Grounded Tanker Off Nova Scotia Refloated

The Arca 1 aground. Her starboard outdrive is just visible. (Handout courtesy Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries)

By MarEx 2017-01-17 17:25:06

The Canadian Coast Guard reported Monday that a second attempt to refloat a grounded tanker off the coast of Cape Breton was successful, and the vessel has been brought safely to Sydney Harbour for inspection. 

The small bunkering tanker Arca 1 went aground near Little Pond, Nova Scotia on January 8 after her engines failed in a storm. She was en route from Sorel to Sydney and was just six miles from her destination. The Royal Canadian Air Force airlifted her crew to safety. 

An initial refloat attempt on Tuesday was unsuccessful, as responders were not able to pump off ballast fast enough to bring her off the bottom at high tide. Salvors McKiel Marine brought in a larger tug and additional ballast pumps, and on Sunday they towed the Arca 1 off the beach. No pollution was observed; the 1,300 dwt vessel was not carrying any cargo when the incident occurred and had about 10 tonnes of fuel on board. 

"Many partners collaborated with the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on this matter, including the Department of National Defence, Transport Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the province of Nova Scotia," said Dominic LeBlanc, minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. "To everyone who contributed to this successful emergency and environmental response, I applaud your bravery, skills and limitless dedication."

Transportation Safety Board of Canada is looking into the incident to determine the cause of the Arca 1's engine failure and to examine whether the small vessel should have sailed despite a winter storm forecast.

Patrick Gates, president of Master Mariners of Canada, said he and other members of his association question how the Arca 1 was allowed to proceed to the open ocean. He said a tug escort would have been wise. “I’m amazed it was given a certificate to transit,” he told Canada's National Observer.

The Arca 1 has a flat bottom, and she is fitted with two engines on the weather deck with outdrives and steerable propellers, an arrangement that some compare to a pair of outboard motors. She was recently bought by Petroil Marine of Mexico and reflagged in Panama.