The Canadian Coast Guard had attempted to reach a drifting cargo vessel off the southwestern shore of Newfoundland on Saturday afternoon, after the ship had lost power.

Maj. Martell Thompson, with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, N.S., said the John 1 was en route from Spain to Montreal when it experienced engine failure.

He said a Coast Guard vessel was sent to assist the John 1 as it drifted, arriving on scene around 8:30 a.m.

However, Thompson said the crew aboard the CCGS Earl Grey were unable to intercept the 180-metre bulk carrier before it ran aground 1.6 kilometres off Rose Blanche around 1:30 p.m.

Jan Woodford, a spokesperson with the Coast Guard, said environmental response officers have been sent to the site to assess the situation.

Woodford said there is ballast water and fuel aboard the ship, which was otherwise empty on its way to pick up cargo in Montreal.

A Cormorant helicopter was dispatched from 103 Squadron in Gander and removed all 23 people aboard the John 1. They were taken to Burgeo just after 4 p.m. Saturday.

No injuries were reported.