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HMCS Harry DeWolf just proved its critics wrong.
Since the ship was conceived by the Harper government, critics often derided it as a slush breaker, capable only of working in polar regions in the summer months.
In February, it headed north for ice trials and operated off the coast of Labrador and Baffin Island. The Arctic and offshore patrol ship is designed to meet Polar Class 5, with a Class 4 bow.
Polar classes are international standards for performance in ice. There are seven classes, 1 being the most capable and 7 the least. There are no ships with a classification higher than 3 in operation.
On Feb. 20, Harry DeWolf encountered polar bears in Frobisher Bay. It also experienced the aurora borealis. The vessel’s track, available on Marinetraffic.com, indicates it went as far as 62 degrees north latitude. It is due back in Halifax this week.
As part of the ice trials, the ship is periodically stopping and taking ice cores to confirm the thickness. Unlike trials that must be passed before it is turned over to the navy from the builder, these are meant to evaluate the capabilities of the ship to define its safe operation.
Harry DeWolf is the first of six Arctic offshore patrol ships to be built for the navy, with an additional two to be built for the coast guard. It is the first to be completed by Halifax Shipyard as part of the national shipbuilding procurement strategy. It was turned over to the navy in the fall and has been undergoing trials since then.
SeaSpan on the west coast has delivered three fisheries science vessels for the coast guard, is assembling the first joint support ship for the navy and was recently awarded the construction contract for the offshore science vessel to replace CCGS Hudson. A second support ship will be built after the science vessel.
Halifax Shipyard has delivered one ship, launched the second and rolled out the third, with construction progressing on the fourth.
In other news:
- HMCS Fredericton was pulled out of the water on the synchro lift at the navy dockyard. I have been told that a section of hull plate needs to be replaced. Launched in 1993, Fredericton is the seventh frigate, and completed its midlife refit in 2013. We should expect to see more corrosion and wear issues as the class continues to age.
- The container ship Imedghassen moved to Pier 9 on Feb. 24. The ship arrived in January for Melfi Lines but reported engine issues on arrival. It was emptied and sat pier-side in the south end until this move. The ship no longer shows on Melfi's schedule, so it is either waiting on parts or a new job.
- Atlantic Condor has crossed to the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, bound for British Columbia with two new lifeboats for the coast guard. The boats were built in Ontario and Quebec, and delivered to Halifax.
- At the beginning of February, the coast guard made some changes to the buoys in the approaches to Halifax Harbour. The Middle Ground North Cardinal light buoy (HAD) and the West Outer Middle Ground light (HK4) have been removed and will not be replaced. The Pleasant Shoal light and bell buoy (H19) has been moved and is now just a light buoy, and Ives Knoll light and bell buoy (H22) is now only a light buoy. The Southeast Middle Ground light buoy (HK5) is replaced by H15 in the same location. Be sure to consult the notices to mariners for all updates.
Peter Ziobrowski has been writing about all things maritime since 2008.