Port Traffic

After Musing about creating an update to the One Month of Traffic map from November 2011 – last week i hinted that an update was underway. Well its done. and the final product can be seen above.

(Above) Close up of the inner Harbour.

(Above) Activity at Halifax Shipyard – Note the  tugs moving a vessel into the graving dock (Below) the ferry tracks. You can actually see the individual paths on both sides of the Gang plank.

As Promised, I also wrote a separate post about how the map was created.

Making the Map

Recently I tweeted a map of 1 month of Halifax traffic from November 2011, and commented its due for an update. The latest data i have is from August 2016, so i Set out to Make the updated map. While Doing it, I also decided to Document how i did it.

the first thing to do is grab the Log files from ShipPlotter. in my case the default location of C:\COAA\Shipplotter\logs was used. Below is a small Excerpt from one of the Logs. A Days data is about 15mb of Raw txt.

316004240;under way ;249°'; 0.1kt;44.647605N;63.549313W;288.3°;316°;56s; 150801 000000;serial#1(B)[1]
999999999;unknown ;000°'; 0.0kt;44.654905N;63.576475W; 0.0°;241°;55s; 150801 000001;serial#1(A)[1]
316015715;unknown ;000°'; 0.0kt;44.660408N;63.585980W; 70.8°;317°;57s; 150801 000002;serial#1(B)[18]
316009640;under way ;127°'; 0.1kt;44.647850N;63.549675W;121.4°;314°;58s; 150801 000003;serial#1(A)[3]
316012656;moored ;000°'; 0.0kt;44.680828N;63.610840W; 52.3°;225°;58s; 150801 000003;serial#1(A)[3]
004101175;Base station 2016-07-30;23:58:59;44.658570N;63.581072W;fix 1; 150801 000004;serial#1(A)[4]
003160159;Base station 2016-07-30;23:58:59;44.683988N;63.610005W;fix 7; 150801 000005;serial#1(A)[4]
003160115;Base station 2016-07-30;23:58:59;44.507222N;63.523333W;fix 7; 150801 000005;serial#1(A)[4]
316022239;under way ;000°'; 0.0kt;44.646912N;63.569125W;258.7°;255°;01s; 150801 000006;serial#1(A)[1]
316002800;under way ;000°'; 0.0kt;44.648033N;63.549392W;349.0°;136°;03s; 150801 000007;serial#1(A)[1]
316031831;unknown ;000°'; 0.0kt;44.675977N;63.611325W;304.1°;105°;04s; 150801 000008;serial#1(A)[1]
316009640;under way ;127°'; 0.1kt;44.647853N;63.549675W;121.4°;314°;04s; 150801 000009;serial#1(A)[3]
316014180;under way ;000°'; 0.0kt;44.654475N;63.562032W;249.2°;154°;05s; 150801 000009;serial#1(A)[1]
316013960;under way ;000°'; 0.1kt;44.632167N;63.565667W;324.0°;073°;02s; 150801 000009;serial#1(A)[1]
999999999;unknown ;000°'; 0.0kt;44.654905N;63.576473W; 0.0°;241°;04s; 150801 000010;serial#1(B)[1]
316004240;under way ;248°'; 0.2kt;44.647602N;63.549310W;296.5°;316°;06s; 150801 000010;serial#1(A)[1]
316009640;under way ;129°'; 0.1kt;44.647850N;63.549675W;121.4°;313°;06s; 150801 000011;serial#1(B)[3]
316022239;under way ;000°'; 0.1kt;44.646912N;63.569123W;256.5°;255°;10s; 150801 000014;serial#1(B)[1]
316006196;unknown ;000°'; 2.4kt;44.647903N;63.567170W;334.0°;511°;09s; 150801 000014;serial#1(B)[18]
004101175;Base station 2016-07-30;23:59:09;44.658567N;63.581068W;fix 1; 150801 000014;serial#1(B)[4]

I choose the month of august, as it was the most recent full month i had. in the folder with all the .log files, run a simple copy command to combine them all into one big file. Due to the Size, I combined 6 days of data into one file.

Copy *.log bigfile.txt

once combined, i use excel to grab the entries with a navigation status of “Under Way” I considered also collecting moored vessels, however just the underway vessels produced over 4 million lines of data in total. Once the csv file is open in Excel, I text to columned it, splitting on the semi colon. I then sort by by the Navigation status, and deleted all rows above and Below under way.

then i removed the excess columns, and saved back the csv.
after doing this with all 6 files, i combined them into one.

