Bering Sea Trawler Plows Into Canadian Warship

Wednesday, April 24 2013

Credit: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

The Bering Sea pollock catcher-processor American Dynasty collided with a Canadian navy frigate Tuesday morning in the British Columbia port of Esquimalt. Cindy Harnett is a reporter for the Times Colonist, a daily newspaper in Victoria, BC, and has been following the story. She spoke with KUCB’s Stephanie Joyce about the incident.

SJ: So, how did you end up on this story?

I got flagged that there was a fishing boat and a warship that had collided. Of course I ran down there expecting to see the warship dwarfing this small fishing boat, and instead it was the other way around. This big factory fishing trawler was dwarfing the warship and the two -- it just looked like the warship was embedded into the fishing trawler. It was quite the sight to see. Already by that time -- it had happened half an hour earlier -- and already on the hills all around you could see sailors, you could see Navy people, people had come out of their offices to kind of look at this spectacle. You could see people shaking their heads. This is the last thing people wanted to see in terms of our warship, that had just come out of refit -- to see it damaged like this.

SJ: So, do we know how exactly how the collision happened?

No, the information that we have so far is that basically the American Dynasty, from Seattle, Washington, had headed out at about 5:30 am according to the marine website, and was on its way for regular scheduled maintenance and repairs in our graving dock in Esquimalt harbor.

So, exactly what happened -- well it was in the harbor, and was being towed by two tug boats, operated by Sea Span, and something happened. According to witnesses the lines may have broke, they may have -- somehow they came apart. Now, how that happened or why that happened or if that happened, we don’t know. That’s just what some witnesses were suggesting had happened. But all we can say is that basically, the tugs and the ship seemed to come apart, and the fishing trawler went into the warship, pushing the warship back about 20 feet, according to witnesses, and possibly damaging our jetty as well.

SJ: And do we know the extent of the damage to the American Dynasty?

No, the two ships were locked together for most of the day and were separated about 5 pm yesterday (Tues) evening. And if you see the photos on Flickr, provided by our Transportation Safety Board in Canada today, you will see the American Dynasty with a huge gash out of its bow. We haven’t got information yet from American Seafoods about what the damage is, but you only have to look at the pictures to know that it’s substantial.

SJ: Who is responsible in Canada for investigating this kind of incident?

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada was deployed yesterday and they are investigating. Their mandate is to look at safety recommendations. They don’t assign any blame, or have anything to do with criminal or civil matters, they’re simply there to safety recommendations and to investigate.

SJ: What are people in the area saying about this incident?

This is one of a dozen ships, they’re very valuable. It was just in refit, so at a time I guess when budgets are tight and our warships are precious, I guess it may be a setback for the Navy to have this vessel, this frigate out of use for who knows how long it will take to repair.

SJ: From this side of things, it may be a setback for the Bering Sea pollock fleet too. I haven’t been able to reach American Seafoods to find out what their plans are for the American Dynasty, but it could certainly impact the offshore sector if the boat is unexpectedly out of commission for the pollock B season, starting in June. So we’ll be keeping a close eye on it up here as well.

Thanks for speaking with me, Cindy.

Thank you.

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