Polar Prince

Ice Breakers of Canada

  MV Abegweit

The MV Abegweit was an icebreaking railway, vehicle, and passenger ferries which operated across the Abegweit Passage of Northumberland Strait, connecting Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island to Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick.

There were two vessels named Abegweit that serviced this route between 1947 and 1997.

The word Abegweit is derived from the Mi'kmaq word for Prince Edward Island, Epekwit'k, meaning "cradled (or cradle) on the waves."

  CCGS Sir William Alexander

CCGS Sir William Alexander is a Canadian Coast Guard Ship and is classed a "Light Icebreaker - Major Navaids Tender". She is currently assigned to CCG Maritimes Region and is homeported at CCG Base Dartmouth, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

She is named after Scottish explorer William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling, who was an early colonizer of Nova Scotia.

  CCGS Amundsen

CCGS Amundsen is an Arctic icebreaker and research vessel operated by the Canadian Coast Guard.

The vessel was built at Burrard Dry Dock, North Vancouver and commissioned into the Canadian Coast Guard as CCGS Sir John Franklin in 1979, in honour of Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin.

A 1200-class Arctic icebreaker, she worked out of CCG Base Dartmouth and CCG Base Quebec City for most of the 1980s and 1990s, being tasked to winter icebreaking operations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and St. Lawrence River and off Newfoundland.

  MV Arctic

The MV Arctic is an icebreaker built in 1978 at the Port Weller Dry Docks located in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. The ship is owned and operated by the Fednav Group.

Designed to carry both oil and ore, the vessel is not only ice strengthened with a Baltic 1A Super ice rating but has a CASPPR Class 3 or CAC 4 rating. This means it is powerful enough to navigate through many ice-covered waters unescorted. The MV Arctic previously serviced mines in the high Canadian Arctic such as Polaris and Nanisivik. Once those mines closed she was shifted to service the Raglan mine in northern Quebec and the Voiseys Bay mine in Labrador.

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MV Atlantic Vision

MV Atlantic Vision was built in Kiel, Germany in 2002. The vessel operated between Scotland and Belgium from 2002 to 2004, then between Estonia, Finland and Germany, before being chartered by Marine Atlantic in 2008. She is Ice class: IAA/Finnish IA Super.

The vessel will operate on Marine Atlantic's Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia ferry routes until 2013. She is 203 metres long with a capacity for upto 531 cars, and can travel at speeds upto 27 knots.

Photos by Jarrod David


MV Caribou

The MV Caribou is a Marine Atlantic passenger/vehicle ferry which operates between the islands of Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island in eastern Canada.

Caribou is named after the woodland caribou which graces the coat-of-arms of Newfoundland and Labrador and roams the forests of the island of Newfoundland and its mainland area of Labrador. MV Caribou is also named in memory of her predecessor the SS Caribou which was sunk off Port aux Basques by a German U-boat on October 14, 1942 with the loss of 137 passengers and crew.

Entering service in 1986, she was built by Versatile Davie in Lauzon, Quebec, and is specifically designed for the 96 nautical mile route across the Cabot Strait between North Sydney, NS and Channel-Port aux Basques, NL.

Photo by Jarrod David

  SS Caribou

The SS Caribou was a passenger ferry used by the Newfoundland government's ferry service between Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

The Caribou was built in 1925 at Rotterdam, Holland, for the Newfoundland Railway. Launched in 1925, she had a capacity of 3,000 horsepower (2,200 kW) and was able to reach a speed of 14.5 knots (26.9 km/h) when fully-loaded. She also had steam-heat and electric lights in all of her cabins, which were considered to be a luxury at the time. Also, due to her ice-breaking design, the Caribou also assisted during the seal hunt along the Newfoundland coast each spring.

  CCGS Des Groseilliers

The CCGS Des Groseilliers is an icebreaker in the Canadian Coast Guard.

The vessel is named after Medard Chouart Des Groseilliers (1618-1669) a close associate of Pierre-Esprit Radisson in explorations west of the Great Lakes and the founding of the English Hudson's Bay Company.

The vessel has participated in a number of research voyages, including Ice Station Sheba.
As part of the Sheba project the Des Groseilliers was allowed to be frozen into the ice for the Arctic winter, to serve as a base for scientific researchers.

  CCGS Terry Fox

CCGS Terry Fox is a Canadian Coast Guard Heavy Gulf icebreaker.

