256,044 Pages

CCGS Labrador
CCGS Labrador
CCGS Labrador
Career (Canada) Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom Coastguard Flag of Canada
Name: Labrador
Namesake: Labrador
Owner: Government of Canada
Operator: Royal Canadian Navy
Department of Transport
Canadian Coast Guard
Builder: Marine Industries Limited, Sorel, Quebec
Yard number: AW 50
Laid down: 1951
Christened: 1954
Commissioned: 8 July 1954.
Maiden voyage: 23 July 1954.
In service: 1954
Out of service: 1987
Refit: January 1955
Homeport: Halifax, NS
Identification: 50 (RCN)
AW-50 (CCG)
Call sign CGVM (RCN)
Call sign CGGM (CCG) [1]
Fate: Broken up 1989
General characteristics
Class & type: Wind class icebreaker
Displacement: 3,823 tonnes (4,214.14 short tons)
Length: 82 m (269 ft 0 in)
Beam: 19.2 m (63 ft 0 in)
Draught: 9 m (29 ft 6 in)
Draft: 29 metres (95 ft 2 in)
Ice class: Arctic Class 2-3
Installed power: Six 10-cylinder diesel engines (6 × 2,000 bhp)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric; two shafts (2 × 5,000 hp)
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) (maximum)
12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) (cruising)
Complement: 224
Aircraft carried: Two Bell 47 or Bell HTL-4 single-rotor helicopters, or one Piasecki HUP Retriever twin-rotor helicopter.

CCGS Labrador was a Wind-class icebreaker. First commissioned on 8 July 1954 as Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Labrador (pennant number AW 50) in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), Captain (CAPT) O.C.S. "Long Robbie" Robertson, RCN, In Command. She was transferred to the Department of Transport (DOT) on 22 November 1957, and redesignated the Canadian Government Ship (CGS) Labrador. She was among the DOT fleet assigned to the nascent Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) when that organization was formed in 1962, and further redesignated the Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS) Labrador. Then, Labrador's'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 as HMCS Labrador was the first ship to circumnavigate North America in a single voyage.

Early historyEdit

Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the Canadian government made limited exploration within the vast Arctic coast it laid claim to, largely because it lacked the capacity to make forays into much of this remote terrain. Labrador was conceived as Canada's first modern, powerful icebreaking vessel, which could help meet national defence needs in the high Arctic but also explore the vast area and its rich resources.

Labrador was built in the Marine Industries LTD yards in Sorel, Quebec She was laid down 18 Nov. 1949 and launched 14 Dec. 1951. The builder used modified plans from the just-completed Wind-class icebreakers of the United States Coast Guard. She was modified to include then state-of-the-art scientific equipment changing her from a purely military patrol vessel to a self-sufficient explorer—an elaborately equipped floating laboratory, hospital, transport, rescue ship and school. Labrador also trained Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) cadets; with college instructors included in crew. At the time of her commissioning Labrador was the worlds most advanced icebreaker, with Denny Brown gyro stabilizers, and full bridge control of her diesel engines. She was the RCN's first fully diesel-electric vessel, with six 2000 HP engine/generators driving a 5,000 SHP motor on each shaft. Labrador was equipped with starboard and port heeling tanks with 40,000 gallons per minute transfer capability, which facilitated icebreaking operations.

On 10 July 1954 Labrador departed Sorel, Quebec, en route to her new homeport in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Whilst underway she experienced engine troubles (lowered oil pressure), between Sorel and Quebec City, Quebec. Further difficulty was experienced in the Richilieu river, where she developed steering gear problems which were overcome by expert seamanship. Labrador arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 14 July 1954.

Northwest Passage voyageEdit

HMCS Labrador set sail on her maiden voyage on 23 July 1954 from Halifax, Nova Scotia, bound for the Labrador Sea. Over the next summer she worked her way through Canada's Arctic archipelago from east to west, conducting hydrographic soundings, resupplying RCMP outposts and deploying assorted scientific and geological teams. Her rendezvous with her American sister-ships USCGC Northwind (WAGB-282) and USCGC Burton Island (WAGB-283) off the coast of Melville Island on 25 August 1954 marked the first time US and Canadian Government ships had met in the Arctic from the east and west. During the rendezvous, the crews visited with one another in good mateship. The three ships surveyed the Beaufort Sea together until the end of September 1954, at which point Labrador headed for the base of Canada's Pacific fleet at Esquimalt, British Columbia. Labrador then became the first large vessel to transit the Northwest Passage. Upon sailing down the west coast of the United States, through the Panama Canal and back to Halifax, Nova Scotia on 21 November 1954; Labrador also became the first ship to circumnavigate North America in a single voyage.


In January 1955 Labrador underwent refit. The remainder of Labrador's early career involved considerable work on the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW Line) project. From June to September 1955, she led a task group of 14 Canadian and American ships delivering thousands of tons of supplies for DEW Line sites under construction in the Foxe Basin area of the eastern Arctic, and in following years continued to provide icebreaking and operational support.

