Canadian Coast Guard welcomes first Coast Guard icebreaker in 25 years, CCGS Captain Molly Kool

News release

May 30, 2019,  St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, officially welcomed CCGS Captain Molly Kool to the Coast Guard fleet at the Canadian Coast Guard Atlantic Region Headquarters in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Minister Wilkinson was joined by Captain Molly Kool’s sister, Martha Miller, members of the Kool family, and guests. The Governor General of Canada and Honourary Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, and  the  Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Sponsor of the Vessel, Her Honour the Honourable Judy May Foote, participated in the traditional breaking of a ceremonial bottle upon the ship’s bow.

This marks the first of three new icebreakers to join the Coast Guard fleet, and the first in 25 years. Our government is committed to rebuilding and enhancing the capacity of our Coast Guard, and supporting the critical work they do to keep our waters safe and protect our marine and coastal environment. That is why we have taken the proactive step of investing in these three icebreakers; ensuring that the women and men in the Canadian Coast Guard are working on well-operating, secure vessels.

This commitment was strongly reinforced with our recent historic investment in a full fleet renewal. This means 18 new vessels to be built in Canada, in addition to the four already under order. Our fleet is directly supported by the Canadian ship building industry, and investing in this renewal will not only increase Coast Guard capacity, it will create opportunities for workers and businesses across the country.

Even with the incoming fleet renewal, and ongoing ship maintenance, the Coast Guard fleet will eventually require new vessels. To support future shipbuilding and attract more jobs to our communities, the Government of Canada also announced the intention to add a third Canadian shipyard as a partner in the National Shipbuilding Strategy in addition to Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards and Irving Shipbuilding, to be selected through a competitive process.

The CCGS Captain Molly Kool impressive vessel bears the name of the first woman in North America to be certified of Master of a Cargo Steamship in the Home Trade. This was one of the highest levels of qualification that could be achieved in the seagoing profession when Captain Kool attained the designation in 1939. She was a pioneer who stepped outside the constraints of traditional gender roles, and broke down barriers helping female mariners move out of the periphery and into the mainstream. In naming this vessel, we commemorate Captain Molly Kool’s achievements and the contributions of all women in seagoing careers.

This new vessel, like all icebreakers will provide essential icebreaking services to ensure safe navigation, prevent ice jams and flooding, and maintain shipping routes. From December to May, icebreakers operate in Atlantic Canada, the St. Lawrence River, and the Great Lakes, and in the Arctic from May to November. They are equipped to respond to search and rescue calls, and to provide aids to navigation and environmental responses.


“Captain Molly Kool was a pioneer who stepped outside the status quo and beyond the societal definitions of her gender. She broke down barriers and was a trailblazer who helped female mariners move out of the periphery and into the mainstream. I am proud that the Canadian Coast Guard has named the first icebreaker to join our fleet in 25 years after Captain Kool; our first icebreaker to bear the name of a female ship captain. Canadians can be proud of our Coast Guard, and their vital role in keeping us safe and protecting the marine environment.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard

“I am pleased to see this historic moment happen at homehonouring women in maritime careers, a number of whom are based right here at Coast Guard’s Atlantic regional headquarters in St. John’s harbour. People from all Newfoundland and Labrador who make their living on the water will benefit from the icebreaking and other services provided by CCGS Captain Molly Kool.”

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services

“I take pride in recognizing strong women and welcome the opportunity, as the first female Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, to Sponsor this vessel which is named after one of the first female Captains in North America, Molly Kool. Not only does today’s ceremony commemorate the achievements of Captain Molly Kool, it is a celebration of all women who serve in the Maritime community. I recognize every woman who has dedicated their lives to working in a seafaring career that has traditionally been male-oriented. It is a challenging lifestyle and I am proud of all the women who work tirelessly following in the footsteps of Captain Molly Kool. I look forward to meeting the crew and observing the great work they will accomplish on board this wonderful vessel. I thank the Canadian Coast Guard for serving a vital role in ensuring the safety of all Canadians.”

The Honourable Judy May Foote, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador

Quick facts

  • In 1939, Captain Molly Kool became the first woman in North America to attain the certification of Master of a Cargo Steamship in the Home Trade, one of the highest levels of qualification that could be achieved in the seagoing profession at the time, with no limits on tonnage, power, or location where the vessel could operate in Canadian waters.

  • In August 2018, Chantier Davie of Lévis, Quebec was awarded a $610 million dollar contract for the acquisition of three interim icebreakers for the Coast Guard. The three icebreakers were acquired to supplement the Coast Guard’s existing fleet during vessel life extension and repair periods, providing continuous on-water capability during scheduled maintenance periods.

  • CCGS Captain Molly Kool was accepted into the Coast Guard fleet in December 2018. The second and third vessels will be accepted into service in late 2019 and summer 2020, respectively.

  • The CCGS Captain Molly Kool is classed as a medium icebreaker, which can maintain a speed of 3 knots through ice up to 1 metre thick. The vessel has a total of 18,278 horsepower and its twin propellers and twin rudders provide a high degree of manoeuvrability. The CCGS Captain Molly Kool can operate continuously without refueling for approximately 25 days, and has a crew of 19.

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Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard 

Media Relations
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

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