Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Hard Ride for Patrollers

A CBC investigation has revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the sea performance of the Canadian Coast Guard's Hero class patrol boats.  The boats roll so uncomfortably at sea that crews are unable to carry out patrol duties in all but calm conditions. The boats are tasked with patrolling the coasts, particularly when there is fishing activity, but they can't always do so even though fishing vessels are able to put to sea in similar conditions.

 CCGC Corporal Teather C.V. is one of tow Hero class boats based in Halifax.

The problem comes down to the lack of stabilizers on the boats. These hydraulically operated  retractable fins are used on all sorts of passenger ships and high speed craft to compensate for the vessels' tendency to roll.  Boats and ships built for speed are normally long and narrow, and thus more likely to be subject to rolling.

It is quite fascinating that the Canadian government wants proven designs when it acquires new vessels (warships, tugs, icebreaking patrol ships, supply vessels, etc.,) but then they modify the designs to such an extent that the proven characteristics are deleted.
The Hero class boats are no exception to this unfortunate habit. They were to be built to the Damen Stan Patrol 4207 standard design - a 42m long x 7m wide, high sped patrol vessel, designed by the Dutch builders Damen.

Well proven they have been built for the Netherlands, the UK, Honduras, Jamaica, Barbados, Albania, Mexico, Bulgaria, Venezuela, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago. Those countries it seems had sense enough to keep to the standard design which includes retractable fin stabilizers.

Canada however added so much other gear to the boats that in order to save weight they deleted the stabilizers. Now if stabilizers have to be fitted as an afterthought, it will involve other design modifications to bring the weight down and possibly a reduction in cruising range due to loss of fuel capacity, since some of the design modifications can't be reversed.

There are also reports that the Zodiac Hurricane rescue boats carried by the patrol boats can't be launched in rough weather either. That system is also a departure from the Damen standard design. In the standard design the Zodiacs are launched by means of a stern ramp.

Let us hope that in the process of acquiring new dockyard tugs, new warships, and new supply ships, that the desire for a "proven design" can be adhered to more closely.


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