I then used notepad ++ to do a sanity check on my data – remove weirdness, and clean up the excess trialing comas. Once the underway data is collected, I combined the 5 files, and then  added a Header row, to identify the MSMI, Lat, Long and the date. I am making this data available, and you can download it here: http://halifaxshippingnews.ca/AugPoints.csv (.csv 115mb) the data includes Lat/Long, Date/time and ships MMSI.

Once we have the points file, then we can move on to mapping it. – which didn’t work.  oops. Need to get rid of the N, and W directional, and update to -63 to specify a west direction.

For this map, I grabbed QGIS – which is free, and created a layer from the XY Data. You basically get a Point Cloud.

from there I ran the Points to Path tool, Which gave converted all the points to lines. I Set the layer to  draw the lines really fine line weight, which gives the transparent look.

i also did some cleanup on the lines, deleting the tracks that had long straight lines crossing land.

The final Map used watercourse data from GeoNova,then the image was exported from QGIS. I then manually cleaned it up in Photoshop, removing the excess watercourses leaving only the shoreline. this is also where the labels and title block were added.

I should note the 2011 map was made in ArcMap. ESRI has made getting trial licenses a pain (And i have run out of email addresses) hence me turning to QGIS.

Your Camouflage Game is Weak – News #11

if you like HalifaxShippingNews.ca, consider becoming a member. 2$ a month really helps cover costs, and in return you get the site Ad Free.

For latest port conditions, Including Weather,Wind, Tides, Arrivals and Departures be sure to visit the Port Report (Members get the information in realtime, not every 2 hours)


1. Harbour Hoppers.
After my article about the safety of the Harbour Hoppers, Halifax Today and  the Herald ran articles on the safety of the Vehicles. Indecently the preliminary report from the NTSB has been released. U.S. Coast Guard announced that it was convening a Marine Accident Board to investigate the accident.

2.Trade War and Boats
Apparently the Trump trade war is Causing headaches for US Boatbuilders – Both driving up their input costs, and adding 25% cost to buyers. Since Canada has free trade with Europe (And a large supply of aluminum) this could be good news for domestic industry.

3.New Scallop Vessel

Comeau’s Sea Foods, based in Saulnierville NS, has ordered a new Factory Scallop fishing vessel. The ship will be built in Spain, but was designed by Bedford based Allswater Marine. It is expected to be delivered in 2020. The ship will be named Lady Comeau III after Thérèse Comeau, the wife of Comeau’s Sea Foods founder, Bernardin Comeau.


1. GTS Katy Incident
This Twitter thread is interesting- it tells the story of the GTS Katie, a commercial ship carrying military equipment back to Canada. A dispute among the ship owners and the company hired by the military to bring our kit back, so the ship was ordered not to enter Canadian Waters by her owners.

In the End the ship was Boarded,  arrested, and escorted to a Canadian port.

2. Container Ship Cruising
JOC has a piece on a Container ship Cruise. recall you can actually sail to Vancouver from Halifax on CMA-CGM’s Columbus loop.

3. Hiding Ships
We are all familiar with dazzle schemes used in the first and Second world wars. It was meant to Disrupt the eye and make ships courses harder to determine. It was Proposed by Painter Norman Wilkinson (who painted Canada’s Answer), In part to Discredit the Cubist Movement. (How can it be art, if its Utilitarian) Clever – but then I came across this Tweet

after which, I was sent the image below of a Swedish warship.


Aug 7, 1996 – After spending 26years on the bottom, the Oil Barge Irving whale is raised, and the hulk towed into Halifax. She still sails today as the deck barge Atlantic Sealion

Aug 6, 1942 – HMCS Assiniboine rams and sinks German submarine U-210 south of Greenland

Aug 3, 1492 – Christopher Columbus, working for Spain, sailed for the Orient, But found south America

Aug ,1 1798 – The battle of the Nile – The British defeat the French fleet.


Not a Holiday at Fairview Cove.

Mol Partner sits at anchor in the basin waiting for a birth to free up at Fairview Cove.

Despite today being a holiday, the ships were stacking up at Fairview cove. Sunday night brought the arrival of YM Express to the west birth. She Sailed Monday morning, and was replaced by Budapest Bridge, while the east birth was taken up by Atlantic Sea, both arriving early morning. When Budapest Bridge sailed late afternoon, MOL Partner was finally able to take up her spot Mol Partner is currently scheduled to sail just after midnight, Atlantic Sea is due to depart Tuesday afternoon, having had her ro-ro decks worked Monday, and her containers Tuesday.


