Terry Fox icebreaker gets $10.8-million overhaul

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on February 1, 2014
Capt. David Fowler of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Terry Fox speaks to reporters on the bridge of the ship, which just underwent a refurbishment.
— Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

It’s a $10.8-million facelift, but the captain of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Terry Fox says most of the refitting done to the ship recently is about extending the life of the vessel and not making things more attractive or comfortable.

“From a point of view of reliability, yes. The equipment is more reliable,” said Capt. David Fowler.

The icebreaker had a lot of work done with its machinery and hull. The entire deck machinery that raises and lowers the ship’s main anchor was replaced and a new port propeller hub was installed along with a new stern thruster. There were also electrical and navigational upgrades. Moreover, some of the accommodation areas hadn’t been touched since the 1980s and were in need of modernization.

All of the work was done in St. John’s. The vessel gets refitted every year, said Fowler, and every other year it’s put on drydock for maintenance and repairs. Such regular work is essential to keep the vessel operational, he said.

“This ship goes through a lot of very harsh environments in the ice. She pounds around and shakes and vibrates.”

The difference this time was the scale of the work done.

“We were able to get a fair bit of funding to do some work that you wouldn’t normally do unless you were looking to extend the life of the ship for awhile. Things that were long overdue, we were able to get done,” Fowler said.

As for making the ship more comfortable, Fowler laughed and said given the work the crew does and the environment it’s done in, the repairs and upgrades were unlikely to do that. The vessel is a little safer and more capable, and the ship’s lifespan will certainly be extended because of such maintenance.

“The steel is in really good condition and the engines are in really good condition,” he said.

An engineer on board said he figured the vessel has another good 20 years of cruising the ice-filled ocean. The Terry Fox and its crew

of about 25 are heading to the Gulf of

St. Lawrence Sunday to keep shipping lanes clear. In the spring, they’ll head for the Arctic.