Chase the ice
Icebreaker CCGS Henry Larsen prepares for voyage to the Arctic
Capt. Byron Briggs begins his 13th summer in the Arctic as the icebreaker Canadian Coast Guard ship (CCGS) Henry Larsen prepares to head north for the season.
With about 46 members on board, this journey is a first for some.
“You either love it or you hate it,” said Briggs. “Winter all year long is tough for some, but the history of the Arctic keeps me going.”
From December to May, the icebreaker operates along Canada’s east coast, from Newfoundland to Montreal and in the Great Lakes.
From June to November, six icebreakers operate in the Arctic to assist with shipping and delivering cargo to isolated communities.
“We basically become like a snowplow for other ships,” said Briggs. “If there’s any ice-breaking to do in order to keep the commercial traffic going, we supply the northern communities with that service.”
The ship has just finished its refit, maintenance on all equipment, as well as the motor vehicle inspection.
“Once we leave, we are our own self-contained city,” said Briggs. “We must have supplies for routine tasks, and also supplies for if an emergency comes along.”
One major task is bringing a helicopter on board.
“It’s a valuable tool when we’re ice-breaking,” said Briggs. “It’s our eye in the sky, so we can see further ahead from what we see on the bridge.”
The helicopter is also used for rescues in emergency situations.
The crew will participate in research projects throughout their journey.
They will monitor the flow of the water and ocean currents, and how it’s changing because of global warming.
They will return to the east coast in mid-November.
A helicopter comes in for a landing on the CCGS Henry Larsen, in preparation for its trip north.