Port Alberni played host to a pair of Royal Canadian Navy ships last week.
The Canadian Navy frigates HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Winnipeg could be spotted at Port Alberni Terminals from March 7-9. According to Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) vice president of operations Mike Carter, the ships had been taking part in wartime exercises in the Pacific Ocean and stopped in Port Alberni to get rid of some waste and pick up provisions. The vessels offloaded several trucks of blackwater and greywater, then took on some fresh water and groceries.
“It was a maintenance stop for them,” explained Carter.
This is the second recent stop in Port Alberni for the HMCS Ottawa, after the ship spent a few days docked at the waterfront last August. At that time, the HMCS Ottawa had just been taken out of refit and was able to offer tours to Port Alberni residents.
No tours were offered during this visit, but the more than 500 crew members from the two ships were able to enjoy some down time in Port Alberni.
“My understanding was that they really enjoyed it,” said Carter. “The pubs were full.”
Carter said the visits are a move on the part of the Royal Canadian Navy to “show their colours” in small communities more often.
“And Port Alberni has shoreside services they can use,” Carter added. “It creates a lot of local economics. It’s amazing how the trickle effects work.”
Several local longshoremen were able to work on the ships while they were docked, while companies like GFL Environmental and Nicklin Waste Disposal were tasked with helping the ships unload. Both the HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Winnipeg were docked side-by-side at San Terminals Berth 3, which is an unusual sight on Port Alberni’s waterfront. This made it easier for the trucks to come and go, removing waste and delivering supplies.
Carter says the PAPA docks have been “highly underutilized” the past few years, due to the downturn in the forest industry, so the Navy ships were more than welcome last week.
“We want these types of visits, and we’ll keep trying to entice them,” he said.
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