Sunday 4 April 2021

Light Icebreaker CCGS GRIFFON - A Homebound Pictorial

At a speed just under 12 knots, the 234' Great Lakes ice breaking icon for over 50 years, CCGS GRIFFON pushes a steady white wake as she continues to make her way home to the Canadian Coast Guard station at Prescott on Tuesday morning.


While ship traffic comes to a stop in these parts with the closing of the St. Lawrence Seaway on December 31st, it's business as usual on most of the upper lakes.  

Throughout the winter months tankers continue to haul liquid asphalt and other oil and chemical products from Sarnia on the St. Clair River to Nanticoke more than half way down Lake Erie with deliveries to ports in between.
Meanwhile self discharging bulk carriers continue to replenish road salt supplies from Goderich and Windsor to U.S. ports like Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit.
While all bulk carriers and tankers have strengthened hulls to operate through ice, sometimes they need help and that's when the Canadian and U.S. coast guards work together as one to keep the shipping lanes clear so that the commerce can keep moving. They are also busy keeping river months clear from jamming with ice and potential flooding upriver. Both tasks were no different this year especially in February
With her speed checked down, the GRIFFON starts her "U-turn-like" maneuvre so that when she approaches the dock, she'll be facing upriver.

In the background you can only see about two-thirds of the 2.4 km long Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge and one of my favourite vantage points, the old Windmill Lighthouse as the GRIFFON continues her turn in this wide section of the St. Lawrence River. 

Though built in 1970 at Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon Quebec, CCGS GRIFFON is well maintained and has been refitted and modernized throughout her 51 year career. Nice paint job too.
As a Type 1100 buoy tender, the GRIFFON is known as a High Endurance Multi-task Vessel. Though she has a flight deck, the GRIFFON does carry a helicopter like newer vessels in her class.
Her Arctic Class 2 ice classification allows her to maintain a speed of 3 knots through 2 feet of ice. She encountered ice at least that thick and several feet of high wind-blown ice ridges when the GRIFFON and fleetmate, CCGS SAMUEL RISLEY  freed the American ore carrier ARTHUR M. ANDERSON which had been trapped in the ice on Lake Erie for 5 days off Conneaut, Ohio in February 2015.

The tall GRIFFON snuggles-up behind the Parks Canada research vessel DAVID THOMPSON, and then she's secured at her home until her next assignment.
It was dull and overcast without as much wind when I last caught the GRIFFON's return home on April 4, 2018. Then I caught her arrival on the east side of the coast guard station and as my camera continued to click away I suddenly noticed someone standing ahead to right on the rocks (in the photo below). It was Joanne Crack, founder of the Facebook boat-watching group The Prescott Anchor there taking her photos of the ship and crew that she loved so much and always talked about. It's so sad that we lost Joanne in September 23, 2019. 
Joanne took some wonderful photographs of ships passing by from her balcony along the river. She was such a great help for my blog over the years and I miss her a lot.

While there maybe a well deserved break for the crew that manned her for the last month or so, there will be no rest for the mighty GRIFFON which has already made her way down river to replace winter navigation markers with 6' tall 6,000 lb. solar powered light buoys which will stay in place attached to a 5,000 lb. anchor until it's replaced next fall. It's all part of the circle of life for our hardworking "multi-tasker" also known as CCGS GRIFFON.