Research vessel RV David Thompson will make its maiden voyage to Alaska from Victoria. (Anna James/VICTORIA NEWS)

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

While anxiously waiting for summer, every now and then, there’s a perfect blue-sky day in Victoria.

Friday was one of those days – a perfect time to announce the government’s efforts to preserve Canada’s natural beauty.

Parks Canada’s new research vessel, RV David Thompson, was launched at the Inner Harbour. The ship is part of the historic $1.3-billion investment in nature and conservation, announced in the 2018 federal budget.

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, highlighted the federal government’s efforts toward protection of nature, parks and wildlife, with a focus on research.

“This historic investment in nature will help protect and preserve Canada’s natural legacy for our children and grandchildren to experience, enjoy and learn from. It will help protect our lands and wildlife, promote biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, and improve our resilience to climate change,” said McKenna.

“I am also proud of the steps we are taking to protect and restore whales and other threatened species, and to invest in science and research so we can better understand the world around us, our place in it, and the role we can play in solving today’s environmental challenges.”

The 228-tonne steel-hulled ship is 29 metres long, and contains valuable work and lab space for Parks Canada research. It is equipped with a crane, work boat, fresh water maker, a sewage treatment plant, and satellite communications. The ship can accommodate nine researchers and five crew.

“RV David Thompson will expand Parks Canada’s capacity to conduct marine science and underwater archaeology work, such as sea floor mapping, research on the impacts of climate change, and the investigation of other shipwrecks and archaeological sites in all three oceans and the Great Lakes,” read a statement by Parks Canada.

The vessel is considered an integral part of landmark underwater explorations, namely the shipwrecks of the 1845 Franklin Expedition. Additionally, “Parks Canada’s upcoming work on HMS Erebus and HMS Terror will be one of the largest and most important underwater archaeological undertakings in Canadian history,” read the statement.

The ship is named for David Thompson, the Canadian explorer and cartographer initially employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company, then rival Northwest Company. He is often described as the “greatest land geographer that ever lived” given his contribution to the field.

anna.james@vicnews.com

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