Named after the late cancer research activist Terry Fox, the vessel was built in 1983 as MV Terry Fox by Burrard Yarrows Corporation in Vancouver, British Columbia. MV Terry Fox, along with her sister ship MV Arctic Kalvik supported Gulf Oil's operations in the Beaufort Sea during the 1980s. Not limited to escorting tankers through ice, these multipurpose ships were designed to act as heavy tugs and supply vessels to support offshore oil rig platforms in a hostile environment.

  Icebreaker Fyodor Litke

The icebreaker Fyodor Litke (SKR-18, Russian: Фёдор Литке, СКР-18) was active in the Soviet era in the Arctic, until the late 1950s. It was built in 1909 in England for the Saint Lawrence River service and initially named CGC Earl Grey after Albert Grey, Governor General of Canada. After four years in Canada it was sold to the Russian government and eventually renamed Fyodor Litke in honour of the Arctic explorer Fyodor Petrovich Litke.

The Litke became famous for its Arctic operations in 1932—1935, survived World War II and was retired in 1958 after nearly 50 years of service. Unlike conventional icebreakers that crush ice with their own weight from above, Litke belonged to an older generation of vessels, relying on ramming and cutting ice without any downward movement. For this reason, Litke was uniquely classified as an ice-cutter (Russian: ледорез) or icebreaking steamship (Russian: ледокольный пароход), rather than a true icebreaker.

  CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell

CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell is a Canadian Coast Guard vessel based in St. John's, Newfoundland.

An Offshore Ice Strength Multi Patrol Vessel, the vessel, is named after the medical missionary in Labrador, Sir Wilfred Grenfell.

Sir Wilfred Grenfell was built in 1987 by Marystown Shipyard Ltd., in Marystown, Newfoundland. It was originally laid down as an offshore supply vessel but was subsequently purchased by the Canadian Government and converted for Coast Guard service.

  CCGS Alexander Henry

CCGS Alexander Henry is a former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker. She is currently a museum ship preserved at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston, Ontario. During the summer months it is also operated as a bed and breakfast.

Built at Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Port Arthur, she was commissioned into the Department of Transport's Marine Service as CGS Alexander Henry using the prefix "Canadian Government Ship". She was transferred in 1962 to the newly-created Canadian Coast Guard and is named after Alexander Henry [disambiguation needed], an 18th century British explorer and fur trapper.

CCGS Alexander Henry served her entire coast guard career on the Great Lakes. She was launched in 1958, commissioned in 1959, and retired from service in 1984 after CCGS Samuel Risley entered service.

The Alexander Henry is scheduled to enter Kingston's historic drydocks in 2010.

  CCGS John G. Diefenbaker

CCGS John G. Diefenbaker is the name for a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker that is expected to join the fleet in 2017. Its namesake, John G. Diefenbaker, was Canada's 13th prime minister. It was Diefenbaker's government that founded the Canadian Coast Guard in 1962.

Originally named the Polar Class Icebreaker Project, the vessel's commissioned name was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a visit to Inuvik, Northwest Territories on 28 August 2008.

The $720 million project was announced in the 27 February 2008 federal budget as a replacement for the nation's largest icebreaker and the flagship of the coast guard, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent.

MV John Hamilton Gray  

MV John Hamilton Gray

MV John Hamilton Gray was an icebreaking railway, vehicle, and passenger ferry which operated across the Abegweit Passage of Northumberland Strait, connecting Port Borden to Cape Tormentine between 1968-1997. The vessel was used for a casino in the U.S. until 2003 and was dismantled in India in 2004.

Interestingly, the John Hamilton Gray was named in honour of two different people who shared the same name:

  • John Hamilton Gray, the fifth premier of the British colony of Prince Edward Island and one of Canada's Fathers of Confederation.
  • John Hamilton Gray, the second premier of the British colony of New Brunswick and also one of Canada's Fathers of Confederation.
Both men lived in the same era and ended up in public service in the neighbouring colonies of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, which this vessel would connect as a ferry.


MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood

MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood is a Marine Atlantic passenger/vehicle ferry which operates between Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island in eastern Canada.

The super ferry is expected to continue operating until sometime 2011, after which it will be retired. The name is after former Newfoundland and Labrador politician Joseph R. Smallwood and his wife Clara.

