EDITORIAL: Good news for workers of Sydney Call Centre
‘Silent Night’: 200 years of bringing people together
DeMONT: Home for holidays isn't anywhere on a map
LEGER: Canadians seem open to political change, new parties
Woman struck by transit bus in Halifax
The pitch to sell a shuttered Sydney call centre
Time granted to obtain victim impact statement in sex assault, child ...
Cement plant upgrades in the works for Lafarge tire-burning project
Cape Breton hospitals experience significant increases in ER closure ...
Monday night, as I was sitting warm and dry at home writing this, four British sailors were in trouble 240 nautical miles off Halifax.
Their 14-metre boat was fighting 75-kph winds and six-metre seas. The sailors were picked up by an Air Force search and rescue helicopter, and were flown to Halifax. Two navy ships and the CCGS Cape Roger also attended.
At the end of November, the Senate released a report: When Every Minute Counts: Maritime Search and Rescue. It was authored by the Senate’s Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which examined the countries search and rescue operations and made recommendations for improvement.
The report’s most significant recommendation is for the coast guard to become its own agency. Primary responsibility for maritime search and rescue in Canada lies with the coast guard, which the committee found that as a branch of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is often starved for funds and resources. By granting it independent agency status, the coast guard would be able to complete its own long-term planning.
Certainly, local fishermen would agree more independence would be a good thing for the coast guard. Fishermen in south west Nova Scotia held protests to try and have two of the coast guard’s new Bay-class lifeboats stationed in Nova Scotia for the fall fishing season, rather than being sent to British Columbia — commercial fishing operations are high users of Maritime SAR services.
The report also suggested that Transport Canada make vessel stability information more user friendly, require emergency beacons on all fishing vessels and transferring responsibility for search and rescue prevention activities, including boating safety, to the coast guard.
The report highlighted significant shortfalls in the north. The grounding of the Akademik Ioffe this past summer displayed the problems with rescue in the north, as dispatched aircraft had more than 12-hours flying time to reach the scene.
Two other northern rescues this summer were performed by coast guard helicopters operating from nearby coast guard ships, which happened to be in the area.
The Senate reports suggests investigating the use of commercial contract search and rescue services. Given the relatively short summer season, helicopter SAR services could be provided on a contract basis.
Cougar Helicopters, which flies out of Halifax and St. John’s, N.L., can provide contract all weather rescue services using S-92 Helicopters — the civilian version of the Air Force’s new Cyclone Helicopters. Cougar Helicopters offers this service commercially now, and regularly practices off Halifax. Such a contract would enhance SAR services, and not remove resources from other areas.
The report made additional recommendations on working more closely with volunteer and local Indigenous organizations, and support those groups with funds. SAR services are often the difference between life and death. It is important that services levels meet the needs of Canadians and coverage is available from coast to coast to coast.
- The Atlantic Raven, the second emergency towing vessel provided by Atlantic Towing, arrived in B.C., and was promptly put to work. The bulk carrier Tokyo Bulker reportedly had power issues. The problems were resolved by the ship’s crew, while the Atlantic Raven was on standby.
- The CCGS Captain Molly Kool, one of three icebreakers to be converted by Davie Shipyard, went into Coast Guard service last week, and was sent to Corner Brook. Work is underway on the other two ships, so that they will be ready for the summer season in the north.
- The Drill Rig West Aquarius has finished its drilling program for BP off Nova Scotia, and sailed for Bay Bulls, N.L. The rig will next be deployed off Newfoundland for Exxon Mobil.
- Nordic American Offshore was acquired by the Italian Scorpio group on Dec 10. NAO was in talks to merge with Halifax-based Horizon Maritime, however the due diligence period was extended and the deal finally collapsed Nov 27.
- Hansa Heavy Lift, also known as HHL, declared bankruptcy in Germany. The company grew out of the remains of Beluga Shipping, which went bankrupt in 2011. Presumably in a bid to stay afloat, HHL had been selling assets, and at the time it declared bankruptcy it was down to five ships. HHL often charted ships with Quebec-based Groupe Desgagnés.