Disabled Russian Cargo Ship Arrives in Prince Rupert, Canada – Update

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October 19, 2014

Monday Update: The disabled Russian cargo ship MV Simushir is now safely berthed at the port of Prince Rupert.

Previous: A disabled Russian cargo ship is safely under tow by an American tug following frantic efforts by the Canadian Government this weekend to prevent the ship from going aground along a remote stretch of coastline in British Columbia.

As of Sunday, the Russian-flagged MV Simushir was securely under tow by Foss Maritime’s 4,300 BHP tug, Barbara Foss, enroute to Prince Rupert, Canada for repairs.

The MV Simushir became disabled overnight Thursday in strong winds while underway west Haida Gwaii, sparking fears that ship may run aground with a reported 500 metric tonnes of bunker fuel and 60 metric tonnes of diesel.

The Russian ship was adrift for more than 18 hours before the Canadian Coast Guard patrol vessel CCGS Gordon Reid was able to secure a tow line to the ship Friday evening and slowly tow the vessel away from land. Some reports said that the Simushir was as close as 12 nautical miles from the Haida Gwaii coastline before the tow was established.

At some point on Saturday the tow line parted, leaving the Simushir adrift once again before the Barbara Foss arrived on scene and was able to connect to the Simushir. The CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier and USCGC Spar were also on scene Saturday providing assistance.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Barbara Foss was towing the vessel towards Prince Rupert at 5-7 knots accompanied by the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, with arrival expected for Monday morning late Sunday night.

Ten crewmembers remain onboard the Simushir. The injured Captain was airlifted by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter on Friday afternoon.

The MV Simushir was enroute from Washington state to Russia when it became disabled.

On Sunday, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea thanked everyone involved for their efforts in the ongoing search and rescue:

“I would like to thank the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canadian Armed Forces for all their efforts and quick response. The coordinated efforts from all partners which also included other federal departments, the province of British Columbia and the Haida First Nation have ensured safety for all.

“Through close co-ordination between the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of National Defence, the Government of Canada was able to take immediate action to halt the Russian-flagged ship Simushir from drifting into shore. Thanks to these efforts, the ship has been towed some miles offshore, greatly reducing the risk of environmental impact.

“Additionally, assistance provided by the US Coast Guard in the form of the USCGC Spar and a US Coast Guard Helicopter at the ready in Sandspit, BC highlights the ongoing support that the US and Canada provide to each other when required – and for that I would also like to extend my appreciation.

“The situation is currently under control with the CCGS Gordon Reid, CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and USCGC Spar providing operational assistance and leadership. This operation will continue for the next two to three days as the ship makes way to a safe harbour for repair. More resources are ready to respond, including those prepared for environmental response, and will be deployed if necessary.”

Update from Foss Maritime:

Foss Maritime’s ocean-going tug, the Barbara Foss, is towing the Russian cargo vessel, Simushir, which lost power late Thursday night off the west coast of Haida Gwaii.

The Barbara Foss is currently traveling at 5.5 knots and is expected to arrive at the Port of Prince Rupert, BC with the Simushir in tow at approximately 10:00 p.m.Pacific Time tonight, where two assist tugs and a pilot will be on hand to help the ship dock.

“We’ve been working very closely with the Canadian Coast Guard and the Joint Rescue Coordination Center to successfully manage this situation,” said Gary Faber, Senior Vice President of Foss Maritime. “At this point, the ship is riding well behind the tug, and the weather and sea conditions are not posing concerns. We expect a steady and uneventful voyage to Prince Rupert.” 
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