What’s the story behind the French naval ship in Halifax’s waters? | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
The French naval patrol vessel Fulmar docked in Halifax on Monday, April 10, 2023.

What’s the story behind the French naval ship in Halifax’s waters?

Container ships, cargo carriers and more vessels bound for Halifax the week of April 10-16. Plus, a Titanic anniversary.

If you took a stroll along the waterfront near the foot of Morris Street on Monday morning, you’d have walked right past it: A 40-metre patrol vessel painted Navy grey, flying French and Canadian flags and docked within a skip and a jump of the Bicycle Thief. Ordinarily stationed out of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, the Fulmar is a former trawler bought by the French Gendarmerie in 1996 to monitor the end of the Canadian cod moratorium. Over the years, the Fulmar has birthed its own amateur hockey team, travelled as far as Lake Ontario and—on one eventful occasion—nearly crashed into two ships in Halifax Harbour on the same day.

The Fulmar left Halifax on Tuesday. The Coast reached out to Maritime Forces Atlantic for details on what brought the Fulmar here earlier this week—and if it was here for joint naval exercises, a Timmies run or because the crew heard it was boardwalk season. As of publication, we have yet to receive a reply.

With that behind us, here’s the rest of what’s going on in Halifax Harbour this week.


In somewhat less thrilling news compared to the Fulmar, the CSL Tacoma bulk carrier arrived in Halifax on Monday, just after 6pm. (It did not, by any accounts, have any near-misses finding its way into port.) It came in by way of Savannah, Georgia—where it was in port for just over a day—and left Halifax early Wednesday morning. Tomorrow, the Tacoma reaches Baltimore.


When I moved to Halifax, I assumed harbour fashion was a scuffed pair of Blundstones, a thrifted jean jacket and a toque that didn’t cover your ears. Turns out it’s also the name of an oil/chemical tanker that made its way into port in Halifax from Montreal earlier this week. Unlike the Haligonian uniform, which goes hand-in-hand with a pair of cuffed jeans and a dart tucked behind the ear, the Harbour Fashion tanker (built in 2011) doesn’t allow any smoking aboard the ship. Because, well, kaboom. It left Halifax, smoke-free, on Wednesday afternoon—bound for Montreal once more.

click to enlarge What’s the story behind the French naval ship in Halifax’s waters?
IT International Telecom Inc. / YouTube
A video screenshot of the IT Intrepid cable layer. The ship arrived in Halifax on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.

Elsewhere in the harbour, the IT Intrepid cable layer arrived in Halifax just before 10:30am on Tuesday. (A cable layer, for the uninitiated, is exactly what it sounds like: A ship that lays underwater cables—often for telecommunications—over large bodies of water. For us in Halifax, that means laying and fixing the fibre optic cables that bring us our internet.) The CBC did a profile of the 70-person Intrepid crew in 2016, if you’re interested in giving it a read.

Lastly, the Lagarfoss container ship came and left Halifax on the same day. It arrived via Reykjavik, Iceland—where the ship’s parent company, Lag Line Ltd., is based—and sailed onward to Portland, Maine.


Hello, Oceanex Sanderling, my old friend. As usual, the ro-ro/cargo ship arrived in Halifax on Wednesday morning after crossing the great big sea from St. John’s. (I’m already sorry for that pun.) It’s docked at the South End Container Terminal.

Mid-week also brought the return of two vessels. Remember the 336-metre Humen Bridge container ship? It came Wednesday morning from Norfolk, Virginia and left early Thursday for Egypt’s Suez Canal. Plus, the Morning Charlotte vehicle carrier—owned and operated by ro-ro shipping giant EUKOR—wrapped its eight-day crossing from Zeebrugge, Belgium. It’s docked at the Eastern Passage Autoport.

click to enlarge What’s the story behind the French naval ship in Halifax’s waters?
Brian Kushner / YouTube
A video screenshot of the Morning Charlotte vehicle carrier, as seen on the Delaware River in 2019. The ship arrived in Halifax Harbour on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

Finally, the COE Luisa cargo ship made its way into port from Charleston, South Carolina. It was a quick stop for the Luisa; it left Thursday morning for Sept-Îles, Quebec. The smaller-sized ship—just 138 metres—can hold roughly 665 20-foot shipping containers, but the far more noteworthy nautical tidbit is that its former ship name is the BBC Tennessee. (It was also once the Beluga Felicity, but that’s another matter.) I like to imagine a meeting between the higher-ups at the UK’s public broadcast network, in all of their seriousness, discussing the merits of launching a satellite station in Chattanooga to relay the wonders of Dolly Parton and American college football to Britons back home—like a sort of reverse Ted Lasso. That’d be nice.


