Monthly Archives: July 2023

Pijlgracht with Cargo for Navy

The General cargo ship Pijlgracht arrived on the 25th from jacksonville Fl and tied up at pier 9. The next day, the ship discharged a shrinkwrapped cargo directly onto a barge. What made this operation Unique, is that the barge belonged to the Navy, and was handled by naval tugs.

The ship is now owned by Spliethoff. It was built in 2011 as Beluga Progression. when Beluga failed, it became HHL Lagos. Spliethoff bough Hansa Heavy Lift in 2021, and the ship took its current name.

Pijlgracht moved to anchorage in the Basin, where it remains. I have been told the cargo that was unloaded is a sonar array.

USCG Hollyhock

USCGC Hollyhock tied up at the Tall ships Quay. the ship was built in 2003 at Marinette Marine in Wisconsin and stationed at Port Huron Mi, spending her whole career to date in the great lakes. Hollyhock is currently headed for the USCG’s shipyard in Curtis Bay, near Baltimore Maryland.

The Crew will pick up USCGC Sequioa, which will then take up station at Port Huron. Both these vessels are Juniper Class Buoy Tenders. USCGC Juniper and USCGC Willow have also called in Halifax in the past.

Hollyhock is due to sail at 8am on the 25th.

CN Main Line Washed out Mile 61.5

Friday and Saturdays 300mm+ of rain has caused a significant washout on the CN Main line at Mile 61.5 on the Bedford Subdivision. For reference, Truro Station is mile 64. The washout is located on McClures Brook, behind the Milbrook Band Council offices.

CN Reports the washout should be repaired by Wednesday.

The washout means trains are unable to enter or leave Halifax. I suspect 120 will still run as far as Moncton, with cars bound for Halifax moving the rest of the way once the line is open. I have been told that there are currently 3 trains staged between Moncton and Truro. CN508 (Moncton to Dartmouth general Freight) is stopped at the Truro Yard. two CN120 trains are stopped on sidings at Belmont (Springhill Sub mile 4.8) just before Truro, and Springhill. Once the line reopens, the plan is to Send train 121 currently in Rockingham yard out, then bring the Belmont 120 train in, turn around its power, and send another 121 out, while bringing the Springhill train in.

It seems unlikely that a few days closure will cause ship diversions – Cargo is likely already here, though dwell times at the terminals may increase.

Yesterdays inbound VIA Train was stopped in Moncton, and passengers were bused to Halifax. today’s departing Ocean, will see passengers bus to Moncton.

The 2 photos in this post have been circulating on Social Media, and I am unsure the Original Source.

UPDATE: I’m told that between Rockingham and HOT, there is 43000′ of train waiting to depart – thats about 3.5 trains.

Melford Terminal seeks National Trade Corridor Funding from Trudeau Government

The Proponents behind the Melford Container terminal in the Straight of Canso have applied for Federal National Trade Corridor fund the Minister confirmed yesterday. The application is in the late stages of being evaluated. The terminal First proposed in 2008, has an approved environmental assessment, and an approval from the province of Nova Scotia to begin construction by October 2024.

SSA Marine, Melford International Terminal and Cyrus Capital Partners, L.P. have formed a joint venture to build the terminal, with SSA Marine to be the operator.

The 4.7 billion dollar national trade corridors fund has been contributing to projects across the country. The ports on Vancouver ($348.8million), Prince Rupert ($117.4million)received substantial funding for projects. however the three main ports on the east coast have received comparatively little.The Port of Montreal received $43.9million for three projects. the The following are Port related projects on the East Coast funded by the NTCF at Port of Saint John NB ($45million):

  • CBSA Container Examination Facility – 2.8million
  • West side terminal RO/RO expansion – 21million
  • NB Southern railway Upgrades – 21.2million

And in Halifax ($48million):

  • CBSA Container examination facility – 7million
  • Container terminal optimization – 18million
  • Windsor street exchange upgrades – 23million

The three main east coast Ports received only 136.9 million in funding, which is 25% of what BC ports received, and is less then the $150 million ask by the Melford terminal backers who only have projections and a business plan at this point.

The terminal website, currently goes to a webhost parking page. You can find the list of NTCF projects that received funding at

RO-RO Vessel on Fire in Newark

Around 9:30pm Est, Wednesday evening, A vehicle caught fire during loading operations on board the CON-RO vessel GRANDE COSTA D’AVORIO at the port NY/NJ Newark terminal. The ships crew activated the shipboard firefighting equipment, and called the Newark Fire department who responded. The fire was first reported on Deck 10, and quickly spread upwards to Decks 11 and 12.

The Newark FD Attempted to make a quick hit on the fire, but its rapid spread caused the firefighters to Retreat. In the process two went missing, causing maydays to be declared. they were found, but both have passed.

