Amundsen icebreaker dry-docked for the year

A recent Transport Canada inspection of the Canadian Coast Guard's Amundsen icebreaker found four of its six engines cracked.

Inspection finds problems with four of six engines on vessel used for Arctic research

The Canadian Coast Guard's Amundsen icebreaker will be dry-docked in Quebec this year after a recent Transport Canada inspection found four of its six engines cracked.

"We were not expecting this on the Amundsen so early because the ship has less sea time," said Johnny Leclair, regional fleet director for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen clears a path through ice on the Saguenay river in 2005. The Amunsen will spend the 2012 season in dry-dock for repairs. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

"We were kind of thinking that we might have problems in the future but the future came rapidly for us."

The 33-year-old vessel is used by ArcticNet, a group of scientists that studies the impacts of climate change on the coastal Canadian Arctic.

ArcticNet has used the Amundsen since 2002 after it was renovated into a first class floating laboratory with $30 million worth of equipment on board.

The Amundsen was scheduled for 80 days at sea this summer. Some of the critical work will still be done using other vessels.

"Some of those projects definitely have to wait till next year and we'll just have a larger program in 2013," said Martin Fortier, executive director of ArcticNet.  

It’s a blow for researchers, said Yves Gratton, a professor at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique in Quebec, who has worked on the Amundsen since 2002.

"It's major because research like that costs millions every year and it's our only way to go to the Arctic and take samples," he said.

Fortier said when the Amundsen is fixed, the work will resume.

"We certainly intend to operate her for science for another decade at least," he said.

The Coast Guard says they do not know how long the repairs will take, or what they will cost, but last year the same type of repairs on the Amundsen's sister ship, the Pierre Radisson, cost about $15 million.