Two new Hero class Canadian Coast Guard patrol vessels have arrived in North Saanich and will soon be plying the waters of the B.C. coast.
The vessels — the CCGS Captain Goddard M.S.M. and CCGS M. Charles M.B. — are stationed at the Institute of Ocean Sciences. They arrived Feb. 19, after sailing 7,095 nautical miles (approximately 13,000 kilometres) from the Irving Shipyard in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Dan Bate, communications officer for the Western Region, Canadian Coast Guard, says the vessels replace two decommissioned Post class ships. Those vessels ended their service with the Coast Guard at the end of the patrol season last year, he said.
The new ships are part of the federal government’s mid-shore patrol vessel procurement program that saw nine new vessels built for service on Canada’s coastlines. That project began in 2012, Bate said and the pair stationed in North Saanich were the last two built.
With crews of around 10 people each, the vessels’ primary duty will be conservation and protection services in the Pacific Region Marine Patrol program. They will spend weeks at a time along the coast between Prince Rupert in the north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the south. Bate said they also extend their patrols 120 nautical miles into the ocean. The secondary job of the ships will be marine search and rescue.
Both vessels are currently undergoing preparation for the patrol season, Bate said.
That involves making sure they have the right equipment on board and their crew are well-versed in the new systems and layout of the craft. He said patrols are expected to begin by late March or April.
Some of the crew familiarized themselves with the vessels during the 39-day transit from Halifax to North Saanich via the Panama Canal. Bate said not all of the crew from that voyage will be staying with the ships, but those details are being worked out by the Coast Guard.
Behind the Hero class Coast Guard vessels
The two new mid-shore patrol vessels stationed in North Saanich are named for individuals who gave their lives in service of Canada.
The CCG M. Charles M.B. is named for Seaman Martin Charles, deceased, of Bamfield and Hereditary Chief of the Nitinat Band. He earned the Medal of Bravery for his instrumental role in a search and rescue incident that began with a sunken fishing vessel and ended with the crash of the helicopter assisting in the rescue efforts.
The CCG Captain Goddard M.S.M. is named for Captain Nichola Goddard. She was awarded the Meritous Service Medal for her exemplary service in Afghanistan from January 2006, until her death in combat on May 17, 2006.
— with files from the Canadian Coast Guard/Government of Canada