NEWS RELEASE · 12th January 2011
MP Nathan Cullen
Point Henry to be replaced with smaller vessel
Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen and North Coast MLA Gary Coons are calling on Ottawa not to downsize the North Coast’s primary search and rescue vessel, the Point Henry.
“The North Coast is well known for its rugged ocean conditions and unpredictable weather,” said Cullen. “Cutting down the response capability of our key Coast Guard ship makes no sense and puts lives in jeopardy.”
“Ottawa must hear the voices and concerns from those living and working on the North Coast,” said Coons.
“First they want to automate our lighthouses and now they want to cut the crew and size of the Coast Guard vessel serving our waters. This is not acceptable and will only put peoples’ lives at risk. Central Canada needs to know that we live and work in coastal communities and we depend on these vital life saving services.”
Concerns have been raised that the Coast Guard intends to remove the 70ft Point Henry and replace it with a much smaller 47 ft vessel. This would result in a significant reduction in service capabilities, including: vessel range, search endurance, firefighting capabilities, rescue boats and launch times.
In a letter to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea, Cullen and Coons said the proposal will heavily impact many along the coast.
“The major stakeholders whose safety may be jeopardized from this proposition include First Nations food fishery, commercial fishery, sports fishery, Fisheries and Oceans technicians, cruise ships, pleasure craft users, and freighter traffic.”
The Point Henry currently services numerous isolated communities such as Hartley Bay, Kitkatla, Metlakatla, Port Simpson, Kincolith and Stewart. The proposed downsizing has raised concerns amongst Paramedics, Coastguard Search and Rescue, Firefighters, and Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Coordinators in Victoria.
“Cost-cutting should never be at the cost of community safety,” said Cullen
Two Point Henry Coast Guard crew members
Comment by Don MacLeod on 14th January 2011
I was pleased to read your comment about the Pilot boat. When I first read this article, I noted that the pilot boat was, to my eyes, a superior vessel. Since it only goes as far as Triple Island and back, it seems over-luxurious for its task. My dad, brother and uncle were seamen out of Prince Rupert. I heard many stories about life at sea. The stories are legion about weather-related incidents on the north coast, especially Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance, both considered the stormiest boat routes in the world! How can anybody in a position of authority related to this coast suggest and/or approve of a cutback in rescue vessels. I'm, frankly, stunned by it!
Comment by Shawn Ksisiiaks on 14th January 2011
Now that’s how you make an statement (argument).
Remove the political commentary from the above, present the real problem and a real solution. I’m all for an upgrade with an emphasis on speed and capability, but not a sub-standard one.
Still not convinced about the lighthouses - any thoughts?
Facts on our ability
Comment by Point Henry/Coast Guard Employ on 14th January 2011
The 47 foot vessels have a much less power capability and much less range.
The Point Henry's fuel range allows us to leave port navigate 200 miles out then search for a hundred miles before needing to return. This means a range of about 500 miles. The Point Henry has enough power to pull any stranded vessel, within reason (not a cargo carrier) back to safety.
The Boats planned to replace ours does not have this power and only as a range of 200 miles. This means only 75 miles out, 50 miles of search and then the need to turn home.
The Point Henry has a mini Hospital and a full Kitchen with five crew. The 47 footer has no Hospital, only a shelf with a microwave and only 4 crew. A single rescued sailer takes up all the extra space next to the engine room hatch.
Please do not make statements in support of such a change when the obvious loss to the safety and security of our fellow seaman, who we service on a regular basis is put at such measurable risk.
What should happen is we should be upgraded to a vessel that is pictured in this article but is not mentioned, the Pilot Vessel. Now that is a modern ship with the capabilities we need. It can turn on a dime, has all the latest advances, all the power and all the range.
Why, with the ever increasing use of our ports and coastline is the government considering reducing our search and rescue capability?
Did anyone else notice
Comment by Shawn ksisiiaks on 14th January 2011
That vessel speed/respond time was left of the list. Rule of thumb say the smaller vessel will be faster and more maneuverable. This swap makes perfect sence in an emergency response situation.
Also with not so modern technology, vessels have access to very accurate location and depth information. I can't come up with a reason why lighthouses need to be manned other than a nostalgic attachment.
Too Far from the Seat of Power
Comment by Moe Naguib on 13th January 2011
Once again, we see our Federal government is cutting back a service that none of those individuals who make the decision will ever be personal affected by. Neither Mr. Harper, nor any member of his government and staff utilize the waters of BC's north coast for any purpose. They will never be personally affected by the downsizing or service reduction , so for them its an extremely simple decision to make. I am quite certain that should the situation have been one where they were regularly finding themselves enjoying the waters of the North Coast of BC things would be much different.