Stuck container ship to receive help late Friday afternoon

The icebreaker Henry Larsen is expected to reach the OOCL Belgium, stuck in heavy ice, by late Friday afternoon.
The container ship OOCL Belgium, pictured above, got stuck in heavy ice on the Strait of Belle Isle and requested help from the coast guard on Thursday morning. (Courtesy David Williams-Liverpool)

Help is en route for a cargo ship stuck in heavy ice on the Strait of Belle Isle. 

The 225-metre OOCL Belgium called the coast guard for assistance early Thursday morning. It was on its way from Montreal to England. 

The icebreaker Henry Larsen is expected to arrive in the area by 4:00 p.m. Friday. The Belgium is about 10 miles southeast of Red Bay, Labrador.

The Larsen left the Fogo Island area Thursday, and has to veer through thick ice to reach the ship.

The Belgium, owned by the Orient Overseas Container Line, is carrying a quanitity of hazardous cargo, but coast guard officials said it's not a concern to public safety.

Paul Veber, the coast guard's superintendent of ice operations in Atlantic Canada, said two significant factors created the thick ice. 

"We're looking at ice at least 70 centimetres thick in that area," said Veber. "We have the Labrador current, which is bringing the heaviest ice from the Labrador coast down into the northeast coast in the Strait of Belle Isle." 

While Veber said the latest ice information was relayed to the vessel's crew, as well as a recommendation to use an alternate route, the ship still decided to travel through the strait.