- On August 4, 1998 the newly created Upper Lakes Group vessel M.V. Canadian Transfer was re-commissioned in a ceremony at Port Weller Dry Docks. The multi-million dollar project involved combining components of two existing ships to create a new one. The highly complex engineering job was completed at Port Weller Dry Docks over a four month period.
This new vessel came from the marriage of the engine room portion of the M.V. Canadian Explorer, a 730-foot straight deck bulk carrier and the M.V. Hamilton Transfer, a 620-foot self-unloading vessel. The cargo hold, wheelhouse, and self-loading system of the Hamilton Transfer was retained. A new, 24-foot section was built to join the two ships.
This was the first time a Bulker and a Self-unloader had been joined to create a new vessel.
The Canadian Transfer sailed on her sea trials on Tuesday August 18th. Trials were hailed as a complete success with the ship attaining a top speed of just over 14 knots at 85% of maximum power and the ship's systems performed up to expectations. She proceeded to load her first cargo, Ontario grain, at Hamilton bound for Buffalo, NY.
The vessel arrived in Buffalo through the South Entrance on the afternoon of the 20th. The Canadian Transfer docked at the Buffalo Port Terminal Slip "A" and then began unloading grain directly into the Kinsman Enterprise.
Long terms plans are to work the ship up into the upper lakes, into the stone/iron ore/aggregates trade.
History of the two Ships
- Transfer upbound on the Detroit River 8/22/98 loaded with stone for Sarnia. Picture by Todd Davidson.
The Transfer being moved from the dry dock to the fitout dock.6/19:
- Stern view close up.
- Tugs assisting the Transfer out of the dry dock.
- Bow view in the Dry dock, old pilot house can be seen in the foreground.
- Starboard side transition piece.
- Stern view Looking forward, showing the transition piece.
- The transition piece is first lifted so the unit can be rotated.
- The Unit now facing the right way, note the tuggers at the back and the hole for the potable water intake.
- The unit at the correct angle being lowered between the ships.
This operation last Friday took 12 hours, unit was placed in today in just three hours.
- The bow being lined up by the tugs above Lock 1.
- The mating piece on the bow taken below Lock 1.
- The stern after the wheel house was cut away. The aft mast was removed from the Transfer and will be mounted on here.
- The old Wheel House.
- The stern of the Explorer weighted and braced to avoid rollover when the dock is flooded again.
- The Transfer in the floating dock in Hamilton just prior to cutting the bow free
JUNE 09 1998
Preparations are now being made to install the side pieces, Units 3 & 4. Number 3, the starboard side will be installed first. Once again this has to be done using a crane on rubber brought in from outside and as with Unit 1, once this crane is set up it can not be moved.
The unit is lifted out of the pin jig and using the fab shop crane and the south side moving crane is loaded on a flat bed and brought round to the starboard side of the ship. The unit is removed from the flat-bed and laid on the ground with bottom side facing the ship. The bottom is placed on wooden wedges to prevent it swinging into the ship when it is raised into the vertical position. This unit weighs 34 tons and picking it up and moving above the gap between the two ships is a delicate business.
Lifting begins around 3.00pm and it takes until 7.00 to manoeuvre the piece into position. By 11.00pm the unit is secured and the crane is released. It will now be pulled into position for scribing and trimming to size by come-a-longs mounted in side the hull. When that is done, welding can begin.
The installation of Unit 4. begins Thursday June 11. In this case the shipyard cranes can be used and this simplifies the procedure. The process is similar to the starboard side, the difference being that the yard crane can move fore and aft which allows a little more latitude in manoeuvring the unit.
Once these units are welded in place the pump bed plates can be installed, followed by the ballast pumps themselves. This installation is due to begin June 19th. More text and pictures after that operation.
HOW DO THEY DO THAT? JUNE 04 1998
That is, how do they curve the heavy steel plates that make up the transition piece. The plates arrive from the mill flat. They are then cut to size and shape on a plasma arc computer controlled cutting machine. The pieces are then given their initial curves on a large break press. The break press curves are an approximation of the final shape. For final shaping, welding and the installation of ribs the pieces are mounted in a Pin Jig.
The Pin Jig is a large rectangular frame with vertical adjustable pins mounted a metre apart in squares throughout the frame. The height of each of the pins is calculated by the computer to conform to the shape of the hull. The pieces are placed in the jig in the pattern that conforms to the hull drawing and pulled down into place and then welded.
The ribs pieces are cut on the computer controlled plasma arc machine which has calculated the curves needed and where necessary and bends or angle are added on the break press. The pieces are then mounted on the plates in the Pin Jig and welded into place. Once the welding is complete the whole assembly is rigid and is removed from the jig and fitted into place to join the two ship
THE PROGRESS TO MAY 27 1998
With unit 1 tacked into place, the yard now prepared to fit unit 2, the port side of the keel. The unit was picked up from the east side of the "fab" shop by the travelling crane swung over the "Algowest" in the south bay of the dock and set down on blocks on the Transfer spar deck.
