Saint John, NB — Atlantic Towing Limited has deployed two tugboats, the Atlantic Elm and Atlantic Beech, to Baker Lake, Nunavut. These vessels, and their crews, will assist in a northern supply mission headed by Quebec-based maritime transport firm, Groupe Desgagnés. The tugs departed Saint John NB on June 25th, and are currently sailing north through Hudson Bay with two barges, the Atlantic Sea Lion and Atlantic Marlin, in tow. They will spend the next four months delivering critical supplies to the Baker Lake community and two nearby mining operations.
“Baker Lake is remote and isolated, so this sea lift is of vital importance,” remarks Waguih Rayes, Directeur Général of Groupe Desgagnés. “When you have work like this, you make sure it’s with people that have similar values, proven reliability and a partnership-like relationship.”
Baker Lake remains Nunavut’s only inland community. As such, it is inaccessible to larger supply ships. The Elm and Beech will rendezvous with Desgagnés cargo ships near Helicopter Island, a small landmass northwest of Hudson Bay. Cranes mounted on the Desgagnés ships transfer cargo to the smaller Atlantic Towing vessels. From there, the tugboats and barges make their way through the narrows to Baker Lake. The Elm and Beech will sail between the cargo ships and community, ensuring supplies are delivered before ice begins to form in the fall.
Each tugboat is manned by a crew of seven, each of whom will be relieved by a second crew in August. The first crew will return in mid to late September to finish the mission and sail the vessels back to Saint John.
“The crews on this sail have to know the boats. This northern work is a big part of our Coastal business and requires a specific skill set which our seafarers have gained over years of working on this contract,” says Gilles Gagnon, General Manager of Atlantic Towing Ltd. “They’re heading to a remote location and have to be able to think on their feet, adhere to plans and remain resilient. This is the kind of voyage where they need critical spares on hand and the capacity to overcome challenges as they arise. We’ve been working with Groupe Desgagnés since 2010. The crews know each other and work together with respect and collaboration.”
“I would like to thank all the crew members, contractors and office staff that helped get our equipment prepared and ready for this very busy spring season,” adds Jared Ryall, Coastal Vessel and Barge Superintendent for Atlantic Towing. “We had to overcome tight time constraints and [New Brunswick’s] worst flood of the century…but with a lot of hard work and some long days we managed to get everything working and looking great. The crews of the Elm and the Beech are the most important part of our Baker Lake operation and I am proud of the great work they do every year. We’re wishing them the best of luck and a safe, successful season.”