Two new tractors join Ocean Group fleet in Quebec


Canadian tugs on the St. Lawrence River often find themselves doing ship-assist assignments while working in ice. Tugs of Ocean Group, including Ocean Bertrand Jeansonne, shown here, have ice-strengthened hulls and special features to protect propulsion gear. (Jean Hemond photos)

Two new tractor-style tugs joined the fleet of Ocean Group Inc., based in Quebec, in 2009, one built at Irving Shipbuilding’s East Isle Shipyard on Prince Edward Island, and the other built at the Ocean Industries shipyard located at L’Isle-aux-Coudres, a subsidiary of Ocean Group.

New from the East Isle Shipyard is Ocean Bertrand Jeansonne. Delivered from the Ocean Industries shipyard was Ocean Georgie Bain. Both are original designs by Robert Allan Ltd., of Vancouver, British Columbia.

This company’s total fleet of eight tractor-style tugs also includes a pair of 80-footers built about 10 years ago by its shipyard at L’Isle-aux-Coudres on the Saint Lawrence River, and a 50-year-old former U.S. Navy cycloidal drive tug of 1,300 hp. Three additional ASD tractors are expected from East Isle Shipyard within a few years. Including its substantial fleet of conventional tugs used for general towing and salvage work, the company operates as many as 21 tugs over most of the length of the Saint Lawrence and into Lake Ontario.

Ocean Bertrand Jeansonne is 101 feet in length with 5,000 in total horsepower generated by a pair of 3516-B Caterpillar diesels linked to Rolls-Royce z-drives. While the horsepower of these tugs has gradually risen since the design was first introduced, the tug is essentially a standard East Isle model that has become a regular feature of other tug companies including Atlantic Towing and Atlantic Reyser, both of eastern Canada, and some foreign companies.

New tugs from East Isle Shipyard are larger and more powerful than their counterparts from L’Isle-aux-Coudres. The East Isle tugs come complete with an escort keel fitted forward of amidships and with ice protection devices mounted fore and aft. Ice diverters at the aft end resemble large triangles welded to the hull that prevent ice from hitting or damaging the z-drives. Like many of the tugs from East Isle Shipyard, Bertrand Jeansonne is fitted with a Ridderinkhof aft towing winch as well as with a stern winch and towing pins.

Ocean Georgie Bain has been stationed at Montreal since her introduction last year, while Ocean Bertrand Jeansonne is based at Quebec City. The company was founded by Gordon Bain, a former commercial diver, in Quebec City in 1987 with acquisition of an existing tugboat company.

The company expanded into Montreal in the mid-1990s with acquisition of McAllister Towing & Salvage. More recently, the company expanded into Lake Ontario with a base at the port of Hamilton, Ontario. Both ports of Quebec and Montreal have been turning in steady gains in ship calls and cargo tonnages, with only minor setbacks caused by the recent recession. Plus the navigation and geographic challenges of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the 1,000-mile St. Lawrence River provide a steady flow of independent ship-assist work plus salvage, construction and barge projects.

Ocean Group today offers harbor-towing services in the ports of Quebec, Montreal, Sorel-Tracy, Trois-Rivieres, Hamilton, Oshawa and Toronto.