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Lead paint halts refit work inside Canada’s oldest coast guard vessel

Nova Scotia

Workers doing maintenance on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Hudson in St. John's have been offered blood tests after lead paint was discovered during the ship's refit. The Hudson, Canada's oldest coast guard ship, is still expected to be back in service next year.

Canada's storied 56-year old offshore ocean science vessel, Canadian Coast Guard ship Hudson, has been hauled out of the water for a life extension refit in an effort to keep the ship at sea until 2024, which is when a replacement is scheduled to enter service.(Robert Short/CBC)

Refit work has been halted inside parts of the venerable Canadian Coast Guard Ship Hudson after lead paint was discovered during maintenance work at a St. John's shipyard.

Canada's storied 56-year-old offshore ocean science vessel has been hauled out of the water for a life extension refit in an effort to keep the ship at sea until 2024, which is when a replacement is scheduled to enter service.

Coast guard spokesperson Stephen Bornais said interior spaces where the lead paint was discovered have been sealed off, but other planned maintenance work on Hudson is underway.

"The coast guard is working with multiple parties, including Health Canada, occupational safety and health, unions and the shipyard," Bornais said in an email.

"Air quality testing is being carried out and blood testing was made available to all employees working in the affected area."

It's not clear what is being done in areas where "containment measures have been put in place."

Bornais said the coast guard is working with the shipyard, Public Services and Procurement Canada, and Health Canada to determine next steps.

In the middle of a $10M refit

Hudson is undergoing a $10-million refit at St. John's Dockyard Ltd, known as NewDock.

The shipyard is replacing steel and repairing various areas of the vessel's decks and tanks.

Work began on Feb 25, 2019, and is scheduled to be completed this fall.

Hudson will return to its Halifax base at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and will undergo more maintenance work at the dock.

The ship is still forecast to be back in service by April 2020.

Troubled refit for a storied ship

The refit at NewDock is Phase 2 of a life extension for CCGS Hudson.

Phase 1 was carried out in 2017 by Heddle Marine in Hamilton.

The $4-million refit was five months behind schedule and still unfinished when the government towed the Hudson out of the shipyard rather than risk having it trapped for months by the winter closure of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The delay forced DFO to spend $2.5 million chartering vessels to carry out science missions on the East Coast of Canada because Hudson was unavailable.

The ship has a storied past. In 1970, it became the first ship to sail around North and South America.

Hudson was supposed to be replaced 5 years ago

The Hudson was supposed to be replaced as early as 2014 as part of the national shipbuilding strategy, but the project to build a new offshore oceanographic science vessel at Vancouver's Seaspan shipyard is behind schedule as the yard works on two navy supply ships.

Earlier this year, Global News reported that the Davie Shipyard in Quebec had told the federal government it would not bid on the latest life extension refit job, saying the Hudson was beyond repair.

About the Author

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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