(OTTAWA) — Canada's $227 million fleet of midshore Coast Guard cutters roll "like crazy" at sea, making crews seasick and keeping some ships in port during weather conditions in which they should be able to operate, CBC News reported.
Canadian Coast Guard records and correspondence obtained under federal access to information legislation raise questions about the patrol vessels' seagoing capability and reveal a two-year debate on how to address the problem.
At issue is the lack of stabilizer fins on nine Hero-class ships that were built by Irving Shipyard in Halifax, Nova Scotia, between 2010 and 2014.
The problem is reportedly so bad that a trip along the West Coast required one Fisheries and Oceans Canada supervisor in British Columbia to place rolled-up jackets under the outer edge of his bunk to keep him pinned against the bulkhead instead of being tossed out by the roll of the ship.
"It goes without saying that the crew (is) in favor of (stabilizers)," wrote supervisor Mike Crottey. "Seasickness is felt both by conservation and protection and Coast Guard personnel and has an impact on vessel operation."
The Coast Guard decided it did not need stabilizers when the ships were being built, but has been considering retrofitting them since 2017 amid criticism from commanding officers and others who serve on board.
The Coast Guard denies there is any problem with the safety and stability of the ships, which are 137 feet long and 23 feet wide. However, in a 2017 "configuration change request" to have stabilizers installed, Coast Guard project manager David Wyse described "an increased hazard of crew injuries and program failures."
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