Friday, December 17, 2021

CCGS Hudson - more problems and other CCG challenges

 The hydrogrpahic / oceanographic research ship CCGS Hudson is in the news again. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has cancelled some research programs and is scrambling to find a ship to carry out some other work because the Hudson is unserviceable.

According to a CBC News report, the ship experienced a propulsion motor fault as it arrived in St.John's on November 5. The ship was able to tie up, but has been idled ever since as the Department endeavours to determine what to do. The ship was due to enter refit starting in January for at least three months.

Propulsion motors are not "off the shelf" items, and if this damaged one cannot be repaired, it is questionable how the ship can be returned to service any time soon.

The Hudson has had a distinguished career since taking to the water in 1963, but has become very expensive to maintain. The CBC reports refit and repair costs exceeding $33 million in the last nine years. A replacement ship, to be built by Seaspan in Vancouver, is not due until 2024 at the earliest.

When built, the ship had a white hull and buff funnel, the traditional livery of government survey ships.

 Built to icebreaker specs, the ship has a diesel electric propulsion system. Power is provided by four V-16 Alco / Dominion Engineering Works diesel engines, each 2,168 bhp, driving four generators of 1500 kW, 600 volts DC, connected to two electric motors each 3750 shp. This is a similar system to other Canadian icebreakers.

Hudson had a "generator failure" in May. Whether this was a propulsion generator or auxiliary generator is not clear, but it was repaired. 

 Other Challenges

Trouble seems to be following CCG ships recently as CCGS Pierre Radisson (built in 1978) had an engine room fire December 15 near Quebec City. The crew extinguished the fire and the ship returned to port, but there is no news on how soon it will be able to resume service. It also has an Alco propulsion system using six diesel engines to drive six generators and two electric motors.

Fleet mate Amundsen (also 1978) is in a long term Vessel Life Extension refit in St.Catharines, ON, in the former Port Weller drydock, so the CCG may also be short of icebreaking capability this winter. 

Fortunately the so-called "interim icebreakers"  Jean Goodwill and Molly Kool are expected to be fully operational again this winter. Vincent Massey was to be delivered in 2021 but there is still no sign of it emerging from the Davie yard.

 The  CCG's "newest" vessel the Mangystau 2 has passed Gibraltar en route from the Caspian Sea and is due in Sorel-Tracy, QC, December 30. The shallow draft icebreaking tug / supplier, built in 2010, bought for $45.2 million from Atlantic Towing Ltd (as intermediaries), will be assigned to the Great Lakes to cover for CCGS Samuel Risley and CCGS Griffon as they have refits and life extensions over the next few years. Mangystau 2 must be refitted to Canadian standards - not to mention getting a new name - which will not happen soon. Tenders for the work will be issued sometime in 2022.


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