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Dispatch 5: Some Louis Facts from the Information Handbook Onboard

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Peter Lourie

September 24, 2016

Built in 1969, refitted and modernized in 1993 (it took five years), the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St. Laurent is 393 feet long and 80 feet wide with a deadweight tonnage of 15,000 tons and a cruising range of 26,000 nautical miles (almost 30,000 regular miles), which is more than once around the circumference of the planet at the equator. 

During the refit in the 1990s a “Wartsila Bubbler System” was installed which enhances ice-breaking capability. Also steam turbines were replaced by diesel electric propulsion, and a gym, sauna, bar lounge and game rooms were added.  TVs are now in every room, satellite fed, and most rooms are singles. Last night we enjoyed the live HD broadcast of the Patriots playing the Texans.  Bizarre.

In 1969, her first year out, she escorted the first tanker to go through the Northwest Passage.  In 1994 the Louis was the first Canadian vessel to reach the North Pole.  “Nowadays, the Louis is a major science platform in the Arctic for International missions….”

She’s the largest and oldest icebreaker now in the Canadian government fleet and helps maintain the shipping lanes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Arctic Waters as well as host visiting scientists studying the Arctic.

Outside, the seas pick up and the swell is off our side.  We roll now so much that sometimes you have to grab a table or a wall to keep from stumbling.  Sarah says there are seasick pills for anyone who needs them.

Scientists all around the ship are working on their projects.  Preparations are being made for mooring recoveries and deployments when we get to the ice. “Drifters”’ with electronic GPS signals are released over the stern when we’re not running the rosette for sampling.  I’m amazed how many hours these dedicated scientists are putting into their work.  When I say this to Marty Davvelaar, he responds, “Out here what else are you going to do!” 

Maybe read a Russian novel?

To learn more about Peter Lourie click here.

Last updated: October 7, 2019

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