The newest member of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation fleet, the G.M. Penman, hit the water earlier this week at Ocean Pacific Boatyard. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

New oil spill response vessel takes to the water

Ship was prepared for action at Ocean Pacific Marine in Campbell River

The nation’s newest measure for keeping our coast clean is back in the water.

The G.M. Penman is a 65-foot spill response vessel – the first of at least five new skimming vessels that will reside on our coast to respond to marine emergencies involving fuel or oil spills.

The Penman is owned and operated by Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC), which already has 40 response vessels in the water on our coast, but this new one is something special. It’s the first in a complete redesign of the fleet, according to WCMRC communications manager Michael Lowry.

The company has a lot of watercraft that specialize in spill response, Lowry says, “and they’re not really identifiable out on the water. We’ve recognized that it’s important for people to know that there are spill response boats out there and what they’re doing – whether it’s training or an actual response – so all of our boats are being repainted to meet those specs and our new boats are getting that white, orange and blue to make them identifiable.”

The captain of the Penman, Bill Poustie, beams with pride as he speaks about the ship.

“She holds about 35 tons of product, she will skim up to about 49 tons an hour, she will do a sustainable speed of 23 knots … and she puts up a rather big wash, so you have to be very observant about who you’re going by,” Poustie says.

The vessel also holds 1,500 feet of Kepner boom – a self-inflating boom specifically designed for oil spill containment – it has a set of outrigger arms that swing out from the side to deploy another set of booms to act as a skimmer and it brings all the product right onboard through doors in the side of the hull.

Bruce Kempling owner of Ocean Pacific Marine Supply & Boatyard is equally proud of the work his team did getting the vessel ready to set sail. The vessel is relatively new, so it didn’t need a lot of work, but he’s happy to have been selected to do what needed doing.

“We did the sandblasting and painting the hull, putting zinc annodes on, all the numbers on the side for the draft marks, and then we have to get it in the water,” says Kempling as he watches his team move the giant, remote-controlled boat lift into position around the vessel before it’s moved down to the water.

It’s nice to see some of that money going to local companies like theirs, Kempling says, instead of having the work done overseas, for example. It was about a month worth of work for them to get it ready to hit the water.

“It’ll be an impressive looking thing when it’s out there on the water, that’s for sure,” Kempling says.

The G.M. Penman is only the first of many vessels being added to the WCMRC fleet.

“We’re going to be adding 40 more vessels to the fleet as part of the Trans-Mountain expansion project,” Lowry says, along with five new fully-equipped response bases: Nanaimo, Sydney, Victoria, Beacher Bay, Port Alberni and Ucluelet.

Captain Poustie, however, says he hopes they’ll never have to use their new infrastructure and equipment.

“We don’t want to see a spill,” he says. “You always hope these things never have to be used and this boat will just age away.”

Check out a video of the vessel getting moved to the water – and Mirror reporter Mike Davies getting invited on board for a quick tour.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

‘Heavy-handed’ Campbell River bylaw amendment to get ‘tweaks’ before being passed

City looks to control invasives and noxious weeds by holding property owners accountable

VIDEO: Campbell River Search and Rescue volunteers train in the snow

Campbell River Search and Rescue volunteers took some alpine training with Island… Continue reading

City of Campbell River wants its share of cannabis tax money

City forecasts increase costs due to marijuana legalization, needs money to deal with those

Did you get Hitched in Courtenay on Sunday?

The first annual wedding show saw big crowds and included two fashion shows

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Sentencing hearing begins for ex-BC Liberals employee in ‘quick wins’ scandal

Former communications director Brian Bonney pleaded guilty last October

Island passengers say Sunwing left them stranded in Abbotsford

Company says late arrival led to difficulties securing accommodation, transportation

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag for Canada at 2018 Olympics

The pair earned a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

Most Read