The Canadian Coast Guard has been keeping mariners safe off the coasts of Canada for 60 years, and to mark the occasion, the base was opened to the public Saturday.
The inaugural Coast Guard Day also served as the official welcome into west coast service for the newly refit buoy tender CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell, with members of the public welcomed on board for tours as one of the many activities set up for the day.
“It is with great pleasure that I welcome everyone to Coast Guard Day in Victoria,” said Commissioner Mario Pelletier on board the Grenfell. “This day is one more opportunity to celebrate in a year full of celebrations marking the Canadian Coast Guard’s 60 years of service to Canadians.”
Pelletier said an open house event was chosen to mark the milestone both to help shed some light on the work the traditionally humble organization does and as a chance to help drum up recruitment.
Information booths, Coast Guard personnel, and equipment from all areas of the organization’s work were on display at the base, ranging from helicopters to small motor boats, to the Grenfell and Vancouver-based hovercraft CCGS Moytel. The organization’s environmental spill response work, remote communications and radar stations were also on display.
When they were not busy touring the vessels, excited visitors also got to see the coast guard at work with person overboard demonstrations.
The star of Saturday’s event, the Grenfell, will now be based on the west coast following a $17.3-million refit. The 67.68-metre vessel was originally built in 1985 as an offshore supply vessel before being converted for search and rescue duties on the east coast in 1987.
While she will still perform search and rescue duties, patrol, and fisheries enforcement when required, the ship’s main work will be maintaining and replacing navigational buoys and resupplying remote light stations.
“It’s an exciting day for us as it has been a long time coming. The western region has been working on this ship for about two years,” said Austin Zin, chief officer of Sir Wilfred Grenfell. “The Grenfell is replacing CCGS Bartlett … the Grenfell has quite a bit more lifting capacity and cargo-carrying capacity. She is just a bigger, more capable platform to allow us to get more work done more quickly and more safely.”