Ice breakers

I thought it would be interesting to find out more about ice breakers and their use in the NW passage. So as normal off I went to Google but what did I find? The holiday of a lifetime, 18 days on an arctic icebreaker expedition. Oh I drooled over this holiday for over an hour – avoiding the cost page! What a fabulous itinerary, breathtaking in fact and all for the small cost of ( yes I looked) $20.695 plus airfares of around $2.000. I could probably manage the $695 – at a push. I wonder if they need any workers on board. I would do anything…seriously anything. Unless I win the lottery this is not on the card for me for next september but top of my bucket list so who knows? By the way there are many cruises up and around the NW Passage, it is just this one really caught my attention.

The Americans and Russians are looking develop their icebreaking fleet as the waters of the NW Passage become more available but I thought over the next two posts we could look at what the Canadian coast guard  has, In total they have 15 icebreakers.

Two heavy icebreakers:

CCGS Terry Fox & CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent

Terry Fox 1 (5x7) in ice one of the CCGS heavy duty ice breakers
CCGS Terry Fox

Four medium Icebreakers:

CCGS Amundsen, CCGS Des Groseilliers, CCGS Henry Larsen & CCGS Pierre Radisson

CCGS Amundsen medium icebreaker used as science vessel in summer
CCGS Amundsen

I wonder what life aboard one of these ships is like? Has anyone worked on one? If you have please let me know what it is/was like? I have found a fascinating document on icebreaking ships and some of their design structure with historical reference. Really interesting read.


Ships of the North West Passage 1 – HMS Erebus


Unknown illustration of either HMS Erebus or Terror both used in the illfated Franklin Expedition to find the NW Passage
Unknown illustration of either HMS Erebus or Terror

I just had a fancy this month to focus on the ships of the NW passage, for this post I thought I would focus on the HMS Erebus, which was lost, well abandoned during the Franklin expedition of 1848 and found submerged in September 2014. This discovery is due to the co-operation of the Inuits, using their oral history, modern technology and the combined effects of the Canadian Government and public, private and non-profit organisations. The Victorian Strait Operation really does show that working together can achieve something that was thought impossible! You can follow the ongoing exploration via mission briefs and on Twitter and Facebook. I would give anything to be involved in this.

The HMS Erebus was a Hecla-class bomb vessel  designed by Sir Henry Peake and constructed in Wales Uk in 1826. The name which is derived from Greek meaning deep darkness and was considered the part of Hades, where the dead entered. Personally with hindsight I think it was a bit of a foreboding name but I can see it was a good  name for a war ship. Its armament consisted of 10 guns and two mortars. It served time sailing the Mediterranean before being commissioned for the ill-fated Franklin Expedition to find the NW Passage route.

To do justice to the scope of the Franklin Expedition and the men who lost their lives I recommend you buy either Frozen in Time The Fate of the Franklin Expedition by  Owen Beattie’ ‘John Geiger  or The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909 by Pierre Berton. Both of these books carry you to a different time and a different culture, the writing engulfs you in the passion and focus of these explorers and adventurers along with the difficulties they had to face daily.

HMS Erebus found in Canadian waters September 2014
HMS Erebus on its ill-fated voyage