Thursday, February 11, 2021

Large Scale Search and Rescue Operation south of Kitimat following marine incident

Chart from GPS Nautical

See updated at bottom of page

A range of Search and Rescue assets were called to Gardner Canal south east of Kitimat early Thursday morning, responding to a marine incident involving a tugboat owned by a Prince Rupert marine service provider.

The tug was towing a barge in the Canal when it was reported missing, possibly capsized;  two persons have been confirmed deceased and one crew member rescued . 

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria attached a pair of aircraft assets to the search following the call for assistance, with a Buffalo Fixed Wing aircraft and Cormorant helicopter both from CFB Comox, joining Coast Guard, Marine Rescue and RCMP vessels from Prince Rupert and the Kitimat area in a search of the last position. 

The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue crew in Kitimat was the first to be called to the response late Wednesday evening, with additional resources then called in as part of the response to the emergency beacon which had been activated.

The search was hampered by poor weather conditions including strong wind gusts and very cold temperatures at the time of the incident and for much of the following search period.

While the barge has been found, the tug has yet to be recovered and is still listed as missing. 

No further details have been released so far related to the incident.

It's likely that the Transportation Board of Canada will soon dispatch a team to investigate the incident, as well as the BC Coroners office and WorkSafe BC.

Update: Kitimat RCMP provided a statement on the incident late Thursday afternoon,

It was later confirmed that the tug boat was operated by Wainwright Marine Services of Prince Rupert.

For more notes related to Emergency responders in the Northwest see our archive page here.

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