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Canadian Coast Guard Brings Relief to Remote Island in Winter Storm

bc hydro ccg sir john franklin
CCG Sir John Franklin gives a ride to a BC Hydro crew, Jan. 6 (courtesy BC Hydro)

Published Jan 9, 2022 3:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Canadian Coast Guard recently used its harsh-weather capabilities to conduct an unusual kind of rescue. On Friday, the research ship CCGS Sir John Franklin pushed through extreme conditions to deliver a crew of electrical technicians to Bella Bella, B.C., a remote island community on the Inside Passage. 

Bella Bella lost power in a severe winter storm on January 5, and getting it restored would be no easy feat. The small town is remote indeed: it is located about 100 nm to the north of Port Hardy, the northernmost port on Vancouver Island. Though it is in range for helicopter travel, a flight was not possible in the high winds. 

On January 6, the CCG received a request from the provincial government: would it be possible to deploy a cutter to transport a crew of linemen? At the time, the CCGS Sir John Franklin was operating on SAR patrol duty in Fitzhugh Sound, just 30 nm to the south of Bella Bella.

"The situation is critical, with several thousand people without power for several days and facing dwindling fuel reserves," wrote the CCG in a social media update. "BC Hydro has been unable to travel via road or helicopter due to the severe weather."

The CCG agreed to help, and Sir John Franklin diverted to Bella Coola, a small mainland port located to the east. She picked up three technicians from B.C. Hydro and headed back the way she came, fighting 65-knot winds and icing conditions in the narrow channels of the Inside Passage. She successfully delivered the team to Bella Bella at about 0745 on Friday morning, and the linemen swiftly restored power. Sir John Franklin got under way once more, bound for Port Hardy.