Here comes the Sun! Last week brought the Atlantic Sky and the Atlantic Sea to Halifax; now the Atlantic Sun is due to arrive at 6pm. The three container ships are all 296 metres long, built in Shanghai, China in 2016 (the Sea) or 2017 (Sun and Sky), and they fly the Maltese flag out of their home port of Liverpool, England, where The Beatles came from. Not to be left out, the other two Atlantic Shanghai-sourced S-sibling ships, the 2016-built Star and 2015’s Sail, happened to be in Halifax at the end of March.

Earlier in the day, the 335-metre ONE Helsinki container ship reached Halifax after a three-week crossing from Colombo, Sri Lanka. It’s docked at the South End Container Terminal. (Shipfax’s Mac Mackay takes a deeper dive into the Helsinki and the rise of larger ships at Fairview Cove in this piece.) Also, the Nolhan Ava ro-ro/cargo ship makes its weekly rounds from Argentia, NL, and the Acadian chemical/oil tanker arrived from Saint John, NB.


With a planned 5am docking, MSC’s Anahita container ship is the first of four big arrivals on the schedule for today. It’s 285 metres long (68,570 gross tonnage), landing in North America at Halifax after leaving Europe nine days ago from Sines, Portugal. The ship takes its name from the Iranian goddess Anāhitā, known—fittingly—as the goddess of water.

Later in the morning, the 293-metre NYK Remus container ship is due at 8am from Cartagena, Colombia.

An hour later, both the MSC Azov and MSC Rossella container ships are expected to reach Halifax Harbour. The Azov is destined for Nova Scotia after making calls all along the US east coast, most recently in Baltimore. The Rossella left Sines for Montreal at the end of March, and from Montreal is forecast to arrive in Halifax at 9am.


This weekend begins with the 111th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking. Twenty minutes before midnight on April 14, 1912, the passenger liner struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean while on its way to New York City from Southampton. It sank in the early morning hours of April 15. Of the 337 bodies recovered from the roughly 2,200 passengers aboard, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic writes, 209 were brought back to Halifax. One-hundred and fifty remain in the city today. The graves of those victims still stand at Fairview Lawn, Mount Olivet and Baron de Hirsch.

Speaking of the Titanic: Remember that time Halifax was apparently going to get a $300-million replica ship, complete with a restaurant and aquarium—and then it all turned out to be bogus? Yeah, that was wild.

On to more current matters: The largest vessel of the week, the CMA CGM Panama container ship, is due at 4am on Saturday. It measures 366 metres long and can carry a whopping 149,314 tonnes of cargo. (By contrast, the NYK Nebula—which also arrives Saturday—can only carry 55,534 tonnes.) The Panama is crossing the Atlantic from Tanger Med, Morocco, after stops in Egypt and, before that, Sri Lanka. The Nebula is en route from Antwerp, Belgium.

Last *and* least, the Ocean Pearl cargo ship is the final arrival scheduled for Saturday, bound for Halifax from Charleston, South Carolina. Its maximum capacity is 29,829 tonnes, about half the Nebula and one fifth of the Panama. No word on if, like our own Pearl, it also haunts people’s dreams.


First, there was the Intrepid. Now the IT Infinity offshore tug/supply ship is scheduled to arrive Sunday from Port Fourchon on the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans.

Finally, the 225-metre Baie St. Paul bulk carrier makes its way into Halifax from its home port of Montreal. It’s due at 8am.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story listed the Fulmar's size as 40 feet, rather than 40 metres. The Coast regrets the error, and Martin will go sit in the corner for a few minutes to think about his mistake.

About The Authors

Martin Bauman

Martin Bauman, The Coast's News & Business Reporter, is an award-winning journalist and interviewer, whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Calgary Herald, Capital Daily, and Waterloo Region Record, among other places. In 2020, he was named one of five “emergent” nonfiction writers by the RBC Taylor Prize...

Kyle Shaw

Kyle is the editor of The Coast. He was a founding member of the newspaper in 1993 and was the paper’s first publisher. Kyle occasionally teaches creative nonfiction writing (think magazine-style #longreads) and copy editing at the University of King’s College School of Journalism.
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