GUYSBOROUGH — It was, quite literally, a ship in the night. And, when it seemingly materialized with the dawn in Chedabucto Bay on Sept 20, one Guysborough resident may have expressed the feeling of many other early morning risers when, having looked out his back window, he exclaimed, “What is that thing and what’s it doing here?”
As it turned out, that “thing” was the heavy lift vessel, GPO Grace – all 63,581 dead-weight-tonnes of her – carrying equipment for Atlantic offshore wind projects.
According to Ginny Boudreau, executive director of the Guysborough County Inshore Fisheries Association (GCIFA), who keeps her eyes peeled on the waters around the bay, as a matter of course, “I think it was [moored] in Chedabucto Bay as there [was] no room in Halifax. There [was] also [another] one in Dartmouth. They’re taking sections to the USA offshore wind sites off Martha’s Vineyard [in Massachusetts].”
Added GCIFA biologist Melinda Cole: “Offshore wind infrastructure is not manufactured in North America, [so] it has to be transported across the ocean. I’m assuming the [GPO Grace originally] came from China or Europe [to] stop in Halifax [and] offload some of its cargo.”
Apart from that, she said, “Chedabucto Bay is [part of] a major shipping route in Canada, especially for vessels en route to the Saint Lawrence Seaway. It is not uncommon for two-thirds of all cargo that comes into the province of Nova Scotia to arrive through the Strait of Canso Superport.”
Indeed, Boudreau said, GPO Grace may be just a harbinger of future shipping news in the area. “We will be seeing more and more of these in our bay as offshore wind is exploding all around us and transport of the turbines sections has to be completed by these very large vessels,” she said. “The installation vessels are just as big or bigger. An increase in vessel traffic and support vessel is inevitable.”
Reported the Dartmouth-headquartered Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE) in a Facebook post on May 16: “The GPO Grace was built in 2017; its current draught is reported to be seven meters; its length overall is 225.01 meters; and its width is 48.02 meters. We are excited to see what other vessels there [will be] this year.”
So, it’s safe to say, are many early-morning risers in Guysborough.