Mariners, vessels provide security, housing at Vancouver Olympics

Professional mariners and their commercial and law-enforcement vessels played a major role in the success of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Host city Vancouver, British Columbia, came under heavy security for the February games, with a large component of that security concentrating on the harbors. Vancouver is a peninsula city, with the deep-sea port in Burrard Inlet on one side and smaller inlet False Creek reaching into the city center on the other.

The waterways were carefully patrolled during the games. In Burrard Inlet, three cruise ships were docked at Ballantyne Pier to house security personnel, and a nearby convention center was the media center. Those areas were protected by a security perimeter of floating booms. In False Creek, the newly built waterfront Olympic Village was also protected by security booms.

The cruise ships housing military personnel and police officers were the 855-foot Carnival Elation, with a capacity of 2,052 passengers and 920 crew; Holland America Line’s MS Oosterdam, a 936-foot vessel whose capacity is 1,916 passengers and 817 crew, and 719-foot MS Statendam, with room for 1,258 passengers and 580 crew.

The booms in the harbors were installed by Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt’s Queen’s Harbour Master (QHM) staff with support from Fleet Maintenance Facility riggers.

QHM staff deployed the security boom using the 53-year-old steam crane YD 250.

Powered by a steam engine, the crane was custom-made for the Canadian navy in 1957 by Burrard Ship Builders in Vancouver. It is a 400-hp Scotch marine (fire tube) boiler operating at 185 psi providing 11,500 pounds per hour. The crane itself has a 20-ton hook and a 50-ton hook.

The Canadian navy tug CFAV Glendyne towed a barge with over 250 tons of equipment for the operation.

“We had a full deck load of anchor clumps, mooring chain and 1-inch chain to make up the components of the perimeter,” said QHM manager Doug Kimmett, adding that an equivalent tonnage of equipment was transported by land.

The security perimeter was a series of long black cylinders secured to anchors placed with precision on the bottom using the Canadian navy tug Glendyne’s navigational system and a portable backup GPS.

The Glen-class of naval tugboats operated by the Canadian Armed Forces are 94-foot, 250-ton vessels powered by two Ruston-Paxman diesels with 1800 hp driving two Voith-Schneider cycloidal propellers.

Glendyne was assisted by the crew of Parksville, a 64-foot Ville-class Canadian navy single-screw, Kort nozzle harbor tug powered by a D343 Caterpillar engine.

One major vessel never went into service at the Olympics. An additional cruise ship, the 965-foot, 2,240-guest Norwegian Star was initially chartered by the Edmonton, Alberta, company Newwest Special Projects to act as a floating hotel. It was to be moored at Canada Place next to the media center, but it cancelled at the last minute, leaving many customers without accommodation. The company ran into financial problems as it faced increasing expenses and failed to book a sufficient number of staterooms and cabins aboard Norwegian Star.

The naval presence in Vancouver’s waters and even on the Canada/United States marine border was significant as well. During the games, the marine security plans had an Iroquois-class destroyer or Halifax-class frigate on patrol as well as multiple Kingston-class maritime coastal defense vessels. Orca-class patrol vessels and a variety of small boats were also tasked in the approaches to Vancouver Harbour and the city’s inner waterways.

Iroquois-class destroyers, also known as Tribal class, are a class of four helicopter-carrying, guided missile destroyers of the Canadian Forces. The Halifax-class frigate (hull designation FFH) is a class of multi-role patrol frigates in service since 1992.

Kingston-class ships provide a single class of vessels for multi-function use by the Canadian Naval Reserves. The main roles of the ships are coastal surveillance, naval reserve force training, mine countermeasures for route survey, minesweeping and mine inspection operations.

The Orca class consists of eight steel-hulled Canadian navy patrol boats with the hull based on the Australian-designed Pacific-class patrol boat.

Along the border, the U.S. Coast Guard assisted Canada with security measures for the areas surrounding Vancouver, to include the maritime U.S./Canadian border.

The U.S. Coast Guard, in partnership with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Federal Border Integrity Program, launched the Olympic Shiprider pilot program in waters off the Pacific Northwest coast to enhance security operations during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The Shiprider program permitted the U.S. and Canada to conduct cross-border integrated law enforcement operations in shared waterways. The vessels were jointly crewed by specially trained U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officers.

Michel Drouin

By Professional Mariner Staff