The Simushir, the Russian general cargo ship that became adrift off the coast of Haida Gwaii early Friday morning, has arrived safely in Prince Rupert.
The vessel entered the Prince Rupert harbour at 1:47 a.m. on Monday, and was secured at Fairview Terminal at 3:05 a.m.
“The Charles Hays Patrol vessel has been out on the water since early this morning and has had a close look at the exterior of the Simushir and it appears to be in good condition as we anticipated,” Michael Gurney, the Port of Prince Rupert’s manager of corporate communications, said.
Gurney said a defective oil cooling pump has been identified as the cause of the engine’s failure.
“The repairs are estimated to take about 48 hours. It’s a relatively simple repair. Obviously the seas off Haida Gwaii were extraordinary … what they needed was a stable platform which they have now, thanks to a very calm day in Prince Rupert, and some technical assistance to change out that equipment. Then they should be on their way after a short Canadian visit,” he said.
The Simushir, the Russian general cargo ship that became adrift off the coast of Haida Gwaii early Friday, is now on its way to Prince Rupert.
The vessel is in tow of the Barbara Foss, which arrived to the ship’s location last night. There were a number of unsuccessful towline attempts prior to its arrival.
The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Sir Wilfrid Laurier and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel are providing escort service.
The Simushir is expected to arrive in Prince Rupert in the early hours of Monday, where it will berth at the Fairview Container Terminal. It will not affect inbound or outbound vessel traffic.
Shortly after 8 p.m. the crew of the Coast Guard Ship Gordon Reid secured a towline. Both vessels were moving westward away from Gwaii Hasnas shortly before 9 p.m. on Friday.
While the Gordon Reid is not equipped to undertake a full rescue operation, but a second Coast Guard vessel, along with tugboat Barbara Foss, are on the way from Prince Rupert, being expected to arrive in the early morning hours of Oct. 18. Depending on weather conditions, the two ships will attempt to assist the Simushir to Prince Rupert.
Roger Girouard, assistant commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard Western Region, told media earlier today that the current focus is preventing an environmental incident.
“We have a response mechanism both with Haida Gwaii and our own agency, and Western Canada Marine Response, if that comes to pass. We’re making every effort to preclude that situation,” he said.
A number of federal and provincial agencies are arranging the response, such as B.C.’s Ministry of Environment, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada.
“We’re in discussion with all the partners. We’re moving in a very, very proactive way. We stand well-prepared to deal with either eventuality,” said Girouard.
Canadian Coast Guard and Search and Rescue crews arrived at the scene of the Simushir on Friday afternoon, which remains adrift off the coast of Haida Gwaii .
At 5 p.m., the Simushir was in five metre seas about nine nautical miles off Haida Gwaii’s coast near Tasu Inlet.
During a teleconference with media this afternoon, Roger Girouard, assistant commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard Western Region, said the vessel was no longer presenting an imminent threat.
“The vessel, early this morning, was on a track towards the shores. Through the day her track has shifted to the northwest and has been less threatening,” Girouard said.
“For the time being, she does not represent an imminent threat. But it’s perhaps on the horizon over the next 48 hours,” he said, adding whether or not the ship will run aground depends on weather conditions.
“There are a couple of weather shifts coming off through the night, and some more severe winds. But they’re actually blowing in our favour,” Girouard said.
The general cargo ship was sailing from Washington and back to Russia when it lost power, and is carrying a range of heavy cargo including mining equipment, along with chemicals and solvents that pose a threat to the environment.
But the main concern is the 400 tonnes of Bunker C fuel oil and 50 tonnes of diesel oil aboard the ship.
Responders are working to repair the vessel, or get it under tow it presents any future threat to the environment.
By late afternoon there were two helicopters on standby, along with a Coast Guard vessel on scene working to establish a tow. However, those efforts were unsuccessful.Capt. James Clarke, senior military officer with the Victoria Search and Rescue region, told media responders were waiting to establish a second tow.
“Very challenging conditions out there. Passing a tow at sea is a difficult evolution in the best of conditions,” he said.
There are 10 crew members on board the vessel, with the captain being airlifted to Sandspit shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Friday to receive medical attention.
Additional assets were expected to arrival within a few hours as of 5 p.m.
The Council of the Haida Nation issued an emergency alert this morning after a container ship carrying bunker and diesel fuel became adrift off the west coast of Haida Gwaii in the early hours of Oct. 17.
The Simushir, a 135-metre Russian general cargo ship, was sailing in gale force winds when it lost engine power 12 nautical miles northwest of Gowgaia Bay, off Moresby Island at approximately 1:30 a.m.
“The Haida Nation’s worst fear is coming true. Our priority is to minimize the impact on our homeland and get our people on-site to start dealing with the grounding,” said Peter Lantin, president of the Haida Nation, adding they will deal with the politics of the situation later.
The Council of the Haida Nation posted an emergency notice on its website around 10:30 this morning.
“An emergency has arisen on the west coast of Haida Gwaii,” reads the notice.
“The ship is carrying 500 metric tonnes of bunker fuel and 60 metric tonnes of diesel. Coast Guard is preparing for the worst with the ship hitting ground in three to four hours,” it also stated.
Shortly after 12:30 p.m., the Haida Nation provided an update on the situation.
The Haida Nation provided an update on the situation shortly after 12:30 p.m., reporting winds were blowing the ship to shore in a seven to 10 metre sea.
“If the forecast holds, the ship is expected to run aground in approximately nine hours. The ship has a Russian crew and the captain has been injured. Coast Guard is attempting to get to the site by helicopter to respond to the situation,” the release stated.
PHOTO: Map shows the approximate location of adrift Russian container ship ‘Simushir’, which lost power early Friday morning and is expected to run aground at approximately 9:30 p.m. (as of 4:41 p.m. PST, October 17, 2014)
A tug from Prince Rupert, along with a tug from Alaska, were deployed this morning, with the Haida Nation stating at the time that the fastest estimated time of arrival was 20 hours, or early Saturday morning.
“I, like most British Columbians, am keeping my fingers crossed. We’re hoping the worst doesn’t happen and the ship does not run aground,” said Jennifer Rice, North Coast MLA, shortly after one p.m.
“We’ve heard the Premier talking about ‘world-class response’, and it’s a bit concerning [it takes 20 hours] before the nearest tug could arrive. That’s a bit alarming.”
This afternoon, Emergency Management BC (EMBC) announced it is working with its federal counterparts at the Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Armed Forces to ensure a coordinated response.
“EMBC is coordinating calls with all partners at regular intervals throughout the day to make sure that B.C. is providing all supports possible to help with the federal government’s lead efforts. This will continue until the incident is resolved,” reads a statement from the province.
A command post has been set up in Old Massett by the Haida Nation, in case the ship arrives ashore.
If required, the Port of Prince Rupert has been established as a possible port of refuge for the Simushir, said Michael Gurney, the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s manager of corporate communications.
Dan Bates, communications officer for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, did not immediately return requests for comment by the Northern View.
The Council of the Haida Nation will provide updates whenever possible.