Thursday, 11 January 2018 13:45

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Following delivery from her previous Greek owners, Orveline Hellinic Shipping Co. in Piraeus in late August this year, the 17 year old freshly repainted ferry now renamed Northern Sea Wolf has made the 10,100 nautical mile passage to British Columbia via the Panama Canal. The name of the vessel was selected through a community engagement process involving First Nations, BC Ferry Advisory Committee members, BC Ferries employees and the Mid-Coast Ferry Working Group. Beginning in the summer of 2018, she will operate a new mid-coast ferry service with BC Ferries which will offer sailings between Port Hardy and Bella Coola five days per week during peak season which is, to say the least, something of a contrast to servicing some of the Greek Islands.

Built by Panagiotakis Bros, Ampelakia, Greece
Owned and operated by BC Ferries
Delivered in 2000
LOA 75m
Beam 15m
GRT 2679 tons
DWT 353 MT
Propulsion 2 x Cummins Diesels 2399kW
Capacity for 35 vehicles
Passengers and crew 150
Previous names: Agios Andreas II, Andreas II, Mr. Shoppy One, Aqua Spirit

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The above pictures left and centre show Northern Sea Wolf alongside in picturesque Grand Harbour, Valetta, Malta following drydocking. The voyage to BC was 35 days with bunker calls at the Canary Islands, Antigua, Panama and Manzanillo before the last leg into BC where she is undergoing a mid-life upgrade. BC Ferries has awarded two major contracts to Esquimalt Drydock, the first being a $2 million docking contract. The company will also award approximately $18 million further to Esquimalt Drydock and other local contractors and suppliers for interior and safety upgrades to shipboard systems, crew living and working spaces and a complete passenger accommodation and food services modernization. The picture above right shows her in transit through the Panama Canal on December 1.

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The above is a small sample of the Northern Sea Wolf in her former lives. As Mr. Shoppy One (centre above) she operated cheap shopping trips between Southern Norway and Strömstad in Sweden. The picture above right shows her making a Mediterranean Mooring (stern first) in choppy seas.


Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd

Friday, 05 January 2018 11:19

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Much in the news recently is Euronav following that company’s acquisition of Gener8 Maritime, the major U.S. based tanker operator. Headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium, Euronav was already the world’s largest independent quoted crude tanker company being listed on Euronext Brussels and on the NYSE. The company operates on both the spot and period markets with most VLCCs being operated in the Tankers International Pool.

Delivered in 2017, M.V. Aquitaine is very typical of the modern fleet of VLCCs operated by the company.
Built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, South Korea
Owned and operated by Euronav, Belgium
Delivered in 2017
LOA 333.0m
Beam 60.0m
Summer draft 21.6m
GRT 154,139 tons
DWT 298,767 MT
Ballast water treatment system fitted.

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Euronav fleet management is conducted by three wholly owned subsidiaries, namely Euronav Ship Management SAS and Euronav SAS, both headquartered in Nantes, France, also having a branch office in Antwerp. The third entity is Euronav Ship Management (Hellas) Ltd. with offices in Piraeus, Greece. The company’s fleet, which has an average age of just over 7 years, flies the Belgian, Greek, French, Marshall Islands and Panama flags.

On December 21 2017 it was simultaneously announced in Antwerp and New York, New York that the Boards of Euronav and Gener8 Maritime, Inc. had reached an agreement on a stock-for-stock merger for the entire issued and outstanding share capital of Gener8 pursuant to which Gener8 would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Euronav. The merger creates the world’s leading independent large crude tanker operator with 75 crude tankers, including 44 VLCCs and 28 Suezmax tankers, representing over 18 million DWT. Euronav commented that the deal would create a tanker group with “tangible economies of scale” and an estimated market capitalization of about $1.8 billion, the combined entity having balance sheet assets of over $4 billion.

