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300-tonne ship returning to survey Lake Winnipeg

Following extensive maintenance, a huge vessel is set to sail Lake Winnipeg to monitor its conditions.

The ship is called the Namao and it’s expected to depart this week as part of the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium’s (LWRC) fall science survey.

According to Ryan Johnson, superintendent of marine operation with the LWRC, the 328-tonne Namao is a former Coast Guard vessel that is now used for research purposes.

“It’s about 120 feet long and we can carry up to 16 people for overnight passage -- crew of nine and as many as seven scientists overnight,” he said in an interview with CTV Morning Live on Tuesday.

“For a day trip, we could take up to a total of 40 people on board.”

This year, the Namao underwent an inspection to ensure it is seaworthy and safe for operation.

This required the LWRC to hire a moving company to use heavy equipment and airbags to roll the ship to shore. Welders and the ship’s crew then completed the maintenance necessary to pass the Transport Canada inspection and renew the vessel’s licence.

“The vessel weighs just over 300 tonnes, so it’s not a small task,” Johnson said.

The Namao is now back in the water and ready for the fall research survey.

As part of this survey, researchers monitor the lake to get a better understanding of ecological processes and how they change over time. This includes looking at water quality and the food web.

Karen Scott, director of programs of the LWRC, said Lake Winnipeg is currently dealing with a number of stressors.

“The most visible is eutrophication, which is those large algal blooms that we experience on the lake,” she said.

“Another visible one is zebra mussels. When we go to the beach, we see them. But there’s a lot going on that we don’t see and that’s why we do the science.

The Namao is set to sail Lake Winnipeg for the survey beginning on Wednesday.

- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace. Top Stories

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