A little more than a week after it was towed into Pearl Harbor, CBC News has learned HMCS Protecteur is so badly damaged following a fire in the mid-Pacific it will have to be towed home.
It is unclear whether the Canadian navy vessel will ever sail again.
A fire aboard the Esquimalt, B.C.-based ship two weeks ago disabled it so badly it was dead in the water, and had to be towed by a U.S. navy ocean tug into Pearl Harbor, a week-long trip that was hampered by rough seas and broken tow lines.
The crew on the ship relied on generators to supply power to the galley and living areas after the fire knocked out power to the vessel.
About 20 crew members suffered minor injuries in the fire — including dehydration, exhaustion and smoke inhalation.
Now, CBC News has learned the fire caused so much damage Protecteur is unable to sail under her own power and it is questionable whether she will ever sail again.
The navy plans to undertake a marathon four-week tow to return the vessel to Esquimault sometime in April. Crew members will unload the ship of all weapons and ammunition before that happens.
The military thought at first a skeleton crew would likely be kept aboard during the tow, but Monday naval Lieutenant Greg Menzies said Protecteur would be unmanned during the trip back to Esquimalt.
Protecteur, launched in 1969, is one of two auxiliary oil replenishment ships in the Canadian navy.
The military announced in October that Protecteur and its sister supply ship on the East Coast, HMCS Preserver, will be retired in 2015. Construction of new supply ships is expected to begin in late 2016, with a target of having them in service by 2019-20.