At the time of the merger, Gener8 Maritime had a fleet of 30 wholly-owned vessels comprised of 21 VLCCs, 6 Suezmaxes, one Aframax, and two Panamax tanker, all with an average age of approximately 3.7 years. The company is incorporated under the laws of the Marshall Islands and headquartered in New York. The picture above right shows the VLCC GENER8 Constantine of 299, 011 MT DWT while bunkering in Singapore.

The tanker market is expected to remain relatively weak in the short term due to slow demand. Average daily rates for VLCCs have been hovering around $16,000 a day, which is below average breakeven levels of just over $21,000 a day. In addition to the OPEC supply side squeeze, the problem in 2017 has been the number of fleet additions, which in turn explains the need for consolidation in the tanker sector. On January 1, 2017, the number of VLCCs globally was 686 but by the end of June this number had grown to 713. A further 16 VLCCs were to be delivered in the second half of 2017, while only three are believed to have been scrapped. Thus a VLCC fleet growth in 2017 of approximately 6% which has allowed charterers to drive down the spot market.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine.


Thursday, 21 December 2017 11:21

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Seen here approaching berth at the Port of Vancouver’s Deltaport Container Terminal in October 2016 is the 10,062 TEU capacity ZIM Antwerp. Opened in 1997 and located adjacent to the Westshore Coal Terminal, Deltaport is operated by Global Container Terminals under lease from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. At 210 acres, this is Canada’s largest container terminal and comprises 1,100m of quay and eight rail tracks totaling 28,000 feet. Super post-Panamax cranes, some of which are tandem lift, enable the handling of the largest ships currently in service between Asia and the West Coast of North America. 

Built by HyundaI Samho Heavy Industries, Samho, South Korea
Owned and operated by Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Haifa, Israel
Delivered in 2009
LOA 349m
Beam 46m
GRT 114,044 tons
DWT 116,294 MT
Capacity 10,062 TEU

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ZIM Antwerp made a small piece if history in June this year when she was the first Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV) to pass under the newly raised Bayonne Bridge (picture above center) when calling at Maher terminals in the port of New York and New Jersey. A plaque was made to commemorate the event and presented to the vessel’s Master (above right). With the raising of the bridge to provide an air draft of 65.5m, vessels of up to 18,000 TEU can now access three of the four main terminals of the port of NY/NJ – Maher Terminals and APM Terminals in Elizabeth NJ and Port Newark Container Terminal in Newark. Previously, ships over 9,500 TEU could be handled only at the GCT Bayonne terminal. The project cost to raise the bridge was $1.6 billion which was seen as an essential investment if the port complex was to benefit from the expanded Panama Canal.

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For its part, the history of Zim Line goes back to the birth of Israel in the late 1940s when the company played a significant role in support of the new nation. The company acquired its first ship in 1947, the early fleet being primarily established to carry cargoes and immigrants from Europe in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The picture above left is of the small coastal trader SS Theodor Herzl crammed with 2641 immigrants on arrival in Haifa after several attempts by the Royal Navy to stop her.

The company expanded rapidly during the 1950’s and 60’s. Above center is the 1959 built SS Jerusalem and above right is the 1964 built SS Shalom (meaning peace) which was purpose built to offer a dedicated Transatlantic service from Haifa to New York. On delivery, she was dedicated by Mrs Paula Ben Gurion, the wife of Israel’s first Prime Minister, Mr David Ben Gurion (1886-1973). SS Shalom went on to have several lives as SS Hanseatic, SS Doric, SS Royal Odyssey and finally SS Regent Sun.

By the time of the company’s 25th anniversary in 1970, the fleet comprised 77 owned ships and 70 chartered ships operating 19 major services hauling more than 4 million tons of cargo annually.
In common with many other traditional liner operators and with the company now largely in private hands, the 1970’s witnessed an aggressive expansion into container shipping.

The name “ZIM” was proposed by Israel’s first Minister of Transportation, Mr. David Remez. The name is based on a passage in the Bible in which the Hebrew word ZIM refers to “large vessels” and reflects the goals of the company, even in its earliest days, to build a large fleet.