One Month of Traffic – August 2016

After Musing about creating an update to the One Month of Traffic map from November 2011 – I went  back into the data archives, and found the last full month I have August 2016.

So Above is a first look at the data, without context. the 2016 map the data set was huge – 4.6 million lines in the text file – 509mb in size, 2.5 times bigger then the 2011 Map. More vessels now carry AIS – including the ferries, which you can see fanning out in the middle of the map.

As part of this Update, I also have been documenting how I built it, in detail, which will become its own post. If you want to play now, I am giving away the point data above. you can download it here: http://halifaxshippingnews.ca/AugPoints.csv (.csv 115mb) the data includes Lat/Long, Date/time and ships MMSI.

AOPS Update

(Above) The first AOPS, the Future HMCS Harry DeWolf has been tarped off for painting, prior to launching in September. the modules were painted indoors as they were built, though it was presumably with a primer, as the grey is not the Canadian navy grey in use on existing warships.

(Below)The Middle and Stern Mega blocks for the Future HMCS Margaret Brooke are well underway. they will be moved out Post launching of the Dewolf and assembled, then joined by the Bow mega block.

Bunker C fuel spill in the Harbour @ NSP Tufts Cove Power Plant

Word is there a significant fuel spill of bunker C fuel at Tufts Cove. Sources indicate a pipe burst at the power plant leaking bunker C oil.

The Coastguard has Halifax Inshore rescue on scene. As well Connors Diving was deploying oil boom.

UPDATES Will Be Posted at https://blog.halifaxshippingnews.ca/2018/08/tuftsspill.html
as they become available below

UPDATE 21:00: ECRC D03 (Above) was on scene as part of the  cleanup. the East Coast Response Co Maintains staff and equipment to deal with oil spills at oil production and shipping facilities, and maintain equipment at the Ultramar dock in Eastern Passage.

Bunker C tends to float, and it looks like boom was deployed quickly, probably easing the cleanup in the Harbour. I would expect Transport Canada to have there red Dash-8 100 aircraft performing NASP Flights looking for additional pollution.

UPDATE 22:54
NSP Has issued a statement

NSP have also promised an update tomorrow morning

Though the Tufts Cove plant normally runs natural gas, it was originally built as an oil fired plant to replace the coal fired plant in the south end (which has now been remade into Nova Scotia Power headquarters) the plant typically tops up the bunker C from a tanker every year.

UPDATE 08/03 10:00

UPDATE 10:23
I’m getting reports of Oil on the water well south of the narrows. there also appears to be a helicopter performing an aerial survey in the area. Yesterday Evening a NotShip (Notice to Shipping) was issued requesting a Low Wake and Wide birth when passing tufts cove.

UPDATE 1045:
Photos via our friends at Haligonia (Via Twitter), from the shores of Shannon Park. Oil on shore where the tide went out, also Birds and Seals potentially effected.

UPDATE 11:49: NSP’s promised update by 11:30 is now 19 minutes late.

UPDATE 1215:

NSP Issued their Update. From the Release:

The leak was discovered in an exterior pipe that runs from the onsite storage tanks into the facility by staff during a routine inspection. Plant staff immediately activated environmental response protocols by stopping oil flow through the pipe to prevent further leakage, deploying a boom in the area of the water nearest to the leak, and alerting the company’s environmental services contractors.

Work last night and this morning included the installation of two additional booms in Halifax Harbour in front of the plant as a precaution to contain the oil. Vacuum trucks and oil absorbent materials (pom poms) are being used to remove the oil from the water surface. Additionally, workers are actively assessing the water and shoreline in the area by helicopter and by boat to prioritize areas requiring cleanup.

We still don’t know how much oil was released, or since this was apparently discovered by routine inspection – how long oil was leaking for.

Update 08/07: Cleanup continued over the long weekend, and a large area infront of the power plant is still boomed off. There are also reports of Oil on shore outside the boomed area – which is likely, as the outgoing tide would draw the oil south.  NSP reports the spill happened within 2 hours of discovery, which would have the spill occurring on the rising tide.

NSP Claims the spill was 5000L – onto Land this sounds like its under reported, given the oil still in the water, and the reports of oil not contained within the booms.

Wednesday is the new Thursday – Weekly News #10

Help keep the Lights On! Yesterday I tweeted a map of all the harbour traffic that passed through Halifax in one month. there is a couple hundred dollars of equipment required to provide the realtime positions of ships in the harbour, and its been replaced once since it went into operations.   if you like HalifaxShippingNews.ca, consider becoming a member. 2$ a month really helps cover costs, and in return you get the site Ad Free.

