Container ship full of oil, diesel adrift off British Columbia coast

A Russian container ship carrying hundreds of tonnes of fuel was drifting without power in rough seas off British Columbia’s northern coast Friday, a scenario a nearby First Nation community described as its “worst fear.”

OLD MASSETT, B.C. — A Russian container ship carrying hundreds of tonnes of fuel was drifting without power in rough seas off British Columbia’s northern coast Friday, a scenario a nearby First Nation community described as its “worst fear.”

The Canadian Forces’ joint rescue co-ordination centre in Victoria said the Russian carrier Simushir lost power late Thursday night off Haida Gwaii, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, as it was making its way from Washington state to Russia.

Navy Lt. Paul Penderghast said the ship was drifting nine nautical miles, or about 17 kilometres, from shore, though he said it was largely maintaining that position.

“It is drifting, but it’s drifting parallel to shore,” said Penderghast.

The Council of the Haida Nation, however, warned the ship could run aground by Friday evening.

Acting Sub. Lt. Ron MacDougall said the Simushir, which is 135 metres long, was carrying “a range of hydrocarbons, mining materials and other related chemicals.” That included 400 tonnes of bunker oil and 50 tonnes of diesel.

The ship had 11 crew members on board, though a Cormorant helicopter was dispatched to rescue the captain, who was injured.

MacDougall didn’t know the nature of the captain’s injuries or what caused them.

The Canadian Coast Guard ship Gordon Reid was heading to the area and was expected to arrive Friday afternoon. A tugboat from Prince Rupert, on the northern B.C. coast, was expected to arrive by early Saturday morning.

In addition, the United States Coast Guard had a helicopter on standby in the event that the entire crew needed to be removed from the ship.

Numerous federal and provincial agencies were involved co-ordinating the response, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada and B.C.’s Environment Ministry. Western Canada Marine Response Corp., which is contracted by the federal government for oil spill response, said it had been notified and crews were on standby.

Rough weather was also a concern. MacDougall said there were winds of almost 30 kilometres per hour with seven-metre seas, though he said that was expected to ease up as the day progressed. Environment Canada had issued a storm warning for much of the northern coast, including the area around Haida Gwaii.

The Council of the Haida Nation issued a news release at about 12:30 p.m. on Friday that warned the ship could run aground within nine hours.

“The Haida Nation’s worst fear is coming true,” Haida president Peter Lantin said in the news release.

The news release said the council had set up an emergency command centre in Old Massett, located on the northern tip of Haida Gwaii, in the event that the vessel runs aground.

“Our priority is to minimize the impact on our homeland and get our people on-site to start dealing with the grounding.”

The Simushir is registered in Kholmsk, Russia, and owned by Russian shipping firm SASCO, also known as Sakhalin Shipping Company, according to the company’s website.

The SASCO website says the ship was built in the Netherlands in 1998.

Just Posted

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month