Concerns over pollutants after former Navy ship topples in N.S. harbour
Published Saturday, March 21, 2015 7:35PM EDT
Residents in Bridgewater, N.S. are growing increasingly concerned after a former Royal Canadian Navy ship docked in the town's harbour tilted over due to heavy ice and snow.
The vessel, previously commissioned as HMCS Cormorant, has been sitting in LaHave River with a forty-degree list since Wednesday.
The trouble began a few weeks ago, when the Canadian Coast Guard says ice and snow collected on the ship's deck, causing it to tilt. And when water found its way into the hold on Wednesday, the ship started to sink.
"The vessel seems to be sitting on the bottom, as it sits right now," Keith Laidlaw, a senior response officer with the Coast Guard, told CTV Atlantic. "It hasn't moved through the tide cycles in the last couple of days, so we don't believe it will move anymore, but that is speculation.”
Locals are concerned that the damage incurred to the vessel could lead to chemicals spilling into the river.
"My kids got to grow up (here) and … I don't want him to have to not be able to go into the water here, just because of pollutants," said Donnie Walker.
The ship contains nearly 200 litres of diesel fuel, as well as some lubrication oil and hydraulic fluids in the main engine crankcases.
What was once a proud part of the Canadian Forces, is now considered an eyesore by Bridgewater residents.
"I hope they can get it up there, I don't know what's causing it to go that way, they say it's the ice, but I don’t know," said Margaret Schmeisser.
Local fire crews have been called in by the ship's owners to help clean the ice and snow off the deck. The hope was that inspectors could then gain access to the hatches and inspect the ship's hold.
The Coast Guard says that refloating a ship of this size is expected to be a complex and expensive process, which may require special equipment from outside the province.
The ship, which began as an Italian fishing trawler, was involved in several high-profile missions as a Royal Canadian Navy dive tender.
The onboard mini-sub was used to recover the bell from the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in Lake Superior in 1975 after it was hit by a storm.
The sub was also used to visit the wreck of the Breadalbane, which was a British merchant barque that was crushed by ice and sank in the Arctic in 1853. Following the disappearance John Franklin's expedition to the Northwest Passage, the Breadalbane helped to supply the vessels that were searching Arctic waters for Franklin and his crew.
The vessel has changed hands a couple times since its days in the navy, and now belongs to a group of creditors who hope to sell it.