Sunday 12 November 2017

Hero-class Mid Shore Patrol Vessel CCGS PRIVATE ROBERTSON V.C.

While a mass of nasty looking clouds rolled in off of Lake Erie, the 140’ Canadian Coast Guard Hero-class mid shore patrol vessel PRIVATE ROBERTSON V.C. sat like a sentinel at the foot of Sugarloaf Street in Port Colborne on November 19, 2015. First in her class, the PRIVATE ROBERTSON V.C. is named after Private James Peter Robertson who while serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the the First World War, was given the Victoria Cross (V.C.), the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Born in Albion Mines (now named Stellarton), Nova Scotia, the 34 year old private with the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Infantry Battalion, earned his Victoria Cross during the final assault on Passchendaele, Belgium just over 100 years ago on November 6th, 2017. According to Private Robertson's Victoria Cross biography:                    
  • "His platoon was held up by barbed wire and a German machine gun. He was able to dash  round to an opening on the flank of the enemy position and rush the gun. After a desperate   struggle, Robertson killed four of the crew, then turned the enemy gun on the remainder. This  enabled his platoon to continue towards its objective, with Robertson still firing the captured gun at the enemy as it retreated. Later when two of his own snipers were wounded in front of their trench, he went out and carried one of them in under severe fire, but when he returned with the second man, he was killed by a bursting shell."   

Built from 2011-13, at Irving Shipyards in  Halifax, Nova Scotia, each of the nine mid shore vessels are named after fallen Royal  Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries & Oceans and Canadian Forces personnel who are credited with performing exceptional or heroic acts during their service. The others Heroes and their namesakes backgrounds are:    

CCGS CAPORAL KAEBLE V.C. named after Corporal Joseph Kaeble who died near Arras, France on June 9, 1918 while single-handedly repelling a strong attack with his Lewis gun. 

CCGS CORPORAL TEATHER C.V., is named after Corporal Robert Gordon Teather, an RCMP diver in Surrey, British Columbia, who rescued two fishermen trapped in the hull of their capsized boat. For his actions Corporal Teather was awarded the Cross of Valour.      
CCGS CONSTABLE CARRIERE after Constable J.L. François Carrière, died on November 30, 1997, while conducting an underwater search of a vessel believed to be smuggling illegal drugs. 
CCGS G. PEDDLE S.C., after Canadian Coast Guard Chief Officer Gregory Paul Peddle, S.C., who lost his life on October, 15, 1989, when his fast rescue craft overturned in an attempt to rescue a diver off Middle Cove, Newfoundland. Chief Officer Peddle was awarded the Star of Courage.    
CCGS CORPORAL MCLAREN M.M.V., after Corporal Mark Robert McLaren, M.M.V., who was  killed along with two others on December 5, 2008, when their armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device outside Kandahar City. He was awarded the Medal of Military Valour for risking his life to save his team’s Afghan interpreter in Kandahar during an ambush on November 6, 2008.    
CCGS A. LEBLANC, after Fishery Officer Agapit LeBlanc, of Bouctouche, New Brunswick. who was killed on October 20, 1926, while investigating illegal fishing vessels. His murder remains unsolved.
CCGS M. CHARLES M.B., after Seaman Martin Charles, S.C., M.B., of Bamfield, British Columbia, and Hereditary Chief of the Nitinat Band. Martin Charles, now deceased,  earned the Medal of Bravery for his instrumental role in a search and rescue incident that began with a sunken fishing  vessel and ended with the crash of the helicopter assisting in the rescue efforts.     
CCGS CAPTAIN GODDARD M.S.M., after Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard, M.S.M., who was awarded the Meritorious Service Award for her exemplary service in Afghanistan from January 2006, until her death in combat on May 17, 2006.    

They don't call them "Heroes" for nothing.          

PRIVATE ROBERTSON V.C. is one of four mid shore patrol vessels that are used in a joint program with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to enhance national security, respond to potential threats, safeguard and address Federal maritime and on water enforcement requirements along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system.
The primary mission of the five remaining mid shores is to support the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Compliance and Enforcement program on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts where both  Canadian Coast Guard personnel and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' Fishery Officers work together to conduct surveillance of fisheries operations, seize, recover, store and transport illegal fishing gear monitor and patrol the oceans (coastlines and international boundaries) and provide a Canadian presence to discourage smuggling and fish  poaching.    
Regardless of how they are used each patrol vessel has a top speed of 25 knots or 46k/h. They also have a combined crew of 14 (8 CCG+6 RCMP or Fisheries) personnel and each can launch or retrieve rigid-hull inflatable boats while in motion.

Every November 11th is  Rememberance Day here in Canada, the day that not only marks the end of First World War but also a day for many to  take a moment and remember the countless soldiers, sailors and airman, who put their lives on the line for the freedom we have today in conflicts before WWI and since. 
Yesterday whether at a local cenotaph, or the War Memorial in Ottawa, thousands gathered in the below freezing air while many others  watched  the national ceremonies on TV,  or listened to it on the radio as we did while driving to Toronto. I give you my word to all that were lost or returned safely, “We Will Never Forget and We Will Always Be Grateful “

True yesterday was cold and windy but it was nowhere near what it was like when a November storm blew across Lake Michigan taking 33 of 35 crew members lives when the   659’ self unloader CARL D. BRADLEY sank on  November 18, 1958, fifty-seven years less a day before I took these snaps in Port Colborne with those ugly morbid skies in the background.  A strong November storm  broke up the 603’   DANIEL J. MORRELL on November 29, 1966 taking all but one soul of her 29 member crew. The  Armistice Day storm of 1944 sank 5 ships  and killed  66. The “Bad Storm of  1913” sank 13 ships and took 244 men from their families. And as her former fleet flagship replacement AMERICAN FORTITUDE awaits dismantling in the distance,  we will never forget the night when the winds of November came early sending  the 729’ ore carrier EDMUND FITZGERALD to her icy grave at the bottom of Lake Superior with all of 29 crew on  November 10, 1975. What a devastating month November can be for mariners in our inland seas but rest easy my lost seafaring friends because “You Too Will Never Be Forgotten “ .     

A big thank you to the Canadian Coast Guard website. They too appear to be very proud of their heroes. 

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