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

Nominations for Victoria municipal byelection are in

Victoria will elect one councillor

City to lead discussion on John A. Macdonald Monday night

The fourth chapter of the city’s reconciliation dialogues was moved to a larger venue

Athletes gear up for Pan Am XC Cup at Bear Mountain Saturday

This is the first time Canada is hosting the championships

Extra precautions against COVID-19 put in place as tourism season arrives

Airports and border services follow federal cues to minimize spread of coronavirus

Court hears of moments before Victoria father stabbed to death in the middle of Hillside Avenue

Sentencing hearing for Daniel Creagh, charged with manslaughter, began Friday

Toddler killed in Squamish grocery store parking lot

Child’s mother taken to hospital but her condition is not known

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Most Read