CCGS Gordon Reid is a 49.9 metre offshore patrol vessel weighing 879 gross tons. Its four Deutz 628 engines can produce 4800 horsepower, propelling Gordon Reid to a maximum speed of 16.5 knots. The vessel was built for search-and-rescue service in North Vancouver in 1990.
According to Captain Michael Shuckburgh, Gordon Reid is not properly equipped to ‘tow for delivery’, meaning it is not intended to tow stricken vessels over long distances to deliver them to a port of refuge.
“We tow from a point aft of our propellers with a short synthetic line,” Captain Shuckburgh pointed out. “It is difficult to maneuver [the vessel] under load. The ship lacks the heavy tow reel, with the half-mile of wire, placed forward of the propellers that is characteristic of a tug. This is why the Barbara Foss was needed to deliver the Simushir to a port of refuge.”
After two lighter towlines broke away from Simushir, crews aboard Gordon Reid and Simushir agreed to attempt to use Simushir’s mooring-line as a towline instead.
“I maneuvered the ship to place my stern into the wind about 20 metres off the Simushir’s port bow, slightly ahead,” explained Captain Shuckburgh. “The Simushir was rolling and pitching in the swell. It was being driven ahead at two knots by the wind. I wanted to be close enough for the crew on the decks of both ships to see each other so there would be no misunderstanding. We launched a rocket line from our aft deck. It went over the bow, across the container stacks and into the water on the far side of the ship. The line fell right on target on their foredeck. They picked it up immediately and secured their mooring line. It was passed to us in minutes.”
At the time of the rescue Simushir was at the whim of the weather and, without intervention, a vessel grounding was imminent. Gordon Reid’s contribution kept Simushir off the shore until American tug Barbara Foss arrived with proper towing capabilities 39.5 hours after Simushir’s first request for assistance.