Dr. Bonnie Henry launches Coast Guard ship in North Van (VIDEO)

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry took a few moments away from navigating B.C. out of COVID-19 waters, Friday, to come to North Vancouver and launch a ship dedicated to science.

Henry was invited by Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards to smash the ceremonial bottle of champagne on the bow of the newest offshore fisheries science vessel to be built for the Canadian Coast Guard Service.

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Because of the pandemic, the shipbuilder scaled back its usual fete at the launch of a ship to just a handful of employees, Canadian Coast Guard representatives, Tsleil-Waututh Nation elder Margaret George and Henry.

Seaspan invited Henry not just because of her “exceptional leadership and tireless efforts” in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in British Columbia, but also because she began her career as a medical health officer with the Royal Canadian Navy.

“It’s particularly exciting for me to be here as a former naval officer and someone who has spent a good deal of time at sea,” she told attendees.

Henry said it was an honour to be a part of the event and praised Seaspan for their efforts to retool and get on with the work safely after COVID-19 struck.

“For the Seaspan team to complete the construction in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with all protective measures in place, is a testament to how British Columbians have done all they can to protect our province, while working to keep many important aspects of our economy going,” she said in a statement.

The feeling was mutual, said Mark Lamarre, CEO of Seaspan Shipyards.

“It is a great honour to have such an exceptional leader as Dr. Bonnie Henry help launch this ship. Her leadership and clarity gave us the confidence, in an unprecedented climate, to continue our operations safely, which led to today’s successful launch,” he said.

The 63.4-metre ship, which is now 97 per cent complete, will be named CCGS John Cabot when the Coast Guard takes possession of it. It’s the third offshore fisheries science vessel built in the North Vancouver shipyard after CCGS Capt Jacques Cartier and the CCGS Sir John Franklin, and the first one to be launched under strict physical distancing protocols.

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