Thursday, December 22, 2022

More DFO woes - now its the Needler

 The federal government's Department of Fisheries and Oceans operates a variety of reseach vessels and the ships of the Canadian Coast Guard. After many years of what can only be called neglect in government budgets, a program was finally put in place to rejuvenate the DFO fleet, but not before several aging vessels reached what should have been end of life. Notable among these was the recently decommissioned CCGS Hudson, which was well past its expected retirement date when it broke down. (See December 19 post).

The CBC is now reporting another ship with problems, but which must soldier on for several more years service. CCGS Alfred Needler is a 925 gt fisheries research trawler, built in 1981 by Ferguson Industries Ltd in Pictou, NS. 

 According to the news report a generator that powers the trawl winch failed in November and forced the ship to return to St.John's. Because the vessel's research involves the accumulation of comparative data, it is important that the ship replicate its previous missions (fishing in the same place, with the same gear, at the same time of year, etc.,) Repairing the generator is thus essential to being able to complete the research program. Then on November 23 there was a failure on an air receiver tank fitting. (The ship starts its engine on compressed air). That may have been repaired quickly, but the work to get the ship back in full service will not be completed until February. The ship has been alongside at the Bedford Institute since December 18.

 The Alfred Needler was to be retired this month, but will now require a $4.1 mn Vessel Life Extension project to keep it in service. The other DFO research trawler, the Teleost, which was also to be retired, will be maintained as well in order to transfer the above noted comparative data programs to new ships.

All this is very strange since the National Shipbuilding Strategy has long since delivered all three of the planned new offshore fisheries research vessels. CCGS Capt Jacques Cartier was delivered in 2019 and the CCGS John Cabot in 2020. (The first of the three, CCGS Sir John Franklin was delivered in 2019 for service on the West Coast.) There should have been time to carry out the transitions from old to new ships, but there may have been issues with the new ships too, all of which were built by Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyard Co Ltd.


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