Update: On Sunday 2 March, USS Chosin successfully took HMCS Protecteur under tow.
Following a major fire on board the HMCS Protecteur off Hawaii late Thursday night, one that has disabled the ship’s propulsion plant and left 20 Canadian sailors with minor injuries, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) reports in an emailed statement that the U.S. Navy’s guided missile cruiser USS Chosin, will take the ship under tow and bring her back to Pearl Harbor, 340 nautical miles to the southwest.
The RCN notes that family members of the Protecteur’s crew, who were aboard the ship at the time of the incident, have been transferred to the USS Michael Murphy which arrived on scene to provide assistance yesterday afternoon.
The Chosin and her crew plan to take the Protecteur under tow over the next 24 hours, yet deteriorating weather conditions may hamper the successful establishment of the tow. The U.S. Navy’s fleet ocean tug USNS Sioux (T-ATF-171) has been dispatched from Pearl Harbor to assist if necessary.
The RCN reports the fire has been completely extinguished and the 20 personnel who received minor injuries have been treated and have returned to work. Heat and smoke damage within the affected compartment is reported to be “significant” and an investigation into the cause is ongoing. A detailed assessment will commence upon arrival in Pearl Harbor.
The ship has limited electrical power and the current focus remains “on recovery operations in the ship and rest.”
Note about the towing operation
USS Michael Murphy was initially tasked to take the Protecteur under tow, however due to adverse weather conditions, they were unsuccessful. It’s important to note however, that U.S. Navy ships perform this task once every couple years as basically a check-in-the-box for their pre-deployment work ups. It’s a complex evolution that they are not ideally suited for, and do not perform with any regularity.