A 20-year-old man from Lower Sackville has been charged with aggravated assault after an incident on the Halifax waterfront early Wednesday morning that sent a 54-year-old man to hospital.

Halifax Regional Police were called to the boardwalk near the 1600 block of Lower Water Street at 2:28 a.m., where they found a man with serious injuries.

He was taken to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax and is expected to recover. 

Police believe the man was the victim of a random attack that started with an exchange of words. There is no indication the men knew each other, said Halifax Regional Police Const. Pierre Bourdages.

"There is no evidence that the victim was targeted. It was following their disagreement that the assault occurred," he said.

Four young men were found a short distance away and arrested.

A 20-year-old man was charged with aggravated assault and breach of recognizance in relation to the attack. Two others were charged for matters not related to the assault, while the fourth man was released.

Charlie Holland — who lives on a boat called the Schwalbe which is docked at Halifax Harbour — saw the men before the attack. He believes they were looking for a confrontation because he heard them make derogatory remarks about a person on the Sirona III, a yacht tied up at the harbour.

"I went for a wander to buy a burger and I passed four guys going past the Sirona and it set off the internal alarm," said Holland.

"It could've been me. It's one of those situations that we all have to live with. The world is like that these days."

Nick Gallien

Nick Gallien heard the victim's moans from a boat near the assault when it occurred early Wednesday morning. (CBC)

Nick Gallien, who is staying on the Schwalbe with Holland, said he was sleeping below deck when the attack occurred.

"I just heard someone, not screaming but moaning for help. He was in pain. I didn't think much of it," he said.

Gallien said he thought the person may been kicked or hit by the sounds they were making. 

"I talked to an officer this morning and he told me to stop and then I was like, 'Why?'" said Gallien.

"He pointed out, 'You're almost walking in evidence.' There was a big puddle of blood."

Police said the 54-year-old man had surgery overnight for serious facial injuries. He remains in hospital.

The 20-year-old suspect is expected to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.