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Icebreaker has broken propeller

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, October 24, 2011

A broken propeller at the stern of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis St-Laurent will have to be fixed in dry dock later this fall as attempts to do it in Arctic waters have failed, said a coast guard official.

NNSL photo/graphic

A broken propeller at the stern of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis St-Laurent has kept the icebreaker in the waters off Cambridge Bay since Sept. 19. - photo courtesy of the Canadian Coast Guard

Divers were unable to put the propeller back into position in the waters off Cambridge Bay, where the ship has been anchored since the problem was discovered on Sept. 19, said Brian Leblanc, regional director of fleet in the Coast Guard's Central and Arctic Region.

On Oct. 11, he said, that attempts to repair it had been unsuccessful.

"So now we are looking at making preparations for the ship to transit out of the Arctic and eventually into a dry dock for final repairs."

He added the icebreaker should reach its home port of St. John's with its two functioning propellers by the end of the month.

"It will probably go to dry dock fairly quickly and would be ready for operations in late December or early January," he said.

An investigation to determine why the icebreaker was experiencing abnormal vibrations at the stern, or rear, led to the discovery of the problem on Sept. 19, said Leblanc. The ship has three propellers and the faulty one is at the centre, he added.

"What they discovered was the propeller had backed off on the shaft about six inches," said Leblanc. "And upon further investigation, they found the propeller nut that holds the propeller on the shaft has loosened off which caused the propeller to back off the shaft."

The icebreaker, built in 1969 and is the largest of its fleet, was concluding its seismic work for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea when the problem was discovered. No researchers are on board the icebreaker as a crew change occurred on Sept. 29.

This is the first time a propeller on the CCGS Louis St-Laurent has become loose since they were installed in 2000, said Leblanc. He added the problem does not put the environment nor the icebreaker in danger.

"It's just one of those things. It has happened. We'll try to get it fixed and get the ship operational again," said Leblanc.

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