Friday, October 4, 2019

Sir William Alexander in refit

CCGS Sir William Alexander was to have been in refit in July and August as per published schedules. However I have observed that its crane has been removed, whether for repair or replacement, so the vessel remains out of service. CCGS Earl Grey and Edward Cornwallis may also be in refit at the Bedford Institute, but CCGS George R. Pearkes appears to be operational.

Sir William Alexander with crane removed.

Sir William's crane was not original equipment to the ship, but was installed in 1998, mounted on the main deck forward, replacing the original derrick that had not performed properly since new. Sister ship Edward Cornwallis retains the derrick, making it easy to distinguish between the two ships. They are also the only ships of their class with a three a deck superstructure. Other ships of the Martha L. Black class have four decks.

George R. Pearkes on the right has an additional deck compared to Edward Cornwallis (left).

Near my home, in Victoria Park in Halifax, a stone cairn commemorates Sir William Alexander, (1567-1640) First Earl of Stirling:

Erected by the North British [i.e. Scottish] Society in 1957, containing stones from Alexander's home castle, it carries a bronze plaque recognizing the poet, statesman and colonizer as the founder of Nova Scotia. At the time, that also included present day New Brunswick and much of the state of Maine. When the territory was returned to the French in 1632, Alexander was reduced to poverty. He never set foot in Nova Scotia, although his son (of the same name) spent a winter at Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal).

A confidant and Secretary of state to King James I of England / James VI of Scotland, Sir William Alexander (the elder) was also named Viscount of Canada.

CCGS Sir William Alexander is the second ship of the name. The first, launched in 1959 by Halifax Shipyards,  served until 1989, the last two years as William when teething problems delayed delivery of its replacement.
The following is extracted from my post of November 12, 2014:


One of the finest ships ever built by Halifax Shipyards, it was launched December 13, 1959 and served with distinction until July of 1989. Its service was memorable enough that its replacement received the same name- as much in recognition of the man who had Nova Scotia as an idea, as for the ship itself. The ship was built to the proven pattern established by the Edward Cornwallis (i) as a light icebreaker buoy tender.

 The prototype steamer Edward Cornwallis and the evolved, diesel version Sir William Alexander

Longer and narrower, but to perform the same basic work, Sir William Alexander was the epitome of the Canadian Coast Guard light icebreaker and buoy tender. The winch control room below the bridge and derrick mounted to to the superstructure was dropped in subsequent ships.

Powered by four Fairbanks Morse engines of 1333 bhp each, driving two electric motor it delivered 4250 shp to two controllable pitch props.

Built with a helicopter deck, the telescoping hangar was added later. In 1970 it was host to a Bell 206 A/B the standard CCG 'copter of the day.

The ship's most famous exploit was in rescuing the crew of the tanker Kurdistan in ice in the Cabot Strait in March 1979 when the tanker broke in two. Sir William Alexander assisted in escorting the ship to the Strait of Canso where it was pumped out and patched up for towing to a repair yard.
Sir William Alexander tied up at the eastern approach wall to the Canso Canal, standing by salvage operations. The DPW boat Maces Bay is ferrying people out to the Kurdistan, which is anchored beneath Cape Porcupine with a McAllister salvage barge alongside.

Renamed William in 1987 she was kept in service until July 1989 due to delivery problems with her namesake replacement.

In April 1987 William had the rare responsibility of lifting navigation aids in Halifax harbour when flow ice from the Gulf of St.Lawrence blew in. It had to navigate in heavy ice, but was not required to break the ice, since it had already broken up on its way south. Note her bridge wings had been plated in during a previous refit.
When finally laid up she became H-22, in February 1990. After sale to Bahamian owners she languished in Halifax until 1992, then moved to Pointe-de-Chêne, NB for another year. Finally she became the Belize flag Pilar del Caribe. When drugs were found aboard in Kingston, Jamaica in 1995 authorities seized the ship. Before it could be sold for scrap it parted its lines and blew ashore. Beyond salvage it was left on the beach at Bull Bay where it became local landmark.


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