HMCS Yellowknife ready for refit


Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A team of sailors are preparing HMCS Yellowknife for a five-month maintenance project.

Led by Lieutenant (Navy) Jayson Scott-Westfield, 20 sailors and members of the D702 logistics branch have been removing and safely storing sensitive materials from the ship, such as computer hardware and software, for the past six weeks.

“Literally, every item on the ship that isn’t bolted down or nailed down is being moved,” he said.

Before items can be removed and packed for storage, each item is recorded and registered with its own tracking number.

The team is taking detailed notes of every step performed in order to create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) document for future refits involving the Kingston-Class ship. He says a procedural blueprint such as this will help the navy develop a phased plan for similar prep work, outlining requirements and timelines, and making recommendations to avoid any slowdowns.

With preparations completed, it was officially handed over to SNC Lavalin who will oversee all maintenance work.

On July 13, the ship will be towed to Point Hope Shipyards, located in Victoria’s Upper Harbour, by two Queen’s Harbour Master tug boats.

Like a standard seasonal tune-up for a car, Yellowknife will be cleaned and repaired or overhauled where needed, as part of a routine maintenance project to keep it operational in the years to come.

LCdr Colin Dudeck, Group Technical Officer Coastal Forces Pacific, says this work is fundamental to preserving the lifespan of the six Kingston-Class vessels in the Pacific Fleet, and the six stationed on the Atlantic Coast.

“These vessels have been getting a lot of use, logging a lot of sea time, and all while sitting in saltwater,” he said. “Having the ship in dry dock for an extended period is really the only chance we get to see the ship out of water and access its hull and effect more invasive maintenance.”

Work on Yellowknife’s hull and upper deck will include grinding and removal of rust, followed by painting. Inside the ship, workers will replace broken or worn equipment, furniture, and tiling.

SNC Lavalin will complete the installation of new enhanced satellite communication technology – Joint Range Extensions Application Protocol. HMCS Saskatoon recently completed a similar refit in February. 

Slowing down the overall project is COVID-19 with repeated cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, and physical distancing protocols.

Lt(N) Scott-Westfield was highly impressed with the efforts of his crewmates and logisticians.

“The members have been working a lot harder because of the circumstances, but everyone stayed strong and had positive attitudes about the situation. With the lack of senior leadership posted to this project, it also became a good growth experience for senior Leading Seamen to manage people during this work.”

The new SOP should be ready for the next refit, HMCS Edmonton.

Yellowknife is expected to be returned to the navy in December 2020.


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