Photo by Jarrod David

  CCGS Labrador

CCGS Labrador was a Wind-class icebreaker. First commissioned on July 8, 1954 as HMCS Labrador (pennant number AW 50) under the auspices of the Royal Canadian Navy, she was transferred to the Department of Transport on November 22, 1957. She was among the DOT fleet assigned to the nascent Canadian Coast Guard when that organization was formed in 1962 and Labrador's illustrious career marked the beginning of the CCG's icebreaker operations which continue to this day.

She extensively charted and documented the then-poorly-known Canadian Arctic, and was the first ship to circumnavigate North America in a single voyage.

  CCGS Henry Larsen

CCGS Henry Larsen is a Canadian Coast Guard medium icebreaker based in St John's, Newfoundland.

A "Medium Gulf/River icebreaker", the vessel is named after Henry Larsen, the commander of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrol vessel St. Roch which was the first vessel to traverse the Northwest Passage in a single season.

The Canadian Coast Guard has two vessels in their "Heavy icebreaker" class, and four in the "Medium Gulf/River icebreaker" class. These are their only vessels capable of year-round operation in the high Arctic. These vessels all have a helicopter hangar and can carry and maintain a BO-105 helicopter, which is used for logistical purposes, as well as ice-spotting, and search and rescue.

  CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier

The CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier is a light icebreaker and Major Navaids Tender of the Canadian Coast Guard. Built in 1986 by Canadian Shipbuilding, Collingwood, Ontario, Canada the ship currently is based out of Victoria, British Columbia.

The Laurier is a multi-tasked vessel which carries out a wide variety of Coast Guard programs including, but not limited to; buoy tending, search and rescue, science work, lightstation re-supply, beacon maintenance, radio repeater site maintenance, and icebreaking/escorting, aids to navigation and science work during summer patrols in the Arctic.

The vessel has been employed on research voyages and the rescue of survivors of the M/V Queen of the North.


MV Leif Ericson

The MV Leif Ericson is a Canadian ice breaking commercial/passenger-vehicle ferry operated by Marine Atlantic.

The vessel was purchased by the Government of Canada for its Crown corporation Marine Atlantic in 2001 and underwent modifications in preparation for operating the 178 km route between North Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador.

She was renamed Leif Ericson in honour of the 1000th anniversary of Leif Ericson's settlement in Newfoundland, reportedly the first European to set foot in the "New World".

Photo by Jarrod David

  SS Nascopie

SS Nascopie was a steamship built by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. She was launched on December 7, 1911 and achieved speeds of 14.1 knots (26 km/h) during her sea trials.

She was powered by triple expansion steam engines with cylinders 21.5, 35.5 and 58 inches (546, 902, and 1,473 mm) in diameter and a stroke of 42 inches (1067 mm).

Her boiler pressure was 180 pounds-force per square inch (1.24 MPa) and the two main boilers were 15 feet in diameter and 11.5 feet long, fired by six furnaces.

  Niagara Queen II

The Niagara Queen II is a small icebreaker that Ontario Power Generation uses to keep the inlet ports open at their plant on the Niagara River at Niagara Falls. The vessel displaces just 85 tonnes.

  CCGS George R. Pearkes

The CCGS George R. Pearkes is a light icebreaker and buoy support vessel in the Canadian Coast Guard. She was built in 1986.

  Polar 8 Project

The Polar 8 Project was a Canadian shipbuilding project based upon a class of 167-metre, 101,000-horsepower, diesel-electric powered high endurance icebreakers (polar class PC 1) intended for the Canadian Coast Guard. The project was developed as a means to assert Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic Ocean. It commenced in 1985 but was cancelled in 1990 while still in the final design stage.

The Polar 8 Project was proposed to Parliament in 1985 by the new Progressive Conservative administration of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. It was Canada's direct response to the unauthorized transit through the Northwest Passage in summer 1985 by the USCGC Polar Sea, a United States Coast Guard icebreaker.

  CCGS Pierre Radisson

The CCGS Pierre Radisson is an icebreaker of the Canadian Coast Guard.
She is designated as a "Medium Gulf Icebreaker. Her winter home port is Quebec City at the mouth of the St Lawrence River in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. She is staffed by a crew of twelve officers and twenty-six sailors. She was built in 1978 by Burrard Dry Dock Company in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Pierre Radisson participated in Operation Nanook (2009) and Operation Nanook (2008), annual joint training exercises with elements of the Canadian Armed Forces to prepare for sovereignty and disaster patrols.