A statement from the ships owner, Grimaldi Deep Sea indicated the ship has 1200 new and used vehicles on board, and 157 containers. The Ship sails on the North America West Africa Loop. They also indicated the fire was under control, however it was clearly still burning, and reports from Friday morning, indicate that the fire is still spreading fueld by the exploding fuel tanks of cars on board.

Used vehicles are a significant hazard. unlike new vehicles, they can be full of fuel, may have other unknown contents, and be in questionable mechanical state. Used Toyotas in particular are a common export to Africa, both to be resold for driving, and as parts vehicles.

Car fires on RO-RO Vessels are a Huge issue. Vehicle decks are large open spaces, often with low ceilings, and vehicles are parked very close to each other, making movement between them very difficult. The Enclosed nature of the ship contains heat and smoke, decreasing visibility. The close proximity also means the fire can quickly spread. Cars burn at 1500F, which can cause other vehicles close by to light. Heating of surrounding decks can also cause vehicles on other decks to catch fire solely from heat transfer.

Ships have onboard firefighting systems, which are designed to meet international maritime standards. Its unlikely a municipal fire department will have adapters or compatible equipment. In this case it appears the Newark FD was attempting to use shipboard equipment, which was unable to provide sufficient pressure.

Using unfamiliar equipment is a problem. you don’t know if it will work, you dont know its capabilities. A better strategy would have been to lay hoseline into the ship, up a stair well to the 10th deck, and attack the fire from there with familiar and known equipment.

In May 2003, a Fire on board the vehicle deck of the Newfoundland ferry Joseph and Clara Smallwood was contained by Shipboard sprinklers, and Successfully fought by the ships crew while under way and local Volunteer Department once the ship docked. It took several hours to fully extinguish the fire. In that case, only one vehicle was on fire, and it was quickly detected and reacted to.

Grimaldi Group is the Parent Company of ACL. Used vehicles (And all manner of RV’s) are transported on ACL vessels via Fairview Cove, including used cars, bound for Africa.

Updates to Follow.

UPDATE 07/07 23:37
Things are not going well, the fire has spread forward and down 2 decks, As well vehicles on the top deck are visibly on fire. The ship now has a 3 degree list towards the pier. this apparently becomes a bigger concern at 5-6 degrees. the ships bridge has also been compromised by fire.

Salvage company Smit Don Jon is now leading the firefighting effort, though the inside of the ship is too hot to access.

The New Jersey Fire Officers union also released a statement, where they indicated that port authority members attempted to fight the fire with 1″ hoses, which were having no effect, so the Newark department had to take over.

So the NJ fire officers union is throwing their members under the bus? if your the Officer with Newark who arrived, Why would your initial tactical action to takeover what’s already in place – Newark determined that the port authority didn’t have the capability, so they took over and did the exact same thing!? Forget the lack of training in shipboard fires, there seems to be a lack of training in incident size up, and choosing appropriate initial tactical actions.

Look I’m a volunteer fire officer, I’m not trained in shipboard firefighting but I have worked as a longshoreman. If I roll up to that ship, I’m deploying an improvised stand pipe, ideally up an enclosed stairwell, and launching an attack from there. We saw no evidence that Newark FD attempted to run any of their own lines to attack the fire when it was clear the ships systems were not sufficient.

I think we also need to have a conversation if the fire fighting systems on board commercial vessels are sufficient to fight the kinds of Fires we see on board them.

In June 2020 A fire occurred on the PCTC Höegh Xiamen in Jacksonville, Florida. The fire managed to burn through several decks. that ship was managed by Grimaldi Deep Sea. in July a fire gutted the warship USS Bonhomme Richard at the San Diego Naval base. – fire started in a vehicle deck.

in 2019, Grande America, a ship of a similar design to the GRANDE COSTA D’AVORIO sunk after suffering a container fire on deck. the PCTC Grande Europa also suffered a fire at sea, but it was brought under control.

UPDATE 07/08 1500
the ship disappeared from AIS at 0845est this morning, suggesting that the bridge has now been lost, or has lost power. Sal Mercogliano Tweeted the below image of the ships general arrangement, overlaid on the fire image, which helps explain the situation.

UPDATE 07/09:
as of Saturday afternoon, the fire is contained to the 11th deck, and its spread has been stopped. The List is being maintained to assist in dewatering operations. On Sunday deck 11 was being overhauld, meaning the majority of the fire was extinguished, and crews were working to make sure it was fully out.

GPO Grace Returns

the Heavy lift ship GPO Grace returned to Halifax this afternoon and took to the Inner Anchorage. the ship is loaded with Vineyard Wind’s third load of Monopiles and transition Pieces.

Fleet Mate GPO Sapphire has been tied up at Woodside for a few weeks.

The Crew there seem to have gotten comfortable,Note the turf and the swimming pool on the bridge wing.

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