The centre travelling crane is now attached and the unit lifted and using the tuggers set to an angle of about 35 degrees bow down. The process is simplified by the fact that this crane is able to move fore and aft, rather than being fixed as was the case with unit 1. The crane manoeuvres the unit over the gap and begins to slowly into place. As it reaches its approximate position the tuggers inch it to the correct angle both side to side and fore and aft. Finally it rests on the blocks ready for tacking and welding to begin. The whole process has taken about four hours.
The next installations will be the side plates and mounting the bed plates for the new pumps. This work is due the first week of June. More to come.
THE PROGRESS TO MAY 22 1998
Much of the previous two weeks had been spent removing the wheel house and cutting away the old transition piece and the pumps seen in the picture of the stern. The original Build Strategy called for these to be cut away with the bow, however once the danger of roll-over was recognized, these were left to help keep the centre of gravity down. By lunch time Friday they are ready to begin installing Unit 1 of the transition piece.
The unit had been prefabricated in the shop and was moved to the starboard side of the ship on a flat-bed truck. The unit weighs 30 tons and is fabricated with a one and three quarter inch keel plate which is welded to a three quarter inch plate that is shaped to the correct section. Once in position the unit is rigged for lifting. How the unit is rigged is critical to the whole operation. While the unit is being rigged, other workers are in the bottom of the dock setting up the blocking that the unit will rest on before it is finally welded into place.
The unit is rigged fore and aft. It has to be rigged in such a way that the angle that it hangs at can be changed during the operation. There are two reasons for this. First the space into which it will lowered is very narrow and secondly when it reaches its final position the unit must be tilted to achieve the four foot six inch difference between the keel of the Transfer and the keel of the Explorer. This is accomplished by rigging the unit with two steel cables on one side and two compressed air tugger units on the other. Some explanation is needed of how the air tuggers work. These units resemble a "come-a-long" or a set of chain falls. Each unit is equipped with an air driven motor, so that the operators can shorten or lengthen the chain as required.
Finally the rigging is complete and the computer on the crane indicates that Unit 1, complete with rigging, now weighs 35 tons. The moment of truth has arrived. The crane slowly lifts the unit and the flat-bed is moved away. Once the area is cleared, the unit is rotated anticlockwise and centred over the space between the Transfer bow and the Explorer stern. It has to be in that position until the compressed air line is connected. Connecting it earlier would have meant that it would be twisted as the unit was rotated.
Slowly the unit is moved into position and angled sharply down at the bow. There are slight delays as the angle has to be changed to clear some obstruction but after a couple of hours the unit is ready for final positioning and preparing for welding. Unit 2 is scheduled to be placed on Tuesday and by that time the construction should be well under way on Units 3 and 4. More to come with more photograph
THE PROGRESS TO MAY 15 1998
Work on both ships began in early April. The "Transfer" was pulled from her berth at Defasco Steel and taken to Heddle Marine's dock east of the steel plants. Here the stern accommodation was cut away and the decks over the engine room removed to give access to the engine.
The engine was then cut from its bed and lifted clear of the ship. Two floating dry docks were manoeuvred under the ship to support the bow and the stern and the ship was lifted clear of the water. The cut line was marked out and sandblasted to remove lead based paint prior to cutting. Meanwhile all internal cutting was completed.
The final cut was made on April 30 and the two parts separated around 7.00pm with no problems. The following day the alignment mating piece was installed, a bulkhead door welded shut and the bow section prepared for towing to Port Weller. The bow was ballasted down about 9ft and the stern allowed to ride in a foot of water. The tow began Sunday night, May 3rd. The "Transfer was towed stern first, with the "Florence McKeil" towing and the "Martin Argue" guiding the bow. The tugs and the bow section arrived below Lock 1 at 7.00am Monday May 4th.
The "Explorer" arrived at Port Weller on Tuesday April 14 and was pulled into the Dry Dock on the 15th. Much of the next day was spent fitting the stabilizing pipes and adding "crane" weights to the stern. This was done because once the bow was cut free the centre of gravity would move high up the wheel house, creating a danger that the stern would capsize when the dock was re-flooded.
The cut line was sandblasted to remove the lead paint and internal cutting work began. By April 24th all cutting was complete except for four stitch pieces at the corners of the hull. The final cuts were made on the 27th. To lessen the risk of a capsize the level of the canal was lowered by approximately 10ft. The dry dock was then flooded but had to be drained down again to make repairs to a leak in #6 hold. The bow section was pulled from the dry dock on the 29th. and work of installing the mating piece begun. The stern was ready to receive the "Transfer" bow on May 1.
The bow of the "Transfer" was brought though Lock 1 and tied off on the west wall, then ballasted level. Once again the level of the canal was lowered and the dry dock flooded. The tugs manoeuvred the ship stern first to the gates where the cable from the "Mule" were attached and the bow section slowly pulled into the dock. Using dock winches the hull was centred so that the two mating pieces meet. Once this is accomplished the bow is aligned with the stern using a floating centering device, a man on the dock gates guides the winch operators until the hull is centred then the water is drain away and the hull rests on its blocks.
The first work to begin was the removal of the "Explorer" wheel house and the spacer piece beneath it. The spacer piece contains a large amount of electrical wiring. In the new ship this wiring will be in a small "Dog House" built on the top of the aft accommodation. More to follow.