CSL makes SLSC’s history book

I got a few emails yesterday, alerting me to a ship grounding in the St Lawrence Seaway. Having been home for some time, I haven’t posted much apart from that big update on the main site. I guess they were justified, in drawing my attention to the grounding of CSL’s Richelieu, from the warm weather and kids activities, that I have been engrossed in, these last few weeks off the ship.

But little did they know, I was already fully aware. Well, not that I am super on top of things but it was pretty hard to ignore the considerable media attention the incident garnered, clear across the country. Actually, I was kind of surprised by the extensive coverage. National news organizations, CBC, CTV, Globe & Mail, were all over it, the TV networks dedicating considerable live coverage. I guess it was a good thing the ship had, a few months ago, come out of the Turkish shipyard, freshly painted, and at least it look good from far on TV.

Like usual, the news did not satisfy my curiosity on how the accident happened, actually probably raised more questions than anything. But at the end of the day, the vessel had a “basketball size” hole in its hull, which was also tank side, and spilled about 75 tons of heavy fuel oil, just “up river”, off the Cote St Catherine lock, near Montreal. Claude Dumais, vice-president of technical operations for Canada Steamship Line, told the CBC, regarding the cause of the accident, “it’s under evaluation right now, but it is a mechanical failure at this point in time, more than human error.”

The incident closed seaway traffic, and was repordedly the first in the Seaway’s 51 year history, which I definitely find surprising. The location of the incident, and what appears to be good preparedness by the Seaway Corporation, seems to have ensure a quick containment to the spill. As I write this, I see on AIS, that the Richelieu is still moored near the Cote St Catherine Locks, and there appears to be no other traffic moving yet.

The 30 year old Richelieu, if I recall the story correctly, is part of four sister ship purchased in October 2009 – Richelieu, Saguenay, Oakglen, Mapleglen. They were previously owned by CSL’s competitor, FedNav. All four were tied up, on and off, in Montreal over the last year, undergoing modifications for entry into the Canadian register. Fire broke out in the engine room (purifier room) of one of the vessel, the Oakglen, I believe, during welding activities, causing extensive damage. Except for the Saguenay, all other ships have entered into the Great Lakes trade.

I worked briefly on the Richelieu, just a few months ago while she was undergoing modifications. The ship overall looked a little tired, and in need of some TLC. In the engine room, things were not in bad shape, but certainly seem to suffer a “lack of love” from a steady crew. I suspect the ship, having recently entered in the Canadian register less than two months ago, operating with a new crew, perhaps something went amiss, causing a power failure.

This is also the second grounding for CSL in 8 months, in the seaway. The other occurred to the CSL Assiniboine, back in November 2009. That accident caused considerable damage to that vessel.

I am sure I will know more about the Richelieu’s problem shortly, in the mean time, this gives me some anxieties about my responsibilities on our own vessel, also suffering from old age and operating in the tight confines of the seaway – but which probably does not look as pretty on TV. Gulp.

MV Richelieu
Owners : CSL Group Inc.
Managers : VShips Canada
Class : Lloyd’s Register
IMO number : 7901150
Flag : Canada (since 01-06-2010)
Ordered : February 1979
Keel laid : April 1980
Launched : October 1980
Delivered : December 1980
Ship type : Bulk carrier
Gross tonnage : 22,734
Net tonnage : 13,049
Deadweight tonnage : 35,630
L.O.A. : 222.49 meters
L.B.P. : 216.75 meters
Width overall : 23.22 meters
Draught : 9.72 meters
Depth : 14.36 meters
Builder : N.V. Cockerill Yards Hoboken
Country : Hoboken, Belgium
Hull number : 893
Engine builder : A/B Gotaverken
Country : Goteborg, Sweden
Main Engine – 1x B&W 6K67GFC
Fuel : Heavy fuel oil & diesel oil
Horsepower : 11,600 bhp or 8,531 kW
Speed : 14 knots
Propeller : 1 variable pitch
Bow thruster : 1 (1,180 hp or 880 kW)
Steering gear : Cort steering nozzle
Ex : (a) Federal Ottawa – Belgium (1991)
(b) Federal Ottawa – Luxembourg (1995)
(c) Lake Erie (3) – Marshall Islands
(d) Richelieu – Marshall Islands

Here are the media stories on the Richelieu – CBC, CTV, Globe & Mail, Boatnerd, Radio Canada, Toronto Star, and Canwest as well as the newswire; the press release from the St Lawrence Seaway Corp. Picture above from CTV, all others from my own collection. Here you will find some interesting tidbits and pictures of the ships shortly after purchase by CSL, laid up in the port of Montreal.

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