Have a good Christmas all and thank you for the many comments to our 2017 Ships of the Week. Wishing everyone a prosperous 2018 and may freight rates continue to recover.  

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd



Friday, 15 December 2017 12:26

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Owned and operated by one of the UK’s oldest family run shipping businesses. M.V. Cheshire is an unremarkable Supramax sized bulk carrier and was largely unheard of until she suffered an ammonium nitrate fertilizer cargo fire in August this year off the Canary Islands. At the time of the fire, she was on passage from Norway to Thailand when her cargo began to overheat. She continued to Las Palmas where she was scheduled to bunker but was denied access due the smouldering cargo. Crew members were evacuated by helicopter leaving salvage tugs to keep here offshore.


Built by Jinling Shipyard, Nanjing, PRC
Owned by Bibby Line, Liverpool, UK
Technical and operational managers V Ships, Singapore
Delivered in 2012
LOA 189.97m
Beam 32.26m
GRT 33042 tons
DWT 56,598 MT
Registered in Douglas, Isle of Man

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With direct application of water ruled out due to the instability of the cargo, attending tugs were restricted to external water cooling. Heat transfer between cargo holds caused the fire to spread rapidly and high temperatures prevented salvors from boarding for two weeks until there was simply no ammonium nitrate left to burn. Only then were salvage crews from Resolve Marine, using four tugs directed from an operating base in Gibraltar, allowed to bring the vessel closer to the Canary Islands to enable direct access and support.

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More than a dozen other explosions involving ammonium nitrate have occurred over the past century. The deadliest occurred in 1947 when a series of explosions shook the waterfront petrochemical complex at Texas City, southeast of Houston. The French flagged Liberty ship Grandcamp carrying more than 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded leaving 576 recorded deaths and 5,000 injured – the worst industrial accident in US history.

Other disasters triggered by ammonium nitrate explosions include:

  • Roseburg, Ore. (1959): 14 killed
  • Kansas City, Mo. (1988): Six firefighters killed in a construction site explosion
  • Belgium (1942): 189 killed
  • France (1947) 29 killed
  • Toulouse, France (2001): 31 killed and more than 2,000 injured following an explosion at a hangar containing 300 tons of ammonium nitrate at a chemical and fertilizer plant
  • Romania (2004): 18 killed
  • North Korea (2004): 162 killed
  • Mexico (2007): 37 killed

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The pictures above taken in 2015 show a very similar incident to that of M.V. Cheshire but involving M.V. Purple Beach off the coast of Germany. Ammonium nitrate based fertilizer is described as a Group C cargo in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (ISMBC) Code. While subject to spontaneous combustion, ammonium nitrate is not, on its own, an explosive, but readily forms explosive mixtures with varying properties when combined with primary explosives.

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Founded in 1807 by the first John Bibby (1775–1840), Bibby Line Limited is the ship owning division of Bibby Line Group Limited; a diverse family owned business with over 200 years’ experience in a range of industries from retail, offshore, finance, distribution and shipping. It is one of the longest established family owned companies in the UK. The company has given the name Cheshire to several vessels including the 1927 built armed merchant cruiser seen above left during WWII, the 1959 built general cargo vessel, above centre and the 1989 gas carrier, above right. Company vessels are traditionally named after English counties ending with “shire”.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd

Thursday, 07 December 2017 18:05

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                                Changdao 867 – Submarine Rescue Ship

The recent tragic loss of the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan with the death of 44 crew members has drawn into sharp focus the limited global resources to effect a submarine rescue. One such modern purpose built vessel is the Chinese Submarine Rescue Ship Changdao 867 operated by the Peoples Liberation Army Navy. Changdao 867 is officially classified as a Type 926 Submarine Support Ship, the latest of three similar vessels to be commissioned. Changdao 867 participated with five other Chinese warships in the Rim of the Pacific Naval Exercise (RIMPAC) in 2016 and during one exercise, the US and Chinese navies collaborated on a practical submarine rescue off the coast of Hawaii. The name Changdao translates to Long Knife (or sword) and the lead picture above shows her entering Pearl Harbour.

