Crew members from the 51-metre Donnalaks fish carrier out of Norway stop in Port Alberni to take on fresh water and for a break, Thursday, July 12, 2018. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Crew members from the 51-metre Donnalaks fish carrier out of Norway stop in Port Alberni to take on fresh water and for a break, Thursday, July 12, 2018. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Norwegian ship draws interest on Port Alberni’s waterfront

A ship from Norway has been gaining a lot of attention in Port Alberni this week, after mooring at Centennial Pier.

The distinctive red and white MV Donnalaks is a 51-metre wellboat, or fish carrier, from Bodo, Norway that has been on contract with Cermaq Canada since August 2017, travelling between Cermaq’s fish farms on the west coast.

Anne Tove Havik and her husband were two crew members aboard the Donnalaks. The pair were busy on Thursday, July 12 threading hoses to take on fresh water.

“We are going to fish farms and carrying salmon to other fish farms and treating them for lice,” Havik explained. The Donnalaks has been away from Norway for a year out of an 18-month journey: their contract on the west coast will end on Aug. 15, according to their Coasting Trade Act application with the Canadian Transportation Agency.

A wellboat is used to give salmon in fish farms a “bath” as a treatment for sea lice. Fish are pumped from the farm cages into the wellboat tanks, treated, then pumped back into the cages.

A wellboat from Norway was employed because of an industry-wide increase in demand for these treatments plus a dearth of Canadian vessels capable of doing the job. Canada only has six to eight wellboats and they are all smaller and under long-term charter contracts, according to the Donnalaks’ application for a Coasting Trade License.

While moored in the Alberni Harbour, crew members stayed aboard the ship, Havik said. They typically work five weeks on and five weeks off, and have spent a lot of time based in Gold River. Havik and her husband recently rented a car and toured Vancouver Island for 10 days.

“We’re very impressed by the Island,” she said. “People are very friendly.”

Larger vessels don’t usually moor at the end of Centennial Pier, said David McCormick, director of public relations and business development with the Port Alberni Port Authority. “Typically we would have them at the breakwater at the Harbour Quay Marina where the Viking Enterprise is. They (Viking Enterprise) have been there for some time now. They’ve had some maintenance issues and parts issues,” McCormick said.

Given the size of the Donnalaks and the activity at the terminals, it was necessary for the Norwegian ship to tie up at Centennial Pier, he explained. It’s not an ideal spot for a vessel of that size, however “when there’s things that happen we’ve got to make room for them.”

The end of the pier has been used for larger vessels on occasion since it opened on July 1, 2012. The pier is home to Swept Away Inn in the repurposed MV Songhees tugboat, and Pacific Seaplanes uses the wharf fingers to tie up for its commercial seaplane service between Vancouver and the west coast.

The Donnalaks isn’t the only foreign ship to have moored in Port Alberni’s deep sea port this week. The 180-metre cargo ship African Gannet, flying a Bahamanian flag, has been berthed at the Port Alberni terminals as part of its maiden voyage. This particular ship, which is loading raw logs, has never been in Port Alberni before, McCormick said.

“It is neat to see a different kind of ship here.”

The Port Alberni Port Authority regularly tweets information about ships in port with the Twitter handle @PAPortAuthority. You can follow ships’ voyages, like that of the Donnalaks, at vesselfinder.com or ShipSpotting.com.




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Crew members from the 51-metre Donnalaks fish carrier out of Norway stop in Port Alberni to take on fresh water and for a break, Thursday, July 12, 2018. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Crew members from the 51-metre Donnalaks fish carrier out of Norway stop in Port Alberni to take on fresh water and for a break, Thursday, July 12, 2018. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Norwegian ship draws interest on Port Alberni’s waterfront