Low Tide

Yacht Designer Tad Roberts' Web Log

CCG Hero Class and Safety Concerns

It should not come as any surprise that large, expensive, incredibly complex machines raise issues of competing interest. Union of Canadian Transportation Employees members are alleging un-addressed safety concerns on the CCG newest ships. Chronicle Herald Story here

From the story it sounds like TC has been issuing operation certificates with promises by CG that they’ll fix some outstanding issues. This is standard procedure for TC. Some has been done, but now the union is pissed that not everything is done. The union is protecting it’s members, TC’s mandate is to assist operators(us via CG in this case) to get value from our investment. Every time they issue a certificate they (the TC inspector) are taking a chance. It’s scary stuff and I feel for them. But ships must go to sea and it’s no picnic. CG ships especially should be as safe as possible, but it will never be as safe as staying home.

As for the issues mentioned in the story……I think this design was a poor choice in the first place. CG ships, perhaps all government ships, are chronically overloaded. These long, narrow vessels with small waterplane are more affected by increased weight than a wider hull will be. Plus the narrow ship just has less interior volume. The bulkhead penetrations I can understand, this is a big issue that would require taking the ship out of commission, which no one wants to see when they’ve just been delivered. What the penetration seals do is slow the rate you’re sinking at. The rolling would be foreseeable, tall narrow vessels with little damping, that makes them comfortable in a sea, but rolly when slow or stopped. The fire safety issue should have been addressed in early preliminary design. Again a wider boat better able to handle a load would allow a steel deckhouse(I’m assuming aluminum is the fire issue). These ships are based on a dutch(Damen Shipyard) design, 141′ x 23′ x 9.3′ draft, with 6700 HP installed to manage 25 knots top speed with cruising at 14.

The American version of this design is called the Sentinel, and seems to be a very different boat with a different mission profile. The US version is 13′ longer, 3.5′ wider, displaces about 100 more tons (353 vs 257), has a 22 man crew vs our 14, has a bunch of guns aboard, and almost twice the power (8600kw vs 5000) for another 3 knots top speed. The US is planning 5 day missions vs our 14 day missions.

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