An oil spill recovery vessel ran aground en route to a federal announcement on oil tanker safety in Vancouver on Monday, officials have confirmed.

The vessel was making a 12-hour trip from its base in Esquimalt to Vancouver for a tanker safety announcement by Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver when it struck an uncharted sandbar near Sandheads at the mouth of the Fraser River near Steveston.

According Allan Hughes, who is the spokesperson for the Canadian Auto Workers Local 2182, which represents Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications Officers, the vessel was delayed for a few minutes while it waited to drift off the sandbar.

"It apparently suffered no damage and it backed off and was on its way," said Hughes.

Hughes also says that just before the grounding, the vessel had to veer out of the way of a BC Ferries vessel near Active Pass.

Active PassActive Pass

"My understanding is the vessel went to proceed into Active Pass, and got into a narrow area with a lot of current, and there was an opposing ferry and it had to alter course dramatically to get out of the way of the ferry," he said.

Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, which operates the vessel, confirmed the ship ran aground on an uncharted sandbar near Steveston, but denied it had to drastically change course to avoid a collision with a ferry near Active Pass.

The privately run company is funded by the shipping industry to respond to oil spills on the West Coast.