Built by Guangzhou Shipyard International
Owned and operated by the Peoples Liberation Army Navy
Commissioned in 2014
Displacement 9,500 tons
Equipped with an LR-7 manned rescue vehicle.

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Above left and centre, the LR-7 battery powered manned submarine rescue vehicle being prepared for launch. Above right, the LR-7 which can operate at a depth of 300m continuously for up to four days, is seen partially submerged and prepared for action. The 7.3m long LR-7 is constructed by the British firm Perry Slingsby Systems and can evacuate up to 18 submariners on each dive.

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Also engaged in RIMPAC was the PLA Navy Type 903A "966" replenishment ship Gaoyouhu seen above left flying an unmistakable flag. During 11 days of RIMPAC 2016 exercises she refueled both American and Chinese warships. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in the exercises, from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

The submarine ARA San Juan (above right) was a TR-1700-class diesel-electric submarine built in West Germany and which initially entered service in 1985, thereafter undergoing a mid-life upgrade from 2008 to 2013. The search for her continued for two weeks and involved ships and aircraft of 18 nations before being called off on November 30 when it was concluded that there was no hope of survivors. The bid to locate the wreck of the submarine continues but her loss has proven to be highly controversial in Argentina.

The loss of ARA San Juan revived memories of the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk in August 2000 in the Barents Sea with the loss of all 118 personnel on board. Ships in the area registered an initial explosion and a second, much larger, explosion two minutes later, powerful enough to register on seismographs as far away as Alaska. Initial confusion delayed search efforts and it was not until 16 hours later that the sunken submarine was located. For four days, the Russian Navy attempted a rescue operation but given the lack of specialized equipment, this proved unsuccessful. Finally, on the fifth day, President Putin instructed the navy to accept British and Norwegian offers of assistance and seven days the explosions Norwegian divers finally opened an escape hatch, hoping to locate survivors, but found it flooded. The cause of the explosions which sank the Kursk was concluded as lying with a faulty weld in a practice torpedo. As with all such incidents, there followed a radical review of procedures to prevent a recurrence.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Thursday, 30 November 2017 21:13

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A recent grain loader in Vancouver was the unusal geared Kamsarmax bulk carrier MP Kamsarmax 1. Owned by M. Pallonji & Co. Pvt., of Mumbai, a privately owned Indian shipping company) she is one of a fleet of geared Panamax, Utlramax and Kamsarmax vessels which are primarily engaged in the movement of coal and fertilizers into India.

Built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.
Owned by M. Pallonji & Co. Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai, India
Operated by M. Pallonji Shipping Singapore Pte. Ltd.
Delivered in 2017
LOA 229m
Beam 32.3m
GRT 44327 tons
DWT 81190 MT
Registered in Singapore

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The M. Pallonji Group of Companies was established at the beginning of the last century, primarily as a paint marketing company. Today, the company’s interests have extended to painting including speciality coatings, dredging, barging, stevedoring, cargo logistics, shipping, investment finance, insurance and auto dealerships, all managed by a diverse collection of privately registered companies.

The vessel’s builders, Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Co.,Ltd. were founded in 1956 with production now centred on Jiangyin-Jingjiang industry zone, Jingjiang city, Jiangsu province and Taicang Province, seated in the north side of golden channel of the Yangtze River.

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The picture above left shows the company’s now sold MP Panamax 3 anchored off Mumbai – note picture right which shows the vessel’s 6 cranes being put to use in servicing bulk discharge direct to barge operations.

