1985: The Commissioning of a Canadian Coast Guard Vessel

April 4, 1985

A vessel named Samuel Risley was officially commissioned as a Canadian Coast Guard ship (CCGS). This vessel, measuring 229.8 feet (69.7 meters) in length, had been built by Vito Steel Boat & Barge Limited and was launched in 1984 at that company’s shipyard in the British Columbia city of Delta. CCGS Samuel Risley was named after a 19th century maritime inspector who served as the first chairman of the Canadian Board of Steamboat Inspectors.

CCGS Samuel Risley serves as both an icebreaker (designed to move through ice-covered waters and help provide safe passage for other ships and boats) and a buoy tender (a vessel used to maintain and replace navigational buoys). She was the first of two CCG vessels in a class of icebreakers/buoy tenders that was likewise named after Samuel Risley. The other Samuel Risley-class vessel is CCGS Earl Grey, which was commissioned on May 30, 1986.

CCGS Samuel Risley is based in the Great Lakes region, and one of her main duties there involves maintaining an ice-free passage between the Ontario cities of Port Colborne on Lake Erie and Thunder Bay on Lake Superior. Over the years, CCGS Samuel Risley has taken part in several major rescue operations.

In January 2015, for example, both CCGS Samuel Risley and CCGS Griffon freed several ships that had become trapped in ice on the St. Clair River. Three months later, CCGS Samuel Risley was one of four ships that helped 10 commercial vessels that were caught in heavy ice in the section of Lake Superior near Whitefish Point, Michigan. CCGS Samuel Risley likewise came to the rescue in December 2017 when she worked with the U.S. Coast Guard cutter and icebreaking tug USCGC Biscayne Bay to free the lake freighters Edgar B. Speer and Walter J. McCarthy Jr. after those bulk carrier vessels had become icebound in a portion of the St. Marys River that is just south of the Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie.

Another milestone for CCGS Samuel Risley and her crew occurred in July 2018, when she made her first voyage into Arctic waters. One of the vessel’s key missions on that journey entailed taking part in the annual resupply of food, fuel, cargo, and construction materials for U.S. military personnel stationed at Thule, Greenland.

Photo Credit: Balcer (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Additional information on the Canadian Coast Guard’s Samuel Risley-class of icebreakers/buoy tenders is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Risley-class_icebreaker

For more information on the 2018 voyage of CCGS Samuel Risley to Greenland, please check out https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news/niagara-region/2018/07/16/maiden-voyage-to-arctic-for-coast-guard-ship.html

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