Coast Guard’s newest ship dented in crash at Ogden Point breakwater

The Canadian Coast Guard’s newest ship, the Sir John Franklin, has been damaged after it apparently reversed into the Ogden Point breakwater late Friday afternoon.

Grace Grant, 14, of Edmonton, was at the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater at 4:08 p.m. when she noticed the vessel.

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“I started running towards it because everyone was like: ‘Oh my God, it is going to hit it.’ ”

She moved closer to take photos.

“It was going pretty fast backwards and then it hit it and caused a pretty big dent.

“It just ran straight into it.”

Grace was on the breakwater with grandmother Marge Yanda and a friend, on the first day of a spring visit in Victoria.

“There wasn’t any sirens or any commotion on the boat that we could see. The only reason we knew it was about to hit is that it was going so fast towards it,” she said.

“When it hit, we could feel it.”

The crash released what looked like dust from the blocks on the north side of the breakwater, Grace said.

The vessel ran into the part of the breakwater where nesting boxes were recently installed to attract pigeon guillemots, a dark-coloured shorebird with white markings.

“It hit like an inch away from those, like right next to it, and it knocked all of them off. They are all in pieces in the water now,” Grace said.

After the collision, the ship remained in place for a period of time. Yanda said two smaller pilot boats helped direct the vessel away, and it tied up at Ogden Point.

Brian Cant, spokesman for the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, which owns the breakwater and Ogden Point, checked on the breakwater with the organization’s director of infrastructure shortly after the collision.

Damage to the breakwater above the water line is “really superficial,” he said. The collision happened about 100 metres from the lighthouse.

A dive team will look at the underwater portion on Monday, he said.

No birds had been using the nesting boxes, which were mounted on a piece of plywood fixed to the breakwater.

The 206-foot-long (63-metre) Sir John Franklin was built by Seaspan Shipyards in North Vancouver and launched in December 2017 before being brought to Victoria. It has not yet been officially handed over to the Coast Guard and remains a Seaspan vessel, said a federal official. A Seaspan spokesperson could not immediately be reached.

The Sir John Franklin was the first large vessel designed and built under the federal National Shipbuilding Strategy and is the first of three offshore fisheries science vessels being constructed by Seaspan. The company was chosen in a competition to provide the next generation of non-combat vessels for Canada’s military and Coast Guard.

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