MP won’t support Pt. Race
Lightkeepers will remain, but the Pt. Race is still out.
That’s the message from Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan who announced Wednesday that British Columbia’s 27 manned lightstations will not be destaffed.
The MP also spoke Tuesday about the Pt. Race, the 70-foot Coast Guard cutter which serves the area surrounding Campbell River.
Duncan maintained the Pt. Race is old and is part of Coast Guard’s fleet that is “rusting out.”
The cutter, along with its sister ship the Pt. Henry (based in Prince Rupert) will be replaced this spring by faster, 47-foot vessels.
“The (Pt. Race) is scheduled for replacement (and) we have added more capacity on the B.C. coast,” he stated. “When boats go in for a refit, guess what? They have to be replaced.”
But that’s not the opinion of the former captain of the Pt. Race, the local boat builder who’s worked on the cutter and many others with connections to Coast Guard.
“I have been involved in modification and repairs to both the Point Henry and Point Race over their 30 years of service,” wrote Steve Daigle of Daigle Marine and Welding, in a letter. “I believe that neither of these vessels have reached their service lifespan and both are in good condition, mechanically and structurally.
“I would be interested to know if the Canadian Coast Guard has any reports by qualified marine personnel stating that these vessels are, in fact, structurally or mechanically unfit for continued service?”
Coast Guard did receive a report from Geoff Sanders, the retired captain of the Point Race.
The comprehensive 33-page report compares the 1982-built cutter with the new vessel.
“The single operational advantage of the 300B over the (Point Race) is the heavy surf survival/self-righting ability which is a top priority in areas of significant breakers, generated in open, shallow waters, such as the West Coast and NE Queen Charlottes, but is not a factor in other areas,” Sanders wrote in the report’s summary.
The Point Race, he noted, is better suited for towing, carries more equipment, has more room for emergency personnel, has a longer range, and has better stability in rough weather.
He also pointed out that replacing the cutter with the new boats would result in a reduction of service.
But the decision to replace the two cutters was made in 2009, when the federal Conservative government provided $19.6-million to the Victoria Shipyard to build five new Coast Guard lifeboats.
The Point Race is still operating out of the Discovery Marina and Jim Abram suggested supporters do everything they can to keep the cutter in Campbell River.
“We need to be fighting for it,” said the retired Quadra Island lightkeeper. “I would blockade that harbour and that new boat shouldn’t come in!”