For latest port conditions, Including Weather,Wind, Tides, Arrivals and Departures be sure to visit the Port Report (Members get the information in realtime, not every 2 hours)


1. Fishing Gear and Whales
A couple of university students are developing rope-less fishing gear –  there is actually still a rope, but it will only deploy when the gear needs to be retrieved. Timely, as there are reports of a Right whale tangled in gear in the Mouth of the Bay of Fundy. Rescuers are hampered by weather trying to find the Whale.

2.Tidal Power
apparently the French Naval Defense Firm DCNS has applied to shutdown OpenHydro, and liquidate it. the Company that is working with Emera in a joint venture Cape Sharp Tidal, to test turbines in the Bay of Fundy. the project just installed their second turbine last week.

Apparently the bankruptcy was known to the company before the turbine was installed, and has potentially left many Local businesses holding the bag.

This may be something that makes sense for Emera to buy outright. given the interest in Oceans sector research in Nova Scotia, and as a source of Renewable Power – this could be a great thing – certainly better then Wind Tubine parts.

3.Shearwater Turns 100
Shearwater began life in the waning days of the first world war as a Naval Air Station. today, 100 years later, it still serves in that capacity. Of note, Seakings have been flying from that base for more then half of its existence. (Seakings are to be retired in December, 55 years after entering service).

4.Yarmouth Ferry
A Maine company has submitted a proposal to operate a ferry between bar Harbor and Yarmouth. Seemingly a more modest operation then bay Ferries Cat, they seem to think they can make a go of it. BFL is also proposing to relocate from Portland to Bar Harbor to save fuel costs.

5. Wednesdays.
Im moving news bits to Wednesdays. hump day seems to be a better fit then Thursday.


1.Small Craft Advisory?!?

2. Nautical History.
I stumbled across the blog of author Phillip K. Allen its full of interesting nautical history, including this description of a Upper class, Victorian tattoo. apparently

Lord Charles Beresford, a distinguished rear admiral… is said to have had a large tattoo of the hounds of the Waterford Hunt in full cry. The dogs poured over his shoulder and down his back in pursuit of a fox. Only the tail of the fox was visible, the rest of the animal having apparently disappeared up Admiral Beresford’s arse.

SO yah – Check out the blog – its relatively new, but good.

So On that Tattoo.. the internet has turned up no pictures of that, though there is apparently one (or one like it) in Desmond Morris, Bodywatching (1985), 179.  and the British parlement’s Hansard turns up descriptions of it in Tattoo Debates.

(Thats Beresford and his Bull dog on the right)

Week in History

July 31 1970 – Black Tot Day – this was the last day on which the Royal Navy issued sailors with a daily rum ration. Canada Followed suit on March 31,1972.

July 31 1942 – An Order in Council creates the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS). Nearly 6,500 women will enlist for service during WWII. Also on this Date, HMCS Skeena and  HMCS Wetaskiwin sink the German submarine U-588 mid-Atlantic.

July 30 1768 – James Cooks first voyage to the pacific is Authorized by the Admiralty. Prior to his pacific trips Cook spent time in Canada, charting Halifax and Newfoundland, taking part in the Siege of Quebec, and the Fall of Louisbourg.

July 29 1572 – A small fleet of English ships commanded by Sir Francis Drake, attacked Nombre Di Dios,in modern day panama, making off with silver.
July 27 1758 – Louisbourg falls to the British for the final time.


First Call for Maersk MEX Service

Today brought the arrival of the CAP Portland, marking the first call of the Maersk MEX Service.

The fully Maersk Line-operated weekly Med/Montreal express(MMX) service will be a five-vessel rotation stopping in Salerno and La Spezia (Italy), Fos-sur-Mer (France), Algeciras (Spain), Montreal and Halifax (Canada), and Valencia (Spain). The First voyage of the  service, began on July 2nd, departing from Salerno, Italy,


The New Service will compete with ZIM’s ZCI service, and The Alliance’s AL6

in other Maersk news, the Longstanding Maersk Service is running with Ships SEAMAX STAMFORD, EM KEA, ARICA and maersk Panang, making Panang the last Original Maersk Vessel Running on the service.


HPA Photo, Via Twiter.

Missed the Sun – Dockyard Instead.

My timing was off, and the Atlantic Sun cleared the bridge bound for Fairview Cove while I waited for the light to change on North…

SO the Dockyard.  In the foreground HMCS Toronto. Behind her is HMCS Montreal undergoing a work period.  Tied up 2 abreast, HMCS St Johns and HMCS Halifax

the Bridge is a great spot for photos – As seen below.


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