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Seaspan tugs find new home

Harbour authority inks lease inside Ogden Point breakwater
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Seaspan's tug fleet, workhorses around Victoria's harbour, will move to the Ogden Point breakwater.

A new 170-foot float at Ogden Point is being readied for the three redandwhite tugs that Seaspan Marine Corp. has on duty in Victoria.

The tugs will be relocating from their current leased spot in the Upper Harbour near the Johnson Street bridge to the new site next to the Pacific Pilotage Authority, on the inside of the breakwater. Seaspan needed a new home because of impending construction to replace the old Johnson Street bridge.

Seaspan has signed a five-year lease and two five-year renewal options with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. It's the latest move by the harbour authority to expand and diversify its economic base.

The tugs will be based at Ogden Point by month's end, Kevin Ashley, Seaspan's superintendent of Vancouver Island marine operations, said Monday.

Tug boats are the workhorses of the coast. The Seaspan vessels push and pull other vessels and barges in Victoria and Esquimalt harbours.

The 63.5-foot-long Seaspan Foam, the 50.6footlong Charles H. Cates IV, and the Charles H. Cates XX, at 41 feet, haul barges filled with materials from Schnitzer Steel and the Ralmax Group of Companies. They also push freighters into position to dock at Ogden Point and carry heavy lines used to tie up visiting cruise ships.

"One of the signs of a healthy working harbour is resident tugs," said Curtis Grad, harbour authority chief executive officer. "Tug service is critical to the long-term sustainability of our working harbour."

The lease includes more than 8,500 square feet of a water lot and 2,500 square feet in the Pier A warehouse for office and workshop use by Seaspan.

Lease rates are confidential, Grad said. Appraisals are done to ensure the organization is charging appropriate fees.

Cruise ships are Ogden Point's major customer during the Alaska cruise season from spring to fall. A cable ship is based there as well. "A good mix of activity is starting to develop at Ogden Point," Grad said.

A master plan is in the works for Ogden Point.

Golder and Associates is overseeing the environmental protection measures of the dock installation. That company carried out tests of water turbidity and the underwater sound resulting from pile-driving to limit the impact to fish and marine mammals.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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