Barge Watching in the Fraser River, Surrey BC

by John MacFarlane 2012

Author Dave Shirlaw in front of Swiftsure Prince

Dave Shirlaw seen in front of former British Columbia Forest Products barge Swiftsure Prince in January of 2012. This self-dumping/loading barge was towed for several years by the firm's marine division tugs Swiftsure X or Swiftsure II. Current status of the barge is unknown.

There are some excellent locations for ship watching around Greater Vancouver BC. Beyond the harbour with its obvious attractions the Fraser River offers opportunities to see ships close-up. It takes some effort though, and the best locations are not obvious and require personal exploration.

Patullo bridge

The shore of the Fraser River under the Patullo Bridge on the Surrey side offers excellent access to ship watching on public lands.

Our Vancouver Waterfront Correspondent, Dave Shirlaw, took me ship watching down below the Patullo Bridge on the Surrey BC side of the Fraser River. Dave knows his way around the best locations for watching vessels in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. We were trying to get access to two former wooden-hulled minesweepers being dismantled. We could see them from the surface of the Patullo Bridge but the owners of the scrap yard were reluctant to give us permission to gain access at water level. We were left to find any other vessels in the area to photograph. We found two immense log barges in storage under the Patullo Bridge: the Swiftsure Prince and the Ocean Oregon.

Barge Swiftsure_Prince

The Swiftsure Prince was moored on the Surrey side of the Fraser River.

The Swiftsure Prince (#344700/IMO#7030456) is a self-loading/self-dumping log barge. In 1970 she was built in Esquimalt BC by Yarrows Ltd. (Hull #351) (105.58m x 21.37m x 6.34m / 346' x 70' x 21.5') In 1970 she was owned by British Columbia Forest Products Ltd., Vancouver BC. She was transferred to Swiftsure Towing Division of British Columbia Forest Products Ltd., Vancouver BC. She was transferred to Sea-Link Services, New Westminster BC and in 2012 she was still owned by Sea-Link Marine Services Ltd., New Westminster BC, a company that provides ferries operated by Seaspan Ferries Corporation provides a daily, scheduled truck and trailer ferry service between our conveniently located terminals on the Mainland at Tilbury in Delta and Surrey, and on Vancouver Island at Downtown Nanaimo, Duke Point Nanaimo, and Victoria (Swartz Bay).

Barge Ocean_Oregon

Another massive barge, the Ocean Oregon is moored next to the Swiftsure Prince. The Ocean Oregon (#822056) (115.73m x 24.38m x 7.62m steel hulled 5539gt. 1661rt.) In 1975 she was built by Northwest Marine Ironworks, Portland Oregon. In 2003-2004 she was owned by Great Northern Marine Towing Ltd., New Westminster BC. In 2012 she is owned by the Pacific Link Ocean Services Corp., based in St. Michael, Barbados. In 2009, while being towed by the tug Sea Commander, she lost a cargo of logs worth an estimated $1 million.

Barge Arctic_Tuk with crane

The Arctic Tuk on the New Westminster side of the Fraser River.

The Arctic Tuk (#371494) (105.61m x 31.94m x 5.03m steel hulled 4715gt. 4431rt.) In 1980 she was built by Kambara Marine Development & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Tsuneishi (Hiroshima) Japan. In 1983 she was owned by Arctic Transportation Ltd., Calgary AB. In 2004 she was owned by B.J. Marine Holdings Ltd., New Westminster BC. In 2012 she is owned by Amix Heavy Lift Ltd., New Westminster BC. Amix Heavy Lift Ltd. is a marine construction and heavy lift firm with heavy duty equipment to take on some of the biggest jobs in the regional market place. They have the means to haul vessels, up to 1,000 tons out of the water for deconstruction in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

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