One mission cut short, one cancelled after generator failure aboard CCGS Hudson

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CCGS Hudson this week at its base at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. The ship experienced a generator failure that forced it back to base earlier this year but it has returned to service.  (CBC - image credit)
CCGS Hudson this week at its base at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. The ship experienced a generator failure that forced it back to base earlier this year but it has returned to service. (CBC - image credit)

The latest mechanical problem aboard Canada's oldest science research vessel forced it to curtail one mission this year, cancel another and raised concerns from onboard scientists about the ship's condition, CBC News has learned.

In late May, the 58-year-old CCGS Hudson was on an Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program cruise to measure ocean conditions on the east coast when it experienced a generator failure.

"The ship safely returned to dock and repairs were completed," said Coast Guard spokesperson Stephen Bornais in a statement to CBC News.

Another scheduled mission had to be cancelled while the repairs were carried out. It's not clear how long that mission was expected to take or what the purpose was.

'Hudson is a safe ship'

Bornais says the Dartmouth based ship is in good condition, meets all Transport Canada regulatory requirements and certification standards from the American Bureau of Shipping.

"CCG and ABS is satisfied that the CCGS Hudson is safe to sail."

Bornais acknowledged but declined to identify concerns brought forward by Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientists.

"In addition, and in response to feedback from onboard science personnel, DFO Maritimes Region Science and CCG Atlantic Region have been collaborating to address concerns that have been raised relevant to the CCGS Hudson."

Husdson resumed operations after its latest repairs.

This week it completed its latest mission — for Natural Resources Canada — and is readying to sail for its next trip within days.

"The CCGS Hudson is a safe ship," Bornais said.

Refit delayed by multiple complications

One year ago the ship emerged from a lengthy life extension refit designed to keep it in service until 2024 when a replacement offshore science vessel is expected from the Seaspan Shipyard in Vancouver.

Hudson had been in refit three of the last four years.

The original budget to complete the final phase of the life extension was $10 million, but with extra work the cost nearly doubled to $19.6 million.

It was in the NewDock shipyard in St. John's twice as long as originally scheduled. Lead paint and asbestos were discovered when the ship was opened up and there were unexpected heating and ventilation problems.

A $4 million maintenance program that had begun several years earlier at at Heddle Marine in Hamilton also ran into unexpected problems and delays.

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