In 1956, Captain (CAPT) T.C. Pullen RCN, sailed Labrador on an expedition through the Northwest Passage. Labrador sailed west through the Prince of Wales Strait, re-tracing the 1944 route of RCMPV St. Roch, which was commanded by Captain Henry A. Larsen, RCMP(GRC). Labrador then conducted extensive surveys in the areas of Prince of Wales Strait, including; Somerset Island, and Prince Regent Inlet. Labrador used her helicopters to establish triangulation points on the shore for the survey. During this voyage Labrador recovered a large anchor on "Fury Beach" of Somerset Island (Nunavut), which was left there in 1825 by the crew of HMS Fury. The Fury, with HMS Hecla, both commanded by Rear Admiral William Edward Parry, RN, FRS (who then held the rank of Commander, RN); left the anchor, stores, boats, and other useful items there, as Fury was beset and had to be abandoned. The gear was left there for future explorers to use, and because there was no space in Hecala for the equipment. The cache left by Hecala did indeed prove useful to mariners years later. The anchor remained as a landmark for navigators for 136 years. Labrador transported the artifact to Halifax NS, and it was placed in the Maritime Command Museum (1961). In 1972 Fury's anchor was moved to CCG Base Dartmouth Nova Scotia. In 1981 the anchor was removed to the Canadian Coast Guard College at Sydney Nova Scotia, in 1991 the relic was "spiffied-up", and remains a popular exhibit.

CCGS Labrador 1982

CCGS Labrador

HMCS Labrador was transferred to civilian control in 1957, and operated within the Department of Transport (DOT) during the four years before the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) was formally established. She continued to serve the CCG for 29 years, before being sold for scrap in 1987.

Ship's HistoryEdit

  • 1951 - Laid down.
  • 1952 -
  • 1953 -
  • 1954 - Completed and commissioned, in the Royal Canadian Navy, Captain O.C.S. "Long Robbie" Robertson, RCN, Commanding, and based at Halifax, NS.
    • - Her first arctic cruise involved:
      • Hydro graphic survey.
      • Cosmic ray studies.
      • Magnetic compass studies.
      • Installing navigation markers (Prefabricated - 750 lbs).
    • Non-navigable days were declared Sunday's.
    • - First circumnavigation of North America. East to West transit. The first warship to transit the Northwest Passage and the first warship to circumnavigate North America. Captain O.C.S. Robertson RCN, In Command. Returned to Halifax, NS 21 November 1954.
    • - First cruise helicopter pilots:
      • LCDR (P) John Laurie (Senior Pilot).
      • LCDR (P) Douglas Albert "Duke" Muncaster (Co-Pilot).[2]
    • - First arctic cruise, 17 July 1954.
  • 1955 - Second arctic cruise - supported DEW line work, sea lift in Foxe Basin, NU. From 05-6 July Labrador was beset in Foxe Basin, NU. On 7 July Labrador was again beset 65 km east of Cape Fisher. She freed herself in both instances. Labrador refitted.
  • 1956 - Oceanographic work on Gulf of St. Lawrence - 20 February-16 April.
    • - Third Arctic cruise; 5 July through 13 October.
    • - Captain T.C. Pullen, RCN, sailed Labrador on a survey expedition of the Northwest Passage and recovered the anchor of HMS Fury. (Note: Captain Pullen later retired and was the Canadian government representative in SS Manhattan, during the super tanker's historic transit of the Northwest Passage in 1969.)
  • 1957 -A Bell HTL-4 helicopter, (SN 202), from Labrador crashed on Peter Point, York Sound Frobisher Bay. All crewmen survived. She escorted a US Coast Guard Squadron through Bellot Strait and Eastern Arctic. (Partial Transit), Captain T.C. Pullen RCN, In Command .
  • 1958 - Paid off for refit, but transferred to Department of Transport (DOT). Commissioned as Canadian Government Ship (CGS) Labrador, based in Dartmouth, NS.
  • 1959 -
  • 1960 -
  • 1961 -Labrador.
  • 1962 - Renamed CCGS Labrador in the Canadian Coast Guard.
  • 1963 -
  • 1964 - Captain N.V. Clarke, CCG, took the Labrador up Kennedy Channel, between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, to reach the most northerly position ever attained by any Canadian ship at the time. This position, in 81 deg. 45 min. North latitude, is only 60 nautical miles (111 km) from Alert.
  • 1965 -
  • 1966 -
  • 1967 -
  • 1968 -
  • 1969 -
  • 1970 -
  • 1971 -
  • 1972 - In September Captain G.S. Yarn, CCG, transited Bellot Strait with Labrador, MV Theta was under escort, but the conditions in Queen Maud Gulf precluded passage to Cambridge Bay and the mission was aborted. During the 1972 voyage CCGS Labrador assisted CCGS Norman MacLeod Rogers off of a shoal near Little Cornwallis Island in August. In November CCGS Labrador once again assisted CCGS Norman McLeod Rogers with the towage of the MV Northern Shell from Deception Bay, Quebec. The tanker had sustained rudder damage and had to be towed from the Arctic to a shipyard.CCGS Labrador returned to Dartmouth, NS on 29 November 1972.
  • 1973 -
  • 1974 -
  • 1975 -
  • 1976 -
  • 1977 -
  • 1978 -
  • 1979 -September, Labrador searched the waters of Beechey Island, NU for the 1853 wreck of HMS Breadalbane. The location was later verified and explored (1980) by CCGS John A. Macdonald, Captain Steven Gomes, CCG, Master. Subsequent research (1981) was done by CCGS Pierre Radisson, Captain Pelland, CCG, Master.
  • 1980 -
  • 1981 -
  • 1982 -
  • 1983 -
  • 1984 -
  • 1985 -
  • 1986 -
  • 1987 - Paid off from service and scrapped. Replaced by CCGS Henry Larsen. The Larsen was later transferred to Newfoundland.


  2. Royal Canadian Navy 1950s


2. Charles D. "Doug" Maginley. The Canadian Coast Guard 1962-2002. St Catherines, ON. Vanwell Publishing, LTD. 2003. ISBN 1-55125-092-6.

3. My Royal Canadian Navy.

4. Icebreakers in the North. University of Calgary.

5. MacFarlane, John M. (2012) A List of the Early Partial Transits of the Canadian Northwest Passage 1921 to 2004. 2012.

External linksEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.