HMCS Protecteur arrives safely, but suffers devastating damage
Published Thursday, March 6, 2014 1:49PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 10:51PM EST
HMCS Protecteur was towed into Pearl Harbor today, one week after “catastrophic” engine-room fire left the Canadian navy ship stranded in the mid-Pacific.
Following a gruelling week, the crew of HMCS Protecteur waved as the ship approached Pearl Harbor.
One of the ship’s engineering officers told CTV News that Protecteur’s engine suffered devastating damage in the fire, which also left 20 crew members with minor injuries.
“It’s awful. We have a lot of damage, extensive damage,” Lt.-Cmdr. Chantal Desormeaux said. “There is a reason why we didn’t come in on our own power. It was a catastrophic fire.”
Cpl. Geoff Harshaw, a firefighter with the Canadian Armed Forces, was one of the first on the scene and knew immediately that the fire was intense.
“As soon as we made entry I could feel the heat on my ears, and I knew it was a hot one and we were in for a good one I guess,” he said.
The crew is now expected to turn their focus to the fire investigation and prepare for the ship’s return to its home port of Esquimalt, B.C.
The ship’s commanding officer Cmdr. Julian Elbourne said in a statement Thursday that he’s proud of the courage, determinations and perseverance of the crew.
“It has been a very demanding period for all on board HMCS Protecteur and the crew has responded to the many complex challenges with the utmost professionalism and ingenuity,” he said.
At the time of the fire, Protecteur was about 700 kilometres northeast of Hawaii with nearly 300 crew members, 17 family members and several civilian contractors aboard.
Without power, the ship was in need of a tow. However, the trip was even further complicated after the tow rope broke in heavy seas over the weekend. A U.S. navy tug took over for the remainder of the slow journey back to shore.
Several senior Canadian navy officials are in Pearl Harbor to assess the ship’s damage and consider plans to get the 44-year-old vessel back to Canadian waters.
The family of crew members arrived in Hawaii on USS Michael Murphy Tuesday. Michael Murphy was dispatched by the U.S. Navy to help HMCS Protecteur after the fire.
It's common practice for family to join crew members returning from long missions.
HMCS Protecteur, one of Canada’s two supply ships, had been at sea for about seven weeks.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
With a report from CTV’s Melanie Nagy