Ship of The Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd

Friday, 24 November 2017 12:52

486 Treasure1

On August 21 this year the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyer John S. McCain was in collision with the 51,000 ton tanker Alnic MC in the Strait of Malacca off the coast of Singapore following a steering malfunction on the warship. The collision resulted in the penetration of the hull of the McCain by the bulbous bow of the tanker and the consequent death of 10 young seamen who were trapped in their sleeping compartment below decks. Following emergency repairs at the Changi Naval Base in Singapore, the U.S. Navy decided to effect permanent repairs of the McCain at the US Naval Ship Repair Facility-Japan Regional Maintenance Center in Yokosuka, Japan. Being unseaworthy, the decision was taken by the Military Sealift Command to charter in the semi-submersible heavy lift vessel M.V. Treasure to carry the McCain to Japan. Loading of the McCain on the Treasure took place on October 6 off Singapore.

Built by Split Shipyard, Croatia
Owned by Dockwise B.V.
Operated by Anglo Eastern Ship Management, Hong Kong
Originally delivered in 1990, converted in 2008
LOA 216.8m
Beam 44.5m
GRT 42,515 tons
DWT 53,818 MT
Main engine: 11,952kW with a fixed propeller
Previous names: Jahre Target until 1993, Nord Jahre Target until 2000, Crude Target until 2003, Genmar Centaur until 2004, Front Target until 2007

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The picture above left shows the McCain’s damaged port quarter and above right the temporary stiffened doubler plate welded over the damaged section of hull. While on the sea passage to Japan, the Treasure was diverted to the Philippines after the destroyer developed a small crack in its hull after experiencing heavy weather associated with the passage of Typhoon Lan. Repair costs are expected to be in excess of $200 million and will take around a year to complete.

M.V. Treasure, a converted tanker, joined the fleet of Dockwise Transport in 2008. The company operates the largest fleet of specialized semi-submersible heavy transport vessels (SSHTVs) in the world and is these days a subsidiary of the Boskalis Group which for BC locals also includes Saam Smit Towage. Classified as a heavy transport vessel, she is designed to move complex, high-value cargoes and has a carrying capacity in excess of 35,000 tons. She was converted at the COSCO Nantong Shipyard in China, during which the entire midship section was replaced. Anglo-Eastern Ship Management provides technical and crew management. 

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The collision with the Alnic MC was the second such incident involving the US navy in just over two months, the other having involved John S. McCain's sister ship USS Fitzgerald and the container ship ACX Crystal with seven fatalities on the Fitzgerald. On November 1, reports were issued into the two collisions and were hard hitting in criticizing the actions taken (or lack of) on both warships in failing to avoid a collision or even recognize that a collision was imminent. Navy standing operating procedures which include failure to activate an AIS signal and operating in blackout mode while in heavy traffic came under scrutiny. Also, neither bridge’s watch standers sought to make bridge-to-bridge radio communication with the approaching ship, which is a standard procedure. Several senior naval officers including the commanders of both vessels were dismissed on account of these incidents. See the full navy report at

The McCain is named after John S. McCain Sr and John S. McCain Jr., both of whom were Admirals in the US navy. They were respectively, the grandfather and father of Senator John S. McCain, a navy pilot and former Vietnam prisoner of war and who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor.

USS Fitzgerald is named in honor of Lieutenant William C. Fitzgerald, who was posthumously awarded the US Navy's highest decoration for valor, the Navy Cross, for extraordinary heroism in Vietnam.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd

Friday, 17 November 2017 13:48

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While on a flight from Athens to London with Aegean Airways a couple of weeks ago, I could not fail to notice a distinguished looking gentleman sitting just ahead of us examining a Tsakos Shipping Group fleet brochure. I eventually realised that this was no other than Captain Panagiotis Tsakos, the founder of the Tsakos Group who was flying in the company of his wife Dr. Irene Saroglou-Tsakos and supporting staff members. Following a career at sea and land based management, Captain Tsakos established Tsakos Shipping and Trading SA in 1970, the embryo of what has grown to become the “Tsakos Group of Companies” comprising a number of affiliated and associated companies around the globe. Today, with a fleet of 90 vessels, the company is a leader in several sectors of shipping including tankers, LNG carriers, bulk carriers, container and ro-ro vessels, all of which are committed to long term charters, some with provisions for profit sharing.

