Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards operates within the federally-owned Esquimalt Graving Dock, the largest solid bottom commercial drydock on the West Coast of the Americas. (Seaspan)

Vancouver shipyard used one new coast guard vessel to repair, deliver another

The government expects to receive the second and third vessels in late 2019 and summer 2020

A Vancouver shipyard delivered the first of the Canadian Coast Guard’s three new science vessels last week by cannibalizing parts from one of the other ships for repairs, new documents show.

The repairs by Seaspan Shipyards followed the CCGS Sir John Franklin’s collision with the Ogden Point breakwater near Victoria in March, which damaged its rudder and main propeller shaft.

The vessel, which will be used by federal scientists to conduct research on fish stocks, was returning from its first day of sea trials when the collision occurred and there were fears the incident would further delay its delivery.

The coast guard was to take ownership of the vessel in 2017 but that was before welding defects were discovered, forcing it back in for more work.

The three science vessels together are to cost $687 million.

Internal emails obtained by The Canadian Press through access-to-information law show senior coast guard officials scrambling for answers after the collision, whose cause still has not been revealed.

Pictures taken by a bystander and circulated by Canadian Coast Guard commissioner Jeffery Hutchsinson, deputy commissioner Andy Smith and others showed a large dent in the Franklin.

A few weeks later, Smith emailed Hutchinson and Timothy Sargent, the top bureaucrat in the federal Fisheries Department, with an update that the Franklin’s rudder and propeller shaft were “twisted.”

The solution? Seaspan planned to use parts from the third science vessel, the CCGS John Cabot, to fix the Franklin and get it back in the water, Smith reported.

“Ship 3 will be the donor patient to get Franklin to sea in immediate term,” Smith wrote. “Will have to source replacement parts for ship 3 in due course.”

Seaspan Shipyards officially handed the Franklin over to the coast guard in a ceremony on June 27 that included Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and dozens of coast guard and industry officials.

It is the first vessel delivered under the federal government’s multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan, which was launched in 2011.

The government has said it expects to receive the second and third so-called offshore fisheries science vessels, the CCGS Capt. Jacques Cartier and the Cabot, in late 2019 and summer 2020, respectively.

Seaspan has also been tapped to build the navy’s two new support ships as well as 16 “multipurpose vessels” for the coast guard. Construction is largely sequential, meaning a delay in the fisheries vessels could affect the rest.

Seaspan spokesman James Mitchell said the decision to use parts from the Cabot to fix the Franklin would not delay delivery of the third vessel, saying it would be handed over “as per the agreed schedule and contract requirements.”

Mitchell did not say how Seaspan plans to replace the rudder and propeller shaft, but coast guard spokesman Benoit Mayrand said there were “no financial implications” for the government.

Taking existing parts from the Cabot helps explain the surprisingly quick repairs on the Franklin, said Timothy Choi, an expert on shipbuilding at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies.

“One of the things that would be interesting to know would be just how damaged the original shaft and posts were,” he added in an email. “Could they still be repaired?”

Either way, Choi said the rudder and propeller are often some of the last parts installed on a vessel’s stern section and, because they are vulnerable to damage over a ship’s lifespan, are generally easier to remove and re-install.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Emergency crews responding to a serious MVI on Quesnel-Hydraulic Road

Quesnel-Hydraulic Road traffic is single lane alternating at Janicki Road

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend about 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Musical message of hope in Quesnel

A group of talented young musicians serenaded the residents and staff of Dunrovin on Sunday, May 24

Highway 97 north of Quesnel down to single lane alternating

Emcon Services Inc. crews will be working on repairs between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, May 25

Pickleballers hit the courts after City lifts COVID-19 restrictions

Patrons must follow specific health and safety guidelines

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

B.C. drive-in theatre appeals COVID-19 concession rules, 50-car limit

With 50 cars and the removal of concession sales, drive-in owner says theatre might have to close

COVID-19: B.C. grants aim to stabilize sexual assault recovery programs

$10 million fund not yet ready to take applications

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Half of Canadians say governments are hiding something about COVID-19: poll

More than a third of people believe the virus was created in a lab

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

Most Read