CCGS Hudson - Canada's most famous scientific ship. Launched in 1962, commissioned in 1964 and still making important scientific contributions after 47 years on the high seas. In the 1960s, evidence of continental drift was increasing throughout the world. This body of knowledge was greatly enhanced by the detailed geophysical surveys of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge carried out during five Hudson cruises. Later in the decade, the most detailed oceanographic wintertime survey ever attempted of the Labrador Sea was completed from Hudson. This was the first of many studies in this area aimed at understanding the Labrador Current and the deep mixing which occurs during severe winters. In the following year, 1967, the first oceanographic winter survey of Denmark Strait, including the first current meter measurements, was completed from Hudson.
Following the Denmark Strait cruise, Hudson was repainted and outfitted for the grand opening of EXPO '67 in Montreal to mark Canada's 100th birthday. The decade ended with the 11 month 'Hudson 70' cruise - the first ever circumnavigation of North and South America. Scientists from many countries obtained valuable chemical data in the Atlantic, physical data in the Chilean fjords, gravity data in the Pacific and geophysical data in the Arctic. Throughout it's life, Hudson has been host to hundreds of scientists conducting oceano-graphic studies in the waters off eastern Canada.
The first survey to concentrate on the chemistry of Baffin Bay was carried out in the late 1970s. The 1980s and '90s were noted for the large surveys conducted under international programs such as the Joint Global Ocean Fluxes Study (JGOFS) and World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE). During a cruise, there was always the possibility of being called on a search and rescue mission. One of the happiest was the rescue of the entire crew of the Cape Freels who had abandoned their burning ship at 2 am. Hudson found the crew in life-rafts just as the light was fading in the early evening of March 12, 1976. Four hours later, the wind was a steady 80 knots with gusts to 100. None of those 23 would have survived. When the ship entered St. John's harbour, the radio from shore described the “Great White Ship” and the “greatest sea rescue in Newfoundland history”.
One of the saddest missions surely was the recovery of five bodies following the terrible loss of 82 men in the Ocean Ranger disaster on St. Valentines Day 1982. Today, after more than 47 years of proudly serving the Canadian and international research communities, CCGS Hudson remains an invaluable asset, spending in excess of 200 days a year at sea as a versatile multi-discipinary research vessel conducting oceanographic, geological and hydrographic surveys.
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