  CCGS Samuel Risley

The CCGS Samuel Risley is a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker and buoy tender.

Named after the 19th century maritime inspector, she is a light icebreaker with a capability to break ice up to two feet (600 mm) thick.

Based in the Great Lakes, CCGS Samuel Risley is responsible for keeping an ice-free passage between Port Colborne, Ontario and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The vessel has a tall foredeck, and a long low quarterdeck, for carrying buoys, where a crane is permanently mounted.

  SS Southern Cross

The SS Southern Cross was a steam-powered vessel that operated primarily in Norway and Newfoundland and Labrador.

She was lost at sea with 173 crew on March 31, 1914, in what would later be termed the "1914 Newfoundland Sealing Disaster". More than the 78 crewmen who were lost from the crew complement of the SS Newfoundland in the same storm. A total of 251 or 252 men were lost in one storm from these two ships.

  CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent

CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker.

Named after the twelfth Prime Minister of Canada, Louis St. Laurent, the vessel is classed a "Heavy Arctic Icebreaker" and is the largest icebreaker and flagship of the CCG. It carries a polar class of PC-1.

Built in 1969 by Canadian Vickers Ltd. in Montreal, Quebec, CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent underwent an extensive and costly modernization at Halifax Shipyard Ltd. in Halifax, Nova Scotia between 1988-1993 which saw her hull lengthened as well as new propulsion and navigation equipment installed.

  SS Viking

The SS Viking was a steam-powered sealing vessel used by film producer Varick Frissel in the making of the 1931 film The Viking. During the shooting of extra footage for this film it exploded, taking the lives of Varick Frissel and 26 other crew members.

The Viking, a wooden-hulled whaling ship built by Nylands at Christiania, Norway in 1881 the same location as another famous Newfoundland vessel the Southern Cross. The Viking was a vessel of 620 gross tons and equipped with a 90 horsepower (67 kW) auxiliary engine.

The Viking was launched in 1882 from the Nylands Shipyard and for a while spent a number of years hunting the saddleback seal off the coast of Greenland. In 1882 the Viking was used by Fridtjof Nansen for his first Arctic expedition.


MV William Carson

M/V William Carson was a CN Marine passenger/vehicle icebreaker ferry named in honour of Newfoundland colonial politician William Carson.

Built by Canadian Vickers Ltd. in Montreal, Quebec, the William Carson measured 351 feet (107 m) in length and displaced 8,300 tons. Primarily a freight/cargo ferry, she had a capacity for 260 passengers and 60 cars which were loaded through a side ramp.

Designed for service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, Nova Scotia by Canadian National Railways, she was commissioned in 1955. One of the largest vessels built in Canada at the time, her immense size forced her to use the more spacious harbour at Argentia for her first three years in service while the Port aux Basques harbour was modified to accept her.

Photo courtesy of Marine Atlantic

  William Lyon Mackenzie (fireboat)

William Lyon Mackenzie # 334, named for Toronto's first mayor William Lyon Mackenzie, is a fireboat for the Toronto Fire Services. It was built in 1964 to provide marine fire fighting as well as ice breaking capabilities. In 2004 the fireboat was refurbished and it is expected to be in service until 2037.

The boat is docked at 339 Queen's Quay West, Fire Station #334. It is the main fireboat for the City of Toronto's Fire Services. Built in Owen Sound, Ontario by Russel Brothers Limited. The William Lyon Mackenzie operates 12 months a year, providing emergency services within Toronto Harbour and the adjacent waters of Lake Ontario. The T.F.S recently acquired the Sora as a backup vessel for the William Lyon Mackenzie. The Sora will be staffed by the crew of the Wm. Lyon Mackenzie.

  Wind class icebreaker

The Wind-class icebreakers were a line of diesel electric-powered icebreakers in service with the US Navy, United States Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Coast Guard and Soviet Navy from 1944 through the late 1970's. Considered the most technologically advanced icebreakers in the world when first built, the Wind-class icebreakers were also heavily armed; the first operator of the class was the United States Coast Guard, which used the vessels for much-needed coastal patrol off Greenland during World War II. Three of the vessels of the class, the Westwind, the Southwind, and the first Northwind all went on to serve temporarily for the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program, while two others were built for the United States Navy and another was built for the Royal Canadian Navy; all eight vessels were eventually transferred to the United States Coast Guard and the Canadian Coast Guard.

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