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Canadian crew swims to barge, disconnects bridle while tug sinks

Aug 26, 2015 11:57 AM

Two crewmen swam to the safety of a barge when their tugboat sank off British Columbia.
    
The 34-foot Log Baron was towing a barge with empty fuel tanks when the tug sank 4 nm off Cape Caution on March 15.

The tug was owned by Helifor Canada Corp., a helicopter logging company. Powered by one 220-hp diesel engine, the vessel started taking on water and the crew was forced to abandon ship, said Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigator Clinton Rebeiro.

“They were traveling from one of their camps from Shearwater to Ramsay Arm at the time,” Rebeiro said. “They jumped into the water and swam to the barge but they did manage to send a distress before the tug went down, and the first vessel on site was the fishing vessel Snow Cloud. Later on they were met by the Coast Guard lifeboat Cape Sutil.”

Cape Sutil transported the men to Port Hardy.

While on the barge the two men were able to disconnect the towing bridle and throw it overboard, Rebeiro noted.

According to the Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, the Coast Guard was notified of the incident at 1030 on March 15 and tasked a Cormorant helicopter and the vessels Cape Sutil and Bartlett to the incident.
 
Gary Laidlaw, president and general manager of Helifor Canada, told Professional Mariner that the cause of the sinking is not known. Due to the depth and location, the vessel is non-recoverable, he said.

TSB considers the sinking a Class 5, which means the agency will not be writing a full investigative report, Rebeiro said.

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