Icebreaker George R. Pearkes stops in at Heddle Shipyards for winter makeover.

Have you ever wondered how some ships can seamlessly travel through thick sea ice in the harsh Canadian winters?  An icebreaker is a ship that is designed to move and navigate through ice-covered waters, enabled by a reinforced hull and an ice-clearing shape.

Currently at Heddle Shipyards, the icebreaker George R. Pearkes, a 1100 series light-duty ice breaker, is in Hamilton for some much-needed TLC. George R. Pearkes was built in 1985 and has been on the East Coast for majority of its service life. While many vessels undergo essential upgrades during the winter season layup, the icebreaker was at Heddle’s Hamilton Harbour facility to undergo a major face lift. The ship is one of just a few members of Canada’s aging icebreaker fleet, currently undergoing mechanical, structural, and technological upgrades.

After decades on the water, George R. Pearkes is now getting a fresh coating on its exterior, three new propulsion engines, new steering, and auto-pilot equipment, and new state-of-the-art plumbing gear.