Thursday, 24 August 2017 08:09

August 25 - Delta Lifeboat

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Saturday August 19 was a milestone event for the Corporation of Delta with the Dedication Ceremony of the Delta Lifeboat (renamed from Steveston Lifeboat). The event was attended by a number of dignitaries including Delta Mayor Lois Jackson; Chief Administration Officer, Mr. George Harvie; The Honourable Carla Qualtrough. MP Delta; Mr. Ian Paton, MLA Delta South; Mr. Neil Dubord, Delta Chief Constable and the Directors of the Canadian Lifeboat Institute to whom the Delta Lifeboat is chartered. The formal Dedication and Blessing was conducted by Reverend Peter Smyth, Senior Port Chaplain, Mission to Seafarers, Vancouver.


Built in Pearl Harbour, Oahu, Hawaii, in 1944
LOA 15.8m
Beam 3.8m
Displacement 30 tonnes
Construction: mahogany and fire on oak frames
Engine: Single Detroit 671 diesel, 157 SHP
Speed: 10 knots
Range: 1000 nautical miles
Standard complement: 7 crew
Navigation: Integrated suite of navigation and communications systems
Tender: 3.3m RHIB with 20HP outboard carried on deck
Fire-fighting: Foam and fire hose
Towing capable


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The Delta Lifeboat was built for the U.S. Navy as an Admiral’s Barge and reportedly served several  Admirals including Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief Pacific Ocean Areas, during World War II. Her life saving career began in 1988 when she was purchased by her current owners and updated as a Search and Rescue vessel. For many years she has operated out of Steveston Harbour as an escort vessel for recreational events, in addition to escorting deep sea and other commercial vessels, especially  in the Fraser River during the traditional gillnet salmon fishing season.


The Delta Lifeboat is owned by renowned marine artist and Captain George Vancouver historian, Mr. John Horton and his wife Mary. At the age of 16, John Horton was already a Volunteer Reservist aboard HMS Wessex and when the opportunity came, he joined the Royal Navy, serving in the Pacific, witnessing hydrogen bomb tests, the Atlantic, and also in the Arctic undertaking fishery protection patrols during the so called “Cod War” with Iceland. Following naval service, John returned to his love of painting but in 1966, he packed up his young family and emigrated to Vancouver. Within weeks of arrival, he had set up his architectural rendering practice in the Marine Building, held an exhibition at the Bayshore Inn and was promptly deluged with clients. He never looked back and today his marine paintings can be found in almost any office or home in Canada and in galleries around the globe. In 2002 he accepted the Canadian government’s invitation to record Canada’s navy in action in the Arabian Gulf during operation Apollo, the codename for an operation conducted by Canadian forces in support of the United States during that country’s early military engagement in Afghanistan.


From December 2014 until the Spring of 2017, the Delta Lifeboat was out of service following an incident on the Fraser River. However, not only was she repaired, the break in service allowed her to be fully refitted and electronically upgraded in preparation for her return to service – a major undertaking for which John and Mary deserve immense credit. Picture above centre, to the right of the podium is Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, CLI President Mr. Bob McIlwaine and Delta Chief Administration Officer, Mr. George Harvie. Above right, is John Horton formally receiving the Delta flag from Bob McIlwaine.


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Picture above: The CLI’s Fraser Lifeboat leading the way into Ladner Harbour on August 19 followed by the Delta Lifeboat and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) hovercraft Siyay commanded by Capt. Tom Moxey from CCG Base Sea Island.


Founded in 1981, the Canadian Lifeboat Institution (CLI) is a registered charity. Both the Delta Lifeboat and the Fraser Lifeboat (based in Steveston) are manned by volunteer crews from all walks of life, including former seafarers, who give their time to the cause of marine safety. The CLI also partners with the VFPA Marine Emergency Response Coordination Committee (MERCC) and the FishSafe BC Advisory Committee. The Institution works closely with the CCG, regularly participating in joint exercises, in addition to the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR). The Institution is funded by corporate and personal donations without direct government funding. Since its formation, CLI has logged more than 4,000 incidents and has contributed to the saving of a number of lives.


Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd., CLI Director and Chair, Mission to Seafarers, Vancouver.

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