Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 29, 2011 - 9:50 am

New research vessel to honour Resolute Bay crash casualty Martin Bergmann

Nunavut's Cambridge Bay to be the home port for "The Martin Bergmann"

JANE GEORGE
Kids from Kullik Ilihakvik in Cambridge Bay scramble on to the deck of
Kids from Kullik Ilihakvik in Cambridge Bay scramble on to the deck of "The Martin Bergmann," a research vessel to be named after the late director of the Polar Continental Shelf Program, who died in the Aug. 20 crash of First Air flight 6560. The former fishing trawler will be based out of Cambridge Bay, the future home of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Captain Glen Reid entertains visitors at a Sept. 28 open house held on board the future Martin Bergmann with stories of his recent voyage through the Northwest Passage. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Captain Glen Reid entertains visitors at a Sept. 28 open house held on board the future Martin Bergmann with stories of his recent voyage through the Northwest Passage. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

CAMBRIDGE BAY — Martin Bergmann, the director of the Polar Continental Shelf Program, died in the Aug. 20 crash of First Air flight 6560 in Resolute Bay.

But the legacy of Bergmann, who was passionate about the Arctic and Arctic science, will live on in Nunavut.

A new private, non-profit foundation, the Arctic Research Foundation, where Bergmann sat as a member of the board, plans to name its recently-acquired, 19-metre (64-foot) research vessel “The Martin Bergmann” in his memory.

The revamped fishing trawler from Newfoundland will be based out of Cambridge Bay, the future home of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, set to open there in 2017.

To introduce the boat — which, until the paperwork is completed, still goes by the name of the Ocean Alliance — and its crew to Cambridge Bay, the foundation held an open house for people in the community on Sept. 28.

Kids from Sheldon Reid’s grade two class from Kullik Ilihakvik elementary school found the future Martin Bergmann to their liking. They scrambled down a ladder to see the fish hold and then went up to the captain’s bridge, before leaning over the deck to spot jellyfish in the cold, green water below. Last stop before the walk back to school: a hot dog served up from a dockside barbecue.

On board, Captain Glen Reid told the stream of visitors about the boat’s recent voyage from St. John’s to Cambridge Bay through the Northwest Passage.

That was Reid’s first trip on the route, and one which involved several challenges, he said, such as long distances between refueling depots, inaccurate weather reports and “growlers,” icebergs — sleek bergs which bob up and down in the water, don’t show up on radar or ice reports, and can tear up a hull if you hit one.

Before leaving St. John’s earlier this month, the former fishing boat underwent a retrofit, which added a laboratory, winches that can be used to lower scientific equipment in and out of the water, as well as more food and fuel storage space, water makers, and more power so that the boat can be self-sufficient for up to three weeks at a time.

Now that the boat has landed in Cambridge Bay, plans are underway to keep it busy next summer on contracts from agencies such as Parks Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The boat, with a capacity of 12 passengers and crew members, is much smaller than the Coast Guard’s research icebreaker, the 98-m (320 ft) Amundsen.

The Martin Bergmann’s shallow draft means it will be much more easy to manoeuvre — a plus for DFO research, says foundation project manager Oksana Schimnowski, who worked at the DFO in Winnipeg with Bergmann.

The Martin Bergmann will be also much cheaper to operate and charter than the Amundsen, which costs up to $80,000 a day to run, she said.

The boat plans to involve people in Cambridge Bay in its research program and operations, and a variety of educational programs are also likely to be offered on board.

All that’s being fine-tuned, said Schimnowski.

But Bergmann would have been proud to see his enthusiasm for partnerships between various government departments and with local communities carry on, she said.

Bergmann’s children are expected to help chose the colours of the boat bearing their late father’s name, she said.

The official launch of the Martin Bergmann will take place next summer.

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