Gabriel Dyck

Naval tour is ship-shape

HMCS Yellowknife docks in Campbell River for public tours between patrols

Crew aboard the HMCS Yellowknife took on the role of tour guides Wednesday as the Canadian Navy shipped docked and opened its decks to the public at the cruise ship dock on Tyee Spit.

Hundreds of Campbell Riverites of all ages strolled across the decks and through the bridge, climbed its steep, ladderlike staircases. Younger guests clambered over the deck gun station and inflatable rescue boat and hopped into the captain’s chair for photos.

Guided through the Kingston Class Coastal Maritime Defence vessel in groups of 8-12 people, guests visited in a steady stream during two public showings of the ship Wednesday afternoon and evening. They made for a tight fit on the vessel, which typically sails with a crew of 35 to 40.

“Our mission is coastal patrol, but also community relations,” said Lieutenant Tom Eagle, watch commander during the early tour. “A few weeks ago we were in Port Alberni and had 800 visitors over a whole weekend.”

The Yellowknife, stationed at CFB Esquimalt, was on its way home from a stop last weekend in Stewart, B.C.’s most northerly port. But the ship can also range far from Canadian waters.

Last fall, Yellowknife took part in a joint task group exercise with U.S. and Japanese maritime defence forces off California. Afterward, it joined another ship in Ecuador as Canada’s contribution to Operation Martillo, a multi-national support effort to interdict drug and other illicit trafficking.

Yellowknife departed Campbell River for Vancouver, and will stop in Nanaimo to take part in the start of the VanIsle 360 sailing race Saturday before returning to Esquimalt.