HMCS Athabaskan is due to arrive around 11pm tonight. Given the cloud cover, and probable fog, She will be well obscured.
UPDATE 2230 01/14. No sign of her yet. UPDATE 2350 01/14 – Atlantic Fir on AIS. ~16nm from pilot station, making 4.8 knots. that puts her in the inner harbour in about 5 hours. UPDATE 0000 01/15 – Twitter tells me she is due at the pilot station at 0500
Quote “It was there that I saw the tow line go slack and watch the Tugs jockey it into a stable position. The icy winds kept the Destroyer bobbing around nicely in the seas due to it being much lighter without its armament and electronics suite onboard. It must have been quite the chore for the Tugs to keep her steady.”
Thanks to Erik Fullerton of Three Miles Final Photography for the use of the images.
Temporary repairs have been made to the damaged hull of a navy warship in the hopes of resuming its trip to Halifax in the coming days, the military said Monday. Lt.-Cmdr. Bruno Tremblay, a spokesman for the navy in Halifax, said an engineering team completed minor, temporary repairs on the 40-year-old vessel Saturday to ensure its hull is watertight.
“I am confident that the ship can safely return here to her home port in Halifax,” Tremblay said. “As planned, the tow will likely occur this week.” Tremblay said a plan is now being finalized with a different towing company, Irving-owned Atlantic Towing Ltd., to return HMCS Athabaskan to Halifax for further assessment. He said the navy hopes the towing process, which could take several days, will begin this week if the weather co-operates.
The Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1310126–canadian-naval-destroyer-damaged-under-tow-near-nova-scotia)!ran an article on the Athabaskan tow incident and illustrated it with an interesting photo. The photo in question shows Athabaskan along side a merchant ship. The merchant ship appears to be GTS Katie, and he photo is from the conclusion of operation Megaphone
From Wikipedia: At the conclusion of Operation Kinetic, the Canadian contribution to a NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo and Macedonia, the Department of National Defence contracted SDV Logistics Canada Ltd to transport military assets, including 580 vehicles, 390 sea containers of equipment and three Canadian soldiers who were escorting the cargo.
SDV Logistics subcontracted Andromeda Navigation Co. of Montreal, which chartered a St Vincent-flagged ship, GTS Katie (owned by Annapolis, Maryland-based Third Ocean Marine Navigation Company), to move the cargo.
During the voyage, a dispute between the various contracting parties arose over payments due, and Third Ocean claimed that $288,000 remained outstanding from Andromeda. As a result of the dispute, Third Ocean ordered the Russian captain of the Katie, Vitaly Khlebnikov, not to enter Canadian waters.
Negotiations continued between the Canadian government and the shippers, however an ultimatum was given and the three contractors failed to reach an agreement by a certain deadline, according to Art Eggleton, then the Minister of National Defence.A diplomatic note was sent to the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, where the ship was registered, who authorized Canadians to board the vessel.
On 30 July, the destroyer HMCS Athabaskan received orders to close with the Katie about 225 kilometres off Newfoundland, in international waters, and maintain visual contact with her. The following day, the frigate HMCS Montreal joined Athabaskan. At 1:45 pm on 3 August, fourteen sailors boarded Katie in a helicopter-borne assault from a Sea King, led by Captain Drew Robertson, during which the crew of the Katie offered no resistance.Captain Khlebnikov would later complain the boarding of the ship was “dangerous” and described the boarding as an “attack”, although Captain Robertson had observed that the Katie began erratic, evasive maneuvering after being warned of the imminent boarding.
I Spoke with Capt. Doug Keirstead of Marlant today. He informed me a Engineering Assement team and a repair team were enroute to assess the ship, affect repairs and update the tow risk Assesment. Once the ship returns to Halifax, A more detailed survey will be completed.
Capt. Keirstead informed me that the priority is the safe return of the Vessel to Halifax. The Towing contract is the responsibility of Public Works, and they are evaluating options for the return tow.
The Sydney NS port Authority is reporting Tugs Atlantic Elm and Fir In Sydney. Both were recently in Quebec, But may have been assigned to bring the Athabaskan back to Halifax..
UPDATE 04/01: Shipfax is reporting Ocean Tugs have headed for home. The Speculation is that Atlantic Towing Dispached their tugs based on the assumption that the contract would be re-tendered. Photo (left) courtesy Sydney Port Authority via twitter.
