see her arrival but saw her the next day at Vancouver Wharves.  WSS Vancouver Branch president Ray Warren was on the Lions Gate Bridge to greet her and has forwarded a great photo to me.  The ship is the cable layer  GLOBAL SENTINEL,  a 143m, Marshall Islands-flagged vessel owned by Tyco Electronics Subsea Communications of Morristown, New Jersey.  The ship was built in Singapore in 1991 for Transoceanic Cable Ship Company, a subsidiary of AT&T.  Upon arriving in Vancouver she docked at Vancouver Wharves for a few days before moving into the Vancouver Dry Dock where she still sits as of this writing.  During her 20-year history she has laid cable all over the world, but of local interest she laid the 4th Transpacific cable from California to Port Alberni to Japan in 1991.

It’s unusual to have two active deep-sea freighters with the same name – but it happens.  This year we had a visit from a Netherlands-flagged container ship called  CARIBBEAN SEA.  Last year we had a visit from a Liberian registered container ship called CARIBBEAN SEA.  More unusual is to see two freighters with the same name in port at the same time.  And within sight of each other!  Such was the case on September 7th when I visited New Brighton Park.  Directly across the water at LynnTerm-6 was the older  SELANDIA, a 200m, 48,000 tonne geared bulker registered in the Isle of Man and built in 1996.  She was loading forest products.  Just west of her, at Neptune Terminals Berth-1 was the newly delivered  SELANDIA, a Panamax bulker,  229m in length, 83,000 tonnes and flagged in Antigua & Barbuda.  She was loading coal.  The Port of Vancouver correctly listed them as such but I may not have believed it if I hadn’t checked it out myself. 

GLOBAL SENTINEL, September 6, 2011, cable layer.  Photo by Ray Warren, taken from Lions Gate Bridge.      Ref:WS11-0419.

I made one out-of-town trip to Anacortes, Washington to visit friends.  This small town southwest of Bellingham is always one of my favourite nearby ports to visit.  There are two oil refineries there, Tesoro and Shell, on a finger of land called March Point about 8 miles from downtown.  A rocky bluff within walking distance from downtown has a commanding view of the refinery docks, the bay and the entire eastern panorama over to Mount Baker.  In addition, adjacent to downtown is a bulk loading dock, a dry dock,  a shipyard and tug moorage.  On my numerous trips there it is more common than not to find the bulk terminal unoccupied.  However this time it was occupied – and I learned something about oil refining and aluminum smelting because of it.  Alongside was the 20,000 tonne Liberian general cargo ship  BBC LEER.  It was loading petroleum coke which was being trucked from the Shell Oil Refinery.  I watched, fascinated, from a knoll on the property adjacent to the dock.  A local couple were watching the operation with me and filled me in on some of the details.  

Anacortes Pier 2, September 9, 2011 with trucks unloading petroleum coke; photo taken from the waterfront of Anacortes, WA.  Ref:WS11-0417.

 Petroleum coke is a byproduct of refining crude oil and results in various grades of the coke.  The particular coke being loaded onto this ship was a high grade one used in the production of carbon anodes used in the aluminum smelting process.  The vessel was bound for Quebec, a good indication of the value of the cargo that it should be sought at such a distance.  I was informed by the couple that the ship takes about three days to load and the trucks run constantly for 20 hours a day.  As we watched the dockside operation for a while the trucks were arriving at the dock in a very efficient fashion with always one truck unloading while a second was waiting.  The hopper trucks were trailers with a pup.  Each truck drove up onto a ramp, emptying the contents from the bottom into a bin which fed directly onto a mobile conveyor belt and straight into the hold of the ship.  The procedure ran like clockwork.ǂ


H & R, September 6, 2011 mooring a log boom on the North Arm of the Fraser River, taken from Iona Island, Richmond.  Ref:WS11-0420.

SELANDIA, September 7, 2011 - 1996 geared bulker loading forest products at LynnTerm, taken from New Brighton Park.         Ref:WS11-0429.

SEALANDIA, September 7, 2011.  Panamax bulker loading coal at Neptune Terminals taken from Wall Street, East Vancouver.  Ref:WS11-0430.

BBC LEER, September 9, 2011, loading petroleum coke at Anacortes Pier.          Ref:WS11-0418.

All photos in the "Metro Vancouver Scene" article(s) were taken by Neil England, except where otherwise noted.


For older editions, look under Archive from the list at left.