Saskatoon completes vital refit work

HMCS Saskatoon transiting from Point Hope Shipyard to Y jetty. Photo by LS Brendan Gibson, MARPAC Imaging Services

HMCS Saskatoon transiting from Point Hope Shipyard to Y jetty. Photo by LS Brendan Gibson, MARPAC Imaging Services

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Two Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessels, tugs Glendale and Parksville, nudged and pulled HMCS Saskatoon from Point Hope Shipyard to Y Jetty in Esquimalt harbour last week, indicating the end of the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel’s six-month maintenance period.

While only a six-kilometre distance, it took over two hours to get the warship back to its home berth.

Like a car getting a tune-up, Saskatoon was inspected, repaired or overhauled where needed, repainted, and cleaned as part of a maintenance plan to keep the ship operational for years to come.

LCdr Colin Dudeck, Group Technical Officer, Coastal Forces Pacific, says the work is fundamental to preserving and maintaining the ship, one of six in the Pacific Fleet and 12 in the Royal Canadian Navy. If that necessary work isn’t carried out, he says, the operational lifespan of the vessel would be greatly reduced.

It has been five years since Saskatoon’s last refit.

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

To address corrosion, workers at Point Hope grit blasted the ship’s exterior down to bare metal before repainting.

Inspections of heavy machinery in the engine room determined what needed to be refurbished, repaired, or replaced. All six alternators, used for supplying electricity to the ship’s propulsion and domestic systems, were overhauled.

Improvements also made the to do list, with fryers removed in the galley and replaced with Combi Steamer Ovens that use hot air and steam to cook certain foods instead of cooking oil.

A decisive nod to healthier eating.

Now that Saskatoon is back in home port, the crew will spend the next 15 weeks conducting ­trials and training programs in preparation for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multi-national exercise off San Diego’s coast this summer. Part of these program is ensuring the equipment is working and the crew is pulling together as one cohesive team.

HMCS Edmonton and HMCS Yellowknife are next in line for regular refit with work expected to begin later this year.

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