Addtional update from shipfax – there may have been contact and Athabaskan has been damaged. Read more here and Here which has addtional photos of the damage.
UPDATE 01/01/13: I have received confirmation from a source that there are punctures on the port side of the hull, near the Numbers. Shipfax has the photos
UPDATE 02/01/13: Shipfax is reporting Atlantic Towing will be completing the tow and has tugs in Sydney. They have a good synopsis here
CBC news is reporting “The Iroquois-class destroyer, which is currently docked in North Sydney, has at least seven holes in its hull along with several dents and scrapes. It also appears the ship’s frame may be warped along the waterline. The Royal Canadian Navy declined to comment to CBC News about the extent of the damage.“ the story included this video of the damage
Capt. Doug Keirstead, a spokesman for Maritime Forces Atlantic, said there was no one on the ship at the time, but there were people on the tug.
He said the line was reconnected with the help of a Cormorant helicopter from the airbase in Greenwood, N.S.
“One of the crew members who was on the tug was lowered down to Athabaskan to reconnect the line, as was a member of the tug’s crew,” Keirstead told CBC News on Sunday.
Athabaskan was in St. Catharines, Ont., for a refit. It was on its way to Halifax for the winter when it went adrift.
Once the line was reconnected, the ship was towed to Sydney to wait out the current winter storm. It’s not known when it will resume the journey to Halifax.
Photo HMCS Athabaskan is towed into Sydney harbour to wait out bad weather. (Yvonne Leblanc-Smith/CBC)
Cape Breton post reports
The HMCS Athabaskan drifted in the North Atlantic for hours off Scatarie Island, which has been home to the wreck of the bulk cargo ship, MV Miner, for the past 15 months. Capt. Doug Keirstead, a spokesman for Marine Forces Atlantic, said the tow line broke due to the poor weather in the region at the time. There was no one on the Athabaskan at the time, said Keirstead, adding the immediate concern was for the safety of the crew towing the vessel to the Halifax naval dockyard. “It was drifting at about 0.5 knots, so it was going very slow,” he said, Sunday. “I do know that they were far enough offshore to allow the ship to be reconnected safely and efficiently, and of course be towed into Sydney at that point to safely avoid the poor weather.” Keirstead said he was unsure of the exact distance from shore, but given the drifting speed of the Athabaskan, and the time it took to have a Cormorant helicopter fly from its Annapolis Valley airbase in Greenwood to help reconnect the tow line, the ship wasn’t in danger of running aground. The commercial tugs, contracted by the Canadian Forces, pulled the Iroquois-class destroyer into Sydney harbour late Saturday afternoon. The HMCS Athabaskan, which has been in service for the Canadian Forces since 1972, had been undergoing a refit in St. Catharines, Ont., and was being towed back to its home port of Halifax prior to the winter closing of the St. Lawrence Seaway. It hasn’t been determined when the ship will resume its voyage to Halifax, Keirstead said. He said it’s not unusual for a tow line to break. “When we’re having to contend with severe weather conditions, which include high winds and rough seas, that can place a challenge on towing a vessel like that.” It’s not expected there will be an investigation into the tow line break as it’s a “reasonably straight forward issue,” Keirstead said. However, he noted the Canadian Forces always looks at lessons learned and how that can be applied to future tows.
Additional update from the Cape Breton Post:
The HMCS Athabaskan was tied up at the Osprey dock in North Sydney, Monday. The Canadian destroyer, which was being towed by two tugboats from St. Catharines, Ont. and had its tow line break off Scatarie Island, will remain in Sydney harbour until weather conditions improve, and then continue on with its trip to the port of Halifax. (additional image Steve Wadden, Cape Breton Post)
HMCS Athabaskan left Port Weller last night, crossed Lake Ontario today, and is now in the Saint Lawrence seaway. Athabaskan sailed to Port Weller for a scheduled work interval when the seaway opened in march, but the refit ran long, and she must now be towed to Halifax before the seaway closes inland of Montreal, Dec 31 for the winter.
The Tugs Ocean Delta (forward) and Andre H (Aft) have the tow. If Andre H Looks familier, its because she lived in Halifax for a number of years as Point Valiant at ECTug. They have a Halifax ETA on the 31st.