A photo was taken to commemorate the moment and it has begun to make its rounds on social media.
The Canadian Coast Guard Atlantic Region Facebook page recently received permission from O’Brien to share the photo. It was posted on Friday, Feb. 19 and quickly received hundreds of shares. Many of those were from other proud Labradorians.
The L’Anse-au-Loup native visited the North Pole during a six-week Canadian polar expedition on the CCGS Terry Fox, which was escorting the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent (Louis).
This was a part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Extended Continental Shelf program.
The Louis was collecting multi-beam and seismic data from technology mounted on the hull of the vessel. It takes photos of the ocean floor.
The seismic technology is towed behind the vessel and sends out a wave to the ocean floor that bounces back.
The vessels surveyed the area in the Eurasian basin located on the Lomonosov Ridge. The data collected will be used to show how far the continental shelf extends from Canadian waters to determine how much of this region in the Arctic can be claimed by the Canadian government beyond the 200-mile limit.
First Arctic visit
O’Brien served aboard the CCGS Terry Fox, which acted as an icebreaker for the Louis, helping guide the vessel through the thick Arctic ice.
As 2nd officer, he helped plan the voyage and, under the captain’s orders, helped navigate the ship from Norway, through open water, into a consolidated ice-covered area and onwards to the North Pole. The trip from Norway to the North Pole took a couple of weeks.
It was his first time at the Pole.
The crews returned from the voyage last September. In April, they will find out what the new plans are and if they’ll be going back.
If he gets called, O’Brien looks forward to seeing the North Pole a second time.
Planting the flag
When he planted the Labrador Flag, the two vessels had parked in the ice for a little ceremony. Every crew member onboard the Terry Fox also made a sign of their hometown with their own design and colour. The distances from the North Pole in nautical miles were included on the signs. O’Brien’s hometown of L’Anse-au-Loup was the closest to the pole.
By planting the Labrador Flag, O’Brien wanted to display his pride in and affection for the Big Land.
He notes Labrador is a big place, but with a small population. Going to school in Halifax, and having travelled to numerous locations in the North, he has met many people along the way who are unable to locate Labrador on a map.
“I’m proud of where I’m from,” said O’Brien.
And to him, this was one way of saying Labrador was here.
The Northern Pen