It looks like the Harp will be seen around St. Anthony for a little while longer than originally expected.
It was confirmed in 2012, the Harp, a 26-year-old Coast Guard vessel based out of St. John's, would be permanently decommissioned within the next fiscal year.
The Canadian Coast Guard has extended the vessels service time to March 2014.
Matthew Wheaton, acting superintendent of the regional operation centre, fleet for Canadian Coast Guard, said the vessel’s duties will remain the same.
“She will go back to her regular schedule of operation, business as usual,” Wheaton said. “She will service the St. Anthony area as per the normal plan.”
The Coast Guard is expanding its practice, contracting out the deployment and servicing of buoys.
“Right now we have about 40 per cent of that done,” he said. “It has proven to be very effective and it saves tax payers money.”
The privatization plan, Wheaton said, will free up more coast guard resources.
“We’ll be able to replace some of the smaller vessels, which will include the Harp. What we’d have would be larger capable vessels doing the same service,” he said. “We have 41 vessels in the Atlantic region. Nineteen of them are the large ships that are able to be deployed anywhere as needed.”
With free resources and the Harp decommissioned, Wheaton said, it’s a plan that can work well for the Northern Peninsula.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean a vessel well be stationed in St. Anthony.
Wheaton said it’s possible different vessels could be stationed in St. Anthony for weeks on end.
He said the level of service on the Northern Peninsula wouldn’t change, because all 41 vessels can be deployed.
“The Harp was seasonal, mainly for fishing activity – from June to late Fall in the St. Anthony area,” he said. “Even though she was the only vessel there, we had the flexibility to deploy when needed.
“And that won’t change, we are going to use a larger, more capable platform, by contracting out the buoys.”
Fate of the Harp
Before anything can be finalized, Wheaton said there’s a big factor influencing the timeline.
All of the contracting has to be in place before the Harp is taken out of service.
But when that time comes, he said, the Harp would begin the process of decommissioning. It includes warm layup and potential refitting for future use.
If it’s determined the vessel is no longer useful to the Coast Guard, it becomes a crown asset of Public Works and Government Services – who will be responsible for disposing of the vessel.
“They would put it up on the tendering process and it would go from there.”