Damaged Avataq gets Nunavut cargo delivered

NEAS wants action on safer marine infrastructure


The crew of the Inuit-owned sealift ship MV Avataq, damaged in a Sept. 26 incident off Salluit, delivered cargo orders to Igloolik, Hall Beach and Repulse Bay last week.

“This was a difficult journey, but the team of professionals at NEAS worked with many stakeholders at the local and federal level to make this happen,” David Ell, a spokesperson for Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping Ltd, the vessel’s owner, said in a news release issued Oct. 19.

In late September, when the MV Avataq’s engines broke down about 22 km from Salluit, the vessel was caught in a stiff gale that saw winds rise to above 80 km/h.

The crew managed to anchor the disabled vessel to the seabed, then rode out the storm.

After the Salluit incident, the tug MV Ocean Delta pulled the vessel to its remaining Nunavut destinations and the MV Camilla Desgagnés, owned by Nunavut Sealink and Supply Inc., took on the remainder of the MV Avataq’s Nunavik cargo.

Company executives say the incident reveals the desperate need for better marine infrastructure in the Arctic, expecially safe harbours.

“Let’s begin with a new marine facility in Iqaluit. A safer marine operation is available, we just have to act,” Ell said.

Suzanne Paquin, the president and CEO of NEAS, said in the news release that marine safety must become a top priority for governments.

“We look to the premier of Nunavut, Eva Aariak for leadership in making basic marine infrastructure for local communities a top priority for the GN, including in this capital plan,” Paquin said.

NEAS says the eastern Arctic also needs a long list of marine infrastructure improvements, including mooring buoys and “kid safe” marine staging areas in communities.

The company thanked a long list of people and agencies who “came together” to help the Avataq deliver its cargo safely.

That includes the municipality of Igloolik, the Coast Guard, Environment Canada, National Defence, Nasittuq, and the captain and crew of the icebreaker MV Des Groseilliers.

First Air supplied them with photos and weather observations and Northern store staff provided daily photos of beach conditions.

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