The Canadian Coast Guard station in Clark’s Harbour has a new search and rescue life boat that is larger and faster than its predecessor.
The station took delivery of the CCGS Chedabucto Bay earlier this year, replacing the 28-year-old CCGS Clark’s Harbour.
The CCGS Chedabucto Bay is a 60-foot Bay Class search and rescue lifeboat with a maximum speed of 26 knots, equipped with advanced electronics and equipment, and self-righting capability. Launched in 1995, the CCGS Clark’s Harbour, is a 52-foot Arun Class search and rescue lifeboat with a maximum speed of 20 knots.
“The Clark’s Harbour was an extremely capable boat. The Chedabucto Bay is just the next step forward,” says relief commanding officer at the station, Joel Bowman.
“She’s bigger, got more power, got the latest electronics, they made great advancements for crew comfort, better seating and a nice washroom compared to our former forward bathroom. It’s a much more capable platform. It has a lot of endurance compared to the Clark’s Harbour. Having said that, the Clark’s Harbour served the community very well over the last few decades. The Arun classes are still in service.”
“We were never tasked anything we couldn’t do,” says crewman Eric Nickerson.
With a coverage range of up to 100 miles offshore, the Chedabucto Bay will make for faster response times, says commanding officer Jon Smith. With the Clark’s Harbour, 19 knots “was our max and we couldn’t keep that speed up very long. We would have to drop down after an hour. With this boat we can do 25 knots the whole time. No problems with overheating so faster response for any type of SAR call.”
The Clark’s Harbour Coast Guard station averages between 80 and 100 calls a year, mostly for tows, medicals and vessel ashore.
“In 2000, we were doing about 130 a year. Throughout the years it has dropped because of better maintenance and better safety. Last year we had 89 calls which is average for us now,” says Smith. “Theoretically, we’re the busiest SAR station in Canada for commercial calls, definitely in Atlantic Canada.”
The Chedabucto Bay has “definitely extended our abilities for performing and tasking,” says Nickerson. “The Arun had its day. It was a great boat that served us well.”
Smith remembered when the Clark’s Harbour first came to the station, “we were the big boat towing boats 35 to 40 foot. As the size of fishing boats increased, they became 30 feet wide 50 foot long, with the Arun we were the small boat. Now we’re the big boat again. The size of the fleet has increased, the weather they go in has increased from 27 years ago when we first had the Arun. This is a more suitable boat for these times.”
The Chedabucto Bay will be officially christened in early June at its new home port. The Canadian Coast Guard took delivery of the CCGS Chedebucto Bay and CCGS Gabarus Bay earlier this year for a total of 14 of 20 new search and rescue lifeboats being built that are named after geographical bays across Canada.
The CCGS Gabarus Bay will be stationed in Burgeo, Newfoundland and Labrador. In Nova Scotia, new lifeboats are also in service at search and rescue stations in Sambro, Port Bickerton and Louisbourg. The Westport station is scheduled to receive a new vessel in 2026. The total value of the contracts for the SAR lifeboats is $180 million.
The CCGS Chedabucto Bay is the fourth lifeboat to be assigned to the Clark’s Harbour station since it opened on Oct. 5, 1966. The first vessel, the 101, was replaced by the 116, and then the Clark’s Harbour. Two crews of four staff the Clark’s Harbour station, working a two weeks on, two weeks off rotation.