By Keith Norbury

Prince Rupert’s new harbour patrol vessel that was blessed in December 2019 is performing admirably nearly a year after its launch.

“It’s been a great vessel,” said Shaun Stevenson, president and chief executive officer of the Prince Rupert Port Authority. “It certainly will be something that will serve the port of Prince Rupert for many decades to come. We’ve been pretty pleased with how it’s performing as well. It gives us a lot more range and a lot more a capability, including some firefighting capability on the water.”

The vessel, called AMWAAL, a name derived from the Sm’algyax word for “prosperity,” was blessed in a ceremony by Sm’ooygit Gitxoon (Hereditary Chief Alex Campbell) and Sm’ooygit Niist’ooyx (Hereditary Chief Clarence Nelson) in the Ts’msyen tradition. Ts’msyen hereditary leaders and port authority board members chose the name to symbolize the long-term community benefits they’ve shared from opportunities at the port.

“We share the value of protecting our waters with the Prince Rupert Port Authority and are impressed with the marine safety enhancements the vessel brings to the North Coast,” Sm’ooygit Gitxoon said after the blessing.

Seventeen metres long with a six-metre beam, the aluminum-hulled ship was built in Kingston, Ont. The AMWAAL has a cruising speed of 28 knots and high-speed jet-drive maneuverability. The new vessel also features industry-leading navigation, communications, surveillance, and marine firefighting equipment.

“One of the things that we’re mindful of is ensuring that there’s safe operations within the harbour of both commercial shipping activity, but also all the other users — recreational, commercial fishing and so forth,” Mr. Stevenson said.

The AMWAAL also has a role in environmental monitoring, such as of water quality. This September, the vessel even partnered with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to retrieve commercial fishing equipment such as ghost nets.

“We also use it for some of the collaboration we have with surrounding First Nations communities around marine safety and their needs as well,” Mr. Stevenson said.

The port authority’s harbour patrol ships spent 3,638 hours covering local waters in 2019, with crews working 365 days a year, the port authority noted in a recent post on its Facebook page.