With the smash of a ceremonial bottle of bubbly, the Sir John Franklin officially joined the Canadian Coast Guard as a dedicated Canadian Coast science vessel on Thursday.
The Dedication to Service ceremony brought dozens to the Institution of Ocean Sciences in North Saanich where the 63.4-metre research vessel was docked, shining in the late summer sun.
The Sir John Franklin replaces a more than 30-year-old research boat and is the first of three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels built under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. Built by Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, the vessel includes four science labs, displaces about 3,212 tonnes of water and has a top speed of 13 knots.
Thursday’s official ceremony included a blessing from Tseycum First Nation Chief Tanya Jimmy and speeches from dignitaries, including Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C.
“This new ship brings exciting new ocean research capabilities – capabilities that I know will be most welcome in meeting the contemporary needs of our Coast Guard and of the scientists of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as they work to monitor the health of fish stocks, manage species at risk and deepen our understanding of climate change” Austin said, addressing the crowd. “And there’s no more important time than now to be doing that work.”
|Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe is the Sir John Franklin’s sponsor. Tunnicliffe is a renowned marine scientist and the first woman on the West Coast to lead a deep sea research expedition from Vancouver Island. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)|
Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe is the vessel’s ‘sponsor’ – carrying on the tradition where a civilian sponsors a vessel for its well being and service as well as wishing the ship good luck.
Tunnicliffe is a renowned marine scientist and the first woman on the West Coast to lead a deep sea research expedition from Vancouver Island.
“It is such an important time to try to gain as much wisdom as we can from the science that is done to provide the advice for protection of our oceans at such an important time of change,” Tunnicliffe said. “in this hugely diverse ocean realm, out here in our waters there is so much more to explore and to discover from our diverse coast line all the way out to the abyssal plain.”
With the Saanich Peninsula as its home port, the Sir John Franklin will likely do some search and rescue work over the winter before heading out on its first research mission.
The Government of Canada has recently announced up to 18 new ships for the Coast Guard and the pending construction of six new program icebreakers.
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