A typical example of this modern and well maintained fleet is the Suezmax tanker Spyros K.

Built by Sungdong Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Tongyoung, South Korea
Owned and operated by Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement, Athens
Delivered in 2011
LOA 274.2m
Beam 48.0m
GRT 81314 tons
DWT 157,648 MT
Summer draft 17.05m
Main engine HHI 6S70MC-C7, 18,660 kW
Class ABS


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Above left is Spyros K in the Strait of Canso, Nova Scotia approaching the Nustar oil terminal. With two mooring locations servicing vessels up to 400,000 DWT, Nustar is the deepest independent ice-free marine terminal in Atlantic North America. TEN on the ship’s hull denotes “Tsakos Energy Navigation” one of the world’s largest movers of oil and gas. Further to the shipping core business, the Group has diversified into other investment areas from shipbuilding, ship repair and ferry services to oil exploration, real estate, agriculture, forestry and renewable energy projects along with cultural, educational, philanthropic and charity activities. The company’s base remains on the Aegean archipelago island of Chios.  

The “Maria Tsakos Public Benefit Foundation, International Centre for Maritime Research and Tradition” was founded in 2008, also in Chios, by Capt. Tsakos and his son Mr. Nikolas P. Tsakos with the aim of promoting research, the study of Greek and international shipping, maritime tradition and education, as well as protection of the marine environment. The Foundation carries the name of Capt. Tsakos’ daughter, the late Maria Tsakos, a legendary promoter of the Hellenic culture and supporter of seafarers. Maria Tsakos died suddenly in 2010 in her hotel in New York City, after suffering a heart attack at the age of 44.

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Captain Tsakos, seen above left with his young family in the 1970’s, was elected the Connecticut Maritime Association Commodore for the Year in 2015. His son, Mr. Nikolas P. Tsakos, President and CEO of TEN, is the current Chairman of INTERTANKO, the voice of independent tanker owners and representing some 80% of the world’s tanker fleet. The picture above right was taken in the Presidential Hall in Athens in 2014 when Captain Tsakos was honored by the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Karolos Papoulias, with The Grand Commander of the “Order of the Phoenix”. The Greek Government confers the medal of “The Order of the Phoenix” to Greek personalities for their exceptional deeds, which enhance and promote the country’s international image.

Captain Tsakos provides a simple message: “The sea is our life breeder and seamanship, but more than anything else, is a combination of art and science, built on tradition and requiring, full dedication, devotion and commitment”.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd


Friday, 10 November 2017 11:41

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On this Remembrance Weekend it is perhaps appropriate to give thought to the Royal Canadian Navy. Following a six month deployment to Asia, a visitor to the Pier in North Vancouver in August was HMCS Ottawa, a Halifax Class Patrol Frigate and the fourth to be named after Canada’s capital city. While in Asia, Ottawa and her sister ship HMCS Winnipeg visited the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, China, South Korea, and Japan and participated along with Allied Navies in exercise Poseidon Cutlass 17. Home ported in Esquimalt, Ottawa is assigned to Maritime Forces Pacific.


Built by Saint John Shipbuilding, Saint John NB
Commissioned in 1996
LOA 134.2m
Beam 16.5m
Displacement 4795 MT in operational condition
Propulsion 2 x LM 2500 gas turbines generating 47,500 shaft HP + 1 x SEMT Pielstick diesel engine generating 8,800 HP
Speed 30 knots
Complement 225 including air detachment
Helicopter: Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone
Sister ships: HMCS St. John's, Halifax, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Montreal, Québec City, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver

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More than one million Canadians served in World War II spread over the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army but often also integrated with other Commonwealth forces. More than 44,000 Canadian lives were lost and 54,000 wounded. After starting the war with a handful of aircraft and ships, Canada ended the war with the world's third largest navy and fourth largest air force while the Canadian merchant fleet completed over 25,000 voyages across the Atlantic under the harshest of conditions. The picture above right shows a previous HMCS Ottawa commissioned in 1938 but sunk in 1942 by U Boat torpedoes with the loss of her Captain, 115 crew members and 16 shipwrecked men rescued earlier from another vessel. There were 69 survivors.

