Coast Guard Royalty Gets Late-Life Facelift

Canada’s most important scientific ship, a vintage red-and-white 300-footer, is hiding in plain sight on the Hamilton waterfront.

The ship was built in 1963 in Saint John for $7.5 million. It’s named for 1600s Arctic explorer Henry Hudson, cast off by mutineers and never seen again.

The Hudson, first of its kind in Canada, was equipped with four labs, a chopper flight deck, four big diesel engines. It can sail for more than a hundred days without requiring refuelling or additional provisions.

Its most famous mission began in Halifax late in 1969, when the Hudson became the first ship to circumnavigate the Americas, both North and South.

The journey lasted a year, and research included marine life, Antarctic currents, geology of the sea floor.

To carry on a while longer, she needed repairs. A tender went out, and the $4-million job was awarded to Heddle Marine, on Hamilton’s waterfront for 30 years.

Rick Heddle says this isn’t the oldest ship they’ve worked on. Just last year, they rehabilitated Hamilton’s HMCS Haida, launched in 1942. Other vessels that find their way to dry dock here — tankers, barges, ice breakers, tugboats, tour boats.

The Hudson slipped in last December. The job includes overhaul of superstructure and masts, rudder repairs, steel replacement, overhauling deck machinery, blasting the hull below and above the waterline.

And, finally, a bright new coat of paint. The job is to be finished sometime next month.