Canada’s First Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels Enters Service with Coast Guard

CCGS Sir John Franklin
CCGS Sir John Franklin during sea trials in March 2019. Photo courtesy Seaspan Shipyards

The Government of Canada has officially dedicated into service the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir John Franklin, the first large vessel built under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

The vessel is the first of three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (OFSV) to be built by Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards. new OFSVs will replace existing Coast Guard ships on the east and west coasts of Canada to support scientific research.

The Canadian Coast Guard officially named the CCGS Sir John Franklin during a dedication to service ceremony held Thursday at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, British Columbia, which will serve as it homeport.

Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe, an accomplished marine scientist and the first woman to lead a deep sea science expedition on Canada’s West Coast, was invited to sponsor the vessel.

Designed and built by Seaspan, the 63.4-meter OFSVs are specifically designed to meet the needs of the Canadian Coast Guard and scientists.

The primary function of the CCGS Sir John Franklin will be to serve as a platform for scientific research, including performing fishing and acoustic surveys of fish and invertebrates; collecting information on the abundance and distribution of marine species; and collecting data on marine ecosystems and the impacts of human activity on fisheries resources and ecosystem health. The vessel will also support environmental response and search and rescue operations, when needed.

The Canadian government recently announced up to 18 new ships for the Coast Guard under the CAD$35 billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, plus an additional six new Coast Guard icebreakers to replace its current aging fleet.

“It is a proud day for the Government of Canada, as the CCGS Sir John Franklin, the first of three new Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels, is officially welcomed into the Coast Guard fleet,” said The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard. “This vessel signifies a momentous milestone for the Canadian shipbuilding industry and for the National Shipbuilding Strategy. This ship is built by Canadians for Canadians. With this vessel we are equipping the Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans scientists with the state-of-the-art tools and technology they need to complete their important work.”

Back in June, Seaspan also celebrated the launch of OFSV 2, the future CCGS Capt. Jacques Cartier. The vessel is expected to undergo sea trials in the fall. OFSV 3, the future CCGS John Cabot, will be structurally complete by the end of summer 2019.