The current HMCS Ottawa was ordered in December 1987 as part of the second batch of Halifax-class frigates, designed as a general purpose warship with focus on anti-submarine warfare. Ottawa was the final vessel to be built in the series of 12 vessels. The entire class has since undergone the Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) program and Frigate Equipment Life Extension Project (FELEX) which involved upgrades to command and control, radar, communications, electronic warfare and armament systems plus modifying the vessel to accommodate the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter. The construction phase of the program was completed in November 2016 and the modernization program is scheduled to complete by 2018.

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The Canadian Surface Combatant Project is the procurement project to eventually replace the Iroquis and Halifax class vessels with up to 15 new ships beginning in the early 2020s as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS). The design of these ships is currently underway but both the total number of ships and their capability will be dependent on budget allocation. One of the front-runners is said to be the Danish FREMM Class multi-purpose frigate (pictures above). Whatever the new design, the vessels will be built at the Irving Shipyard in Halifax N.S. The original plans call for a 10 year design and 20 year construction period at a cost of C$26 billion but there is little doubt that the actual cost will be substantially higher.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd

Friday, 03 November 2017 12:34

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It is not too often that we feature a ship which has yet to be built but given the significance, this week is an exception. The final design of the world’s first autonomous and zero emission container feeder ship, to be named YARA Birkeland, was released last month in Norway. When she enters service, the vessel will replace 40,000 trucking legs per year between Yara’s Porsgrunn fertilizer plant and the Norwegian ports of Brevik and Larvik when she enters service in 2019. Initial sailings will be manned operations with a steady transition to autonomous and fully unmanned operations by 2020.


To be built by Project owners
LOA 79.5mBeam 14.8m
Deadweight 3,200 MT
Capacity 120 TEU
Service speed 6 knots, maximim 10 knots
Propulsion: fully electric with 2 Azimuth Pods
Battery pack 7,5 – 9 MWh

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Partnering in the project, KONGSBERG will be responsible for development and delivery of all key enabling technologies including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous ship operations to allow the vessel to sail within 12 nautical miles of the coast. Loading and discharging will be facilitated automatically using electric cranes and equipment and the vessel herself will dispense with ballast tanks, instead using the battery pack as permanent ballast. To solve the problem of a mooring crew, the vessel will be fitted with an automatic mooring system.

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To provide full oversight of the voyage, three centres (picture above left) will be established to provide condition and operational monitoring in addition to decision support and surveillance. With design and final tank testing of a 6m long and 2.4 tons model now complete, a construction contract is expected to be signed shortly with delivery expected in Q1 of 2019, Never far away from low emission projects with its wallet, the Norwegian government has provided a grant of almost $17 million to Yara towards the construction of the vessel which is expected to cover about one third of the total estimated development and construction cost.

In a further related development, Rolls-Royce recently entered an agreement with Google to gain access to that company’s intelligent awareness systems to help make existing vessels safer but also with a view to the wider development of autonomous, unmanned ships.

Originally established as Norsk Hydro in 1905, the company demerged as Yara International ASA in 2004. Yara's core business of nitrogen fertilizer production is related to efficient agricultural productivity and food production. YARA Birkeland will be named after Yaras’ founder, the physicist, Mr. Kristian Birkeland (1867-1917), who in 1905 discovered how to produce fertilizer by using electricity to extract nitrogen from the air. The company this year celebrated the 150th anniversary of his birth. Picture above right.

See the video

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.