Summerside reigns in runaway rider buoy

The HMCS Summerside team tasked with recovering a runaway buoy, from left: S1 Bruce, S1 Freeman, and S2 Hynes. Photo by S1 Pollitt, HMCS Summerside

The HMCS Summerside team tasked with recovering a runaway buoy, from left: S1 Bruce, S1 Freeman, and S2 Hynes. Photo by S1 Pollitt, HMCS Summerside

Lt(N) Dan Bannerman
HMCS Summerside

HMCS Summerside was tasked Jan. 19 as Ready Duty Ship to recover a TRIAXYS directional wave buoy that had broken free of its mooring and was drifting at sea. The 500-lb buoy posed a threat to the safe of navigation of vessels off the coast of Nova Scotia and needed to be recovered quickly.

Summerside slipped its berth in HMC Dockyard at 8 p.m. and proceeded to sea, making way towards the buoy’s last known location. The buoy was still functioning and sending regular updates, which made the task of finding it easier.

After a 14-hour overnight transit, Summerside located the buoy off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia. The ship’s Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) was launched and the sweep deck was set up to recover the buoy. The RHIB crew – composed of S1 Bruce, S1 Freeman, and S2 Hynes – proceeded to the buoy and attached a
bridle necessary for the crane to hook up in order to safely lift it on board. Thankfully, the seas were much calmer than some of the previous recorded heights the buoy had encountered through its days at sea.

The RHIB towed the buoy alongside Summerside and, using the ship’s crane, brought it safely on board. The RHIB was then recovered and Summerside returned to operating areas near Halifax to conduct planned operations with HMCS Moncton.

The directional wave buoy is produced by AXYS Technologies, deployed and operated by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), and was moored off the coast to collect wave statistics. This data includes wave height, period, acceleration and direction, and can be used for operational purposes, research and development initiatives, and climate studies. TRIAXYS buoys can store up to 32 gigabytes of data, which represent years of raw and processed information, inside a casing composed primarily of stainless steel alloy.

Under normal circumstances, these buoys are inspected every six months to one year to confirm the integrity of the anchor fittings, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, regular inspection had to be delayed in order to ensure safety of the inspecting team. This particular buoy had been deployed for 433 days, which is the longest DRDC has trialled. During that time, it had recorded an impressive 16.4 metre peak wave height during tropical storm Teddy on Sept. 22, 2020.

Once returned to the DRDC laboratories, they will review the buoy’s information and the state it is in to learn how to improve for future deployments. One such improvement is the addition of an on-board Automatic Identification System beacon to more precisely alert shipping to the presence of the buoy.

Summerside returned to Dockyard on Jan. 22 and landed the wave buoy. This tasking was an opportunity for Summerside to demonstrate its ability and readiness to rapidly deploy in the event of an emergency or urgent requirement.

Ready Duty Ship taskings are rare. However, the Royal Canadian Navy always maintains a Ready Duty Ship able to respond to a multitude of events, simple or complex, in order to support Canada’s interests at home and abroad.


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