Changes to Coast Guard’s fleet

CCGS Bartlett and CCGS Provo Wallis
Sister ships CCGS Bartlett (L) and former CCGS Provo Wallis (R) sit tied up at the Institute of Ocean Science on the day of a small decommissioning ceremony at Sidney, BC. Photo credit: Pete Collins

As any major fleet of ships will do, Coast Guard’s Pacific based fleet just went through a major suite of changes. The fleet welcomed back CCGS Bartlett and CCGS Tanu after major mid-life refits and said goodbye to the CCGS Provo Wallis, CCGS Tsekoa II, CCGS Point Race, and CCGS Point Henry. New additions to the fleet include three new Coast Guard 47ft Motor lifeboats CCGS Cape Palmerston, CCGS Cape Naden and CCGS Cape Dauphin.

In 2007, CCGS Bartlett, one of Coast Guard’s major assets, had been laid-up at DFO’s Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney for long-term refit. Primarily used as a navigational aid tender, the ship was also frequently involved in Search and Rescue, fisheries enforcement and pollution control activities. But the Bartlett’s future appeared to be question.

Considered a major workhorse of the Pacific fleet, the ship was beginning to show its age. Primarily used as a navigational aid tender, the ship was also frequently involved in Search and Rescue, fisheries enforcement and pollution control activities before being tied up.

Started in the summer of 2009 and completed in spring of 2010, a major $16.9 million midlife refit of the ship was completed at Allied Shipbuilders of North Vancouver. The funding made available through the economic action plan program made sure that the ship remains operational for another 10 years doing what the Bartlett does best on the West Coast.

Another of Coast Guard’s major assets CCGS Tanu recently underwent a similar midlife refit at Allied Shipyards of North Vancouver. The $5.9 million contract for a vessel life extension included upgrades to the two main engines to decrease emissions, and the installation of three new generators to modernize the electrical generating system, a new sewage treatment plant, new navigation and communication equipment, a new galley and a new hospital.

In addition, a new fast rescue craft (FRC) davit was installed to improve the vessel’s search and rescue capability. A new 200 horse power electric bow thruster was also installed on the ship to improve the vessel’s maneuverability.

Work on the ship began in October of 2010, and was completed in March 2011. Once the Vessel Life Extension of the Tanu was complete, the vessel returned to service modernized and fully operational. The repairs are expected to keep CCGS Tanu in service for years to come.

The Tanu’s refit also benefitted Allied Shipbuilders, which completed the refit. “The Tanu project enabled us to retain our highly skilled work force, allowing us to continue the upgrades to our facility to improve our efficiency in both ship repair and ship construction and permitting us to retain our apprentices, who are the future of this company,” said Chuck Ko, Vice President Of Operations for Allied Shipbuilders and the Project Manager for the Tanu project.

It was a different story for the CCGS Provo Wallis, sister ship to CCGS Bartlett, when at the end of December, the ship ended its long and historic service life with the Canadian Coast Guard.

Affectionately known as the Provo, the ship was an ice-strengthened medium navigational aids tender. Constructed in 1969, the ship started its Coast Guard service in the Maritimes Region. In 1990, the ship was modernized and had 20 feet added to the well deck. In 2007, the ship sailed through the Panama Canal, transferred to the Pacific region as a relief vessel to replace the Bartlett during its out–of-service period. The Provo Wallis quickly became a mainstay of the Pacific fleet, servicing fixed and floating aids as well as performing lighthouse re-supply, the ship was frequently multi-tasked. The ship regularly participated in Search and Rescue (SAR), Marine Security, Environmental Response, Fisheries Management and Conservation and Protection programs.

“It is not often that we witness the end of service for a large vessel,” said Vija Poruks, Assistant Commissioner, Pacific Region. “I know the event was a historic one for many employees who were closely connected with this proud ship over her long service life.”

In preparation for decommissioning, a full inventory and cataloguing of spares and other related work took place. Where possible, any equipment and components that could be used for CCGS Bartlett was removed and stored for future use.

In all, the contribution that the Provo Wallis made to the safety of mariners, members of the Canadian public, and to the Canadian Coast Guard organization was significant. The ship will be fondly remembered on both coasts of Canada.

The 87 foot CCGS Tsekoa II designed by Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver and constructed at Allied Shipbuilders Ltd. of North Vancouver in 1984, was also recently decommissioned.

The ship was formerly operated by Public Works Canada and used for the maintenance and upkeep of many government harbours. It was used primarily for harbour construction and maintenance and proved to be a reliable and stable vessel in the fleet. With the divesture of many government harbour facilities to local communities, the vessel was transferred to the Coast Guard.

The ship had the unique ability to attract the model boat building community. Model building kits and plans of this vessel can still be purchased online and have attracted model boat aficionados the world around.

The ship was sold under a gratuitous transfer to the University of Victoria; the yet-to-be-renamed ship will increase ocean research capacity in the Strait of Georgia and off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

CCGS Tsekoa II
The 87 ft CCGS Tsekoa II was designed by Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver and constructed at Allied Shipbuilders Ltd. of North Vancouver in 1984. Photo credit: Canadian Coast Guard, Pacific Region

At the end of June 2011 the Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Point Race and Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Point Henry were decommissioned after 30 years of service in the Coast Guard. The Point Race and Point Henry were two of four sister ships built in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia and delivered to B.C. by commercial ship in late 1981.

Originally commissioned as CG 125, and later renamed the Point Race in 1984, the vessel entered service in June 1982. The Point Race and her crews responded to over 5000 SAR incidents (including one birth aboard) since being commissioned for service from CCG Station Campbell River.

CCGC Point Race
The 69 ft CCGC Point Race was a fixture on the Campbell River waterfront for many years and responded to over 5000 Search and Rescue incidents. Photo credit: Dan Bate

Originally commissioned CG 123 and later renamed the Point Henry, the ship served Prince Rupert and the surrounding communities on British Columbia’s North Coast. The “Hank” and its crews participated in over 3500 SAR incidents, including one very notable incident which involved the F/V Larissa, where a crew member received the Cross of Valor, a highly prestigious award.

CCGC Point Henry
CCGC Point Henry was involved in many significant incidents on the North Coast including the difficult rescue of 2 members of the fishing vessel Larissa that capsized in hurricane-force winds in a winter storm. Photo credit: Canadian Coast Guard, Pacific Region

All four ships were fondly remembered by the crews and the communities they serviced.